‘LORD TO WHOM SHOULD WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF EVERLASTING LIFE.’ (John 6:68) These words that were inspired by the Spirit and so are filled with life have been passed on to us that we too might live by them. There were spoken by St. Peter when he and the other disciples were accosted by our Lord at the time he challenged his followers to believe that his body and blood were truly food given to assure spiritual life. That his words might have their full effect in us we must take them into our heart by faith, with trusting surrender to the one who spoke them. To keep his words and to live by them, Jesus tells us, is the way we are to show our love for him. In the Gospel these words of life speak of the Eucharist, which itself is promise of eternal life of sharing in the love that unites us to the Father in his glorified Son. The Lord gives his own person to us through his words, and in an eminent manner through the words pronounced over the bread and wine that changes them into his body and blood.  

We are expected not only to believe in his words, but to make them our own by taking them into our hearts and to live from them. By lives of prayer and praise and by active charity and service to our brothers and loved ones, and to all our fellow creatures, we give back to God, in homage to his glory what He has lovingly given us.  

With certain words we can do still more. There are words into which we can hand over our very life and our whole being to another. We can surrender our self back to Him who made us and who gave Himself for our salvation. These words can be so filled with the Spirit that they give a fresh meaning to all that follow them. For this to take place we must have entered into the deep and hidden places of our inner self and there face our secret desires and fears, our hopes and longing and confront them in the light of the purifying words of Jesus. Then we shall learn what Jesus intended when he told his apostles ‘You are already clean because of the word I, Jesus, have spoken to you.’(John 15.3). When we shall have thus taken up the deep thoughts of the heart and allowed them to be purified by the Lord’s grace, then our words too, in some measure, will become life-giving. This is the case for they will be then  the fruit of the Spirit who inspires them and who dwells in them, as well as our own. The grace of the Spirit makes it possible for us so to engage our freedom with his will, that we might be effectively joined to Him in the great work of salvation and sanctification.  

This is the homage that you are about to offer to God today, Father Bruno, by pronouncing your solemn vows for life. These vows represent a commitment to live the monastic life as it is practiced in this community. More profoundly, your solemn promise is a consecration of your person to God so that the whole of your life is a witness to Him. By virtue of the promises you make today you choose to belong to Him body and soul more than to yourself by a free choice and by a public act that we call religious profession. Accordingly, the worth of your life will be measured by your fidelity to your commitment, and by the fervor with which you pursue this way of life to the end of your days.  

As you are aware, it is a great gift of God’s grace that enables you to make such a solemn promise; it carries with it the responsibility that will engage you day by day until death to carry out from the heart what you undertake with this commitment. Remember that you are not left to your own resources in this undertaking; the Lord will not leave you alone. He is faithful and has promised to be with you to the end, even to abide with you, together with his Father. His Mother Mary, help of Christians, who is honored so greatly in this country and this place will accompany you. He also gives you a community of brothers to assist and sustain you as you live out your engagement. Finally, in the Eucharist, which is the context in which you make these vows, he gives you himself as a pledge that you are to be united with him in an intimate bond of love. This union of charity will never be broken if you remain faithful, but will endure not only throughout your life here but will continue for all eternity, in the heavenly kingdom. May these signs of God’s love be your strength and be always a source of confidence and of joy. 

With this prayer and these hopes,I ask if it is your firm purpose to pronounce these solemn vows for life.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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