Br Adrian reflects as he moves from Holywell Community to Mucknell Abbey
As we awake to the dawn chorus on this most Holy, Trinity Sunday getting prepared for the Office of Readings and the singing of the Te Deum and Te Decet Laus we all the more come to reflect on the one true God who is above all things, through all things and within all things. The True and Living One, the Trinitarian Godhead who is above all things for he himself was not created but is the creator, who continues, through the word, to create afresh and who’s word becomes real and active in us through the Holy Spirit.
This then brings me to a point of reflection on the Monastic Life which I wish to share with you today, as I embark on the next stage of my personal journey of faith towards understanding, accepting and fully embracing the Divine Mercy of God.
I first wish to take a step back to the origins of Christian Monasticism to that of the Desert Fathers in Egypt. People who left their very comfortable, and to a significant extent, secular surroundings to live by themselves in simplicity, to get away from the temptations and distractions of the world and to go into personal combat with the Devil. This was not an escape into an idealistic Utopia of relaxation and enjoying one’s own company to the detriment of social interaction and supporting the needs of those around them but instead came from a desire to embark on a voyage of discovery to truly understand all their own frailties and from owning these and combating them daily grow into a full embracement of their utter dependence on God and his Mercy and to become a complete person in God. Far from the ignoring of people they attempted to embody that pure relationship of love in which the other was always first and they could therefore completely give themselves to those needs of others and embrace the True and Living God who is innately social in character. One cannot fully appreciate who they are in God unless they fully embrace the rest of Humanity in love and this was the pinnacle of the journey for those early Hermits in Egypt and then for the Cenobites in Pachomias Monasteries.
This is true for the Benedictine Monks of today, by living in community we engage in that ever more intense boiling pot of social engagement, personal reflection and prayer and in doing so come into closer focus with our true selves and together take up that eternal combat against the vices and distractions that separate us from God. It is an invitation to have that close relationship with God that leads us into that crucible of white heat of joy that is to truly be as you are meant to be in God. Listen! Is the first word of the holy rule and this embodies all that being Christian is about and what the Monastic life, through the rhythm of the day in prayer and through constant working together and in contact with each other helps us to grow into. We all need to continuously listen to each other, listen to God with that ear of love. This is not something for us to just do at the time of the office or at 8am or 11am on a Sunday morning but to listen and be alert at every moment of the day to God’s presence and forgiveness with us, the DNA and fingerprint of the triune God is in all of creation. In struggles he’s there giving us perseverance, in good times that insatiable joy that when in prayer we come to tears at the shear redemptive power of God, in times of weakness when we come face to face with temptation and God is there with his divine Mercy and gives us the strength to battle on and grow in faith so that we come to fully know our utter dependence on him. Listening is what leads us into love of all and it is at the core of the vow of Obedience. It is the call to deny our own desires because we care much more for the needs of our Brothers and Sisters. It has become important for me because it is important to you and you have a need. Conversion of Life is currently for me a promise and intent that one remains open to listening and to God’s grace so if weaknesses in our character are pointed out this is taken in love and an opportunity to grow in love and turn to God so we become more fully human. Stability then enables the foundation of a loving community around us that know us so we can support each other and live out the Commandment to love one another as Christ loves us it also embodies that social essence of God mentioned earlier, we need each other to grow.
It is an absolute privilege and very humbling to be part of that joint journey here at Mucknell and being invited to be a Novice and to further explore the love of God and the significance of the vows I may be taking in the future is exciting and I’m filled with joy and anticipation as I continue to try to listen and allow God to reveal himself in unexpected ways to myself and the work of the community in this next chapter of my life.