Friday, February 27, 2009

Being an Oblate - Part II

There were two other retreatants who were becoming Associates of Holy Cross Monastery on Saturday night. We met with the Associate’s Master, Br. Ron Haynes, and he reviewed with us what it means to be an Associate of Holy Cross Monastery.

We had all written our Rule of Life, with the vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life as the principal elements of our Rule. How would we live out this Rule of Life when we were outside of the confines of the Monastery, when we were back in our regular lives, balancing jobs, homes, family, church commitments, friends and the thousand other demands upon our time?

How would we find time for prayer, meditation and good works? These are the challenges we all face who strive to walk the path that Christ walked, striving to be in the world but not part of it. We all acknowledged the challenges which lay before us; we all chose to continue to associate ourselves with this Monastery, these Brothers, this ministry.

Saturday evening during the Triduum (three holy days preceding Easter) is a beautiful time at the Monastery. All the preparations for Easter Vigil have been made; the candlesticks have been polished, the incense is ready. The food for the Easter Feast has been prepared. All is ready. The Monastery gleams in the candlelight.

It is a bit unusual to be having guests take their Associate Vows over the Triduum but this year an exception was made for us. Accompanied by all those in attendance who were already Associates and some of the Brothers, the three candidates proceeded down the stairs to the Crypt Chapel, the burying place of the Order’s Founder, Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington.

The Chapel Crypt is beautiful at any time of the year. It is a stone chapel. The back wall behind Fr. Huntington’s tomb is curved and the walls are stucco white. There is an oriental rug upon the stone floor and the steps leading up to the altar. The candlelight absolutely glows against the white wall, the brass shining in the flickering flames. Pots of bright pink flowers adorned the altar. The room was lit by only candlelight. It was truly breath-taking. We stood in front of the altar together while we said our Associate Pledge.

It seemed good and right that I was taking these Associate vows during this particular Triduum but it was also quite strange. Because it had been only a few short weeks before that I had experienced a profound conversion during a Friday Holy Mass and I knew that I had to become a Roman Catholic.

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