First International Lay Cistercian Encounter

Monasterio Nuestra Señora de Quilvo • Curicó C • June 26, 2000

Rev. Father General Abbot Dom Bernardo Olivera,

Today January 26th 2000, we have celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Abbots Robert, Alberic and Stephen at the Monastery of Our Lady of Quilvo. The First International Encounter of Lay Cistercians takes place on this symbolic day of the Foundation of the Cistercian Order,. Here we are presenting you the fruits of our common reflection. For several years, in different parts of the world, at the same time, and without having any knowledge of one another, communities of lay contemplative are emerging. They are oriented towards the same Cistercian charism in order to live a very particular vocation in the Church. In the twelve communities represented here we have recognized the following common patterns:

  • Life centered in Christ
  • Evangelical life inspired through the Rule of Saint Benedict
  • Emphasis on silence and contemplation
  • Formation and education in Cistercian spirituality
  • Lectio Divina
  • Fraternal communion
  • Annual retreat
  • Dialogue with a Cistercian monastery
  • Participation in the Divine Office
  • Work as service with a disposition of reverence and gratitude
  • Invocation to the Holy Mother

This way of humility and conversion, born in the spiritual tradition of the Cistercians, invites us to live the Gospel in a more radical way. The regular reading of Saint Benedict Rule, inspire us to live our life in a more simple and deep way. This is reflected in our personal life, in relations to our natural communities (family, labor and social) helping to establish balance and harmony in this post-modern world. The inculturation of the lay Cistercians in the world is manifested in the particularities of the geographical place, as for example:

  • The community in Morroco has developed a particular way of life inserted in a Muslim world
  • Communities in the USA relate with other Christian churches
  • The community of Le Grange in Citeaux represents a place of stability at the service of all the Cistercian family in the world

There are probably other particularities in communities not represented here. The communities represented here express and maintain their autonomy but they feel united by a bond of charity, in a fraternal communion. These autonomous communities live a “monastic dialogue” with monasteries to which they are affiliated. It is the spiritual food that we receive through this interaction which is vital for our spiritual life. Something new is happening. In an impulse of faith and hope, and with sincerity, we want to be continuously open to the voice of the Spirit, with an attitude of listening carefully and discernment, to be able to continue building the Cistercian family. We invite you to take and receive this call, like an innovating bud in the Cistercian ancient trunk. We perceive that this could be the time to establish a communion between the lay and the monastic family, respecting mutually each other in their different and complementary vocations. We ask your blessing and support in this initiative of the Spirit.

Fraternally, in Christ,

Francisco Ambrosetti—
representing the United States
Dany Perrey—
representing France and Morroco
Sergio Antonio Lara—
representing Chile