The Invisible Monastery - The Thursday PrayerThe Abbé Paul Couturier wrote in 1944:
Suppose that each Thursday, when every week that Great Thursday is commemorated, an ever increasing multitude of Christians of every denomination were to form an immense network encircling the earth, like a vast invisible monastery in which all were caught up in Christ's prayer for Unity. Would that not be the dawn of Christian Unity breaking upon the world? Is not this the attitude of sincere, profound and burning spiritual emulation for which the Father is waiting in order to make Unity a visible reality?
This Invisible Monastery is made up of all those souls to whom the Holy Spirit has made known, with an intimate understanding, and because they have really tried to open themselves to His fire and so to His light, the grievous state of divisions between Christians, and in whom this awareness has given rise to an enduring suffering and a corresponding regular practice of prayer and penitence....The name 'Monastery' is appropriate because it is the same suffering, the same yearning, the same concerns, the same spiritual activity, the same goal which draw together into the heart of Christ this multitude which comes from every nation.... The cloister is none other than living in the Christ who prays for Unity.
These Christians are consecrated to the solemn task of Unity, with the help of the Holy Spirit...Moved by the same desire, the same fire and the same ardent longing, they live united in Christ, hidden away in the secret of God. It has become their experience that God unites Christians in the same Love before uniting them in the same Faith."
Have I had the same experience?
Am I ready to commit myself to the solemn task of Unity?
Do I want to commit myself to working and praying for the Unity of Christians and Peace in the world?
(c) Chemin Neuf 2001
And, from Paul Couturier and Unity in Christ by Geoffrey Curtis CR (with the kind agreement of SCM Press)
|St Bruno des Chartreux,|
home of the Société des Prêtres de St Irénée,
It is thus described by Abbé Couturier himself:
"The Invisible Monastery consists of the company of souls to whom, because they have tried truly to expose themselves to his flame and thus to his light, the Holy Spirit has been able to make known intimately the sorrowful meaning of the separations between Christians - those in whom such knowledge has engendered permanent suffering resulting in habitual prayer and penitence. This fellowship is invisible in its totality, for it is scattered among all Christian communions. In some cases its members are isolated. In others they are found in groups corresponding to their temperaments and their tastes. Sometimes these individuals or groups are in relations more or less visible, more or less frequent one with another, but the reality in its full number remains always invisible, being always hidden with Christ in God. The name of Monastery does nevertheless belong to this unity, because it is the same suffering, the same desires, the same pre-occupations, the same spiritual activity, the same goal which gather together in the heart of Christ this multitude drawn from every nation. . . . Enclosure there is none save that found through dwelling in Christ - his prayer for unity. The spirit is that of this Prayer Universal; the action is spiritual emulation developed in every direction.
(Its members) "a network of luminous points in perfect interdependence one of another, like those points of light which denote the stars. Like the stars they create an atmosphere of health-giving clarity. They cannot be wholly ignorant of one another. Nor can they fail to love one another."
The life of this family whose members are sealed by baptism, at very least by that of desire, is Eucharistic in character. The Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ are the chief meeting place of its members who grow ever closer to one another through their growing union with Christ. They may well reflect on a note of Paul Couturier which reveals his own disposition with regard to these mysteries:
I enter into Christ's self-oblation so that through my boundless self-surrender he may blend truly all in me and through me totally with himself, uniting all with his sacrifice and his oblation.'