“O Lord, it is truly just and necessary, it is our duty, and it is our salvation to give thanks to You always and everywhere”, but especially today on this beautiful and wonderful feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Dear Brother Monks, dear Sisters, dear Oblate brothers and sisters, dear brothers and friends,
God so loved the world that he sent and gave us his own Son. But to receive him, he gave us a marvellous gift: the womb of a virgin, conceived without the stain of original sin. How many thanks should we give to God for so many divine treasures offered to sinful humanity? Today, you too have wanted to join me in thanking Him for my monastic profession, in this Golden Jubilee. Thank you for your presence, thank you for your prayers, thank you for your fraternal affection. So it was fifty years ago, December 8, 1972! Two years earlier, our founder, Dom Gérard, of pious memory, my father and my dear master, had started a foundation. It was at the time when a surge of particularly violent progressivism blew through the Church in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Wanting to open up to the world, the latter had let the world enter into it and even into our monasteries: abandonment of monastic observances, the enclosure, the compulsory wearing of the habit, stalls in the choir, abandonment of the Gregorian, chants and prayers in the vernacular, mass oriented not towards God, but towards the people, liturgy in constant evolution under the pretext of experiences. Dom Gérard wanted to remain faithful to monastic life as it had been transmitted to him by the elders. He obtained, albeit with difficulty, the authorization to “live” outside his monastery, because he wanted to keep the Tradition, but it was given to him informally, without canonical status. Providence then guided him to a Provençal sheepfold, adjoining an 11th century Romanesque chapel. It was there that he began his life as a hermit, in solitude, on August 25, 1970, but not for long, since three days later a young man arrived to become a monk under his direction. He was your servant! God bless this work, which developed rapidly to the point of forcing the community to leave these too narrow places and embark on the extraordinary adventure of building a large monastery ten kilometers away.
This adventure, humanly enthusiastic, will last nearly fifteen years. And when I look back on my life, I see it filled, like all lives, with various events: sorrows and joys, discouragements and hopes, struggles and peace, enthusiasm and monotony, sunny days and rainy days. But the real adventure of the monk is interior, hidden: it is the soul facing its destiny, its vocation, the call of the Lord; it is the thirst and hunger for the absolute and for truth, faced with the attraction of earthly joys, desires and goods. The secret of the monk and of every soul is there: free adherence to grace or its refusal. Self-sacrifice or selfishness. But for those who have received a lot, the response is more serious. The true life of man is an inner struggle where the gravity of nature and the call of grace clash.
When I think back to the last fifty years, two words come to my lips: “pardon Lord for my faults and thank you for Your infinite mercy”. There are times in life when our decision irreversibly commits the future. I have known those moments. Despite my weakness, God supported me and overcame in me.
The Imitation of Jesus Christ says: “Appropriate therefore no good to yourselves, nor ascribe virtue to anyone; but give all to God, without whom man has nothing. It is I who gave you everything and I want you to give yourself entirely to me, I demand with the greatest rigor the thanks that are due to me. »
Saint John writes that “from the fullness of Christ we have received everything, and grace upon grace”. And a preface sings that “in crowning his saints, God crowns his own gifts. »
This Mass will be a thanksgiving, a Eucharist, for the precious gift of God. God is good and never stops giving Himself. The good is by nature self-diffusive. God puts no obstacle to his gifts.
I thank the Lord for the gift of his faithfulness. If I think I have kept the faith, the Catholic faith, intimately united with its moral and liturgical expression, it is thanks to God, thanks to Dom Gérard, thanks to my parents, thanks to my guardian angel, thanks to all those who gave the example and some of whom preferred to be condemned by men of the Church rather than betray. I am thinking particularly of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who had an inspired vision of the evils that gnawed at the Church, such as the resurgence of modernism, characterized by anthropocentrism, and who had the courage to continue the true theocentric priesthood, which puts God first place, all for the salvation of souls.
Monastic life is at the heart of this fight for the faith. “The intimate foundation of the religious state, said Dom Romain, is the continuous and most perfect possible practice of the first commandment: “To adore God and to love him with all your heart”. This is why Saint Benedict writes in the Rule that “nothing should be preferred to the work of God”. “Saint Benedict simply translates the will of God and that of the Church, when he places the Work of God above everything. Everything in the divine plan is linked to the celebration of the glory of God”. “The whole purpose of monastic life is the celebration of the Work of God. And the work of God is divine praise, solemnly celebrated day and night. »
Such is the testimony of the monk: to remind the world of the primacy of God over all things, and particularly over human works. The monk is the man of prayer. It is prayer that gives meaning to his whole life, and without which it no longer has a reason to exist. The work of God is the most powerful antidote to neo-modernism.
The Benedictines of the Immaculate have the privilege of making this life, entirely oriented towards the solemn prayer of the Church, also the work of Mary. The monks have entirely consecrated their souls to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Their prayer is therefore the prayer of the Virgin and Immaculate Mother. We know that in heaven, Mary intercedes with God for all men, but her powerful intercession also continues on earth through this little Benedictine family.
How not to see a providential link between our profession of fifty years ago under the maternal protection of Mary and the gratitude of the Church for our family of the Benedictines of the Immaculate Conception! There is a Marian project willed by God, which is both a gift and a requirement of love and fidelity.
Dear monks and dear sisters, we must be men and women of the first commandment. Adoration, praise and thanksgiving is the most precious gift that the hearts of Jesus and Mary have given us and that we must communicate to the world so that it finds the way to salvation.
“Exultabit cor meum in salutari tuo: cantabo Domino qui bona tribuit mihi: et psallam nomini Domini altissimi” (Psalm 12)
On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, I allow the Most Blessed Virgin to repeat in my heart:
“My heart will rejoice in Your salvation: I will sing to the Lord who has given me good things; and I will chant in the name of the Most High. »
May Mary sing in our hearts: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour, because he has looked upon the humility of his servant. »