We started out the day with Vigils on our own and some silent prayer and lectio. That was followed with breakfast together in Domus Pacis. There is no talking, since it is at 6:00 and still during the Grand Silence. There is ham, cheese, croissants, rolls, sort of a cake thing, cereal (including some really good granola), apple sauce, fruit, coffee, juice, etc. Even though we aren’t conversing there is still fellowship. I find it interesting to notice the different mannerisms of the various cultures.
After a break, there is Lauds at 7:15, followed by Mass. The French region was in charge of the liturgy again as we celebrated the Martyrs Cornelius and Cyprian. Dom Hugues, Abbot of Les Neiges, was the principle celebrant and did a flawless job. He is also the sacristan of the General Chapter.
Work in the aula began at 8:45. In the announcements, two deaths were noted: Sr. Caritas of Arnhem (I’m guessing that’s in Holland); and Fr. Marcellus Earl from Genesee in New York. He had actually died before the announcements of the previous day and I was expecting to hear it, but I guess it hadn’t reached the moderators yet. Birthdays are also announced, and it was the birthday of Sr. Paula-Maria, delegate of the Spanish region. This is her second General Chapter and she has been doing a fine job as secretary of the 13th commission.
Things are still on track for our Papal Audience toward the end of our stay here. It will be on a Saturday, and we will receive more details from the papal representative a couple days before the private audience.
Next was the 4th of our 7 presentations on “The Vision of the Order in the 21st Century”. It was given by a young abbess: Mother Mariela of Quilvo in Chile. She made many striking points and it was well-received in the aula, with good discussion following.
Then we went on to vote on the elevation to a simple priory of two houses, and the elevation to an abbey of a third. The last two were given bouquets by their Father Immediate. Many cell phones and tablets were held up shooting videos as they made their way to the mother superior. Then another vote was taken regarding the transfer of paternity of a men’s monastery. Wisecracks were made about the lack of a bouquet.
That was followed by more input on the topic of Fathers Immediate. Each commission was required to study this issue and give a summary of their discussions and suggestions. We heard the reports of seven commissions, and still have seven to go.
After the mid-morning break we heard the report of the ad hoc committee on Fathers Immediate. This was followed with time for questions and clarifications on the commission reports heard this morning on this complicated issue. Then we were shown the formulation of votes 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. We will take the votes on those formulations later. After some other business, we quit for lunch. It was a little early (12:00) but no one complained.
We were free until 2:30 when we met in our commissions and continued reviewing house reports. Sext and None are said on our own during the lunch break. We also did a mid-point evaluation in our commissions of how the General Chapter has been going so far. Several improvements were noted from the 2014 GC, including a big screen behind the moderators, as shown in some of the pictures in our blogs, and also electronic voting, which saves a lot of time.
After the mid-afternoon break we met again in the aula and listened to a presentation by Sr. Gabriela on General Postulation. She is the Postulatrix General. She furthers the cause of members of our Order who might be canonized someday. She gave us an update on Venerable Fr. Romano Bottegal, Blessed Maria Gabriella, Blessed Joseph-Marie Cassant, and Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi. This was followed by a wonderful presentation by Fr. Tomas Georgeon, Postulator, on the 19 Martyrs of Algeria, including our 7 brothers of Tibherine. The progress on their cause looks very encouraging. We are, of course, limited in what we can share, but if your interest is piqued you can go to: www.moines-tibhirine.org.
Then a short break and Vespers in our language groups, followed by another yummy dinner with great company and entertaining conversations. I sat next to Br. Philippe-Marie from our monastery of Bellefontaine, whom we all agreed could be a comedian. When he didn’t know an English word, he would act it out! Of course, the wine helped too.
A hardcore group stayed up visiting in the lobby, quite a few of them Americans. Did I say in an earlier blog that we were really good at keeping the Grand Silence? Hey, General Chapters only happen every three years. You’ve got to make the most of them.
Fr. Stephen, Genesee