By Fr. Paul Paproski, OSB
[St. Peter’s Abbey, MUENSTER, March 2019] – “Tonight is a special and happy occasion for us as a community, when we admit two new members and clothe them with a habit in this ancient monastic ceremony, Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB said, March 20, 2019, at the investiture of two novices.
Robert Janiga and Edmundo Cruz were given new habits as they became novices in another stage of their journey into monastic life. They had been living as candidates for the past six months.
Entering a monastery is not an easy vocation. The decision to become a monk reaches far beyond the desire to choose a new way of life. The choice is centered in leaving an old way of thinking behind, Abbot Peter remarked.
Referring to the Rule of St. Benedict, he said the new habits symbolize being stripped of everything from the past and being clothed in what belongs to the monastery. The outer change is signified even further in the new names of the notices. Robert will be known as Brother Denys while Edmundo has taken the name Brother Luis.
This ceremony of putting on a new habit gives the novices new outward appearances. But more importantly, it points to an inner reality that is much more important, Novecosky remarked. Benedictines centre their lives around prayer and work and that is for a good reason. The vocation of the monk is entrenched in putting away the old, so he can put on something new. The life of monastic living is a means of conversion to living in community. Each person is challenged to be charitable to one another, to pursue holiness, justice and peace.
“We come to the abbey to live a life of selfless service to one another, to the local church and to the broader church. In short, we come to the abbey to put on the heart and mind of Christ.”
Novecosky reminded the novices that St. Peter’s Abbey is a monastic community that strives to seek God and to follow Jesus. The journey to God must be accompanied with an openness to holiness and willingness to work with others. Fortunately, the journey is not alone, but is undertaken with the support of brother monks, and especially the grace of Jesus Christ.
“You will find in this community many good and noble monks who will be a real inspiration to you. You will also find here men with feet of clay, monks who are still struggling to strip off their old clothing so they can be clothed in what belongs to the monastery, that is, to put on the mind and heart of Christ. What is important is that you not become discouraged too easily nor give up the ideals St. Benedict puts before all of us.”
Novecosky reminded everyone that Holy Week was only a few weeks away where we remember the passion and death of Jesus Christ. The journey of Christ was not easy and he refused to be discouraged. The ending was a glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.