After many fervent years of monastic life in community our good Fr. Eugene has requested permission to live the hermit life in solitude. In keeping with the words of St. Benedict in the Prologue of his Rule on the kinds of monks there is a long standing history of hermits in the Benedictine tradition. He writes: . . there is are the anchorites or hermits, who have come through the test of living in a monastery for a long time, and have passed beyond the first fervor of monastic life. Thanks to the help and guidance of many, they are now trained to fight against the devil. . . .they are ready with God’s help to grapple single-handed with the vices of body and mind.
After much discernment and prayer Fr. Eugene petitioned the Order for a leave of absence from the monastery so that he could embrace the hermit life. His petition was duly granted and he departed from us early Monday morning to take up the solitary life. We, of course, miss his quiet, fraternal presence and wish him every success.
Speaking of hermiting we had our monthly community hermit day this past Wednesday. A week early due to the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception, Patronal Feast of the United States, this Thursday. Experience has taught us that is better to celebrate Solemnities and hermit days a few days apart rather than back to back. Community Mass will be at 9:30 AM Thursday, December 8th.
The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.
It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.
Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.
There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.
A Monastery Journey To Christmas
Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB