This 21st March, feast of the passing of our blessed Father Saint Benedict: day of grace and jubilation in Villatalla. In a packed church, Bishop Guglielmo Broghetti has just erected our monastery as an Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right during the solemn Mass celebrated in the traditional rite by the former vicar general of Bishop Oliveri, Mgr Giorgio Brancaleoni.
Present were fifteen or so priests of the diocese and several from neighbouring dioceses, friends of the community. The mayor with his tricolor sash and the sergeant of police accompanied by his deputy represented the official authorities of the country. Our neighbours and numerous of the faithful, friends and oblates came to assist and unite themselves in their hearts and by prayer to the grace of this such lovely and moving ceremony, in the course of which Father Jehan and Brother Antoine renewed their solemn monastic vows, while Brother Marie promised obedience, conversion of ways (chastity and poverty) and stability for three years.
In his homily Mgr Broghetti enlarged elegantly upon the definition of a monk given by Saint Benedict “ a seeker of God”, this God whom the monk has made the Absolute of his whole life. Here is an extract the depth of which we can admire:
The origin of the term “monk” signifies the one who is “alone”. Thus we legitimately ask: why would the Catholic Church support the choice of one such who wishes to “remain alone”? Would it not be more useful to direct vocations towards a life more like that in the parishes, especially today when the priests are ever less numerous?
In fact, to really weigh up the monastic life, it has a particular importance in the life of the Church, as it has always underlined the Petrine ministry. Man has by nature a religious dimension which we cannot suppress and which directs his heart to the search for the Absolute, of God who fills more or less clearly or unintelligibly this insatiable need.
When in the course of life’s events this need surfaces in the conscience, it makes man a seeker of God. For Saint Benedict that is the fundamental sign and criterion of an authentic monastic vocation. In the Christian environment this search became the “sequela Christi”, which means “the path which leads to God”, in the obedient listening to his Word of grace, of truth and of life.
So the monk is not a man alone but a man who through the solitude of his style of life, puts God, Creator of heaven and earth, at the centre of everything, God the author of the grace which gives meaning to the present and future life, to the life which will continue after the crucial passing of death and the decline of the mortal body. Life and death are accepted in the hope of the Kingdom. That is the whole meaning of the famous vision St Benedict had when he contemplated the whole world dazzled by an exceptional ray of light which united him with God: it is in their intimate connection with God that all the realities of the world hereunder are accepted and transfigured. So it is the search for God which defines the monk and constitutes the axis on which rests his life of prayer, of work and of example, for all of us who are in the world but not of the world.
After the solemn, magnificent liturgy of prayer came that of the sacred liturgical ceremony of friendship around an aperitif. These are the joyful feasts, when all those united in the amazing silence of the same sacred communion meet up.
you can see a gallery with more photos here: https://goo.gl/q2VD9l