Bernardo Olivera, CNS Rome 2019: Fidelity – Perseverance

FIDELITY – PERSEVERANCE

In Monastic Life

(Guidelines for reflection)

(Bernardo Olivera, CNS Rome 2019)

 

– A Divine Attribute

If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13)

– He has chosen us before we ever chose Him.

– Meaning of the Words

– Faithfulness or fidelity: love that perseveres through time, as though time were eternal.

– Amen. Amen. Amen!

– Question and Answer

– Why do some faithful persons persevere and others do not?  A mystery!

– Fidelity is not easy. We need to accept God’s gift, but correspond to the grace we

receive.

– The Difference between Monks and Nuns

– In many countries and throughout the ages, the “instability” of men seems to be one of the cultural reasons for their lack of perseverance when facing difficulties.

– Nuns seem to be more faithful and persevering than monks.

– Causes of the Problem

– The absolute and definitive nature of the monastic vocation requires a personal transformation.

– Monastic conversatio, when it is lived well, is the way to this transformation.

– When primacy of place is given to “umbilical” fascination (egoism), fidelity is impossible!

– Present-day western culture thinks that it is “natural” to change our opinion and commitments.

– Factors that Help

A sense of belonging: feeling oneself identified with monastic life in our particular tradition.

– It is a process of giving oneself to a community that lives a charism and knows how to

accept it.

Creativity: the faithful person does not just “stick it out,” but “re-creates” himself.

– It is important to be flexible and to adapt, to bend without breaking oneself.

Motivation: which means wanting to catch fire and being oriented accordingly.

– Superiors should continually nourish and channel such motivation.

Clarity concerning the end in view, namely the hope and experience of happiness.

– Cenobitic happiness is achieved by giving oneself to the community, to each person and

to the Lord.

Above all: communal and personal relationship with Jesus Christ by a life of prayer.

– To be faithful one has to have faith and always return to one’s first and most

meaningful love

– I believe and trust Him who called me. That is why I stay here with Him.

Other important factors:

  • The example of persevering old-timers.
  • A solid monastic formation during the first years.
  • Learning the art of discernment, so as to choose willingly and wisely.
  • Personal self-appropriation of the Cistercian charism.
  • Spiritual accompaniment for a long period of time.
  • A communal core of persevering vocations.
  • A clear and strong community spirit:
  • The abbot’s teaching on the Gospel, the Rule and the Constitutions.
  • Reciprocal and welcoming love between younger members and older ones.
  • Generational groups and mutual support.
  • Study groups.

Limits

– Since fidelity is a mystery, to be faithful can require, in certain exceptional cases, a change of the road one is following, so as to keep following.

– Sometimes the cause of infidelity or lack of perseverance is, for different reasons, in the community. There can be an incapacity to welcome others, a lack of motivation, a “liquid” monastic life, little ability to discern or to accompany a process of discernment, a twisted view of human nature, superiors who lack flexibility or who are unable to promote and accept originalities and differences….

 

Bernardo – October, 2019