- Monday, 17 October 2011 14:05
On Saturday I drove up to the Abbey of Regina Laudis situated in Bethlehem, Connecticut, to purchase cheese and note cards made by the Benedictine nuns there. Cheese is a homemade product of the nuns of this monastery made from milk of 5 dairy cows. But in addition to cheese and note cards I picked up a beautiful DVD interviewing Mother Dolores Hart, OSB. In 2000, Chantal Westerman interviewed Mother Dolores for an hour long presentation called “Conversations with Remarkable People: Mother Dolores Hart.”
From this conversation I learned a few things and a new perspective among which Mother Dolores was not only an actress but also a carpenter who made chairs and tables but also coffins for the nuns in her earlier life at the abbey and she took the time to welcome guests. Patricia Neal was of particular interest. (A convert to Catholic before her death, Neal died in August 2010 and is buried at Regina Laudis Abbey.) Of particular interest to me was not Hart’s work in Hollywood but her concrete witness of Christian faith. Ms Westerman asked Mother how she understood faith and the phrase “I am spiritual but not religious.” Mother answered (my notes):
Faith is remembering the exquisite gifts of God given us in particulars of space and time and people; faith is having the guts to say ‘yes’ when you have no idea what the ‘yes’ means; the ‘yes’ is given in response to a mystery.
With regard to the spiritual/religious distinction often made: the two are complementary and have a convergence.
Indeed! There is no separation between spiritual and religious. The soul needs integration of each to make any real sense.
If you can get a copy of the DVD from the Abbey, do so. I recommend it. And stay for Vespers (the Church’s evening prayer) daily beautifully sung by the 40 nuns.
You may be interested in other blog posts on Regins Laudis and Mother Dolores Hart found here
- Friday, 25 February 2011 12:33
Not surprising that many people are interested in sensational stories like “Mother Dolores Hart: The Nun Who Kissed Elvis Presley.” I guess kissing Elvis is akin to winning the jackpot. Each to his or her own! Thom Geier’s story is exactly titled such on EW.com. I have to admit, however, I am fascinated –to a degree– by this woman’s gesture of following a vocation that had in mind her eternal destiny and not just money, fame and power. Hart’s life and enduring witness to Christ at the Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem, CT, is inspiring. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a beautiful woman giving her life to God through monastic consecration!
The following gives a flavor of Geier’s article: “Over the course of nearly half a century as a Roman
Catholic nun, Mother Dolores has had many jobs: choir member, baker, and coffin
maker. She’s served as prioress, the convent’s second in command, for nine
years. But for the past two decades, she has spent a good deal of time each
winter on another assignment that harks back to her earlier, pre-monastic life:
Mother Dolores’ autobiography ought to be out soon.
- Tuesday, 02 November 2010 18:45
If the crèche at
the Abbey of
Regina Laudis strikes you as a little out place, there’s a good
reason. The austere Yankee barn that houses it is a world away from its previous
home. Handcrafted by artisans in Naples, the intricate nativity scene was
presented as a coronation gift to Victor Amadeus II, king of Sardina, in 1720.
It remained among Italian nobility until it was purchased by Loretta Hines
Howard, an artist and collector, in 1949. She immediately donated it to what
was then a fledgling Benedictine Abbey in, fittingly, Bethlehem, Connecticut
(although the nuns insist the name is a coincidence).
The crèche takes a few
liberties with the traditional nativity story. Instead of a Judean village,
Bethlehem appears here somewhere on the coast of Italy. The stable has been
replaced by Corinthian columns, and the traditional kings and shepherds are
joined by a whole host of other characters, who have shed their New Testament
robes for 18th-century knickers and coats. In one corner, some
peasants argue over the contents of a stem pot. In another, a noblewoman walks
her whippet on a leash. The crowd is puzzling at first, though it may
serve a distinct purpose. “For as
many people as there are, there are attitudes toward the birth of Christ,” says
Sister Angèle Arbib, who helps care for the crèche. She points out some figures
who seems reverential, others who seem distracted or dis-believing: “It’s so
representative. When people come here to see the crèche, they identify with
someone in here.”
And people of all faiths do come to see it. The mass of
Christmas pilgrims has returned after a recent restoration had taken the crèche
out of public view for three years. Conservators from New York’s Metropolitan
Museum of Art painstakingly repaired each of the 68 figures and the tiny
hand-sewn outfits they wear. The results are stunning. The crèche now stands as
a testament to the continued support of the community of nuns,
preservationists, and believers that has formed around it. It’s fitting. After
all, what is a nativity other than a story of people coming together?
November/December, Vol. 74, No. 6.
Abbey of Regina Laudis
273 Flanders Road
The crèche is open to the public daily 10-4 through Jan. 5 (closed Jan. 6-Apr. 24)
- Thursday, 02 September 2010 18:17
I went to Mass this morning at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT and then spent the morning meeting with Mother Lucia. We had a wonderful conversation about life, God, Church, monastic life. My father brought home the finished replica of the 1910 Flying Merkel. Some pictures follow…