Tag Archives: Cistercian

Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi

Cyprian Michael Iwene TansiToday is the Feast Day of Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi. In the USA we don’t liturgically have Blessed Cyprian on the calendar, but we ought to know about him and follow his example. First a secular priest and then a Trappist monk Tansi has a unique vocation of looking at both the interior life and the apostolate with new eyes. He is Nigeria’s patron saint.

Born to non-Christian parents in September 1903, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in Aguleri, Anambra State, Nigeria. In 1909, he was sent to live with his uncle who was a Christian gave him an education. He was baptised 3 years later by Irish missionaries. Tansi was a diligent student with a precocious personality and deep piety. He worked as a teacher for 3 years and later served as a headmaster of St. Joseph’s school for one year in Aguleri.

In 1925 against the wishes of his family, he entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Onitsha on 19 December 1937.

For a time Tansi worked tirelessly in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajali before discerning vocation to be a Cistercian monk at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England. He lived this vocation at the abbey for 14 years. He was in the process of discerning becoming the novice master in a new Cistercian foundation in Cameroon, a few months after the founders left for Africa.

Father Tansi used to say, “if you are going to be a Christian at all, you might as well live entirely for God”.

He died on 20 January 1964 and was beatified on 22 March 1998 by Saint John Paul in Nigeria. The Pope said of Father Cyprian:

He was first of all a man of God: his long hours before the Blessed Sacrament filled his heart with generous and courageous love. Those who knew him testify to his great love of God. Everyone who met him was touched by his personal goodness. He was then a man of the people: he always put others before himself, and was especially attentive to the pastoral needs of families. He took great care to prepare couples well for Holy Matrimony and preached the importance of chastity. He tried in every way to promote the dignity of women. In a special way, the education of young people was precious to him.

A prayer to the Blessed:

Blessed Cyprian, during your life on earth you showed your great faith and love  in giving yourself to your people and by the hidden life of prayer and contemplation. Look upon us now in our needs, and intercede for us with the Lord. May he grant us the favour we ask through our prayers. Amen.

A few resources to consult on Blessed Cyrpian:

Fr. Gregory Wareing, A New Life of Father Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi (Coalville, Leicester LE6 3UL: Mt. St. Bernard Abbey. 1994). Father Gregory was Blessed Cyprian’s Novice Master.

Veronica Onyedika Chidi Umegakwe, Footprints of Father Tansi: The Tomb is not his Goal (Awhum, Nigeria: Our Lady of Calvary Monastery, 1993). The life of Blessed Cyprian is here presented in a five act play by the chief coordinator of the Father Tansi Lay Contemplative Prayer Movement.

Elisabeth Isichei, Entirely for God. The life of Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Studies Series 43, 1980 and 2000).

Dom John Moakler, “Some Thoughts about Blessed Cyprian Tansi” in Hallel 25 (2000), pp.79-93.

Baldwin of Ford

In 1190 the Cistercian monk and Archbishop of Canterbury Baldwin of Ford died in Tyre, Lebanon.

Baldwin was born around the year 1120 in Devonshire, England. After completing his studies, perhaps at Exeter, he began a successful career in the service of Pope Eugenius III, who had begun his spiritual life as a Cistercian monk.
Upon returning to England, in 1169 Baldwin left all else behind and became a monk at the Cistercian abbey of Ford. He was soon made abbot, and although he did not spend many years in the monastery, he understood that monastic life is essentially a search for communion. In his beautiful treatises on community life, Baldwin was the first to assert that every human form of communion, especially in a monastic community, descends from the shared life of the three Persons of the Trinity.

Baldwin was elected bishop of Worcester in 1181, and several years later he became Archbishop of Canterbury. As leader of the Church of England, he was forced against his will to enter the turmoil of politics. During the reign of Henry II, who was responsible for the death of Thomas Becket, Baldwin defended the memory of his predecessor at Canterbury in his preaching and writing. He met his death participating in the third crusade at the orders of the new king, Richard the Lionheart.

From the Martyrology of the Monastery of Bose, Italy

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint BernardThe great Saint Bernard of Clairvaux has his feast day today. The Cistercian abbot and priest, preacher and counselor has left a permanent mark on the Church. His teachings reveal the depth of his love for God, particularly the second person of the Trinity. Moreover, he spoke often of God’s gaze upon us, His mercy for creation. We know from experience that God alone can satisfy our human desire; nothing can replace our desire for God and if we try to replace God with something, it will always eave us frustrated and empty.

From the writings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux we read: “I am myself a Cistercian; do I therefore condemn the Cluniacs? God forbid! On the contrary, I love them, praise them, extol them. . . .If you ask why . . . I did not choose Cluny from the first, I reply that, as the apostle says…: ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not profitable for me.’ It is not that Cluny is not holy and just. It is rather that I am an unspiritual man, sold as a slave to sin. I knew that my soul was so weak that a stronger remedy was necessary. Different diseases call for different remedies; the more serious the illness, the more drastic the remedy.”

Trappist monks roll out their beer

Br Isaac with beerTrappist Brother Isaac shows some bottles of Spencer Trappist Ale. This is the latest venture of the Cistercian monks in Spencer, MA. They’re hoping to sell 4000 barrels (1.3 million bottles) of their beer.

The Boston Globe has a story here. Pray that the State of CT will allow the beer to be sold in CT soon.

All Cistercian saints and blesseds, pray for the monks, and for us.

American Trappists debut beer

Spencer Trappist Ale labelThe Trappist monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey (Spencer, MA) have rolled out their product: Spencer Trappist Ale.

The Rule of Benedict tells the monks and nuns that they have an industry to bring in an income and the Cistercian charism is to attend to manual labor in a more concerted way (even though Benedictine monks ought also be so attentive). For years they have been making Trappist Preserves and designing vestments for the sacred Liturgy through their business the Holy Rood Guild. Time has come for a new venture given the human and economic ecology: the monks have found that they need to reasses their ways of making money given their the available monks. So many of them are old now and not many new recruits.

You can “Like” the Facebook page.

The Trappists are joining other US Benedictines who are making beer like the Abbey of Christ in the Desert (New Mexico).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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