Friday, April 20, 2007

News from N.S. de la Soledad

The principal purpose of my visit to La Soledad is to meet with fellow North American superiors. We share news of our communities as well as our difficulties, seeing if pooling our experiences can lead to stronger observances in our communities and a more evangelical witness. Tomorrow, we will be discussing whether there is room in our communities for men and women who are more inclined toward work than choir duties. Lay brothers were almost all absorbed into the choir after Vatican II, but there is clearly still some sense that an arrangement of different brothers in different capacities can be fruitful for all involved. We will also discuss the problems of the internet and email. Last year we discussed how to make lectio divina the spiritual center of our personal conversion to Christ.

However, it is always edifying to visit other communities with similar observances and simply watch the community. My brothers back home perhaps shudder when they think about the ideas with which I will return. It reminds me of singing under Bruce Tammen, when he would yearly take a couple of weeks to sing under the great Robert Shaw. He would always come back on fire for choral music…and the choir would tremble!

At recreation the past two evenings, we have had presentations from each superior on the story of the founding of their houses, then presentations by each of the brothers on their call to monastic life. This sort of sharing is very powerful. One quickly realizes, with the rabbi Gamaliel in this morning´s first reading, that if God desires something, then we cannot keep it from coming to be, and if something is not of God, then it will not flourish. Every one of the eight houses represented here (the oldest of which can realistically date its founding to the 1950´s, though most were founded in the 1980´s) has experienced devastating crises but even more significantly, incredible acts of salvation. God provides. What else need we say about the fact that our odd group of monasteries is flourishing? After all, the success of the Early Church was clearly against all odds, were it simply a human phenomenon. Yet here we are 2000 years later, and the gospel is being proclaimed in virtually every language in every corner of the earth. Glory to God in Jesus Christ!

We should bear these facts of our salvation history in mind. So numerous today are the ´prophets of doom´ (to quote Pope John XXIII)! The Church is always changing, of course, because it is a living Body. But change is not comfortable for us many times. We should welcome it in faith. How else can faith and hope grow if we never have to trust God, if everything simply continues according to our own estimates of what is good? Let us ask everyday for the gift of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, so as to allow God to be more and more, to be finally All in All.

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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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