Sunday, March 25, 2012
March 25 - "Who Starts a Monastery?"
Today we consider the question, “Who starts a monastery?”
Ever wondered about that before? It has happened in many ways in history, which is interesting in itself. Perhaps we tend to think that the Pope says, “Here is a nice dormitory adjacent to a nice church, and here are some nice bolts of fabric for you . . . go make habits and start chanting the Divine Office!”
Not usually! This intrigues us! Most abbeys have begun just as ours did, with one or two hearts that wanted the privilege of living in worship and the discipline of forcing the soul to comply with the desires of the spirit (the one being willing and the other, weak!) Technicalities! They can make or break us.
That pair, or maybe three or four at most, of seeking, searching, determined men or women would commit to one another with a goal and vision before them. They determined upon worship; they determined upon prayer; they made sure they would have at least enough isolation and stillness to command their own souls.
When Mother Duss formed the Regina Laudis community, she came to America from France with one monastic sister. Her heart had been prompted by the white star on the hood of a Jeep as the American military rolled into Jouare to deliver the city from Nazi occupation. In America, a Protestant benefactor gave them land, and the community grew, but without gaining full abbatial standing for many years. They worked and worshiped without papal support.
This little community would never have survived without uncompromising vision. Neither will our devotional habit! They saw themselves as bringing blessing to this country and so became one of the first Benedictine houses of worship in America. We must see ourselves as bringing pleasure to the heart of God and obtaining from Him those things we ask in prayer. If not 100% of the time just at first, 30% is a good starting place. If not 30%, 15% of prayers answered is vastly more than no answer to any prayer, for none are ever offered.
For the record, here in Cor Unum Abbey, we remember that our prayers are meant to be answered. We are commended by Jesus Christ to faith and to receiving of God what we ask of Him. We have vision; we have hope. We are about to have practice, and we will see progress. Who starts a monastery? We do.