Today we are compelled to come and ask you for help for the remainder of our work, some of which has not yet been paid for. We have undertaken the restoration of the hostel; the cells are finished thanks to you, but there is still another part (See picture above): the roof, the reading room, the toilets and the small kitchen. Yes, we have a real need for your charity to also ensure the material life of the community. We can’t thank you enough for the help you could give us.
Our gratitude will return to you in prayers and sacrifices for you and for your families, in addition to the Holy Mass that we celebrate each month for all our benefactors; as for those among them who have gone to their eternity, we recite every day the De Profundis and the beautiful prayer which follows: “God, so quick to forgive and so desirous of saving men, we beseech your mercy so that by the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all your saints, you grant to all our brothers, to our relatives and to our benefactors who have left this world, to come to the possession of eternal life”.
Since the month of September, our Brother Gabriel, having finished his novitiate and made his profession, has just begun his studies by immersing himself with joy, but not without effort, in the study of the 24 Thomistic theses commented on by Father P.B. Grenet and Father Hugon, OP. : the conquest of the truth requires work and constancy, but the reward is always beyond the effort. Dom Jean Leclercq said in his famous book The Love of Letters and the Desire of God: “Grace elevates the soul and enriches it with divine capacities. But culture refines and embellishes it, thereby making it more apt to receive and express the gifts of God. He thus explained the formula of Saint Bernard: “scientia litterarum, quæ ornat animam”.
The life of the monk includes prayer, study and manual work, “Ora, lege, labora”. The brothers must also work with their hands. At the moment, it is picking olives in Villatalla that occupies a good part of their time with the hope of obtaining a good harvest of oil. But you must first do the groundwork, install the nets, rack the branches laden with fruit, then move the nets again, rack again, and so on. Thank God we can count on the help of the Oblates. Everything takes place in an atmosphere of silence and contemplation.
The divine office is sung on the spot, followed, after Sext, by a picnic where conversation is given free rein, and from which joy is not absent. “Idleness, says Saint Benedict, is an enemy of the soul, which is why, at certain times, the brothers must occupy themselves with manual work and at certain others with lectio divina and “They are truly monks when they live by the work of their hands like our fathers and the apostles”.
Monastic life is thus a model of Christianity where everything takes place under the gaze of God: domestic life, made up of work and study, oriented towards prayer and contemplation. The monastery and its enclosure is a sacred place where everything speaks of God, where everything is for God and for his glory, as the famous words of Saint Irenaeus remind us: “The glory of God is the living man; the life of man is to contemplate God”. The monk wants to realize from now on the fullness of his divine and eternal vocation: the contemplation and the praise of an infinite Being who fulfils him beyond his deep aspirations.
Many are the young people who, today, give two or three years of their life to quite estimable charitable works; but how many would like to give their whole lives to God alone? How many even begin to commit themselves to religious life, but after one or two years give up the fight, or “divorce” after declaring their fidelity…
Will there still be souls on fire who want to give themselves up radically to the one and only necessity forever in the monastic life?
May the Lord send us such souls in love with the absolute and with the strength to remain permanently where there are the true joys that do not pass away!
And you, dear Friends, who also struggle in the world against winds and tides, you are also called to holiness, to a purer and stronger faith because of the unleashing of the forces of evil.
Our retreat from the world to dedicate ourselves to the contemplation, adoration and praise of the divine Realities is not the fruit of selfishness, but we are like Guardian Angels who, by their prayer, carry you in their hands so that your foot does not stumble against the stone and you come safely to the gates of eternity.
Thank you for your prayers, and for your material charity so necessary so that the Work which is the contemplative life may continue.