Dom Jean-Pierre Longeat OSB,
President of the AIM
On the monastic plane the year 2014 was distinguished by two great occasions, the Symposium of the International Communion of Benedictine Sisters (CIB) and the General Chapter of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OCSO). In this issue of the Bulletin of the AIM we give a general echo of these two meetings.
The first of these had elected to concentrate its reflection on listening with the heart in the way in which it is stressed by St Benedict and the whole monastic tradition. This constitutes a major theme of our day. Monastic communities and in general all Christian communities need to stress this theme in their daily life. Without profound listening there can be no firm foundation and no healthy development. When Christ says, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’, or when tradition shows that the whole practice of spirituality consists in the transfer of every sense perception from the intellect to the heart, this implies an important movement of self-emptying and of rebirth. Following the path of Easter, dying to self-delusion amounts to welcoming at the most intimate level the presence of God who in Christ promises to make his home in us. Such listening is the starting-point from which all human development of will, emotion and intellect can develop in harmony. We have decided to underline the value of a New Testament reflection on this theme of listening as a major factor in the messianic dimension of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus and his disciples.
However, in community it is not always easy to give this factor the value it deserves, for instance when the Rule teaches us to follow the example of our forbears when our automatic instinct is to assert ourselves. Similarly, how is it possible to obey instructions of a superior when the superior himself or herself does not follow them? These two aspects are discussed by Mother Hannah Van Quakebeke of Loppem and Mother Andrea Savage of Stanbrook in the light of their experience as superiors of communities.
With regard to the Trappist Chapter we have found it valuable to reflect on the conference of the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald on different aspects of the fragility of our monastic structures, and also on the contribution of the Abbot General of the Cistercian Order, Dom M-G Lepori, on community life in our monasteries. The two Salesians, Fr. Ranco Lever and Fr. Fabio Pasqualetti, lucidly laid before the Chapter ways of combining monastic life with use of the internet. We offer part of their lecture in the section Opening on the World.
These two articles suffice to show that monastic life takes seriously the realities of life at the present time. Listening with the heart, the vulnerability of institutions and persons, openness to the new means of communication – all these give grounds for reflection on our conduct and our response to our vocation.