MONASTERY OF THE EPIPHANY
For us in religious life, our way is to strive to follow the charism of the specific congregation or order we belong to; and for us, the Missionary Benedictines our charism is to be both monastic and missionary. This is our way of sharing the good news, especially when a new opportunity presents itself.
One such opportunity came when the late archbishop of La Havana, Jaime Cardinal Ortega invited us in 2008. Six monks were chosen to start the foundation. They were given a former Carmelite convent to stay for the mean time. Years later a place was offered in San Jose de las Lajas, province of Mayabeque, 35 kilometres away from La Havana.
At present we are cultivating a portion of our land and the produce is destined mainly to the different “soup kitchen” run by the church mostly in La Havana.
We are involved in agriculture planting corn, beans, cassava, and other seasonal crops, though we also started planting coffee, mango, and other trees like mahogany to help in the reforestation. We now also have some small animals like chicken, sheep, goats and we also started beekeeping.
Our monastery at present is a set of small buildings and four containers. Sometimes our visitors tease us that from afar, our monastery looks like a collection of squatter houses. They might be right because of the different shapes of the roof and buildings, or the different colours of the paints that were used. However many of our visitors had commented on the calm and silence that they have encountered in our monastery. As a result some had expressed their desire to spend a few days with us but as of now we still lack the needed facilities.
At present there are three areas on which we have placed our concern, to get local vocations, the construction of our proper monastery with a guest house, and the development of our farm.
This is our life, our way of following Jesus who is the Way, and the Truth and the Life.
I prepare my Way
Revd. Prebendary Kay Garlick
Member of the Confraternity of St. James
Preparing to go on pilgrimage is very different from planning an ordinary journey. No scrutinizing maps and travel guides, no planning visits to tourist attractions, no booking accommodation ahead. The pilgrim route I will follow has already been determined, and everything else where I will stop each night, where I will eat, how far I will go each day, all this will be decided on the way. So preparation for a pilgrimage is far more about coming to terms with what I will leave behind family, friends, home, routine, work, hobbies. I must prepare to let all these go if I am to move forward.
As a parent of four children, I have had to learn a lot about “letting go”. Leaving my toddler for the first time at playschool, then later for their first day at primary school. Then waiting at home for the teenager who has gone out to meet friends in the evening, and later when they have taken the car out on their own for the first time. Saying goodbye when they leave home for university or work in another place. Meeting the person they have chosen to spend the rest of their life with, and watching from afar as they set up home together.…. All of these stages involve a hard, painful, but necessary “letting go”.
Cecil Day Lewis wrote a poem about his son’s first day at school. The father watches as his son plays football with the other boys and then sees the boy walk away from him towards the school:
I watched you…
……go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness…
Letting go of our children is always hard, because our love for them seems to demand that we hold them close, and yet we know in our hearts that we must allow them to find their own way in the world – if they are to become the people God made them to be. Cecil Day Lewis writes this poem eighteen years after the event, and yet the memory is still sharp in his mind. He finishes the poem with these words:
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
The love is in the letting go, and selfhood begins with a walking away.
And now, as we prepare to start on pilgrimage, it is us that will be walking away, leaving behind so much that we value and rely on, freeing ourselves from routine and responsibilities for a time, in order to discover more about ourselves, and learn how we can become more the people God made us to be.
This time of Covid-19 Lock-Down has been a good rehearsal for such “letting go” we have had to live for a time without most of our family or friends, without our work or normal routine, being forced to live more simply. There has been much sorrow, and much anxiety, but we have learned much about ourselves and about what we really value, and that will help to shape the way we travel on.
When Jesus was preparing for his ministry, he went off into the wilderness he left behind family and friends and the life he had led in Nazareth, and lived simply and quietly on his own for a while. All those preparing for ministry in the Church spend some time in retreat before ordination, learning more about themselves and what they can offer in the service of God and his people. And as we prepare ourselves for this virtual pilgrimage, let us in our minds strip away all the comforts and luxuries of our daily lives, and all the roles that we have taken on for others, to offer ourselves just as we are, in simplicity and faith, to the One who loves us not because of what we do and achieve, but because we are His own.
Rev. Prebendaria Kay Garlick
source of all goodness and wisdom.
You sent your Son to show us the way,
help us to be of one heart and one soul
so that in following Jesus we do not falter, nor lose hope.
Enlighten our way as we travel;
help us to fix our gaze only on you;
give us the strength we need until we arrive finally in your kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr Joseph Moreno, osb
Thank you for joining us “in Camino,” for being a part of our humble project, for your prayers, for your assistance and for your company.
With your support you will contribute with food bags, sanitary material, water supply, cleaning kits…
See you next week!