Visionary Statement of Berget in Rättvik, Sweden By Per Mases 2009, translation 2010 by Marie Erenius Bergqvist
The visualization I aim to describe is not my own – something I have made up myself. It is neither newfangled, nor old and obsolete. But in every generation it is new and renewing, since it draws inspiration from the well of life and existence. Out of nothing God created everything, the riches and beauty of nature as well as the dignity of man. God is triune – three and yet one – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – complete love and complete fellowship. God is salutary, God is our home. Fellowship with God will be realized on Earth to save mankind and creation. Sacred history inspires us. Beginning with the promise to Abraham: ”I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3). Realization of that occurs when the time is right (Galatians 4:4). God became man to gather people into his fellowship – The Holy Church. God is near to us through Jesus Christ. Berget is a fellowship, a friendship in Christ – a body incorporated into an immense BODY – and carrying an astounding mission. Fellowship arises as response to a call and the holy Eucharist is its centre. There ”we learn not only to feel love, we begin to love ourselves” (John Paul II ).When praying together Christ is present as he promised (Mathew 18:20 ). Christ invites us into a fellowship, which he brings into a union of love where his renewing and healing presence is. We are called on to live close to Christ and so render him presence through us. We are called on to ”live the Church” and our recurring prayer is: ”Lord, fill our hearts with your love”. When the Church expresses the presence of Christ, when its atmosphere is truley embossed with the spirit of love, it is missionizing through its mere existance. The Spirit of Christ convinces and enlightens us as to the presence of God. (Comp. Exodus 3:1-‐4). Only by being disciples who love each other and gather in the name of Jesus (Matthew 18:20) do we have a conceivable opportunity of giving people something beyond their earthly welfare; namely the presence of Christ, the spirit of God who
penetrates the densest armour. Where you find love of God and people, you find God. Our mission as members of Berget is to gather people, in unison with the world-‐wide Church, into the heartening and healing setting, which is to be found when friendship in Christ and faithfulness to Him is alive. Friendship and the love for Christ and His Church are gifts that need tending. Jesus says: ”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35). The calling that the members of Berget respond to, is to meet every person with the attitude of hospitality once expressed by the holy gate keeper: Every time I have answered the door, I have expected to encounter Christ. So far I have never been disappointed. Fellowship is open to those who look for it. But note; cleaning, cooking, management as well as worship are equally important. By chiming together they bring the visitor into contact with the gospel. This is the starting point of the vision of Berget, an environment attuned to the harmonious triad of existence; Love, Beauty, and Truth, in God through Jesus Christ. Thanks to the generosity of many we have been granted the opportunity of living this vision. We are surrounded by gifts, like we are by nature. ”Nature knows how to praise God”, Dag Hammarskjöld says. Sometimes in The Book of Psalms all nature is encouraged to praise God. That note rings through Christian tradition of all times. Especially Saint Francis puts it into words. In our time it is more important than ever. Now when nature is being exploited even to the edge of disaster, we need a renewed respect for and sense of fellowship with creation, and fascination together with adoration of the wisdom and beauty of the intention of the Creator. Our forest offers protection, and the opportunity of strolling without being watched. Relax when strolling. Pause and let nature influence you – just receive. You may wish to sit down, lean on a mighty pine tree or a mossy piece of rock. The forest must be accessible, but not too much tended. A tinge of wilderness must remain. Well inside the
forest, some distance from the lumber road, so that you do not see it immediately, but have to look for it, is the wood chapel, a sacred place in the middle of the pine forest. It was built according to the manner of measuring and building of the 11th century, the century when Sweden was Christianized. The space between the lying timbers let in both fresh wood air and enough day-‐light. As eye-‐catcher there is a beautiful Christ icon. Here is a place of deep serenity for the solitary wanderer. Perhaps is heard ”a gentle whisper. ” (1 Kings 19:12) After having acquired this forest area, we discovered to our joy that into the bargain we had aquired a protected piece of primeval forest, where the changing process of nature from death to budding life is shown. A place that in itself provides a reason for confident contemplation. When you reach the houses, the forest transforms, in a natural way, into a wilderness garden. The members´ sense of beauty turns Berget into a flower-‐decked paradise during summer. A kitchen garden with vegetables and flowers is located in the slope past The House St David. The aim is not to make it fulfil our entire need – that would be too laborious – but it is there to provide a treat, and garden therapy besides. We have now reached The House St David and enter through the convent garden. The architecture reveales that this building is intended both to house retreats and to embody what a retreat is. The inner garden reflects our own inner garden. In a retreat you open inwards and upwards – you bask in the love of God – this is the signature of the retreat silence. Our inner garden may since long be covered with ice, but when it stays open to the sky and sun, the life and beauty of spring and summer will return. When we come to know that we are loved and wished for just as we are, joy can pass through as an inner mirth. The splash of the fountain is a quiet melodious laughter. The fresh lawn and the flowerbed around the water, which we try and keep clear, speak the same language, just as the cherry-‐apple tree whose blossoms turn into fruits. But even autumn and winter render their special qualities to the inner garden – peaceful and patient rest, maturing, clean untouched snow. Nature collaborates with the house in many ways. The guest rooms all have large windows, floor to ceiling, in openness to the beauty of nature.
The Malung Cottage, situated between the two main houses, and containing the chapel of St Dominique with its tangible presence of Christ, is a constant reminder of the spiritual riches we receive through the trustful collaboration between Protestantism – Catholicism. The Catholic chapel is getting outgrown, and needs expanding. The same need for expansion concerns members´ lodgings. We wish to continue in the same spirit as before, and let everything grow organically. We wish to build for fellowship and integrity, for wholeness, harmony and function to help Berget follow its vocation. Continually we must return to our starting point to check the compass needle, also where practical decisions are concerned. Friendship and faithfulness to the Word of God are fundamental to the evolving of fresh, healthy life at Berget. The attraction of Berget lies in its reliability. Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “ ( Matthew 5:13,14 ) We are constantly reminded of His word: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.“ ( John 15:5 ). Faithfulness towards Christ and the Church are vital. There lies the direction of the compass. The two houses at Berget display contrasting profiles, but their identity, focus and spirit are the same. The setting is created by the members. Their inspiration in serving people and conveying friendship and faith comes from having responded to a calling. In The House St David retreats are offered continually. Retreat is cure of souls, which is why the number of participants is not of the first importance. Those who attend are often in great need of rest, quiet, solitude and supportive dialogue. Life today is more and more characterized by stress and exhaustion, and lack of spiritual guidance. Our response, given in faithfulness to Christ, is the opportunity of recovery in an environment where worship is plentiful, meditations on the Bible awake prayer and enforce faith, where in confidential dialogue you may express your innermost, and be understood. While resting and recovering, you reflect your own life within the gospel. By quoting the great spiritual guide Francois de Sales ( 1567-‐1622 ), a retreat is “a place of heavenly life
on earth”. Through relaxation painful memories and dilemmas may appear, but through private dialogues, especially, the retreat can turn into a liberating cleansing process. The “threshold” must be low enough to dare open your heart in confidence. The one who listens must understand how vulnerable a person is in this kind of situation. In order to understand and support, the all-‐embracing attentiveness of love is a prerequisite. The gospel shows right from wrong, and the example of Christ shows the path to salvation. Most naturally the need for confession will arise, even for those who have never heard of this liberating sacrament. The heart of Berget, to members as well as to guests, is our daily routine of worship, which is carried out in unison and solidarity with the entire Church of Christ. The liturgy can never be beautiful enough! Nothing must be added to or altered from what God has revealed through Christ, but be embodied through life and liturgy, beauty and creativity. We, together with the world-‐wide Church, shall embody what has everywhere been believed. Liturgy brings us in step with the mysteries we celebrate. Thus we are brought into a renewing and enriching growth. Our relationship with God receives life through liturgy, our faith deepens within the grand events of the ecclesiastical year. Our tune is a song of praise to the goodness of God, which leads us to salvation. It is a taste in advance of the great song of praise in Heaven. Especially on Sundays the light of the resurrection of our Lord will beam forth. One magnificent gift, rendered by the members, is music, the singing during Holy Communion and during the liturgy of the hours. The singing in harmony in orthodox prayers and hymns, songs from Taizé and the old beloved songs from the Swedish hymn book create festive joy and fellowship. Singing becomes an experience of beauty, a liberating joy and adoration. Conditional to the keeping up of this has been to deliberately refrain from instruments of a dominating character. Mass and Vesper in the chapel of St David, are continually attended by participants of activities in The House of Meditation. At Holy Communion a core issue in intercession is the visible unity of all Christians. After all, out vocation is “unity of the Church and spiritual intensity”. At Berget we reach as far as possible towards unity, in prayer, relationships, teaching. Officially Church of Sweden and the Catholic Church are as far
from each other as ever, and the course taken by The Church of Sweden has directed the path further away from common Christianity. During Mass intercommunion is not possible, and “wild” ecumenicalism does not bring us any closer together. A trafficable road today is this, that Catholics partaking in Mass at chapel of St David, receive the blessing from the priest, in stead of bread and wine. Afterwards they may receive communion in the Catholic chapel of St Dominique. In the same way non-‐Catholics, when taking part in Catholic Mass, receive the blessing by the Catholic priest. The understanding of and confidence in our quest for unity is ever growing stronger in those who visit us, and many express their joy. Berget has become a sign of hope! The love of the Church of Christ has also grown stronger among us members, and the pain of not having reached full unity urges us on to find new ways. But the choices must of course never disturb our friendship or shatter it. That would havoc our mission. Here the atmosphere must convey fullness and healing. The Holy Ghost only thrives in trustful friendship. In the second house, The House of Meditation, a very promising growth has taken place. The building grew forth organically, in a style hinting at Japanese culture, containing rooms for meditation and practise, together with a bright day-‐room for the benefit of spontaneous conversation. There is also a chamber for private conversation, which is often in use. Profound meditation opens up for those things you, often inadvertently, hold back. Outside The House of Meditation the flower meadow renders beauty through its variety of blossoms, that grow wild and shed their seeds for next summer. In the early 70s we responded to the challenge of the movement of meditation, and have made it a path into Christian mysticism. Experiences from the retreats showed that mental pain that is not handled, gets sheltered by physical tensions. In order to handle them one needs to find relaxation both mentally and physically. The mechanisms of defence must not be forced. The Za-‐Zen method, to sit and reach quietude, brings you into a relaxation, which at the same time is wakeful and attentive. When exercising meditation, we are aided by professional physiotherapists, who well know the mental-‐ physical interaction. Their exercises in body knowledge are simple, yet very effective. You are made aware of the mental-‐physical unity in man. Our bodies truly are “the
temple of The Holy Ghost”. It has also become more and more obvious that profound meditation and prayer must not be kept apart. We do not cease being Christians because we meditate. When our focus is love, prayer is there too as spontaneous, simple prayer “prayer of the heart” or as “pure prayer”, prayer without word. Profound meditation has reached many congregations. We estimate that about 150 meditation groups with leaders have been instructed at Berget. We look upon it as a quiet and discreet revival, where people find a path both away from stress, and into the attitude of prayer. The course designed for new instructors of meditation, becomes ever more important. Of course The House of Meditation does not only offer these courses in profound meditation. Since we have seen this interaction between the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual, it has become vital to make use of the experiences found in Yoga, Qi-‐gong, Ai-‐ki-‐do and Ju-‐jutsu. Our guide, in offering such courses, is naturally that the teaching and effects of them are fully in harmony with the gospel. Appreciating what is good in other cultures is working together towards the goal that “ ..to be put into effect when the times have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. “ (Ephesians 1:10). Christian view on man must always be the foundation. Other courses deal with ethics and view on man, culture and spiritual guidance. Lectures conveying information are followed by creative conversations. The spirit of the conversations is defined by openness, gentleness, authenticity and awareness. Various views, experiences and ideas complement each other and lead on to variety, objectivity and open perspectives. A guiding feature here is the respect for the integrity of everyone else. The House of Meditation opens paths for those who seek, to a sound spirituality followed by universal companionship. Of late the need for “merely being” has increased, to find an effortless rest where worship and meditation are constantly available. Now and then The House of Meditation offers such days. At Berget every serving factor depends on the other. Together we form a living unity. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.“ says the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 12:27). The Spirit infuses life into everything by endowing lasting gifts – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. “ (1 Cor.
13:13). Preparing food, cleaning, answering the phone, preparations for courses and retreats, receiving guests, worshipping, everything is vital. Everything demands conference and cooperation, friendship and mutual confidence. Everything is service to the glory of God. The kitchen staff deserve all the praise received from our guests. The food is tasty and nourishing. In this way the gospel may externally be tasted and experienced. The cleaning is carried out in such a manner as to make our guests feel respected and welcome. The tidy room renders dignity to the visitor. The office staff handle the administrative part of our unity. Modern technique blends with personal consideration. In the same way there is harmony between a responsible sense of finance and the courage and trust to dare bold ventures. There is a book shop, which is no ordinary place of merchandise. “ God, people, books and money, in that very order”, as put by sister Ingrid O.P. the one who created this book shop. Its rich variety of spiritual and ethic literature reflects the activities at Berget. When interest for certain issues is aroused, answers and continuation can be found here. Today, with increasing lack of knowledge in Christian faith and culture, the book shop serves an important purpose. Its mission is connected with the words of Christ: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. “ (John 16:13). In addition to the book shop there is, on the above floor, an standing exhibition called Cultural Room, showing the spiritual origin of Sweden. But how is Berget to keep its identity, vitality and significance? By remaining true to the calling! Through faithfulness “with very little” (Luke 16:10) our fellowship gradually grew forth. We noticed that we shared the same daily routines, daily Mass and canonical prayers, the same focus on love for Christ and the Church, the same will to serve, therefore the same calling. All we had to do was to write down what we already lived. In 1994 we declared our first Promises as postulants, in 1995 as novices, and in 1996 as members of The Community of The Holy Trinity. The same year each one of the community, received, in The Square of St. Peter, the blessing of Pope John Paul II. Later we also received the blessing of the Bishop of the diocese of Västerås, Claes-‐Bertil Ytterberg, at a Vesper in the chapel of St. David. We submitted our Rule to be vetted by
the Catholic diocese of Sweden, and received this encouraging letter: “ Through this letter I wish to confirm that the Rule of The Community of the Holy Trinity as well as the formula of Promises have been looked into by us with a view to both canonical law and from a dogmatic angle. It is a joy to see how this community has grown forth, and has established its firm foundation in our common biblical and spiritual tradition. Therefore this community is, through its mere existence, a living ecumenical testimonial and will inspire many to pray and toil for complete unity. Even though I, canonically, am unable to approve the Rule and the annual Rite of Temporary Promises, seeing that the community as such is not part of the Catholic Church, I wish to stress that I view your community as an important link between us and the Church of Sweden. There is nothing in your rule that goes against Catholic tradition, and you have my full support in continuing on the path you are on. With warm greetings and the blessings of our Lord. Anders Arborelius, OCD.” (Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Stockholm.) And so The Community of The Holy Trinity came into existance. But why a community at all? It is there to help us, as a fellowship, to respond to our calling. Let us summarize: * We respond to our calling by forming a setting of friendship, to be the heart of the fellowship. * We support each other in our ecumenical mission, through prayer, communal life, working together, loyally sharing all responsibility. * Together we make decisions as to the focus of Berget, to prevent superficiality. * We are a core, a solid reminder of what Berget stands for, and we keep up the ecumenical dialogue. The task is a very big one, as is the responsibility. Berget is based on voluntariness. Volunteers arrive as gifts of God. They bring renewal, youthful freshness and inspiration to Berget. They come as response to a calling. First they are offered a try-‐out week, when we together see if they may thrive. If you stay longer than three months your calling is confirmed, and you are included in the fellowship of members. This happens at a special ceremony of benediction in the chapel. Here we all get the opportunity of
expressing our joy for the members we receive. At times there are people helping out at Berget for a limited period of time. This is how everything has been kept working, and very well too. But what if no volunteers turn up? What if we are left alone here? Is this really the way to go? How to regard this issue? Being run by voluntary workers only, creates no continuity. Being run by paid professionals only, would make a smoothly organized institution without atmosphere, and so the calling would be lost. Our personal limitations cannot stop the vocation of Berget, only failing trust in Him who calls. To have lived through the evolving process of Berget has been vastly inspiring. To have beheld all these whole-‐hearted and selfless efforts, that embody the motivating force of love and faith. Faith awakes faith, and love awakes generous love in return. A positive spiralling movement is set in motion, the dynamics of friendship, which makes possible the impossible. Without this dynamic force Berget would not exist. The members of The Association of Friends, connected to Beget, have throughout the years made themselves useful in many ways. Some give their labour in the kitchen and cleaning department, others give or collect money, some build and thin out the forest, and yet some are leaders of retreats and courses. Everything done with the devotion and perseverance that only true friendship is capable of. Without these friends Berget would never have been able to handle repairs or necessary new investments. That which Berget stands for has become even more self-‐evident throughout the years. Though it may not always be seen as convenient, it is met with response. The road must go on in the same spirit. Confidence and love illuminate both heart and sense. Pessimism must never be allowed to darken the vision. Prayer and hope are inseparable. Jesus says: “When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “ Yes Lord,” they replied.” (Matthew 9:28). The prayer for new members must always continue, and will always be answered. Prayer is collaboration with The Holy Ghost. Prayer opens our eyes to the gifts God wishes to bestow on us, and to new possibilities that may be completely hidden to us. The Holy Virgin Mary asked when facing the unparalleled task: How shall this happen? And the Angel responded; Holy Spirit… Power from above…! She is the mother of the faithful. She shows the way!