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)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

From Unity in Disobedience To Unity in Obedience in Joy

”Mira la Estrella, invoca Maria…Mira la Estrella, invoca Maria.”  

You could hear people continue singing St.Bernard’s invocations to Mary as we left our chapel heading for the refectory for breakfast this morning. You can recognize a dear song even in a foreign language and with a different melody. The music of the Spanish/Portuguese liturgy brought out the joy of a new Sunday, a new celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.

Joy was also a point in the homily of Dom Bernardo of Novo Mundo, as he spoke about the two brothers in the Gospel parable this morning, both of them being disobedient, and we being like both of them – in the lack of joy in our obedience:

  • Wherever life and their individual decisions may lead these two, they will always remain brothers, their father’s offspring and the dearest object of his love, the mirror and the completion of one another.  Both of them are disobedient, even if each one disobeys in his particular way. The first brother has what we in our mixed commission called “un temperament fort” – a difficult character. When his father asks him to go to work in the vineyard, he immediately responds, “No, I’m not going.” It’s a primordial disobedience, it’s his standard response to authority, his “no” to the call to self-transcendence. “Grow, my son!” says the father. “Forget it”, answers the son.
  •  The second is also disobedient. He says yes, without having any intention of doing what he promised. Or maybe through cowardice and a lazy desire to please: he knows that life with father will be easier if he says yes than if he says no, and later he decides that his father should be satisfied with his good intentions, even if they are never carried out. Or he habitually acts out of mediocrity: Sometimes he goes to work in the vineyard, sometimes not. It depends on his mood, - or the phase of the moon. Or maybe this brother says yes and indeed goes to work every day, but without joy, without any good-heartedness or love or wisdom – all the things that make a human act truly human and that really are the heart of obedience. This I know from experience: I’m still lacking what I most want – to be perfect in just this way, as the heavenly father is perfect.

So, the father is stuck with two disobedient sons. But God has a third Son up in his sleeve, said Dom Bernardo:

  • And this son really is different. He says yes and does yes. He says, “My delight is to do your will” and he really means it. And he says something else that is truly awe-inspiring: “Father, let me take upon myself the disobedience of these other two sons. Let me be obedient in their place, and bear the consequences of their sinfulness. And little by little I will draw them to my way of obeying, my way of relating to you, my way of being a son. By the time I have finished, we will all be so alike that you won’t be able to tell the difference between me and them. Because we will all be one, just as you and I are one.

This unity that overcomes differences continued to be evident in the plenary session this morning, dealing with votes and preparation of votes. This work demands a lot of clear thinking and experience and language skills – to present a vote clearly and correctly so it is easily understood by all. To help this clarity the formulation of one vote had been changed from one day to the next, but the result of the vote showed a great confusion in a question that seemed very clear. “No, No, No” was heard from all parts of the aula. The moderator wisely said we would come back to the matter, and after the break there was a new vote that annulled the vote, and the new vote taken was as clear as the text, showing the unity of the assembly.

The foundation of Valserena in Syria, Beata Maria Fons Pacis, was approved this morning.

To the great joy of all we finished the afternoon session early, so we can enjoy a little open time before the work of the last few days.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra