Pilgrimpace's Blog

the poor communities

“Montalgre: eleven monks.  Only eight, if the sick aren’t counted.  I was Procurator for seventeen years and have been Prior for two.

For a long time there has been talk of closing Montalgre.  There are no vocations.

This has created discouragement, anxiety and a certain guilt.  It is like a sword of Damocles.

We must try to get beyond this situation and give it some meaning.  In the Gospel I have found light.  I do not recall any place where Jesus assures us prosperity and success in this life.  Rather the reverse: the strait gate, the narrow way, contempt, the Cross.  The Gospel asks us to follow Jesus in his poverty.

So I thought about the poverty of our numbers and quality also, the lack of resources and our uncertain future.  And I discovered that our situation was almost ideal for living the Gospel, not in theory or asceticism, but quite simply in living from day to day.  Thus I came to confidence in God, but a confidence that for the most part is blind, without any light or sensible consolation, but accompanied by sorrow.

The words of Jesus have come alive for me: ‘The Father cares for you.’ ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and the rest will be added unto you.’ ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’  Above all the passage where the apostles’ boat is foundering in the storm.  A real tempest not an imaginary one.  Jesus is asleep.  And when he wakes he reproaches the apostles for their lack of faith.  Thus we have to have confidence and above all when everything apparent says we shouldn’t.  This is the paradox of the Gospel.

In reality, I am myself of this mind, disposed towards an absolute trust, almost to the point of absurdity, perhaps the absurdity of the Cross.

But can I lead the community in this direction? Perhaps I am trying to justify the situation, or ease my mind, or delude myself.  Anything is possible.  But, even so, I will have confidence in God and I believe this is right.  God deserves this blind trust, and, I repeat, it is almost always sorrowful.

Perhaps the danger for the poor communities is a deeper impoverishment at the level of aspiration (a little like the underdeveloped countries): a certain conformity or resignation in the face of reality; a regret for the past; obsession with vocations.

But we learn to simplify the life, better to seek what is essential: God and our neighbour; to prize fraternal charity more than rules or norms.  And finally, whatever happens, to accept the will of God.  Fiat!”

From The Wound of Love, A Carthusian Miscellany

I will be living out of this during Holy Week and Easter – and I expect beyond.

Prayers for your journey in the coming week.


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