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November 12, 2017

ABBEY NEWS

Join Us In Celebrating A Special Benedictine Feast
Those interested in the Benedictine Family may be interested in knowing that tomorrow, November 13th, within the Benedictine liturgical tradition, we celebrate the feast of all the Saints who have lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict, usually referred to as All Saints of the Benedictine Order. As members of the Benedictine Family we Cistercians include our own saints as well, the famous ones like St. Bernard and the many unknown holy monks and nuns who have [1] lived their monastic with fidelity and love. How well this quote from the prologue of St. Benedict summarizes the Cistercian Monastic quest.

As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. (Prologue 50)

This is certainly the life we seek with God and our brothers and sisters in the monastic life.  It is a path to union with God made possible through the reformation of our hearts in the Image of Christ. Below the well-known scholar monk, Charles Dumont, articulates this quality of Cistercian  Spirituality.

By their solicitude to be true to the Gospel in their reform of the monastic life, the first Cistercians gave a special place to three themes: greater faithfulness to the spirit and the letter of the Rule of Saint Benedict, stricter personal and communal solitude which foster contemplative prayer, and love of Christ poor and humble: the God who became man.  It is this last one, the Divine Incarnation, which St Bernard endeavored to develop, thereby giving a new sensitivity to all Christian spirituality: Christ approached humanity by love.

 This soon became the principal charism of the Cistercians’ life, both interior and exterior.  Application to reading and studying the Bible and their spiritual masters’ commentaries on it, especially their homilies on that sacred song of love, the Song of Songs, made their teaching and life what they call a school of charity – even a special school of charity, or a school of the Holy Spirit.

In this school, first of all and above all, one teaches and learns to obey God’s first commandment, the source from which the others flow: “You shall love…” (Mt 22:37).  There the monk or nun applies him or herself first of all to studying the psychology of love which for them is founded on freedom.

Freedom is the most distinctive trait of the soul created in the image and resemblance of the Creator’s infinite freedom.  A human being’s freedom is exercised especially in natural affectivity which by grace becomes charity or spiritual love.”  (Charles Dumont Monk-Poet, A Spiritual Biography by Elizabeth O’Connor, OCSO of Redwoods Abbey).
(adapted from O.L. of Redwoods web site).

Lectio Notebook

Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service. In drawing up its regulation, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.

Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow as the outset.

But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. Never swerving from his instructions,then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen

Rule of St. Benedict
Prologue 45-50