Entries by TrappCraig

The Catholic Church and Cremation

For most of its 2,000-year history, cremation was forbidden by the Catholic Church. This teaching was born of historical context as well as biblical interpretation. In early times, Romans cremated their dead as a rejection of an afterlife, a direct contradiction to the Christian hope of resurrection. Therefore, cremation was associated with pagans and Christians […]

A Work of Human Hands – Trappist Caskets and Urns

For Trappists, death is understood as a natural part of life. The beauty with which God bestows upon the earth is subject to the burden of time. Seasons change, tides rise and fall, morning light dims with night. Such occurrences remind the monks to reverently regard human life in its own cyclical reality, both as […]

From Ireland to Iowa: The Trappist Monks of New Melleray Abbey

The Trappist monks, belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, share a rich history that spans sixteen hundred years. From arid Egyptian deserts to green pastures of Ireland, monks have prayed, studied, and worked together for centuries. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the ensuing period of unrest in the […]

What is Monasticism?

The concept of monasticism is ancient and is found in many religions and philosophies. In the centuries immediately before Christ, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism all developed alternative styles of life which involved renouncing the world in some ways, in order to seek liberation or purification or union with God, sometimes as a solitary ascetic, sometimes […]

Organic Garden at New Melleray Abbey

From the very beginning agriculture has been an integral part of our Cistercian monasteries. The monks of New Melleray have always lived close to the land. While today we lease our crop land to local farmers, we still can enjoy the rich experience of growing food for our own table and for the guesthouse dining […]

Famous Monks – St. Benedict

St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries (RB) was not the only monastic Rule available in the sixth century, but it was the most livable for people of ordinary strength. From his own experience and from the tradition of Egyptian monasticism, Benedict absorbed the authentic monastic spirit of seeking God in community. He was able to articulate […]