We all know celebrations, times of gathering with family and friends to rejoice together in blessings received. Celebrating such events as births, weddings, anniversaries, victories or accomplishments is deeply human. I invite you to take a moment to recall such celebratory moments in your own life.
The brothers of New Clairvaux gather 7 times a day to celebrate, coming together in the Abbey church to sing to God the choral prayer service known as the Divine Office or Opus Dei (Work of God), beginning at 3:30 am and returning about every 3 hours or so until 8:00 pm. That is A LOT of celebrating, day by day, year by year! What is it that empowers such a spirit of celebration? I distinguish three factors:
1. The defining element for our Cistercian life at New Clairvaux is leaving the world in order to live continually and mindfully in the Presence of God. This constant focus and contact with God naturally causes love to increase and from this not only the desire but even the need to sing His praises spring up quite naturally and spontaneously in the brothers: To know Him is to love Him!
2. The spirit of celebration is an outgrowth of a particular attitude of life. People with a negative outlook on life are not likely to feel like celebrating! The brothers understand that we are deeply loved and cared for by God and that our life and mission for Him here is meaningful, fulfilling and beneficial. This sort of healthy, positive milieu fosters a life in which celebration can flourish.
3. An awareness that the monastic liturgy is in fact already a participation in and anticipation of the eternal liturgy of Heaven: What we are doing now “in advance”, in faith, is what we will be doing forever and ever: looking upon God and singing to Him with the Saints and Angels, our holy family in Heaven.
In an environment such as this, it is easy for joy, wonder and the Spirit of Celebration to spring forth!
Blessing to all,
your servant Br. Christopher