Visit to Val Notre-Dame monastery

One of the biggest takeaways for me from the ad limina visit to Rome was a challenge Pope Francis put out to all of us bishops: "How many hours a day do you spend praying?" I didn't exactly start doing a count, but I have to admit, the "hours" reference got me thinking!

One disciple I've been trying to adopt since it being more intentional in making church and chapel visits. Usually its a fairly easy process -- I do live at a church after all -- but as today I had a meeting in Joliette I decided to take the opportunity to visit Val Notre-Dame Trappist monastery. These are the monks who once liked in Oka, and who moved a few years ago to Saint-Jean-de-Matha in the Joliette diocese.

I have a soft spot in my heart for this particular monastic community. I used to visit them in Oka when I was a seminarian and a young priest. I once did a two week silent retreat there, and it was one of the most profound and intense spiritual experiences I ever had (complete with what I can only describe as a vision from God towards the end). I stayed with them for about 10 days a few years ago after they had moved, and again it was a powerful experience that helped me get through some tough stuff I was dealing with and needed to face. There is something about the gentle rhythm of their prayer, and the kindliness of their welcome, that has been a real balm to my soul. It was a delight to spend just a few minutes there.