BR. PIERRE PRATTE, osb
Born in Trois-Rivières, Québec in 1940.
Joined St-Benoit-du-Lac in 1961.
Moved to Mount Saviour in 1966.
Became herdsman and guest master.
Presently shepherd and bookkeeper.
In touch with the world through books, photography , short-wave radio and the Web.
The lambing season is always hectic for me because I have to supervise 130 ewes. The most difficult part of the operation is to gage when it is time to intervene. The mother should follow the process of birthing but I normally have to intervene for a dozen cases. I had some helpers to make the 3 weeks more pleasant.
We are encouraged with the arrival of postulants and some monks from other monasteries. Their presence in choir and their talents to accomplish the daily chores are a welcome addition in our midst. Because of the present canon laws, the superior of a Benedictine monastery has to be a priest. Since our only priest is in his mid-80s, we accepted the offer of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico to be Prior-Administrator. Our main needs are a priest for the daily mass and some one to instruct the new comers with the novice master.
My family reunion was held in July and was combined with the funeral service of my oldest sister, Jacqueline Pratte. The funeral Home is a place where relatives come to pay their respect for the departed and offer their sympathies to the family. She had left home when she was young, searching for happiness. Unfortunately, when we look for freedom too quickly, we can be easily victim of abuses. One of her consolations was to play Bingo. The monastery is a place where we find happiness and prepare ourselves for the 8th day, when we will be in awe in front of the Almighty for ever. Cesarius of Arles has a nice text to describe the eternal beatitude: ...there will be no sadness, no fear, no infirmity, no more death. It is the Peaceable Kingdom.
In October, I appeared of national TV with 5 monks of Christ in the Desert to advertize their CD on Gregorian Chant. It was organize by Sony Co. for the Today Show. We were very well received by the staff at 6 a.m. for a dress rehearsal on the set. We came back to the studio to appear "live" before 11 a.m. as the last group of the day. I got to see the process of such a program from backstage: a dozen persons on the set, audio crew, stage managers, maquillage crew, camera men, etc. We sang a Gregorian Alleluia and gained our 4 minutes of fame. Click to see the video.)
An article was published in the Catholic
Courier about my lecture on Gregorian Chant in 2011.
In the study of Church history and spirituality, we find many references to the monastic influence. We tend to raise many questions to satisfy our curiosity as to the causes or charisms of the monks of the past. A culture is never established by direct means. It is shaped by many factors.
As we try to point out the relevance of monastic life today, we discover many by-products that are the most striking elements to outsiders. The medieval monks did not join monasteries to build, to compose music, or to transcribe manuscripts. They followed an inner call to 'seek God'. As we commit ourselves to truly seeking God in the twentieth century, we have been able to notice as well some of the by-products that are important to us and meaningful to the guests who come to share our life.
1-This 'school of the Lord's service' is an institution for the search
of meaning. The identity of a monk is a matter of 'becoming', a
growth in the quality of life and in faith. Therefore, his formation
is always in progress, with 'the Gospel
as a guide, to go forward on His paths'.
2-This community shows the capacity of men from various countries and backgrounds to live together in spite of many differences that are part of nature. The mutual support can be felt at various levels and at different degrees in this classless society. The Rule of St.Benedict has some references to the idea of edification (aedificare is the Latin word for 'to build up'). The monk has to face his responsibility without denying his Christian freedom.
3-We find an anthropology that gives room for the body as it stands close to nature and to related sciences in manual work; for the soul yearning for knowledge through 'lectio divina' and studies; for spirit as a means of communication in prayer.
4-A sense of poetry is cultivated by the use of rituals and symbols. As we try to read between the lines of the sacred texts and hear the harmony of simple tones, the mystery becomes more accessible. The religious profession is the sacrament of the eschaton (the last thing), of the parousia (the final coming).
5-The Liturgy of the Hours marks the rhythm of the day and of the seasons like the down beats of a musical line. The regular order is infinitely varied since it includes motion and rest. work and leisure.
How does this relate to the Gospel? It helps one to practice
the commandments: 'You shall love your God with all your heart...and your
neighbor as yourself'. There are three objects of love in that quotation:
God, the neighbor, and the self. By a commitment to seek him, by
our praise, and by faith in his mystery, we seek the glory of God.
By sharing the material goods as well as the burden and responsibilities
in the community, the monk exercises a social role. With an awareness
an appreciation of his own talents and limitations (self-knowledge), the
monk is able to relate to others and to God. He remains human and
is in need of God's grace 'to bear most patiently one another's infirmities'
'Having therefore our loins girt about with faith and the observance of good works, let us, with the Gospel as our guide, go forward on His paths, that we may deserve to see in His kingdom Him who has called us'. Prologue of the Rule
From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ to God's chosen people who live
as pilgrims scattered throughout the United States. May peace and grace
be yours in full measure.
In my previous letters, I tried to encourage Christians to grow in faith, hope, and charity and patience. Here I try to do the same for your well-being. Your buildings and paper money indicate that you are a religious nation. We read: "In God, we trust". At the same time, you seem to follow the pagan motto: "Si vis pacem, para bellum" (If you want peace, prepare for war.)
Do not use mortal means to protect your vital interests. Make sure that your efforts towards national security do not produce international insecurity. Your technical achievement are well known all over. People can move faster and better. They sit in their car, stand in elevators and to compensate for their health, they jog and sweat after work. Live in harmony of soul, spirit, and body for the glory of God.
You are concerned for the environment and legislate to alleviate all forms of pollution. Little is done to foster purity of heart. "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God." We hear of some incidents of cover-ups. Should we blame the cosmetic industries for the sale of make-ups or the dissatisfaction of the people for the work of God. Will you make stories to distort the truth?
You can unite by the thousands to oppose or impose your rights. Will you share your spiritual energies to uplift the needy? Some of you are sensitive to cruelty to animals while others are indifferent to the mutilation and destruction of the unborn. Your silos used to be full of grain for poor and rich nations. Now silos are readied with missiles to destroy the same nations.
For so long, you have been told that "bigger is better". Can you correct the problems of large cities? Can you explain why 80% of the population live on 20% of the land? You have discovered the invisible phenomenon of airwaves and electricity. Unfortunately, too many people refuse to believe in the power of prayer and grace.
We see a lot of courage among those who are training for competitions. Similar efforts are required for the soul to be fit in our daily life. Some people receive large sums of money to run after a ball while others may not be rewarded for sitting to comfort wounded soul; "they shall receive mercy".
In spite of all the criticism that politicians receive, we rejoice that the Department of War became the Department of Defense. We look for the day when you gain enough confidence and inspire enough trust to make it the Department of Peace. Continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Saviour who is our Peace. Amen
Christus Rex For Art and Catholic
Mount Saviour home page
For comments Br. Pierre Revised 3/3/05