Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 16 of the General Chapter

Feast of St. Matthew. The liturgy today was celebrated in Spanish. Dom Isaac of La Oliva in Spain was the principle celebrant and did a nice job. A couple days ago he invited me to come visit his monastery on my way home. I probably won’t take him up on it, but it was a kind gesture. 

Our first meeting got underway at 8:45. Dom Jean-Marc from Bellefontaine was our chief moderator. We wished Fr. Matthew of Awhum a happy feastday. We were given more information on our Papal Audience on Saturday. Four buses will be leaving here at 7:15 and drop us off near St. Peter’s Square. The audience at 11:30 will be just for us members of the Trappist Order. At 1:00, we are scheduled to have Mass in St. Peter’s. Afterwards, there will be some time to wander around. The buses will leave around 4:15, unless we can get Domus Pacis to reschedule our dinner that night for a little later back here. It should be a memorable outing. I hope I get on the same bus with Dom Brendan Freeman and Dom Peter McCarthy. They are such a riot when they get together. 

We did a lot of voting and covered a good bit of other business this morning before breaking into commissions toward the end. Our commission was able to finish all its work before lunch, so we got the afternoon off. Others had finished also. This Chapter seems to be moving along quite smoothly. I’ve heard several remark that it has more of a friendly and upbeat atmosphere, too. 

Impressions: I’m impressed with our Order’s devotion to the Eucharist. We have a Tabernacle in the sanctuary of our “theater church”. Dom Hugues of Les Neiges has the sanctuary very tastefully decorated, with plants and icons and candles. It’s a very inviting space. The church is usually fairly dark, too. I think every time I’ve gone in there, there have been several monks and nuns praying silently. Sometimes a nun is kneeling on one of the steps going up into the sanctuary. I was a Carthusian for eight years and they didn’t have this devotion in their tradition. The emphasis there was on the cell, and you didn’t linger in the church after an Office or make visits to the Blessed Sacrament in between. I missed it. 

Before leaving Genesee, our former abbot, John Denburger, had told me about a favorite little chapel of his around behind the Basilica where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed all day long. I’m including a picture. It really is quite conducive to prayer. While I was there this afternoon, four other Trappists were there also. They had wondered over independently. To me, it says a lot about the health of our Order. 

Each time a new poll is taken, it seems like fewer and fewer Catholics believe in the Real Presence. They say actions speak louder than words. Throughout the Church, I think there are a lot of people coming up short in their reverence and actions toward the Blessed Sacrament. Is it any wonder that belief is slipping? It came out in our house reports, that many of our houses have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every week and Benediction. They noted it as a special time for them. 

When I was a little boy I followed my dad all around. If he went to town grocery shopping or for errands, he would take me with him. He would always stop by our parish church and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. I was probably only a little higher than his knee. We would walk down the center aisle of this dark church with its special smells and kneel down at the altar rail. I had no idea what was going on, but I sensed something important happening between my dad and that metal box up there. I knew my dad wasn’t faking it. And my dad was always very fervent after receiving Communion at Mass. I would be next to him and look up at his face and try to figure this all out. His actions were catechizing me. 

Fr. Stephen, Genesee