Nov 21 – Compline Open Forum

In May of 2016 we inaugurated our present, chant-based Compline. A year and a half of experience praying this office along with the feedback from our strategic planning focus groups and our September Conversation Groups provides us with enough perspective to fairly evaluate it. This morning all interested brothers were invited to participate in an open forum to share thoughts and feelings about the office of Compline, to ask questions, to listen to explanations, and to provide suggestions.

Fr. Mark opened the discussion by setting the context that brought us to this point. He recalled for us the rapidly escalating factors that pointed to our inability to sustain the “old”, harmony-based guitar Compline. He described the urgency of finding a solution that the community could effectively pray and support going-forward. Additionally, he reminded us of the liturgical irregularities and omissions present in the harmony Compline. Part of the mandate for the “new” Compline was to address these discrepancies and bring us into conformity with the liturgical norms of the Church and our Order.

The brothers who chose to attend the open forum shared their experiences and opinions freely. The strengths and weaknesses of both Complines were discussed. Aspects of each which assisted or hindered personal and communal prayer where highlighted. Preferences and suggestions were offered in a great spirit of humility for the sake of community. 

Our chant-based Compline is here to stay, but in the coming weeks the fruit of this discussion will produce some modifications. The first noticeable change will be the return to “Compline in the dark” on the First Sunday of Advent.

A number of guiding principles for liturgical matters at New Melleray grounded our discussion. They include:

  • Lex orandi, lex credendi; how we pray affects our faith. Liturgy is formative of personal and communal spirituality.
  • The brothers have the right and duty to participate fully in the common life. We arrange our liturgy to allow for the active participation of each brother.
  • Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God. We will bring to bear upon our liturgy the best of our community’s talents and resources.
  • God is not a God of anarchy but of peace . . . so let everything happen decorously and according to order. Our liturgy will be guided by sound liturgical theology and tradition.
  • The Sacred Liturgy is to be celebrated according to the Cistercian rite following the norms approved by the General Chapter and confirmed by the Holy See where necessary. In arranging our liturgy we are guided by approved texts and documents.