The monks of Norcia celebrating Mass

Tremors continue after 1 month

Today we commemorate the 1 month anniversary of the earthquake. We monks might hear or read about tragic natural disasters and wars elsewhere and those have always been inspirations for prayer and conversion but this is our first experience of one in our very own back yard. Our local friends and supporters are suffering much in these days. Many are still in tents, many without a monthly pay check but what perhaps disturbs them the most is that they cannot sleep. The post earthquake tremors continue to occur in the 3.8-4.0 range at night or in the early morning and that means locals are sleeping poorly, waiting to run at any moment from the house. We too have had our trials in this ordeal but we are blessed with a Rule which calls us to vigilance, calls us to keep death daily before our eyes. The earthquake fits into that picture but we know for our friends it is still a stumbling block and source of spiritual confusion. We continue on in our vocations and hope they might receive some consolation and hope from our own determination.

It’s that hope which motivates the launching of our Deep Roots campaign last week, already off to a good start with donations coming in from all over the world. We expect it to take us 1-2 years to raise all the money but we have seen how happy people are to help rebuild monastic life in Norcia and that also inspires us to keep working. Our first fundraiser for the earthquake will be in Darien, CT this Friday and a second in Shreveport, LA on the 8th of October. These kickoff events will give us the chance to share with you in person the struggles but also the many ways God has blessed the community in this time and how your gift can help.

Monks at San Benedetto in Monte this week have been hard at work clearing forests and laying cement as preparations are made for the installation of two prefabricated houses. Construction workers have worked late into the day so that we might also have some indoor plumbing by the beginning of October as our makeshift outdoor showers are getting harder to use as temperatures dip into the mid 40’s at night. Roofing tiles are being replaced (between aftershocks) and engineers and architects are studying the best way to reinforce the building for the future. In town this week two fermentors of beer were bottled for the United States -the last two brews made before the earthquake -and in the 8 hours of bottling the tremors were few. Life is getting back to normal, albeit a new normal, and we are planning optimistically for the future, knowing how fragile it all is, but entrusting our stability to God who alone can ensure it.

Fr. Benedict