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)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

SEPTEMBER 10, 2011

Sometimes you a just don’t get it. You hear the roar of laughter from the whole assembly, and still haven’t got it straight between channel 2 and 3 on your head phones, jumping on to number 4 (Japanese), and there the humerous, nice Italian Fr. Bruno in his brown Fransiscan habit has already made his important point of welcome. In French. It doesn’t really matter, you hear enough to understand that he is wishing us the best, giving us the peace of Christ and encouraging us with Our Lady, St. Francis and St. Claire.

Saturday morning the US Region was responsible for the liturgy at Mass, so no need to follow the Spanish text for the Gospel in the booklet, enjoying the easy way of singing Praise to the Lord, the Almighty with a familiar melody. Those of us who haven’t had early breakfast, have good time to eat between Mass and the gathering in the Aula for the morning session. By now you have found out what buttons to choose for the coffee you like, you know that the cheese and ham on the round table in the center of the refectory is just a tiny part of the breakfast offered. There is bread, croissant, biscuits, cake, juice, fruit, jam and yoghurt on the tables where you sit.

By a light knock everybody rises in the Aula, and Dom Oliviér of Cîteaux starts the verse: Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

The response to the opening verse of Tierce in Latin shows that Latin is still well known in the Order. We go on with the hymn “Nunc sancte nobis Spiritus”, and then the two psalms of the day are read – in different languages every day.

A few announcements by M. Marie of Glencairn, English moderator of the day: Where we can  pick up the laundry bags with clean clothes, who wants to see the musical about St. Clare can sign up for that, and tonight after supper there will be a video shown about Tibhirine. Dom Armand of Scourmont explains that it is not about the spirituality of the monks, but about what is known today about the crime of killing the brothers.

“If one doesn’t understand French, what possibility is there to understand the movie?” The question is quickly replied from the side: “Learn French!” – but Dom Armand kindly offers another show of the movie another night, with some English translation.

The Spanish group has arrived and are welcomed, also the invited guests of the congregation of Las Huelgas, emphasized by applaud. Then we are sent to the work in the mixed commissions with the kind remark from M. Marie: “ Remember to take your break at 10.15! Thank you” You wouldn’t think this was necessary, until you discover that time is already 10.30…

We are well into the work with the House Reports. At the last Mixed General Chapter in 2008 each commission chose some of the assigned House Reports to work with more thoroughly, according to what seemed most important. This time it is decided that each commission will look at all the reports that has been assigned to them:
The aim of the House Reports is to share with the whole Order the real state of the community. In writing it, the community reflects on its own monastic experience, especially as regards formation, dealing with this question in a concrete manner. The study of the House Reports is the main aspect of the collegial pastoral solicitude of the General Chapters towards the communities of the Order.

This introduction to the work with the House Reports is elaborated more with how to deal with them. The discussion of the reports is confidential. After reading and discussing report after report, the actual superior of the monastery is called in to the commission for further explanations and answering questions. The Father Immediate is consulted about the situation of the monastery, and can also be asked to come to the commission. “Care should be taken”, says the text about the procedure, “ at every stage, to respect the legitimate sensitivity of  the superior of the house studied and of everyone concerned.”

So during these sessions there is a lot of coming and going, as the different superiors are called to meet in a different commission, either for the treatment of their own House Report, or for a monastery of which they have the responsibility as Father Immediate. A soft knock on a door and a careful voice: “Would you be able to come to our commission?” – or a more humerous and direct knock; “Excuse me, but I want to take this man”. And the joking relief of the superior who returns from being questioned – relief both of being heard and understood, and receiving good advice and encouragement.