My favorite part of the Capuchin Crypt in Rome was a note that went something like this:
"What you are, we once were.
What we are, you will become."
My apoligies. It's been one of those days. Sometimes the relativism of our day is a bit much. That and perhaps I've seen one too many hip, pandering vocations ads. Nothing like the bones of 4,ooo of your friar predecessors to let you know what your vocation is all about, and what awaits you at the end of your days. If this isn't a humbling and startling visual wake up call, in regards to storing up your treasure on earth, I don't know what is.
Something tells me these guys didn't sign on because of a trendy marketing campaign. It also doesn't look like they were experiencing much of a vocations crisis.
This reminds me of a story I read about the Trappists (Voices of Silence by Frank Bianco). A journalist visiting the monastery Notre Dame de Melleray in France, asked the Abbot about the cemetery and why there were so few grave markers considering their lengthy history. He wondered where the rest of the monks were buried. This is the author's exchange with the Abbot...
"Oh, yes," he said, smiling. "Yes, I see. Missing. No, all our monks are there. No one is missing." It would not do, he explained, to have the cemetery growing endlessly. If a monk died, they would open up the oldest grave, gather any bones that remained, put them in a cardboard box, and position the box beneath the head of the monk who was to be buried.
"So the dead monk becomes his brother's pillow," I suggested.
"Pillow?" Dom Jacques asked, reaching for his dictionary. "Pillow, pillow," he repeated, holding the unknown word in mind as he searched for its French translation. "Ah, yes. Oreiller - pillow. that's right," he said, grinning at the growth of his vocabulary. "Pillow. When I die, my brother who never knew me, will be my...," he glanced back at the dictionary, "pillow, and eventually, we will both be the... pillow...for a monk neither of us ever knew."
But although monastery archives fixed the resting place of all the monks who had been buried, he added only the name of the last-buried monk would be listed on the cross that marked their graves [keep in mind the name on the marker was their religious name, their birth name was long gone-B.W.]. Given the goal of the monk's existence, he said, even that degree of record was superfluous.
"After all, it's only necessary that we be known and remembered by God."
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.