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

October 6, 2016

Justin Sheehan, OCSO

27th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Bruno

The short opening prayer of today’s Mass contains two important teachings: one, that it is possible to serve God in solitude; and two, that this is done by constantly looking to God alone. Solitude in the true sense is not the absence of other people, but the presence of God, which is the presence of love. St Bruno was called to serve God in solitude as a way of loving God. It provided an anchor for his heart, amid the changes of this world.

We have a letter of St Bruno to a friend of his, in which he describes his whole spirituality. He wrote: “There is a benefit and a joy which comes from the solitude and silence of the desert to those who love them, and only those who experience them understand this. Here God gives his servants the reward they desire, a peace unknown to the world, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This is that better part that Mary has chosen and shall never be taken from her”.

In the very next sentence, Bruno shows us what he thinks of, when he thinks of solitude. He writes to his wealthy friend, “How I wish, dear brother, that you were on fire with love for God. If that love were firmly fixed in your heart, how quickly the glory of the world, which is so clinging and alluring, would seem to you wretched. You would easily reject the riches whose care weighs down your soul. For what is more unnatural, unreasonable, and unjust than to prefer the creature to the Creator, to go after temporary things instead of those that are eternal, to prefer earth to heaven?”

Bruno goes on to speak of his own experience of love. He writes: “Love of God is a matter of justice; it is also a very great benefit. For what is better for human nature than to love what is good? And what is a greater good than God? The souls of those who know something about this good and its incomparable beauty and splendor are on fire with love for it and cry out, ‘My soul is thirsting for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?”

For St Bruno, solitude also provided the context for God to love him, just as the Eucharist provides the context for God to satisfy our hunger and thirst for him. Every day we appear before the body and blood of Christ in this church, as the world goes through its rapid and varied changes. God grant that we may remain faithful like St Bruno, so that our hearts too may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.