Letter to our friends

May, 2008

Dear Friends,

Every day in the mail, at least five or six letters prove to us that our monastic life invisibly touches each one of you in secret: its difficulties, perhaps its solitude, this weight of trials and suffering that inhabit every man and that only hope can alleviate. I hope that you will receive this message before May 24. I will explain why. While I am writing, springtime seems to be setting in. The Pascal fire was prepared under ten centimeters of snow. It was splendid. We had fasted for forty days. Moderately… but just the same! Since the week of the Passion, we had veiled the crosses and the statues of our monastery. Praying to the Virgin without seeing her image was almost an outrage. These are constraints that help us perceive, almost within our bodies, that which we celebrate. On this night, flowers once again invaded the church. The bells were getting ready to sound, the organ would soon play, the cook was preparing to outdo himself. We breathed… A good thirty or so guests and seven or eight young men who had passed the holy days in our community received, like us, the flame of the Pascal candle: a dangerous operation when it is windy. The deacon, followed by the brothers, entered the apse of our church and intoned with his full voice: Light of Christ. The celebration this year was particularly joyous.

In Rome, on this same Easter vigil, the pope baptized some adults—among them, a Muslim man and a Chinese woman. We appreciate in him, this mix of prudence and of action out in the open, which calmly claims the right for Christians to be who they are. At Sept-Fons, our Lebanese brother knows perfectly well just how it is with relationships between Christians and Muslims in his country. Our brothers from Senegal say that the relationships there are more conciliatory. In one of their villages, we have built, at their request and with your aid, a small parish church. In July, Father Augustine, our bookkeeper, and Fr. Sebastian of Sept-Fons will take there the bell that has sounded our offices from the foundation up to the dedication of the church. The Senegalese brothers would like the belltower to be at least as high as the tower of the mosque. It’s fair play. The same goes for China. So, I come to the point of this letter. Have you heard talk of Benedict XVI’s letter to the Church in that country? He asks us to pray for religious freedom in China on May 24, the feast of the Holy Virgin, venerated at the sanctuary of Shenshan in Shanghaï. Our other monks, who live in the former Czechoslovakia about sixty kilometers inside the old Iron Curtain: how can we not be sensitive to this appeal? The letter that you read has a great number of recipients. Among them are numerous families, parishes, and religious communities. Many will be touched by his message. If we pray with the whole of the Church, is there not the risk of things being put in motion? That Christians, priests, monks could possibly live and pray freely in China and in Asia: I entrust this intention to you.

Let’s talk economy. First of all, our monastic economy. We are learning to manage it with detachment, working carefully, but without making that preoccupation the center of our lives. The dream of selling our mustard in Russia has fallen through. The cellarer of Sept-Fons got us out of this bad turn of events. The construction of the sheepfold is finally underway, and that of the guesthouse continues. Nothing much new, then. So, let us look beyond the monastery. Due to the detachment that it imposes and the contact with brothers from different walks of life that Providence has dispensed in our two communities, monastic life teaches us to perceive the reality beyond the shadow of our own belltower. It makes us look toward something other than those who immediately surround us, it teaches us to realize their needs and to know their way of life; it enlarges our preoccupations to far-away peoples and countries. This, it seems to me, is a treasure that we can share with you.

A few years ago, a donor gave us a gift that got us out of trouble for a few weeks. We were building the church and our needs were great. Going to Prague, I took a few jars of Sept-Fons jam for his children. I met his wife and I presented my gift of thanks. She said to me: “But for what, Father? You are doing something useful; we can do it with you. Do not thank us. Our thanks go to you and our gift to God.” You won’t be surprised that these people have remained our very close friends. I would like to bring each one of you a jar of jam. Do we still need money? Yes! To sustain the vocations that sprout up in the four corners of the earth, to restore the church of Sept-Fons, to finish the works at Novy Dvur, to buy the tractors that the brothers need, to fix up everything that needs it… Is the purpose of my letters to elicit gifts, or to maintain our bond of friendship? The brothers sometimes tell me: “You hypocrite, tell them that you want donations!” No—I write to enlarge your views, as God has obliged us to enlarge our own, to sensitize you to our responsibilities and to associate you with them.

We pray for you; we count on your prayers. And since I know that some among our friends do not have faith—for us it is a joy that our messages reach them as well—I would say: conserve your friendship for us, and if you have the grace for it, your prayer.

Fr. M Samuel, Prior

February 2009
September, 2nd 2014
Autumn 2013
July 5, 2013
March 10, 2013
A few weeks before Christmas 2012
September 2, 2012, Solemnity of the Dedication of Novy Dvur
Whit Sunday 2012
January 11, 2012
September 30, 2011, Feast of Saint Jerome
May 1 2011
September 2 2010
May, 2010
January 29, 2010
Pentecost 2009
February 2009
February 2, 2008
September 2, 2007
July 5, 2007
September 2, 2006
March 25, 2006
February 2, 2006
September 2, 2005