Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fr. Anselm Grun, Benedictine Monk And Spirituality

A journalist from the Catholic Times interviewed one of our best-known contemporary writers on spirituality. While traveling in Germany, the interviewer went to the Benedictine monastery  to talk with Anselm Grun, the Benedictine monk who has written over 250 books (more than 14 million copies in 30 languages) and who is appreciated both by those with faith and by those without faith.

The interviewer  tells us that he is considered a mystery man, even superhuman, in his own monastery. Besides managing a large monastery (280 employees and 20 businesses), he fulfills all his duties as a monk, writes, gives lectures throughout the world, and teaches.

Asked why he's so popular, he says people are not looking for a spirituality of virtuous living but a spirituality of practical living that leads to success in life; they are looking for a better way to live and getting to know themselves by reading his  books. He is trying to lead them from the spring that wells from within to an experience they're not allowing to  happen.

The Church is not the place where all our problems are solved but where God is experienced, dwelling in the silence of our hearts, where our inner scars are healed. When we have this experience, we are freed from all needless desires, as if returning to the warmth of our home.

Concerning depression and suicide, he says that depression often occurs when we entertain exorbitant expectations and exaggerated thoughts, feeling a need to be perfect,  having to succeed. Our souls, he says, resist this kind of thinking, causing tension and depression, yet another reason is the alienation  from our spiritual base.

The interviewer asks how he manages to accomplish so much. Benedictine spirituality, he replies, directs our contemplation to the truth in each one of us; God will then bring about the guidance, and the change that is necessary. It's not a spirituality with our heads in the sky but a spirituality with two feet on the ground, made up of ritual and our daily living. In his own life, he does not demand of himself what is unreasonable, but works from the spring supplied by the Holy Spirit, working rhythmically and healthfully.

To the question what does he want to say to the Church in Korea, he replies that, having made a number of trips to Korea, he has been favorably impressed. The Church, being young and filled with energy, shows great confidence in facing the future. He remembers the Christians he met here, their openness, their sincerity and deep spirituality. He prays that the Korean Church will always be conscious of God's blessing all around them, and prays that with the North they will continue to be blessed.