Health Precautions Introduced at New Melleray

Sunday mass was quiet and shorter with none of our usual friends and neighbors coming up to receive communion.  The Guest Section was empty.  The front door of the monastery is locked until at least after Easter and the monks are making almost no trips outside the monastery.  At Sunday Chapter this morning, Abbot Mark commented on how blessed we are that we are able to celebrate mass – and every day! – while so many millions of Catholics are obliged to bear the burden of this crisis without access to the Eucharist.  The monks are “social distancing”, but we have some experience with that and don’t experience it as most people do.  A source of anxiety for some monks might be the extra precautions necessary when visiting the doctor which a number of the brothers do frequently.  Otherwise, the monks apply ourselves to the customary monastic practices of common prayer, Lectio Divina, and manual labor.  Monks are not permitted to work at Trappist Caskets for the time being.  The Coronavirus may also result in cancelation of some regional events such as regular visitations to monasteries by their abbot of their founding monastery.  On Wednesday, March 25 the archdiocese of Dubuque will offer a day of fasting and prayer and with the monks having bread and water at mid-day and praying rosary together just prior to the Office of Vespers in the evening.  So, with all the restrictions on travel and contact with others, the monks remain intimately united with and praying for our brothers and sisters outside the monastery much as we always do.  An abbot of the order wrote recently about the crisis: “This feels new!”  Perhaps the ordeal will bear fruit in a renewed awareness of our complete dependence upon the God who created us and redeemed us in Christ.