For some time now we’ve been having monthly ‘community conversations’ which are different from regular community dialogs that are normally task oriented. Abbot Gerard chooses a topic for the ‘conversation’ and the community breaks up into small groups of five or six meeting for about half an hour or so. The idea is to share thoughts and insights on relevant topics and to come to know and understand one another better.
This past week the topic was an insightful statement from the Holy Father’s audience with the members of the General Chapter on September 23rd. Frequently in the past Cistercians were mistakenly labeled as ‘hermits living in community’ which is entirely at odds with our charism as cenobites living together in community. Here is the text from the Pope’s address:
This lifestyle also favors your interior and exterior relationships with the monastery. You do not live like hermits in a community, but as cenobites in a unique desert. God manifests Himself in your personal solitude, as well as in the solidarity that joins the members of the community. You are alone and separated from the world to advance on the path of divine intimacy; at the same time, you are called to make known and to share this spiritual experience with other brothers and sisters in a constant balance between personal contemplation, union with the liturgy of the Church, and welcome to those who seek moments of silence so as to be introduced into the experience of living with God. Your Order, like every religious institute, is a gift made by God to the Church; therefore, it is necessary that he lives well inserted into the communal dimension of the Church itself. I encourage you to be a qualified witness of the search for God, a school of prayer, and a school of charity for all.
The English word cenobite and cenobitic are derived, via Latin, from the Greek koinos which in the monastic tradition refers to monks and nuns living together in community that stresses the common life. The full text of the Pope’s address can be found on the Vatican website at Papal Audience. 
Feast of Dedication
This Tuesday, October 24th, we will celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the consecration of our Abbey Church as a solemnity. (As with all solemnities Mass will be at 7 AM). Somewhere in his homilies St. Bernard on the feast of a dedication of a church reminds us that on such an occasion we will be the only ones throughout the church celebrating this feast. Our very own feast!
FROM THE BAKERY
All varieties of Monks’ Bread and biscotti are now available at special prices for fund raising. For further details see our Fund Raising Page .
The express will of the Father is “eternal life”. It is the will of a God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Everything God does, he does with this end in view: to give life. He sends his only Son into the world for no other reason except that they may have life, and have it abundantly (10:10). The whole mission of the Son is, therefore, summed up in this gift of eternal life.
The Gospel of Saint John
Stanley B. Marrow, SJ