Happy memories today, on this memorial of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, of the joy of Christian friendship spent in his former Cistercian abbey church, which was a memorable stop during a parish pilgrimage from Calgary to England in October 2013. Though we wandered and prayed amongst scenes of devastation and decay in what was once a great powerhouse of prayer, work, and charity, our stay with nearby Benedictine monks at Ampleforth Abbey enabled our pilgrim band to enter into these precincts with a keen sense of the busy and prayerful atmosphere that once permeated its hallowed walls. It is perhaps a testimony to Aelred and his brethren that that ambience hasn’t quite vanished here. Despite the ruined stones, Rievaulx’s exquisitely tranquil setting - which now provides its bare interior with a previously unseen take on the outside world - enables what remains to still feel very much like sacred ground.
‘You and I are here, and I hope that Christ is between us as a third. Now no one else is present to disturb the peace or to interrupt our friendly conversation. No voice, no noise invades our pleasant retreat. Yes, most beloved, open your heart now and pour whatever you please into the ears of a friend. Gratefully let us welcome the place, the time, and the leisure.
I am delighted to see that you are not prone to empty and idle talk, that you always introduce something useful and necessary for your progress. Speak then without anxiety. Share with a friend all your thoughts and cares, that you may have something either to learn or to teach, to give and to receive, to pour out and to drink in’.
St Aelred of Rievaulx, 1109-1167
Almighty God, who didst endow the blessed Abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others into the way of holiness: grant to thy people that same spirit of mutual affection; that in loving one another we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the eternal possession of thine unsurpassable goodness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal
Fr Lee Kenyon