Profession of Dom Ildephonse on the Feast of the Holy Cross

Monday, September 18, 2017

From the Simple Profession of Dom Ildephonse on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, yesterday:




+ My Son, in the Introit of today’s Mass our holy mother the Church sings: “It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by whom we are saved and delivered.” There are many words written and spoken about the monastic life, but few are more apt, more poignant, than these words given us by the Church’s Sacred Liturgy today. For a monk is a man who, in dying to himself and to the ways of the world, truly embraces the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who finds in that embrace salvation, life and resurrection.

One year ago today, on this blessed feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross you were clothed in the habit of a novice. And now, today, after a year of testing, a year of bearing patiently with the limitations and exigencies of our small monastic foundation—and yet, also, a year of fidelity to the life of prayer and work which is to be found in any monastery, great or small, that is worthy of the name—you come vow yourself to this life for three years. You are doing a foolish thing. There are so many other things you could be doing. And yet, as has become clear throughout your time of testing, you can do no other thing than this today, for it is to this monastic obedience that Almighty God calls you.

The Gradual of today’s Mass mediates on the reality that “Christ became obedient for us unto death: even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and hath given a Name which is above every name.” Once again the words of the Sacred Liturgy sing most eloquently of the monastic vocation: obedience unto death is the path to exaltation in heavenly glory! Our Lord himself suffered terribly. Your monastic life will certainly know times of difficulty and may even, as the twenty-first century unfolds, bring you suffering and persecution the likes of which we hope have been consigned to history. My Son, no matter how dark the shadows of the Cross that fall upon you may be, know that they are always cast by the light of Easter morning. Hold fast to our Lord’s teaching that “He who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

In the holy perseverance that is your vocation you are not alone. As the formula of your vows makes clear, you will live your monastic life in a monastery, with the fraternal love of your brethren. You will live it in the communion of the whole Church, in union with our Bishop and with the local Church of Fréjus-Toulon. You will call upon the saints—particularly those saints whose relics are kept here—to assist you. And you have the support of family and friends who are here with us today, of the good people of this beautiful village of La Garde-Freinet who are so kind and generous to us, and of many others besides who have sent pledges of Masses and prayers being offered for your intentions today.

Today the Church blesses you and solemnly prays for your faithful perseverance in the vows you are about to make. But today is not about you, my son. Today is about God: it is an eloquent testimony to what Almighty God can do with and for each and every one of us—whatever our particular vocation may be—if only we are prepared to deny ourselves, take up the burden of the Cross and follow Christ without reserve: to Calvary, certainly, but with the even greater certainty of unending life beyond.

To that end you—indeed, we all—can do no better than make the words of the Collect of this Mass our prayer:

“Grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who on earth, acknowledge the mystery of redemption wrought upon [the Holy Cross], may be found worthy to enjoy the rewards of that same redemption in heaven.”



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