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Brother Bernard Seif

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Publisher:  iUniverse ISBN-10:  059517471X Type: 


Copyright:  April 21, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781462005949

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The Mystery Monk

A centuries-old cycle of fear and death spans China, Europe, and America, and it falls upon the shoulders of a simple Christian monk and his companions to break that spell. Sixteenth Century France bursts into life for Twenty-first Century Brother Francis O’Neil through ancient parchments that have mysteriously come into his hands in China—along with their dangerous legacy.

A centuries-old cycle of fear and death spans China, Europe, and America, and it falls upon the shoulders of a simple Christian monk and his companions to break that spell. Sixteenth Century France bursts into life for Twenty-first Century Brother Francis O’Neil through ancient parchments that have mysteriously come into his hands in China—along with their dangerous legacy.
The clinical psychologist and doctor of Chinese medicine devoted his existence to studying the lives of his monastic founders, Jane de Chantal and Francis de Sales, both revered as models of spiritual friendship. Jane de Chantal was a wife, mother, widow, and foundress who was extricated from her difficult life by the empowerment of a French bishop, Francis de Sales. De Sales had no time for unhealthy religion and offered Jane de Chantal a spirituality that was gentle but strong.
Two of the main characters in Night Prayer, are based on historical fact. The rest of this monastic mystery materializes out of the lives of the personalities met in the earlier five individually-complete books in the Office of the Dead series. The addition of numerous pictures in this volume adds a whole new dimension to this capstone presentation for the series.
The last breath of light from the golden yellow beeswax candle sputtered and then flared out, transformed into a wisp of black smoke. A trickle of molten wax flowed over the black iron candle holder and into a crack at the corner of the old oaken writing table. She could taste the acrid smell emitted from the candle wick as it filled the air momentarily.
Although it was almost completely dark, the young widow and mother, Jane de Chantal, picked up a tattered taper and walked with practiced ease to the dining hall to take a flame from the fireplace therein. Having done so, she returned to her dungeon-like quarters and lit an oil lamp so as to continue her writing. The periodic screeching and complaining of the housekeeper and paramour of her father-in-law was actually more of a distraction than was the darkness. Tattered quill in hand, she dipped it into the inkwell as she continued thinking about what thoughts to scratch out on the parchment before her.

People continue to call it a hunting accident but I sometimes have my doubts. When I am not busy doubting the accidental nature of my husband’s shooting with that harquebus gun, my anger burns within me hotter than the flame in the oil lamp presently trying to lull me into sleep. My feelings then turn to guilt for being so uncharitable as to hold my dear husband’s cousin accountable for what he terms an accident That supposed accident not only took from me the husband whom I adored, but also forced me to move to this dreadful place.
The law is not very kind to widows and orphans. My four living children and I would be destitute were it not for the mixed blessing of my father-in-law taking us into his castle. I call it “mixed” because the man is manipulative and angry, to put it mildly. He knows very well that widows and orphans have little standing in the eyes of the law. I would be left with nothing and my children, who are just beginning their lives, would have an uphill battle throughout their time on this earth. I have always disliked bookkeeping and managing others. The sad fact is, however, that I am decent at doing these tasks. Thus, I find myself in this wretched state of affairs. The housekeeper here really runs the place and resents my presence, although I have saved the place from bankruptcy. She complains about everything and anything day and night. My children are afraid to go near her, and I keep my distance as well.
Perhaps my own dear mother, who died in childbirth when I was less than two years old, is helping our little family from afar. I believe that the two children I lost while birthing them are watching over us also. I was to mother them but it may well be that they are the ones taking care of us. I am twenty-eight years old and a French baroness living in fear and depression. I might as well put anger on the list, because that is what I feel as well. Yet the reality is that when my late husband, Baron de Chantal, went off to do whatever it is that barons do when they are traveling, I often divested myself of the beautiful clothing it was my state in life to wear as a baroness, and would put on simpler garb. Then I would go out among the poor and do my best to help them. Many times I brought them food, sometimes I bathed their wounds, and always I prayed for them. This makes me no better than anyone else, for the poor are more a gift to me than I am to them.
Even when I learned that my dear husband had fathered a child by another woman, after I adjusted as best I could to this devastating news, I offered to take the little child into our home and raise her as my own. This never materialized, but I am now consoled by the fact that I did my best, after venting my hurt and anger upon my husband, to deal with the matter in a way that was the most life-giving to everyone involved. It is sixteen hundred and one, the beginning of a new millennium, and I am being forced into a new phase of my existence.
My spiritual life, such as it is, seems to be the only thing that is helping me to cope with the agony of my present situation. Our good God knows that I am riddled with faults, and my understanding of the spiritual life is not very deep. I believe our good God also knows, however, that there is a longing in me as deep as life itself for union with the Sacred. How to experience that when surrounded by negativity, deceit, and intolerance is the burning and ever-present question.

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