Day in the life



An average day in paradise:

I wake up at around 7AM. This is my room:

A view from the window. It’s all fog in the morning, but what looks white actually gives way to a beautiful mountain backdrop after the sun has been up for a few hours:

Then it’s off to class. I’ve been hired by the Cooperativa Monte Patino to teach English:

I teach until 10:00AM and then rush off to go open shop and grab breakfast.

This is the Monastery. When I first arrived, we parked on the left, and I asked Br. Basil, “So, where’s the monastery?!” But this is it. The novitiate is on the left, and the portone is the big brown door on the left. Through that door is the rest of the monastery, and the back entrance to the shop.

Now, on and into the shop. First up are the bathrooms. I clean these as an act of humility and charity, and also to make a nice chunk of change. Everyone drops coin to use the bathroom, and I often cut people off to change towels, clean the seats, etc. Then the customers put their money in the little basket. This may seem trivial, but it banks close to $50 on a busy day. It’s tax-free and pays for a lot of things around the shop.

And now a brief look around the shop:

New book shelf and books. Recent addition since I’ve arrived.

That’s my desk. If you ever talk to me on skype, you’ve seen that brick wall in the background.

New Georgian icon display. Icons from Rome, framed locally.

Products from Camaldolsi, and Honey.

A table of medals of St. Benedict, for all your etheral protection needs.

Statues, soap, smellgoods.

Santini. Italians get a big kick out of little cards with saints’ images on one side, and prayers on the back. They carry them in their wallet/purse.

Crosses out the wazoo.

Jam, Booze.

This is the outside of the shop.

This is Enrico. He drops by several times a day to check in on me. He typically has a good story and some Norcian dialect to teach to me. He’s an ironsmith- made the flag holder and half of the other iron on the walls of Norcia.

Daily deals. Always a good deal on alcohol in my shop. The Wabash in me.

Allora. The shop is open by around 10:15. Before it gets busy, I sneak off to the Lanzi shop and get a ‘panino americano’, which means a sandwich with more than one ingrediant on it. What you see here is a sandwich with prosciutto, mortadella and peccorino cheese. Maria is making it for me.

Putting on the finishing touches. This runs me about €3, or $4.00.

I work in the shop until lunch/dinner. There is only one meal between september and Easter– the reason why I buy a sandwich in the morning. At 1:30, I close for about an hour and take care of errands. Then, at 3:00, we eat:

I’m alone or with another guest or two these days. The monks sit on the opposite side of the dining room. Fr. Cassian (the prior) and Fr. Benedict (Subprior) sit in the center.

Meals are always silent, except for a reader. Right now we are going through a thick book on Byzantium. Br. Jonathan reads this week.

Amazing food at this monastery. Every meal is well-prepared, although there is not much variation: first platter, then a second platter with protein (egg-based 85% of the time), then a vegtable, then a salad. Sometimes there are cookies or other desserts.

Typically, I go back to the shop and keep the doors open until 6:15. Then I have class from 6:15-7:15, and a private english lesson until 9PM once a week. On sundays, everything is the same except that there is lunch at 1:30 and DINNER at 6:30. Dinner means leftovers with beer. An appropiate celebration of the mass.

On sundays, I close early and go to the mass offered by the monks in the cathedral:

Mass is in Italian, except for the most important parts, which are often in Latin. All of our private conventual masses in the crypt are in Latin. Today is Nov. 2nd, celebration of the faithful departed– thus the black. After Vatican II, many ‘creative’ priests opted to remove black, the idea of praying for the dead and those in purgatory, etc. But here in Norcia, the monks choose not to live their lives like they are going to live forever. Call it radical.

That’s the basic day. After lessons are over, I typically work on my computer making music, listening to music, reading, or periodically keeping up on this blog. There is always beer involved…

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