St. Paul today sets the tone for our Lenten journey: “Now is a very acceptable time”, a kairos or favorable moment in God’s plan for us. And not only for us as individuals, but for us as a monastic community. We are to witness to the grace and joy of being reconciled to God. Above all to strive for that communion and peace without which no one can see God. Our mission is to witness to the communion of the Holy Trinity and to the salvation God wants for the whole world, torn as it is by wars and divisions on every side. This is a great grace and mission, and we must not receive it in vain.
To repeat, this Lent is a kairos, a moment we cannot just pass over. The recent events of our General Chapter with its changes and new initiatives, and the significant changes in our community life and new arrivals are signs from the Lord of the importance of our communion among ourselves. It is our vocation as a Cistercian community. This grace of communion, which is an essential part of our charism, received at our profession, is also placed before us daily to be received and responded to again and again. It is a continual passage into the depths of charity.
Dom Mauro of the Cistercian Order described this kairos in this way: it is a passage from the “I” to the “we” of community life. God does not eliminate our individuality; he promotes it by the manifestation of our unity. We are more ourselves the more we foster true communion among ourselves. This passage from the “I” to the “we” occurs when we do what Jesus did: seek the good of others; show honor to the other; put others before ourselves.
Our Lord Jesus highlights three elements of our life that fosters our communion. The first is almsgiving, both exchanges on the material level but also spiritual alms by which we encourage and support one another. The second is prayer, especially in community at the Divine Office, united with Jesus’ prayer in praise of his Father’s goodness and obedience to his will. And the third is fasting, especially from the things that are so prevalent in this world – preoccupation with food and drink, resentments, the search for just about anything that will break the boredom and ordinariness of life.
Brothers, we are facing a new kairos this Lent, prepared by God to meet the challenges that face us as a community, as an Order, as a Church. This Lent is a moment to deepen our spirit of communion and find new solutions for the way forward together – a synodal moment, a Eucharistic moment. Today is indeed a very acceptable time, a day of salvation prepared by God for us and for the whole world.
Dom Vincent's homily for today.