Summer can help us be closer, due to the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature together with the person we love. They say, besides, that holidays, due to traveling, make it easier to meet new people with whom empathy can be created. But we ask ourselves: what happens next? Summer can become the sadest season of the year: so many hopes, then an even greater disappointment.
Thus, almost without us noticing it, the holiday season enters the debate about family sparked by the synod desired by Pope Francis. We are talking about the delicate and essential relationship between love and the deepest human hopes. The period of happiness that can begin on a beautiful day during the summer, by falling in love, wants – and should – have an opportunity to have positive outcomes. Unfortunately, very often, is broken, too soon.
In a monastery that is much frequented by tourists during the summer, a guide-monk, while explaining the frescoes on the wall of the cloister managed to arouse extraordinary interest among visitors by telling them the story of the investiture of the novice represented on the fresco. He developed an apparently strange analogy between the monastic profession and marriage.
The final involvement of a candidate in the life of a monastic community (the solemn profession) happens only after a trial period of several years. Indeed, the monastic tradition required a very hard test to verify vocation. To enter the monastery and, toutes les proportions gardees, wedding a real community. Especially in the Benedictine tradition, the candidate wants to live with it until his death, in good and bad times, despite the difficulties and limitations of the confrères. During the “profession”, he declares this publicly in front of the Church. Obviously, the dimension of conjugal intimacy is missing, but the challenge of life under the same roof 24 hours a day is not any smaller. Indeed: there are so many characters, many age, culture, and sensitivity differences. It seems impossible, yet, over the centuries, we find many examples that show that instead, it can be done.
The basis for succeeding? Mutual honesty and right preparation (or rather the formation). It takes a few years to develop such a final decision – certainly without a success warranty – and the candidate, during his training, must also receive the means to keep his fidelity.
If we look at how people prepare themselves to marriage at present, very often we see an opposite tendency: not everything is said, difficulties are hidden, creating the illusion that for love everything is easy. And when the first crisis arrives, the relationship ends immediately, leaving pain and frustration, and possibly, in the longer term, indifference.
An important bond such as marriage requires very serious preparation and training. If the monastic profession, although it is not a sacrament of the Church, prepares on so many formative levels, the same should be done by those who are planning to get married. It takes many trials to get to know each other truly. One should reach the basis of the foundations, to look for those points of reference that, in case of difficulty, keep the couple together. It is not a chance that, in one of the periscopes gospels for marriage we can read the parable about the house built on a rock. Our, as some say “liquid” society, requires the strength and stability of the rock. St. Benedict requires from his monks precisely the vow of stability. And this costs a lot: patience, perseverance and, above all, the humility needed to forget about yourself and think about the wellbeing of the person we love.
Travels and holidays, not only during the summer, can include also various monasteries. Many of them have guesthouses where you can spend a few days. Perhaps it is worth observing this form of life where, of course, there may be infidelity, but there are also many examples of people who are faithful and happy.