+WORSHIPING IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH Church Dedication, 15 Nov.’21
Jesus tells us in our gospel that true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth! It does not matter where we are or what we are doing, we have the opportunity at all times, to worship in Spirit and truth. We worship God as often as we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, let our lives carry out the will of God however this may become manifest day by day.
Jesus telling the Samaritan woman that the time for true worshipers “now is,” revealed to her that something entirely new was happening in and through his presence. Authentic worship takes place as the result of God’s eternal Word taking on our human condition. Our human nature being united with God’s divine nature makes us true worshipers of God. Through this union of natures in Christ St Paul tells us we “are no longer strangers and sojouners, but.. fellow citizens with the holy ones and member of the household of God… Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord.”
This Church was first dedicated back in 1866 after the hard work of many monks and hired laborers, some of whom were black slaves though Gethsemani never own slaves of its own. The first abbot of Gethsemani, Dom Eutropius had hired back in 1852 the architect William Keely to design a three storied monastery and the church modeled on our motherhouse at the time of Melleray in France. Under Dom Benedict Berger, Eutropius having resigned, was the abbatial church finally finished and consecrated.
The Divine Office and the Eucharist have been daily prayed and sung in this place ever since except for the renovation that went on in the 1960’s. Consecrated indeed as these walls are, what makes them holy, truly dedicated, are the living members of this community. Gathering here day after day we open ourselves to the transformative grace of the Work of God and the Eucharist. In a profound way this Solemnity celebrates our life together. In this place we share in Christ’s very own prayer for the whole of humanity. As we allow it to rise up from the depth of our hearts and minds, these walls are made sacred and give glory to God.
What we are about to do at this altar takes place every moment our monastic life as we freely and joyfully embrace the divine will of God as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemani. Every morning bread and wine are brought to this altar to become his very Body and Blood.. What takes place at this table is to take place all day long, as often we allow the Holy Spirit to be revealed in all that we think, do or say. The mortar that holds together the bricks of these walls is above all the love we have for one another, amid all our flaws and human weakness. In us, in the heart of every Christian true to the faith, God’s own beloved Son takes flesh for the transformation of our world today.
Our early Cistercian father St Bernard sums all this up so beautifully:
“My brethren, if by our abundant supplies of spiritual bread we are proved to be the house of the great Father of the family, if the possession of sanctity shows us to be the temple of God, if peaceful participation of a common life gives us the character of a holy city, if fervent love marks us out as the bride of the Immortal Bridegroom: then I believe I need have no hesitation in affirming this to be our own solemnity. And be not surprised that this festival is observed on earth, since it is observed also in heaven.”
(2 Chron 5:6-10, 13-6:2; Eph 2:19-22; John 4:19-22)