Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, Community of Saint John, and a Beautiful Day

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe passed away a week ago. His funeral was today in France and his body will be buried at Rimont (on the grounds of the motherhouse of the community he helped found: the Community of Saint John).

One of the most beautiful days I have experienced is the day I went to Paray le Monial for the profession of vows of some of the brothers. It was a day that some of them received their habit, the religious clothing of monks. The day was beautiful for many reasons, which some day I hope to write down, but for now the moment that directly involves Fr. Philippe is the moment, the event, of a man hearing for the first time and accepting his religious name (Brother so-and-so) ...

... coming up to the presiding superior and with the aid of his fellow brothers taking off an item (a coat) from his former non-monastic days ...

... as prayers are said to express what is going on with the removing of the item ... all with the assistance of his fellow brothers ...

... then the young man receives the habit ... the items are placed on him and his belt is buckled ... and the rosary is given which he places a part of it under his belt to keep it in place ... all this while prayers and explanations are reverently said to express the (monastic) significance of these items and also what they symbolize. The new brother then receives an embrace from his superior (here the founder Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe) as they each give a monastic gesture: the touching of the side of the left temple of the head upon the other's.

The new brother then gets up and exchanges the gesture with his fellow brothers who helped him during this moment take off the old man and put on the new man.

Ah, the beautiful manifests itself in so many ways! There are few things, moments more beautiful to those who see and understand what is happening on the day one becomes a monastic brother.

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