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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

071317 professBACBELMONT — “Today you have come to bind yourselves to run on the path of God’s commandments, your hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love; to faithfully observe His teaching in the monastery until death, so that through patience you may share in the sufferings of Christ so as to deserve also to share in His kingdom.”

Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey addressed these words to Brother Anselm Cundiff and Brother George Rumley as they professed vows to the Benedictine community on July 11, the feast day of St. Benedict.

The two monks have spent four years discerning a call to the monastic life and will now reside for the rest of their lives at Belmont Abbey. They made their solemn, or final, profession of vows during Mass at the abbey’s Mary Help of Christians Basilica.

One of the unique vows of Benedictine monastic life is the vow of stability, by which the monk commits himself to the prayer, life and work of his community for a lifetime. They join one community and remain with it.

“The teaching and example of all who have led you to this day have, I trust, given you a more profound understanding of the first word of the Rule of our Holy Father (St.) Benedict: ‘Listen…and incline the ear of your heart.’ It is, I hope, an understanding which will become yet more profound with each passing year in the monastery,” Abbot Placid said.

“For each of us here, if we can remember back to the first faint whisperings, faintly perceived, which have led us into the paths of life in which we find ourselves, we can perhaps appreciate the truth of this episode in the life of Elijah, which has been part of our instruction from the Word of God today,” he continued, referring to the day’s reading from 1 Kings, in which God speaks to Elijah in the whisper of the wind.

“For our monastic life is generally not an exciting, dramatic life. It falls, rather, into a repetitive pattern of the same schedule, the same place, the same people. We do not expect to hear God’s voice in earthquakes, raging wind or fire. We expect, rather, to hear it in contemplative silence, where we can ponder God’s Word and, in light of that Word, interpret God’s provident actions in the world.

“That is our way of evangelization, our way of bearing witness to the world the Word of Life.”

Abbot Placid enjoined the men to remember that “ultimately, we must listen to Jesus, who calls to you today, who called to the whole Church just this past Sunday, ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’ It is Jesus’ voice that we hear in all the Scriptures. It is that voice, speaking through the Apostle, which outlines clearly for you this day the work you are taking up.”

“Most of all, on this day on which you generously offer your lives in obedience to the call from Jesus you believe you have received, it is all the more important that we listen to His words again: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’ For we may be tempted, with all good intention, mistakenly to assume that we are preparing to do something for Christ, as though He needed something from us. But really, the discipline of monastic life is meant to open us to the possibility of Jesus to do something for us.

“It is He who, as He as promised, will fill us with the Holy Spirit, so that we may one day become that which we were created to be – namely, the image and likeness of God. If, by God’s grace, we are one day so transformed, then we will find that we will have become the image of Christ, for He is the true image of the unseen God, in whose image we were created. It is He who is the very imprint of the Father’s being.

“It is Jesus, who, by the grace of God which is the Spirit, will so transform us into His image that we become true sons of the Father, who will then share with us that eternal life and perfect love which, as the Scriptures teach, make us partakers of the divine nature.

“This is our salvation.”

During the one-and-a-half hour Mass, Brother Anselm and Brother George participated in the solemn profession rite. This included lying prostrate during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints, signing their oath of profession at the altar, and kneeling and receiving the final piece of their Benedictine habit: a long, voluminous black cloak which Abbot Placid helped place over their heads.

Brother Anselm (formerly Daniel) Cundiff, 36, is from Nocona, Texas. He is the son of Donald and Barbara Cundiff. The youngest in his family, he has two older brothers. Brother Anselm has a doctorate in philosophy and has been teaching courses at Belmont Abbey College.

Going forward, he has accepted a tenure track faculty position in the Philosophy Department and will continue to be heavily involved in the college. He also serves the community as its master of ceremonies.

Brother George (formerly Benjamin) Rumley, 35, is from the Randolph County town of Ramseur. He is the son of Richard and Leisa Rumley. The oldest in his family, he has a younger brother and a younger sister. Brother George is currently working on a master’s degree in theology at the University of Dallas, which he anticipates completing in the spring of 2018. Afterwards, he has plans for doctoral studies so that he may also teach at Belmont Abbey College. He currently serves the community as one of its cantors.

In his final remarks to the newly professed monks, Abbot Placid said, “And so, Brother Anselm, Brother George, our Holy Father Benedict now addresses you with the concluding words of his Rule: ‘Are you hastening toward your heavenly home? Then with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teaching and virtues we mentioned above, and under God’s protection you will reach them.’”

—SueAnn Howell, senior reporter. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald.

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