To answer that question let’s turn to the late Dom David Knowles, from Downside Abbey in England, who offered a timeless definition half a century ago. He wrote: “Benedictine monachism presents an objective form of life, sane, strong, unchanging from year to year, a life of work and liturgical prayer which can be seen and heard, lived in conditions which aim at representing all that is best in the basic family life of Christianity, aided by all human courtesies, reverences, and affections. It is nothing secret or esoteric, nor an impossibility, but an ordinary form of ordinary life.” (Benedictine Peace, 49-50)
You know from a previous post here that Mother Dolores Hart, OSB, nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis (Bethlehem, CT) published her autobiography, The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows (Ignatius Press, 2013). The book is co-authored with lifelong friend Richard DeNeut. There was a book signing this past Sunday.
After a career in acting, Mother Dolores entered Benedictine life Regina Laudis Abbey in 1963. The abbey was founded in 1947.
Joseph Pronechen of the National Catholic Register interviewed Mother Dolores at the Abbey. One of the things worth hearing from Hart is:
The one thing is the Gregorian chant, and what a gift it is to be able to sing and to pray at the same time. I think that I would hate to see people lose that part of the Tradition of the Church, because the chant goes back over a thousand years.
The mostly Italian group of Trappistine nuns forming a monastic colony in Syria are not moving, even in the face of violence.
Since 2005, Mother Marta Luisa Fagnani and the other nuns have committed themselves to prayer and work in a country in crisis. Their witness at the Monastery of Blessed Mary of Font of Peace (in Arabic, Dier al Adrha Yanbu’a-s-Salam), is a foundation of the Valserena Monastery in Guardistallo, Italy.
They write a blog, Ora pro Siria, in Italian and not frequently updated, but you can get a sense of their witness there. BUT, the monastic project of the nuns is explained here, which also asks the reader to help with prayer, friendship and money.
Yesterday, the daily Il Sussidiario published an English translation of an interview with one of the nuns.
Two years ago today, Traces magazine published a story, “The Sisters of Syria,” where the nuns talk about their call to make a monastic foundation in Syria, what freedom, the Encounter with the Lord and others and silence means. Few know, for example, that the Middle East had 11 monasteries of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (the Trappists) but dissolved due to the Islamic invasion. This is something to think and pray about. Do you have the same commitment to the Lord and to missionary zeal as these nuns?