Reflections on the Ananias Course
Brother Moïse Ilboudo, OSB
Koubri - Burkina Faso
The Ananias Course is the French language equivalent of the English language course which for many years has taken place annually in Rome and Assisi under the leadership of Dom Mark Butlin and Dom Brendan Thomas. These comments may be useful also for others who did not participate in the course.
I am very glad to have participated in the Ananias Course for three months with its well-planned programme. Like all the other participants, I have yet to appreciate it fully. The moves from one monastery to another seemed to me like the journey of the Three Magi (Matthew 2.1-12) at the sight of the star which was guiding them, and like the Virgin Mary leaping over the mountains to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
The session took me again into the depths of my choice, monastic life in the depths of its graces and benefits. I came to realise that the experience of forming novices for monastic life begins by allowing oneself to be transformed, and that giving involves also receiving, as the booklet, Petite reflexion sur Ananias (Short reflection on Ananias) told us. Ananias, the disciple of Christ who initiated Paul into life in Christ, must be the model, an icon for me in any task. As our Christian religion is a transmission, a live faith which is realised in the Word celebrated and prayed, the three first weeks of our stay at La-Pierre-qui-Vire plunged us into the mysteries of Christ, Passion – Death – Resurrection. These teachings led us right through the session.
In his contributions Pastor Pierre-Yves Brandt kindled a little flame in me which I managed to protect right through the session. It needed to be protected so that it could grow, for it was like a grain sown in the ground. It must develop and yield its fruit in season, in my monastic everyday life so that others, too, should be able to eat its fruit. There is no rose without thorns, and monastic life is full of beauty formed by a gathering of individuals in which every person has a proper character which must be brought face to face with others: that is fraternal life! Pierre-Yves taught me, thanks to his practical exercises, how to find a solution in such and such a situation. How should I face them? By reading and re-reading my own life, returning into myself, taking myself at each moment in order to pass on what I have received. By referring always to the Holy Scripture, to the Rule of St Benedict, to the Constitutions and the Customary, practical tools. I need to take into account the actual situation in which I find myself. I need to be responsible for myself in such and such a situation, put myself in the place of another to behave better rather than to justify myself. There are always a thousand solutions, a thousand ways of handling a situation and of listening to the Holy Spirit.
It is in lectio divina that the monk hears the Holy Spirit, the Word of God. Lectio divina is an apprenticeship to reading the scriptures, to listen more closely to the word which will allow me to read my life and to decipher it. Tradition is a treasure from which we draw the new and the old, a dynamic of life which trains us to meet God. Dom Armand Veilleux said to us the handing on the tradition is handing on the experience of monastic life. Formation is a process. We were formed in the image of Christ, deformed by sin and re-formed by the grace of Christ. The role of the formator is to integrate formation, to help someone who comes to the monastery to be transformed, integrated into the welcoming community.