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 18, 2011

God lets himself be found

  • The life of faith consists in a search for God, not in reassuring practices; it is a life of ’keeping company’ in love. God lets himself be found, he lets us keep his company, but he never becomes our possession. Conversion is not the determining cause of God’s tenderness but rather its consequence. God’s tenderness is at the source of our conversion. His pardon is no bed of rest; it spurs us on.

Dom Joseph of Port-du-Salut gave the homily in the High Mass this morning. The Region of Central France had the responsibility for the liturgy, with lively polyphony singing: “The Lord is calling us today to give Him glory – eternal is His love”, and: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Sr. Gratia of Maria Frieden lifted our hearts with her fine tunes on the flute.

Our infidelities, calculations and poverty are for God occasions to show us the power of his love and of his faithfulness, Dom Joseph said: - As a result, this new face that God wants to reveal to us will renew us and carry us far in our relationship with him, with our brothers and sisters, further in our monastic engagement, right up to the point of that which is impossible for men but not for him. This radical demand can go far, very far… It is what our brothers of Atlas understood and lived out in their radical attachment to Christ. To live is to love and to love is to risk, for when we love, we do not calculate, we give!

Sundays during the Mixed General Chapters are pretty much like other days, except for the High Mass in the morning – and some special cookies at the mid morning break and beautiful cakes for dessert. “Work as usual” is a necessity of poverty in this context. But when you remember that Sunday is the Day of the Lord and the celebration of the Resurrection, you notice a lot of small joys that makes the day special: Another hymn for Lauds, a special antiphon for Magnificat at Vespers and Benedictus at Lauds, given from the Gospel of today. On Saturday nights in Assisi there is a huge gathering in the Basilica for praying of the Rosary – with spectacular procession over the piazza in front of the Church. And there is even a lift in the joy that carries the MGM and the relationships in our big family.

We started the work in the plenary session about revision of the Statute on Foundations. Four commissions had discussed the suggestions from the Law Commission in the matter. Their reports were presented, and then discussed. The main concern is how to legislate the process of making a foundation in a way that, as far as possible, can assure a healthy growth for a new community without depleting the motherhouse. Another concern is that the General Chapter should have a real say in approving a foundation, so this question comes to the Chapter before the buildings are completed and the foundation is a fact. In this discussion there is also a question of what number should be the minimum for how many monks or nuns should be sent on a foundation, and a discussion on how to accompany a community that asks to be incorporated in the Order.

No votes have been taken in this regard. For someone who attends the MGM for the first time, it is interesting to observe the dynamics of the plenary sessions and the interplay between the commissions and the whole assembly. Questions and viewpoints are presented short and precise. People listen to one another, let the different views be heard without arguing against one another. There is a great ease, respect and love in the manner views are presented, also in the presentation of the different reports that may sometimes be contrary to one another. The discussions are not dominated by a few persons, and those speaking come from all different parts of the world.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra