Friday, October 17, 2008

Letter to Abbot Philip Lawrence, O.S.B.

Rev. Dom Philip Lawrence, O.S.B.
Christ in the Desert Monastery
Abiquiu, NM

17 October, 2008

Dear Fr. Lawrence,

My name is Rob Marco. I made a two week vocational visit to C.D.M. in the summer of 2001 and was fortunate enough to have met and talked with you and some of the other monks. I have never forgot about Christ in the Desert since that time, and have thought about your community often.

I have been discerning religious life for the last ten years and am at a point in which I feel I am ready to make a commitment to a community. I had been on the fence for a number of years about getting married, and I was in fact engaged at one point. But I don't think marriage is what will make me most happy and contented. I also know that in terms of careers, I want to work in the service of the Lord, "all the days of my life."

I feel my motives are pure and that I (as St. Benedict says) "truly seek God." Having visited many communities in the last decade, I do not hold any romantic preconceptions about monastic life. I know it can be ordinary and community life can be trying. I also know marriage is not disimiliar, and that single life has its own burdens. I feel celibacy is a gift and one that I may be called to; I enjoy the freedom it offers me to pursue God unencumbered.

While I have spoken with my spiritual director about the possibilities of living an eremitic life, I do not want to be one of those "despicable" monks St. Benedict refers to who "make their own desires their law." Community is difficult for me, but I also feel it is necessary for proper formation.

I am not without faults. I have a strong independent streak and taking orders and living with others does not come without some strain. Then again, I am not fond of vegetables or exercise, but I know they are ultimately good for me.

I have also been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I take medication regularly and am in close contact with my doctor. I have been healthy and doing well since my diagnosis five years ago, though I do feel it is something relevant to disclose. I can assure you I am responsible in managing my mental health, just as someone with a diabetes or a heart condition would be expected to be responsible about their physical health. While many times a burden, my illness has also been a source of grace, engendering empathy and understanding for those who are suffering. I have had many 'dark nights,' which have been indispensable to my spiritual formation. I would be more than happy to send letters of reference from my doctor and spiritual director attesting to my state of mind, if you like. I have no physical disabilities or limitations.

I do have many gifts as well that I would hope to share with the community. I am a competent tailor and gardener, cook, writer, and artist. I am good with computers and knowledgeable in electronics and renewable energy. I recently converted a small school bus into a zero-energy hermitage, built from recycled material and complete with solar panels and greywater recycling. It has been featured on MTV and in The Philadelphia Weekly and The Daily News as part of their "green" issues.

I am presently living in Philadelphia and finishing up my last year of graduate work in Theology at Villanova University. I will be 29 in March, and expect to graduate in May. After this I would like to visit Medjugoria and maybe travel for a few weeks. After that time, however, I am requesting to be considered for admittance to C.D.M. as a postulant. I wanted to write before the spring to see if this is a reasonable request so I can plan accordingly. I have given away and sold most of what I own following Jesus' words "if you would be perfect, sell what you have and give it to the poor." I am ready to follow God and hope you will consider my desire to make Christ in the Desert the place where I might live out that call.

I anticipate your reply.


Rob Marco

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