By Adrienne Willis
Rating: PG –– Some intense portrayals of concentration camps
Disclaimer: Darius and the Highlander concepts belong to Panzar/Davis. No profit involved. Wilhelm Friedrich is mine. Images are used with permission or are royalty free.
Acknowledgment: I’d like to thank my friends Shomeret, Tirnanog and Parda for their help and support. I'd also like to thank Petra for her assistance with the German language. And Fr. Blaine Burkey and Br. Alexis Bugnolo for their invaluable info about monasteries, friaries, liturgy and the Franciscan order.
Comments: Well, I’m back, after being away for year! For those of you who liked my first story Heritage and were eagerly awaiting a sequel, I’m sorry I kept you waiting. It’s just that a lot of stuff has been going on with me lately (moving, job hunting) Add to that, I’m the Queen of Procrastination!
I have been doing a lot of study and research though. It occurred to me that a lot of people watch Highlander and know about Holy Ground. But, I'll bet most of them don't know much about Holy Ground. Also, most people probably think that all monks and monasteries are the same, and can't tell the difference between a monk and a friar, or a Benedictine and a Franciscan. Trust me, after reading this you will!
This work is combination story and vignette. It portrays a simple, poignant day in the lives of two Immortals. Hope you enjoy.
Feedback: Yes, please!! I live for feedback!!!
St. Joseph’s: France
Darius quietly walked down the hallway of St Joseph’s toward the friary’s infirmary. When he and his charge, Wilhelm Friedrich, had first arrived in July, the Guardian, Father Michael, had taken one look at the thin, pale youth and had immediately sent him to the infirmary, insisting that he remain there for the time being. The young Austrian had complied, and for the past month the infirmary had been his quarters.
Throughout most of that time he had slept. For the first few weeks, he had suffered constant nightmares, and many had been the night when Darius, who had been given quarters next door, had sat up holding and comforting him.
Wilhelm’s nightmares were brutal. He didn’t like to talk about them, but Darius had noticed many things. For one thing, he would toss and turn, but not very hard, as if he was afraid to move. It was the same with sound; he would tremble and moan, but not loudly.
The most disturbing types of dreams were the ones when it sounded like he was trying to scream, but couldn’t. When Darius woke him up from those, the Austrian would cling to him for hours shuddering. He had only spoken after a night terror once. “Dark...” he had murmured. “Dark...dark...” over and over.
Fortunately, the night terrors were rare; his other dreams were disturbing enough. Wilhelm would often say, “I keep expecting to wake up and find myself back there.”
“You are not back there, Wilhelm,” Darius would say softly. “You’re here and you’re safe.”
On one occasion the infirmarian, Brother Philippe, who knew German, had been in the room when Darius had said that. “Brother Darius speaks the truth, my son,” he had told Wilhelm kindly. “You’re not back there anymore. It’s over.”
Wilhelm had been silent for several moments before turning haunted eyes to the friar. “Is it?”
As Darius drew closer to the infirmary, he felt the song of Immortal presence, much stronger than when he had first met the Austrian weeks ago. He opened the door and was greeted with the sight of the young Immortal sitting up in bed, intense blue eyes focused on him.
“Father Darius?” Wilhelm asked softly.
“Guten Morgen, Wilhelm,” Darius smiled.
“Are the brothers getting up?”
“Yes. You know that you may remain in bed if you wish.”
“No.” Wilhelm started to push the covers back. “I will get up.”
“Are you certain?”
Wilhelm pushed the covers completely off him, but then, before getting out of bed, he slowly bowed his head and closed his eyes.
Darius knew what was coming next. It was a regular part of the Austrian’s morning ritual; he had seen him doing it even back at St. Julien’s.
Whenever the youth woke up from an untroubled sleep in the morning, which admittedly had been very rare at first, whether he was sitting or lying down, he would close his eyes and quietly recite a prayer. Always the same prayer;
After his prayer, Wilhelm got up without a word and headed for the small toiletry nearby where he would wash. Darius walked beside him, letting him lean slightly against him for support.
As they walked down the quiet hallway, Darius took the time to study the Austrian. He noted with satisfaction that although still weak, the youth was slowly filling out. His features were no longer so pale and gaunt, and his hair was growing back in waves of pale gold, with streaks of grey at the temples and sides. Once he was fully recovered he would be quite handsome.
Brother Philippe, who examined Wilhelm every day, had reported that he was improving well. A few days ago he had said that the young man could be up and about as long as he took things very slowly.
They reached the toiletry. It had been designated Wilhelm’s for the time being, and Darius had already placed a towel and washcloth at the small washbasin, as well as some clothes, inside. As Wilhelm entered the room and shut the door, Darius waited outside for him.
After Wilhelm had finished, he quietly followed Darius toward the shower room. The friary had had running water and indoor plumbing installed years before. During the war fuel had been expensive. The brothers might have been able to have afforded having the water heated, but considering the want and suffering everywhere, all had agreed that it would be a sinful indulgence.
Once a week everyone had a bath. During the day everyone washed in sinks. In the mornings and evenings everyone took cold showers. Everyone except Wilhelm.
When Darius had first mentioned showers to him, the young man had blanched. “No...” he had whispered. That had been the only discussion.
As they approached the hallway near the showers, Wilhelm sat down on a bench to wait. He would remain there until Darius had finished his shower.
“Wilhelm,” Darius said softly. “Are you sure that you will be...?”
“I will be fine, Father Darius. Go...”
After gently squeezing the youth’s shoulder, Darius entered the room.
Wilhelm sat outside listening to the quiet voices of the friars. He heard the soft rustle of clothes coming off. He heard the hissing of the water. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
As quickly as he could Darius finished his shower, dressed and came back out to his charge. Wilhelm was staring straight ahead and trembling. Darius sat beside him and wordlessly put his arms around him until the shaking had ceased.
“Do you want to go back to your room, Wilhelm?” Darius asked gently.
“No,” the youth whispered as he slowly stood up. “I...I can go on, as long as you stay with me.”
“You know that I will, Wilhelm.”
The Austrian’s expression lightened somewhat. “I know.”
“Come, services will be beginning.” The two men continued down the hallway and joined the rest of the friars, who by now had all finished their morning necessities and were making their way to the chapel.
“Remember, Wilhelm,” Darius said, “the entire service will be about three hours. Much of it will be done standing up.”
The Austrian paused. “Standing up,” he murmured.
The loud shouting jerked him out of his troubled sleep.
He clambered down from his bunk and joined the others in the mad dash for the door. It was once again time for the dreaded Zahlappell. Twice every day it would come.
As he struggled through the press of bodies, he tried to ignore the sore stiffness in his muscles. Even though he would collapse from exhaustion at the end of each day, sleep was usually long in coming. Sleeping on hard wooden planks, jammed in with several other prisoners; there were over six hundred. Six hundred men in a barrack that had been built for only fifty. There was barely room to move. He had no blanket, and Polish nights were chilly. But, he was better off than some; he at least got to sleep on one of the bunks. Several had to sleep on the concrete floor.
The shouts of the guards and kapos kept raining down on the prisoners as they scurried, and clubs and whips rained down as well. He hurried faster. One of the whips had struck him sharply on the shoulder the day before yesterday, and the large welt it had left was still sore.
“Schnell! Los schneller, blöde Schwine! ”
It was always like this. The guards and kapos would come and shout everyone awake while it was still dark, sometimes as early as three in the morning. Then there would be a mad rush outside to the courtyard. Then began the waiting, waiting for sometimes up to three or four hours, before S.S. staff would arrive and begin the count. A count which would only last for a few minutes. Then, in the evening they would do it again for another three or four hours. There didn't seem to be a point, but he had given up trying to figure it out.
Cold gusts buffeted his body. At least it wasn’t raining, like yesterday. But the cold... He wrapped his arms tightly around himself and tried to control the trembling. He mustn’t move and he mustn’t collapse. He knew what would happen to him if he did. A vicious beating if he was lucky. If he wasn’t...
He glanced over at the low grey building off in the distance.
The building with the smoking chimney.
St. Joseph’s: France
“I can endure the standing, Father Darius,” Wilhelm said softly. He tried to suppress a shudder.
Darius noticed. Oh, Wilhelm. You have suffered so. Never mind teaching you how to live as an Immortal; you need to simply feel like a human being again! Dear Lord, how do I do that?
The friars all filed into the large stone chapel. It was large, airy and well lit. All the better, Darius thought as he led Wilhelm to a seat; he knew that light always cheered the Austrian. Once Wilhelm was positioned, Darius stood close beside him so that he could offer an arm in support.
The service started and the chanting began.
“Aperi Domine, os meum ad benedicendum nomen sanctum tumm. Munda quorque cor meum ab omnibus vanis, perpersis et alienis cogitatonibus. Intellectum illumine, affectum inflamma, Ut digne, attente ac devote hoc Officium recitare valeam. Et exaudiri merear ant conspectum divinae Majestatis tuae. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum,
Wilhelm didn’t know Latin, couldn’t understand the words being said, but even so he stood up straighter.
“Domine in unione illus divinae intentionis wue ipse in terries laudes Deo persolvisti, hanc tibi Horam perseolvo.” *
The words continued. They were familiar, oh yes... His family didn’t attend church, but St. Stephen’s was one of the most beloved buildings in Vienna, and he had visited it often. A few times to attend a wedding or baptism, often simply to admire its beauty. When he had gone inside, he sometimes couldn’t understand the words, but the singing...and the music...
His mother had raised him to love music, and he had often thought that of all music made, the music made for church was the most beautiful. One time he and his parents had attended a Mozart concert. They had listened to Mozart’s Great Mass and Mozart’s Requiem Mass.
“Tu, Trinitatis Unitas Orbem potenter quae Regis Attende laudis canticum Quod excubantes psallimus.” *
Wilhelm’s attention turned back to the service. The friars were chanting a hymn. He looked at their faces intent in worship. What was it Hannah Handelmann had once told him? Hannah had been over at their house visiting. He had been excited because his parents were going to take him to the opera later that night. They were going to see The Magic Flute. He had been eagerly talking to Hannah about all the music that he would hear. She had smiled and had told him what she liked to do when listening to music.
“Music is wonderful,” she had said, “but don’t just listen to the sounds, listen to the words and think about the meaning behind them. If there are no words, think about the meaning behind the sounds. What did the writer intend? What do the singers intend? What is the music trying to do? ”
He gazed at the friars. He knew what they were trying to do: honor God. The songs they were singing were to honor God. Singing or chanting, it made no difference; the intent was the same. Psallimus, he knew what that word meant. Psallimus: Psalm, Song. A Psalm was a song. A song was a praise to God. A song, a prayer... the intent was the same.
Wilhelm glanced to his left. The chapel had been built so that the right side faced the east and the left faced the west. From the right he could see light from the sunrise streaming in. The day is breaking, he thought.
“Wilhelm?” Darius gently touched the young man’s shoulder. Throughout the service he had kept a close watch on the youth’s responses. During the singing he had noticed the intense concentration that came over his face, and even... No, not joy, not yet. But for a short while, the shadow that hung over the Austrian like a cloud had lessened.
He smiled inwardly. He knew that one way to help Wilhelm to heal was to expose him to things that interested him. Music was obviously a major interest. “Come, Wilhelm, the service is over.”
The Austrian nodded, but before he began to walk, he once again bowed his head. “Ehr sei dem Vater, und dem Sohn und dem Heiligen Geist, wie es war im Anfang, jetzt und immerdar und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen.” *
As the brothers filed to the refectory for breakfast, Darius searched for seats for himself and Wilhelm and then gently guided his charge to a table where there was room. The room was a large one and well lit with sunlight After the food was distributed and the meal blessed, the brothers began to eat and quiet conversation began.
Darius noticed with satisfaction that Wilhelm ate his meal heartily, savoring every bite. “I’m glad you’re enjoying your meal, Wilhelm.”
Wilhelm paused. “I have always enjoyed eating, ever since I was a boy. But then, everyone that I knew in Vienna enjoyed eating. Food is very important in Austria.”
Sacher Hotel: Vienna
Wilhelm sat eagerly beside his parents. Tomorrow was his tenth birthday. His father had said that a tenth birthday was important; one was no longer a child. He would have his party and presents tomorrow. But tonight he was having an early treat; his parents had taken him to dinner at the Sacher Hotel.
Wilhelm loved to go out, and in Vienna there were thousands of restaurants to choose from. He had once heard someone say that few things were more important to Austrians than good food.
He glanced over at his parents’ plates. His mother was having the popular Weiner Schnitzel with red cabbage. His father was having Backhendl. He himself was having a favorite of his: Zweibelrostbraten, potatoes and sauerkraut.
He ate eagerly. As much as he loved Zweibelrostbraten what he was really looking forward to was desert. As a special birthday treat his father was going to order a Sachertorte! Wilhelm loved pastries and he loved chocolate, and the mere thought of sinking his teeth into the rich creamy cake made his mouth water. He was sure that nothing in the world tasted better than a Sachertorte. And the best part was that one couldn’t get one anywhere in the world except in Vienna!
St. Joseph’s: France
Wilhelm paused. “I also know what it is to be hungry, Father Darius. He began to tremble slightly. “I’ve learned not to take meals for granted. Food is not to be taken lightly...”
Bergen Belsen: Germany
It was freezing; the cold winter air cut through his ravaged body like a knife. He wanted desperately to head inside the barracks, because although it wasn't much warmer at least it provided some shelter.
But he stayed outside. He had to. Because worse than the cold was the hunger.
He couldn't remember the last time he had eaten; he had almost forgotten what food tasted like. At least at the other place prisoners were given something every day, even if it was nothing more than watery coffee.
Here, there was nothing. Nothing but cold, filth, and hunger.
Every day he and the others strong enough scavenged. Scavenged through the snow, the mud and the filth. Scavenged for anything edible.
Of course, even if he did find something he wouldn’t eat it. Whatever scraps he might find would go to Daniel. Little Daniel, who even now lay back in their barrack shivering and coughing. Daniel, who couldn't sleep because he was hungry.
Keeping Daniel alive was what mattered. It was all that mattered. It was all that he had left.
St. Joseph’s: France
“Never lightly.” Wilhelm’s trembling grew worse. Darius reached out and held his hand tightly.
“Wilhelm?” Brother Jean, who was sitting on the other side of Wilhelm, and was another Brother who knew German, gently laid a hand on the youth’s shoulder. “We’re all very pleased to see that you’re getting stronger,” the friar said softly. “You’ve been in all of our prayers.”
Wilhelm closed his eyes, but his trembling gradually ceased. “Danke,” he whispered. “That...means a great deal.”
10:30 – 1:00 P.M.
When breakfast ended, the work period began. Some of the friars left to go the nearby town, while others headed for the garden or various workrooms. Since arriving, Darius’s only task had been tending to Wilhelm. When the youth had announced that he would be getting up, Darius had requested and been given a certain daily assignment.
Gently, Darius led Wilhelm to a small workroom. Darius had requested it for a few reasons; it had windows that looked outside to the cloister and was well lit. Inside was a table covered with candlesticks and rags. “Would you please assist me in polishing these, Wilhelm?” Darius asked pleasantly.
Without a word the youth slowly sat down, picked up a rag and a candlestick, and began to polish. With a smile, Darius sat down across from him and began to polish as well. Doing something, keeping busy could help the young Austrian to heal. He also knew that it would be helpful to get him mentally interested in something. Music was one, and he had a few other ideas.
“Wilhelm,” he began, “when we were back at St. Julien’s you told me that you had seen many churches and cathedrals in Vienna. Had you ever visited a monastery before?”
“Ja.” The youth was silent for a few moments. “When I was young my family always went on trips. We always spent part of the summers visiting my relatives in Germany, but in the other parts of the summer we would visit the Austrian countryside.”
He paused before continuing softly. “Mutter loved the country side...and so did I.”
Ah, Darius thought. A love of nature. Another avenue.
“Mutter in particular loved the mountains,” Wilhelm continued. “There were plenty to see. Austria is a land of forests and mountains and we Austrians have always tried to keep it green. Some of mutter’s favorite places to visit were the provinces of Salzburg, and Carinthia.
“She loved the mountains and I did too, but...my favorite places where places near water. I loved lakes and rivers. I especially loved to go on rides through the Danube Valley,” Wilhelm went on. “The hills, the mountains, the river. Seeing all of the towns, villages, and castles on either side. It was beautiful. One could imagine that one had stepped back into a fairy tale of enchanted lands. It was...so beautiful...”
Wilhelm paused again and began to tremble slightly. Darius, feeling his grief as a physical wound, reached out and gently took the youth’s hand.
After a while, Wilhelm continued. “Forgive me, I...I’m rambling.”
“Don’t apologize, Wilhelm,” Darius said gently, “you can ramble as often as you want.”
“You...you asked me if I had been to a monastery,” Wilhelm went on, not seeming to have heard. “When I was twelve we stopped at the town of Melk and visited Melk’s Benedictine Abbey. It’s famous; its church has been there for almost a thousand years. They say it’s the most beautiful monastery in Austria. Opa had visited it years before and had called it the Jewel of the Danube.”
The Austrian’s voice trailed off and Darius sensed that he didn’t want to say anymore. “That sounds wonderful, Wilhelm,” he said quietly. “Austria has made many beautiful buildings in its long history.”
“Yes,” Wilhelm whispered. “There were many beautiful buildings in both Austria and Germany.” He shuddered. “And many that were not beautiful at all.”
He began to shudder again, and once again, Darius held his hand tightly. I must tread lightly when I talking to him about his homeland, he reminded himself. He will have to talk about it eventually. But for now I must tread lightly. When he sensed that the youth had calmed, Darius continued. “You have visited a monastery before and you are staying at a friary now. But do you know much about monasteries in general?”
Wilhelm appeared thoughtful. “Nein. Not really. I know that they are places where monks live, but that is mostly all I know.”
“Ahh. I know, Wilhelm, that you are interested in history. Would you be interested in learning some of the history of monasteries? How they began and why?”
“If you wish it, Father Darius.”
“No, Wilhelm,” Darius said firmly. His pale blue eyes locked with the Austrian’s dark blue ones. “Not if I wish it. Do you wish it?”
Wilhelm was silent for a moment, then gave a quiet nod. “Yes. I do. You can tell me about it while we work.” Without a word, he picked up another candlestick.
Darius smiled; this was a beginning. “Well, let us begin with the word monk. The word monk comes from the Latin monachus, which comes from the Greek monos, which means ‘alone.’ The first monks in the Christian Church began in Egypt in the 3rd century. The word monk was used to describe them because they were hermits who lived by themselves in the wilderness.”
“Like John the Baptist,” Wilhelm put in quietly, even as he continued to polish.
“Exactly.” Darius beamed. “Some of them had moved to the wilderness in order to avoid persecution. Others did it to separate themselves from the world so that they might devote themselves to prayer, fasting, and contemplation.
“One of these early hermits was a man named Anthony of Thebes. He lived such a life of simplicity and devotion, which inspired many others to do the same. There had, of course, been hermits before his time, but because of his influence they rapidly increased–”
“And they were called monks because they each lived alone in the wilderness,” Wilhelm finished. He definitely seemed interested now, and Darius silently thanked God.
“Yes. Today, St. Anthony is considered the founder of Christian monks. He formed the first monastic communities. Now back then, they were not formal or organized; each member still lived by himself, but they would meet together every week to hold services, such as Communion. There are still some monks like this today. They are called eremites, or ‘those who dwell alone’, and they live in individual hermitages.
“Most monks, however, are cenobites, ‘those who dwell in communities.’ They began when a contemporary of Anthony, another Egyptian named Pachomius, formed the first organized monastic community, and other soon followed.
“The first communities were very small, seldom more than twelve members, but that very quickly changed. Monks began to live in large communities that were permanently attached to certain buildings. The communities were called monasteries, or abbeys. A male monastery was led by an abbot and a female monastery, or convent, was led by an abbess.
“Monastic communities soon spread throughout the Middle East and Europe. Basil the Great, who became Bishop of Caesarea in 370, was a great admirer of the monastic lifestyle, and did many reforms in their structure. He also established a Rule, a set of guidelines, for monasteries to follow. The monasteries of the Greek and Eastern Orthodox Churches still base themselves on the Rule of St. Basil.”
“Did you know any of those men?” Wilhelm asked as he paused and turned his intense gaze to the priest.
Darius gave a brief start. Ever since they had left St. Julien’s he had not mentioned any aspects of Immortality; he had sensed that Wilhelm was not up to dealing with it at the moment. In fact, aside from once asking him if he was German, this was the first time Wilhelm had ever asked him anything about his past.
“And what do we have here?” Darius the Goth looked with contempt at the man before him. His army had made short work of the small village. The inhabitants had been bold in refusing his demands, but Darius had known that they were weakened. There had been an epidemic in the area months before, and many people had died. On one hand, it made the fighting easier, but on the other hand, there wasn’t as much satisfaction when it was too easy.
Now his men rode through the remains of the burning village seeking to find what they could loot, which admittedly wasn’t much. A moment ago, two of his men had discovered a man dressed in a simple robe of the Religious and had dragged him before their commander.
“I am Brother Andrew from Pontus.” The man was unarmed, but he faced Darius bravely.
“Pontus?” Darius asked. “You’re a long way from home.”
“My order encourages the giving of aid to others. Months ago there was a plague in this area. I have some skills as a healer, so I was sent with medicine and aid.”
Darius laughed and motioned to the village burning around them. “Well, as you can see, no one here needs your aid any more. And now...” He drew his sword. “When this village refused to give me tribute I swore that I would not leave anyone here alive. And that includes you as well.”
The brother reached up and clasped the simple wooden cross that he wore around his neck. “Will you allow me to pray first?”
“Pray?” Darius sneered. “Go right ahead and pray, monk! Not that it will do you any good. Not that it ever has, I’d wager! But fine!” He roughly shoved the monk down and raised his sword. “If you don’t want to die on your feet like a man, then you can die as you’ve lived... on your knees! ”
His sword came down.
Darius casually wiped the monk’s blood off his sword and turned to his student Grayson who, as always, was at his side. “The trouble with those who wear monks’ robes, Grayson, is that they die so easily that they’re almost not worth the bother.”
St. Joseph’s: France
“No,” Darius said quietly. “I was alive at the time, but I did not meet them.”
Wilhelm gave a slight nod, obviously satisfied with that answer, and returned his gaze to the candlesticks. “Please...go on.”
Darius took a breath. “Christianity was introduced to Britain by the Romans. They also introduced their culture to that land and the Britons became quite Romanized. All except for Scotland,” Darius smiled as he thought of Duncan MacLeod, “and Ireland, which the Romans were never able to conquer.”
“The luck of the Irish,’” Wilhelm whispered, as he put down his candlestick and reached for another. “I heard someone say that once.”
Darius smiled. “Many people do not realize this, but St. Patrick was actually from England. When he was a young man, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave to Ireland. Years later, he was able to escape, but felt that God was calling him to convert the Irish to Christianity. So he studied for the priesthood, and in 432 he returned to Ireland as a missionary. He spent the rest of his life there, traveling and preaching.”
“He obviously succeeded,” Wilhelm put in.
Darius chuckled. “Oh yes, he was quite successful. He was eventually appointed Bishop of Ireland and a unique Celtic Church began. Monasteries were greatly renowned as centers of learning and scholarship. In fact, abbots were so prominent that they were responsible for the selection of bishops. For a long time it was not churches, but abbeys that were the spiritual centers of an area.”
Darius leaned forward. “Did you know, Wilhelm, that Irish monks were not only great scholars, but missionaries as well?”
Wilhelm shook his head.
“They were indeed,” Darius continued. “They traveled throughout the British Isles and to the mainland, teaching. Several of them came here to France, and others went to Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia.”
Darius smiled as he thought of another friend of his, the nearly 5,000–year–old Methos. The ancient Immortal had once traveled to Iceland in a rowboat with six monks who sang the entire time. He had hated the water ever since. Darius still chuckled every time he thought of that story.
He continued his narrative. “St. Columba founded several important monasteries. One was built on Iona, just off the coast of Scotland. It became the dominant monastery for the British Isles and a thriving missionary center.
“Another important monastery Columba founded was at Kells. It was at Kells that most of the famous Book of Kells was written.”
Darius smiled. “A good friend of mine, Sean Burns, would be able to tell you a great deal about the Irish Church, Wilhelm. He was an Irish monk.” In the 9th century and he suffered his First Death defending the Book of Kells from Vikings!
“He’s a fine man,” Darius continued. “He has been quite busy helping people injured by the war, but he will be visiting here in a few weeks. It would be good for you to talk to him. He would be a good friend to you.” And when the time is right I think he would be a good teacher for you as well.
Darius glanced at the clock on the wall; they had been at this for over an hour. “Wilhelm, I am going to the kitchen for a short while. Will you be all right here by yourself?”
Darius stood up, gently clasped the youth’s shoulder, and then headed out the door.
As he headed through the halls, Darius pondered. He seems to like doing things with his hands and he enjoys hearing about history. I can definitely accommodate him with that. I know that he enjoys music. I will have to speak to the guardian about getting a record player, or listening to the radio. I know one or two music stations...
Darius arrived in the kitchen. The cook, Brother Luke, looked over at him from the sink where he had been washing pots. “Bonjour,* Brother Darius. How are you this afternoon?”
Darius smiled at the friendly middle-aged brother. “Bonjour, Brother Luke. I'm fine.”
“And how is our young Wilhelm?”
“His body is recovering well. However, he still has deep wounds to his soul that need to be healed.”
The brother frowned. “I would imagine so, after all he has suffered. Please tell him that I am praying for him daily, and I know that I speak for the other brethren.”
Darius smiled. “Of that I have no doubt. Now, do you have what I asked for?”
The cook smiled. “I do indeed.” He turned off the water, dried his hands and then headed over to a counter. Sitting on it was a tray with some small sandwich halves. “Here you are, just as you requested; herb cheese and tomato.”
“Good. And the tea?”
“I have it right over there.” The cook motioned to the stove. “Brewed to double strength.”
“Good, the more concentrated the liquid...” Darius turned to the refrigerator.
“And how does our young friend enjoy tea?” Brother Luke asked as Darius bustled around. “Did you give him any of your famous blends at St. Julien’s before you arrived here?”
Darius looked over at him. “I did indeed, Brother. Just before we left, I gave him some of my reindeer moss. I explained that it has a lot of Vitamin C.”
Brother Luke chuckled. “Ahhh, that blend! And how did he enjoy it?”
Darius’s face grew solemn. “He simply drank it. His face never lost expression. There was no more reaction than if he had been drinking water. I don’t think that the taste meant anything to him at all. I had a feeling that that might be the case.”
The brother’s normally jovial expression grew serious. “I see.”
“Hopefully, though, he should enjoy this much more.”
“Hello again, Wilhelm,” Darius said brightly as he reentered the work room and put the tray down on the table. “It’s time for a little break, and I’ve brought us both a snack.”
Wilhelm put the candlestick he was holding down and looked at the tray. “What is it?” he asked.
“Some tea sandwiches: herb cheese and tomato. And something to drink.” He put a tall glass in front of Wilhelm, who gazed at it curiously.
“This is an American delicacy: ice tea. Try some.”
Wilhelm reached for the glass and took a sip. “It’s good.”
“Alexander Puskin once said that ecstasy is a glass full of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth,” Darius said with a broad smile. “This is spiced apple flavored.”
The two men sat and ate in companionable silence for a few minutes. Darius again noted that the youth ate slowly, but hardily. From time to time Wilhelm looked out the window into the cloister. They could see a few friars walking through, and two others were working on weeding.
“Whenever I’m in a monastery or friary, I always enjoy looking out at the cloister,” Darius said. “You always can see some movement. To me the cloister is the heart of the monastery.”
After a while, Wilhelm once again looked at Darius. “Could you tell me more about monasteries, Father Darius? I’m quite interested.”
“Gladly,” Darius said, as he finished off a sandwich. “It’s quite an interesting subject. One of the most important people to western Monasticism was Benedict of Nursia. He was born in Italy around 480 and went to Rome to study. He wasn’t happy with the worldly lifestyle there, decided to become a hermit and spent years living by himself in a cave near Subiaco.
“After several years, a group of monks asked him to become their abbot, and over the next twelve years he founded several different communities. The most important one was the Abbey of Monte Cassino. It still exists today; the oldest working monastery in Europe. It was there, around 529, that Benedict, and his sister Scholastica, founded the Order of Saint Benedict, or the Benedictine Order.”
“I’ve heard of them,” Wilhelm said quietly, as he finished his snack and wiped his mouth with a napkin.
“I’m not surprised,” Darius agreed. “When people think of monks, they usually picture the Benedictines. For centuries, they were the largest monastic order in Europe. The Rule of Saint Benedict is the model for most western monasteries.”
Darius gave a slight smile. “Another associate of mine, Brother Paul, is a Benedictine abbot.”
“Is he here in France?” Wilhelm asked, an eyebrow raised.
“No. His monastery, San Christoforo, is in Italy, but we have visited each other from time to time, and keep up a regular correspondence.” Darius’s smile widened. “He is also a friend of Duncan MacLeod.”
Wilhelm nodded slightly as he once again reached for a candlestick.
He was also a friend of St. Benedict, Darius thought privately. And before that, of Saint Paul! Someday, when you’re ready, Wilhelm, I’ll tell you more about that. And about my past.
Darius put the plates and glasses aside; Brother Luke had told him that he would come by and get them later.
He continued his instruction. “Benedictine monks, of course, live in monasteries, headed by an abbot. Some monasteries however are quite small. A small Benedictine monastery is called a priory and the head of it is called a prior.
“Benedictines have both male and female members. In addition to the Rule, they, like all monks and priests, take three special vows–”
“Poverty, chastity and obedience,” Wilhelm put in. “I’ve heard of that.”
“Very good, Wilhelm. I might have to give you a quiz later.
“Benedictines also take two other important vows: stability and conversion. This means that he places himself under the authority of his abbot, will not leave the monastery without serious reason and, most of all, will follow the teachings of Christ in all things.’
“Follow the teachings of Christ in all things,” Wilhelm whispered. He put the candlestick he was holding down and was quiet for several minutes. “That’s what a Christian is,” he finally murmured, “a follower of Christ. A ‘Little Christ’. That’s where the word came from. I read that once...a long time ago.”
Darius nodded. “Throughout their history, Benedictines have been known for their emphasis on prayer, contemplation, and especially their devotion to liturgy. One of the most important contributions they made was to develop schedules around the Officium Divinum.”
Wilhem again looked curiously at Darius. “None of my family was religious, but I’ve heard that word.”
“Of course you have. It means the Divine Office, the most important liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. The Mass itself is part of it.” Darius gave a rueful smile. “You may not have grown up in a religious home, but no one growing up in a mostly Catholic country, such as Austria, could fail to have heard something of the Divine Office.
“Officium means ‘duty’. Long ago, the Church decided that it was their duty to give praise to God and the clergy were charged with daily performing the Office.
“Benedictine monasteries arranged their entire schedule around the Office. On an average day, eight hours were spent sleeping, one eating, six working, five reading and studying, and four attending the Office.”
“It sounds like they were quite organized,” Wilhelm commented. Again he put down the candlestick he was holding. “Very organized.” He was quiet for even longer. “I was always taught to be organized. My father was always saying how one must be organized and efficient. Efficiency, he would say, was a good German virtue.” He began to tremble slightly.
“Wilhelm.” Darius gently reached out and squeezed his shoulder.
The touch seemed to bring the Austrian back to himself. His trembling stopped and he looked gratefully at the priest. “Danke. Please...go on. Tell me more.”
Darius gave him another gentle squeeze before continuing. “The goal of the Office was to give praise and glory to God all through the hours of the day and night. From the earliest days of the Christian Church, prayer was very important and Christians were encouraged to pray throughout the day. Many early Church Fathers encouraged Christians to pray in the morning, in the evening and even to rise during the night.
“Also, during worship services, the Psalms were very important. Special ones were chanted during the celebration of Mass. Out of all of this, the Liturgy of the Hours was developed. Or Opus Dei, ‘Work of God’, as St. Benedict called it. He developed eight services, each to be prayed during a different hour of the day: Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline and Vigils.
“The morning services were first. The first was Matines or ‘Morning,’ which was said at sunrise. Prime, was said during the first hour of daylight. The three ‘little hours” were next; Terce was said during the third hour of daylight, Sext during the sixth hour, and None during the ninth hour. Each of them only lasts about fifteen minutes. After this came the evening services. Vespers was said in the evening as dusk fell. Compline was said just before bed and completed the day. Vigils was said during the middle of the night.
“These became the common prayer services of the Church, as well as the prayer of monastic communities.
Darius gave a smile. “Obviously, there have been slight changes made over the years, and there are variations in different orders. For instance, at some monasteries they would get up at 2:30 in the morning to say Nocturns, or ‘Night Prayer’. Then they would go back to bed and get up about two hours later to sing Matins, and then later Vigils. In some friaries out in the country, they have Matins at midnight. Here at this friary, we don’t sing Vigils. We have Matins before dawn and immediately afterwards at sunrise we have Lauds, or ‘Morning Praise’.
“The Psalms are still the focal point of the Hours. All 150 Psalms of the Old Testament are used, with different ones chanted during each hour, on each day of the week. All 150 are sung or recited each week. There are also scripture readings, hymns and prayers.”
“Psalter,*” Wilhelm whispered. “Psalms means ‘song’, a song of praise to God.” He was quiet for a moment and then softly quoted a scripture. “Psalter 96:1 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied; singet dem Herrn alle Welt.” *
He took a breath and quoted another. “Psalter 95:2 Laßt uns mit Danken vor sein Angesicht kommen und mit Psalmen ihm jauchzen.” *
Wilhelm gave Darius a solemn look. “Just because my parents saw little need of the spiritual, doesn’t mean that I did, Father Darius.”
Knowledge of scripture, another avenue. Darius filed the knowledge away in his mind.
At that moment, they both heard the sound of the church bell, a signal that it was time for another service. Darius was rather startled; time had seemed to pass by so quickly.
“Come, Wilhelm,” he said. “It’s time for Midday Prayer. Unless of course you feel that you need to rest.”
“I’m all right, Father Darius.” The Austrian put down his candlestick and rose to his feet.
Darius quickly rose to help, allowing the youth to lean against him for support.
As he led him out of the workroom, Darius looked solemnly at the youth. “Brother Nathaniel, who is charge of the sacristy, will be quite pleased with the work we’ve done. Thank you very much for your help today, Wilhelm.”
“Gern geschehen, Vater Darius.” *
1:00 – 1:15 P.M.
Sext, or Midday Prayer, was a short service, only about fifteen minutes. One of its main themes was to pray for the ability to keep from being overcome by the demands of life, and for faith to the point of sacrifice.
As he chanted, Darius kept a close eye on his charge. Please, he prayed silently, give me the right words to say to this youth who has seen so much of the horrors of life. I have already seen some avenues to help him, please show me more.
1:15 – 1:45 P.M.
After Sext it was time for the midday meal; once again Darius led Wilhelm to the dining hall. As they ate, Darius noticed that Wilhelm frequently glanced around, taking note of how many people were in the room.
“How many friars live here, Father Darius?” Wilhelm asked.
“Is that large for a friary?”
“For some Franciscan branches it would be, but not for this one. Some branches have friaries that have up to a thousand. Some monasteries were even bigger.”
Darius smiled. “I’ve already told you how for centuries the Benedictines were the largest monastic order in Europe. They were at their height during the 10th and 11th centuries. It was right here in France, in northwest Lyons, that their most important monastery was built.”
“What was it?” Wilhelm asked curiously.
“It was the Monastery of Cluny. It was founded by Abbot Berno in 909. At the time, most of the monasteries of Europe were dominated by the local king or ruler. Cluny was independent of all but papal jurisdiction.”
Darius smiled from memories. He himself had been a member of the Benedictines at the time, and had visited Cluny on numerous occasions.
“Cluny was the largest abbey in Christendom until the 16th century, and during the 10th and 11th centuries it was The abbey of Europe. It was considered the light of the medieval world and was synonymous with spirituality. Not only that, it was a major force in art, thought, politics and reform. Popes, kings, and emperors regularly visited its halls. At its height, Cluny had over 10,000 monks and 1,200 monasteries under its authority.”
Wilhelm’s eyes widened, and Darius could see that he was impressed.
Darius’s smile grew wider. “In fact, my own church, owes its existence to Cluny.”
“Really. An earlier church, the Basilica of St. Julien the Martyr, was built on the site in 580. It was destroyed by the Normans in the 9th century. In the 12th century, my church, St. Julien le Pauvre,* was built by Cluniac monks.”
“The Benedictines were a very important order,” Wilhelm said solemnly.
“Indeed they were,” Darius agreed. “They not only worked with the liturgy; they fed the poor and performed acts of charity. They copied and illuminated Biblical manuscripts and preserved much knowledge that would have been lost during the Dark Ages. In time though, the Benedictines declined in numbers and importance.”
“Why was that?” Wilhelm asked.
“Partly, because many new orders were founded. I’ll tell you more about it during the next work period. For now, though...” Darius motioned to Wilhelm’s plate. “Eat. You still need to build up your strength.”
“Yes, Father Darius.” Wilhelm still didn’t smile, but again his expression lightened.
1:45 – 2:00 P.M.
Wilhelm felt tired after eating. So afterwards, Darius helped him back to his room.
“I’m sorry I’m taking you away from services, Father Darius,” Wilhelm said apologetically.
“It’s all right, Wilhelm,” Darius reassured him. “None is one of the little hours. And we would have headed back to our quarters afterwards in any case.”
2:00 – 3:00 P.M.
Once back in the infirmary, Darius helped Wilhelm lie down. “You’ll be resting for a while, as will the rest of the brothers. This time of day is for meditation, Bible reading and rest. The Benedictines called this time period the Lectio Divina or ‘Divine Reading’.
“The brothers here simply call it Reading and Meditation. Some of them will go to the chapel, others will remain in their rooms and read privately.”
“What will you do, Father Darius?” Wilhelm asked.
“That depends on you, Wilhelm,” Darius said firmly. “Wait here.” Darius left Wilhelm to go to his room. A moment later he came back, carrying a black leather book. “Do you recognize this?” he asked, holding it up.
Wilhelm looked at the title. “It’s a copy of Die Luther Bibel,” he said softly.
“Yes,” Darius agreed. “You mentioned that you were Lutheran, so I thought that you would appreciate this. I brought it with me from St Julien’s.”
He gently stroked the cover. “The Bible has an interesting history in German. The earliest German edition was a Goth translation.” Darius gave an ironic smile. “It was made by a bishop named Ulifia in 381.
“Then of course, there was the famous Gutenberg Bible, made in 1455. The first Bible made with movable print.”
Darius looked into Wilhelm’s eyes. “Johann Gutenberg’s invention of printing with movable type, enabled the Bible, for the first time, to be printed in large qualities and in any language.” Do you see, Wilhelm? Not all things done in Germany were horrible. Many things done were noble and admirable.
The young Austrian lowered his eyes and was silent.
Darius tapped the Bible lightly. “Martin Luther made a complete Bible translation in 1534. The Luther Bible was highly renowned and influential. It was a contemporary of the English King James Bible, and a primary source for Bible translations in Danish, Swedish and Dutch.”
Wilhelm looked up. “Is that...?”
“An original?” Darius finished. “No, I’ve had it for about twenty years. So...” He sat down beside Wilhelm. “Would you like me to read to you?”
“Yes,” the Austrian said softly.
“And what would you like me to read?”
Wilhelm thought for a moment. “Read from the Psalter. From the beginning.”
“As you wish.” Darius opened the Bible and begin to read.
“Der Psalter. Kapital Eins
3:00 – 6:00 P.M.
The next work and recreation period found the two men outside in the gardens. St Joseph’s had unusually large gardens. Half of it was for fruits and vegetables; the other half was for flowers and herbs. Darius led Wilhelm towards the flower and herb section.
It was a beautiful summer day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun cast its golden radiance over everything. The grass flowed like a soft green carpet, and a warm breeze made the grass and leaves dance and shimmer.
As they walked, Darius saw Brother Pierre heading toward the vegetable section. Every season of the year brought with it different garden activities. Late summer was the time to sow seeds for a second round of cool–season vegetables, such as lettuce, carrots, and parsnips. Darius smiled at the thought of the cool vegetables that would eventually sprout up.
As they reached the flower section, Darius pointed out to Wilhelm the many different flowers and plants that had been lovingly planted and tended by the friars. Among which were gold French marigolds, Nicotiana, the sunny Helianthus annuus, a feast for the eye as well as for the stomach.
Not far was the loveliest part of the gardens: a peaceful pond surrounded by water iris, calla lilies, river birch and pink spider flowers. Within the water, small goldfish swam, and, if you looked carefully, you could see one or two tiny frogs.
Overhead was a sweet bay tree. Its leaves had lovely silvery undersides and its branches were covered with creamy white blossoms. Beside it was a Franklin tree, also filled with fragrant white flowers. The sweet smell of damp earth mingled with the smell of the leaves and blossoms.
Darius sat down on a wooden bench by the pond. Wilhelm knelt by the bank and gently put a hand in the water, slowly stirring ripples. “My mother loved the mountains,” he whispered. “And I loved water.”
He continued to slowly stir ripples for several minutes. “There was plenty of water in Austria. It has many mountains and many lakes. So much water. Several times my family visited the Worther See in Funf Schwesterseen. One of my favorite places was Salzkammergut, with its seventy lakes. It was so beautiful.”
Two robins landed in the branches overhead, twittering for all they were worth. Abruptly Wilhelm looked up and stared at them transfixed. “One of my favorite lakes was Neusiedler See, he whispered.“ It’s not far from Vienna. It has so many birds; there must be thousands.”
Wilhelm, slowly stood up, not taking his eyes off the birds. “On the shores of it, is the town of Rust. My mother had friends there. It’s famous for its storks. They always come back, Father Darius, the storks. Did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t,” Darius answered. “I have many friends who keep me informed of outside events. But Austria is your home, Wilhelm. You would know it far better than I.”
“They spend most of the year in North Africa. But every May they come to Rust. And always to the same nest. Almost every house on Main Street has a stork nest in its chimney. The storks fly hundreds of miles, but they always go back to the same nest. The mother lays her eggs, raises her babies, then in September they all fly back to Africa. But they always return the next year.”
“That is wondrous,” Darius said softly.
Wilhelm’s eyes had taken on a far away look. “I love birds. I like to watch them fly and I like to hear them sing. Birds stand for...life.”
His voice dropped even more. “There were birds where I met Eva and Herr MacLeod. But at the other place, there were no birds...no grass...no life.” His voice had become a whisper. “There...there were birds at the last place. Sometimes...you could hear them...”
Bergen Belsen: Germany
People had died steadily before. They had to; there was too much hunger, thirst, lice and filth for it to be otherwise.
But it had gotten worse during the winter. The typhus had started.
Every day people died. Many were still here. At the other place, bodies had been taken away. Here, they were dumped in piles or left lying where they fell. If someone died in the barracks sometimes someone would drag them outside. Other times they were simply shoved off their bunks and left on the floor.
In his arms, Daniel coughed. Wilhelm stroked the forehead that was burning with fever. Earlier he had found some scraps, but the twelve-year-old had been too weak to get them down.
“Hold on, Daniel,” he whispered. “Hold on.” He felt slightly foolish. What was he telling the boy to hold on for? More pain? More suffering? More hell? Wouldn’t it be better to just...?
No. He mustn’t think that way. He had to think of something...anything to...
Suddenly, he stopped and listened. Could it be...? He looked up through the hole in the barrack roof and listened again. Yes...there it was.
“Daniel,” he whispered. “Daniel, listen...birds. I forgot about birds. You never saw them at ... the other place.”
It was true; he hadn’t seen birds. There hadn’t been any birds there. No birds, no grass, no...life. Nothing. Nothing but death.
Nothing but darkness... screams...pain...cold... death.
He shook his head. He mustn’t think about that now. It didn’t matter. Daniel was what mattered now. Daniel was all that mattered.
He heard scuffling to the left. The man who had slept on the bunk beside them was dead. He didn’t know his name. Not that he knew anyone’s; faces blurred together here. He recognized his face though, because for the past few days the man had been moaning and crying out in pain and fever. The few words he had spoken coherently Wilhelm couldn’t understand, although it had sounded Polish.
He had been coughing and moaning last night. He hadn’t cried out though; he had been too weak. Now he wasn’t coughing anymore. Now he would never cough again.
Three others were swarming over him now. Whenever anyone died there would be swarming. Wilhelm had lost count of how many times he had seen this done. He had stopped counting.
Someone was grabbing the Pole’s blanket. It was filthy and infested with lice, but it was still a treasure because it provided some meager warmth. Someone else was going through his pockets to see if he had anything. Someone else was pulling off his shoes.
Wilhelm felt the cold seep over him. Someday...it would be his and Daniel’s turn. Someday they would both be lying dead on the floor and someone would be swarming over them, taking their blankets and shoes.
Someday they would be lying dead on the floor...and someone would feed off them.
Oh, yes, that day would come. He didn't doubt it.
Shivering from the cold, he turned his face from the scene. It didn't matter. Daniel mattered. He gazed down at the boy’s face, and noticed with satisfaction that his brown eyes were open and looking up at the ceiling hole. “Do you hear them, kleiner Bruder?," he whispered. “Do you hear the birds?”
St. Joseph’s: France
“Wilhelm? Wilhelm...” Darius knelt by the shaking youth.
The Austrian turned his haunted blue eyes to his. “I’m cold, Father Darius,” he murmured. “I’m...so cold.”
“Come.” Darius sat down on the bench and drew the young man to him.
Wilhelm leaned shivering against Darius for nearly half an hour. Then he slowly slid himself off the bench and sat on the soft grass in front of Darius. “No,” he whispered as Darius began to move as well. “Please...stay there.” He reached out and clasped the priest’s hand tightly.
The robins were singing again and Wilhelm kept his eyes steadily on them. Slowly he put his head on Darius’ lap, still keeping his eyes on the birds. “Father Darius?” he whispered.
“Will you...please tell me some more about the monks? You told me that the Benedictines declined because other orders were made.”
Darius gently stroked the shivering youth’s hair. “As I told you, the Benedictines were the oldest of the monastic orders, but a few broke off from them.
“In 1098, a stricter branch was founded by a band of monks from the Benedictine Abbey of Molesme, who wanted to lead a purer, simpler life. They built a small abbey in Citeaux, France and began the Order of Citeaux, or, the Cistercians.”
“And what are they like?” Wilhelm whispered.
“They follow a much stricter observance of the Rule than mainstream Benedictines. Their goal is to lead a communal life of prayer, study, work, solitude, and simplicity. A famous member of their order was St. Bernard of Claivaux. He founded the Abbey of Clairvaux in the 12th century.
“Many famous Cistercian monasteries have been built. One of the most famous is Fountains Abbey. It was founded in England in the 12th century. The monastic community there was disbanded in the 15th century, but the building itself continued to stand and passed through a series of owners, going through many excavations and repairs. It’s been said that to visit its majestic ruins is one of the great experiences of England.”
“Ruins,” Wilhelm whispered forlornly. “That Abbey is not the only thing in ruins, Father Darius. All of Europe is in ruins. The entire world is in ruins. People are in ruins. And I...”
Oh Wilhelm, Wilhelm... Feeling tears coming to his eyes, Darius continued to stroke the youth’s hair for several minutes. “Its in ruins yes, but not destroyed. Some things can be repaired..”
“Some things can never be repaired, Father Darius. Never...”
“No...some things cannot.”
The two sat in silence for several more minutes. Then Wilhelm once again stirred. “Are there any other monastic branches?”
“Yes. There are the Trappists. They were founded by the abbot of the Cistercian monastery of La Trappe in 1664. Their official title is the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, and their goal is a life of solitude, silence, penance and prayer.”
“Penance,” Wilhelm murmured. “Prayer and penance.” He broke off and his shivering increased.
“Then there are the Camaldolese,” Darius continued. “They were founded by the Italian monk St. Romuald in the 11th century. He was a great admirer of the ancient Christian hermits, and tried to combine monastic and hermit traditions Their order has monasteries and hermitages in Italy, France, and Poland. There are also some in India, Brazil and the United States.
“Another reason the Benedictines began to decline was because of the arrival of friars.”
“Friars,” Wilhelm murmured. “When you first brought me here, I thought that the brothers here were monks. You told me they weren’t.”
“No. Benedictines, Cistercians and Trappists are monks. The brothers here are of a different order. They are friars. Technically, I too am a friar, although I’m almost never called that. The word friar comes from the French word frere, which comes from the Latin frater, which means ‘brother’. Friars almost always address each other as brother.
“Orders of friars began in the 12th and 13th centuries. They are often confused with monks; they dress like them and there are a lot of resemblances. However, there are a few differences...”
“What?” Wilhelm asked quietly, his shivering easing slightly.
“For one thing, monks live permanently in a monastery. They do engage in charitable works, but their main focus is prayer and contemplation, and they tend to withdraw from the world.
“Friars love prayer and contemplation as well, but they combine it with preaching and witnessing. They do withdraw from time to time for solitude and reflection. But they prefer to be out in the world. St. Francis once said that all the world is the friars cloister.
“Like monks, friars live in communities, but they are much smaller than monasteries, and instead of staying in one area, they tend to wander from place to place. Monasteries tend to be in rural areas, they needed farm land in order to support themselves. Friaries are usually located in or near towns and cities.
“Monks wanted to be free of worldly goods so that they could draw closer to God. Friars wanted to be free of worldly goods the better to engage in preaching and service. They focused on personal and community poverty, the better to serve others. Many of them begged, so they came to be called mendicant, or ‘beggar orders.’”
“Beggars,” Wilhelm whispered. “I have seen beggars, Father Darius. Many beggars. I think we’re all beggars in a way. But too often we beg...and receive nothing. Not even our own lives.”
Oh, Wilhelm, Wilhelm, how you have suffered. You, and all the others. Darius wiped away his tears and resumed his instruction. “There are four main mendicant orders; the Carmelites, the Domincans, the Franciscans and the Augustinians.
The Carmelites were the first. Their official name is The Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Their order began with a small group of Christian hermits in the mid 12th century who lived at Mt. Carmel in Palestine. Their goal was to lead a simple life of continuous prayer. In the early 13th century, they were forced to leave Mt. Carmel because of the Saracens, who were re–conquering the Holy Land. Most of them moved to Europe.
“Before they had been hermitlike, but in Europe they lived among and served the people, assisted in local parishes and helped the poor. They became known as the White Friars because they wore a white cloak over their brown robes.
“The next order was the Dominicans, or the Order of Friars Preachers. They were founded in the early 13th century, by St. Dominic in Spain. The main reason he formed them was to combat the teachings of an opposing group called the Albigenses.
“They were the first order to emphasize intellectual work and for centuries, they have been known as preachers, teachers, theologians, diplomats and missionaries. They are often called the Black Friars because their robes are black.”
“Intellectual,” Wilhelm whispered. “My grandfather, Herr Luther Friedrich, always said that one must make the best use of one’s intellect. Focus one’s mind.”
“It is important to focus one’s mind, Wilhelm,” Darius said. “God gives each of us gifts and He expects us to develop them.”
Darius stroked the youth’s hair as he continued. “Around the same time the Dominicans was founded, St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Order, the Order of Friars Minor, in Italy in 1209. St. Francis gave up all of his possessions and traveled, preaching and helping the poor. His followers followed his example and the terms ‘friars’ and ‘mendicant order’ were originally coined to describe them. For a while they wore grey habits and were called the Grey Friars.”
“Why are they called ‘Minor’?” Wilhelm’s shivering had stopped and curiosity was once again coming into his voice.
“The rich and powerful of St. Francis’s time were called the Majores,” Darius explained, “and the poor and marginalized were called the Minores. The new order took the name as a way of identifying with the poor, and showing how they renounced worldly possessions, the better to serve the poor and hungry.”
“Serve the poor and hungry.” Wilhelm was still for several minutes, then slowly lifted his head and gazed solemnly into Darius’ eyes. “Da wird dann der König sagen zu denen zu seiner Rechten: Kommt her, ihr Gesegneten meines Vaters, ererbt das Reich, das euch bereitet ist von Anbeginn der Welt!
“Denn ich bin hungrig gewesen, und ihr habt mir zu essen gegeben. Ich bin durstig gewesen, und ihr habt mir zu trinken gegeben. Ich bin ein Fremder gewesen, und ihr habt mich aufgenommen. Ich bin nackt gewesen, und ihr habt mich gekleidet. Ich bin krank gewesen, und ihr habt mich besucht. Ich bin im Gefängnis gewesen, und ihr seid zu mir gekommen.
“Dann werden ihm die Gerechten antworten und sagen: Herr, wann haben wir dich hungrig gesehen und haben dir zu essen gegeben, oder durstig und haben dir zu trinken gegeben? Wann haben wir dich als Fremden gesehen und haben dich aufgenommen, oder nackt und haben dich gekleidet? Wann haben wir dich krank oder im Gefängnis gesehen und sind zu dir gekommen?
“Und der König wird antworten und zu ihnen sagen: Wahrlich, ich sage euch: Was ihr getan habt einem von diesen meinen geringsten Brüdern, das habt ihr mir getan. Matthäus 25:34 – 40” *
“Very true, Wilhelm,” Darius whispered. “Very true, indeed.”
Slowly the youth got up and once again sat on the bench beside Darius. The two sat in silence for a while before Wilhelm once again asked to hear more.
“There are three Franciscan branches,” Darius began again. “The Order of Friars Minor Conventual, The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, and those who call themselves simply Friars Minor or OFM. I have been a member of that branch for...a long time. This friary is of that branch.”
“How do you tell them apart?”
“Conventuals wear black habits and their friaries are quite large, sometimes up to thousand. Members of the Order of Friars Minor wear brown habits and their friaries are small to medium. Capuchins try to keep their populations down to about a dozen, and they tend to be more rural.” He gave Wilhelm a rather mischievous smile. “An easy way to recognize Capuchins is that, unlike other Franciscans, they wear beards.”
Wilhelm’s expression once again lightened and he nodded.
“All of them, though, stress humility,” Darius continued. “Humility, love, service to the poor and education.”
“Education is important,” Wilhelm said softly. “One must never be ignorant. Education was not something taken lightly in either of my homelands. Germany was one of the first countries to set up a public education system. My grandfather once said that no expense must be spared in the battle against ignorance.” He paused. “But sometimes...education isn’t enough, Father Darius. Both of my families, the Friedrichs and the von Hohenburgs, were all well educated. My cousins were all among the top in their class, but they still...”
Wilhelm was quiet again. “Austria and Germany have splendid schools and universities. I once...thought about attending the University of Vienna. I was especially interested in attending the University of Heidelberg. It’s well known for its studies in medicine.”
You wanted to be a doctor, Wilhelm?
“My uncle once bragged that German universities were the finest in Europe. But, my countrymen still...”
Wilhelm’s voice broke off. Then abruptly he began to quote, “Und wenn ich aprophetisch reden könnte und wüßte alle Geheimnisse und alle Erkenntnis und bhätte allen Glauben, so daß ich Berge versetzen könnte, und hätte die Liebe nicht, so wäre ich nichts. I Korinter 13:2.” *
He was quiet for a moment, and then once again quoted a verse. “Da sie sich für Weise hielten, sind sie zu dNarren geworden Romer 1:22.” *
“Very true, Wilhelm,” Darius said. “Wer zugrunde gehen soll, der wird zuvor stolz; und Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall. Sprueche 16:18.” *
The two men sat silently for a while. Some butterflies fluttered lazily around. A tiny frog jumped up on a boulder.
“You still haven’t told me about the Augustinians,” Wilhelm said at length.
“The last mendicant order is the Augustinians, founded in 1243,” Darius said. “They are the youngest of the mendicants, and yet in some way they are the oldest.”
“Have you have heard of St. Augustine?”
“Yes. He was one of the early Church Fathers. He was a great teacher and theologian.”
“Indeed.” Darius gave Wilhelm a smile. “Augustine might have known some of the ancestors of the storks from Rune area, because he lived in northern Africa.”
Darius chuckled. “It’s true. He lived in northern Africa, Algeria to be precise, in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He was ordained a priest in the seaport town of Hippo and later became a bishop.”
Wilhelm looked thoughtful. “I think I’ve heard of one of his writings; the City of God.”
The mirth vanished from Darius’s face. “That’s true,” he said softly. “Augustine wrote it in 411 A.D. ... right after the Visigoths sacked Rome.” He was quiet for several moments.
Wilhelm gazed at him silently. “Father Darius?” he asked.
Darius shook himself. “I was...remembering Wilhelm.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Darius smiled at the youth. You want to help me, Wilhelm? Here you are, in pain, your soul deeply wounded and you want to help me. Good. “I’m fine, Wilhelm. The memories don’t pain me as they used to.” I pray someday it will be the same with you. “Would you like to know more of the Augustinians?”
“Although he himself was not a monk, Augustine founded a monastery. He also wrote a monastic Rule, the Augustine Rule, and although no official order was made, communities following this Rule flourished in northern Africa.”
Darius sighed. “In the 5th and 6th centuries, northern Africa was attacked by several Germanic tribes, including the Vandals. As a result of this, many monks and clergy fled to Europe and established monasteries in Italy.
In 1244 Pope Innocent IV united several groups of Christian hermits and ordered them to follow the Augustine Rule. Thus began the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine. Twelve years later, Pope Alexander IV joined some more groups to the order and the Augustinians were born. They spread rapidly and where often called the Austin Friars. The head of their order is called the Prior General.
“The Augustinians are known for being Apostolic and dedicated to universal service to the Catholic Church. They focus highly on education and are seen in many universities.” Darius looked pointedly at Wilhelm. “The Austrian Gregor Johann Mendel, who’s regarded as one of the fathers of genetics, was an Augustinian. And the German Martin Luther, who began the Lutheran Church and is one of the founders of the Reformation, was an Augustinian.”
Wilhelm said nothing; he simply, quietly leaned his head against Darius’s shoulder.
“There you have it, Wilhelm,” Darius said softly. “Those are the monastic and mendicant orders of the Catholic Church. There are other orders of course, such as the Jesuits. And of course there are various different orders in the Greek and Eastern Orthodox Church.
“Each of the orders I’ve described has nuns, monks or friars, and priests. Some monks and friars are priests, and some are not. Some men are priests, but are neither monks nor friars. Some individuals spend most of their time in a monastery, priory, or friary. Some have their own parishes and only go to monasteries, priories and friaries on occasion.”
“Like you, Father Darius,” Wilhelm said solemnly, his head still on Darius’s shoulder. “You are a priest, with your own church and parish, but at the same time you are a friar of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor.”
“I am indeed. That’s why even though most call me Father Darius, there are a few who call me Brother Darius, such as Hugh Fitzcairn, another old friend of mine.”
Darius gave a rueful chuckle. “Fitz, now there is a character! He was staying in London the last that I heard. Who knows, perhaps now that the war is over he might drop by sometime in the future. I think that you might like him.” Wilhelm Friedrich and the irrepressible Hugh Fitzcairn! Wouldn’t that be a sight to see!
After a while, Wilhelm sat up. “Father Darius?”
“While I am staying here, could I be assigned a task?”
Darius looked at his charge “And what task would you like?”
Wilhelm spoke hesitantly. “I would...like to help in the garden. I know that Brother Philippe said that I must rest and not strain myself, but...perhaps something simple.”
He glanced over at the pump. “That little fountain and shell; I would like to help keep them clean.” He looked over at the pond. “And the pond...I could remove any leaves or debris that fell into it. That’s not too hard.”
Darius nodded. “I think that could be allowed. I’ll speak to Father Michael.”
Wilhelm nodded his thanks and once again sat silent. His eyes turned to the grass. “It’s good to see grass,” he said softly. “I didn’t see it...at the other places. Of course, if there had been grass there...the others and I would have eaten it.”
Darius drew a painful breath.
“It’s good to see grass again,” Wilhelm murmured. He looked around. “It’s good to see life again.”
At that moment, the chapel bell began to ring again, the signal that it was once again time for a service.
Darius got to his feet. “Come, Wilhelm. It’s time for Vespers.”
“Thank you...for bringing me here.”
“Gern geschehen, Wilhelm.”
8:00 – 8:15 P.M.
As the private 8:00 p.m. service of Complines drew near, there was a knock on the door. It opened to reveal Brother Philippe who smiled at the young Austrian. “I have something for you.” He held out a tall glass. “Warm milk, courtesy of Brother Luke.” He handed it to Wilhelm. “Drink, it’s good for you. Plenty of calcium and very soothing.”
Wordlessly Wilhelm took the glass and drank deeply. “Danke,” he murmured when he was done. As the infirmirian left, Darius and Wilhelm heard the bells ringing again.
“It is time for Complines,” Darius said softly.
Wilhelm once again bowed his head and closed his eyes.
“Jetzt ist das Licht weg gegangen, Retter, hören, während ich bete, Bitten von von Thee, um aufzupassen und zu halten Und mir ruhigen Schlaf schicken” *
After he had finished his prayer, Wilhelm wordlessly undressed and got into the night clothes prepared for him.
After Wilhelm got into bed, Darius gently covered him. “Remember, I’m next door if you need me.”
Wilhelm nodded. “Danke.”
Darius stood and headed for the door. As he reached it, he heard the young Austrian rustling softly in bed.
“Gute Nacht, Vater Darius.”
“Gute Nacht, mein Sohn.” *
Bergen Belsen The concentration camp of Bergen Belsen was located in Germany near Hamburg. It had no gas chambers but prisoners died by the thousands from hunger and disease. In December of 1944, a typhus epidemic broke out, due to horrendous hygienic conditions, and killed over 17,000 prisoners. When the camp was finally liberated in April 1945 by the British, they found over 10,000 unburied bodies and thousands of sick and dying prisoners.
Prayer, Song and Biblical translation notes
Within Austria it flows for over 200 miles west and east and nearly all of the country’s rivers and streams empty into it. It’s an extremely beautiful river, and when one goes on a boat ride though the Danube Valley in Austria, one can see towns, villages and castles on either bank. The Austrian composer Johann Strauss Jr. wrote one of his most famous waltzes On the Beautiful Blue Danube about this river.
Melk’s Benedictine Abbey
The Book of Kells
Monastery of Cluny
Cluny began to decline with the rise of other orders, and much of the abbey was demolished during the French Revolution. Today only about a tenth of it remains.
Liturgy of the Hours Notes
Prime (The First Hour)
Tierce (The Third Hour)
Sext (The Sixth Hour)
None (The Ninth Hour)
Vigils (Watching in the night)
Franciscans do not celebrate Vigils.
Today Prime, Terce, Sext and None are usually consolidated into one Office during midday.
Monastic Order Notes
The word monk comes from the Latin monachus which comes from the Greek monos which means ‘alone’.
The first monks in the Christian Church began in Egypt in the 3rd century. They were called eremites or ‘those who dwell alone’ and they lived in individual hermitages. Some Eremites still exist today, such as the Camaldolese, and they live in individual hermitages. Most monks, however are cenobites, ‘those who dwell in communities.’
St. Anthony of Thebes and his contemporary Pachomius, formed the first organized monastic communities. Male members were monks. Female members were nuns. A community of monks was called a monastery or abbey. A community of nuns was called a convent. A male monastery was led by an abbot. A convent was led by an abbess or Mother Superior.
Monastic communities soon spread eastward from Egypt throughout the Middle East, and then westward to Europe.
Monasteries follow a Rule, a set of guidelines in their day–to–day lives.
Rule of St. Basil
The Benedictine Order
Over the centuries several Benedictine branches developed: the Cistercians, the Trappists and the Camaldolese.
The Cistercians follow a much stricter observance of the Rule than mainstream Benedictines. Their goal is to lead a communal life of prayer, study, work, solitude, and simplicity. They maintain silence, unless absolutely necessary and are vegetarians. They focus heavily on meditation and prayer, but they do a lot of outdoor work.
A famous member of their Order was St. Bernard of Claivaux.
The Trappists are even stricter than the Cistercians. They devote themselves to prayer and meditation and obey strict rules of silence, penance and fasting. Many of them sleep on boards and use straw for pillows.
Romuald founded the Hermitage of Camaldoli in the mountains of central Italy. Another important monastery is the monastery of St. Gregory the Great in Rome.
Orders of Friars Notes
Orders of Friars began in the 12th and 13th centuries.
St. Francis believed that the whole world is the friars' cloister. Their ministry was to be out among the people, not shut up in a monastery. Friars live in smaller communities than monks and instead of staying in one area, they moved about from community to community. While monks located in rural areas, friars tended to locate in or near towns and cities and were not tied to one monastery.
From time to time, friars withdraw to Retreat Houses for solitude and reflection, but they prefer to combine prayer and contemplation with preaching and serving.
Friars focused on personal and community poverty the better to serve others. They often begged so were known as the Mendicant Orders.
The Carmelite Order
The hermits built a chapel dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, placed themselves under her patronage and tried to pattern their lives after her. They became known as the Brothers of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel, or The Brothers of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel. Their goal was total surrender to and loving union with God.
In order to gain juridical stability, the Brothers asked the Patriarch Albert of Jerusalem to write them a Rule, and he did so between 1206–1214.
In the early 13th century, they were forced to leave Mt. Carmel because of the Saracens, who were re-conquering the Holy Land. Most of them moved to Europe where they prospered.
Before, the Carmelites had been hermitlike, but in Europe that changed. The Carmelites became known as the White Friars because they wore a white cloak over brown robes. The Carmelites became known for their growth in holiness and in the sciences.
The Carmelites were at first exclusively male, but in 1452 an order of women began who became cloistered nuns. At first the Carmelites were very strict, but discipline was relaxed in the 15th century.
There are two Carmelite orders; the Carmelites and the Discaled Carmelites, or Teresians, who were founded by St. Teresa of Jesus in 1592.
Carmelite friars call their houses priories. The head of a priory is called a Prior.
The Dominican Order
The official name of the Dominicans is the Order of Friars Preachers and they were the first order to emphasize intellectual work. Dominicans were often called the Black Friars because their robes are black.
The Dominican headquarters is in Rome and the head of the order is called the Master General.
For centuries Dominicans have been the main chaplains in the Papal household. They also were instrumental in the Inquisition.
The Dominicans have three orders: the First Order, made up only of men, was founded in 1216. The Second Order made up of nuns, was founded in 1206 and focuses highly on meditation. The Third Order is made up of both men and women.
Dominican friars live in priories.
The Franciscan Order
The Franciscan order was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in Italy in 1209 A.D. St. Francis was known for his love of peace and respect for all living things.
The terms Friar and Mendicant Order were originally coined to describe his followers. Many of his followers became priests, but St. Francis himself remained a layman.
The official name for the Franciscan Order is the Order of Friars Minor or The Lesser Brothers.
The rich and powerful of St. Francis’s time were called the majores and the poor and marginalized were called the minores. The new order took the name minor as a way of identifying with the poor.
A large percentage of Franciscans are priests. Outside a friary most Franciscan priests are called ‘Father’ or ‘Padre’. Inside a friary, a Franciscan priest is usually called ‘Brother’.
There are three Franciscan Branches: the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
Conventuals wear shoes, black habits with hoods and are not allowed to have beards. Their friaries are large, sometimes up to thousand people.
Members of the Order of Friars Minor wear sandals and brown habits with hoods. Their friaries are medium to small.
Capuchins wear sandals, brown habits without hoods and, unlike the other Franciscans, wear beards. They try to keep their friaries’ populations down to about a dozen and tend to be more rural. Capuchins were thought to be the most austere group and were the most involved in penance and fasting. They were also known for putting their lives on the line by serving plague victims.
The Second Order
The Third Order
The Augustinian Order
City of God
Many pagans claimed that the sack of Rome was a punishment from the Roman gods and many Christians thought that this might be the end of the world. To refute this, Augustine began to write City of God in which, among other things, he wrote that Rome was a copy of the ‘City of Man’. Heaven was the ‘City of God’ and therefore eternal.
Augustinians were often called the Austin Friars. The head of the Augustinian order is called the Prior General.
A main goal of the Augustinians is to spread Christianity through education and missionary work. George Mendel, the father of modern genetics, was an Augustinian. Martin Luther, one of the founders of the Reformation, was also an Augustinian.
One Last Reminder Notes!
Benedictines are monks.
Benedictine monks live in monasteries or abbeys.
If one wants to get very technical, only monasteries that have become autonomous from the monastery which founded them, are called abbeys. If they are not, then they are always called monasteries.
Small Benedictine monasteries are called priories.
Franciscan friars live in friaries.
Nuns of all of these orders live in convents.
Hermits live in hermitages.
Lay Brother Notes
Benedictine laymen are Lay Brothers. They are not monks, but work for the monastery for room and board and while there promise to live a rigorous Christian life.
Franciscan Lay Brothers are friars who are not priests. They are full members of the order, except they are not ordained.
Franciscan Third Order members are laymen who live at home or near the monastery and work with the friars in acts of charity.
Bible Translation Notes
Ulifilas was originally from Cappodocia in Asia Minor, but when he was a youth, he was kidnapped by the Visigoths in a raid and raised by them. Years later Ulifilas became a bishop and returned to the Danube region to introduce the Goths to Christianity. He invented an alphabet for the Goths, translated a Bible version from Latin and Greek and in doing so gave the Goths their first piece of written literature. Much of the Germanic Christian vocabulary used today came from Ulifilas’ translation.
The Gutenberg Bible
The Luther Bible
Luther’s Bible is the most widely used in German–speaking countries today and was a primary source for Bible versions in Danish, Swedish and Dutch
Ice Tea and Tea Sandwich Notes
Now for you food lovers!
Ice tea hasn’t been around that long. It was invented by tea promoter Richard Blechynden during the St. Louis World Fair in 1904.
During the fair it was very hot, over 100 degrees. Blechynden, who was selling tea that day, didn’t think anyone would want to buy any because of the heat. Then he had the idea of pouring tea over ice and selling it like lemonade. The idea was a huge success and ice tea has been an American favorite ever since.
How to make Spiced Apple Tea
Herb Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches
The Book of Kells, 1980.London UK. Thames and Hudson. 1992.
Sterin, R Conrad. Austria. New York, NY. Childrens’ Press. 2000.
Willis, Adrienne. Time Chart II: From the Birth of Christ to the Collapse of the Roman Empire. 1994.
History of Monasticism
Medieval Monastery Life
The Carmelite Order
The Franciscan Order
The Augustinian Order
Biblical Scriptures and Prayers in German and English