Lent at the monastery

Dear family and friends,

In recent years, many Catholics, even those who have been away from the Church for some time, have rediscovered the liturgical season of Lent as a time to return to their faith. St. Benedict says a monk should not only do more (pray more, fast more and give more) in this season but also make up for his regular negligences throughout the year. Each monk requests permission of his abbot to work a little in an area in which he has fallen behind, like being quicker to get out of bed in the morning when the bell rings at 3:15 AM. He also tries to do a little something more, an extra decade of the rosary for instance, or the Jesus Prayer. The goal of both is the same: to draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ so that when the joyful day of Easter arrives our hearts will be ready to receive him.

Holy reading and listening also help guide the monk. During Lent, the Rule says each monk is to be given a book which he must read cover to cover. We learn from little prescriptions like these that the library of a monastery in the 6th monastery must have been large enough to offer each monk their own reading material. Conferences are also given to help remind the monk of the duties of his vocation and the need to grow in holiness by dying to himself each day. This Lent, the monks were blessed also to have the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, Gregory Polan, OSB, give conferences to the monks on fraternal charity in the common life.

The soul is nourished by prayer, fasting, almsgiving and reading, but also by beauty. Just in time for Lent, the humble wooden chapel built last year draws us closer to God with the installation of 5 new stained glass windows, donated by five families from Dallas, Texas. The new windows were designed to reflect the three neo-Romanesque windows already installed in the chapel which came from a closing Belgian church last year. A modern studio in Orvieto, IKO (https://www.ikostudio.it) , uses ancient techniques to created stained glass. Their craft is so good that it can be hard to tell them apart from much older stained glass!

The monastery has also been blessed this month with a pledge to build a new organ for the chapel to replace the temporary one. We’ll give more news on the new organ in future updates but, God willing, it will be installed in time for the July 11th Feast of St. Benedict.

We thank God for His countless gifts of generosity and kindness. We hope that this Lent your own lives will, through prayer and sacrifice, draw closer to Christ.

Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.