Generosity fosters generosity

The abbey of Koningshoeven in Tilburg in the Netherlands has very effectively helped us since our foundation. A few days before Easter, the Father Abbot asked me, since our building work had made good progress, to stop receiving donations through them. Many Dutch people, he wrote, believe that Dutch monasteries no longer need assistance, but the opposite is true. Christians forget their own monasteries, which is unfortunate and painful. At the moment, our community must help the monastery of our brothers in Ouganda to build their monastery. Our friends do not understand why we ask them money for this project and also for Novy-Dvur.

I thanked him sincerely for his forthrightness and I understand his point of view. Benedict XVI reinforces that it is necessary to help contemplative monks. If monks and nuns can live of their work, the time they dedicate to God reduces the time they spend on worldly tasks – and therefore their income. They are rarely capable of maintaining their buildings by themselves. So, what can be said of new foundations or monasteries that have moved or been destroyed by war? Whether near or far, young communities are born or survive, sometimes in countries where faith is persecuted. Will we let them suffocate because of a lack of resources?

Even in times of crisis, in western Europe, we live above our needs – in the Czech Republic, too, although a little less so than in France. How many useless objects clutter our lives, even those of monks? One of every two people is concerned about weight gain, while the other never becomes full.. This reasoning may be rather blunt, but is it not true? The frontier between abundance and indigence is not geographic: there are people who lack life’s basics at our very door.

Our experience and your help have shown us that generosity does not compete with generosity. The person who learns to give to an attractive cause can keep that habit going and develop it for other less apparent, yet no less real, needs. Giving to any person in need enriches the donor as well as the receiver. One’s horizon is broadened by the reality of the other person.

We also try to share. Continue to give as much as you can. These gestures will remain: the stones that make up our monasteries and its living stones, the brothers living in it, will uphold the memory of your generosity before God.

Pentecost 2009