The monastic refectory at Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina
I’ve just uploaded five sets of photos to Flickr from August when I had my month at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina as a monastic guest. Mepkin is a monastery of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (OCSO), who used to be [and still commonly are] known as Trappists. Mepkin is a daughter-house of Gethsemani Abbey, in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton was a monk.
I had originally planned to visit Mepkin during my sabbatical time which I was due for about 2010. My sabbatical got “upgraded” to canon law studies, so my other sabbatical plans got shelved. This past [North American] summer I thought I’d use the break time to visit Mepkin as I had originally planned since I had the time. I figured that it might be the last time that I’d have the luxury to do this for some time.
It’s not so easy to find a monastery that you can stay in for more than a few days at a time, but I did find Mepkin. Their monastic guest programme allows men to stay for a month, and to essentially share the life of the monks, doing everything that they do. Obviously it is one way to assist those considering a monastic vocation, but the monastic guest programme is open even to those who aren’t looking to enter the monastery (like myself).
My time at Mepkin was very spiritually fruitful, and – I might add – very affirming of my secular vocation! It was particularly nice to spend time in a community of the same Order in which I was a novice ten years ago (at Tarrawarra Abbey, in Melbourne, Australia).
You can see the photos here.
The Cistercian monks in choir at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky
I’ve uploaded some more photos to Flickr.
These photos are of Holy Saturday morning at Gethsemani Abbey. On the drive to Saint Meinrad’s we stopped off at a bourbon distillery, since most of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky! There are some shots of the proto-cathedral of Bardstown (it is no longer a cathedral church), and also of a little church near Saint Meinrad’s and a shrine to Saint Joseph. Then there are some photos of the evening at Saint Meinrad’s, prior to the Easter Vigil.
I’m currently in Chicago. Three of us fly out from here this afternoon from Italy.
Gethsemani Abbey, Trappist, Kentucky
I haven’t had any success adding photos to Facebook, but I have just uploaded the first batch of photos to Flickr.
The photos are of the first day-and-a-bit of the pilgrimage, from Ottawa to Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky.
Gethsemani is a community of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (commonly known as the Trappists). Thomas Merton was a member of the Gethsemani community.
Greetings from Madisonville, Kentucky!
The travelling has been going well, and more or less to plan. On Good Friday we were with the Cistercians at Gethsemani Abbey for the afternoon Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. Gethsemani is in a beautiful location. It was nice to see the place made famous particulary as the community to which Thomas Merton belonged. Whilst there we were able to join a couple of the other liturgies including Vigils at 3.15am on Holy Saturday morning.
On Saturday we travelled in Indiana to Saint Meinrad’s Archabbey. We arrived in time for Vespers and joined the monks for supper. At 8pm was the beautiful celebration of the Easter Vigil. The Vigil lasted three hours, which is a pretty good effort in my opinion as there were no Baptisms! The music at the Vigil was extraordinarily beautiful. The community is blessed with many talented musicians.
I’ve taken lots of photos, but I haven’t had a chance to upload any yet – so stay tuned!