Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Abbot Raymond

Abbot Raymond has returned home from Assisi where the General Chapter of the Cistercain Order of Strict Observer took place September 2nd - 23rd, 2008.
We have just these photos.

Abbot Raymond - Morning Chapter
19 October [29th Sunday Ordinary time]

St Paul tells the Thessalonians (1:1-5) that he knows that God loves them and the proof he offers is that they responded to his preaching with utter conviction as to a word that came with the power of the Spirit. And we too all know that God loves us, and we have many proofs of the workings of God’s grace in our lives – our Baptism into the life of Grace; our call to the monastic life, and there must be many more personal signs in the private lives of each and every one of us. Above all, of course, we have the revelation that God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son to be born into this world for us, to suffer and die for us. What more proofs do we need.
Yet there is such a thing as a belief that God loves us without a vivid personal knowledge of that love. For example, when we come before God in prayer, what is our fundamental attitude of soul? A lot will depend, of course, on circumstances. If we have recently offended him, then our attitude will have something of shame and sorrow – like Peter when he said “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:1-11) We will be standing before God, but we won’t be looking at him; not in the face anyway. Our heads will be hanging in shame. And how often do we hang our heads before God, if not in shame, at least in humility! That, no doubt is a good thing, a very good thing. But if we are always hanging our heads in shame or in humility, then we will never really know the love God has for us.
It is only when we learn to lift up our heads and look God fully in the face that we can see that love shining on us. Only when we look up at him as a child does to its Father; as a lover does to the one he loves; only then can we really see, and know, and taste that love that is always reaching out to us. One of the most wonderful experiences in life is surely to know and feel that someone loves us; that we are precious to someone; that someone is drawn irresistibly towards us; that someone rejoices in us and desires us greatly.
It is our fundamental attitude to God, our fundamental approach to God then that brings us this wonderful awareness of just how much we mean to him and just how very truly he is drawn to us by love. I remember once speaking here about the virtue of “Spiritual Coyness”. We call a beautiful young lady “coy” when she is very conscious of her beauty and attractiveness and she revels in it.
There must be something of this “spiritual coyness” in our approach to God. Noblesse oblige. God’s grace in our souls is a reality. A wonderful, beautiful, irresistible reality. Let us remember that when we approach our God in prayer.
_ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _