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

Homily for November 13, 2020

Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO

All Saints of the Benedictine Family

“Remain in me.”

Some believe the word “monk” derives from the Greek μένω, to remain—the monk is quintessentially one who remains, who abides, and dwells…

Monks remain in the Lord, as branches in the Vine, and so bear abundant fruit beyond their wildest hopes.

When the Lord invites us to remain in him… it’s not like there’s anywhere else to go. But a dead branch can still be attached to the vine. It’s no longer open to the flow of life getting pumped to all the branches…and will soon be lopped off.

The Father is the vine grower, not us. He will prune the vine as he sees fit. It’s not our job to train the plant this way or that or cut away excess branches.

Our job, as monks who remain on the Vine, is twofold: to stay open to the life that comes to us from the Vine, to allow it to live through us and bear fruit in abundance…

…and to allow ourselves to be pruned. These two go together—generosity and willingness to suffer. We can embrace suffering, both major trials and minor annoyances, because we know and trust the vine grower, and that he will use all things to make us bear more and more fruit.

What is this fruit that a monk bears by remaining, by abiding in the Vine? “As the earth brings forth plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.”

Monastic life brings forth side by side: discipline and ecstasy, order and wildness, the structure of the comb and the sweetness of honey. This morning we recall with gratitude and honor all those hidden monks and nuns, through the ages, on the Benedictine branch of the Vine, who remained in the Lord…

…by allowing the life of the Vine to live through them, and by their willingness to be pruned by the word, they bore abundant fruit, fruit that will remain.