On June 12, the monastery celebrated 20 years since its canonical founding in 1999. For this historic anniversary, it seems right to me to finally add a motto to the crest of the monastery: Nova Facio Omnia (“I Make All Things New”). Taken from the Book of the Apocalypse (Chapter 21, verse 5), it describes the New Jerusalem in all its splendor. I believe this verse captures both the spirit of our first twenty years and provides an orienting principle for the future. The search for what is new springs from the deep desire in the human heart for New Life, untouched by Original Sin.
Newness and youth go together, bringing joy to the soul which has yet to experience some of the harsher realities of life. The Church herself calls us always to renew that youthfulness, beginning the Mass with a reminder of how God blesses youth with joy: Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam ("To God who gives joy to my youth"). Sin makes us old, taking away our innocence and joy. One of Fr. Cassian’s first principles of the new monastery was the Restoration of Man through the Worship of God. Once established in Norcia, St. Benedict’s birthplace, the community knew that an old building would only find new life through the worship of God.
Youth and newness also have a great deal to do with Truth. As Pope Benedict XVI said so aptly, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." Truth never grows old since Truth is Christ Himself. It is ever fresh, new and innocent, sinless as He was without sin. It is we who lose heart, who lose faith and in these recent years, look not to Christ but to man for the signs of Spring. Man without Christ, however, can never bring the New. What men make new grows old before the ink is even dry. Nova Facio Omnia will keep this insight present in our minds.
St. Benedict knew well that exterior change, of discipline or location, never in itself brings new life. For this reason, he gave his monks the vow of stability as a gift. Even when it seems that all external circumstances are against him, the monk must stay and grow in Faith. That’s because frenetic desires - to change, to move, to “adapt to the times” - are expressions of a wish to be in charge of our own lives. Such a will fears submitting in faith to God and accepting the timelessness of His Commandments. But God really is in charge. He is the only One who can truly bring about the newness and rebirth that we seek. God is the subject, after all, in Nova Facio Omnia.
With this motto in mind, I am pleased to share our latest newsletter with you. Inside you will find Brother Augustine discussing his next step toward the priesthood, progress on our monastery reconstruction project, and an interview with Fr. Cassian recounting the foundation of the monastery 20 years ago. Our work here relies on your prayers and material support. Please consider a gift to our rebuilding efforts or consider signing up to be a monthly donor. Every amount, small or large, is a help to us as we press on raising the walls of our new monastery, hoping that through our work God will, at least on this mountainside, offer a foretaste of what it will be like when He finally makes all things new. In Christ, Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.