Tag Archives: Trappist

Merton’s birthday

Thomas Merton

Today in 1915 Prades, France, Thomas Merton was born. The famous monk of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (the Trappists), was known in his monastery as Father Louis. The Merton genealogy includes an American mother and a father from New Zealand. Artists, both died early; Merton’s mother died of stomach cancer when he was six years old; 10 years later, his father died of a brain tumor. His early life was wild and seemingly of out of control.

Having met the Lord, Thomas Merton converted to Catholicism in 1938, while he was a student at Columbia University, at Corpus Christi Church on 121st, NYC. Perceiving a call to the contemplative life after the Franciscans rejected him, he entered the Trappist Abbey in Kentucky; Thomas initially gave up his writing career yet it was Abbot Frederic Dunne who recognized his talent noting that it was helpful in bringing others to Christ, he missioned Merton to write.

Thomas Merton once wrote: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude, p. 83

Documenting a new monastic presence in Eastern Europe

001In this octave of the Ascension, and just before the great solemn feast of Pentecost, I thought I might share with you a 2005 video of the building of the Monastery of Novy Dvur (Czech Republic). To me, this community of Trappist monks is another great example of faith in action, of seeing the human person in action so that God may be glorified.

“Space of Silence” is a stunning story of faith, vulnerability and humanity; it is so because you can see a concrete expression of grace at work in this local Church.

The documentary shows the slow rebirth of a monastic presence in lands dominated by the Communist ideology; this is the first monastery built in the Eastern lands where the atheistic ideology ruled.

The Novy Dvur is a growing, international Strict Cistercian observance monastery founded with the assistance of the French abbey of Sept Fons. Since 2012, the Trappist community was given the title of “abbey” thus their official name is the Abbey of Our Lady of Nový Dvůr.

More on the Trappists at Novy Dvur Monastery (this website gives a lot more info to consider).

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).

Anniversary of death of Pope John XXIII, the Mosul martyrs, and a Trappist

John 23 death.jpg

In daily life most of occasionally remember the passing of a loved with a visit to the cemetery, saying a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul, perhaps having a Mass offered for the loved. These are normal Catholic practices in remembering the dead. But when you are a pope similar things happen, but just like with loved ones, there comes a point that we just don’t actively remember anymore. Do we actively remember the dead? In my family, I think I am the only one to keep the memory of loved ones known, and try to beg God for mercy on the dead. This is a sad stage in our the evolving of our society.

Today happens to be anniversary of death that I am recalling, four people from widely different backgrounds and vocations:

  • Blessed Pope John XXIII‘s 50 years since his death
  • Aunt Helen, 2002
  • Dom Basil Pennington, OCSO, monk, abbot, and author, Spencer, MA, 2005
  • Father Raghed Ganni and 3 subdeacons killed in Mosul, Iraq, 2007
John XXIII, was the supreme pontiff less than 5 years, was the smiling pope who called the Second Vatican Council, Aunt Helen was a wife and mother, Dom Basil was a Trappist monk of St Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, MA who was a prolific writer on the spiritual life and on Cistercian life, and Father Raghed Ganni and the subdeacons we gunned down for being Christian in a context of Islamic persecution. Of note, pilgrims from Blessed John’s native region in Italy will be at Mass today and meet with Pope Francis. It is a good thing to remember our loved ones. They still are a part of our lives; they make up our DNA.
Let’s offer a prayer for all these people asking God the Father of Mercies to be gentle and loving. But let’s ask these people to ask God to bestow mercy upon us.

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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