Monday, August 20, 2012

Plan a Trip to a Monastery as You Celebrate the Life of Bernard of Clairvaux

Today we celebrate the life of the 12th century monk, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. What an amazing man!

Those of us interested in monasticism owe a debt to St. Bernard, who was responsible not only for founding his own monastery, but for sending monks out to establish monasteries or to rescue already-formed monasteries from heretical directions. We give him credit for the founding of hundreds of monastic communities.

For more on St. Bernard, see this post from last year.  Since this post comes in the middle of a photo essay thinking about summer pleasures and what you still have time to do, why not add planning a visit to a monastery to the list?

There are many reasons to visit a monastery, many things you might learn.  I've written a whole series, but the shorter essay is here.

From an aesthetic stand point, you'll find many monasteries located in settings that are appealing:

And many of them have breathtaking gardens (less blurry than in this photo):

You will likely be invited into the chapel to worship with the monastics:

You will likely also be invited to enter, in a limited way, into the life of the community.  Below, a table in the refectory where guests at Mepkin Abbey eat:

Mepkin Abbey has a variety of surprises, like the best theological library I've seen outside of a university:

Imagine all those rows, shelves full of books!

Your sleeping space will likely be spare, but it will have the basics:  bed, desk, and chair.  And it will be clean.   Hospitality is one of the practices of monastics, after all:

You will have all sorts of opportunities, experiences you might never otherwise have.  Start on the path by planning your trip!

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