God's Call to the Vows:
It has been much too long between posts. But contemplative monastic life demands times, short and long, when a further movement into silence and solitude is required, when it is imperative to re-visit earlier commitments, when the invitation to come apart is heard again and the response is given. For ten days stradling the end of September and the beginning of October, our community was blessed with such a time. The blessing came not only in the time set apart but in the presence of Father Philip Dabney, CSsR as our retreat director. Father Philip has served the poor and the most abandoned in a great variety of assignments for the Congregation. For fifteen years he was Vocation Director seeking out and working with young and not so young men as prospective candidates for the priesthood or brotherhood in the Alphonsian tradition of the Redemptorists. Most recently Father began a new assignment on the staff of the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston. That Church has now gained national reputation as the setting for the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Father Dabney had lots to share about that occasion since he served as pointman for the media and Secret Service as they invaded Church and rectory.
Most important for us, however, was Fr. Philip's take on the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty as sources of liberation of spirit and soul for life in relationship with God and our fellow human beings. This interpretation converts poverty, chastity and obedience into invitations for all Christians: chastity as right relationship and availibility for relationship; poverty as an open-handed attitude toward things, askewing the tight grasp on things material and promoting a sharing of the abundance of God's creation; obedience as a right and free attitude toward authority and our commitments, an attitude rooted in conscious reflection and decision-making rather than blind observance of law.
Fr. Philip shared with us from the depths of his own spiritual journey and personal experience as son, brother, priest and community member. For all that he gave, we are most grateful.