"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012
The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch
Monday, 6 July 2009
Much has happened since we last wrote. Perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences was to celebrate First Holy Communion of children, little girls who live in a home because they have been sexually abused, sometimes by people in their own family. They have visited us sometimes, and Fr Luis and I celebrate Mass for them when their chaplain cannot do so. Anyway, they asked especially to be allowed to have their first communion in our house. As Providence would have it, a young man who sings and plays his guitar in Charismatic prayer meetings and Masses was making a retreat with us. We changed our normal, "monastic" format for a charismatic one, of a kind the children are used to. Afterwards we fed them on cake and chocolate. Another rather out-of-the-normal thing that happened was doing a programme for PAXTV's blog on Lent. Every week, the cameras and crew visited us to receive short talks on the Lenten season and what it means to prepare for Easter. Brothers Mario, Percy and I were interviewed, as was the superior of the Cistercian convent in Lurin. The blog is read in Peru, USA and in Europe. The whole set is in Youtube under our names. Here is just a taste, unfortunately for non-Spanish speakers, they are in Spanish. At the same time, Paxtv was preparing a long documentary on monastic life which will come out this summer, they tell me. I was also on a programme on Liturgy with a Passionist priest who is a scripture scholar at 8.00pm one Wednesday evening in June. After the show we discovered that we had both studied at Fribourg in Switzerland with the same teachers, about ten years apart. H
At the beginning of June we had the privilege of a visit from Fr Joseph, who is parish priest in the parish we left behind in Tambogrande. I have never known a more dedicated parish priest. He is the English Benedictine Congregation at its best - at least, some of the time!!! Anyway, we enjoyed his company; and he told us a lot about his girlfriend, which is a 1960 Dodge. Here is a picture of Brother Mario and Father Joseph in recreation:
We also had a visit from the Abbot, Father Paul Stonham, who was superior of this community until he was elected Abbot in 2000. He is doing a great job back at Belmont, and we are now doing well for vocations in a climate in England which is not favourable to vocations. Our pleasure at his visit was tempered by his health. He was in great pain, and learned on returning to England that he has cancer of the prostate. Luckily, it is contained only in the prostate, and he will be having an operation in August. Beforehand, he will be coming here to take part in our retreat on July 17th. Here he is sitting down, showing the monks pictures on his laptop. Here the abbot is being interviewed for the Paxtv documentary on monastic life.
As we are becoming better known, it continues to surprise me how much prestige the Benedictine Order has. One sign of this was the invitation the community received to go to a celebration in the Foreign Ministry to mark 150 years of Peru's diplomatic relations with the Vatican. They put on exhibition some icons which had been painted in the monastery. I went with Brother Mario, and Vatican-Peruvian relations were toasted in altar wine. The minister met us at the door and showed us round before the ceremony began. He had been to Oxford and was very much attracted to Maria Laach when he was a diplomat in Germany. Unfortunately, I do not have a photograph of the occasion. We are obviously now on their invitation list, because I have been invited to another ceremony this Thursday.
On June 29th, we had about 75 people at Mass, mostly elderly people who were on a tour of sacred places in Lima. We knew they were coming, so Brothers Mario, Percy and Wilmer spent the day before cooking, and they all received a light meal, which they paid for. We did not make much; but we gained a lot of good will. The bishop tells me that several people have returned to the practice of the faith after visiting the monastery. He has heard this from people and priests. Clearly we are being really blessed by God. The next day I concelebrated with the Cardinal at the Mass for the Pope
The final bit of news is that,in the last few days, we have re-printed the recording of Belmont monks singing Gregorian Chant, called "In the Presence of the Angels" and have published it in Spanish, "En La Presencia de los Angeles", together with some information about our monastery and guest house. We have sold over thirty in two days. On July 4th (not,hing to do with American Independence Day), there was a fair in Pachacamac, and we had a stall and sold our products, including 25 copies of the recording,mostly to people who do not know us. We were utterly tired at the end of the day, but we made a good amount of money, and - more important - met many people who now know what we are doing in our monastery. Here is Brother Mario at the stall:
Here Mario and I are with the Mayor of Pachacamac who went round inspecting the stalls.