This morning I woke up early and drove over to the local Cistercian Abby for morning mass before heading to work. I snapped the picture below. This church, simple in its elegance and beauty, bears the hallmark austerity of the Order of Cistercians and yet is grander than many cathedrals. I also realize that hardly anybody in America (let alone Texas) could actually make the statement I just did — about simply “dropping by” the local Cistercian abby church. There is only one other monastery belonging to the Order of Cistercians (common observance and not Trappists) in the United State and that is in Mount Laurel, NJ. By the way, my day was near-perfect from that point on. Obviously the time spent in prayer, quiet reflection, worship, and reception of the Eucharist are key. But praying with the monks and getting lost in their stunning one-tone chanted prayers is truly a blessing and a great way to kick off any day!
As an aside, one of these monks, Fr. Ignatius, recently came to speak with my students about his vocation story, which was inspiring. It turns out that Fr. Ignatius is also an artist (his work is available on their website). He studied art before entering the order and now teacher art at the Abbey’s prep school for boys. Check it out.