After the first day of autumn, we finally had a good drench of rain throughout the night and a better part of the day. Even though the lingering warmth of the sun can still be felt in the air, it seemed as if the thirsty land soaked up all the moisture like a sponge. The fall equinox marks the point when due to the earth's tilt and axis, we start to experience the lengthening of the night and decreasing hours of daylight. Here at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, we too tend to shift gears as we bring the summer harvest to a close. The changing season also indicates a time to pause and to be grateful for the blessing of warm summer nights and bright sunny days. We certainly are grateful that we have each other to celebrate the many wonders we experience in creation.
Brother Rafael wishes to share with you some of his time with our Benedictine brothers of St. John's in Collegeville, Minnesota. He is currently completing his certificate in monastic studies with the Cistercian Cohort program at St. John's University.
In the past few weeks, God has been gracious to hear our pleas for rain. In this month of April, we at New Clairvaux see the once bare and barren field next to our new church begin to sprout leaves of grass. And all around, signs of new life are bursting forth. All the insects, birds, and ground animals flutter about and run around as the earth beckons them with inviting smells and colorful sights. Perhaps this is how God beckons each of us in the spiritual life. Signs of God's goodness and beauty abound in the world of nature. So, too, our spirits will be drawn to God who is source of all that is true, good and beautiful. If we but pause to listen, we might be granted the grace of beholding God's splendor shining through our befuddled mind and flitting hearts. During times of trial, tragedy and suffering, the vision of God's glory may not be so apparent. Sometimes, however, it is precisely in moments of trial and human suffering that God chooses to reveal God's divinity...not to magically make the pain disappear, but that the greater truth of God's love or charity may abound all the more in the human person.
Now that our festive celebrations of Christmas and New Year's have come and gone, the monks of New Clairvaux continue to pursue our mission by living out the Cistercian monastic life that has been handed down to us from ages past. We pray that in the years to come, we will find a few young men to take up the task of seeking God and serving him through a life of prayer and work in the monastery. Perhaps the rigors of monastic life, a life of early morning vigils, abstinence from meat, and the daily challenge of a life lived in common with other men, can seem a bit daunting to those contemplating such a "calling." But the life of a monk is simply that, a calling by a God who desires to show him much more of the divine life, a life filled with God's peace and God's love. If it were up to the monk's strength, monastic life would altogether have failed a very long time ago. But monastic life endures just as a monk endures only because God has not disappointed him in his hope. And the hope that the monk aspires to is a life that allows God's own glory to break through and allow God's kingdom to come and reign on earth just as it continues to be in heaven.
Last month, Dom Juan Javier Martin Hernandez, abbot of San Isidro de Duenas in Spain along with Brother Angel Luis, also a monk of San Isidro, made a brief visit to New Clairvaux. The Abbey of San Isidro is located north of Madrid, Spain. Dom Juan Javier was chosen as abbot to lead the community of 30 monks last year in March. Both he and Brother Angel had the opportunity to share about their monastery to the monks of Vina. It was especially interesting to hear about San Rafael Baron, a monk of their monastery who was canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. We thank Dom Juan Javier and Brother Angel.
Throughout the harvest season last summer, documentary film producer, John Beck, came to film the monks as they worked in the vineyard. But he also filmed other dimensions of monastic life as it is lived here at New Clairvaux Abbey. This year, John will debut his film on the monks at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Check out the trailer at the following: http://vimeo.com/73789909
Promoting a short video on the life of the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux.
On this blog you will periodically find articles, links to pertinent websites, reflections, homilies, and images that express our monastic Cistercian life.