With a few exceptions, our Bishop, Paul Loverde, visits us once a year to celebrate Mass with us, share a meal and informally converse with us. This year, our Bishop visited on Friday, 25 May, in the company of Fr. Phillip Cozzi of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Warrenton.
In his homily, Bishop Loverde acknowledged our role in the diocese, with the other contemplative communities (the Poor Clares and Dominican nuns), as a sacred place of prayer, peace and hospitality. Drawing from several addresses of Pope Benedict XVI, he asked why anyone would leave our urbanized world, a career, even a life of service, to draw apart from our society. But in the solitude and silence–and beauty– of nature we are free to contemplate God and his mysteries and deepen the life of prayer; not just the monk’s personal prayer or the community’s prayer, but the prayer of the Church. If we are hidden from the world around us, we are hidden, especially in the Eucharist, in the heart of the Body of Christ, the Church, to be part of that heart-beat.
Over the decades, our meals with the Bishop, one of those occasions when we talk together in the refectory, has become informal, not unlike an old-fashioned family meal. But he concluded our conversation on a formal and personal note, referring to the day’s Gospel. Jesus tells Peter that when he was young he dressed himself and went where he would. A day will come, however, and someone else will bind him and take him where he would not want to go–a poignant message for us, with four of our brothers in a nursing home. Bishop Loverde applied the text to his own future, whatever it holds–disease, infirmity of age, whatever; and reminded us, as well as himself, that even then, we could be more of what we were called to be by accepting what Providence demands at that time. May we pray for one another to be responsive to that costly grace.