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‘Inspired To Be A Better Christian’

Courtesy of Brent Mangum [1]

Courtesy of Brent Mangum

Remember Brent Mangum, the Apple store manager who I saw doing relief work at the flood shelter? [2] He sent this yesterday:

I took the [above] picture in our church service on Sunday and felt prompted to share it with you.

It was a sabbath day like no other I had ever experienced. The pictures below are of nearly 1000 folks from seven states to help strangers they had never met. Many of them (Mormons and Non-Mormons) slept in tents, on floors and in their vehicles. These men and women sacrificed time with their loved ones and personal resources to help strangers miles away with no thought of recognition or compensation. Robin and I hosted a handful of these individuals from Houston and they spoke of what a great blessing it was to be able to serve and at no point did they bicker or complain.

I left this makeshift and humble meeting inspired to be a better Christian.


That’s what I meant when I said that this terrible flood has also occasioned a flood of grace.

Meanwhile, in earthquake-stricken Norcia, the monks are nearly re-established in tents outside the city walls. They received a famous visitor yesterday: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Below, the photo, and the latest report from Father Benedict, the subprior:

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As the monks slowly but steadily get back to routine, these updates too will be less frequent. Your prayers and financial support in this critical time have helped us to get on our feet and allowed us to help others here in Norcia and beyond with our prayers and even material support. Still there is much to report!

Yesterday was a day of visitors and homecomings. What no doubt garnered the most attention from the press was the visit of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who came in by helicopter to Norcia to see the damage. Accompanied by the mayor, the archbishop and the president of Umbria, Renzi was able to see first hand the damages done to the Basilica and assure us and all those in Norcia of his support. Fr. Cassian and I were able to greet him personally.

Much closer to our hearts, though, was the return of our dear brothers from Rome who arrived at the same time the prime minister did. They were less noticed but much needed. Their presence in Norcia had not been possible up until yesterday as the cells and other parts of the building had been declared unsafe by the fire marshals and they were required to evacuate. But we have found a few rooms that are usable for 4 brothers, and 3 brothers are sleeping in what were once our small guest quarters, which was not damaged since our neighbors who own it had it rebuilt after the last earthquake from the ground up.

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With the community now all safely back in Norcia the monks were able to pray vespers together at Fuori Le Mura and Br. Michael posted his first recording since the quake. Afterwards we had a warm celebration together with a little Birra Nursia and a large Minestrone soup prepared by a friend of the monastery. All of us thanked God that in spite of the damage we are all safe and alive and we renewed our intention to be present to the people of Norcia through our prayer and support, now needed more than ever.

One more visitor is pictured below. The first snake we’ve encountered was thankfully already dead, which the brothers took to be a propitious sign: the reclaiming of our property from the beasts! Other visitors have been hedgehogs, wild boar, and a neighbor’s cow which feeds near our stone wall.

Fr. Benedict

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7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "‘Inspired To Be A Better Christian’"

#1 Comment By mrscracker On August 31, 2016 @ 9:22 am

I’m not very good at providing links by way of smartphone, but here’s the flood news items I was referring to in an earlier blog-sounds like these folk still need a lot of help:

“Almost three weeks later, some Lafayette Parish residents still flooded”

“Sixteen days after evacuating, many residents in the Derby Heights subdivision are finally able to access their homes, while others are still waiting.

The neighborhood’s roads are lined with standing water and the air is thick with the smell of algae.

“It’s a very stinky, sewer chemical smell,” said Shannon Cooper, a community volunteer.

Cooper says the standing water is breeding bacteria. She says they have rushed two residents to the hospital for staph infections, with one vomiting blood. Now, they are passing out masks to residents.

Many residents still can’t reach their homes, and others are just starting the clean-up. Some share concerns that their neighborhood has been forgotten…


“With much of the water receding around Acadiana, certain parts of St. Martin Parish are still flooded…”


#2 Comment By Camus On August 31, 2016 @ 10:27 am

Praise be to God! I probably will not be able to make it down to help anytime soon but I do have some financial means to help with. My local church is collecting a lot of resources, which is great. If you have anyone Rod who personally needs something you know of I have a spare hundred I can send there way. Just email me and let me know.

#3 Comment By CaliDali On August 31, 2016 @ 11:00 am

My old pastor used to say “the meat is in the street.” By that he meant that, if you want to really learn the gospel, theology, Christianity, you have to engage, give, minister, evangelize. If you stay cloistered in your Christian thoughts, you will never understand Christianity at all.

#4 Comment By John On August 31, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

Well, there is that saying that there is no place like home. I’m glad they are getting settled back in.

#5 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On August 31, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

Rod, it looks like your friends the tipiloschi have stormed Norcia to help the monks


(the monks in blue overall-like cassocks are wonderful!)

#6 Comment By Blueshark On August 31, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

Always, always, the blind, unprincipled bigotry against snakes. I despair of this blog, I really do….

[NFR: Blind and unprincipled? Far from it! I see clearly that I have principles, one of which is I HATE SNAKES AND WISH THEM NO GOOD THING! — RD]

#7 Comment By mrscracker On September 1, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

Blueshark says:

Always, always, the blind, unprincipled bigotry against snakes. I despair of this blog, I really do….”
I can’t tell enough from the photo, but they do have some venomous snakes in Italy.
I’m OK with harmless snakes, but a bit “bigoted” against the poison varieties.