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

September 19, 2019

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

24th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Commemoration of the Deceased of Monks of the Genesee
(2 Maccabees 12: 43 – 46; Luke 23: 39 – 43)

There are two occasions when we celebrate a liturgy that is unique and special to our community; on October 24 the Anniversary of the Dedication of our Church and today the deceased monks of our abbey. It was on this day in 1955 that our first abbot, Dom Gerard McGinley, died in France while attending the General Chapter of the Order.

There are words from today’s scripture that reflect something of the lives of our brothers. From Maccabees: “…those who have gone to rest in godliness.” “Godliness” is defined as “having a great reverence for God.” This “godliness” marked their lives because it had marked their hearts; one cannot live a Cistercian monastic life seriously without being so marked with a profound reverence, a sacred fear of God which is a relationship of love.

From St. Luke, it is the cry of the good thief: “Jesus, remember me when You enter upon Your kingdom.” An essential of the monastic life is desire; without the grace of desire our life is reduced sooner or later to mere formality. Our brothers desired Jesus’ remembrance and now for them, this remembrance is an eternal reality.

In the Eucharistic Prayer of our Mass our deceased brothers will be named and as we hear their names we pray in thanksgiving for their godly lives of ardent desire.  We pray that God in His mercy has granted them the fullness of His own eternal life, the life He desired for them ardently.

Recently I came across a book “St. Solomon” – the title intrigued me because I had never heard of a St. Solomon. He was a Christian Brother who was murdered during the French Revolution. The last paragraph held my attention because there is something in it that, I believe, applies to our deceased brothers.

If St. Solomon had not been a martyr of the revolution, who would have known anything about him or even his existence. As it is, he was faithful to the church, faithful to his vows in the face of increasing terror. I believe the last sentence refers to our brothers as well: “His life holds a lesson for us…it shows that a good man has within him reserves of fortitude and moral courage which lie dormant perhaps and unsuspected but which circumstances may at any moment bring to light. It is encouraging to know that there is more in each one of us than meets the eye, and that in a given situation, with the grace of God, we might do more than we thought ourselves capable.” (St. Solomon by Battersby)

Our brothers in being faithful to the end as Cistercian Monks are examples to us of such fortitude and courage, of deeply graced lives. May the crosses in our cemetery stand as strong reminders and signs of hope.

Editor’s note: you will find a brief biography of our deceased at OUR DECEASED page.