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Tuesday, 11 September 2018 10:57

Abbot reflects on fragility as opportunity for renewal

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0918 AbbotJohnHerbertOSB 450“Remember, Lord, the shortness of my life and how frail you have made all human beings.”

These words, from Psalm 88 are the very words that spoke to Rev Abbot Father John Herbert OSB in his darkest hours, he has told a workshop titled 'Fragility, an opportunity for renewal'.

The workshop was held at the 2018 Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Catechist Conference from 1 to 2 August, presented by the Catechist Service.

The Benedictine monk went on to say that it was in his realisation of the frail, vulnerable, and dependent reality of humanity – that he acknowledged the shortness of his life as a positive and urgent invitation to accept fragility, viewing it as an invitation for newness of life.

Abbot John explained there are many perspectives in which we can consider fragility - from a personal level (physical, emotional spiritual), to an institutional, communal, and environmental level.

Reflecting on the Scriptures, Abbot John said the Lord encouraged St Paul, when He said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”.

“This was also true for the man, Jesus in the extreme weakness of His passion and death on the cross. He willed to make the final surrender of weakness in yielding up His spirit.

“And what power there was in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead,” Abbot John added.

Despite the negative associations linking fragility to the idea of death and weakness, Abbot John invited those present to look at some of its positive aspects.

The first point is that fragility has the potential to disarm violence, he said.

"Force provokes force, weakness changes the logic.

"Fragility constitutes the basis of true interdependence, and from this fact creates a real relationship. Fragility enables volunteers taking care of patients with disabilities to express their own fragility, because what is wanted is not competence but simply presence. That is the transition from dependence to interdependence,” he expressed.

"Finally, fragility recalls basic need. This need is permanent. Fragility reminds us of our radical incompleteness, pushes us to go ever further. In a world in which we believe that we can control and master everything, fragility reminds us permanently that there is something greater than ourselves, which transcends us and leads us forward.”

On an institutional level, Abbot John explained that we – as Catholics – need to keep the eye of faith attuned and alert.

"As weak human beings, we need to ask God’s help so that we do not fall into the trap of trying to secure our future on our terms and become blind to the ways of God," Abbot John said.

"If we continue to commit our lives to the spirit of abandonment – in faith, hope and love – preferring nothing to Christ, then we will be a source of hope."

This is an extract from an article written by Amanda Murthy for the eRecord, Archdiocese of Perth. Read the full story here.

PHOTO: Feby Plando, the eRecord, Perth.