It is early on a Wednesday morning. A mother wakes her children for school. A young man takes leave of his family for his entrance into the armed forces. A grandfather of seven kisses his wife as he is wheeled into the operating room. A businessman and father embarks on his daily commute in rush hour traffic. His young wife awaits results of a biopsy. The priest in the monastery church lifts the gold chalice and paten saying, "Your own of Your own we offer to You, on behalf of all and for all." Twelve nuns prostrate on the floor. Their pleated monastic capes form a bell-shaped silhouette around each figure. And the deer nibble leaves off the hedges outside the altar door.
In a few moments the nuns and their four guests will "receive the body of Christ" and "taste the fountain of immortality." The priest prays,
Do You Yourself, O Master, distribute these Gifts here offered, unto all of us for good, according to the individual need of each; sail with those who sail, travel with those who travel by land and by air; heal the sick, O You Who are the physician of our souls and bodies.
Giving thanks and asking God's blessings upon their day, the nuns sing, "Keep us in Your holiness, that all the day we may mediatate upon Your righteousness."
With the singing of the final amen, the nuns hear the phone already ringing. A single mother calls to ask prayers for her son who has run away. A man, celebrating his birthday, calls to offer thanks to God and ask His continued guidance and blessings. Going about her work in the kitchen the nun prays, "Give us this day our daily bread." In the garden and at the desk others think of God and invoke His loving-kindness, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy."
A family out of work phones to ask for food. A sister packs a food box. "On behalf of all and for all." A salesman stops by the chapel to say a prayer and to see what is up on this hill. He has passed the monastery driveway and sign numerous times but never stopped until now. A teacher from the local high school phones to arrange a visit for her class, and friends call to tell us of a tragedy in a school out west. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy."
A pilgrim staying in our guesthouse asks to speak to a sister and tells her of the burden on her heart. "Remember us, O Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom." A priest calls to invite us to speak at a retreat in his parish. A young mother phones to see if we can buy her diapers for her baby, and a priest with his parishioner arrive with a truck full of food and household items from their parish. "On behalf of all and for all."
The mail brings more requests for prayers, bills for electricity, medicine, and gas, and donations to pay for them. "Bless the Lord, O my soul! And forget not all His benefits!"
In the evening the nuns will gather in church again, on behalf of all and for all. "Grant remission of sins to those who serve us and are kind to us. Have mercy according to Your great mercy on those who have asked us to pray for them unworthy though we be."
It is thirty-two years since the monastery was founded and has offered daily prayers, "On behalf of all and for all." Other monasteries throughout the world have done this daily for hundreds and hundreds of years. None of us is alone. The Church prays. The monks and nuns pray. The clergy and the faithful pray. The Holy Liturgy is offered, "On behalf of all and for all." The world may be too busy to notice, people may choose darkness instead of light, but truly "Christ is among us! He is and always shall be!"