New Melleray Celebrates Our 170th Anniversary

On July 16, the community here quietly celebrated 170 years of witness to the gospel and a life wholly ordered to contemplation in Northeast Iowa.  Celebrating with us were our sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, about 25 minutes away.  We were also pleased to have with us Dom Eamon, the Abbot General of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance and his secretary, Fr. Simeon who were visiting the sisters and joined us for a festive meal.  Characteristic of monks, who love and value so much our regular rhythm of prayer, lectio-divina, and manual labor, the brothers were content to spend the day as we do most other days.  A festive gathering with our sisters and the Abbot General helped heighten our awareness of the mystery of our nearly two centuries presence in this place, but perhaps the celebration we cherished most was was silent absorption in the revelation of God’s infinite mercy with which we have real contact every day in the celebration of the Eucharist and praying of the Divine Office.  Maybe too, because monks are eschatological persons who live, in a sense, at the end of history, our gaze is drawn powerfully to the fulfillment of all things at the end of time, and less to the past.  One hundred and seventy years is, for God, like the blink of an eye, and for us, just a foretaste of the fullness of life whose attainment every monk longs for with all his heart and soul.