The Latin Mass Tourist

Winter at Saint Benedict Abbey 

by Roseanne T. Sullivan

St. Benedict Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Still River, a picturesque village in the town of Harvard, Massachusetts. The serenity of the abbey and its surroundings makes the name ‘Still River’ seem perfectly apt. The abbey overlooks a lovely vista with the Nashua River valley below and with wooded hills rolling out behind the valley to Mount Wachusett in the distance.  

The Abbey traces its roots to a Catholic student center of men and women started in 1940 in Harvard Square, Cambridge, by a laywomen, Catherine Goddard Clarke, and two laymen, Christopher Huntington and Avery Dulles (later, Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.). 

Today, the seven priests and five brothers at Saint Benedict Abbey continue the mission of their founders by living a monastic life of prayer and work not only for their own sanctification and salvation, but for the sanctification and salvation of others.

Reverent Worship in Both Forms of the Mass

The Benedictines’ vision is to unite all men to Christ in His Church, bring about the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart and flourish as a Benedictine Community.  They are committed to reverent worship in the Novus Ordo of Mass and Divine Office — all of which are open to the public.  Each day, Mass is celebrated in English (7 AM), and in Latin with Gregorian Chant (Mon. – Sat. 8 AM; Sun. 11 AM).  Divine Office (Vigils, Lauds, Sext, and Vespers) is daily chanted in Latin; Compline is in English Mon. – Sat., and in Latin on Sunday. 

The monks also recite the Rosary together each day.  Several of the priests from the Abbey also offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sundays at the convent next door.

True Christian Hospitality

The second way in which the monks bring their vision to reality is by their apostolate of Christian Hospitality.  Hosting individuals, families and retreat groups throughout the year, the monks seek to serve Christ in the many guests who visit from all over the country.  The guest facilities can accommodate as many as 85 overnight guests and up to 250 people for meals all of which are prepared by the monks.  Their apostolate also includes assisting many who come to the Abbey desiring the Sacrament of Reconciliation or seeking to join the Catholic Church. 

Their apostolate also includes assisting many who come to the Abbey desiring the Sacrament of Reconciliation or seeking to join the Catholic Church. 

On the Abbey website, guests are directed to contact the guest-master to arrange a visit to the Abbey (abbeyretreats@aol.com) or phone: 978-456-3221.  

 Whether you are thinking of taking some time ‘to get away’ for yourself, your family or friends, or are pondering a vocation to monastic life, the Abbey is a place where you can find God.  The natural beauty of the Abbey’s seventy-five acres makes it easy to lift up one’s heart and mind to God.

The words of the English Catholic poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., come to mind when viewing a sunset from the Abbey: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

The words of the English Catholic poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., come to mind when viewing a sunset from the Abbey: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Benedictine Vocations Welcome
Finally, the monks bring their vision to reality by being faithful to their vocation. As they articulate in their Mission Statement: “Relying on Jesus in the Eucharist, Slavery to Our Lady, and fraternal charity, we seek to become holy by a life of prayer and work.”  As one monk put it, “We recognize that without genuine striving for holiness, the Abbey would be little more than a museum with a beautiful view, and a few odd characters to point out the artifacts. But, with genuine striving for holiness and the passion to become the saints whom God calls us to be, the Abbey is not only a place to visit, but God’s own home – and yours as well.”

Young men inquiring about monastic life are directed to contact the Vocation Director, (abbeyvocation@aol.com or cell: 978-877-3694). 

 

Saint Benedict Abbey

252 Still River Road, P. O. Box 67

Still River, Massachusetts 01467

Tel: 978-456-3221

Fax: 978-456-8181

Website: http://www.abbey.org

PHOTO CREDITS

St. Benedict Abbey Winter Snow, 252 Still River Road: Mark C. Buell

Winter Dawn at Still River: Mark C. Buell

St. Benedict Abbey at Christmas, photo courtesy of the Monks of the Abbey

All other photo credits: Roseanne T. Sullivan

 

Chicago’s Infant King Statue Inspires Bright Future

Every city has its secrets. And if you find yourself in Chicago this Christmas, there is an enigma on the South Side you will not want to miss.  For there, in the blighted Woodlawn area, hard up by the lofty academic pinnacles of the University of Chicago, is an orphaned architectural masterpiece with a growing group of Catholic devotees.

Saved from the Wrecker’s Ball

Slated for demolition in 2003, the former St. Clara/St. Gelasius church is the opus magnum of Chicago architect Henry J. Schlacks. Schlacks applied classical models from Italy, most particularly Rome, to the many magnificent churches he designed in Chicago during the early twentieth century. His church of St. Clara/St. Gelasius stands out as his life’s masterpiece, with its application of concepts from the many triumphal arches of antiquity, including the three arched doorways, and the four imposing statues placed above the pediment.

Saved by a hard-won landmark status obtained through the efforts of local community supporters, Chicago Cardinal George then entrusted the care and restoration of this 1923 Italian renaissance treasure to the capable hands of the Tuscany-based Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP).

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The Church of St. Clara/St. Gelasius was Henry Schlacks’ masterpiece. Today, it  stands in the blighted Woodlawn area, hard up by the lofty academic pinnacles of the University of Chicago, with a growing group of Catholic devotees.

An Ancient Spanish Statue

When you make this journey to believe, you will be most cordially received. But after you wander, gawking at this gem’s lofty ceilings and impressive space, you must confront the Infant King on the High Altar, a statue of marvels.

Although part of its history is lost, the artistic merits and workmanship of this wooden statue suggest it was carved by baroque sculptors of southern Spain, likely in late seventeenth century. Further, it has been speculated that it may have been commissioned for one of the Carmelite monasteries, among whom devotion to the Child was popular – a fitting echo of the days when this Chicago church was the national Shrine of St. Therese of Liseaux, under the care of the Carmelites.

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If you make the journey here, have no fear. You will be most cordially welcomed. But after you wander, gawking at this gem’s lofty ceilings and impressive space, you must confront the Infant King on the High Altar, a statue of marvels.

A Remarkable Collection of Impossible Dreams

Today, the Infant King is beautifully restored, arrayed in garments befitting a regal king and priest.  Furthermore, this Infant King is drawing to itself a remarkable collection of impossible dreams – a maelstrom of pleas from the faithful, electronic versions of the ancient practice of ex voto offerings. This, in addition to the lofty plans of the Institute to renovate this aging edifice, making it into a center of Catholic restoration. (More on this in future issues of Regina Magazine.)

So, what, exactly, does a devotion to the Infant King have to do with Christianity?

“At the center of the scene is the Holy Infant, surrounded by saints, angels, creatures, humble men, and wise kings,” explains Canon Michael Stein, the current Vice-Rector of the Shrine, whose pastoral assignment until recently was in Libreville, Gabon, Africa.  “To have a devotion to the Infant King is nothing more complicated than loving Him, adoring Him, and paying homage due the King of Kings.”

Through the centuries, the devotion that began in Bethlehem in the hearts of Mary and Joseph has been embraced by many saints. St. Therese of Avila is known for carrying a statue of the Holy Infant wherever she went in 15th Century Spain. In fact, several Spanish statues of the Infant King became famous for the miracles attributed to them, most notably the Infant of Prague and the Infant of Cebu in the Philippines.

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St. Therese of Avila is known for carrying a statue of the Holy Infant wherever she went in 15th Century Spain. In fact, several Spanish statues of the Infant King became famous for the miracles attributed to them, most notably the Infant of Prague and the Infant of Cebu in the Philippines.

This figure of Christ as the mighty-yet-approachable King is today at the epicenter of a growing network of devotees. Since its inception in 2007 and with the aid of an electronic ex voto provided by the Shrine, devotees the world over have expressed their gratitude to the Infant King for the graces they have received. To bring their petitions, the faithful may send in – by mail or via the Internet – their prayer intentions to be placed at the foot of the Altar. (Donated flowers and candles are also available.)

At the Shrine, the Infant King is honored not only at Christmas time, but also once a month with a novena, starting on the 17th and ending on the 25th, echoing the feast of the Nativity.  It culminates in a High Mass, a Procession, and a special Blessing of Children on the final day.

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At the Shrine, the Infant King is honored not only at Christmas time, but also once a month with a novena, starting on the 17th and ending on the 25th, echoing the feast of the Nativity.  It culminates in a High Mass, a Procession, and a special Blessing of Children on the final day.

This devotion is a spiritual Bethlehem that beckons all to love the Infant King,” says Canon Stein. “The Shrine of Christ the King cordially invites all to come adore Him, not only at Christmas, but every month of the year.”

You may visit and participate in the Infant King devotion at www.infantkingoffering.org.  Join this effort to restore the magnificence of an architectural landmark, a gem of history at  http://www.historic-landmark.org/

Photo Credit: Paige Arseneau

 

 

 

Christmas in Carmel

by Donna Sue Berry

They are monastic superstars for a growing following of devotees of their Mystic Monk Coffee — an innovative small business that sustains the monks and their dream of building a monastery in the wilds of America’s Wyoming.  But they are also cloistered Carmelites, who observe strict contemplative rules. In this fascinating look behind the scenes, Regina Magazine’s Donna Sue Berry takes you on a privileged visit to Christmas in Carmel, with the Mystic Monks.

Q. Father Prior, what do the words ‘Christmas in Carmel,’ mean to you? 

The Carmelite life is a hidden life of loving intercession for the church and for the world.  In Carmel, Advent is a time of even greater recollection as the monks spend yet more time in silence and solitude to prepare for the great mystery of Christmas.  As such, Christmas arrives in Carmel after much preparation and anticipation.  The joy a contemplative knows in his cloister at the birth of the Lord is difficult to clearly articulate as his entire vocation is one of waiting upon the Lord that the monk might “open when the Lord knocks” on his heart. Christmas in Carmel is a blessed time of tremendous joy and peace.

Christmas in Carmel is a blessed time of tremendous joy and peace.

The Order of Carmel has its roots in the Old Testament when our hermit fathers, the sons of the prophets, spent centuries waiting for the coming Messiah prior to Christ.  In some way, Carmelites today share in that waiting for Christ whether it be in the days of Advent leading to the celebration of Christmas, the Carmelite day where we wait to receive Jesus again the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Mass, or especially in our own lives where all is ordered towards attaining to mystical union with God and through prayer and penance assisting countless other souls towards this same union.

Families have traditions during Advent leading up to the great celebration of our Lord’s birth. Can you tell me what traditions are observed by you and the Monks at the Monastery?

In Carmel, dating from the time of our holy Mother St Teresa of Avila, the Carmelites observe what we affectionately call “the child Jesus days of recollection.”  This great and noble tradition has the entire community process in white mantles holding candles, with the prior carrying the child Jesus in a little manger, to a monk’s hermitage each evening that the father or brother may spend the next twenty-four hours in solitude and more intense prayer.  This time of retreat is so special as the monk, together with the Virgin Mary, contemplates how meek and humble our God truly is as manifested in his nativity.

 
The Carmelites observe what we affectionately call “the child Jesus days of recollection.” 

Another great tradition of our Carmel is that each evening, following mental prayer and before the evening collation (or small meal), the community gathers in the refectory for the chanting of the Veni, Veni Emmanuel around the burning Advent wreath.  Oh how great is our expectation and our desire to prepare ourselves to receive our divine King on Christmas night!

Q. On an individual basis, can you each have certain devotions or “traditions” from your past life that you may keep while in the Monastery?

As Carmelite monks in the great tradition of the discalced reform, we enter the monastery to imitate particularly the Blessed Mother, but all the great Carmelites down through the ages.  We do not seek to do anything new, or discover our own path to holiness; rather we joyfully embrace the glorious tradition of Carmel and its deep wellsprings of Marian spirituality and devotion.  That being said, we recognize in the order of Carmel, manifested through our many saints and blesseds, that there is a myriad of Carmelite devotions, each reflecting an aspect of our Lady’s spirituality. 

We do not seek to do anything new, or discover our own path to holiness; rather we joyfully embrace the glorious tradition of Carmel.

When we are clothed as novices, we take new names in religion such as “Fr Daniel Mary of Jesus Crucified.”  The second part of our religious name might be thought of as a window into each monk’s individual devotion.

Q. As out in the world there is always the exchange of gifts between loved ones, do you exchange gifts among each other in Carmel?

In Carmel we do not exchange gifts, as we are but poor religious. 

What we exchange at Christmas is our love for one another that manifests itself so beautifully when on Christmas Eve day, after the solemn chanting of the martyrology at prime announcing the birth of Christ on Christmas day, the monks warmly embrace one another wishing each other a truly Blessed and Merry Christmas.  Christmas and the following three days are known as recreation days when the silence is lifted in the monastery and the monks spend these days in beautiful liturgy and fraternal charity.

Q. What is Christmas Eve like in the Monastery?

Christmas Eve we like to call the “Day of the bells” as the day begins with merry procession throughout the monastery with rustic instruments.  After solemn prime, the monastery’s bells toll out announcing as it were to the whole world that Christ is to be born on Christmas night.  The rest of the day is spent in beautiful chanted liturgy and the final preparations of the crèche and Christmas tree.  As monks, we enter into the joy of Christmas most intimately by means of the sacred liturgy as we prepare through our hours of contemplation to welcome Christ into our hearts.  The beautiful and solemn three Masses of Christmas day, beginning with midnight mass, and continuing with the Mass of dawn and the conventual Mass, invite the monk to enter into Christmas with exuberant joy.  Indeed, praised be Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.

After midnight Mass, the community gathers before the Christmas crib singing carols to our divine Savior. 

In a lovely Carmelite tradition, there is a procession throughout our monastery even going into the monk’s cells, to the turn, to the parlors, and all the other monastic rooms where the prior carries Our Lady and the sub-prior carries St Joseph.  The monk kneels to kiss these holy images when they are brought into his cell and placed on his straw mattress. 

In this way, the monk’s very hermitage becomes a new Bethlehem where Christ is welcomed in obscurity but with great love and adoration.  Our holy mother St Teresa loved this custom and insisted upon its practice, being moved by her tremendous love for God that grieved her so deeply when she considered those who turned the Holy Virgin and good St Joseph away as there was no room in the inn. 

Q. And then on Christmas Day? Does it begin with Midnight Mass? More Masses said during the day? Is there a Feast…a dinner celebration?

In Carmel there is an ancient saying, “Carmelus totus Marianus est” (‘Carmel is totally Marian’). 

As above, there is indeed a delightful time of celebration following midnight Mass where the community gathers before the Christmas crib singing carols to our divine savior.  As the sleep comes into the monks’ eyes, the Father Prior concludes this celebration in the middle of the night by intoning the psalm, Laudate Dominum Omnes Gentes (O praise the lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.)

On Christmas day, the monks again share a delightful meal and joyful conversation in the recreation room, rejoicing in the divine infant born for the salvation of men. 

Q. Tell me a little about the Mystic Monk Coffee we so love. What’s in store for Christmas?

 Throughout the great tradition of monasticism, monks have always done monastic industry to be as self-supporting as possible.  Some monks have baked breads, others have brewed beer.  As monks who keep vigil in the middle of the night, we know a great deal about a good cup of coffee to keep us awake for our times of prayer. 

Moved by other coffee companies that openly supported the pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-death, atheistic agenda of our modern day, Mystic Monk coffee was born as a pro-life coffee company to support the building of our monastery here in the rocky mountains of Wyoming. 

Roasted by our monks during our times of daily work, Mystic Monk coffee is a true monastic industry.  For Christmas, we annually hand-craft our own signature Christmas blend that is a delightful holiday roast for those cold winter days of December.       

Q. Your web site says ‘The Carmelite monks of Wyoming seek to perpetuate the charism of the Blessed Virgin Mary by living the Marian life as prescribed by the primitive Carmelite Rule and the ancient monastic observance of Carmelite men.’   Can you tell us what that means?

In Carmel there is an ancient saying, “Carmelus totus Marianus est” (‘Carmel is totally Marian’).  Carmel has been hailed by the popes as the “preeminent order of Mary.” 

We are true Marian souls who seek to “perpetuate the charism” of holy Mary through our union with Christ, hidden here in the enclosure, where our obedience, chastity, and poverty are modeled after the Blessed Virgin and allow us to be transformed into spiritual fathers of countless souls.

 

The Fast-Growing Friars

The Eastern Province of the Dominicans

 

Q. Rumor has it that there are many new candidates joining the Eastern Province of the Dominicans. Is this true?

Our province covers the Northeastern part of the USA, as far South as Virginia, and as far West as Kentucky and Ohio. We have had a steady stream of novices from this region in recent years (see chart). In 2013, we had 18 men enter as novices.

 

A ‘novice’ is in the initial stage of entering religious life, lasting one year. After his first, simple vows, he becomes a student brother . Only after the friar has professed solemn vows (that is: “usque ad mortem” – until death), is he ordained a deacon and then a year later, a priest. Our formation is 7 years counting the novitiate year, and that is only after the man comes with a 4 year degree (which he would  have before he comes to us, unless he wishes to be a cooperator brother it would be shortened). A number of men come also with graduate or advanced degrees and have had significant work experience.

I would add that in 2009, our province added a significant extension to the Dominican House of Studies since we needed more room; this was being done even as other religious communities are closing/relocating and selling their houses around the vicinity of the Catholic University of America. 

 

in 2009, our province added a significant extension to the Dominican House of Studies since we needed more room; this was being done even as other religious communities are closing/relocating and selling their houses around the vicinity of the Catholic University of America.

Q. Could you sum up the key elements of the order’s strategy and the appeal to candidates?

Well, we don’t have much of a strategy. We generally try to be faithful to our charism and way of life; I think we do a relatively good job of it – but all of us are “a work in progress.” I think that despite our limitations, the Lord is sending us intelligent men to preach the Gospel in the way of St. Dominic.

Even back when I entered in in 1992 we were doing well with vocations. I was one of 8 men who entered our province.  Four of us persevered and were ordained to the priesthood. We also have a strong formation program for our student friars in our novitiate house and our House of Studies in Washington, DC. This formation includes intellectual, pastoral and spiritual elements that are part of traditional religious formation given by the Church and other elements that are unique to the Order of Preachers.  Our formation is guided by our Dominican constitutions.

I think the draw for men to the Dominicans is pretty simple.  Dominicans have a strong intellectual tradition, with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas (our “all-star”) and men know they will need this strong, systematic approach to understand the world and the human person in order to preach the Gospel effectively today.

I think the draw for men to the Dominicans is pretty simple.  Dominicans have a strong intellectual tradition, with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas (our “all-star”) and men know they will need this strong, systematic approach to understand the world and the human person in order to preach the Gospel effectively today.

As one of our friars noted a few years back, it seems that many young men who come to us have had the experience of arriving to the edge of an abyss in our culture with which there is no compromise if they are to follow Christ.  This is not to say they are running from the culture, but it seems it has radicalized them before they come to us.  If they are going to follow Christ in today’s environment something more rigorous is needed – something like a living tradition of 800 years of a life founded by St. Dominic that has produced many saints.  Anyone who reads the history of the Church knows Dominicans have played significant roles both intellectual and evangelical.  We are made to evangelize and to engage the culture – we do this as a community of friars (brothers).

 
Many young men who come to us have had the experience of arriving to the edge of an abyss in our culture with which there is no compromise if they are to follow Christ.  This is not to say they are running from the culture, but it seems it has radicalized them before they come to us.  If they are going to follow Christ in today’s environment something more rigorous is needed – something like a living tradition of 800 years of a life founded by St. Dominic that has produced many saints.

This corporate witness that goes out to the world, is attractive for young men today. When they see us trying to follow Christ in the way envisioned by St. Dominic, they want to be a part of it. It seems that a number of men are coming to visit us because they have heard we are having a “vocations boom” and they want to see what is happening. We do have a certain momentum going. If a young man thinking of a vocation comes to visit us, well it is impressive to see the sea of white in our chapel when our 85 friars gather for prayer four times a day at the Dominican House of Studies. Most young men who come to us very much want to be faithful to the Church and they are looking for a religious community that is “with” the Church – and not working against the Church.

 If a young man thinking of a vocation comes to visit us, well it is impressive to see the sea of white in our chapel when our 80+ friars gather for prayer four times a day at the Dominican House of Studies.

I think the media brutalizes the Church today. But the Dominicans live something that goes beyond the whim of the day or the politically correct agenda of Hollywood. The guys who come to us know this and they are ready to be counter-cultural to follow Christ. The men who come to us are not about to forego the good of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel only to join a community of men who subscribe to a version of Catholicism that fails to bear witness. The men who come to us today also know we are  entering into what might be called a cultural battle. I have no doubt the Dominicans will be on the forefront of that battle in presenting the Truth in a convincing way.  Our medieval dialectic way of engaging people and the ways that we preach, manage to take other perspectives into consideration and constantly search for the Truth who ultimately is Christ – this is attractive today to just about everyone.

The men who come to us are not about to forego the good of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel only to join a community of men who subscribe to a version of Catholicism that fails to bear witness. The men who come to us today also know we are  entering into what might be called a cultural battle. I have no doubt the Dominicans will be on the forefront of that battle in presenting the Truth in a convincing way.

When a young man comes to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, he meets normal guys, who are pious, masculine, and faithful to the Church who are happy and ready to follow Christ, no matter the cost. I think it is true that young men take a look at us not only because of our intellectual approach, but also our orthodoxy or fidelity to the teachings of Jesus Christ found within the Church.  This is not a strategy though, it simply is who we are – Dominicans have a long tradition in helping people see the Truth of Jesus Christ.

If we have a strategy, it certainly includes the new media. We have various projects in which our friars are engaged: on-line video (Kindly Light Media) now changed to Blackfriar films), radio, websites, blogs, use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) just to get the word out of what our friars are doing.  We just started a new website that carries many stories of what is happening in our province: OPEast.org

And of course, our friars are doing the typical things Dominicans do as well: writing books (Philosophy and Theology), writing articles for scholarly journals, speaking and most importantly, PREACHING! Some are even involved in the sciences, like our friars that teach at Providence College. Most of our friars are not about to broadcast all the good they do each day – so this makes my job difficult.

 
When a young man comes to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, he meets normal guys who are pious, masculine, and faithful to the Church– and who are happy and ready to follow Christ, no matter the cost.

Q. What is the demographic description of new candidates — what is the age range, occupations, etc.

Here you will see our current novices and their bios and ages.  The ages of the men are right out of college (22) all the way up to their early 30’s.

Q. What is the turnover — what percentage of people leave the order after joining?

In years past our attrition rate for those going all the way to solemn vows or priesthood was about 50% which is actually pretty good for men’s religious orders in the US.  What is notable now though, is that we have more men entering and we have lower attrition – in other words, more men are staying.  Why is that? Well, I think our screening process is perhaps more rigorous and careful. The majority of young men who enter our way of life are flourishing.

Right now our Province has 70 men in formation for the priesthood and cooperator brotherhood.

The majority of young men who enter our way of life are flourishing. Right now our Province has 70 men in formation for the priesthood and cooperator brotherhood.

Q.Dominicans talk about the importance of a clear identity and vibrant community to attract new candidates — such as the wearing of habits. Could you address that issue? Does it make a difference in recruitment?

I would say we don’t talk about the “wearing of habits” very often.  We, in fact, do wear the habit and it serves what we call the “common life” showing forth our brotherhood and the poverty we attempt to live in following Christ. But again, there is no grand “plan” to wear the habit and get vocations. We perhaps do wear the habit more than other men’s religious communities, but I am not sure about that.  For example if I am traveling to preach somewhere in the car I will wear it – even en route. But it is not rocket science, if we did not wear the habit, no one would know we are Dominicans, unless we had a conversation with them.  Occasionally our friars will also wear the clerical collar.

There is a desire among the young to recover a sense of the sacredness of liturgy and to give a public witness to their faith. This is a response in part to what they perceive as a kind of watering down of the splendors of the Catholic tradition in recent decades. So the visibility of the habit matters to them, and the integrity of life it is meant to suggest (no “time off from the vocation”).  As I said, it is a sign of poverty and a kind of visible witness to the importance of the religious liturgical element of culture to which our current age seems largely oblivious.

The habit is part of our common life and the wearing of it unifies us and does give us an identity to the world. We have a saying, “the habit does not make the monk.” And this is true, the witness of religious consecration to Christ must not simply be expressed in what we wear, but what is internal as well. I think for all of us, the habit simply says we are a work in progress.  “The habit does not make the monk” but it sure helps!

 
There is a desire among the young to recover a sense of the sacredness of liturgy and to give a public witness to their faith. This is a response in part to what they perceive as a kind of watering down of the splendors of the Catholic tradition in recent decades. So the visibility of the habit matters to them.

Q. Do economic hard times give candidates more space to think about joining the friars? In boom times would they not even consider such a choice?

People have asked me about this before. There might be some connection to the economy. I believe though something as serious as a vocation to the Dominicans might be distracted by the economy, but ultimately a man is not going to forego the good of wife and family simply because of the economy. That decision will most certainly come with a divine calling and a desire to follow Christ more radically in our world.

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FROM THE FRIARS OF THE EASTERN PROVINCE: The world is in desperate need of a Word that opens our eyes, and gives faith, hope, and charity.  It needs the Word Himself, Jesus Christ.  It also needs preachers who will proclaim the Word fully, faithfully, and effectively. God has blessed us with many vocations already, and many more are on the way! Thank you for your incredible generosity, and may the Lord bless you and your family abundantly.

PHOTO CREDIT: www.DominicanFriars.org

The Brothers

An American Renaissance

Beyond their individual histories and charisms, all of these growing men’s Orders in America have some common elements. They wear habits. They follow their Rule strictly. And they are orthodox in their views, quite loyal to the Magisterium.

 

Ten years ago, no one would have believed what we are witnessing today.

Back in 2002-2003, horrendous headlines blared across America and Catholics cringed. 

After wave upon wave of sex scandals cut a debilitating swath through the ranks of our priests and brothers, the US Catholic Church made more then $3.4 billion in payments to a few law firms. Most allegations were never proven, as most cases never came to trial.

Pundits predicted the imminent demise of the Church. Not many Catholics dared to disagree. No one, it seemed, would want to associate themselves with such perfidy.

A Surprising Trend

 

But the Barque of Peter is ever-buoyant. It may come as a surprise to the nay-sayers and the secular media, but the traditional male Catholic religious Orders in America are experiencing a renaissance. 

This is occurring regardless of the Form of the Mass celebrated by the Order. From the Benedictines at Clear Creek, Oklahoma who celebrate the Extraordinary Form to the Dominicans of the Eastern Province who celebrate a reverent Novus Ordo Mass, American young men are stepping forward to take vows in Religious Orders.

Some Common Elements

 

Beyond their individual histories and charisms, all of these growing Orders in America have some common elements.

They wear habits. They follow their Rule strictly.

And they are orthodox in their views, quite loyal to the Magisterium.

The Interviews

In this issue, Regina Magazine features a wide-ranging interview with American Dominicans. We also are privileged to have an intimate conversation with a brand-new novice entering The Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest at their Oratory in South Saint Louis.

Stay tuned, though as Regina Magazine continues to cover this astonishing turnaround in future issues!

 

My First Time

A Lady Discovers the Latin Mass in West Virginia Father Joseph I did it. I finally took myself in hand, determined to find a Sunday Latin Mass in rural West Virginia. The Mass was held at a time (2PM) intended to be convenient for those who might be traveling some distance, in a place, Holy … Read more

The (American) Monks of Norcia

It was October 6, 1995 and Father Cassian Folsom was riding the train between Rome and Naples when he felt the call of the Holy Spirit. In his seat, he found himself envisioning a new religious order, one that would focus on the integration of prayer, study and manual labor. Three years later, Father Cassian founded a new Benedictine order, the Monks of Norcia.

Today, situated in the Sybilline Mountains, within the walled city of Norcia, the Monks’ monastery is directly above the 5th-century ruins of the birthplace of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. Fr. Cassian began his order in 1998 in a small apartment. Today, the Monks have their own monastery, a visible presence in the local community, an online presence to the world and even their own brewery. While the order is still a small one—sixteen monks in all—the authenticity of Father Cassian’s original call has been validated by the growth of the last fourteen years.

Norcia is a tourist city, thanks to its culinary delights and the uniqueness of its walls, which allow only seven points to enter the city. The Basilica is at the heart of the town, and visitors who might have come just to sample the boar and cheese instead end up being exposed to the bread that is eternal. “Visitors basically stumble across the monks,” said Bryan Gonzalez, the order’s Director of Development in the U.S.

“Tourists wander into the Basilica. They’re blown away by the beauty of the Mass. It gives the monks a chance to change culture from the inside-out.”

The food in Norcia might bring tourists, but few things could go better with boar and cheese than good beer, and that is something the Monks have been able to provide. “Brewing beer has long been a part of the monastic tradition,” said Father Mary Benedict Nivakoff, who lives at the monastery. “For years on Sunday nights we would sample the vast variety of Trappist beers and wonder if it was possible to do this ourselves.”

This past August, Father Nivakoff and his brother priests got an affirmative answer to that wish. After allowing one of the monks to renew his hobby of home brewing, they were happy with the results and realized they really could do this themselves. On the Feast of the Assumption—August 15—Birra Nursia—was open for business.

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In four short months, “Nursia” beer has taken off. The monks supply restaurants both in Norcia, and as far as Venice, Livorno, Perugia, Montefalco and Rome. Within their own gift shop, Father Nivakoff reports that the beer never stays on the shelf more than a week or two.

The bigger challenge Birra Nursia faces is fulfilling the demand, as their American friends and benefactors are ready to import. “The exportation process is difficult,” said Gonzalez. “There are permits and distributors to be dealt with.” More importantly though, “the monks can’t just crank out beer,” Gonzalez added. “They can make 250 liters at a time and need a bigger beer kettle, about three times bigger.”

“A monk witnesses to the goodness of God and the beauty of creation.”

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More important than meeting market demand is the positive spiritual impact the brewery work has had on the monastery. “If monks do not have good work, their spiritual lives can suffer,” said Father Nivakoff. Each monk now participates in the brewery in some form. This contribution helps each monk to take responsibility both for the quality of the beer and for the monastery in general. monks6

The early success of Birra Nursia gives Father Nivakoff hope that their work will enable the Monks to achieve self-sufficiency. “As anyone who has started their own business knows, the material fruits of the brewery will take some time to appear, since most of what we earn has gone back into the plant.” However, according to Gonzalez, the generous donations the Monks receive at least enabled them to start their business debt-free.

The sixteen monks literally live above the ruins of the house of the great saints Benedict and Scholastica in Norcia, now a gastronomic tourist destination located in central Italy.  The monks own an old Capuchin monastery, unused for sixty years, presently “uninhabitable.” However, the permits and costs associated with renovation are prohibitive.

statueThe Monks grow spiritually, as all Catholics do, through participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. While the celebration of various liturgical rites since Vatican II has led to a battleground in the Church, the Monks have countered by replacing the battleground with beauty—the reverent celebration of, and regard for, all the rites of the Church.

Those who want to share in the Monks’ love for God need not travel to Norcia—they can go online and download the Vespers that are uploaded each morning. “The practice of having Vespers online isn’t new,” Gonzalez told REGINA. “But in other cases, it’s on live and that’s not practical for someone in the United States who wants to pray with the monks.” Gonzalez posts a recording each morning. Father Nivakoff added that he’s heard from both soldiers in Afghanistan and missionaries in Africa, telling him they listen in.

Growth and success means challenges and the biggest one the monks face is that they’re running out of room. They own an old Capuchin monastery, unused for sixty years, presently  “uninhabitable.” However, the permits and costs associated with renovation are prohibitive. Nor is an American-based sister house a likely solution, given that the monastery’s location at the birthplace of St. Benedict give it a uniqueness impossible to re-create. “If you built a house in Des Moines (the American home base) it would lack the uniqueness,” said Gonzalez.

While the challenges of finding new space and expanding the brewery are significant and will require generous action from benefactors, the flourishing of God’s grace continues to abound in Norcia. The Monks bring the beauty of the Mass to pilgrims, the splendor of Vespers to their online audience and the simple pleasure of a good beer to people throughout Italy. It’s the true living out of Father Cassian’s original mission of integrating prayer, study and manual labor.

“A monk witnesses to the goodness of God and the beauty of creation,” said Father Nivakoff.  “It is his job to convert his life to one of total sacrifice to God in imitation of Christ. In so doing he reminds the world that God is not just worth dying for, He is worth living for; He is worth loving.” Indeed, He is. You can visit the Monks of Norcia’s website at osbnorcia.org

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dan Flaherty is a freelance writer and editor of TheSportsNotebook.com. When not covering sports, he’s written on a wide range of topics, including online dating, politics and real estate. He is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in the Boston of the late 1940s. Dan currently resides in southeastern Wisconsin.