Renew and Create
A Statement on the American-Cassinese Benedictine Monastic Life, Thirty-sixth General Chapter, Second Session, June 1969
The preceding pages have attempted to express an approach to Benedictine life at once respectful of traditional value and insistent upon openness to God's future. Creative fidelity must. ever mark the monk's orientation to the Rule in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as truly as it must characterize every Christian's response to the gospel. In that light, life according to the Rule can be identified; and with that identification established, the problem basic to the monasteries of our Congregation can begin to be solved.
Because the root problem -- identity -- affects the monk, his monastery, and the Congregation as a whole, all three must be actively engaged in searching for solutions. The monk must school himself to give generous response to God's Spirit, calling him at every new instant to a life according to the Rule. The community must assume the responsibility of corporate decision and action, for if the destiny of the community is in the hands of its members, so is the destiny of the members in the hands of the community. Here the abbot particularly must exercise his charism of leadership, since the abbot is the key to monastic renewal in every abbey of our Congregation. The latter, through the means available to it, must exert that moral influence that is peculiarly its own. Numerous examples in the history of monasticism make abundantly clear the decisive role that a monastic congregation can play in the process of renewal.
Knowledge is related to action, and represents both a challenge and an opportunity. If the preceding pages persuade those who read that identity is our basic problem, it is incumbent upon the men who comprise the American-Cassinese Congregation to grapple with that problem. No one wishes to sound alarmist; yet the failure to recognize and resolve this and related problems could easily serve to support the judgment of those who suggest that our monasteries cannot and will not survive the critical period of history in which we now find ourselves.
It should be clear to all those committed to the monastic way of life that the resolution of our problems cannot be simply imposed. Each monk, each monastery, must manifest a willingness consonant with our long-cherished heritage of autonomy, to resolve the problems that beset us. Then, and only then, will there be hope that the American-Cassinese Congregation will be productive of those treasures promised by the Savior to those who seek peace and pursue it. "Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."