- What Jesus says is indications of a spirit and an attitude that takes God and the Good News seriously. They show us what may be asked of us and call us to a spirit of recognizing the priority of God in our lives. They are indicators of the kind of choices we have to make not only at the moment of first being called to follow Jesus, but are challenges that face us each day as we journey to our heavenly homeland.
- Despite making decisions with forethought and consideration we cannot always know all the implications of our choices. Just as there were moments of truth when the disciples were severely questioned about their ideas of what the kingdom of God would mean and the reality that Jesus proposed, so it is with us. Life and relationships are made up of expectations, surprises, disappointments, and joys – the learning that is part of our schooling in love, our growing relationship with the Lord Jesus.
- The journey continues and life will continue to surprise us and we will have to learn these truths again in new situations. God’s plans and purposes are always much greater than we can ask or imagine. The important thing is to keep on the way to keep our eye on him who leads us and to be ready to be surprised. May this Eucharist, this celebration of the mystery of faith renew our faith and trust in God, strengthen us for the journey ahead with our communities and may he, Christ, bring us all together to everlasting life.
At fixed times all the abbots/abbesses come together. They discuss there the salvation of their own souls and of those committed to them. They take measures regarding the observance of the Holy Rule and of the Order where there is something that needs to be corrected or added. They foster anew among themselves the benefit of peace and charity. They devote themselves to maintaining the patrimony of the Order and safeguarding and increasing its unity. (C.77)
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
- There has been a growing transparency from Chapter to Chapter. This year I find a great honesty in the sharing people have given. This was showed clearly in the Regional Reports, but also in the House Reports. People have been more prepared to admit where they are. The work in the commissions has been along the same line. It is the 8th General Chapter I experience, and I find that this year there is more openness to other cultures, and more acceptance of others being different. We are not afraid to admit our weakness and difficulties.
- Is this special for the General Chapter or is it a change of climate in the Order in general?
- Dom Mauro, the abbot general of the OCist, talked well about this is his experience of visiting the communities, and I have had the same experience. Many people used to look at the abbot general as somebody up there, but my experience now is that people are happy to receive the abbot general, they receive me with love and very warm and good relations. I like to meet with the individual monks and nuns.
- Have you learned something new during this General Chapter?
- I have become more conscious about observing how people relate to one another. There is so much to learn from the interactions even in coffee breaks. Unconsciously we pick up a lot from what others say and how they interact, and we assimilate without acknowledging. I have become more conscious about how I do this, how I learn from observing others, says Dom Eamon, looking forward to a time of rest in Ireland after some very full weeks in the service of the Order.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
- Our sharing happened in a very fraternal ambiance, very relaxed and simple. The means of formation emphasized is above all the Community: It does form us.
- Formation is more about receiving than passing on. Our liturgical life, reading and study are all about receiving. Formation is about teaching to receive life rather than transmitting life. One’s daily work is a going out of the self to do God’s will, and allowing God to shape us through the hard work of reconciliation and building community. Dealing with difficult personalities is especially formative, because we learn to depend on God and to go beyond our likes and dislikes in order to love the other, even when he or she distrusts us. Stability is especially formative: “I will be with this person for the long haul.” This realization forces me to keep learning.
- The common vision is formative. It is within our differences that we can find our fundamental agreement through listening to each other. Everything in our life is formative. We are formed by suffering, by carrying the Cross in our carrying the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, while also experiencing our own weakness. Our failures are a part of our formation. Transparency with the community when we don’t know what to do can empower them to work towards an answer and foster union.
- As superior I must live the monastic life fully myself. Loving the sisters and brothers and giving them first priority in my life, before work, guests etc., is central to monastic leadership.
- The abbatial ministry will bring forth our darkness as well as the light. Our life is a life of faith. It is important how I respond to events. When we have done all we could, we must leave the rest to God. The encounter with Christ never stops. This is a real challenge. The diminishment of the community can be humbling. We must see it in the light of faith.
- God is in the reality, and we have to obey God in and through the community. Perhaps the abbot is the one who has to obey more than anyone else. We are humbled by the office, realizing our limits, mistakes, learning to accept correction, to apologize without defending ourselves. We experience the gentle compassion of the community.
- Meditating on the mystery of Abraham and Isaac, I saw that the “Isaac” that I had to be ready to sacrifice was my own conviction that the community had to survive at all costs. Giving up this deeply held conviction, my depression lifted. Let God be God, may his will be done. My task is the help the brothers follow whatever he indicates. A possible death of a community should be viewed with the same faith of Abraham. If our abandon to the will of God is pure, there will be a gift of life.
- Our participation in the work of the community puts us in touch with the lived reality of the brothers and sisters. Work welds the community together, and the young are edified by the seniors.
- The experience of listening to the brothers, of accompanying the dying, of accepting contradictions and criticisms from the community permits the superior to pursue his personal growth in all humility.
- Beyond the diversities of languages and cultures, we recognize ourselves as members of a single family within which we feel ourselves welcomed and loved. We have especially been struck by the meaning of the abbatial service, pastoral care, listening and mutual support, the search for the good of all and of each, especially in delicate situations, the patience, quality and truth of formal and informal exchanges, the atmosphere of simplicity, common prayer and Eucharistic celebration, the universality of the Order and of the Church.
Monday, September 26, 2011
- The necessary foundation for the transmission of monastic life in formation is that of truth. This manifests itself in the evaluation of candidates and their capacity to fully live our life. Lasting harm is done to the community by admitting candidates who have no vocation to our way of life, and it may be harmful to persons if they are admitted without the requisite qualities.
- We are a school of the Lord’s service and the Lord’s praise, a school of self-transcendence in which we aim to attain a common will – common among ourselves and common with Christ. Far from shocking the young, this honesty will attract them. They have not come to the monastery for the easy satisfaction of their desire, but to recuperate their identity as sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ. This Jesus and the whole scope of his power and love, is often unknown to them at the time of their entrance. We must participate in the transmission to them of the “truth that is in Jesus”, not so much by catechesis (information about the faith) as by evangelization.
- We must not be afraid of asking from those in formation everything that the Lord is asking of them. This will be ultimately experienced by them not as a crushing weight but as an honor and a call to correspond to the fullness of their spiritual identity. We must not impose a sacrifice, but see the particular greatness in what the Lord is asking of each person and call him to that greatness.
- Only the unified community is formative. A united vision is built and maintained by the teaching of the superior, ongoing community dialogue and coherent behavior on the part of all the brothers or sisters. Failure is inevitable, but these can be productive as they stimulate us to gestures of pardon, to recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation and a renewed experience of ourselves as saved by God’s mercy. The young will then experience the monastery as “the house of peace, dialogue and mutual assistance” that they have a right to expect.
- The ever deeper “fear of the Lord” based on the truth of who God is and who the abbot is, will get him beyond favoritism and pride, discouragement and self pity, and will enable him to take difficult but necessary decisions with compassion and objectivity. His own spiritual adviser can help him increasingly to discover and accept the truth of his own self.