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
– 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
– 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
– 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.
– 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