A very restful and peace-filled eight days of retreat from October 15th to 23rd this year afforded the community precious time to renew and deepen our availability to our life of prayer and praise.
Our retreat was preached this year by Fr Tom Jordan OP, editor of the Dominican Publications periodical Spirituality since its beginnings in 2001. Fr Tom’s conferences to the community, twice daily, in the morning and evening, were seasoned by his many years as provincial in the Irish Province of the Dominican Order and shaped by his current reflections on the state of the Catholic Church as we reach the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.
Today, 50 years after Vatican II, we are challenged and encouraged as Catholics, Fr Tom observed, to revisit and reflect once again on what the Spirit was saying through the Council and to live it. The recovery of the idea of the Church as the People of God, of the universal call to holiness and of the Bible as the Word of God continues to call us today. We as Church, are invited to become evermore fully a community of believers formed by the Word in which Christ is revealed, embracing a biblical mentality and led to the perfection of charity by the gratuitous nature of God’s saving grace.
Addressing us in our contemplative role in the Church, we were reminded of the importance of our responsibility to pray for the Church at a time of much pessimism in Ireland and in the world. And as an Irish people, Fr Tom suggests, we should not be so caught up in concern at the great sense of loss and disallusionment in Ireland at present that we fail to learn from it.
We were also invited to reflect during the retreat on the themes of prayer, justice, authority and vows in religious life and transformation into Christ. Our daily commitment to the dying and rising of the Paschal mystery is at once the central experience of Christ, and the pattern of his disciple. We experience the Paschal mystery but we don’t always realise it, Fr Tom pointed out; we need to integrate it into our lives.
A reconciliation liturgy led by Fr Tom at the midpoint of the retreat in the Abbey Church joined together many of the themes of the retreat with our concrete experience as Cistercians living together in community, striving to grow in unity to bring about the kingdom of God in our lives.
Photo: Fr Tom Jordan OP in Glencairn