Hello People of the Resurrection...
This ‘Mardi Gras Sunday’, hopefully it will be helpful for you to have some reflection from your ‘Norbertine’ pastor. Of Resurrection’s 8 pastors, 2 of us have been Norbertines – the first being Father Christian O’Brien(+2011), who served Resurrection from 1984-1986 – a wonderful, gentle priest.
“So, what’s the difference?” you might ask.
Well, perhaps this photo of an archaic priest’s hat – a biretta - the precursor of the mortar board for graduations - can give a clue. (Nobody wears them now!)
Unlike the diocesan model – black with 3 ‘fins’ - ours was white, with 4 ‘fins’. Besides the 3 vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as Norbertines, we take a 4th vow: to live together in Community/Common Life - to be a family of brothers in the Lord Jesus.
Following the Rule of Saint Augustine, we are taught: “The first purpose for which you have come together is to be one in mind and heart in the house on your way to God.” (Chapter I #2) The inspiration is the early Christian Community described in Acts 4:31-33. Please check out this awesome passage – a beautiful vision for us all! Augustine believed that a group of disciples, getting along, sharing, forgiving and being forgiven by each other - being able to live in peace, without the roof blowing off - would itself be a ministry and a witness to the power of the Gospel!
Jesus, Himself prayed at the Last Supper that “All may be one, so that the world may
believe...” (John 17:21)
So I live at the abbey, with the brothers, not here in the rectory. I try to be present to my ‘family’ by being at Mass, Evening Prayer & Supper as much as I can; offering my salary; living simply in 1 room; sharing the chores; being at monthly meetings and “Chapter Meetings” by which we ‘govern’ our life.
Given mandatory celibacy, which would emerge for priests long after Augustine’s death in 430, his vision of priests living together in common, and going out from there to serve is ‘genius’ – a corrective for corrosive loneliness which may emerge in solitary living, and a source of mutual spiritual, emotional and practical support.
You’ll notice, and I hope, cut me the slack, to adjust my schedule, to honor this primary
commitment. I’ll still be eager to serve you – better I believe for tending my ‘home life’ with the brothers – just as you tend yours with your family & loved ones.
And of course, living together – various opinions, personalities, ranging in age from 29 to 99 -is darn hard work; but it’s also a great blessing – a witness to the world of God’s love empowering our love for each other as brothers, and our love for you, whom we serve. Seeking unity in Jesus, we pray -
“God bless us...EVERY one”!