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Saturday, 30 May 2009

An obstinate reminder of another world

Veilleurs Dans La Nuit ("Watchmen of the night") is a film showing a day in the life of the Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux from Matins at 3.30am to compline at 7.45pm. There are many vids, clips and photos around of lovely monasteries, glorious chant, and atmospheric photos of the consecration. "Veilleurs Dans La Nuit" has all these in abundance but also offers simple but outstandingly effective teaching on the monastic life in particular, much of it applicable to the Christian life in general.

For example, there is footage of a monk at his solemn profession singing the Suscipe:
Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam;
et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.

Accept me, O Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; and do not disappoint me in my hope. (Ps 119:116)
This is followed by a monk explaining:
"What he sings then is a commitment for his entire future. Man's greatness and nobility lies in his being able to pledge himself by a word, to direct his whole life in an instant."
This optimistic and confident understanding of the nature of man could also be applied to the vows of marriage.

There are scenes from the bakery, the smithy, the library and the fields, including some glorious views of the surrounding countryside from the weekly walk. The clothing of a new novice is shown by a young man who is divested of his military uniform and clothed with his new habit, recently cut for him by one of his new brothers.

The Liturgy is shown both in the simple arrangements for the little hours, the celebration of many private Masses between Lauds and Prime, and in the elaborate but smoothly conducted ceremonies of the Pontifical Mass for Pentecost. Here is a photo from the "bonus" section of the DVD:

The Abbot, Dom Louis Marie, explains that the Church is set aside for prayer: "Nothing else may be done there."

The shallow objection to monastic life is dealt with summarily. People often say to them that praying in Church for 5-6 hours a day serves no purpose. The reply:
"We don't serve a purpose. We serve someone. We serve God."
At the conclusion of the film, there is a quotation from Dom Gérard Calvet, the founder:
“Monks built Europe, but they did not do so intentionally. Their adventure is primarily interior, its unique motivation is thirst for the absolute, thirst for another world. Before being academies of knowledge and crossroads of civilizations, monasteries are an obstinate reminder that there is another world, of which this world is but the image, the herald, and the prefiguration.”
Thinking of the European elections in which we must vote on Thursday, the dreadful waste of money and institutionalised gravy train that makes our own recent sleaze look modest by comparison, it is amusing to ponder the monks building Europe as a side-effect of their life "hidden with Christ in God" and tragic to think of the enormous resources put into secularising it.

I am very grateful to Dom Edumund for kindly sending me a copy of this inspiring DVD. I warmly recommend getting a copy for yourself. You can order the DVD here. At the bottom of the page is a link for help in English when ordering it.

Here is a preview of the film:

src="http://www.gloria.tv/?media=27877&embed" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="248" quality="high" scale="noborder" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"

Fr Z also has a number of screen grabs in his post on the stunning DVD.
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