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Saturday, I will be attending another barbecue, possibly wearing my gold glitter sneakers or a new pair of black ruffled high-tops that have only been to church, on vacation and grocery shopping.

I barely know the Benedictine monk who is one of four sons of the host and hostess, but would like to bring a gift. I realize the title sounds like a joke waiting for a punchline but that's how I Google search. Top answer of three was this, which was not especially helpful.

1. In no circumstances is a monk allowed, unless the abbot says he may, to exchange letters, blessed tokens or small gifts of any kind, with his parents or anyone else, or with a fellow monk. 2. He must not presume to accept gifts sent him even by his parents without previously telling the abbot. 3. If the abbot orders acceptance, he still has the power to give the gift to whom he will; 4. and the brother for whom it was originally sent must not be distressed, lest occasion be given to the devil (Ephesians 4:27; 1 Timothy 5:14). 5. Whoever presumes to act otherwise will be subjected to the discipline of the rule.

I could ask his mother, but don't want to ruin the surprise. Knowing her, she'd probably say he didn't need anything. Practical gifts are great but I was pondering something unique but befitting a monk, certainly nothing that would cause distress.

He is shy, moves quietly like a cautious cat, watchful. At the monastery, he runs an outreach program for youth, toils in the orchard and leads retreats. He is nothing like any Priests, Nuns, Bishops, Vicars or clergy of any denomination I've ever met.


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