The following is the homily Fr. Matthias Neuman gave at Sr. Mary Sylvester's 80th Jubilee Mass this morning! Yes, 80 years of monastic life!
Wow! It has been a long time, hasn’t it, Sr. Sylvester? You’ve been a Benedictine for a longer time than most of us have lived. Quite an achievement!
I think that what the Letter to the Ephesians urges all believers to in today’s second reading are illustrative of some of the same qualities of a monastic vocation. It’s appropriate to reflect on them as we celebrate a monastic jubilee. "I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit, through the bond of peace...." I'd like to briefly reflect on each of these.
"To live in a manner worthy of the call you have received..."
* The Rule of Benedict see the monastic life as a response to God’s call. That’s very clearly expressed in the Prologue. We are to listen carefully to God addressing us and we are urged to respond honestly to that call.
"With all humility and gentleness..."
* This call is not our doing and therefore we humbly accept that. If that’s true, then the only way we can deal with our life and the lives of others is with gentleness. It demands gentleness because we are dealing with a gift and with other lives as gifts.
* Patience with ourselves and patience with one another. The first two items were a vision. Now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty living of the monastic life and that requires patience. lots of it. I was challenged early in my monastic life. When I entered the novitiate the person who sat next to me for the noon and evening meals chewed with his mouth open. Thank God, that only lasted a couple of years.
"Bearing with one another through love...."
* Not just putting up with one another, but bearing with them "through love." You can put up with someone and still harbor a lot of animosities in your heart. Bearing with them through love means we give them the benefit of the doubt and move on.
"Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit..."
* That we are all of one mind. It’s important to remember that all of us are in a monastic community because we all come to seek God. There’s an established way of doing that in the Rule, but each of us lives it in our own unique way. Rather than focusing on differences (which can separate us) we remember the unity of spirit that unites us.
"Through the bond of peace..."
* This is God’s greatest gift of all. If we do the above, we will have peace. Oh, there will always be irritations, differences of opinion, rivalries—all the things that accompany people living together. But it’s important to see below that—where most of your day is not driven by anger and resentment. There are far too many families and businesses that are. That deep peace is the peace we seek in the monastery.
These are reflections fit not just for a monastic jubilee, but also as you look forward to your Chapter Meeting this coming week.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Posted by Sr. Nicolette Etienne, OSB at 2:10 PM