Letter to our friends

September 30, 2011, Feast of Saint Jerome

On December 8, 2011, God willing, the monastery of Nový Dvůr will become an abbey

Dear Friends,

The General Chapter of our Order, which is held at Assisi during the month of September, has decided to raise our priory to the level of abbey. Nine years after its foundation, our community is attaining its canonical maturity. Have we now done it all? Will we have nothing more to do than to rest on our laurels? Certainly not! These nine years have taught, to those of us who were unaware of it, that God’s gifts are always given to fragile men and that faithfulness, at its most sincere, is mixed in with very profound imperfection and struggle. That observation is based only on realism – free from naivety and founded on grace. That’s not a bad start…

One day we will have to write the history of these years in which our dreams were shattered against an everyday life that was tougher than they were, but infinitely more lovely and promising. The first founders left Sept-Fons on August 15, 2002, the Feast of the Assumption, in order to actually conduct the founding on the 20th, the Feast of Saint Bernard. Then, other monks joined them, and, finally, those who received the habit, made their profession, or were ordained as a deacon or priest in our monastery have all helped to shape its identity. Today’s Nový Dvůr is the fruit of our sincerity and of our blunders, of our goodwill and of our negligence, of our perseverance at prayer and of our distractions. Here are some statistics.

In nine years, the Psalter has been chanted in its entirety, from the middle of the night to sunset, nearly five hundred times. This coming December 8, when the community will elect its first abbot, in the presence of the Father Abbot and the Novice Master of Sept-Fons and the brothers who have faithfully accompanied us during the course of these years, it will have under its belt 12,450 psalms alternated from one choir to another, in the unfolding of ordinary days, interrupted by some feast days and solemnities. The bell which wakes us up in the dormitory, which gets us out of the scriptorium or work to go to the church, which reunites us in the evening for choir practice, for the peeling of vegetables or for a reading, will have rung 23,000 times in the cloister. The bells’ ropes wear out quickly, and we have often had to change those which, on the roof of the church, announce to the neighboring countryside the beginning of the office, the consecration of the Mass or the prayer of the Angelus. Once or twice, the rope has broken during the ringing and fallen on the poor bell-ringer. And it’s hard for the others not to break into a smile. Every day, the church server lights the altar candles before the solemn celebration of the Mass… The Bible? One day at noon, we heard in the refectory, after many long weeks of drought, a reading from the Prophets which announced, “In place of rain, the Lord will shed dust and sand upon the land.” Our wells were dry and the workers even brought dust into the kitchen. Then we understood that Scripture is an actual, concrete word for each day. One evening during Vespers, a storm broke out over the roof of the temporary chapel. To keep our new cloister from being flooded, we went outside, in our habits and sandals, with picks and shovels, and when I completely disappeared in an immense puddle, I understood that God has a sense of humor.

Since Father Jerome considered that a monk, before beginning the experience of the life of prayer, must be on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament for 5,000 hours – a breaking-in, he wrote, a rapid calculation, respectful of an individual’s rhythm, makes it possible to affirm that this progressive breaking-in, underway for the youngest ones, was doubled for the older ones in foundation. If this is true – and that’s really each person’s secret – if we add up everyone’s offerings, together we have spent thousands of hours in silent prayer before our great God.

These new statistics are enough to convince you that the life of a monk is entirely focused on turning our hearts to God. The friendship which has been cultivated between you and us proves (if that’s necessary) that a monk’s life does not have as its only end his personal sanctification. It is equally efficient, through grace, to bring closer to God the multitude which walks toward Him or which distances itself. Through the monks’ chant, their hearts in concert with their voices, the Church praises ceaselessly its Creator and its Savior. This is some of the invisible fruit of our daily life: the missionaries receive a renewal of courage, the sick endure their illness with more patience, ignorance retreats, famine and poverty find tangible remedies; the faithfulness of spouses is reinforced, young people are protected in their innocence; the elderly shine with gentleness and wisdom…

We will spare you, for once, the list of our works and of our concerns about money. They will still be there after the holidays. This year you will not receive a calendar. If God wishes that the brothers elect one of us on December 8, the new abbot will be blessed by the bishop of Plzeň a few days later. You will receive then, in the first weeks of 2012, a brochure which will be a souvenir of these memorable events.

Christian life – for us, the monastic life – is not a bed of roses. Nor is it a daily valley of tears, either, even though we sing it at the end of Compline in the Salve Regina. Sometimes, flower pots have fallen on our heads! We rubbed our heads and then we continued! Christian life offers the possibility to bear with the Lord, in his intimacy and his friendship, many joys and pains. Young men are still knocking at the door of our monasteries, at Sept-Fons, at Nový Dvůr, and even to the ends of the earth. This summer, the circle has enlarged: Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Serbia... Will they come back, these youths? What will they be doing in five years, or in ten years?

Thank you for accompanying us over the course of these years, and thank you for pursuing with us this unfinished work. As long as there are men, there will be monks. And as long as there are monks, there will be a need of friends to support the place where their vocation is fulfilled. Thank God with us for what he has accomplished, and implore him, as we do, that we may be up to our task, that he may sustain our fidelity and spare us from trials that are too heavy for us to bear. Count on our prayers, as we count on yours. Faithfully and with our greatest thanks,

Br. M.-Samuel,
Prior of Nový Dvůr

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
May 1 2011
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