July 2016

New Melleray Monastic Entrance

Eating Cistercian

New Melleray is somewhat unique among Cistercian monasteries in the U. S. All monasteries have some kind of major industry for self-support, so we are not unique there. But we are unique in that we don’t produce anything you can eat. Our neighbors, the Sisters at Mississippi Abbey, are typical in that regard. There are seventeen Cistercian monasteries in the U. S. from Portland, OR, in the Great Northwest, to Mepkin, SC, in the south and east. You can go from coast to coast, from the northern coast of California to Boston on the Atlantic, and use Cistercian monasteries along the way as filling stations, not for your car but for you and your family. Admittedly you will get a lot of carbs and sugars, and after some visits you would want to have a designated driver along, but you will not go hungry and may even develop a connoisseur’s ability to judge among fruitcakes if not actually like them. From the organically flavored creamed honey of Redwoods Abbey on the California coast to Monk’s Bread of New York’s Genesee Abbey, from the orange/almond cookies of Colorado’s Snowmass to the mushrooms of Mepkin, you can eat and drink Cistercian all the way. I say drink, too. Start off with one of the marvelous varietal wines of New Clairvaux in the upper Sacramento Valley and finish in Massachusetts with a glass of Spencer’s Feierabendbier. Pack some of OLM’s creamy caramels in your purse or pocket, and reload with Wrentham’s butternut munch. You will undoubtedly go to Mass now and then, so be sure to ask the pastor if the altar bread is from Arizona’s Santa Rita Abbey Bakery. Keep room for Crozet’s exceptional gouda cheese; and, yes, there’s fruitcake east and west, north and south. Ava’s is the best (not just a personal opinion, either). Bon appétit!

Fr. Mark

Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It's not about nutrients and calories. It's about sharing. It's about honesty.

-- Louise Fresco



Andrew Pettegree, Brand Luther, Penguin, 2015. Anticipating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pettegree offers a cogent and authoritative overview of Martin Luther and of the burgeoning printing industry that disseminated his ideas. Luther gained renown through his prolific writings. Pettegree contends that Luther “invented a new form of theological writing: short, clear, and direct, speaking not only to his professional peers but to the wider Christian people.” In 1517, when Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church—a common place for announcements to the community—he was an unknown monk who had rarely published. His document, harshly critical of the selling of indulgences that duped Christians into believing they could buy salvation, was widely circulated; “thanks to print,” the author contends, “the indulgence controversy” became “a public matter.” Four years later, after publishing prolifically, Luther was declared a heretic and excommunicated. By the time he died, he was a bestselling author whose works included anti-Semitic and violently abusive tracts. Pettegree attributes Luther’s fame both to his ideas and to his shrewd use of publishing. Although he acknowledges that “a large proportion of the population could not read, even in relatively sophisticated urban societies such as the German imperial cities,” readership among the clergy and intelligentsia was enough to warrant massive printings of Luther’s pamphlets, catechisms, and vernacular translation of the Bible. His friend and ally the artist Lucas Cranach designed attractive title pages highlighting Luther’s name, an innovation that contributed to the creation of what Pettegree calls “Brand Luther.” An informative history of a man of “adamantine strengths and very human weaknesses” who incited a theological revolution.        Kirkus Review.



Author: Fr. Mark Scott

Tags: Cistercian Monasteries, Industry for self-support, Brand Luther, Andrew Pettegree

This simple communication is one way for me as abbot of New Melleray Abbey to communicate with the abbey’s employees and volunteers. My intention is to give our stakeholders some idea of the values and lifestyle of the monks and to share things that I have found worthwhile, thoughtful, and/or humorous. It is hoped that this sharing from the abbot will strengthen the bonds of partnership and collaboration between the monastic community and our extended community of employees and volunteers.

Fr. Mark