Tag Archives: Cistercian

Religious life 2013: Profession of vows, entrances and ordinations

Suscipe me secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam, et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea. (Psalm 118)

abbot & monkEach year at about this time I have published a list of those who have risked everything to follow Jesus Christ more closely as a priest, deacon, monk, friars, nun, or sister. I think it is a good thing to keep this information in front of us, especially as it concerns how each of prays, fasts and financially support  vocations in the Church. Our Christian life helps us to see the need for such witnesses and each of us participates through our good example, by inviting others (even ourselves?) to consider serving the Lord and the Church in this “more excellent” way and by assisting by of the good works.

Let us pray with the psalmist, “The just grow tall like palm trees, majestic like the cedars of Lebanon. They flourish in God’s house, green and heavy with fruit” (Ps 92).

“What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life,” the Lord’s cross, Pope Francis said on July 7.

What follows is an imperfect collection of information; if there are updates, please zap me an email.


Monastic life


English Congregation

Swiss-American Congregation
Subiaco Congregation
American Cassinese Congregation
Other monastic foundations


The active life


  • Daylesford Abbey (the Norbertines): 1 professed simple vows, 1 entered the novitiate;
  • Dominican friars, Province of St Joseph: 6 friars ordained priests; 9 friars profess solemn vows; 8 professed simple vows and  18 entered the novitiate
  • Capuchin friars, Province of St Mary: 2 professed final vows, 4 professed simple vows, 4 invested as novices; 1 ordained to the Order of Deacon and 2 ordained for the Order of Priest
  • Opus Dei: ordained 31 to the priesthood
  • Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo: 1 ordained deacon, 8 ordained priests; -in Chile: 3 received the cassock at entrance
  • Conventual Franciscan friars (of several provinces): 7 professed simple vows; 5 entered the novitiate
  • Friars of the Atonement: 1 entered the novitiate
  • Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word: 2 professed simple vows, 1 entered the novitiate.
  • Order of Friars Minor, Immaculate Conception Province: 2 friars profess simple vows; 1 professed solemn vows; 2 ordained priests; 5 postulants entered
  • Franciscans of the Holy Name Province: 4 profess first vows; 1 novice entered; 1 ordained to the priesthood
  • The Society of Jesuit ordained 16 men to the priesthood for service in the whole USA; the NY-NEN-MD provinces professed 5 in simple perpetual vows; 5 men entered the novitiate.

Christ’s voice heard through Cistercian nuns in Syria

The Cistercian nuns of the Monastery of Blessed Mary of Font of Peace (in Arabic, Dier al Adrha Yanbu’a-s-Salam) Azeir, Syria are speaking out:

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.

(excerpt from 29 August 2013 letter, the full text is here)

This is a matter of faith and the public order. These voices need to be heard and prudent action needs to be taken up. Killing more people to save face is not the Christian way.

Typically, you don’t hear from Cistercians in this way. They are now speaking up for justice and peace at a time when another World War is possible. Following the 6th century Rule of Benedict and the Constitutions of the venerable order of Citeaux. You may say, the small group of nuns of Blessed Mary of Font of Peace have as their key work to pray for peace and to work on their conversion.

The monastery is located in Syria, on the boarder with Lebanon in a village of Maronite Catholic. Historians will note that the intuition of the Cistercian nuns coheres well with the context in which they find themselves: at the crossroads with East and West, where Christianity began, and where culture flourished.  From where the nuns are located, you can see the Good News sent abroad to Asia Minor, Greece, France, Rome, Armenia, India, China. The nuns, too, rely on the intercession of saints like Afraate, Ephraim, Cyrus, Simeon the Protostilite, Maron, John Maron, Isaac of Niniveh, John Chrysostom, John of Damascus, Rafka, and countless others who followed Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of Peace, and all Syrian and Cistercian saints, pray for us.

The freshness of Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard was the brother of Saint Humbeline. At 22, he and four of his blood brothers with 25 friends, entered the new form of monastic life at Citeaux; at some point later, another brother and his father joined him. The monks at the Abbey of Citeaux were reformed Benedictines. In a short time Bernard became the abbot of Clairvaux with a constituency of nearly 700. One of his spiritual sons became Blessed Eugene III, pope.

Bernard (+1153), Cistercian abbot, saint, and Doctor of the Church, is no easy thinker to face alone. You really do need God’s grace to help you get through his works. Challenging is a good word when thinking of Saint Bernard.

History credits Bernard with the foundation of no fewer than 163 monasteries in his lifetime. When Bernard died, historians labeled the Cistercians as the first true Order in the Church with nearly 343 communities. He singularly did more than any other for the Cistercian order than any.

As one Benedictine nun said of Saint Bernard, he was angry a lot of the time, a brilliant writer even when he nothing to say, at odds with Abelard, condemned for preaching the Second Crusade, and kind to Jews at a time when no one was kind to Jews (we know of a German rabbi saying his community received help and protection from the holy abbot).

Bernard’s love of family, affection for others, and capabilities are well-known, but so are his limitations. One of the power-broker churchmen of the time, Cardinal Haimeric, thought that Bernard was meddling in matters above above his competence. The Cardinal cleverly said, “It is not fitting that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals.”

And Bernard’s response, “”Forbid those noisy troublesome frogs to come out of their holes, to leave their marshes . . . Then your friend will no longer be exposed to the accusations of pride and presumption.”

One of the theological positions Bernard held was not holding to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This doesn’t make Bernard a questionable man of the Church because the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not defined until the 19th century. And yet, he sang eloquently of the Virgin Mary.

Questions of the parameters of justification John Calvin to quote Bernard in his heretical teaching. Bernard was a solid theologian that led Pope Pius VIII to name him a Doctor of the Church and the “last of the Fathers.”

Blessed Guerric of Igny

I am reminded by my own heart that the the early morning is a particularly good time of the day to be clothed in a special silence, but there are time at dusk that the discipline of silence is helpful. This is an essential part of spiritual maturity, an adult faith in Divine Providence. Listening and speaking to the Trinity is done when the heart and mind are slowed, even word-less. Knowing and following God’s will is only possible if we give a certain amount of day to quiet, that is, silence. Not a punishing silence, not a hopeless silence, but a manner of being that helps us to see ourselves in action: the manifestation of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, justice, peace, perseverance, etc.

Blessed Guerric in his 28th sermon says,

“As the Christ-child in the womb advanced toward birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a person’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.”

Silence, therefore, is a gift that allows us to enter more deeply into the revealed Word of God, the biblical narrative through the practice of lectio divina, the practice of prayerfully reading the sacred Scripture. It is, I am convinced, the new springtime of the Church as Benedict XVI said, proposing once again the ancient Christian practice. Most often we when we hear the words lectio divina we think of monastic reading where the person is immersed in God’s holy word with the distinct desire to seek the face of God, thus making a home for that Word in his heart.

The famous Cistercian father Blessed Guerric of Igny (c. 1070/80-1157) was influenced by Origen and whose formation was under Saint Bernard was quite insightful on many things when it came to liturgical theology and the monasteric life.

If you are inclined to read more about what this Cistercian father taught, you may want to pick up a copy of John Morson’s Christ the Way: the Christology of Guerric of Igny (Liturgical Press). But his liturgical sermons are worth every effort; they are published by Liturgical Press, too.

Blessed Guerric taught the following to his brothers lectio divina:

Search the Scripture.  For you are not mistaken in thinking that you find life in them, you who seek nothing else in them but Christ, to whom the Scriptures bear witness.  Blessed indeed are they who search his testimonies, seek them out with all their heart.  Therefore you who walk about in the gardens of the Scriptures do not pass by heedlessly and idly, but searching each and every word like busy bees gathering homey from flowers, reap the Spirit from the words. (Sermon 54)

Sr Teresita, 105 and 86 years in the monastery, dies

teresita.jpgA nun dies at 105 years old. Likely to be the oldest. She was the nun of 10 popes.

At 19 years old Sister Teresita made the decision to be a Cistercian nun in the Monastery of Buenafuente. That was 1927. She once said that “even if I had married a prince, I would not be happier than I am now,” to the Correo.
The news in Spanish.
We can be grateful for Sister’s perseverance in the monastic way of life. Moreover, her joy seems to have been overflowing.
May Our Lady, Mother of the Cistercians with Saints Benedict and Bernard lead Sister Teresita to the Lord.

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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