High Tea & High Mass

October 14, 2009


Laurence Freeman OSB (on the left of the picture) writes in the Tablet this week:

“Speaking with monks in many places in recent years I see how widely it is recognized that the old institutions are crumbling and how much denial of death there still is about it. Many oblates sense this too. The older ones expect to pass on before the familiar forms of monastic life collapse. They are not working for change. One told me sweetly how she loved to sit in the church before Vespers identifying the approaching monks by the sound of their individual footsteps. For others, though, oblation is more about a way of life and personal vocation. I realized we talk much nonsense about the crisis of vocations. The crisis is in our perception and how little we are, religiously speaking, in touch with reality.

New forms of monastic life are necessary and inevitable. Ideally they will be supported by the old institutions practicing the renunciation of self-will that Benedict urges. Or, they will come to birth anyway because the monk within each person must seek expression. Either way the world needs new religious forms that breathe peace, like the small temple I visited, as much as our ailing planet needs trees. Contemplative life, however peripheral it may be to the instititution, is the purifying element in religion. The new forms may be smaller, more mixed and flexible in commitment and work. Certainly they will be more focused in the practice and sharing of the contemplative experience that we are hungering for today. Among other things this experience elevates our sense of time.”


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