We were blessed to sing solemn Lauds in the presence of the many Benedictine relics for which it is our privilege to care. They are a great treasure of our monastery, placing in the midst our life and work the very matter that Almighty God has sanctified by his grace through generous, cooperative perseverance in the monastic vocation. Whilst venerating them, let them teach us to be realistic: they were novices, juniors, superiors, old, middle-aged, young, healthy, ill, anxious, doubting, frightened and worried at times. They became frustrated with themselves when the effort to conquer vice in themselves seemed slow or even impossible. They had to deal with the temptations of any man or woman. The charity they achieved in respect of their at times impossible brethren was not without many failures and the need for forgiveness. They once were where we are now.
We are called to be where they are now. And it is by faithful, generous, patient and loving perseverance that we shall arrive there—faithful always to our vocation, and generous, patient and loving towards ourselves and towards our brethren.
Basil Cardinal Hume OSB used to say that people enter the monastery for one reason but remain in the it for the right reason. His point is sage. We come to the monastery with good motives and to do good, presumably. Then it is not as we expect. The demands of the monastic life are greater than we thought, the brethren are harder to live with than ever we imagined, the superiors are impossible, the circumstances of the monastery change, &c &c.
Our sainted forebears experienced all of this and more, as we know from the Benedictine martyrology to which we attend each day. Yet they persevered. And through their perseverance they became like gold tested and purified by fire (cf. Eccl. 2:5; Is. 1:25). Their perseverance allowed Almighty God to burn away the worldly dross with which they came to the monastery and to form them into something uniquely beautiful unto His glory.
That, my brothers, is the magnificent vocation it is our privilege to have been given. Realising it through daily perseverance is our duty. On this splendid feast let us be encouraged and renewed in our good resolutions by those who have successfully walked this path before us, and let us not fail to ask their intercession in winning the graces each of us need today, and shall need tomorrow and beyond, to follow them to the salvation that awaits those who persevere unto the end. (cf. Mt 24:13) +