Although the monthly information meeting has been canceled, there are a few items which might be of interest. Fr. Stephen will be attending the U.S. Regional meeting of our monasteries at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. It is scheduled to begin on August 25th and end on September 2nd. He will be driving down on the 25th with Mother Rebecca, abbess of OLM.
There is a full agenda of important items which concern all our houses. Each region of the Order submits topics to be treated at the next General Chapter, to be held in Assisi (Italy) in September of 2022. The last General Chapter had been postponed because of the pandemic. The Central Commission, composed of delegates from the regions and the Abbot General Council, organizes the agenda for the Chapter itself.
( CST 8l The communities of the Order are grouped in Regions approved by the General Chapter. These regional conferences foster communion and fraternal cooperation within each geographical area and in the Order as a whole. )
One of the most significant items will be the election of a new abbot general. Dom Eamon’s mandate had expired when he reached the age of 75, but the pandemic has prevented gathering in Chapter for this vote. The superiors will appreciate the opportunity to discuss potential candidates for this significant office. The closure of some monasteries or the numerical weakening of others has created an anomalous situation in the Order. Historically, each house has been founded by a motherhouse with the responsibility of support and care for its foundations. Even after a monastery is well established, this concern is continued through the regular visitation made by the father immediate of the motherhouse.
(CST 73 In accordance with the Charter of Charity, Cistercian communities are united by the bond of filiation. Traditionally filiation has its juridical form in the function of the Father Immediate. Fraternity and filiation are expressed through mutual assistance and support.)
At the present time, the natural lines of filiation have been broken for some communities. Their founding house is no longer able to supply assistance and support and another house has been asked to take over this role. In some cases, this change has been permanent while others are functioning in a temporary and provisional arrangement. The bonds of filiation have a traditional and integral role in the communion of our communities and there is a need to more deeply examine the effects these changes have in the life of our communities.
A related but unspecified agenda item is the “situation of superiors.” This may refer to some particular cases calling for an extension of a superior’s mandate, or the availability of leadership potential within a community, or the effects of the pandemic on a community. These are just speculations. It is true, however, that the protocols for dealing with the pandemic and its impact on each community will be discussed.
A number of agenda items concern the U.S. Region itself: questions concerning the safeguarding of the elderly and adults from forms of abuse; the usefulness of the regional health plan; the constitution of a Monastic Business Association, with a particular concern for the protection of Trappist Trademarks; the creation of a common fund in the region to assist monasteries in financial need; the functioning of our Regional Website. A daunting agenda, but no match for the wisdom and capabilities of our superiors.
On the local front. Work has begun on the enclosure fence extending from the stone wall northward toward the entrance to the farmyard. The red cedar wood creates an attractive and rustic demarcation of the enclosure and allows some lovely views of the area near the cemetery. A number of dead trees have been gradually laid to rest and yielded their space to newer plantings. A lesson for us all. We are keeping a wary eye on the upsurge of Covid cases and hope this will be under better control for our reopening in October.