On July 10 on the vigil of the feast of St Benedict Br Martin Vacas from Ecuador received the Novice Habit from Fr Joe in the Chapter Room in the presence of the community and members of the Monastic Institute.
You can read Fr Joe’s homily below.
Clothing of Jose Vacas – Brother Martin
The community is delighted tonight to celebrate this clothing ceremony for our Brother Martin.
Jose Vacas, Brother Martin, you joined us in 2014. You were here with the permission of your wife Elena, who was willing to let you pursue your call to be a monk. Your 3 children also knew this was your wish and Elena ‘s wish for you.
You came to us with a unique career history. You were a University professor in Ecuador and Mexico. You worked for a long time in the theater as a performer, creator, director of mime, a dancer and choreographer in modern dance, an actor and director.
For many years you had your own practice in massage therapy. You cared also for the dying. You have written and published books on the care of the Dying. But most of all through the years of your life you have been a man of prayer. Many years with your Spiritual Director who guided you and led you into many spiritual experiences. And this had led you to understand your call to be a monk.
Then, after a couple of years here, your wife contracted cancer and you felt compelled to go home and care for her. You did this until her death. Elena is buried at our Monastery in Esmeraldas in the Sisters cemetery and Fr. Stan and I and Brother John were there with you for her memorial mass and burial.
You returned to Mepkin and then after a short while, you felt your children needed you, to constitute the family again. You were with them for a couple of years. Then in November of 2018, you accompanied Father Richard back home from Ecuador after 25 years as the chaplain of the Sisters, you knew you wanted to stay and we wanted you back with us. Your children also knew it was time for you to come home to Mepkin and they willingly told you to come. So here you are now for good.
What a story and a lesson for all of us, of what it means to follow God’s call wherever it takes you and to be faithful through it all.
So tonight, you take your place in the Mepkin community as we clothed you and you begin your official canonical year as a novice in preparation for vows. You respond to that call by God to be completely committed to nothing else but God in our Cistercian way of life.
You have taken the name Martin after St. Martin de Porres, the great saint of the slaves of South America. Your patron is a great example of living the Gospel for others and so you take on the same role of being for others in our life style of silence, solitude, prayer and community, for the church and the world.
This life we live under St. Benedict’s rule is a wonderful life. Because it brings us to Christ, to a transformation into Christ, to prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ.
So, we seek to live this mystical life – meaning, being touched by God at the deepest level – more than we can articulate, imagine. It’s really living fully those first principals that are indelibly stamped on our souls. – oneness, truth goodness and beauty. God’s very life in us.
And it is God’s ardent desire that we live this mystical life with God and in God through Christ.
This is what our Trappist life is all about – our community life is all about. Supporting one another on this unique journey to the fullness of God.
St. Paul in Colossons writes: Since you have been raised up with Christ, set your hearts on things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand, not on things of earth. After all you have died, your life is hidden now with Christ in God. When Christ your life appear then you will appear with him in glory.
This is the mystery we live, our true self hidden in Christ, we want to uncover it, because this is our life.
You shared a great truth with me one day recently that I want to share tonight, you said, “for a long time I put on special costumes to be other people, now I put on a special garment to be myself.” Brother Martin you’re here to seek to be your true self in God alone, and we are all thrilled to be your brothers on the journey with you.