Abbey News 

Simple Profession 4th Sunday of Easter ’24

This Sunday is set aside to pray for vocations in the Church. We are asked particularly to pray for priests to serve the People of God, through Word and sacrament. However, through baptism and confirmation each of us has been joined to the Body of Christ – the Church. In the Eucharist, Christ’s body becomes one with ours – what we are offered at Holy Communion becomes part of who we are. Therefore through the power and gift of the Holy Spirit all of us, with Christ as our Head make Him present in the world. To paraphrase Saint Irenaeus a bishop of the 2nd Century (Adv. Haeres. 3, 19. 1 :PG 7/1, 939), we become by grace what Christ is by nature! Grace being that divine power that makes us complete, fully alive, fully human. Thus every man and woman, priest or not, who is united in the Body of Christ is, in some way, shepherd as well, shepherd to the world. To accept Christ means to accept a share in His role as Good Shepherd – we have been chosen for this – it is our vocation.

To be the world’s Good Shepherd is the vocation of the whole Church. We do this when we Christians stand up the weak, be a voice for the child in the womb, respect the elderly, feed the hungry, care for the injured, seek out the stray, speak what is true, care for justice, show mercy and compassion. The goal of our accepting our vocation is that we should share the Divine Life Itself. United in Christ we become the Children of God, co-heirs with his Son. The change in our lives begins on this earth and there are visible signs of this taking place.

Firstly is a desire to understand Scripture, the Word of God. Without this the vitality of the Church is lost and there develops a vague religiosity and even a return to pagan superstition. Perseverance in the common life is the second characteristic of the Christian community. This is the service offered to those in need, and the work done for the mutual support of the brethren. Devotion to the breaking of bread, to the Eucharistic meal, is the third feature of the community. This participation in the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord is the beginning of true community life. Finally comes the devotion to times of prayer, which for the first Christians was in the Temple in Jerusalem. Prayer is the fourth characteristic of the community and of the individual. Not to pray separates a person from the community of believers.

These four pillars that supported the Church two thousand years ago continue to do so. In some way each element must be found in the life of every individual Christian. But Christ calls some individuals to emphasise these essential characteristics by their way of life. Men and women are invited by God to offer themselves as a sign to the whole community of the Church of its true nature, to be a living parable so to speak. Through community life, centred on the Mass and communal prayer, on work as service, and on pondering Sacred Scripture, the life of monks and nuns offers a beacon to all believers and a reminder that continual conversion during our life on earth is the aim of our baptismal promise.

In the Resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit that followed is the root of all Christian life. Monastic life aims to create the proper conditions for authentic Christian living. As it does this, it in turn speaks to the Church of its apostolic beginnings. But for Christian community life to be genuine and develop, the Holy Spirit must always be welcomed in the hearts of those who seek to follow Christ’s Way. The attempt to emphasise Christ’s way will lead to great opposition from the Evil One, the Deceiver and Father of Lies. A monk’s vow of re-formation in Christ, with its three-fold structure of stability – by which he becomes a member of a monastic family; conversatio morum – by which he seeks to reform his life according to the monastic tradition; and obedience – by which he seeks to hear God’s voice in the instruction of his Abbot – aims to strengthen the armour of faith. Then we may, by our lives, wage battle in Christ’s name for His glory and honour, and our eternal salvation.

Today we rejoice with Brother Mark and Father Gregory, for you seek to be a sign to us of the work of God amidst the trials of this life. All of us are called to be signs of hope, all of us must live as people with great expectations. This season of Easter is a period of joy and hope as we recall the foundation of our faith which gives vitality to our Christian life.
The hope we have brings joy because we place our trust in Jesus, risen from the dead, whom we believe will lift us up in grace to become one with Him, to become His brothers and sisters and so find joy and comfort, peace and loving kindness.

Abbot David Charlesworth’s Homily
April 2024

Subscribe to our Newsletter...

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.