American-Cassinese CongregationRenew and Create,


Renew and Create


Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Problems

Part 3 - Life
Part 4 - Conclusion



Symptoms of Crisis

In speaking of crisis we do not intend to connote impending disaster. While presupposing the Johannine notion, reaccentuated by the Second Vatican Council, that all God's people and their institutions (including the monasteries of our Congregation) stand under the perennial judgment of the Word of God, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ, we here use "crisis" in the more limited sense of a turning point, a crucial moment when development must move in one direction or another. There are numerous signs that the monasteries of our Congregation stand at a crucial moment in their history.

Most immediately perceptible are the decrease of vocations to our communities and the increase in rate of departure from them. It does not appear that this reversal in the previous rate of growth has abated yet. Many anxiously ask why our rnonasteries now have greater difficulty both in attracting new members and in retaining those who have made profession of vows.

In addition to the shrinkage in numbers, all are aware of a general spirit of uneasiness within the houses of the Congregation. This uneasiness is compounded of many elements: renewal discussions have brought into the open radical disagreements concerning what it means to be a Benedictine monk; some monks, especially the younger, call into question positions previously taken for granted as sacrosanct and express dissatisfaction with the status quo, which is said by some to be artificial and formalistic, and an obstacle to any significant contribution to history; many, especially the older monks, experience a deep sense of psychological loss and insecurity because of the frequent imposition of change. All this breeds anxiety about the future of the individual monk and of the community.

The interpretation of this spirit of uneasiness is itself a matter of disagreement; for some it seems to be a warning that the more violent struggle with dissolution is approaching; for others it is the hopeful and healthy sign of growing pains leading to a renewed form of Benedictine life. But such divergent interpretations do share a common ground: each in its own way is an admission that our communities are facing a critical time, a decisive turning point in their history.

The General Chapter considers it imperative to look beyond these symptoms of crisis to their causes, so that the real root problems of the Congregation may be identified and a healthy and hopeful direction be set towards their resolution.

Catalysts of Crisis - Next >


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