Abbey News August
Message from the Prior
As a young man, I studied in our national seminary for the Archdiocese of Cape Town. It was in the days when Vatican 2 was in progress and masses were still in Latin with the Gregorian High Mass on Sundays. A friend and I would compare notes later in the day on whether a particular mass had been what we called “special”. It was not the quality of the singing – I have no ear to be critical! What we looked for was a combination of serenity, prayerfulness, light, an unobtrusive the liturgy – a sense, one might say, of communal, still, centredness.
It was mostly during the Ordinary Time of the year that those special times occurred. Partly it was the light. Our winters have clear skies on the Highveld throughout the season and the sun is not overly warm but is bright. Beams of early morning sun would slant across the sanctuary. The liturgy was not elaborate, as it would be at the big feasts, and most of all there was a plainness to the prayers and readings of Ordinary Time that beguiled us as our experience of Seminary life deepened over the years.
I still love Ordinary Time. These weeks after the Easter and Pentecost season until the end of the liturgical year are a guide to Christian living in our day to day lives. We were not wrong to think of them as beautiful. While the great feasts deal with the grand theological issues of Incarnation and Salvation and are marvelous in their own way, the readings and collects of Ordinary time accompany us in the daily struggles and joys and miseries of our very ordinary lives. There may be no grand theology to this but there are times of sudden understandings, of comfort, of little “epiphanies” as we go about our work year in year out and daily prayer.
The poet, G M Hopkins, caught this glory of the ordinary in the wonderful lyricism of his sonnet Pied Beauty, though it was in another of his poems that he goes beyond the beauty of what the senses gather to the spiritual source beyond and under it: “Because the Holy Ghost over the bent world with warm breast and with ah! bright wings” – broods over nature and our lives to engender ever renewed life.
The saints may progress to holiness quickly. For the rest of us it takes time (and beyond). But our progress is filled with the presence of God and for all the set-backs and failures, for the tiring slog of it all and complaints, there are those moments when we know that this is true. I also very much like the sense of a pattern to the spiritual life that Ordinary Time shows. There is no recipe to spiritual progress but neither is it haphazard. Chaotic, yes! or seemingly so, but there is a glimpse of God’s plan, especially looking back on it all. We get clues to the structure of spiritual progress. There is much in the readings at the beginning of Ordinary Time on faith. In the middle weeks, there is much on God’s mercy and on hope. The theme of love interweaves throughout the long weeks and, in the new liturgy, the doom and gloom that I seem to remember of the last weeks of the Year has given place to majesty and power that saves.
May we all be blessed in these long weeks.
Fr. Jeffrey Steele OSB
The Monastery is rapidly running out of water, the water table is dropping as a result of climate change and the underground stream that supplies our current borehole is drying up.
We have two other underground sources that we can access but we need the funds to drill and equip the boreholes.
The cost of this exercise is expected to be approximately R 97,000.00. If any of our readers can assist us with drilling, equipment or funds towards the cost of sourcing water we would be most grateful.
Over 200 people rely on this water as do a number of our income generating projects. We need to resolve this problem by the end of November and urgently need any assistance you can provide.
Dom Faustus OSB
A DVD of the Funeral Mass for Dom Faustus OSB is available and can be obtained by contacting either Fr Phina or Bro. Alexis.
Marilyn Stark has joined the Monastery as part of the Formation Team. She is teaching English and Religious Studies as well as supporting the Brothers in their preparation for the Higher Certificate and Diploma Courses in Theology with the TEE College in Johannesburg. Marilyn has over 30 years of experience in Education as well as having a Master of Philosophy in Religious Education and Pastoral Theology from St Augustine College in Johannesburg.
Brother Lawrence who also forms part of the Formation Team has attended a 10 day Formation Course in Monasticism in Namibia.
Brother Laurent, who was helping Fr Dominic at Doornspruit, will be returning to the Monastery with Brother Lawrence’s return from Namibia on the 23 August.
Five Candidates will be accepted into the Postulancy at the beginning of September. Four of these Candidates (Joseph, Dominic, Abel and Edward) are from Lesotho and Daniel is from Zimbabwe.
Harvesting and delivery of spinach and Chinese Yu Chong is now happening twice a week. The demand is increasing by the week. Brother Francis has expanded the Monastery Garden to an additional 100m2 block.
The Pastoral Centre now accommodates 50 people and serves three meals a day to visiting groups. The Monastery Guest Houses are also able to accommodate 25 people.