Tell me about your journey to, from, and back to the abbey.
I entered the novitiate here in 2007 with Br. Leven, and was here for a year before I went to study in a diocesan seminary for a while. It’s interesting, because looking back, thinking about the reasons I came and left the first time, they are very indistinct in my head right now. And the things I can remember don’t really seem like valid reasons. I think a lot of it boils down to impatience and not seeing the growth in myself that I wanted to. Part of it also is just stubbornness and wanting to do things my way. When I got out into the world and was able to do things my way, I realized that I could do it, but I decided that it wasn’t all that much fun. I was missing that fraternal life.
What role did your upbringing have in your journey to monastic life?
Church was a big part of our life growing up in a lot of ways. Socially, it was a big part. A lot of people in our town were Catholic. My parents always encouraged us to participate in our faith and to take it seriously. They were always very supportive of my decisions and they never set any sort of road blocks for the decisions I made.
What part of monastic life brings you the most joy?
A lot of it is the solitude. Having the time to take experiences from work and community life to reflect on those allows me to offer them to God. I realize that at the end of the day, that God’s plan is being worked out. In my free time, I make books. I love bookbinding and I love reading. I also enjoy working in the gardens. I am looking forward to doing more interesting work in the future; I am going to be working in the library in the rare book room and helping Br. Joe with the grounds and the gardens.
Tell me about your name.
The reason that it’s spelled sort of funny is because it’s the Czech spelling; my dad’s family is Czech. I took my name after two people. First is Charlemagne. He used to have a feast day celebrated by our congregation of monks, which happened to fall on my birthday. He was a big promoter of monasticism and the Benedictine Rule within his empire. But my primary patron is Blessed Charles of Austria. He was the last emperor of the Austrian-Hungarian empire and he came into power after the start of World War I. It’s kind of odd because the Austrians and Hungarians were enemies in World War I. It struck me as sort of odd that their leader would be recognized as blessed by the Church. So, I started doing research and what happened was that he came to power after the war started and he tried to put an end to the war. Because of that, he was exiled from Austria. He died in exile and abject poverty. He gave up everything that he had to try to bring peace to the world. I thought it was just an amazing example of self-sacrifice for higher ideals.