No Guests for Now

Jesus said: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.”  During this world-wide pandemic, gatherings in Jesus’ name are not happening, in the church and in the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance as well.  During the last two months, Trappists have learned of the postponement of the Regional Meeting of the North American Trappist superiors which was to take place in June and, of all places, at Genesee Abbey in upstate New York.  The dates for the General Chapter likewise, (the meeting of all the abbots and abbesses in the world), which was to take place in the Fall has been postponed until 2021.  “Visitations” by which the abbot of the founding house of a monastery visits and speaks individually with the monks of the “daughter house” to review the community life, these are also in question until travel by plane becomes safe.  Finally, last Sunday, the abbot announced our Guest House will remained closed to visitors through the month of May with an evaluation of the situation to be undertaken monthly. We have not established a re-opening date. Many Catholics speak of “missing Jesus” present in the celebration of the eucharist during the big shut-down.  Does He miss us?  The large “Head of Christ” that greets visitors coming up the drive way to the monastery has a mournful expression, (he is crowned with thorns), but seeing him gazing day after day at our completely empty parking lot for two months, (something that never happens), one is invited to reflect on how the Coronavirus pandemic has touched the heart of the God-man.  His complex sentiments, I suspect, are invading the hearts of the monks of New Melleray who will be happy to be able once again to welcome guests into this House of God and be restored by the mystery of Christ’s living presence where two or three are gathered in his name.