Letter to our friends

May 1 2011

Dear friends,

Everyday troubles, which tumbled onto us like a waterfall, spiced up and injected unexpected surprises into our otherwise monotonous winter days. One brother injured himself at work, spent three weeks in hospital, then a few weeks on crutches; the sub-prior had to be admitted to hospital several times due to an infection that at first seemed serious, then seemed less serious, but still has not been clearly identified; other brothers needed strong support … Like you, when you have to confront similar circumstances, we let the storm blow over while making sure that everyone had what they needed and that life in the community was not excessively disrupted. Quite to the contrary, things sorted themselves out and trivial vexations lost their keenness. A neighboring family, our friends, also had to deal with sickness, much more serious than ours. We became closer to them, even though everyone is alone in such an ordeal, although not completely, thanks to God. Spring arrived amidst these events. The snow had disappeared by Ash Wednesday and outdoor work resumed a lot earlier than usual.

Since my last letter, we have celebrated the solemn profession of Brother Lev (December 8), who is gradually becoming capable of taking charge of postulants and novices. On December 12 in Sept-Fons and February 2 in Nový Dvůr, we celebrated the respective appointments, thirty years ago, of the Father Abbot and the Novice Master of our motherhouse. Thirty years: the youngest members of our two communities were nowhere near being born, but for them it seems like yesterday! At the first vespers of Saint Joseph, we blessed our organ, completed a long time ago, but whose case was still missing. Our organist, Brother Bruno, is preparing for his solemn vows in July. On April 4, our bishop visited the monastery with his priests, as he did last year. I presented a lecture to them, which you will find on our website, in French and in Czech (if you would like to receive it by mail, please write to us). On April 9 we quietly celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Rafael Arnáiz Barón, a Spanish Trappist, the patron saint of Brother Rafael, who made his temporary profession at Nový Dvůr on March 21. This brief list of dates gives you a framework of these past months. What of the future? Brother Jérôme and Brother Antoine will be ordained in Sept-Fons on June 2, followed by Brother André and Brother Joseph in Nový Dvůr on June 19 – a priest and a deacon for each community. Listing the new takings of the cloth and professions at Sept-Fons would be too long, thank God!

I have been writing to you for over thirteen years, three or four times a year, to give you news and ask you for money, when you are able to give it. Is that fair? Thanks to you and many others, Nový Dvůr has not only been built, but is full of life; Sept-Fons has restored its church and started essential maintenance work; another community, living in extremely precarious conditions on the other side of the world, is modestly restoring a ruin and survives, thanks to your support. Monks earn their living, but cannot do without the generosity of Christians. This has always been the case. An insert in this document will give you specific information about our projects. If you cannot help us or if your donations go to other causes, this will not diminish our gratitude or, we hope, your interest in what we do.

As a sensible man, our accountant, Father Augustin, manages to put aside almost every month some of the revenue from our work to fund the construction of our workshops, which should start in spring 2012. There are two reasons for this delay: the modesty of our resources and the zoning regulations of our municipality, which needs to approve our project.

Two preliminary sites that are beyond our financial capacities should be opening this year: first, the road that will be used by site’s trucks and later for deliveries to the dispatch bay. It will follow the slope of the hill so that, in winter, the brothers do not have to pull vans out of the ditch every week. Second, we need to work on our pond – the fire-fighting reservoir for the monastery, the water source for the livestock and for the garden during dry summers. Supplied by rainwater collected from the roofs, it leaks (see our drawing) so that the water spreads into the meadows. Brother André plans to do some of the earthworks himself with our mechanical digger. But we will need to ask outside companies to finish off the job – and the prices are not encouraging.

Work on the pond: €11,000 (work done by us represents €9,000)

Construction of the road: €144,000. This is a considerable cost. The road must be strong enough to support trucks and needs to skirt around the hostel and wind down the hillside to the banks of the pond, arriving on the east side, where the workshop building will be located, close to the monastery and easy for the brothers to access. We hope to begin the work July 7 next.

What is the purpose of monks? Humanity develops when each individual reaches his human and spiritual dimension. Difficulties, the lot of all lives, sometimes leave us helpless. Prayer changes everything. It does not remove the ordeal; it makes us capable of dealing with it with a confident outlook and, in the end, of finding happiness. Saint Joan of Chantal – we celebrated the fourth centenary of her Visitation in December – talked about this sort of “duty” to be happy. Great words! Our prayer is mysteriously effective, well beyond the walls of the monastery, even though we often ignore its impact.

You will have to wait a little longer than usual for my next letter. September will see me in Assisi, with the Father Abbot of Sept-Fons, for the general chapter of our Order. I will write to you on my return. Perhaps I will have some good news to announce.

I have dated this letter on the day of the beatification of Pope John-Paul II, as a tribute to this man of great faith.

Thank you, dear friends. Your letters, your prayers, your generosity and your friendship are precious to us. You can count on our prayers,

f. 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
September 2 2010
May, 2010
January 29, 2010
Pentecost 2009
February 2009
May, 2008
February 2, 2008
September 2, 2007
July 5, 2007
September 2, 2006
March 25, 2006
February 2, 2006
September 2, 2005