The community Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM; Abbot Robert Barnes with preside and preach.
This Sunday, the usual Sunday cycle is replaced by the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Clearly, this is an unusually important celebration. Only three nativities are celebrated in the Roman Rite: that of Christ himself on 25 Decemeber; that of Mary his Mother on 8 September; and that of his cousin John the Baptist on 24 June. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to notice that the birth of John the Baptist is six months away from the birth of Christ. Or that Christmas is as close to the Winter Solstice as the birth of John the Baptist is to the Summer Solstice. We may not know the exact dates of the birth of Jesus or John but the dates for liturgically celebrating their births are rich in nature symbolism. At the Winter Solstice, the days begin to grow longer: Christ our light steadily increases, illuminating a darkened world. At the Summer Solstice, the days grow shorter; John says of the promised Christ, he must increase, I must decrease.
St. John is an archetype of the monastic vocation; he lives in the desert, contrary to the status quo values of marriage, family, property, fortune and career. He’s dressed like the Prophet Elijah, the eschatological prophet and his entire purpose is to point out the promised Messiah in our midst. He’s at home in the uninhabited places and, contrary to normal expectations, recognizes that the desert is filled with life and sustains himself there. He preaches a change of heart and a turning to God; he is in communion with God through his very mundane existence and totally dependent upon God. He is not deterred by intimidation and death in fulfilling his mission and even his death forecasts the Passion of Christ. All these characteristics inform the monastic vocation. This Sunday’s Solemnity is an important celebration for all called to the monastic life. May St. John the Baptist keep out commitment and our calling vital and effective in the Twenty-first Century.