Read or download the pdf version of the letter here.

“The Book of Psalms is a book full of light. It heals wounded hearts and is honey for the inner man. The Song of Solomon applies to the Book of Psalms, it says: you are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed.” (thoughts of Cassiodorus)

Tegelen, Advent 2019

To all with whom we know ourselves joined,

We want you to share in some of the events in the life of our community. Day by day our lives are renewed by constant attention for the “One thing Necessary” (Lk. 10,38). This is also a vital wellspring for Ongoing Formation. “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Lk. 10,41-42) and the invitation from Jesus to her sister, which applies to us all: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary…” It remains a daily mission to remain with these two sisters focused on Jesus, to subordinate our activities and will to His Heart’s desire for us: the relationship with the Father and to live in His peace.

We can see in the citation from Cassiodorus, that the Book of Psalms is an important book for the man/woman at prayer. According to Saint Athanasius the entirety of human life with all its emotions can be found there. That is why a person praying the psalms, should recognise their own life within. Saint Cassian sees this as the disposition to pray the psalms in an authentic way.

Many things have occurred on a liturgical and monastic level in the past year. Why? We look seriously at what can help our life in a positive way, and try to live the ideal that our Foundress envisioned as faithfully as possible. To do what Saint Paul says: “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, that He can receive” (Romans 12,1). We desire that “nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God” (RB 43,3). Our Mother Foundress taught us, that here on earth, we must practice well what we will be doing the whole of eternity…what else than a heavenly liturgy and perpetual adoration of the Lamb?

Liturgy

In early January Dr. Jennifer Donelson flew in from America to help us “raise our voices”. This time in the singing of the Monastic Compline in Latin. On Epiphany we sung the Latin Vespers, and started to sing Compline in Latin. After that week of study we didn’t return to the Dutch Compline.

For the entire Octave of Easter we sung Vespers completely in Latin; after that we continued with Latin from the short read­ing in the Lauds and Vespers. We’ve got a taste for it…

During the Octave of Corpus Christi we did the same: Vespers completely in Latin. Naturally there was a lot of practice in ad­vance. We went in procession with the Blessed Sacrament on Corpus Christi under a beaming sun.

Monastic life

Mid-January we exchanged the cloth belts on our habit, for leather belts. In January Mother Prioress and Sister Bernarda jour­neyed to America! They went to Gower (Missouri), to get to know a Benedictine community which attracts many young Sisters, because they sing everything in Latin and observe Holy Mass in the Traditional Form. Snow and ice made for a long, tiring journey, but not for a lack of excitement. In the end they arrived in one piece, and were warmly welcomed. During their stay they also visited the Benedictines in Clyde (Missouri), who originate from Switzerland and are also dedicated to perpetual adoration.

After a long time of discussion, prayer and discern­ment, the Sisters who can and want, adopted the monastic veil, ‘the wimple’. Before the 1st Vespers of Corpus Christi the veils were blessed by Father Pierik in the Chapter room.

We wore the traditional veil on High Feasts, subsequently on Sundays and Thursdays, and then on normal weekdays until after Holy Mass. Since the Nativity of Mary, September 8th, we wear the traditional veil every day.

Cor Orans

Mother Prioress has been engaged in various ways with the study of instruction laid out by ‘Cor Orans’, the revised laws for female Contemplative life, released in 2018. She attended a study day, together with Abbot Lenglet OSB and Sister Bernarda; they participated in different discussion groups, namely: that over the Religious Assistant, Federations, and Formation. During the Confederal Meeting in Cologne an entire day was spent on Cor Orans, under the guidance of a lawyer. It ultimately means for us, that we have to adapt our rules of life to the new legislation. This mainly applies to the forming of Federations (mutual partnerships), the monastic formation and the enclosure.

Institute

From 10-16 March the Confederal Meeting of our Institute took place, this time in Cologne. Mother and Sister Bernarda took part. It was a full programme, but was expertly lead by Dom Jeremias Schröder OSB. A joyous highpoint was the acceptance of the monastery in Tororo (Uganda) by the Assembly of Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration. Rome confirmed this with a Decree on June 17th: They were directly incorporated in the Confederation, in the expectation that they will soon be able to form an African Federation.

Prior to the meeting, Mother Scholastica from the monastery in Tororo visited our fellow Brothers in Silverstream, in Ireland, where Mother Immaculata joined them for a few days. The community in Silverstream, with whom we have over seven years of contact, is growing steadily in number and quality. The charism of our noble Mother Foundress, Mother Mectilde, is there visible and tangible. Our Order is also blossoming in Africa.

Following the Confederal Meeting, our Mother Prioress visited the communities of Valkenburg, Ledegem and Nuland to bring them a report. They were good days, with fortifying encounters, in Sisterly sincerity.

Sister Bernarda went 28-31 October to Craon to prepare for the Novice Mistress Formation days, in March 2020. Mother Prioress took the opportunity to visit our fellow Sisters in Craon, and so accompanied her. Fruitful discussions took place.

Visits

Our oblates come here regularly for their ongoing formation. In addition to classes, they pray and work with us, using their talents: the Stations of the Cross, in the garden of the enclosure, were magnificently restored. A mutual enrichment takes place, on a spiritual level, as well as on a material level. The children, young as they are, love to come along. The Family Weekend, for the Feast of the Ascension, organised by some of our oblates, this year was all about Saint Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family. Many families took part in this retreat, the Guesthouse is well lived in. During the weekend for oblates in October, Sister Hildegard pronounced her Promises in the Holy Mass, for dedication as a Secular Oblate. Her ‘Suscipe’ gave each of us a stimulus.

A couple gifted us several kilos of tomatoes, and even helped with canning! Thank you so much!

On four occasions young families gathered in our monastery to participate in the traditional form of the Holy Mass, to receive Catechesis, socialise and mingle as one family.

These days were enthusiastically lead by Father Peter Hagenbeek FSSP. Joy and faith go very well together! They were nice times.

Other retreats were those of: Pure Womanhood for young women, Father David Jones for priests, Dom Philippe of Chevetogne on the Holy Spirit and Father Johan Debeer CSJ, who lead our community retreat. Father Marcel Albert OSB en Sister Hildegard Koetsveld OSB held conferences, and there was an inspiring afternoon of reflection for people who take part in adoration.

New

The bells of our chapel swung, on Friday March 22nd: our new Bishop, Monsignor Harrie Smeets, came to visit. Monsignor celebrated Holy Mass with us. The “getting to know you” in the Chapter room had a warm vibe: Monsignor narrated and related many things, and received questions.

The telephone line and the intercom have been replaced.

Priorij Nazareth received a new resident on April 6th, he still needs to acclimatize (we all do): we have a cat. He answers (sometimes) to the name of Benedict. A real ol’ Benedictine cat, suitably attired in black and white.

In June the triennial Election of a Mother Prioress took place. Though Mother Immaculata was re-elected, it is every time a new beginning.

On September 1st our new parish priest Anu Antony was installed. He visited our community to make our acquaintance, following a celebration of the Eucharist.

Latin Liturgy Association

In our Summer newsletter, to the members of the Society for Adoration (“Gemeenschap voor Aanbidding”),  we discussed the Liturgical Formation days in more detail. It was a grace filled time, which we look back upon with appreciation. The “Missa Cantata” and the “Solemn High Mass” (complete with deacon and sub-deacon) made a deep impression on us. It was so well organized and prepared, so we enjoyed giving full attention to the Mystery.

Jubilees

On the 10th of July, we celebrated in immense thankfulness, the 60th anniversary of the Holy Priesthood of Monsignor Karel Kasteel. In anticipation, our Bishop Monsignor Smeets, paid a surprise visit to the jubilarian.

Five other priests were present with Monsignor Kasteel, during the solemn celebration of the Eucharist. At the end of Holy Mass six priests gave their blessing. Then we sung a very appropriate hymn.

Mother Scholastica celebrated her 60th anniversary of Profession on October 12th. Our Mother travelled to Valkenburg to honour this pivotal moment in profound gratitude.

Literature and media

As refectory reading, among others, we read the remarkable book ‘Heart to heart’, on John Henry Cardinal Newman. We selected for this book in the run up to his Canonisation by Pope Francis on October 13th.

Our Summer newsletter, to the members of the Society for Adoration, included citations from ‘The Reed of God’ by Caryll Houselander. We mentioned in parentheses, how unfortunate that this book is not in Dutch. To our great joy, someone offered to translate the little book. Next year we hope to publish this classic. It is particularly appropriate for Advent.

Mother had an interview with the local newspaper, the Noord-Limburger, where she asked for a hand with gardening and odd jobs in house. Since then, many volunteers have been in contact! On October 26th the first public gardening day was held. This was such a success, that another took place on November 16th.

Many dead trees were cut down and beds tended to, in a fine atmosphere of togetherness and solidarity. In itself the friendship was a big gift. The question arose if in the New Year, once a month, an opportunity could be offered for a group to come for a day in the garden, in the house, for sewing or repair work, etc. If you want to know the planned dates/or if you would like to join the group for a one-off, or on a few occasions, feel free to contact the following address: priorij.nazareth@oudemunt.nl

“Omroep Venlo” (the local T.V. station), found it worth their while to film the activities in the garden. You can find the clip at the notices on our website www.oudemunt.nl.

Improvements

A large extractor fan was installed in the kitchen. This was deemed necessary because – owing to moisture from steam – the paintwork was peeling off the ceiling.

The painters came for the annual maintenance of our building: every year a different section. This concerns the exterior of the house. Over the past 40 years, inside the house, only the absolute essential was done, so the house needs a makeover. We would like to try and raise money for this, so every year we can carry out a piece of work. That is why we will also hold the calendar fundraiser this year. You can order a calendar for € 10,- exclusive of postage. A beautiful present for the New Year.

Our community

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. (Ps. 127) Our community is sometimes more vulnerable, due to the impressive age of the elder sisters, illness and infirmity. This leads to a deep gratitude that Our Lord, day by day, strengthens us to accomplish the daily duties. Thanks to outside help, for both adoration and work. Our Lord has a purpose with everything which He arranges or permits.

We are thankful for a year of perpetual adoration, together with volunteers and guests, who faithfully fill a number of night hours. Thankful for all the lessons from various priests and for the Formation days, thankful for all the help of every form! Without you we wouldn’t be able to sustain this life of prayer and enclosure. We remember all our benefactors in our prayer. We need each other!

From our hearts we wish you
a blessed Advent,
a Holy Christmas
and a New Year blessed by God.

In prayerful union,
Your Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Sr Immaculata Franken OSB ap, prioress

Priorij Nazareth, Klooster Oude Munt – Van Wevelickhovenstraat 1 – 5931 KS Tegelen (NL) – +31 77 3731572 – www.oudemunt.nlpriorij.nazareth@oudemunt.nl
IBAN NL59INGB0001036179 (BIC INGBNL2A) in the name of Zusters Benedictinessen van het H. Sacrament te Tegelen
KvK 74864831 – RSIN 860054627

For Ireland:
IBAN IE14 BOFI 9012 3996 0507 57 BIC BOFIIE2D Bank of Ireland, Naas, Co Kildare
Accountname: The New Evangelisation Trust, For “Benedictine Formation House”

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