I had my last night my last night at the Abbey of Our Lady of Fontgombault. I have now come to realize that my time there has served three purposes. Firstly, on a very physical level, the five days in this peaceful and restful spot has allowed me to recover from a cold or flu that I managed to get in Santiago de Compostela. Secondly, I found there a much appreciated spiritual refreshment by being immersed in liturgy of the Church lived to its fullest at the abbey, with Gregorian chant infusing the ceremonies and the prayer. The witness of the monks, not only in the fervour of their liturgical prayer, but in their hospitality and joyful demeanor, inspires one to deepen their own living out of the Way. Thirdly, an unlooked-for benefit was a connection with a part of my past that played a huge role in forming my spirit. Back in 1980, I decided to go to France to study Gregorian chant at the Schola St.-Gregoire in Le Mans. For the following three summers, I would return to France where I completed their five-level course of Gregorian chant as well as the Ward Method of teaching music in elementary school. I was able to visit the abbey several times during those summers while I lived at the Schola in Le Mans. The monks of the abbey were also involved with the Schola, so I came to know some of them well. Later, when I was a seminarian at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome for two years, I also was able to visit Fontgombault and their daughter house near Florence several times. The spirit of Fontgombault (which is nothing but the spirit of the Church) very much imbued the spirit of the Schola, and that same spirit formed me in my love of the Church and her holy liturgy. One day I hope to be able to help others enter into the same spirit of prayer and the Church.
At this time, I am in Poitiers awaiting my train to Paris. Here are some close-ups of the sights of Poitiers:
I will try to find and opportunity to post again in Paris, where I will arrive this afternoon. A bientot, chers amis.