Friday, 12 September 2008

Monastic news round-up

There are a few bits of news on the monastic front, so I thought I'd do a bit of a round-up.

Christ in the Desert

First the good news. Surely the most thriving Benedictine community in the United States (and giving Fontgombault a good run for its money in terms of number of foundations), Christ in the Desert, is in the process of buying land to set up a new Vietnamese house in Texas. Christ in the Desert uses the novus ordo mass, but the Office in Latin and is very traditionally oriented. The community is hoping to build on the Vietnamese vocations the monastery has already received with the support of the American Vietnamese community. The Monastery, which was founded in 1964, already has three dependent houses (as well as helping out a foundation of woman in New Mexico, associated with Australia's Jambaroo, as well as another monastery in South Africa).

Subiaco Congregation Extraordinary General Chapter

Secondly the not so good. Abbot Philip of Christ in the Desert reports that the General Chapter of the Benedictine Subiaco Congregation is currently meeting in Rome to take a look at its situation. The Congregation includes some of the more conservative and stronger monasteries, such as Christ in the Desert, Petersham and Pluscarden. But it is a real mix, also including many less traditionally oriented monasteries such as Australia's very own New Norcia, Jambaroo and Tanby. Many of its houses are suffering from declining vocations, and some will probably have to close.

I wouldn't hold your breath hoping that this might be forestalled by a return to tradition however. The Abbot President's letter on the Congregation's website contains several exhortations not to be lured in by Tradition and think about returning to the past, and especially to resist the temptation to return to the Rule of St Benedict's actual prescriptions on liturgy (which sustained the monasteries for 1600 years), but rather to stick with 1976. Read it and weep for the monasteries...but perhaps there are some interesting discussions happening given the range of views on such subjects within the congregation!

Clear Creek ordination

On a happier note, a recent diaconal ordination at Clear Creek, Oklahoma (Hat tip to New Liturgical Movement for the alert to the photo album), which can be found here, gives a nice sense of the physical and spiritual progress in the building up of the community there! The monks, who are a foundation of Fontgambault, moved into their new monastery a few months back. The next stage of their building project is I believe, the monastic Church - the shots below show the Crypt, which they currently use for services.

Sons of the Holy Redeemer

The Sons of the Holy Redeemer (formerly Transalpine Redemptorists) have a nice blog entry with photos on the clothing of a new novice, Brother Gerardo Maria Majella (pictured below).


And finally, the traditionally oriented Benedictine community of Maria Sedes Sapientiae, located at St Benedict's birthplace in Norcia, Italy, is now up to ten monks. They now have two novices, and over summer had 9 Italian and 4 English speaking men visiting for monastic experience. If you are visiting Italy, this monastery is a must visit for your list - their office is traditional, in Latin, and they have been known to bring in a choir (and even orchestra) for special occasions. Not to mention that Norcia is a gourmet centre, focused on black truffles...


Hermit, without a permit said...

great blog, great post..the Christ in The Desert monks arent so tradtional to my understanding, no Latin either really, that i am aware of, but perhaps that has changed since i last saw them 6 years ago..., oh and you are right.. Norcia Monks, in Italy has a fantastic spirit,a Le Barroux liturgical/horarium outlook, and are thus UNIQUE amongst the Swiss American congregation.. even if a little squished for space, also there new website has some great photos, including the old capuchin Frairy up in the mountains they have acquired and are hoping to rebuild for a San Benedettos outside the walls Abbey. here also is a video about them

Terra said...

Thanks Hermit. On Christ in the Desert, I have to admit I've never visited them, so I'm going entirely on their website and newsletter, but my understanding is that they have introduced some Latin alternate days or something like that in the Office).

From what I can gather, they started out fairly wild and woolly (zen meditation, Eastern liturgy, etc), but have gradually become more conservative and traditionally oriented - their abbot actually wrote a great newsletter item not that long ago about how they started out looking for spiritual treasures everywhere but in the Latin tradition...and finally realising that their own patrimony was as rich or richer than any of the other things they were trying out.

He (and some of his monks) have written a lot to say about the value of the traditional Benedictine psalm schema and Office (which his monastery was forced to abandon in its full origianl state during the worst years of aggorniamento, when a monastic vistation report dobbed them in for still saying Prime). Taht said, I haven't actually visited them and impressions from websites can certainly be misleading! Still, whatever it is they are doing, it seems to be working!