The Liturgy is the summit and source of the Church’s life, said the Second Vatican Council, and the liturgy unfolds its riches within an annual pattern: the Church’s year. Here our life, lived in time, can meet and mingle with the life of Christ communicated in time. In Benedictine monasteries, the liturgical year shapes the whole life of the community. In these community conferences and homilies a Benedictine abbot shares with fellow-monks and fellow-Christians something of the wealth of the mystery of Christ as the liturgy unfolds it.
It is of immense satisfaction to those who have long appreciated Abbot Hugh’s work that he has so generously agreed to share his insights with a wider public. ‘In the course of the year,’ says Vatican II, ‘she - holy mother Church - unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the ascension, to Pentecost and the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord.’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium 102)
‘Thanks to the Holy Spirit,’ writes Abbot Hugh, ‘the paschal mystery remains a present, operative reality in human history, a spring of living water, flowing out of the “paradise” of the liturgy and watering the desert of the human heart and human life. It is this which gives our liturgies, so often humanly poor (what else could they be?) their divine value.’ It is this unfolding of the mystery of Christ that the following conferences and homilies hope to serve in some small way.
The living stones are the monks. Together they form a place in which the Spirit dwells. If in this place, as the Abbey’s motto proclaims, God gives peace, it is through their constant prayer, their glorious liturgy and the ennobling work.
The role of the Abbot is crucial to this spiritual building, and in these beautiful conferences and instructions which Abbot Hugh has been persuaded to publish, we see the work of the master builder. - Archbishop Mario Conti
In this book, which follows on from the companion volume Unfolding the Mystery, which was devoted to the liturgical year, Abbot Hugh reflects before his monastic brethren on some of the elements common to the life of all Christians - from baptism to the hope of eternal life.
Here it is a question of Living the Mystery, that is, of allowing the revelation of Christ in us, present in the Church, to take possession of our whole life, personal and social.
As Abbot Hugh states, these reflections are no more than "markers" on the Christian way, attempts to say something while we wait, about "the gifts that lie within our comprehension". But if they help stir a fresh sense of the goodness, truth and beauty of these gifts, if they help any to live with understanding and joy the mystery "which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed" (Rom 16:25-26), "this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27) their author will feel blessed himself.
Comment on Abbot Hugh's previous book, Unfolding the Mystery:
"This is wisdom." Dom Aldhelm Cameron-Brown, Pax
"Dom Hugh's book reaches some high moments of reflection." Downside Review
"This is meat, at last!" Sisters of the Gospel of Life
Fr Abbot’s books can be ordered from the monastery by post. The price is £12.50 including post and packing. Please send a cheque, payable to “Pluscarden Benedictines”, to:
Abbey Shop (Book Order)