Today, for Passionists, is the Feast of Blessed Isidore de Loor, a Passionist Brother from Flanders, who died in 1916 at the age of thirty-five. The homily at Mass today was given by Father Harry Gielen, delegate of the Belgian Province. In his homily, which I hope will be published in full on the Passio Christi site, Father Harry said:
What we know of that young brother comes mainly from the thirty-six letters that he wrote at regular intervals to his relatives, especially to his mother. These letters are a precious piece of monastic literature, revealing how true greatness may be hidden in an existence as simple, as ordinary, as earthly as possible can be.
In the course of time, I came to read these letters for what they really are: expressions of authentic love for his relatives, especially for his mother, and of genuine gratitude for his call to religious life, gratitude that he translated into steady and generous service to his community and into radiant, exemplary goodness to the people showing up in great numbers at the monastery door in those days when the frontline and the battlefield were only a few miles away from the town where he lived.
This morning the Chapter discussed the General’s Report on the State of the Congregation. In two sessions, lasting a total of three hours, there were a number of interesting questions and a very rich sharing on the hopes of the various capitulars for this Chapter, with a surprising convergence around a few key points -which I’m not going to tell you at the moment, out of respect for the sacredness of what is said in the Chapter. In the afternoon, we had the report of the General Bursar (or Treasurer or Econome!). Financial matters will also have to be discussed in relation to restructuring; this is particularly important for emerging provinces and vice-provinces, such as Indonesia which has forty-six novices and students and where the average age of the one hundred and thirty-six religious is thirty-five.
The General Secretariat had a special gift for each of us today – a copy of the new edition of our General Catalogue. This reference book is produced periodically (-I think the last edition was about ten years ago); it lists all the professed members of the Congregation, with their name, parents’ names, place of birth, and dates of birth and first profession and, in the case of those religious who are priests, date of ordination. The Catalogue entry also gives the province to which the person belongs and its equivalent of an ISBN number. This number (mine is 1977049) was established when the first computer-based catalogue was published, over twenty years ago; the first four numbers give the year in which the person was professed and the next three give their precedence within that year group, so I was the forty-ninth Passionist to be professed in 1977. I notice that mine is the 1315th name in the book; names are listed according to date of profession and, in the case of those professed on the same day, in order of age. The 1319th name is that of the late and greatly missed Bishop Mauro Bastos, who died after the printing of the new General Catalogue.
Tomorrow it will be business as usual. Then, on Sunday, the Chapter goes on pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows at Isola del Gran Sasso. I hope we get all our “redacting” done before then.