Homilies

Blessing of the new building at Tarrawarra Abbey, Yarra Glen, on Thursday 11 June 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Together with Dom Steele, Dom David, the monks of Tarrawarra and so many friends, I rejoice to be with you for the completion of this building. In my research for these few short remarks, immediately Psalm 127 came to mind: “If the Lord does not build the house in vain to its builders labour”; I felt that this building certainly is built by the Lord with the help of gifted builder and technicians.

I looked further; I searched for a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict, but did not find it. Then I thought that that well-known resource Google might help me. I turned to Wikipedia to see if I could find out something about Cistercian architecture. Apart from some general norms about simplicity, functionality, lack of ornamentation, so as not to distract from the essence of prayer and work, I felt then I might have been on the right lines.

However, to this point the Scriptures do not say anything about being eco-friendly, except perhaps in Psalm 18: “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.” Here we find a good introduction to the need we have of caring for the environment in which we live and providing for the safety of those who spend so much of their time praising God and working.

Returning to Psalm 127 we see that “the Lord pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber”. I thought I was getting closer to the mark when I realised that concern for the well-being and safety of those who praise God are reflected in the unique design of this building.

The special design and construction of this building certainly conform to the Canons of Cistercian architecture in terms of simplicity and a focus on what is essential, whilst it does provide the warmth and safety that God wishes for those who love him so much.

My prayer is that this building will never have to be used as a shelter in time of bush fire, but that, however, it will provide a security for those who live here so that the contemplative life can be lived in the infinite praise of God, building the everlasting house and city, knowing that God will bless us with his gifts and will reassure us of what he alone can give.

So, today, with deep gratitude to architect and builder, to all who have constructed this building, we remain deeply grateful for all that God has given, the gifts that have been used here and the security for prayer and peace which has long made the praise of God echo from the hills of Tarrawarra.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.

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