Moving forward under God’s guidance
There has been an effort at the monastery to ask what is the newness to which God is drawing us as we live our monastic call? For when we live in Christ we are being drawn by the resurrection into new life. Monastic living has always meant following Jesus into dying and rising. There is always an invitation to surrender and to move from the old self to the new.
Pope Francis has preached on this theme drawing attention to a distinction between novelty and the newness that comes from the Holy Spirit. In remarks offered in September of 2018, in a Midday Address, Pope Francis said: The Christians of Corinth had not understood the all-encompassing newness of the Gospel, which is not an ideology or a means of social living that coexists with the pagan inhabitants. The newness of the Gospel is the Resurrection of Christ, and the Spirit that He has sent “so that He might accompany us in life.” We Christians are men and women of newness, not of novelties.
He went on: … so many people seek to live their Christianity “on novelties”. These Christians say, “But today, it can be done this way; no today we can live like this.” And these people who live out the novelties that are proposed by the world are worldly; they don’t accept all the newness of the Gospel. There is a distinction between the “newness” of Jesus Christ, and the “novelties” that the world proposes to us as a way of living.”
Discernment requires of us that we prayerfully enter into decision making that brings us into deeper union with Jesus. It is obvious that novelty can have its appeal. The desert fathers and mothers again and again caution us to be prudent in assessing the practices that seem to offer us a path to a deeper life in Christ.
All of this brings me to say that the contemplative monastic way and the active contemplative life intersect but are not identical and the move into newness happens cautiously as we ask God to show us the way forward.