Sept. 23, 2017, Abbot Stan meets Pope Francis at the General Chapter of Abbots and Abbesses

Sept. 23, 2017, Abbot Stan meets Pope Francis at the General Chapter of Abbots and Abbesses

Abbot Stan recently was in Assisi, Italy, for the General Chapter of Abbots and Abbesses. One of the highlights of these three weeks was the private audience with Pope Francis on Sept. 23. The Holy Father greeted all the monks and nuns in our communities through their superiors — and through them all the friends of our monasteries as well. Abbot Stan is pictured saying to Pope Francis: “I bring you the prayers and the greetings of all the Brothers of Mepkin.”

During the course of his talk, the Holy Father kept insisting that Trappist contemplative life in the church is always marked and focused on love. Your contemplative life is characterized by assiduous prayer, an expression of your love for God and reflection of a love that embraces all humanity…. External practices and norms are not the end, but the means of progressing in the personal relationship with God…. (Your) great sobriety of life…helps in reaching more easily the joy of the spousal encounter with Christ.

He also highlighted the need for us monks and nuns to share the gifts of our personal contemplation with others in a generous and open hospitality. As he phrased it so forcefully: You are alone and separated from the world to advance on the path of divine intimacy; at the same time, you are called to make known and to share this spiritual experience with other brothers and sisters in a constant balance between personal contemplation, union with the liturgy of the Church, and welcome to those who seek moments of silence so as to be introduced into the experience of living with God.

May all of you who love Mepkin come to know the personal love of the Lord for each one of us.