THE PRIOR'S MISSIVE
The Prior’s Missive is a semi-regular (roughly quarterly) update on the life of our community, written by our Prior, which will be shared here on our website. Since peoples’ email inboxes are often so flooded these days with digital newsletters, and frequently those newsletters get sent to the spam folder, we felt this would be a better format in which to share some occasional news and reflections from our communal context with our friends and supporters. Links to these missives will also be made available on our Facebook Page.
Many blessings to you and yours from the Rosarian Brothers and Sisters.
The Prior’s Missive I (11.25.20)
Ad Maiorem Matris Gloriam — For the Greater Glory of the Mother
This is just a small (and brief) refraction of light from the midst of our community at present, which I was moved to write today, largely because Saturday’s Feast was such a profound and holy day. It was the Feast of the Presentation of the Most Holy Theotokos, and Br. Aidan made his Simple Profession of monastic vows. Avadhan (one of our Postulants) and several Inquirers were in attendance, as well as some beloved local spiritual family. The Liturgy took place in the Black Forest of Colorado, a gorgeous and sacred place we have all come to cherish.
It is apparent to me as Prior that, having undergone the recent reforms to our community’s charism and outward-facing presentation, we are now walking firmly on the path we were meant to walk. That path is one of greater clarity, and, I think, by the grace of God, of yet greater sanctity, depth of heart, and seriousness of commitment. It is also a path of deep consecration to the Blessed Mother. This latter aspect in particular has impressed itself upon me in profound ways of late—ways I will not attempt to enumerate or elaborate on here, but I will say, in reference to Saturday’s vows ceremony, that when Br. Aidan knelt down before the icon of the Blessed Mother and made the heartfelt prayer to be consecrated to her, I felt that everything had finally fallen fully into place as it needed to, as the Mother intended it to. She has called us toward herself, toward her radiant and infinitely loving, untarnished heart—and we, for our part, have finally answered with resounding fullness, Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum (‘Let it be done to me according to your word’). We have given ourselves over to her care, as I now feel strongly we were made to do all along.
I’m confident that everyone in attendance Saturday felt the power of this alignment. I don’t know how else to describe it other than as a kind of ‘seismic shift’ that took place in the unseen. In a Mystery, the Blessed Mother has been knocking on the doors of our hearts, and Saturday I felt that we finally answered, and answered once for all, shedding all fears and inhibitions, all unhelpful limitations placed upon us by the denominational and institutional context in which we’re situated (which generally does not understand or support such full-hearted devotion to Our Lady). Quite fitting, of course, that this Liturgy took place on the naked body of the Land, in the wildness of the forest, not in places made by human hands.
Indeed, that is the territory into which we have been called: the territory of the wild, the uncharted. We are courageously treading new Deer-trails within that untamed landscape—luminous pathways that I pray will also grace future generations of seekers, but, most importantly, they are the pathways that the Mother has invited us to walk here and now. With her infinitely loving care and guidance, we cannot go astray. With her at the center of our lives, we are sure to bear great fruit in the Way of Wisdom.
I didn’t fully grasp it when we began to make the long-discerned changes that came to our community this past spring and summer, but I see it clearly now: that the core of this evolution in our charism was meant, above all, to place the Blessed Mother at the center of our life. The other changes have been equally needful and supportive of that, but this devotional shift of focus is ultimately, I think, the heart of the matter. Having at last emptied ourselves collectively of all we thought or were taught was ‘normative’ and ‘acceptable’ in our context, we have finally set out into the ‘Promised Land’ of our unique charism, and are finding now that she was waiting there for us all along, with open arms.
Monastic Profession is, above all, about letting go—: letting go of the human-made world and one’s attachments to it, even more deeply than before, so that one can be more open, more free in heart and mind and body to receive the ineffable love of Divinity. We are normally taught in this society to acquire more and more. In fact, it occurs to me that for most people life is largely about acquisition, in one form or another. But for the contemplative monastic or vowed religious, it is quite the opposite: life for us is about releasing, shedding more and more as we move through this precious and fleeting lifetime. And for us as a community, shedding the things we thought we needed to do simply because ‘that’s what we’ve always done’, or, ‘that’s what’s acceptable in our environment’ should by now have taught us one thing above all: we cannot receive God’s true will for us until we empty ourselves of our own designs and attachments. Only then can we become the ‘hollow bones’ for Spirit’s theophanic emergence that all of us are called to be. Only then can we reach true contemplation, true listening. Only then can God use us fully and sustainably in the co-actualization of a living Kingdom (or, ‘Kin-dom’) vision.
I happened to hear today a quote from the late Fr. Thomas Keating, in which he said: ‘No one has asked us to judge anybody—including ourselves. It’s receiving the compassion of divine mercy and letting it flow to others, and doing this uninterruptedly, that is the transformation that’s really substantial—and certainly the one that makes sense in the Christian religion; but I see it pretty much offered in all the others.’ Indeed, that seems to me a perfectly good way of speaking about the central aim of the contemplative religious life, and, as anyone who has attempted it earnestly knows, it is not an easy path. To walk it in an optimally fruitful way, we need the loving guidance of the Mother; we need the perfect ‘template’ of that compassion that she embodies and reveals. She is, as it were, the supernal ‘psychopomp’ for our souls in navigating the darkened wilderness of that one needful path of existential transformation.
I pray that she would thusly guide us, her unworthy servants, both now and always.
Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. I am utterly yours, O Mother, and all that I have belongs to you.
Prior, The Communion of the Mystic Rose