Monastic: May 2009 Archives

Into the Invisible

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A faithful friend of mine in the Eternal City, an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, sent me this text from a booklet by Cardinal Pironio: "Povertà e Speranza." The passage is taken from the chapter entitled "Speranza e contemplazione." The English translation is my own.

In generale noi ci angustiamo e disperiamo quando non abbiamo tempo e tranquillità per pregare. I monaci non solo ci acquietano perché sono un segno di quello che deve venire (i beni futuri che aspettiamo), ma soprattutto perché ci introducono nell'invisibile di Dio e ci fanno sperimentare ora la sua presenza. L'esperienza di Dio nell'orazione ci inonda della 'letizia della speranza' (Rom 12:12). E' cosa tremenda, infatti, quando un monaco lascia la contemplazione attratto dall'illusione di trasformare il mondo con un'attività immediata. Il suo modo specifico di cambiare il mondo, di costruire la storia e di salvare l'uomo, è continuare ad essere profondamente contemplativo. Vero uomo di Dio e maestro di orazione. Cioè, un autentico veggente.

In general we give in to anguish and despair when we don't have the time and tranquility to pray. Not only do monks still themselves because they are a sign of what is to come (the good things in the future that we await), but above all because they introduce us into the invisible of God and allow us to experience His presence now. The experience of God in secret prayer floods us with "the joy of hope" (Rom 12:12). It is a frightful thing, in fact, when a monk, attracted by the illusion of transforming the world with an immediate activity, forsakes contemplation. His specific manner of changing the world, of building history and of saving man, is to continue being profoundly contemplative. A true man of God and a master of secret prayer. Therefore, an authentic seer.

Holy Abbots of Cluny

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Today is the feast of the Holy Abbots of Cluny, Odo, Maiolus, Odilon, Hugh, and Peter the Venerable. Each of the first four has a special antiphon dedicated to him at Lauds, the Little Hours, and Vespers:

Odo arose full of the Holy Spirit,
and renewed the beauty of the monastic Order
throughout the world, alleluia.

Maiolus, overflowing with charity and with grace,
and emulating the holiness of the angels,
was lifted high above men in virtue, alleluia.

Odilo showed wondrously what was the charity of his heart,
who, while pitying sufferings of the faithful departed,
yearly decreased them by a sweet refreshment, alleluia.

When blessed Hugh was about to expire
on the day of the sacred rites of the great Sabbath (Holy Saturday),
he greeted the new light of the Paschal Candle,
earnestly praying with sighs
that he might happily reach the promised land, alleluia.

At Vigils I read from an exhortation of Saint Hugh of Cluny:

Ever since we founded this monastery, prepared and helped by the divine clemency, we have very clearly experienced in this place the presence of the compassion of Almighty God and the gaze of His fatherly devotedness.

And here is the Collect of the feast:

O God, refuge and surpassing reward
of those who walk blamelessly in Thy presence,
perfect in us, we beseech Thee,
the love of holy religion,
that by the example and intercession of the blessed Abbots of Cluny
we may run with dilated hearts along the way of charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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