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)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Lack of The Father

  • The journey towards freedom – pursued with passion by moderen men – has not actually created a freer world. Instead it produced a more unjust and confused world because freedom has been identified with the possibility of doing whatever one desires, and man’s desire has been dislocated from its goal: truth, from what is good, beautiful and eternal.

Mother Giovanna of Matutum gave her presentation on Formation to Unity in Truth at the MGM in Assisi this morning. We are moving deeper into the main theme of formation, on the memorial of the Korean martyrs. The flavor of the day came with the proper of the Mass sung in Korean and Japanese, and the readings in different Asian languages, Dom Francisco of Phare presiding at the Mass. It is a beautiful experience when we all are able to sing “Nunmulo ssipuridon sa ramtri kipumuro kpsi dan ku du rid a” in Korean and “E iko u wa se ka i ni o yo bi su” in Japanese. (Sorry I am not able to give justice to the two languages in their proper writing). The beauty of the morning singing gives a good start of the day.

I’ll move back to Mother Giovanna’s presentation:
  • The falsehood of modern educative project lies in saying “I am my own project.” The satisfaction of desire becomes my right. So we have left the young people at the mercy of their own desire. We have complied with and manipulated them through the media and fashions, reaping a fruit of death in artificial paradises of drugs, sex, alcoholism and pleasure. The elimination of authority is the abolition of the principle of growth, of the transmission of an experience, of the possibility to receive a legasy with which to confront oneself in order to build up, in one’s own turn, the good that we want to transmit.

Mother Giovanna speaks from a reality of the Philippines where most of the young coming to the monastery come from a very poor background, deprived of anything beautiful, deprived of seeing meaning:
  • Most of them have experienced violence in the family or in the society. Poverty is also a form of violence. This gives a certain mistrust in everything. They are struck by the beauty of the liturgy. I always talk about heaven and eternal life, but especially of the dignity of the person. Speaking of eternal life means that there is someone you can trust. Many families are living without a father or mother. We must give them a welcome, giving them time, patience and mercy.

She emphasized how the elimination of the “father” in our society and the relation between freedom and truth is a great challenge we have to face in education of the young:
  • The lack of the father is a great void which we discover as being behind their choice of not entrusting themselves, and their “gentle” refusal to follow. They are afraid of being deceived once more and of undergoing additional violence.
  • The young people desire fulfillment: a project that fulfills their desire, and fulfills it forever, a true proposal that can change one’s life and allows the experience of something beautiful, that brings hope. Something real and meaningful. They desire this from us adults, even though they do not know how to express it or are able to entrust themselves. They desire to encounter true, authoritative persons. The truth – not the satisfaction of desire  -  sets us free.

She talked about how the Cistercian charism is rooted in truth, how the restoration of divine likeness takes form of a journey from the misery of self-knowledge (through humiliation),  to a renewed acceptance of oneself, sacramentally in the hands of Mercy, to the sharing of misery in the community and the contemplation of Mercy itself.
  • This can be transmitted only if we offer it as the experience that has given consistency and joy to our lives. It is not a question of competences or strategies, but of entering into the creative and recreative action of the Holy Spirit.
  • To affirm the monastic life and the Cistercian charism as fundamentally ordered to make man’s essential vocation shine forth is the challenge which the contemporary world throws at us. This is why the anthropological question is more than essential.
  • Restoring the divine likeness in the person who enters the monastery presupposes a vision of man in relation to his Creator, fulfilled in Christ, leading the person back to the Father from whom he has strayed.

In accord with a point made by so many of the reports given from the different communities, Mother Giovanna spoke about the liturgy as the way of doing this. The way of the liturgy is also the way of the Word of  God, of work, tradition, love of the beauty of the place and service to the community. The praise of God and the glory of God is what leads to charity and unity:
  • In this vision, everything, from the humblest to the greatest gesture of our life, is held together and acquires meaning. It is the way to unity.
  • Only the son is free, because he belongs to and acknowledges a center outside of himself. This center outside of himself becomes the principle of discernment by which he can judge and decide, heal the ambivalence of his will and bend decisively to the common good. The experience of mercy creates persons responsible for their own choices and capable of self-giving.

Dom Vedaste of Mokoto in The Democratic Republic of Congo gave the first conference on formation this morning, in view of formation being something for every monk and nun all through their life. He spoke about the formation of candidates to monastic life, the formative role of the community and the challenge of modern culture.
  • In our monasteries formation is not simply a matter of the mind, it involves exercise in self-giving, giving one’s time to God in active participation in the Divine Office, participating in the humble work of the community and in  lectio divina. St. Paul, a great preacher of the Gospel, was also someone who invested himself seriously in order to earn his living by the work of his own hands.

Dom Vedaste pointed at the temptation of laziness, idleness and dependency both in initial and ongoing formation, a temptation represented in receiving much financial support from the Mother House or from benefactors:
  • The gifts we receive from them, the fruit of their labor, should spur us on to concrete application of “Ora et labora” . The young who join us must be formed by the good example of the seniors”

The work of the MGM doesn’t allow me to give more of Dom Vedaste’s conference today – I hope to get back to it another day.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra