To All Who Will Use St. Aelredís Poustinia
by Fr. Bob Wild, Priest of Madonna House.
Itís Tuesday, May 9th, 1985. Iím making the first poustinia here in St. Aelredís, Madonna House, Robin Hoodís Bay. Almost 30 years ago (1957-59) I spent two years as a Carthusian at St. Hughís Charterhouse in Sussex. There was not yet an established Charterhouse in America, only a foundation. It was my dream as a young man to help bring the Carthusians to America. I believed (and still believe) that what America (and every country, really) needs most is prayer and penance. That dream never became a reality. Now, at this very moment, by making this first poustinia, I find myself bringing the ancient Russian tradition of the poustinia to England. The strange ways of God !
You who are reading this are in a land with a tradition of solitude and silence much more ancient than the poustinia. The poustinia derives from St Anthony of Kiev (10th C.), who came to Russia from Mt Athos, in Greece. You are in the land of Columban and Cuthbert and Hilda and Bede. Iím sure there were hermits and solitaries here in the fourth and fifth centuries. By praying here in solitude, you are entering into a very ancient and holy tradition. Countless forest, mountain, and isle dwellers have prayed here before you, and are praying with you now.
Few people realise the wealth of spiritual and cultural life that has flowed from the hearts of solitaries to enrich the world around them. I do not believe that any lasting renewal of our world can be effected without a similar return to our interior depths, to meet there, once again, the Source of all Truth and Wisdom and Life. By coming to this poustinia, by entering the depths of your life with God, you are helping, in a very profound way, to renew the face of the earth.
Christ is that renewal, and there is no other. Christ humanised, tamed and sanctified our barbaric ancestors. Whatever is once again barbaric and dark in our modern world, only Christ can humanise and illumine it. After all, Christ did come into a pagan world. We must live in great hope Christ is God, and tha He is powerful enough to renew the whole earth. But we must once again believe in Him.
All around you- in Whitby, Rievaulx, Mt Grace, Fountains, Byland, Guisborough, Walsingham Ė lay the seeds of renewal. They were planted by your ancestors, and these seeds are still here. The buildings have crumbled, but the Christ-Life is still here. Your faith and love can make a whole new Christian culture spring up again, just as it once blossomed out of the pagan
cultures. The spark must come from your own heart-contact with Christ: your heart rubbing up against his and producing a new fire. Isnít that why you have come here today?
For you havenít come just for yourself. You carry the whole world in your heart, or ought to. Our hearts have been created big enough for the whole world to enter. Coming apart here to pray is not to forget about others. You come here to lift up everyone before the Fatherís face. By coming closer to God, you come closer to everyone. If you are here in the right spirit, you will discover that when you leave, you will be more, not less, concerned about others.
The renewal of the whole earth must begin with oneself. When, with Christís help, you have conquered the prejudices and fears and hatreds in your own heart, then you will have the freedom and vision to help heal the world. You come here to share more deeply in Christís victory in your own heart.
Jesus said: ď Donít be afraid.Ē Donít be afraid of the silence and the mystery you are now immersed in. This mystery is the Father, whose love penetrates every part of your being. It is the Holy Spirit, drawing you. It is he who whispers in us, ďCome to the Father! Come to the Father!Ē Just allow their love to burn away whatever is not of the divine life within you, and then you will emerge from the poustinia as a light in the darkness. You will shine with Christís light, not your own.
May Our Lady of Yorkshire take you by the hand and lead you into the depths of† your heart† where Christ dwells. God bless you !
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