Tides of June

The steady fall of rain has become a regular feature of life here in Iowa, with its drumbeat on our church roof drowning out softer voices rising from within. Rivers have been rising and causing havoc in certain areas. The benefits to crops generally outweigh any damage done.

We have begun a collaborative project in education/formation with the sisters of Mississippi Abbey. A series of classes on Christian anthropology is being presented by Rev. Doug Wathier, a retired professor of Loras College. The first class was given on Monday, June 1st, in the afternoon at Mississippi Abbey. Two carloads of monks rode over to the Abbey for a joint session. Then, on Tuesday morning, the sisters drove over to New Melleray for a second joint session. After celebrating Sext in church, we had dinner together in our refectory at the end of the morning. This is part of an effort to take advantage of mutually energizing our communities by sharing various activities. No two other monasteries in our country are so geographically near and it is a bonus to be able to share in our charism and Cistercian way of life.

In his first lectures, Fr. Wathier exposed the gradual development of reflection on the understanding of humanity in the light of the Incarnation of Christ, moving from the Apostolic Fathers, Irenaeus to Augustine. An understanding of Christian anthropology is influenced by how one interprets doctrines of free will, original sin, and the redemptive atonement of Christ. The way of life one follows is a continuing existential interpretation of fundamental beliefs. Classes are planned for once a month.

On Sunday, June 23rd, we celebrated the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in our Chapter Room. Six members of the community received the sacrament in the supportive circle of their brothers. The rite invoked the healing presence of Christ to bestow His grace and support to the infirm and aged.

On that same day, several sisters came over from Mississippi Abbey to help us celebrate the birthday of Fr. Brendan. They supplied the cake, while we provided the ice cream. Perhaps this is sharing a charism, in an extended sense.

The Information Forum reviewed several projects afoot in the community. New windows will be installed on the first floor (around the kitchen and wardrobe). After this is done, we will decide about moving up to the second floor. Another Come-and-See weekend for vocation promotion is being planned for the fall. It is a little early to hear any response from the recent weekend.