Thursday, February 17, 2011

OMS #4

The book Three Religious Rebels tells a story of Robert, Alberic and Stephen, founders of the Abbey of Cîteaux and the seat of the Cistercian reform movement of Benedictinism.

As well-known writer, Australian Trappist Michael Casey, OCSO, writes, "As you know Cîteaux was founded from Molesme which had begun as a reformed monastery but, according to Cistercian sources, had declined as its riches increased. Because many of its recruits were not zealous for an austere life, contact with the world and the acceptance of a lower standard of monastic discipline left the more conscientious brothers dissatisfied. Under the leadership of Abbot Robert, his prior Alberic, who succeeded him as abbot of the New Monastery and Stephen, who followed Alberic as abbot, a small number of monks set out for what was described as the “wilderness” of Cîteaux, although in fact they were only 20 km from Dijon and under the protection of the Duke of Burgundy.

The new foundation was poor and isolated, without many of the material benefits of an established monastery; the monks attempted to live by the Rule quite literally, distancing themselves consciously from many (but not all) customs derived from traditional Benedictine centers."

The Cistercians and Trappists are followers of the Rule of Benedict whose founders sought to reform Benedictine monastic life, first as Cistercians, as described above in 1098, and then again as Trappists in the mid-17th century. Both reform movements began in France.

Today these two groups have all but merged, all referring to themselves as "Cistercians." There are only about 3,000 Trappists (OCSO) and 2,000 Cisterians (OCist) in the world today.

Most of them have extensive guest accommodations, as part of their income ministries. Many in the USA produce delicious and unique food products: jelly, candy, bread, honey, cheese, fruitcake and natural wood caskets!

In the USA you'll find Cistercian/Trappist monasteries in these remote places--but all have easily accessible websites! I've included links to places I know in case you'd like to browse a bit. A link to the excellent worldwide Trappist website is in the right-hand column.

Lucerne Valley, CA
Vina, CA
Snowmass, CO
Conyers, GA
Peosta, IA
Argo, IL
Trappist, KY
Spencer, MA
Ava, MO
Mount Laurel, NJ
Piffard, NY
Lafayette, OR
New Ringgold, PA
Moncks Corner, SC
Irving, TX
Huntsville, UT
Berryville, VA
Sparta, WI

Sonoita, AZ
Whitethorn, CA
Dubuque, IA
Wrentham, MA
Crozet, VA
Prairie du Sac, WI