We all know the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, of Gower MO, those old-school Benedictine nuns who sing like angels (they have recorded chart-topping, best-selling, albums of sacred music to supplement their building campaigns), run their own dairy, grow much of their own food and pray for all of us, all day long.
And they do it in Latin, too. I’m not a great “Latin Mass” person — I do like a well-done Novus Ordo that remembers our roots by using some Latin as well — but I have always been intrigued by the Benedictines of Mary who seem to run their monastery (in accordance to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict) in a way that makes my very favorite novel, In this House of Brede, come alive. I used to read Brede with a sense of sadness that the exacting-but-beautiful, busy, purposeful monasticism that Rumer Godden described so well no longer existed, at least not in the United States, but it seems there are pockets of that sort of life still around, and the Missouri’s Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus is one of them.
There are a couple of other Benedictine communities who hew closely to the Rule, and include Latin — St. Walburga Abbey and the Abbey of Regina Laudis come to mind — but I think the Benedictines of Mary are the only ones using the Extraordinary Form and the old Rites.
So, it will be really interesting to watch the ceremonies over the next two days as the Priory at Ephesus becomes the Abbey of Our Lady at Ephesus. With their new chapel “just barely” completed, the thirty member community will be raised to the status of an Abbey tomorrow, September 9, and the long — very long — ceremony, done in the old rite, Latin and all, will be livestreamed, thanks to the monks of Conception Abbey.
Then, on Monday, September 10, Mother Cecilia, the young Prioress who has led them through all of the building and music recording and growth of the last few years, will be consecrated as the first Abbess of the new abbey. The nuns believe this might be the first Abbatial consecration of a nun in the old form in the United States. At the same time, two novices will be making their first profession of vows, and four postulants will be clothed as novices. All of this will be live-streamed.
It’s killing me that I’ll miss all of it, as I head off on vacation, but I wanted to make sure ya’ll knew about it. Hopefully after the events are livestreamed, they’ll be posted to You Tube so stragglers like me can watch. If not, then hopefully those in charge will get more info about how to repeat this in the future.