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 07, 2011

Blessed are the poor

The Gospel from St. Luke that gave the tone for the abbot general, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, in his opening sermon to the Mixed General Chapters Wednesday morning, had its own special effect on the beginning of this MGM. The protest of the Italian workers against the burden they are asked to carry in the recession, was expressed in a general strike on Tuesday, and no airplanes could fly into Rome before the strike was called off Tuesday afternoon. Many arrivals were thus delayed, and when the plenary session opened as many as 20 capitulants had not yet arrived. The morning was used for practical information and presentation of new members of the MGM, but no votes could be taken. (See the Abbot Generals homily).

We had nominations for electing a third abbess for the Coordinating Committee, a member for the reviewing of the Finances of the Order, the Generalate and the Commission of Aides, and an abbot and an abbess to assist the Abbot General in writing The State of The Order after the MGM is finished. In these short nominations you could hear the concern for experience and knowledge, wisdom, simplicity, skills, knowledge or representation of different cultures, knowledge of the Order – and not the least: Knowledge of several of the official languages.

The Opening Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated in Latin and French, the homily given in English. “The Spirit of the Lord has filled the universe, and He who upholds everything in unity knows every word.” With this Introit and the sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus for Communion, the Eucharist was celebrated. Fitting for an Order of prayer the whole afternoon was open for adoration, prayer and reflection, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the aula where we celebrate Mass.

The travels and the comings are part of an event like this, and it is good to have much prayer time to settle down in a new context, and opening up for the important matters of the weeks ahead. Besides the House Reports the theme of Formation is the most important at this MGM. The atmosphere of the holy town of Assisi is evident, and a special experience to see so many Cistercian habits on the street as you walk from one lodging place to the conference center. The meeting of the different family members is a strong experience of the General Chapters, the joy of seeing those you know, meeting in person those you have heard and read about, and getting to know new ones, discovering ever new features in the face of Christ.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra