He will receive a hundred times as many homes, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers and children and fields... in this life and eternal life in the age to come. The mystical body of Christ is formed by the bonds of a living, loving faith in the Lord Jesus. The Church is essentially a communion of faith and love uniting believers with God in Christ and so among themselves. We form the community of the people of God and the structures that arise to express that functioning community must always be adjusted in service of the life of that living body united with its head, Christ Jesus. This doctrine which was reaffirmed in Vatican II (Lumen Gentium § 7 and 8) is the background against which we are to interpret these words of Jesus. We belong to one another because we belong to God, having been accepted by him in his son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today, my Brother Gerard, you are about to be installed as an acolyte in service of the mystical body. This order of acolyte qualifies you to assist at the altar in the most sacred of all the mysteries of our faith, the Eucharist. By the reception of this function you are qualified to act as a special assistant to the ministers of this sacrament, giving communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick, as needed. The proper disposition in which to fulfill this holy service is suggested by today's Gospel on this feast of the Three Founders of our Order: "Love one another as I have loved you." The purpose of our monastic Cistercian Order is fulfilled only when this injunction by the Lord motivates us in the liturgy as in the various duties and activities of our daily life. Thus there is no conflict between the service rendered by the ministers of the altar and the Cistercian spirit and way of life; on the contrary, the two reinforce one another. Living as a monk offers great advantages for the cultivation of those services associated with the Eucharist. The Sacrament of the Eucharist, on the other hand, as the act of our Savior and the communion with his very Body and Blood, is the soul of our Cistercian life.
The spirit of our three founders, Saints Robert, Alberic and Stephen, was in a profound harmony with the words of Jesus who presents to his followers the ideal of a union that makes us one in our common goal and in our dispositions of heart. We become brothers and sisters through our pure faith and love for the Lord. Nothing more enhances this communion than the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacramental communion that accompanies it. May you always be faithful to this high calling, and may all of us here collaborate with intelligence and ardor in the great work of building up the communion of saints that the Lord promises to those who follow him to glory.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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