Friday, June 24, 2005

Address to the community on the entrance of two postulants

(Today the Monastery welcomed William Simon and Brian Glasenapp into the postulancy, a time of preparation and discernment before the novitiate. Please remember them in your prayers. The following is the Prior's address to them at Chapter.)

We believe that it is Christ, speaking through the Holy Spirit, who calls us to religious life. This is a fact difficult to live entirely, but I know that we all believe this to be true. The reason that this is difficult to live is the same reason that the Gospel itself is difficult to live. As St. John teaches us, the lure of the world and the weakness of our flesh makes us prone to interpret events as if they were only done from a human perspective.

This human perspective, of course, is not intrinsically evil; it is merely the fact that our wills have been damaged that we find it hard to rightly appreciate the world. In a kindly respect for this limitation of ours, God uses very human reasons to call us to the monastery. But we must always respond with thanks for the gift and detachment from ever thinking that we deserve it somehow, rather with trust that the Giver can give us even more, if we allow Him. And what He wishes to give us is the One whom we seek and whom we love, Jesus Christ.

And so it may be that I was drawn to the Monastery by a love for the liturgy. This is good, and yet it can’t be the all; the liturgy might change someday. We must seek behind the gift of the liturgy, the Giver, Jesus Christ. Perhaps I was drawn out of a desire for brotherhood and friendship, perhaps I like the men who happen to be in this place. Yet relationships have their ups and downs, and we don’t know who will come tomorrow or whom God will call from us. Behind the gift of friendship, we must desire Christ. Perhaps I was drawn by a deep desire for silence and contemplation. Even this we must be willing to forego, if it be God’s pleasure to challenge us with spiritual dryness. Perhaps we will find that we were not seeking God in our silence so much as ourselves.

To make possible the purification of this desire for God, monks withdraw from the world. Today we celebrate that great Precursor, John the Baptist, who did jst this and so was able to welcome the Christ when he came to him in the desert. This withdrawal is a kind of death; it is a taking up of the cross. As such, it can and should be painful at times. We must—all of us, not just those becoming postulants –resolve again and again to take up this cross in the certain hope of our resurrection on the other side, renewed and refashioned in love, in the image of Him whom we seek, Jesus Christ our Lord. And so I encourage the postulants: trust completely in Christ! Do not fear to put out into the deep! And I say to you my brothers: remember the great sacrifice being tested here and welcome these men as you would brothers. Help them to learn the way of Christ. And use this opportunity to renew your own commitment to following Him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. In the Lord, we are not necessarily limited by our humanity. He enables us to overcome it, but He also helps us to perfect it.


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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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