Mount Angel Abbey Benedictines
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Saint Benedict, OR
Patron Saints/Famous Saints of the Community
There are hundreds of Benedictine Saints. Here are a few; St. Benedict, St Scholastica, St Gregory the Great, St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Boniface, St. Bede, St. Anselm, St. Gertrude the Great, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Boniface, St. Willibrord, St. Ansgar, St. Peter Damian, St. Hugh, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Frances of Rome, St. Odo of Cluny, and many more.
Mount Angel Seminary, Saint Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center, Liturgical Prayer, Benedictine Brewery
The Order of Saint Benedict has its beginnings in 480 AD with Saint Benedict, who wrote a Rule for Monks and established the Monastery of Montecassino in Italy. Benedictine monks started many monasteries in Europe and were largely responsible for the conversion of northern Europe and England. In addition, the Benedictines preserved classical culture during the Dark Ages by preserving and copying books. Towns grew up around monasteries. The Benedictines also advanced many agricultural practices. Many popes and bishops come from Benedictine Monasteries. There have been numerous Benedictine Saints in every century since its founding; men and women.
Mount Angel Abbey was founded in 1882 from the 900 year old abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. Our founders were building a refuge for Engelberg in the event the monastery would be suppressed by the Swiss Government. They established Mount Angel College in 1885. Four years later in 1889 the Archdiocese of Portland Oregon requested the monks to include a Seminary in their school. Today Mount Angel Seminary is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States training men for the Diocesan priesthood. It has Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degree Programs.
The community has survived two tragic fires; one in 1892 and another in 1926, but has persevered through times of financial difficulty, anti-catholic and anti-German bigotry and scandals. In 1934 Mount Angel Abbey sponsored its first daughter house; Westminster Abbey and Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C. Canada. In 1966 we founded the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome, Idaho and Nuestra Senora de los Angeles in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
The Abbey has a longstanding reputation for excellent priestly formation, music, hospitality and liturgical prayer. Built on a hilltop, we have a beautiful location with well tended grounds that people enjoy. They tell us that they are attracted to the peace and prayerfulness of of our home.
St. Benedict wrote in his Rule that "all visitors are to be received as Christ." Thus hospitality has become an important ministry with guesthouses for pilgrims and other travelers and retreat centers for spiritual refreshment and growth.
The Abbey was careful in is renewal after Vatican II and has maintained many traditional monastic practices. It has served us well. In recent years many new young men have joined our community. Presently over 40% of the community are men who have joined the community in the past ten years. The future looks bright and we are anxious to do the Lord's work.
Both public and private prayer are important parts of monastic spirituality. We pray together six times each day; Vigils, Lauds, Midday Prayer, Vespers, Compline and the Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist. We also spend time in Eucharistic adoration each week and each monk is expected spend time in the prayerful reading of the Scripture every day. It is common to see monks praying the rosary or making novenas. We see ourselves as praying for the Church in two senses. We intercede for the Church and we make sure that the Church is giving worthy adoration to God. At Mount Angel we chant the entire Divine Office together with the saints and angels gathered before the throne of God in heaven.
Prayerful silence is maintained in the monastery during the day and is scrupulously guarded during the night. Even our work time has a prayerful quality to it.
We have a strong tradition of hospitality. We hold a Saint Benedict Festival each summer where the monks serve food and beverages and give talks about our monastic life and people join us for prayer.
We also hold a three day Bach Festival featuring professional musicians every summer. Attendees join us for Vespers which is followed by a musical program in the Abbey Church. This is often a program on our pipe organs or a vocal program of sacred music. That is followed by an outdoor buffet with local wines and our Benedictine brews. A second musical program of classical music is held in the seminary auditorium.
We hold outdoor processions on Palm Sunday and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi).
On Christmas eve we have a wonderful selection of hors d'oeuvres, drinks and chicken pot pie. This is followed by a program of Christmas Carols in the monastery. The Abbot passes out gifts to the monks and the novices will perform a skit or musical piece for the assembled community. There is always midnight mass and a reception with our guests in attendance.
We keep vigil with our dying monks so that there is always a monk at the bedside of the confrere to pray with him and comfort him as he transitions to the heavenly life. The Tower bell is tolled with one toll for each year of age and the monks gather in the church to pray for the beloved confrere. The monk is buried in his habit in a wooden coffin made by our monks. There is a community gathering of remembering, telling stories about the deceased confrere and the monks get an extra hour of sleep on the day of the funeral.
When a monk makes his life-long Solemn Vows he undergoes a mystical burial where he prostrates before the altar at the time of offertory and is covered by a funeral pall. the tower bell tolls and the mass continues. At the Great Amen he rises and joins the community for the rest of the mass.
The community celebrates with a banquet on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. The monks take turns waiting at table. Everyone is assigned housekeeping chores. We celebrate name's days rather than birthdays.