A JOURNEY TO DZOGBEGAN, 13-23 JUNE, 2009
Bro Solomon, Postulant, Abbey of Kristo Buase, Ghana
We the postulants (Br. Prosper, Romain and myself) and our Novice Master Dom Honoré left Kristo Buase Monastery that fine evening before Vigil that Saturday for Accra. The journey was successful indeed and by the Grace of God we got to Accra peacefully around 3 a.m. Since it was raining we were permitted to stay in the bus for sometime before we go. So when the rain stopped we hurried to the HoHoe station and took car from there to HoHoe and then to Wli.
Arrangement had been made by our Master Dom Honoré with the Abbot, Theodore, so one of the brothers came to pick us at the border. That was actually good.
However, we got to Dzogbegan 11 to 12 noon and our first thing was the Holy Mass which we had with one of the priests there. And later on we joined the community at Sext and lunch as well.
In fact, the monastery is a big one which is independent. They have Abbot and Prior and other monitors as well. They have a circular chapel and a round stone altar table which is in the middle of the two choirs. The visitors and guests joined them at prayers in perfect silence. They pray six times a day, that is Lauds, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline which is combined with Vigils everyday except Saturday.
In short, they are properly organised both at the word of God and their day to day activities like cooking, washing, clean up, travelling and other works. The Abbey is somehow far from the near-by village and it has a nice enclosure which contains a lot of the needs of the community in terms of manual labour.
And again, the community has a very big garden which contains a lot of vegetables, fruits and plantations such as coffee, avocado and others.
The Brothers produce a lot from them, and through their tireless efforts, they are able to keep the Abbey going. Some of their products are coffee, lemon syrup, avocado wine, incense and jam. But they produce more than what I have said. These products earn them a lot of income because it is the only way which could gain them something to live on. They have a factory for processing the raw coffee into finishing process which also shows how good and perfect they are in that business.
In addition they have a small clinic attached to the monastery which serves both the community and those who are near to it in terms of medications.
Since they are independent they have a different refectory for the guests, which is more modern than that of the Brothers themselves. And no visitor has the permission to go to the Brothers’ refectory without consulting the guestmaster. The monastery is a double one which made room for nuns. The Abbot has no control over it but rather the Bishop of the diocese.
We paid them a visit one afternoon and saw how they are also managing both physically and spiritually. Interestingly, there was classes for us which were about monastic theology and monastic spirituality which was very good simply because it was a different Brother who presided from different states. And a lot of clarifications were made. And the values were explained to our understanding.
Moreover I was asked to learn how incense is being produced. I prepared it and was happy as I learned it with more patience and humility from Br. Chrysostom and by the grace of God I know how it is prepared. In a nut shell, I (Solomon) really enjoyed Dzogbegan (Monastery of Ascension) simply because we (I) were permitted to join them in their chapters, workshops and more interesting lectures that some of the Brothers gave us on monastic theology and spirituality for our first time. With these experiences I deem it is good to have some schedule for such programmes and it will enhance us a lot in many ways.
Considering the community there, I deem it appropriate for us (postulants) to be attending such lectures because the more we go there, the more we learn other thing for the benefit of our house, simply because they know a lot and it is through them that we (postulants) could produce something for sale, such as incense, lemon syrop and avocado wine among others.
Another thing which inspired me most was their liturgy and the chanting of the Psalms at the Divine Offices which I like so much. But my fear was that, I could followed them but the understanding was not there, so I proposed something should be done like French class, but since we are Eve it will be very difficult for us to learn the language there because majority of them speak Ewe.
As I was given that legacy to learn how they prepared incense, it is my prayer that I start some soon before I forget or is too late.
All things worked out equal, so on the 23 of June 2009 we returned to our house (Kristo Buase Monastery) with a bright new stars.