Last Wednesday Abbot Gerard returned home from his three week stay in Brazil at our daughter house, Novo Mundo, arriving in time to join the community for the office of None. In chapter this morning he gave us an encouraging progress report on the community. At the moment there are 26 in the community with several candidates in the wings. Mostly young Brazilians.
A sure sign of growth is that the young, native Brazilians are able to assume more leadership positions in the community. Up until recently the Abbot, Fr. Bernardo, a North American from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, was also Novice Master and Junior Director but lately Brazilians have been appointed to both offices. Another indication of a stable community is they are able to support themselves chiefly by farming along with a few supporting industries including honey.
Off to Kalamazoo, Michigan
Tomorrow our Prior, Fr. Isaac, will head out for the eight hour drive to participate in the annual Cistercian Conference being held at the medieval institute at Western Michigan University. As a member of the Conference he will be presenting a paper on St. Bernard. He is due to return on Saturday.
As we continue our novena in preparation of next Sunday’s Pentecost celebration we also look forward to our hermit day for May coming up this Wednesday, Memorial of the Holy Abbots of Cluny, forerunner of the founding of Citeaux. It is also the day we set aside wearing our cowls and cloaks for the summer months.
To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive. Above all, prayer is a way of life which allow you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world. In prayer, you encounter God not only in the small voice and the soft breeze, but also in the midst of the turmoil of the world, in the distress and joy of your neighbor, and in the loneliness of your own heart.
Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new melodies in the air. Prayer is the breath of your life which gives you freedom to go and to stay where you wish and to find the many signs which point out the way to a new land. Praying is not simply some necessary compartment in the daily schedule of a Christian or a source of support in time of need, nor is it restricted to Sunday mornings or mealtimes.
Praying is living. It is eating and drinking, action and rest, teaching and learning, playing and working. Praying pervades every aspect of our lives. it is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting usto come closer to celebrate the divine gift of being alive.
With Open Hands