FIRST A TREMENDOUS "THANK YOU"
On Thursday, May 12, 2022, the monks of Newark Abbey elected Rev. Augustine Curley, O.S.B. as the third abbot of our community. The preceding abbot, Abbot Melvin Valvano, O.S.B., served as head of the community for 48 years. The important word here is "served," because that is what an abbot does, and what Abbot Melvin did with wisdom and kindness for all these years. How do you even begin to thank someone for that kind of gift? I'm in awe when I look back over those decades of unflagging faithfulness, so I pray that my brothers and I will find adequate ways of expressing our gratitude by our continued support and our words of thanks and encouragement.
TWO NEW TESTAMENT WORDS WHEN ELECTING AN ABBOT
The readings for Sunday, May 15, 2022 contain a pair of words in Greek that I've found useful recently.
(1) What's new?
What I found truly unsettling, though, was the Greek word the writer uses for "new." The common Greek word for new is neos, “new in the sense of recent, young.” For example, Jesus declares “No one pours new (neos) wine into old wineskins (Lk 5:37).” Something that is neos can be a new version of something else: Jesus is called “the mediator of a new (neos) covenant (Heb. 12:24).”"Behold, I make all things kainos, previously unheard of, unknown, and strange."
So, my brothers and I have been forewarned: Maybe this new abbot will challenge us to move outside our comfort zone and experience God in the previously unheard of, the unknown, the strange."
(2) Bulking Up
The second word on this Sunday's reading that has given me food for reflection is in the first reading, from Acts:
After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news to [Derbe] and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)”
So, here's a word we monks can use for this post-election period: Like Paul and Barnabas, we need to be about the business strengthening one another's spirits, and especially encouraging or new abbot.
I like to imagine our Benedictine community on steroids. Wow! Imagine the witness we would give to each other and to our students, our neighbors, the church and the people of Newark and beyond! A community bulked up by our faith in Christ and our love of one another. Yes. I like that idea.
Please pray for Abbot Augustine and the monks of Newark, that we may strengthen one another as we bulk up on God's love.