© 2017 Our Lady and Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Abergavenny, South Wales, United Kingdom.
Our Lady and Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church,
Eglwys y Priordy Ein Harglwyddes a San Mihangel
Where the Catholic Faith has never faltered.
Fr Paul Stonham, Abbot of Belmont’s Homily
The Temporary Profession of
Br Augustine Primavesi
Presentation of Our Lord 2015
Dear Br Augustine, what a wonderful day on which to make your First Profession! Although we have always known it as the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady or Candlemas and, in recent times, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, in the Eastern Churches, and it is an Eastern feast adopted by the Western Church, it is known by another name altogether: the Feast of Meeting or Encounter, in Greek “Upapanté”, for it celebrates the meeting of Simeon and Anna in the Temple with the Infant Jesus who is accompanied by his mother Mary and her husband Joseph.
When Mary and Joseph come to fulfill the traditional rite of purification and presentation, something strange and unexpected happens. Simeon, described by Luke simply as “an upright and devout man” on whom “the Holy Spirit rests”, is prompted by the Spirit to come into the Temple. Taking the child in his arms, he blesses God and says, “My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.” In other words, Simeon recognises the infant Jesus, now cradled in his arms, to be the Messiah promised to Israel through the prophets long ago. Yet joy is tinged with pain, because this Messiah will save his people by dying on a Cross and shedding his blood to forgive their sins and reconcile them, Jew and Gentile alike, with each other and with God. The child will become a sign of contradiction and a sword will pierce his mother’s heart.
The story does not finish there. Anna, an old prophetess who haunts the Temple, as old women often do, comes by at that very moment and begins praising God and speaking of the child as the future liberator of Jerusalem. Simeon and Anna bear witness that this child and no other is Christ the Saviour. In the infant Jesus they encounter the Source of life, they see the Light of the world and they experience the presence of God. Unlike the shepherds, to whom choirs of angels announced the Saviour’s birth, and unlike the Magi, whom a star guided to the manger, this time there are no heavenly signs, no angel voices, just the Child himself and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And this, Br Augustine, is where you come into the story, because the monastic life is an encounter with Christ; the coenobitic life is a living with Christ in community; the Benedictine life is a meeting with Christ under the inspired guidance of the Rule of St Benedict. The search for God will lead you to encounter Christ in many ways. The Temple where this meeting takes place is not only the abbey church but the entire monastery, each one of your brethren and your very heart and soul, through prayer and work, study and contemplation, patience and perseverance, discretion and fraternal charity. In your contemporaries and your seniors, in the sick and those who are fragile in mind and body, in our guests and those whom the Lord sets before us, you will come to see Christ, who loves you and reveals himself to you. Above all, it is through silence, suffering and sacrifice that we become united to Christ in obedience, humility and purity of heart.
There are other ways, too, of looking at this encounter. Today, we could say, we, the monastic community, are Mary and Joseph presenting you to God, consecrating you to his service and imploring his blessing upon you. We could also say that you are the Child Jesus and we, the monastic community, Simeon and Anna. Your coming among us brings new life and fresh hope to those of us who are advanced in years. You are the future of this community just as we were many years’ ago. There are many ways of interpreting this lovely feast, which links the Nativity to the Passion of Our Lord, Christmas to Easter, and so celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation in all its fullness.
Today, dear Br Augustine, you are making your First Profession and with it you are offering yourself to God as a sacrifice of love and praise. We witness and accept that offering in his Name and pray for your perseverance in a lifelong commitment to God and his Church as a monk of Belmont. May the good Lord accept your offering, may Our Lady nurture and protect you and may your brethren, the monks of this community, as well as your family and friends, encourage and support you. Amen.
Remember in your prayers . . .
Brother Augustine Primavesi.
News and pictures of Brother Matthew Palmer FSSP who has taken minor orders.
Brother Matthew Palmer
receives the tonsure.
News of Brother Royston Price
Brother Royston received the ministries of Lector and Acolyte recently, and will be going off to noviciate at the end of July in Canada.
“I know that I've been supported in prayer by parishioners at OLSM” said Brother Royston “and I'd like to say how grateful I am, and that I'll continue to keep the parish community in my prayers in this next stage of my Redemptorist formation”.