"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

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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Abbot Paul,s Homily for SS P?eter and Paul

Saints Peter and Paul 2010

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, in other words, what they believed about him, this was the answer that Peter gave, speaking in the name of all twelve. For two thousand years this has been and has remained the very core of the apostolic faith, the faith of the Church. It was on the basis of this very first proclamation of the Christian faith that Jesus said to Peter, again speaking to all twelve apostles, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” The Church, of course, is not a building but a community, a community of faith in communion with the faith of the apostles. Now St Paul tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ made up of living stones.

You, Br. Stanislaus and Br. Jonathan, are two of those living stones that make up the Body of Christ, and that is why the Lord Jesus has called you to become monks and to make your first monastic profession this morning, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Only someone who really believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, can ask for God’s merciful love and to share in the monastic way of life as members of this Benedictine community. Just as faith gives meaning to the monastic life, so it is the living out of our monastic vocation that begins to give meaning and depth to our Christian faith.

From the very beginnings of the monastic way of life in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, monks and nuns believed that they were following the example of Jesus’ disciples and of the early Church in Jerusalem. By focusing on a disciplined life of prayer and penance, meditating on the Scriptures, working with their hands to provide the few essentials needed to keep body and soul together, having all things in common and remaining faithful to the teaching of the apostles, they came to see themselves and their monasteries as rocks on which Christ could rebuild his Church in times of persecution or whenever Christians were tempted to become lax and easy-going in their following of Christ. In no way and at no time did they believe that they were founding some sort of alternative Church, but rather that they had been led by the Holy Spirit to discover a new and exciting way of life, the Angelic Way, the Apostolic Way, the Coenobitic Way, the monastic way, in which to follow Christ faithfully at the very heart of the Church. We see this to be St Benedict’s vision of the monastic life in the “little Rule for Beginners” that he wrote for our observance.

The three vows we take as Benedictines prove the point. Obedience is the first and fundamental Christian vow, the basis for everything else, and the vow all Christians hold in common. To obey is to listen, to listen with the ears of the heart and to open our hearts to the word of life, the word of God, which transforms and moulds us so that we conform ever more to Christ, “who was obedient even unto death, death on a cross.” We long to become more and more like Christ every day. Through obedience God’s “will is done on earth as it is in heaven.” Through obedience we are united with Christ and in the Holy Spirit to God and to each other. It is obedience that builds up the Body of Christ and keeps it whole, keeps it one.

Stability is not the promise to stay put in one place, but rather to become rooted in Christ, in the Gospel, in the Church and in the monastic community of our profession. It expresses the hope, the desire to become that rock upon which Christ can build his Church, not apart from or in competition to the hierarchic Church of Pope and bishops, but rather as a support and buttress, less institutional and more charismatic, but in the true, traditional sense of that much misused word. Monastic vows to do not shackle us to a legalistic maze of bygone restriction, that lead to a senseless enslavement to false tradition. No, the vow of stability, that binds us to Christ and to each other, should lead us to the freedom and happiness of the sons of God, who are both disciples of Jesus and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Conversatio morum, the third vow, is not easily translatable but means essentially “all that the monastic life entails” or “all that the Rule of St Benedict suggests”. Here you could throw in chastity, a very important aspect of our lives, and poverty, though we prefer to talk about austerity and simplicity. This is the vow which says, with St Peter and St Paul, I place all my hope and trust in God: he will see me through, he will look after me. St Paul, writing to Timothy, said, “The Lord will rescue me and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” And St Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, confessed, “Now I know it is all true. The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me.” On another occasion St Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the message of eternal life,” thus expressing the fidelity and perseverance of the disciples. Conversatio morum keeps us faithful to Christ and to the magisterium of the Church and reminds us that humility and moderation, the mother of all virtues, are those human qualities as well as Christian virtues that we should be cultivating as we dedicate ourselves each day to the “ora et labora” of life at Belmont.

Br. Stanislaus and Br. Jonathan, as you make your First Profession, remember that you are supported by the prayers of your community and of your family and friends. We will always be there for you, with our love and affection, as you progress in the monastic life and as you become more and more what God has created and called you to be. May the intercession of Our Lady and St Benedict, as well as of St Peter and St Paul and your patron saints, keep you true to your vows and may you discover, as members of the Belmont Community, the indescribable joys that God gives us in the monastic life. Amen.
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