See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Cistercians in Norway

The renewal of monastic life.
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Ten years ago, Our Lady of Mississippi Abbey outside of Dubuque, Iowa made a foundation in Norway called Tautra Mariakloster. I met the abbess at Tautra many years ago while I was at New Melleray and once again when I was asked to paint an icon of the Descent Into Hell for their office of vigils. I have always admired these nuns and their fidelity to the Rule of St. Benedict. The Trappistines were actually the first to return Cistercian monasticism to Norway.
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This is how the nuns describe it on their website:
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Not very far from the ruins of a medieval Cistercian monastery, on the island of Tautra in central Norway, seven Cistercians nuns, with the help and support of countless others, have established themselves and have built a new permanent monastery. Most of the founders came from Mississippi Abbey, in Dubuque, Iowa, USA, in 1999, along with two Norwegians, one from the monastery of Wrentham (USA) and one from Laval (France). Since that time, two of the founders returned to their monasteries and a few more joined us, as well as young women who are in the process of entering our monastery from various countries. - Source
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More recently, Trappists from Citeaux have made a men's foundation at Munkeby:
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Munkeby, the "place of the monks" was the third and northernmost Norwegian monastery established by the Cistercians in the 12th century. It was located, typically, close to a river, in central Norway's Trøndelag region. Nearby were the crossroads of a trade route to Sweden, and the popular pilgrimage road from Trondheim to Stiklestad, where Saint Olav fell in battle in 1030 implanting Christianity. Munkeby was one of more than 500 Cistercian monasteries established in Europe in less than a century. Monks, during this period of spiritual enlightenment, were the primary contributors to advancements in social structure, agriculture, forestry and hydraulics.
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The new Munkeby Mariakloster - kloster is Norwegian for monastery - is being constructed over the foundations of a farmhouse in a sheltered rural environment of forest, farmland and pasture. Wood and stone will be primary building materials to blend with the natural landscape. The four founding French monks will establish their discrete presence as a contemplative monastery according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, written in the 6th century. Brother Joel (55) & Cîteaux's Prior, brothers Arnaud (31), Bruno (33) and Cyril (81), have all chosen to be part of the founding community, despite Norway's rude climate and winter darkness at latitude 63º N, not far from the arctic circle. - Source
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Some stuff to think about.
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These foundations are very important for the Catholic Church and monasticism, as well as Norway, whose people and royal family have welcomed their return with enthusiasm and support. The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance is solidly Roman Catholic and faithful to the Magisterium.
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Sadly, I came across comments on another blog dedicated to the traditional liturgy where some uber-Catholics somehow felt a need to cast aspersions upon Trappist monastic observance, liturgy, design, and to even go so far as to print detraction concerning at least one member of one of the foundations. Once again, these are the things that annoy the heck out me when it comes to some of the more sanctimonious groups of trads; detraction, calumny, elitist crap.
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I assure you, just because a monastery or parish celebrates the EF of Mass, and prays the Divine Office in Latin using Gregorian chant, does not guarantee the health of the community, nor fidelity to the Magisterium. Something lay people and secular religious must keep in mind is that monasteries, just like parishes, are populated by a diverse crowd of human beings whose opinions and practice ebbs and flows with the rhythm of life; Benedictine monastic life especially is marked by the process of ongoing conversion, seeking God alone. It is always a work in progress, individually and collectively. Lay people can expect too much of consecrated religious, while ignoring the log in their own eye.

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Photos: Top: Community of Our Lady of the Mississippi at Chapter.
Middle: Monks from Citeaux at Munkeby

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:38 PM

    Terry,

    I could not find a place to comment on Kenneth so I shall do it here. That photo you placed on your blog this morning gave me a little laugh. Thank you.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Katie

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  2. That's neat. Did you ever read "Kristin Lavransdatter" by Sigrid Undset? The story takes place in pre-reformation Norway. Ms. Undset (a convert to Catholicism) really did her research; she brings the time and place to life.

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  3. Melody - I have never read it, but many people have mentioned it.

    Katie - Kenneth makes me smile too.

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  4. What the heck is going on with you and Cathy.

    First she posts a fabulous post on the ordination ceremony yesterday at the Basilica (with an freebie architectural rant included). Now you post a really interesting item on a religious order from the Twin Cities region (I include northern Iowegians in our area).

    Are you guys telling me that I am slipping in my reporting?

    Good one, Terry!

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  5. Thanks Ray - Cath steals all her stories from me - she is vicious! LOL!

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  6. What the heck is going on with you and Cathy.

    First she posts a fabulous post on the ordination ceremony yesterday at the Basilica (with an freebie architectural rant included). Now you post a really interesting item on a religious order from the Twin Cities region (I include northern Iowegians in our area).

    Are you guys telling me that I am slipping in my reporting?

    Good one, Terry!

    Now I can't post to her blog because tinyurl is acting up.

    And Blogger won't let me post this comment here.

    I must be slipping.

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  7. I can't top Ter for great commentary on the religious life so this is all him with the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    I was going to say more but why should I give you more blog post ideas? LOL!

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  8. Good post Terry, the chairs those nuns are sitting in, look extremely uncomfortable. I would never make it as a nun.

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  9. Yeah - nuns are tough.

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