The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 30, Nr. 3, October 2000             Richardton, ND 58652


An Open Letter:

Monasticism as Beacon


For those who attended the ABA convention held at St. Meinrad on August 10-13, 2000, one could sense the stirring of the spirit in the human longing for the divine. The ancient prophetic message that we have heard for centuries was threaded in every segment of the convention. "Christ is the way, the truth, and the life." For us to find authentic meaning and happiness, Christ must be the center of our lives.


In a world where we are constantly bombarded by false advertisements, achievements, illusions and goals, the ABA convention refocused us. It pointed us in the right direction. It gave us our sight back. By assessing the signs of the times through attentive listening, the ABA convention helped us to re-establish our priorities and energy. It challenged us to live the core kerygrna of our faith. In his book The Scandal of Service: Jesus Washes Our Feet, Jean Vanier examines our society in this manner: "Other people are tired by the long hours of travel to and from work, by their over-full agenda, things to do, success to achieve and by all the unresolved social problems and world problems. When people are too tired and fragmented, they no longer have the energy or the desire to celebrate and give thanks. They have no time to reach out to others, especially to the poor and marginalized and to open their hearts to them" (p. 80).


The ABA convention challenged us to listen to the needs of each other and evaluate the direction we are traveling. It reminded us to return to seek those values and ways that enable us to give thanks and celebrate. These values are inherent in monasticism. Monasticism is a living reminder to the world as to what is really important and lasting. It does not have all the answers but it leads us to the well of living water that is inside each one of us. It keeps us on the path of the creature longing for the creator. Only on this path do we find true peace, happiness, and meaning to our very existence.


The good news of the ABA convention for me was the values, tools, faith, wisdom, and the ongoing attentive listening to God's presence in the world monasticism embraces. The good news of monasticism is that it has a way of discerning in a complicated world that one thing that is really necessary. It has a way of shepherding us back to the meadow. Monasticism isn't about numbers. It is about fostering the love of Christ and teaching us how to fall deeper in love with our creator. The challenge is to foster global monasticism inside and outside the walls. Sister Ephrem Hollermann, in her presentation "Reading The Signs of the Times: The Good News of Monastic Life," alluded to the notion that St. Benedict, 1500 years ago, did not have the deposit of our faith locked in his Rule but rather he gave us the tools and compass to spiral deeper into the mystery of divine love. Monasticism is the beacon and the horn that continually reminds us stiff-necked, easily distracted, forgetful, and self-deceived people the path to authentic living, real peace, and everlasting happiness. To me this is truly good news!


A special thank you to St. Meinrad for hosting this convention, to Father Eugene facilitating this event and for all the other people who worked in the background to make it run so smoothly. I believe I remember Archabbott Lambert Reilly once said, "We are never too good not to get better." From what I experienced at the ABA convention monasticism just got a little better in my book.


Jim O'Connell, Oblate

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