Saturday, 1 May 2010

Monastic Studies at Mariawald

Readers will remember the heroic decision of the Trappist Abbey of Mariawald to seek the benefit of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum to permit the restoration of the traditional rule and liturgy in the Abbey. Readers will understand the difficulties that would face any community that turned its face back to the venerable traditions abandoned by the rest of their Order.

The Abbey of Mariawald is by no means large, even by modern standards, with a total community of 11 present as of the beginning of 2009. However, if fruits are yet to appear, there are the shoots of growth. It was announced that from the feast of the Purification, 2nd February, the Abbey has commenced a programme of formation for new postulants and novices.

In fact, three postulants, one of them a Priest formerly of the Archdiocese of Hamburg, were received into the Abbey within one year of the application of Summorum Pontificum to the Abbey. One was later received into the Noviciate as Brother M. Dominic and the Priest was received as a novice under the name of Father M. Ignatius. Effectively, almost half the community consists of members in formation, a unique claim among Trappist monasteries.

As the abbot of Maria Wald, Dom Joseph Vollberger OCSO has said, the Abbey has decided to institute a programme of formation within the monastery to train monks, organized and supervised by Dr. Dr. Erich F. Zehle as a delegated principal of studies. It is fundamental for proper formation that the monks remain in the monastic community and operate in the very well-equipped library of the monastery conducting their studies in a reasonable peace.

On the feast of Candlemas, the 2nd February, 2010, the summer semester of the academic year 2010/2011 commenced. Since the Abbey, with papal privilege, returned to the ancient customs of the Trappists after the usage of Monte Cistello of 1964, it has experienced an influx of postulants, some of whom are now novices.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Berger will teach exegesis and the noted philosopher, Prof. Dr. Robert Spaemann has promised to participate in the formation programme. Other subjects will include general canon law and the Constitutions of the Order, the ratio institutionis, the provisions of the General Chapter and the traditions of the Order.

Seminars, lectures, tutorials and revision courses will lead to a solid philosophical, theological, historical and linguistic training for the holy priesthood. If their superiors approve it, monks and clerics of other monasteries and institutes of consecrated life will be admitted to the programme of formation.

Those wishing to stay at the monastery guest house can contact the porter here.


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful news. It should be a lesson, and an example for the rest of the Trappist Order...which is in a disasterous state of collapse.
Suffering from a very aged membership (most abbies in Europe and the USA have a geriatric membership with a median age of 73+), it would do well for the entire Order, or individual monasteries, to immitate the brave and magnificent witness of Mariawald.
Mariawald was very much a dying community of aged monks before they announced their courageous decision to return to the Traditional Latin Mass and the monastic observances in use before Vatican II. They had 11 monks in 2009. Now, in looking at the website for the Trappist Order, which lists every monastery of monks and nuns and their membership for 2010, Mariawald apparently has gone in one year from 14 total members (2009), to 17..with the hopes of many more entering.
Most of the great Trappist monasteries of Europe, and the UASA are dead are the houses of nuns.
Three Trappistine cloisters of nuns in Europe are closing this year(all in France), and the communities will re-locate to 1 already existing cloister.
In addition, the great Trappist Abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome is down to just 9 aged monks, while that of Orval in Belgium (known for it's famous line of beers), has only 8 monks. The manufacturing of the beer is now done by laypeople, supervised by an elderly monk.
The great USA abbey of Gethsemani (home of the famous....and unfortunatly radical liberal Thomas of the earliest Catholic dissenters after Vatican II (died 1968), has only about 45 monks (225 before Vatican II), and 1 novies (more than 30 before Vatican II. Their average age is 72!
Saint Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA., known for its line of lellies and preserves, (and also a seat of Zen Buddhist meditation practices!!!), has only about 55 aged monks (190 before Vatican II).

The Trappist Order as a whole is dead....except for Mariawald...and hopefully a few others who step forward to immitate its holy example.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Most of the great Trappist monasteries of Europe, and the UASA are dead are the houses of nuns".

Just out of curiosity what would you say to a young man seeking a vocation in the contemplative life and is attracted to the Trappist way of life. Where else would they go? Or should they enter, struggle and become a new generation to bring about change?

Anonymous said...

Vyssi Brod is following, since more than a year now!