So far we've blogged a lot about our experiences on the road. Our program, however, is made up of both travels as well as life at "home," of mission and communion, of outer experiences and formative time to prepare for and digest these experiences. Most of our days, in fact, are spent here with the Community of the Beatitudes at the monastery and holy site of Emmaus-Nicopolis, joining the Community in a regular rhythm of prayer, service, meals, and study.
The Community occupies a sizable monastery and runs a busy holy site without hired employees, so much of our time is spent in manual service.
Our first task when we arrived was sealing the roof of the monastery. Fr. Anthony’s summer pilgrimage group had accomplished the difficult task of tarring (which you can read about here), so we finished the job with several coats of white paint between heavy fall showers.
Pilgrims painting the roof
Marie and Clare often find themselves sous-chefs to one of the brothers or sisters, cooking lunch and dinner for the house, or a more professional fare for pilgrim groups, served in the museum.
Marie and a Polish volunteer helping Cristina in the kitchen
Taylor often works the holy site, where she welcomes groups from all over the world and helps set up for masses on the site. She also works in the holy site’s small gift shop, juggling dozens of languages in order to assist pilgrims as they purchase souvenirs.
Taylor at the holy site
Trevor is a handy man, so his work fluctuates based on the needs of the monastery. He has helped the house through plumbing, weeding, painting, fixing lights, and a variety of other jobs.
Trevor fixing broken tile
The group’s designated blog writer is yours truly (Grace), and you see these words come to life through Chris' candid shots. When not sitting in front of a screen, I also clean and set the dining room, and Chris cleans and sets up the chapel.
Working on the blog with Mirjana's stern supervision
A rare shot of our photographer at work
With eight people to keep up with, laundry is a real load, so Mirjana works diligently washing, hanging, and folding our clothes. She has even established a reputation for being too diligent. She also keeps our upstairs meeting room clean.
Mirjana diligently hanging clothes
Every Friday morning is cleaning day here at Emmaus, so the pilgrims pitch in with sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting in order to keep the house hospitable for both those who live here and guests. Manual labor allows us time to reflect and to be alone with God, to make our service an act of love for Him and for others. One of the objectives of the program is to prepare us for a lifelong vocation. Whether we’re called to marriage or celibacy, cleaning toilets is an unavoidable part of life. We pray that the work we do here trains us for the "Little Way" of loving God in the ordinary and making our work a prayer.