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)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Love means good family relations

Monday morning gave the capitulants an occation for applaud after applaud, just like at the end of a most wonderful concert or theatre performance. At the MGM in Assisi it was our brother abbot general of the Cistercian Order, Dom Mauro Guiseppe  Lepori, who was met with the overwhelming applaud. It was a clear sign of the good relations that has been built up between the two Orders  of the Cistercians over the last 10 – 15 years, but also an attribute to Dom Mauro’s personal charism and interesting presentation to the MGM.

Dom Mauro was the abbot of Haute Rive in Switzerland until he was elected abbot general last year. He is well known by a great number of abbots and abbesses in our Order, a fruit of the extensive cooperation that has been over the years through regional and central formation programs and superior meetings.

Our abbot general Dom Eamon introduced Dom Mauro letting us know what warm welcome our sister Order gave him when he first greeted their synod. Dom Mauro said that one of his tasks as abbot general is to promote the good relations between our two Orders:
  • The press has exaggerated when they said I want to make us into one Order – we haven’t come that far yet.
After giving a very open and interesting presentation of his Order and the situation of the 13 congregations of the Order, sharing some of the pain and troubles they are facing, he addressed the relationship between our Orders.

The friendship between our monasteries is very palpable. I want to thank you for all the times you have supported our monasteries when they have experienced difficulties. In both Orders we see that for example in Italy we have some monasteries who are struggling, others that are thriving: Maybe this is an area where we could work together analyzing the situation? I also think we could work together promoting the case of beatification of monks and nuns from our common history. It would be a favorable time now, with a German Pope, to ask for Gertrud of Helfta to become a Doctor of the Church.

Another great and long applaud for Dom Mauro at this point.

He gave a picture of his Order as being in a great crisis, but at the same time with a flourishing congregation in Vietnam where they have 14 monasteries with 900 members. But other places there is great fragility with aging, drop in numbers and few vocations.

My priority is that we have to support one another, show friendship and love making a journey and a visit. We can’t just close a house because they are not living the monastic life well. We have to simplify and adjust to a new situation. Brotherly love can heal and build up. Conversion is the fruit of love and the greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit. I have seen this in a community with great interior divisions. Everything is possible for God. We have to pray for a conversion of heart, and it happens, by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Rather than closing a house where it seems that the life has become decadent, we must try to listen and find solutions together. It is not easy, we have to pray.

There were many in the assembly who had questions to Dom Mauro, and since several knew him well, the questions were open and direct, and he replied in a similar way. Dom Bernardo of Novo Mundo asked him to repeat to the chapters what he had said visiting them in Brasil:
  • The problem for the rich young man was not so much giving up his riches as Jesus invited him to do, but to stand the loving regard of Jesus. Yes, this is the question, to be able to receive the love of Christ, not with fear but with openness to what then will happen next. We have to come with love, support and help.

Both Sunday afternoon, half of Monday morning and Monday afternoon is used for work in the commissions. We are grateful for all the prayers for this work of brotherly and sisterly love.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra