Due to the proclamation of the Year of Consecrated Life on May 15, 2015 the Congregation for the Oriental Churches organized a day of spiritual renewal for the superiors of Eastern Catholic monastic communities or congregations which have their Generalates or Administrative Headquarters in Rome.
The Fathers of the Marionite Order of Saint Anthony the Great welcomed participants to their Collegio Maronita Antoniano Di Sant’ Isaia, which is located at Via di Afforalasina, 68. Representing the General Administration of the Basilian Sisters were Sister Mariela Rotzen and Sister Nazariya Mykhaylyuk.
Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, suggested reflecting on the doctrinal aspects of the founding and development of monastic vocations. Examined were periods of formation in monasteries, focusing on an icon of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, symbolic of the journey and desire of consecrated life. Attention was given to fundamental spiritual aspects of eastern monasticism, underlining the need for deepening one’s prayer, practicing and developing ongoing prayer. This type of prayer leads to a deepening of one’s personal relationship with God, which is evidenced in the peacefulness of an individual and a deeper ascetical life. Surrending to God opens a consecrated person to a spiritual vision through which the person desires to assist and guide others in following a path to our Lord. Neglecting spiritual practices and inner work leads consecrated persons to spiritual weakening and a hardening of heart.
Discussed were the challenges of monastic life in present times. This included the difficulties of structural forms of eastern monastic communities, given their dependence and use of terminology and ideas found in western communities. Another significant challenge is the need to adapt the ideas of founders to the needs and signs of the present times. Today’s world holds many opposing values, such as, individual development versus individualism, community versus self, independence versus interdependence in community, and conflicts among members. International communities encounter additional difficulties, including those of community members from diverse cultures living together and language barriers. Additional problems are created when individuals do not know how or do not want to delegate responsibilities to others, as well as, the unwillingness or lack of accepting responsibilities or obligations. A complex issue is that of sharing information and communication in community. Monastic life poses enormous challenges in balancing one’s inner life and needs with the availability and accruement of material goods; with centering on oneself, as opposed to being open to community. Representatives of the different communities had an opportunity to get to know one another, discuss problems and share the wisdom of their communities.
At noon, the Augustinian Fathers celebrated Divine Liturgy for all participants. The presence and influence of the Holy Spirit was strongly felt as all prayed together, regardless of the variety of traditions and languages present in the gathered group. After this spiritual feast, all were invited to stay for dinner, where the congeniality continued in mutual sharing.
Submitted by Sr. Nazariya Mykhaylyuk, OSBM