Ubi vera sunt gaudia

Here, with some photos and text, are the highlights of the vestition of D. Michael on 25 October. The ceremony took place in our Chapter Room before the First Vespers of Christ the King.

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The Great Search

You, dear André, did not give up the search. It led you, as the poet says, « down the nights and down the days, down the arches of the years, down the labyrinthine ways ». It led you over mountains, through forests, and over plains. It led you through deserts and across oceans. It led you from South Africa all the way to Ireland. You did not abandon the search, even when you had to walk by night with nought but the dim, flickering light of faith to guide your steps, even when you encountered the harsh realities of disappointment, disillusionment, and apparent failure.

All the while you were seeking God, God was seeking you. All the while you were looking for a place to call home, God was preparing a home for you. All the while you were praying for light and direction, God was hearing your prayer and answering the cry of your heart. The words of Our Lord are, in a wonderful and mysterious way, addressed to you: « Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened » (Luke 11:9–10).

A Costly Endeavour

To seek God truly is a costly endeavour. More often than not it requires us to tread on our own hearts, to trample underfoot our affections and our attachments, our hopes and our dreams. No sooner is this done than — O wonderful exchange! — the very things that held us back in our search for God become the bridge by which we cross over into « what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him » (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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The Daily Bread of the Psalter

Understand that you are embarking on a lifelong repetition of the Psalms. You are to make the Psalms the very substance of your prayer, your daily bread, the sacrament of words by which you are united in a holy communion with the prayer of the Word Himself. You will never finish your meditation of the Psalms. Nourished by the Psalms, you will grow up « unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ » (Ephesians 4:13) , and your intelligence of the Psalms will grow up with you.

Unless obedience determines otherwise for you, the Opus Dei holds the first claim on your time, your energy, and your strength. Learn to sacrifice yourself for the Opus Dei, making it a costly sacrificium laudis. Do not be afraid of spending yourself in choir in imitation of Mary of Bethany’s extravagance of love. Thus will the monastery and, indeed, the whole Church, be filled with fragrance of your prayer.

In the Silence of Adoration

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The Opus Dei continues in the silence and hiddenness of your adoration. These are not two parallel streams of prayer, each having its own headwaters and mouth. They are a single river, having its origin in the Heart of Christ and its destination in the bosom of the Father. The same Christ, who prays the Psalms through your voice, prays to His Father in the hiddenness and silence of the tabernacle. There, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, His priestly prayer is ceaseless and divinely efficacious. In adoration, it is by means of silence that Christ unites you to His prayer; in the Divine Office, it is by means of the words and gestures given you by His Bride the Church that He unites you to the same prayer.

Obedience Without Delay

Obedience is, according to Saint John Paul II, « the listening that changes life » (Orientale Lumen, 10).  A delay in obedience — be it measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years — is symptomatic of what Saint John calls, « the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world » (1 John 2:16). 

If I delay an act of obedience, it is because I am clinging to some fleshly — that is, self–centred — gratification; it is because I am afraid of what I will lose. This is the concupiscence of the flesh. If I delay an act of obedience, it is because I am focusing on something I have in view, instead of focusing on what God has in view for me. This is the concupiscence of the eyes. If I delay an act of obedience, it is because I am unwilling to forfeit the trifles and glittering fancies that the world tells me will make me happy; it is because I am invested in « treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal » (Matthew 6:19). This is the the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.

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The Cross

Blessed Abbot Marmion became a monk because he wanted to secure for himself something that life as a priest in the world could not guarantee him: the bonum obedientiae, the boon of obedience. In the final analysis, this is why you, or any one of us, becomes a monk. It is because we came to the sobering realisation that the Cross is our only hope. O Crux, ave, spes unica! The Cross is synonymous with obedience: « Christ humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names » (Philippians 2:8–9). 

If you, dear André, or any one of us, becomes a monk, it is because we have heard the words of Jesus and found them irresistible: « Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light » (Matthew 11:28–30), and again, « If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it » (Matthew 16:24–25).

The Holy Habit

The habit will mark you — visibly and in the eyes of all — as a man who truly seeks God, a man intent upon the Work of God, a man prompt and generous in embracing obedience and humiliations. The holy habit will mark you as a man who has found a home ubi vera sunt gaudia, where joys are true, joys untouched by the bitterness of the world, joys ever springing clear, clean, and fresh from the Heart of God.  

I assure of you this, dear son: a man who truly seeks God will not be disappointed in his hope; a man intent upon the Work of God will, even when all around him seems obscure and shrouded in shadow, reflect something of the beauty and radiance of heaven; a man prompt and generous in embracing obedience and humiliations will participate already, here and now, in the life of the risen and ascended Christ, « the beloved Son in whom the Father is well–pleased » (Matthew 3:17).

 

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