Rocco Palmo, as well as other writers, have reported on the death of Dom Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina. Dom Kline, a Trappist, will be buried tomorrow. Rocco also linked to an article in the State that contained an excerpt from Dom Kline’s book, Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Let Loose in the Church. Here is the excerpt:
In the monastery where I now live, many people who come to make retreats ask: ‘How can I share more deeply in your life without actually living here? Are a couple of retreats a year enough?’ I have developed answers to these questions in numerous interviews with people whose grace I cannot deny. The Holy Spirit speaks through them and I can no longer avoid certain affirmative answers about the sharing of the monastic charism, certainly by the baptized, and even by the married.
Then there is my beloved community of Mepkin, whose distinctive style of hospitality has shown me how involved retreatants can become with a community without affecting adversely its grace and prayer. Mepkin, not without purpose in the Spirit’s plans, I’m sure, is located in the Diocese of Charleston, whose bishop, David B Thompson, convoked a most extraordinary synod in 1990. It concluded in 1995, but only after including me and some of the community in the most challenging debates I have ever known.
For it was a question not of preaching monasticism, but of struggling with difficult contemporary Church problems and searching the monastic tradition for answers, as well as the wider and more recent tradition. As I came to appreciate the superabundant grace bestowed on the baptized during the synod, I saw the vision which must have inspired the writers of Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes, a cloud of witnesses summoned from every walk of life in a universal call to holiness.
In the crucible of hard work done reluctantly apart from monastery concerns for the sake of the Church, I feel that the Spirit has offered to me something new for my own monastic life, which has always been refreshing and new for me.