Founders Day Mass
Genesis 28: 11 – 18; 1 Peter 2: 4 – 9; John 15: 9 – 17
We are celebrating our 73rd anniversary of our Founding and the 29th anniversary of the dedication of our new Church. A very special time for our community and for all who are part of our Mepkin family. We give thanks today for all of the blessings we have received these many years.
In September of this year, our Order held our General Chapter and our new Abbot General, Father Bernardus, inspired us with the challenge to live our Cistercian Charism, as the gift we give to the Church and to the world. The Church needs our contemplative life. We give witness to Gospel life as the way to life in God. Our monastic life offers this witness to the world.
This witness and this challenge to truly live the life inspires each of us to live with faithfulness this great gift we have been called to live here at Mepkin Abbey. Each monastery of our Order is unique in how they live the Cistercian life. The real mystery is we are all Cistercians living this wonderful life by the Rule of St. Benedict and we all live it in our own unique way. That is the gift each monastery offers the Church.
The gateway to Heaven as we hear in Jacobs famous dream – truly is a revelation of God promising him and his descendants this new life of plenty and God that will never leave him.
In Jesus, our Christ, we receive the continuation of this promise from God. We are his chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Worthy to offer to God the holy sacrifices of our lives of praise and thanksgiving.
Of course, there’s only one way to complete the dream and the promise – to live as one in Christ. To truly be his disciples. Our wonderful Cistercian life here at Mepkin gives us the place and the opportunity to fulfill this new life given to us in the Spirit and in our individual call by God to be Trappist monks.
Just like Jacob, we too in faith, hear God’s call and it is also a mystery that we are invited into this unique relationship with the Father through Jesus. By our life of silence, solitude and scriptural prayer – we listen for the voice of God speaking to our hearts. Bringing us to a conversion and a call to live in simplicity, obedience and poverty of Spirit. So that, we can be close to Christ and witness his love in the world. This is our true surrender for the Church and the world, to give praise to God day by day, while we also draw close to God so to be the mediators between God and humankind. Offering everything for the intentions of the Father, who wills his very life and love to be shared with all his creatures. After all, Genesis tells us we are created in the image and likeness of God.
Like so many holy men and women before us, we believe in faith we can find within our hearts, the power of believing in the possibilities of renewing the world. Gospel living does that because it gives witness to Christ who transforms everything.
The counter-cultural life of a Cistercian monk can do that – because it raises the possibilities of other worthwhile values that are life giving. Contrary to the values of power, authority and greed. Monks live Gospel values of selflessness and love. Always responding to the divine inspirations seeing Christ in every face and seeking always to live in the will of God.
Of course, everyone who believes in Christ can and is indeed called by baptism to witness to Christ in their life. And to Live in the Will of God. So, I am so glad to say that we have so many friends, so many people who join us in this sacred endeavor. Which is to bring about Kingdom values in the world and to build up the church. People who want to live contemplatively in their lives.
It’s the recognition of many that monkhood is an archetype of our human experience. That part of us seeking God, that part of us seeking deeper prayer and unity with the divine within.
This heart desire is deep in the psyche of every person. Living contemplatively touches it and enables one to live form this grace. Like Jacob before us, we to realize that ultimately we belong to God and find our fullness in God.
So, in this anniversary that we monks celebrate, touches the core realities of the human experience. Let us pray that we can all live more clearly with these truths and together we can change the world as we enter more and more into God’s very life and love.