We are doing something unusual
and exciting in Madonna House this month. Every member of the Apostolate, wherever they are in the world, will be part of a gathering in which we will stop what we habitually do in order to listen to God.
We call this a sobor. Our founder Catherine Doherty wrote, “Spiritually and in depth, a “sobor” means a Church that gathers all people in one assembly (assembly in Russian is sobrania), usually solemn and very important.” Catherine also related it to the word sobornost, which is a unity of mind and heart among people living a life in Christ.
We have been preparing for this event since October with meetings, looking at some of Catherine’s writings, and with much prayer. And now the time has come. We plan to set aside this special time over a two-week period towards the end of January, when the whole family will stop what we are doing and take time to listen together, prayerfully and deeply, for whatever the Spirit desires for Madonna House.
Why are we doing this? After all, we are always praying and listening to the Spirit. To do so is already very much a part of our way of life. We know very well that we can accomplish little of value in our apostolic lives if we are not guided by the Spirit.
In September 1975 Catherine said, “God is walking ahead and making a path for us and it is a new path. It is not the old path. It’s the same goal, the Father’s heart, the Church … but the path is new because the old paths have been eroded, overgrown in many cases with weeds. God is making new paths for us … We follow wherever he goes.” We are hearing these words in a new way at this time and we want to respond.
We love how we are already able to serve in Combermere and in our mission houses. We are not trying to come up with better, more efficient plans or projects. But life on our planet is changing rapidly, and there is much tragedy and suffering in the world and in the Church. Instead of just keeping on doing the best we can, we want to intentionally stop, listen, and wait upon the Lord. As a family in the Church, looking at Christ all together, we are asking what the Lord wants to say to us at this time in our history and that of the world.
We have had smaller sobors in the past. In 2013 the laymen of Madonna House held one. And in 2020, the priests of Madonna House did likewise. And now, we have felt a push by the Holy Spirit to set aside this special time for every member of the Apostolate to pause what they are doing and listen deeply to what the Spirit is saying to us. We want to look ahead and move together into whatever the Lord wants to give birth to in and through us.
This is exciting, because it is a call for us to go deeper together. But it can even be a little bit scary. We will need to set aside our fears and opinions, our personal agendas and our bright ideas for Madonna House, so that we can be better able to hear what the Spirit has to say.
Logistically, the sobor will be a challenge. The sessions will have to be held in the afternoons so that it would be evening in Belgium and morning in B.C. to make it feasible for everyone in our mission houses to be connected. We will reorganize our tasks so that the essentials of milking the cows, cooking, laundry, and other needed activities are covered throughout the apostolate. We will need ZOOM meetings, small group discussions, and a great willingness to be open and vulnerable with each other. Sacrifices and sufferings will be part of the process, but we believe they will bear fruit. We may not be able to gather physically in one place, but we can certainly be together spiritually with Our Lady in the poustinias of our hearts.
And why do we feel it is so important to tell you, our readers, about this gathering? We are asking for your prayers to accompany us on our sobor. This gathering will be a unique and precious event for the whole family, and that includes all of you who so faithfully pray for us, support us, and carry us in your hearts.
We are not just trying to come up with answers, and we may not even be able to give you much concrete feedback about what the Lord will say to us during our sobor. But you can be sure that in every way we can hear and respond to the Lord’s guidance and prompting, you will benefit in our prayers and loving service.
Thank you for keeping this very special gathering in your prayers and for offering whatever sacrifices you can so that God’s will may be fully embraced by each one of us during this time.