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vendredi 23 décembre 2011

"We are not the greatest of our Fathers"

taken from the No 11-2011

"We are not the greatest of our Fathers"

At Le Barroux, near Avignon, forty years since Sun founded the Benedictine community Gérard Calvet blooms in the sign of strict observance of the Rule and love the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church

John Ricciardi

From the windows of the monastery of Le Barroux the sky of Provence is a blue flag taut in the wind. The mistralbeats him at times with violence: in some winter days can blow up the nearby mountains two hundred miles per hour. The olive trees and vineyards do not seem to suffer, but the vegetation is mostly low, Mediterranean, it seems, except the cypress trees, artfully placed to remember that these walls you look upwards. Under the sky, like a regular cone, stands the dark mass of Mont Ventoux. This is where the Good Friday of 1336 he made ​​with his brother Gherardo Petrarch his famous "ascent", described in a letter to Dionysius of Borgo San Augustine Sepulchre, which had started reading the Confessions . At the end of the climb, the poet read at random at a step brother of Book X, in which Augustine writes: "They're the men to admire the peaks of the mountains, the great waves of the sea and the vast currents of the rivers, the circle of ' ocean and the orbits of the stars, and do not care about themselves. " 
Petrarch, in his continuing struggle between the love of earthly things and the nostalgia of those in heaven, envied Gerard, who was a friar, that detachment, that freedom that enabled him to climb the mountain fast and light, without the weight that held down the poet.

A history of fidelity to Tradition
Right here, forty years ago, August 22, 1970, another Gerard, to be exact Gerard Calvet, French Benedictine, came riding on a motorcycle, with his kit in the luggage rack, the blessing of 'abbot of the monastery from which he came, and settled in the small chapel of Bédoin, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. In the turbulent years of the post-conciliar period, only wanted to continue his monastic life without being subject to those "experiments" of doctrinal or liturgical renewal, which seemed much poorer than the rich "ancient and ever new" tradition of prayer, silence, manual labor functions, in Latin, traditional liturgy. 
A choice of loneliness, her, it was brief. Three days after his arrival, a young Bédoin came to ask to be received as a novice. Dom Gérard, surprised and unsure what to do, replied that he would know how to accept it, but the insistence of the won. At the end of eight years constituted a community of 11 monks, the chapel, with its little ruined priory, restored promptly, thus became too narrow for the new monastery.But the growth of the foundation, aided by the abbot of Dom Gerard, went on. 
The attachment to the traditional liturgy in those years is combined with a natural sympathy for the positions of Archbishop Lefebvre, who in July 1974 proceeded to celebrate the first orders the monks.This provoked the reaction of the abbot who had initially favored the choice of Dom Gerard, but at that time ordered him to close his monastic experience. The community was therefore excluded from the Congregation of the Benedictines of Subiaco. 
Faced with this either-or , Sun thorny Gerard chose the path to continue the foundation, saddened by the rift, but believes in his heart that love the old liturgical tradition of the Church could not be at variance with the heart of faith, with loyalty to the Pope, and that God would find a way to solve a canonical situation became irregular. In 1980 he was given a farewell Bédoin and was laid the first stone of the new monastery in the town of Le Barroux, between Mont Ventoux and the "Dentelles" of Montmirail, a Romanesque Revival style building, raw, basic, which was completed in little more than a decade. 
Meanwhile, the rift between Lefebvre and the Church deepened, although Dom Gérard continued to hope for a shift. And so, when John Paul II in 1988 with the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei was to meet the demands of the Catholic "traditionalist", giving them, albeit under certain conditions, to celebrate the pre-conciliar rite according to the monastery of Le Barroux was a day of celebration. Dom Gérard his monks had always said that if they had not suffered from the situation of the monastery canonically unresolved, meant that the Church really did not like. And when Monsignor Lefebvre, not trusting the offers of Rome, in the same year proceeded to ordain some bishops without the consent of the Pope, in fact inaugurating the schism, the monastery chose unwavering loyalty to Rome and the break with the movement of Archbishop French. Dom Gérard paid for this attack to the Church rejected the monastic foundation, seeing that in the meantime Le Barroux had started in Brazil, who preferred to remain faithful to the "hard line" of Lefebvre. 
The following year, 2 October 1989, Cardinal Gagnon , accompanied by the bishop of Avignon, solemnly consecrated the church of the monastery just ended. With this public act, it could be seen the full experience of Le Barroux unity with the Catholic Church.

The monks sing the office of Lauds at six o'clock in the morning 
[© Massimo Quattrucci]
Daily life
in the light of the Provence countryside today, the monastery seems to live a life away from the rumble of the struggles of the Church and the chronicles of those years. Its bells accompany the life of a country that had at first received with distrust and suspicion of the newcomers. The monks get up at midnight to recite Matins in choir, in their cells before dawn to meditate on the Scriptures and the texts of the Fathers, meet at six in the church of the monastery for the singing of Lauds, then who among them have been ordered to celebrate the sacred side altars mass "read" in Latin according to the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962. A few faithful braving the cold of the morning comes and kneels to follow the liturgy in absolute silence. Then, all the works you start the day. 
The monastery is practically self-sufficient. The 52 monks (some of them very young, the average age is 46 years) that now make up the community (plus another 13 who have founded a new one in the south-west France) live only for their work, according to tradition Benedictine. The land of the monastery produces oil and wine, bakery ensures the needs of the community and sells biscuits, baguettes and pastries to the locals or tourists. For some years the monastery has also opened a mill in the rural community that offers the service of pressing of the olives, using two grinding wheels made ​​of stone come from Tuscany, and especially moved by modern machines. Even the printing works at full capacity, not only for printing missals with the traditional Roman rite, but also to meet the needs of the small publishing house founded by Dom Gerard. The prayer of the Benedicite opens meals, vegetarian and consumed in silence, with the guests in the middle of the refectory, the abbot solemnly accepted that greets them washing their hands in sign of welcome. A reception that also includes a night shelter for those in these parts does not have a roof under which to sleep. Over time, lunch or dinner a monaco reads a spiritual reading or sometimes even a history book or a more general culture.

We are not the greatest of our Fathers
"The traditional liturgy is full of signs that remind us of where it comes from faith, and teaches us that we are not the greatest of our Fathers, but send only what we received." There is controversy in the words of Father Abbot Louis-Marie, a friend and disciple of Dom Gerard, who left the pastoral community in 2003, resigning five years before his death. Moreover, the experience of beauty that comes from that liturgy is not the exclusive prerogative of this monastery. Other monasteries in France today adopt this form of prayer. Abbot explains: "In France, secular, once told me a bishop in Ukraine, seems to see a great spiritual desert, but in this desert oasis, there are very beautiful." Not only at Le Barroux. Something is moving, without the rigidity of the patterns of twenty years ago. The relationship between the monastery and the diocese of Avignon, which is the foundation of Dom Gerard, is not more tense as before. The abbot goes every year to concelebrate with the bishop on Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, and many priests of the diocese are open to this monastic experience fostering bridges of communication with the French Church. More generally, Father Louis-Marie says, "people seem drawn here not only and exclusively because it is celebrated according to the Council prior to the Roman rite, but simply for the beauty of monastic prayer, for the Gregorian chant which here runs , because this prayer is lived and felt in the depths of silence, turned to God. " 
Every year, hundreds of priests coming mainly from France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Holland, to spend the Barroux few days of withdrawal, to speak with the monks or to learn how to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient ritual. The monastery has about three hundred Oblates of priests, lay people and families that refer to Benedictine spirituality. 
vocations arriving in Le Barroux, now at the rate of two or three a year, have the most diverse origins.There is a young monaco coming from a military career, another who was an engineer in China and Le Barroux has known through the internet site of the monastery, a third party who has asked to be baptized twenty years a priest of Marseilles, and then tried the path of vocation in a religious order but had not appeared "demanding". And then that same priest brought him here, "because one of the things that attract people to a place like this," said the abbot, "is a free choice of evangelical radicalism." Free radical and are the two adjectives that resonate more within these walls. Some Lefebvrists, not many for the truth, they approach the experience of Le Barroux as a bridge for a return to full communion with the Church, but also because, says the abbot, "the Society of St. Pius X feel to breathe Sometimes heavy air, characterized by what they think could be called a clerical authoritarianism. " 
It is as if you compose a different balance here, not based on compromise, or on the contrast with other ecclesial realities, but simply the return to the Rule of St. Benedict as a way to bring the heart of Christian life. "In recent years," adds the father abbot, "we have found that the monasteries that have bothered to innovate and revolutionize the forms of religious life today are those that have fewer vocations in France. I believe that in addition to the dynamism and vitality that they see in this young community, a gift that we have inherited from our founder, young people are attracted to the radical nature of Le Barroux right choice for God, as well as by the beauty of the liturgy which is celebrated here . But is not everything, after all this is not the essential. Myself when I got here, and I fell in love with this place, from the sound of bells, to the care with which it is celebrated the divine office, I immediately realized that the monastic life is nothing more than a holocaust, a total offering of himself to God. " 
In the evening, the sound of the bells call everyone to Vespers, now perhaps more intimate with the solemn liturgy. While the voice of prayer is spreading in the hour of twilight, and the shadow of the crucifix above the altar stretches naked on the stone wall of the apse, suddenly everything seems clearer. And are the words with which the Abbot concludes this reflection on his fascination for this place: "The things I said are real, but secondary. The last appeal of a vocation is simply the good Lord for this is that the vocation, every vocation is fundamentally a mystery. "

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