Sisters praying, women working, stewarding a heritage--Christian, Roman Catholic, Cistercian--in this place called Wrentham.
Welcome to Mount Saint Mary's Abbey
- Parent Category: Abbey
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 18:43
- Published on Sunday, 24 December 2006 23:00
Saint Mary's Abbey is the first monastery of Cistercian Nuns in the United States. Located in scenic New England in southern Massachusetts close to the Rhode Island border the Abbey is easily acessible from Boston or Providence. The sisters come from all parts of the United States and from several other countries.
The first sisters arrived in 1949 from St. Mary's Abbey (Glencairn, Ireland).The community grew rapidly and in 1964 the first foundation was made in Dubuque, Iowa. Our Lady of the Mississippi was followed by Santa Rita Abbey , Sonoita, Arizona in 1972 and Our Lady of the Angels, Crozet, Virginia in 1987.Today that first generation is passing into the mature years, the golden years that crown a lifetime of fidelity. At present there are 44 sisters at Wrentham.
In 1998 the newly renovated Church reopened and was dedicated on April 26. October, 1999 marked the Golden Jubilee of Foundation, and the Abbess from Glencairn and one of the surviving Irish foundresses (all the Irish had been recalled to Glencairn in the mid 1950's) joined the MSM Abbey community for the celebration. That same year our first daughter house, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, sent sisters to Tautra, Norway to bring Cistercian life again to that country.
Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey is home to fifty Cistercian nuns, more commonly known as Trappistines. The more complete, formal name of the Order is Cistercians of the Strict Observance whose founding at Citeaux dates back to 1098 and is now comprised of monks and nuns who live in one hundred and seventy two autonomous monasteries throughout the world. Our particular Abbey was founded in 1949 by an Irish monastery, Saint Mary’s of Glencairn, and we in turn have given birth to three other U.S. based communities since then: Our Lady of the Mississippi, Iowa, Santa Rita Abbey, Arizona, and Our Lady of the Angels, Virginia.
We are religious women who have dedicated our lives to prayer and contemplation; the essence of our consecrated life is monastic, based on the Rule of St. Benedict. We possess a strong communal orientation yet certain intrinsic values are needed to support our prayer. We gather in Church seven times each day to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. We maintain a certain level of silence and degree of solitude in order that we may be present to Christ, in Himself, in our sisters, in our world and creation. Similarly we desire to be attentive to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and so want to be available and open to the grace with which God wishes to bless us.
Three predominant facets of our particular vocation provide a necessary balance to our day. They allow access to God in ways that can be considered simple and ordinary as we try to respond to God in our day to day living. The first is prayer. The Work of God – the Divine Office – together with our daily Eucharistic celebration, is central. This God-encounter courses through time, expands our consciousness and widens our hearts so that in our Eucharistic Adoration and mindfulness of God’s presence we embrace the needs of our Church and our world.
The second facet is Lectio Divina, which can be translated as Sacred Reading. It is a thoughtful and meditative process that allows God to speak to us through the deliberate pondering of Holy Scripture. In being attentive and open to the Word, we receive, and what we receive we carry in our heart, for the Word lives and rests within, teaches, strengthens and makes God truly present.
The third segment is monastic work. Our Rule asks that we be self-supporting, that we live by the fruit of our own labor, the work of our hands; thus work is necessary not just for our livelihood but for our life. We offer our work to God that it might be blessed, and by its being united to the work of Christ, we give the Lord glory. In our often ordinary and laborious work we are in solidarity with all who must labor, with the poor who toil often without adequate recompense, with those unable to work or find work. At the same time our work, often simple, affords us the opportunity to be mindful of God. Prayer can blossom in this milieu.
These three necessary components of monastic life give impetus to the living out our vowed life. These vows are obedience, conversion of life which includes poverty and chastity, and stability to the place of profession. They allow for the exercise of humility, self-emptying, self-surrender, faith and charity, the means to union with Jesus so that He might find a place in the heart of His faithful. We walk this journey with Mary, our Blessed Mother and Queen of Citeaux. She is our life, sweetness and hope. Through Her prayerful intercession and aid, we come to knowledge and love of Her Son who is the Heart of the created universe, our Way, our Truth and our Life.
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