Tag Archives: nuns

Monastery of Our Lady of Beatitude, a visit

Chapel Livingston ManorA week ago I spent a few hours with a friend, Melkite priest Father Romanus, at the Monastery of Our Lady of Beatitude in Livingston Manor, New York. Quiet and sanctity are felt immediately on the long drive up the road approaching the monastery. I had last been there in 2010 and I posted a piece here on Communio about my visit.

The purpose of our visit was three-fold: to spend time catching up; to introduce Father Romanus to the monastery and then to visit the gift shop. The latter point of our visit allowed us to purpose some beautiful religious items not easily found in other places.

This monastery is located in the Archdiocese of New York having been invited to settle there by the late John Joseph Cardinal O’Connor. The monastery of nuns is part of a larger group of monastics who form the Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno. According to 2007 statistics, worldwide there are approximately 650 monks and nuns in 33 monasteries of nuns and 4 monasteries of monks.

Today, is the anniversary of Monastic Family’s founding in 1950. Their history dates their foundation to when the Pope Pius XII defined as dogma, the mystery of Mary’s Assumption. Some of founders where present in Saint Peter’s Square.

As the monks and nuns speak of their vocation, we learn, as a total self-gift “to share the life of the Mother of God, present in the Trinity, in a life of adoration of the Father in Spirit and Truth.” Continual adoration of the Lord is their gift. Consequently, what was born first were the monastic nuns in 1951 living “the Project of the Virgin” in silence.

In the previous blog post I noted that these expression of monastic life does not fall into the usual way of thinking about a life of seclusion in the West. The Monastic Family of Bethlehem have a few defining characteristics: first, the biblical typology and the study of the Church Fathers and Mothers of this form of monastic life is striking, more so than what one may experience with the Benedictines or Cistercians –the use of sacred Scripture with this religious group, for me, is very profound; second, there is a distinct Eastern feel to the experience in that the Monastic Family has adopted an adapted 4th century interpretation of lauras found in the East in which they connect with what the German Saint Bruno did in the 11th century. A hermits life with some communal activities during the week aside from certain prayer periods like Lauds, Vespers and Mass.

As an outsider to Our Lady of Beatitude my perspective is that the life lived by these nuns is truly otherworldly: a sincere and serious commitment to silence, work, study, solitude, and prayer. We were present to sing Vespers —a unique experience—if you’ve never prayed according to an adapted Byzantine usage. The nuns made some very reasonable changes in what would be considered “normal” Byzantine Vespers in the way they sing the psalmody, make the intentions, the proclamation of the daily gospel and a few other things.

There are hermitages for personal retreats of the laity available.

Contact: 393 Our Lady of Lourdes Camp Road, Livingston Manor, NY 12758 USA

Tel: 845-439-4300

The Digital Nun: A Benedictine continuity in social media

Can you believe that Benedictines can do anything in addition to prayer, and more prayer? Well, I hope so. Benedictines and nuns to boot, have given the world lots of innovative things that continue to use today. For example, writing, singing different forms of music, social communications, different forms of alcohol, etc.

The Benedictines are always interesting people, whether in the 9th century, 18th century or the 21st century. Sister Catherine Wybourne, OSB, and the nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery (Howton Grove, Herefordshire, UK).

Sister Catherine is the prioress of the Benedictine nuns at this small monastery with competencies in the secular world and in the world of God and the Church.

Sister Catherine and the nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery engage us on level of faith formation, the Benedictine Charism and social communications. Her disposability for the sake of Christ’s Gospel and His Church.

Listen to Laura Lynch’s interview of Sister Catherine. You won’t be disappointed.

And if you are still interested in social media and the search of God, or least the perspective of this Benedictine nun, Dame Catherine, may I suggest:

  1. How Many iPhone Developers Wear Wimples?” (WSJ, May 2, 2011)
  2. Catherine Wybourne: The Digital Nun
  3. Prayer and Work (1994) with Dom Columba Cary-Elwes (who by the way is the founding prior of St Louis Abbey)

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows: Dolores Hart gives personal insight

Mother Dolores with John Paul.jpgYou 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.

Mother Dolores has been featured on the Communio blog in the past. See a post here and here.

Trappistine nuns in Syria

Trappistines Syria.jpg

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?

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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