We pile up treasure in heaven by putting up with trouble on earth.

Friday, 6/22/12

Jesus tells us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Those treasures are the rewards we will receive for the good things we do. Another word for that kind of reward is merit. We particularly store up merit for ourselves by staying with difficult tasks.

When I was eighteen and had been away at school for a year I came home in time for a last tennis game with an older seminarian named Billy. He was leaving the next day to become a monk at the Trappist Monastery in Kentucky. He was a big fellow who liked good food and cold beer, and I asked him how he would be happy without those things in the monastery. He said the monastery had very good bread and cheese.

I said, “That will be fine for a while, but what will happen when you get tired of the same bread and cheese every day?

Turning to me, he acted as though I was stupid for not knowing the answer to my question. He said, “Why, that’s when the merit starts.”  

As a professed monk, Billy was renamed Frere Dennis. He went on with his studies for becoming a priest as he became involved in a new endeavor. He was to be one of a number of monks who were being assigned to found a new monastery in New York State. While the order had designated the abbot for the new foundation, it was left to the men going to choose the priest who would be their prior. Surprisingly, they dipped down into their seminary, choosing Frere Dennis as their prior.

Taking charge of practical matters, Frere Dennis, while continuing the studies leading to the priesthood,   purchased three large Army surplus buildings. In taking them apart for train shipment, he collapsed from    a painful advanced cancer he had concealed. I think back on Billy in our seminary, standing in long silences before each station of the cross.

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