Thursday, October 5, 2017

Feast of the Dedication of St Augustine’s Church- October 4, 2017

Br. Bernard Delcourt, OHC
Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Feast of the Dedication of St Augustine’s Church
Tuesday October 4, 2017

Br. Bernard Delcourt, OHC
Genesis 28:10-17
First Peter 2:1-5, 9-10
Matthew 21: 12-16
“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” says Jacob.
This church of St Augustine is awesome indeed. Not only is it a pretty nice piece of architecture by Ralph Adams Cram but it has been this monastery’s main sanctuary for 96 years today.
In 96 years, it has seen generations of monks worship, pray and chant within its walls. Several dozens of our Holy Cross brothers have preceded us here. Many stayed till they were stationed to another house of this order or until they were stationed to heaven.
More men tried their vocation here and found that God did not call them here but took the experience with them for the rest of their lives.
In 96 years, this church has seen thousands upon thousands of visitors worship with the monks. Over 10,000 hours of worship drench its walls with prayer and chanting. That’s as if we started chanting now and kept going 24/7 until Christmas 2018.
As Brother Ronald Haynes of blessed memory liked to say, this church is a thin place - indeed he said this of the whole monastery. A thin place is a Celtic Christian term for those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses. It is a place where the separation of Earth and heaven is worn thin like a veil by the passage of prayer from Earth to heaven.
Places like these are precious. They teach us in the nearness of God. Eventually, we take the conscience of that nearness with us wherever we go. The whole Earth, the whole Universe becomes a thin place to us. But many of us need places like these to teach us that, to attune us to that reality.
“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
This is also a place of enduring love. It is a place where day after day, God’s love is manifested in the Eucharist. And in between masses, the consecrated elements are reserved in our tabernacle to remind us of the ever present God and his all-giving love.
By the way, make sure to visit our new tabernacle and pay your respect to Jesus there. It was consecrated this past Friday and is a work of beauty that echoes many decorative motifs of this church.
This church is a place where visitors and residents alike bring their own selves to God and offer their love in worship and prayer. If all goes well, they eventually realize that their own heart is God’s preferred tabernacle and God never leaves it empty.
Tabernacles are supposed to be portable. It should be possible to take it from place to place along our communal journey. Hearts are the ultimate in portability. God goes along wherever we go. And while we are there, we encounter the image of God in one another. This happens here too.  For example, we recognize our mutual participation in the divinity at the exchange of the peace.

If all goes well in this awesome place, visitors and monks alike take what they receive in this church into the world and they become aware that the whole universe is Eucharist.
“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
May your body visit this church often. May your heart open and your soul be nourished deeply here. And may you take what you receive here to all the places of your lives.
As the coordinator of our capital campaign, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this church will be an important focus of our upcoming fund-raising. We want to make this church ever more welcoming. Look out for our capital campaign brochure and video in the weeks to come.

We give thanks to God for this 96-year young church of St Augustine. Yes, thanks be to God. And may it nurture monks and guests alike for many generations to come.

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