General Chapter 2022 | Q&A with the Abbot General | Photos from the General Chapter | Visit of Christopher Lamb | Honorary Doctorate | Diamond Jubilee of Profession | Plenary Council | First Profession | Benedictine Union | Pope Francis’ Address to the Cistercian General Chapter
In this issue
GENERAL CHAPTER 2022
GENERAL CHAPTER 2022
This year the Cistercian General Chapter met twice in Assisi, a hill town in central Italy’s Umbria region, the birthplace of St Francis and St Clare. The first part of the Chapter was held in February 2022 to elect a new Abbot General; the second part from 2 to 23 September 2022. Dom Steele attended as the Abbot of Tarrawarra and Fr Samuel as one of the delegates from the ORIENS (Asia-Pacific) region.
The ORIENS region’s superiors met two days before the General Chapter. The Abbot General, Dom Bernardus Peeters, spent a few hours with us and he reported on his recent visits to some of the regions of the Order and spoke about the need for Cistercians to dream. He acknowledged that the ORIENS region is vast in size and consists of many monasteries. However, there is richness in the region and it has the capacity to share this richness with the Order.
The Opening Mass of the General Chapter was celebrated in the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, also known as the Porziuncola. It is the place where the Franciscan movement started. Legend tells us that St Benedict obtained ownership of this chapel in 516 from some hermits who had lived here since the 4th century. After the call to restore God’s church, St Francis restored the dilapidated chapel. The Benedictine monks, who owned the chapel, agreed to grant the friars the sole use of the chapel in perpetuity. Each year as a token of their agreement, the friars sent the Benedictines a basket of fish as “rent”. The monks, in return, sent the friars a barrel of oil. This yearly exchange of gifts continues to this day in Assisi. With this image in mind, Dom Bernardus described the General Chapter as a feast and a celebration – our basket is full of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Saviour. It is also an invitation to new life in Jesus Christ.
There were 180 superiors and delegates, not including a number of people who provided services for the General Chapter, such as interpreters, secretaries and typists. Due to the large number, the participants were housed in four different accommodations in Assisi, all within walking distance of the meeting venue. In this digital era, the Chapter has gone paperless; as such, the documents for the meeting were stored on the cloud. Voting was done electronically on smartphones, tablets or laptops.
The day started with Lauds followed by Mass. Each region or language group took a turn to organise the Eucharistic Celebration. The mornings were spent listening to reports and discussing issues arising from the reports. On most afternoons, the superiors and delegates worked in commissions. There were fourteen commissions and they were further divided into the three main languages of the General Chapter: English, French and Spanish. The commissions studied the assigned house reports and other issues. The collaborative spirit was much present in the commissions. Attention was given to fragile communities, especially those with declining numbers and temporary superiors. Several monasteries were raised to the rank of abbey and unfortunately, some monasteries had to be closed due to declining numbers.
A few speakers were invited to address the Chapter: Professor Marie-Jo Thiel from the University of Strasbourg spoke about the abuse of power and the vow of obedience, and Dr Marie-Dominique Minassian from the University of Fribourg shared about the impact of the martyred Tibhirine monks and their witness in Algeria. Abbot Primate Gregory Polan OSB addressed the Chapter about the need to keep the Scriptures alive as a source of daily living in the Church’s life amidst the world’s difficulties and tragedies. We also welcomed the International Association of Lay Cistercian Communities and the representatives shared about bringing the Cistercian charism to the world and the importance of synodality within the Order. The Abbot General of the Common Observance Cistercians, Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, and the Prioress General of Bernardines of Oudenaarde, Mother Noella Ghijs, explained why the Cistercian charism is fundamental in the Church today. Finally, two solemnly professed members gave presentations on what they find most life-giving in the Cistercian Order today.
On the evening of 10 September 2022, the participants of the General Chapter made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St Clare. The monks and nuns prayed the Office of Vespers with the Poor Clare nuns. The following week, we travelled to Rome for a private audience with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall. Continuing the Abbot General’s call to dream of rediscovering the contemplative Cistercian charism and its prophetic value, the Pope encouraged us to pursue the four dreams of communion, participation, mission and formation. He summarised the four dreams as a journey of holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Text included in our Newsletter). After the audience, we had a picnic lunch and had some free time to explore Vatican City before the trip back to Assisi. Some tourists stopped us and asked why there were so many religious in whites and blacks!
Dom Bernardus celebrated the Mass on the last day of the Chapter. In his homily, he encouraged us to return to our monasteries with the Word of God – the Word that helps us fulfil our dream of prioritising the contemplative life. The Chapter went smoothly with a good atmosphere of listening and exchange.
Q&A WITH THE ABBOT GENERAL
Q&A WITH THE ABBOT GENERAL
Dom Bernardus Peeters was elected Abbot General of our Order early this year. As Abbot in his own community of Tilburg, the Netherlands, he had participated in previous General Chapters. The 2022 Chapter was the first at which he presided in his new role. Pope Francis flashed a mischievous grin at the Papal Audience when the wheelchair bound Pope and the Abbot General on crutches pressed the flesh. Prior to the gathering in Assisi, Bernardus had managed to have a fall!
Fr Samuel Chua ran the poor incapacitated General to earth and submitted him to a brief Q&A that went like this:
Samuel: You are a busy man. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Bernardus: I like to read difficult theological articles since it is a way for me to relax. It is like solving mathematical problems.
Samuel: How many languages do you speak?
Bernardus: I can speak Dutch, German, English, French and Italian.
Samuel: What is your favourite Italian dish?
Bernardus: Pasta with mushrooms.
Samuel: When are you planning to visit Australia?
Bernardus: It is on the list. I want to visit monasteries that have not been visited by an Abbot General for a long time.
Samuel: Can you name some iconic Australian animals?
Bernardus: I only know kangaroo!
We look forward to welcoming Dom Bernardus to Tarrawarra in the, hopefully, not too distant future. Presumably, as he speaks English, he will get by with Strine! With the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary down the road, we will be able to fill in the gaps in his education with an introduction to emus, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, lyrebirds, kookaburras, and platypus (enthusiastically known to Queensland primary students of yesterday as ornithorhynchus for its spelling challenge).
PHOTOS FROM THE GENERAL CHAPTER
PHOTOS FROM THE GENERAL CHAPTER
ORIENS Regional Meeting / Opening Mass of the General Chapter / The venue of the General Chapter: Domus Pacis / General Chapter in session / Dom Steele and other members of a Commission / Vespers at the Basilica of St Clare / Coffee break during the General Chapter ... etc
More photos in the pdf file...
VISIT OF CHRISTOPHER LAMB
VISIT OF CHRISTOPHER LAMB
Christopher Lamb, journalist with the U.K. Catholic Tablet, covered the Australian Plenary Council in Sydney before coming south from where he penned his ‘View From Melbourne’. He wrote: “When I returned to Melbourne, I visited the ‘pilgrim path’ at St Patrick’s Cathedral, where water cascades down a path leading to the church. At the start is an inscription from a poem by James McAuley: ‘Incarnate Word, in whom all nature lives/ Cast flames upon the earth: raise up contemplatives/ Among us, men who walk within the fire/ Of ceaseless prayer, impetuous desire./ Set pools of silence in this thirsty land’ (from ‘A Letter to John Dryden’)”. He commented: “It felt to me that that pool of silence which opens people to the Spirit and can be found in Tarrawarra, was in a very different way, also present at the Sydney plenary gathering”.
Christopher was brought to Tarrawarra for our Sunday Mass. His observations on his experience were generous: “The liturgy at Tarrawarra embodies the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and expressed some of the key themes in Francis’ recent letter on liturgical formation of the People of God, Desiderio Desideravi. In the simple chapel built by the monks, the liturgy is not a search for a ‘ritual aesthetic’ or preoccupied by the ‘scrupulous observance of the rubrics’, but a celebration that draws the community deeper into the paschal mystery. The celebrant [Fr Joseph Chua] gave an incisive homily on the gospel reading.”
His article also provided a few belly laughs. Chris mis-heard the answer to his question: “What were those birds during Mass?” The answer, “sulphur-crested cockatoos” morphed into print as “soft-breasted cockatoos”. Their “chirping”, he confessed, “sounded alien to a foreigner like me”. “Chirping”, in our book, Chris, is a far too charitable reporting of their loud, raucous screeching. We have hundreds of them at a time in season. This winter huge numbers camped here and formed picturesque white patterns against the green paddocks as they descended ravenously on the grain that fell from the hay being fed to the cattle. Silence isn’t in the sulphur-crested lexicon or book of customs. Vandalism is their absolute delight. Nevertheless, they do have a charm. And we have to bow to the fact that they are some of the smartest birds around, comparable to chimpanzee in intelligence. Their genealogy, too, is awesome (in its original sense!), given that science says they evolved 95 million years ago! Give the human race another few million years and we too may have evolved into a clever left-handed bunch!
On Wednesday 6 April, the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo, Rome, conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Theology on our Fr Michael Casey. San Anselmo is an esteemed Benedictine establishment on the Aventine Hill. Benedictine Primate, Gregory Polan, Grand Chancellor of the University, opened the ceremony with a prayer and welcome. Professor Fernando Rivas, OSB, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, presented the candidate. The Laudatio - the official “too right!” - was given by Professor Donna L Orsuto of the Spiritual Theology Department of the Gregorian University, and seconded by Sr Gabriella Masturzo of the Cistercian convent of Vitorchiano, Italy. Then Fr Michael delivered the magisterial lecture, entitled “The Rule and the Tradition: A Personal Journey”. This was followed by a musical interlude (Pachelbel’s Canon in D), and the conferral of the Doctorate by Professor Bernhard Eckerstorfer OSB, Rector Magnificus of San Anselmo. (Bernhard conducted our community retreat in 2019 – before Covid, and before he became “Magnificus”. Donna had also made the pilgrimage to Tarrawarra for a few days retreat in July 2010). Dom Bernardus Peeters, Abbot General of our Order, concluded proceedings. Well yes, there was a tasty Italian bun fight to round things out!
Other notables gracing the occasion were: Archbishop Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Cult and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Prior Mauritius Wilde OSB, Collegio San Anselmo; and Ms Chiara Porro, Ambassador of Australia to the Holy See. As Bernhard Eckerstorfer commented: “It is significant that we have here a high representative of the Vatican and all three Abbot Generals of the Benedictines, the Cistercians and the Trappists. Michael Casey’s endeavours have enriched and instructed the lives and studies of men and women, of monks, sisters and the laity alike. We see here an ecumenism among monastic orders with their distinct habits, and this ecumenism extends even to our friends of the Jesuit-run Gregorian University”.
Michael pleads guilty to all charges listed on his Doctoral Diploma: monk and priest of Tarrawarra Abbey; Licentiate in Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of Leuven; Doctor of Theology of the University of Divinity in Melbourne; known throughout the world for his love of learning and his desire for God; eminent scholar of the Rule of St Benedict and the monastic tradition; celebrated author of more than twenty-five books and distinguished writer of over 250 scholarly articles on monastic history, spiritual theology, and the Benedictine tradition; has tirelessly contributed to the intellectual and spiritual formation of countless monastic women and men throughout the world, not only through his writings, seminars and retreats but also by the example of his humility in preferring nothing to Christ. Furthermore, he has enriched the spiritual life of the Church with his wisdom and with his experience of the human search for God, drawn from his deep listening to the Word of God in the scriptures and in the world. Moreover, his works have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Korean and Chinese (this latter, without a doubt, being a capital offence).
Having acknowledged all that, Donna Orsuto insists that one of the firm foundations for his writing is that “Father Casey is above all a monk. He readily admits he is not a fulltime writer and that he gives priority in his day to monastic observance.”
Sr Gabriella Masturzo adds: “I would say that Fr Michael Casey has succeeded, like the scribe of the Gospel, in opening of the treasure of the tradition and of western monastic thought; he has brought to light riches, using new words that are free from the bottlenecks of pedantry, everyday words that are familiar to us. He has extended an invitation and fresh encouragement to find in the monastic tradition a living experience and to draw from it guidelines of formation for individual monks and nuns
and for communities”.
Michael’s summation of what he has learnt on his personal and scholarly journey might be the following: “Genuine tradition – as distinct from escapist nostalgia – is simultaneously conservative and progressive. It derives its energy both from the past and the present. The most alluring heresy has always been to lock the products of tradition in a secure stronghold to prevent it escaping,
or to place it in an archive for the information of experts, or in a museum to arouse the wonderment of the masses. Not so. Authentic tradition is living and active. Because it is not wholly determined by either past or present, there is a wildness about it that makes it less
susceptible to institutional control. It may be suppressed for a generation or two, but may well return
with a vengeance taken up by new prophets and witnesses, and expressing itself in new ways…
“Tradition is neither infallible nor impeccable; it is human, and nothing that is human is foreign to it – including weakness, blindness and malice of sin. But there is also an energy contained within it that transcends the individual and the group, which draws its strength from the great cloud of witnesses who, through the centuries, have lived by it and died in its embrace… Monastic tradition has survived by changing; it has achieved stability by being constantly on the move. That is for us, a mandate for the future”.
Photo: From left to right, Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, Fr Michael Casey and Fr Bernhard Eckerstorfer
DIAMOND JUBILEE OF PROFESSION
DIAMOND JUBILEE OF PROFESSION
Fathers David Tomlins and Michael Casey confirmed their vows during the morning Office of Lauds on 17 March, in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of their Profession. They had entered the community on 2 February 1960, barely five years after the foundation of Tarrawarra. They received the novice’s habit the following month on 13 March, and took vows on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1962. There has been a lot of water down the Yarra (Birrarung) since then!
Pope John XXIII had already announced the Second Vatican Council before their entry, and it was set in motion later in 1962. This was the rich and exciting background to the early years of their monastic life. The Council, in its document addressed to Religious, specified two basics “for the up-to-date renewal of the religious life”. These were “a constant return to the sources of the whole of the Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes, and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time”. This renewal was to be pursued “under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Church”.
Tarrawarra was blessed in its Irish founders. Michael recently described them as “humane, humorous and humble. Although their heads were in heaven their feet were on the ground – to quote the motto of our mother-house, Roscrea”. Dom Kevin O’Farrell, our first abbot, was a further gift from heaven. It was he who guided us, gently and wisely, through the conciliar and post-conciliar years. As Michael said of our founders: “They never tried to make the foundation an Irish colony, but aspired to make provision for a form of life that was not only true to our Benedictine and Cistercian lineage, but was also authentically Australian”. The Second Vatican Council validated such an approach.
David was a prophetic straw in the wind in 1960 with his complaint: “Why can’t we pray in our own language?” The (almost) unthinkable became a reality towards the end of that decade when our liturgy, with resource assistance from our U.S. community, Gethsemani, Kentucky, began to praise the Lord in English! Soon after their ordination in 1968 Tarrawarra, at last, had a truly community Eucharist and concelebration.
Monastic isolation “Downunder” gave way to collaborative enterprises. The Cistercian and Benedictine communities of Australia and New Zealand – Catholic and Anglican – formed a free, loose association. The Union found its voice in its journal, Tjurunga. The Tarrawarra Newsletter started “talking to our friends”. The Abbey took its particular place in the Australian Church and amongst fellow Religious in a variety of ways, including participation in the Victorian and Australian Religious Leaders’ conferences. Our brand of hospitality attracted and embraced guests of all and no faith persuasions, welcoming them to share our community prayer, guesthouse table fellowship, and the contemplative countryside of the Yarra Valley. The Cistercian communities of Asia and the Pacific reached out to each other over a vast Region.
The contemporary community patiently bears with their tales of “the good/hard old days”. The monastery they entered was up to its neck in debt and housed in many decrepit and temporary buildings. Hard work, saving, and some help from our friends have changed the structural face of the monastery. The manual work was largely agricultural and achieved without the aid of machinery. Oh, the tales of the inroads they made into acres and acres of tussocks and thistles with picks and hoes! And then there was marching through knee-high grass in sodden paddocks to hard yakka in the mudstone quarry (think ‘Siberian salt mines’!). The harvest of potatos had to be sorted and re-sorted over the passing months into categories still recalled as “good, bad, monks, nuns, and seed” (decisions, decisions). The veggie garden’s over-production of carrots, in the face of no cool-room storage, necessitated washing clean of clay in freezing tubs (chilblains, gosh yes!) and reburial in a sand mound. The more primitive decades of “hurrahing in the harvest” with pitchforks were certainly arduous, and also frustrating until the secret of stacking on the truck and in the shed without courting collapses was learnt. But the hay season, if the truth be told, was nevertheless a rather delightful community experience.
David and Michael were at the same time both the grateful recipients of the Council’s renewal initiatives, and contributors to their unfolding at Tarrawarra. They, and others of the community, were enriched by educational opportunities in Rome and Leuven. Back home they exercised responsibilities for monastic formation and studies that drew on the “return to the sources” material that was becoming available. The Order chiseled away at the mandated re-writing of the Constitutions. Michael was recruited to contribute his talents and skills to that project. Rome promulgated the new Constitutions on Pentecost Sunday 1990.
Somewhere along the way, Michael has written and edited small mountains of books and articles, and David has cared for the sick and dying of the community and did what abbots do to keep the brethren on the straight and narrow, continuing the journey of seeking God and “preferring nothing whatever to Christ – and may he bring us all together to everlasting life”. Ad multos annos, Michael and David.
Photo: Fr Michael (left) and Fr David (right)
Dom Steele Hartmann attended the second and final session of the historic fifth Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church in Sydney 3-9 July. He and fellow members had been involved in the earlier part via Zoom last year during the Covid lockdowns, as well as multiple online work in the period leading to their final face-to-face encounter. Steele was invited to preach at one of the Council Masses, and managed to earn an extra week in isolation in the Harbour City when he, like a few others, tested positive to Covid.
Brothers Moses Jeon and Piotr Stefanski gave us much joy when they took their first vows on 17 October on the completion of their years of novitiate.
Moses came to join us from South Korea where there is a Cistercian women’s community but none for men. After university studies he had worked in an advertising agency in Seoul, and then as manager of a nursing home in Ansan.
Piotr hales from Poland but was already resident in Australia for years before his monastic entry. He had studied finance and accounting at Warsaw university as well as later in Adelaide. His employment began in Warsaw, moving later to Adelaide and Alice Springs.
Our prayers are with them both as they enter this new stage of their monastic formation.
Photo: Br Moses (left) and Br Piotr (right)
Since Covid restrictions were eased and then abolished, we have been able to welcome back our Sunday Mass congregation, day visitors, and resident guests. Fr David Barry from the Benedictine community of New Norcia, W.A., a long-time friend whom we hadn’t seen for about fifteen years, spent 6-9 July with us. Could it really be that long?!
We hosted this year’s Benedictine Union meeting, 25-27 August. Again it was a welcome back to familiar faces, namely, Sr Kym Harris (Tanby), Mother Hilda Scott (Jamberoo), Fr David Orr (Arcadia), Sr Patty Fawkner (Good Samaritan Superior), and secretary-treasurer Sr Jill O’Brien (Good Samaritan). Dom Steele, of course, participated, and Br Bernard Redden was present cracking the whip as Co-ordinator of the Union.
The customary Benedictine Study Open Day was held at YTU (Yarra Theological Union), Box Hill, on 27 August. Fr David Orr, OSB, was the first speaker. Drawing on the wisdom of Benedict and the Benedictine tradition David looked to Pope Francis’ call to the Church to be synodal in its mission and life. Benedict calls his disciples to listen with the ear of the heart. In our time, David suggested, we need to ensure that processes for formation and decision-making in ecclesial life are creative and lifegiving for the Benedictine community and the wider Church. The second speaker was Dr Claire Renkin who teaches art history and spirituality at YTU in the Department of Christian Thought and History. Claire made use of the medieval text, the Mirror of Virgins. She pointed out that this text combined Benedict’s traditional appeal to hearing with a new emphasis on seeing. Claire, with the aid of a series of art slides, explored some ways in which today’s images can open our hearts to the Word, and thus to the presence of God. The lectures were available online for Union members back home.
Photo: Fr David Orr
POPE FRANCIS’ ADDRESS TO THE CISTERCIAN GENERAL CHAPTER
POPE FRANCIS’ ADDRESS TO THE CISTERCIAN GENERAL CHAPTER
CLEMENTINE HALL, VATICAN
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the Abbot General for the words of greeting and introduction.
I know that you are carrying out the second part of your General Chapter, at the Porziuncola of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi: a place so rich in grace that it surely has helped to inspire your days.
I rejoice with you for the success of the first part of the Chapter, held in the same place, during which the new Abbot General was also elected. You, Father, immediately set out to visit the twelve regions where your monasteries are located. I like to think that this "visitation" took place with the holy care shown to us by the Virgin Mary in the Gospel. "She got up and went quickly" says Luke (1:39), and this expression always deserves to be contemplated, in order to be able to imitate it, with the grace of the Holy Spirit. I like to pray to Our Lady who is “in a hurry”: “Lady, you are in a hurry, aren't you?” And she understands that language.
The Father Abbot says that on this trip he "collected the dreams of the superiors". I was struck by this way of expressing himself, and I wholeheartedly share it. Both because, as you know, I too mean "dreaming" in this positive sense, not utopian but planning; and because here it is not a question of the dreams of an individual, even if the superior general’s, but of a sharing, of a "collection" of dreams that emerge from the communities, and which I imagine are the object of discernment in this second part of the Chapter.
They are summarized in this way: a dream of communion, a dream of participation, a dream of mission and a dream of formation. I would like to offer you some reflections on these four "paths".
First of all, I would like to make a note, so to speak, of method. An indication that comes to me from the Ignatian approach but which, basically, I believe I have in common with you, men called to contemplation at the school of Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard. In other words, it is a matter of interpreting all these "dreams" through Christ, identifying ourselves with him through the Gospel and imagining - in an objective, contemplative sense - how Jesus dreamed of these realities: communion, participation, mission and formation. Indeed, these dreams build us up as persons and as communities to the extent that they are not ours but his, and we assimilate them through the Holy Spirit. His dreams.
And here, then, opens up the space for a beautiful and gratifying spiritual search: the search for the "dreams of Jesus", that is, for his greatest desires, which the Father aroused in his divine-human heart. Here, in this key of evangelical contemplation, I would like to put myself in "resonance" with your four great dreams.
The Gospel of John gives us this prayer of Jesus to the Father: “The glory that you have given to me, I have given to them, so that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me, so that they may be perfect in unity and the world may know that you sent me and loved them as you loved me” (17:22-23). This holy Word allows us to dream with Jesus the communion of his disciples, our communion as "his". This communion - it is important to specify - does not consist in our uniformity, homogeneity, compatibility, more or less spontaneous or forced, no; it consists in our common relationship to Christ, and in Him to the Father in the Spirit. Jesus was not afraid of the diversity that existed among the Twelve, and therefore we do not have to fear diversity either, because the Holy Spirit loves to arouse differences and make them a harmony. Instead, our particularism, our exclusivism, yes, we must fear them, because they cause divisions. Therefore, Jesus' own dream of communion frees us from uniformity and divisions, both of which are ugly.
We take another word from the Gospel of Matthew. In controversy with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus says to his disciples: “As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah” (23:8-10). Here we can contemplate Jesus' dream of a fraternal community, where everyone participates on the basis of a common filial relationship with the Father and as disciples of Jesus. In particular, a community of consecrated life can be a sign of the Kingdom of God by witnessing a style of participatory fraternity between real, concrete people who, with their limitations, choose every day, trusting in the grace of Christ, to live together. Even current communication means can and must be at the service of real - not just virtual - participation in the concrete life of the community.
The Gospel also gives us Jesus' dream of an all-missionary Church: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). This mandate concerns everyone in the Church. There are no charisms that are missionary and others that are not. All charisms, insofar as they are given to the Church, are for the evangelization of the people, that is, missionary; naturally in different, very different ways, according to God's "fantasy". A monk who prays in his monastery does his part in bringing the Gospel to that land, in teaching the people who live there that we have a Father who loves us and, in this world, we are on our way to Heaven. So, the question is: how can a person be a Cistercian of Strict Observance and a part of "an outgoing Church"? You are on the way, but it is a way out. How do you live the "sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing"? It would be nice to hear it from you, contemplatives. For now, it is enough for us to remember that "in any form of evangelization the primacy is always of God" and that "in the whole life of the Church it must always be shown that the initiative is of God, that ‘it is he who loved us’" (1Jn 4:10).
Finally, the Gospels show us Jesus who takes care of his disciples, educates them patiently, explaining to them, on the sidelines, the meaning of some parables and illuminating with words the testimony of his way of life, of his gestures. For example, when Jesus, after washing the disciples' feet, says to them: "I have given you an example so that you too may do as I have done to you" (Jn 13:15), the Master dreams of the formation of his friends according to the way of God, which is humility and service. And then when, shortly after, he affirms: "I still have many things to say to you, but for the moment you are unable to bear the burden" (Jn 16:12), Jesus makes it clear that the disciples have a path to follow, a formation to receive; and he promises that the Formator will be the Holy Spirit: "When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth" (16:13). And there could be many evangelical references that attest to the dream of formation in the heart of the Lord. I like to summarize them as a dream of holiness, renewing this invitation: "Let the grace of your Baptism bear fruit in a journey of holiness. Let everything be open to God and, to this end, choose Him, choose God always anew. Do not be discouraged, because you have the strength of the Holy Spirit to make it possible, and holiness, after all, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (Gal 5:22-23)".
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for coming and I hope you conclude your Chapter in the best possible way. May Our Lady accompany you. I cordially bless you and all your confreres around the world. And I ask you to please pray for me.