Some have compared the recent scandals and controversies in the Church to a spiritual earthquake, one bringing destruction and uncertainty. If that is true, then I am glad to share the main lesson that the earthquakes of 2016 taught — and continues to teach — us: When the Church seems damaged and disfigured we must take that as an invitation from God to a deeper faith in Him, in his Mysteries, in the Tradition of the Church. This Faith is hard but there are good and beautiful fruits, some of which we share here below.
I wrote to you this summer with a request to help us fund our rebuilding project. As the construction site now opens, two years from the time the monastery and church were destroyed, I am glad to say many people responded generously to our appeal, both in life and in death. In life, several families made significant pledges to help build the walls. In death, a priest who departed this life unexpectedly left us a generous gift in his last will.
Besides the obvious material help that such a bequest offers, the gift allows the monks and the donor, in this case a priest, the chance of a timeless spiritual connection to the monastery. We offer Mass for his soul regularly and he will be remembered in the monks’ prayers as long as the monastery exists.
This gift, from a priest, was also timely as we were blessed with three men who moved to the Altare Dei. With Fr. Martin standing by to represent the monastery, our Fr. Gregory was ordained to the sacred priesthood by his bishop, Mons. Rifan, in Campos, Brazil on September 16th and offered his first Solemn Mass in the monastery on October 7th.
Meanwhile, two other men moved closer to that holy day when His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke came to Norcia to give tonsure and the 4 minor orders. Br. Augustine Wilmeth and Br. Bernard Baca, though still a few years from priestly ordination, already live in their souls the call to suffer with Christ on the Cross.
We also continued our tradition of all day hikes into the beautiful mountain range that surrounds us, four times per year. In September, we scaled Mt. Vettore and the Cima del Redentore, two mountains near our monastery which help bring the soul closer to God. For mountain climbing enthusiasts, the height is a little over 8,000 feet.
The continual flow of prayer requests which come to our door suggests that the spiritual earthquake in the Church is not yet over. In our daily lives as monks we carry the pain that so many of you experience in this time of purification. In the timeless words of Our Lady we renew our Faith and find our courage: Fiat.
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.