- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

April 11, 2018

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Everyone who believes in God’s Son does not perish, but has eternal life. And everything that happens to a believer does not perish, but has eternal life, because what he does is done in God, in whom there is no division of time into past, present and future.

The Jewish Passover liturgy expresses this idea when it says that every generation should regard itself as having passed through the Red Sea. In a similar way, because of the communion of saints, every believing Christian becomes the sum total of his own experiences and those of his predecessors. Every generation of monks should regard themselves as having been at Monte Cassino, and in the desert of Egypt before that. The monks of our time hear the apostles preaching in the Temple, and devote ourselves to the common life and to the prayers.

Cistercians of the present day, like those of the future, listen to Benedict and Bernard and de Rancé. Every monk of the Genesee bears in his soul the Psalms that other lips have chanted, the purity of the Rule, the austerity of the observances, and the valley of Our Lady’s smile.

All the generations of monks are linked to each other. And we are the present-day link. Everything that monks did in one era – the stories of the desert fathers, the clearing of the wilderness of Cîteaux, the epic journey of de L’Estrange – all this is reformulated and rediscovered in every generation, so that it may be clearly seen that their works were done in God.

Every age contains all ages. Every monk was seen and comprehended by the first desert father. Benedict and Cassian were responsible for one another: Cassian for Benedict’s future, Benedict for Cassian’s past. Each monk is thus responsible for all monks, for each monk resembles Anthony in his solitude and de Rancé in his austerity and Pachomius in his community life. Nothing that happened to them is lost; it has eternal life in us, as long as we live the truth of our tradition.

All these characters are our contemporaries, because we are all in Christ, who is risen from time and space. Their struggles are our struggles. Their search for God contains ours. They show that the monk’s road to God is lit up by the truth of our tradition. Our Suscipe, “Receive me, O Lord”, links us to a timeless God and to all those who have pronounced the same words in this world of time.

For we are responsible for a vocation we have not invented, for glorifying the Lord as only monks can. Together with the monks of all times, let us praise his name and live the truth, so that our works may be clearly seen as done in God.