A group of smiling Trappist monks pose in front of a garden fountain

Br. Peter Gao shares on Peace and Gratitude in the Cistercian life: Being a monk within a Cistercian community is a journey unlike any other. It’s a path marked by simplicity, humility, and a deep-seated love for one another. But let’s be real – it’s not always smooth sailing. We face challenges, both within ourselves and in our relationships with our fellow brothers.

One thing I’ve learned along this journey is the importance of cultivating a spirit of gratitude, even in the face of adversity. It’s easy to get caught up in noticing the faults and shortcomings of those around us. Trust me; I’ve been there. But when we shift our focus to the contributions, no matter how small each brother brings to the table, it changes everything. It fosters an atmosphere of appreciation and respect, which is vital for our community to thrive.

I’ve also come to realize that oftentimes, when I find myself at odds with a brother, the root of the issue lies within myself. Maybe I’m harboring feelings of anger or discontent that I haven’t fully dealt with. Maybe I’m projecting my own insecurities onto others. Whatever the case may be, it’s a reminder that my inner journey is just as important as my outward actions.

Prayer has been my saving grace in these moments of struggle. It’s through prayer that I find clarity, peace, and the strength to extend grace and forgiveness, both to myself and to others. As the psalmist writes, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). Unity isn’t about pretending that everything is perfect; it’s about navigating our imperfections with love and compassion.

So, fellow brothers, let’s continue to walk this path together – with open hearts, grateful spirits, and a willingness to confront our own shortcomings. For it’s in this journey of self-discovery and communal living that we truly fulfill our vocation as Cistercian monks.

Prayers and Blessings,

Your brother of New Clairvaux

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