A Simple and Spiritual Life: Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity
Column by: Richard Rozman
Technology opens the world. Having a computer and connecting with anyone at any time is commonplace. I like the feeling of being
connected to the people and ideas of the world through technology. Learning about the world through technology makes me feel as if I am truly a citizen of the world. On the other hand, there are times when technology overloads me with all the possibilities. I want to know myself and my place in a world that is driven by technology. However, in order to do that, I need to know myself and my place in the world in a simple, spiritual, and connected way. I have found my way to connect and to understand a simpler existence, if only for a short time, and to experience a true connection to my spirituality. Each year, I make my own pilgrimage at Easter to a monastery known as Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity.
Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy
Trinity is the home of a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monks known as Cistercians. It is located in a peaceful valley hidden in the mountains of northeastern Utah. At Holy Trinity, fifteen monks, whose average age is 82 years with the oldest being 93 years old and the youngest 65 years old, presently live at the monastery which was founded in 1947 after World War II and at one time in the early 1950’s had a membership of over eighty members. The monks are currently lead by their sixth abbot Father David Altman who was elected by his fellow monks in 2007.
Each day at 3:15 a.m., the monks rise to begin their day of prayer and work. The monks feed and clothe themselves and earn their own living through farming and other industries
and crafts. Guests of the monastery are housed and fed by the monks who are assigned duties of cleaning and cooking. As much as possible, the monks try to do their own maintenance and repair work in the monastery and in the guest quarters. The monks who have been serving and praising God at Holy Trinity for sixty-five years are willing to share their lifestyle in Utah’s setting of solitude and natural beauty with guests.
I will be a guest at the monastery during the Easter weekend. I am staying at the retreat house at Holy Trinity which can house up to twelve adult men of all religions who seek a place of peace and quiet where they can reflect on their relationship with God, pray, and be renewed spiritually. There are no schedules at the retreat house. I will have time to read, exercise, rest, walk, and let the Lord Jesus speak to my heart. As a guest, I will share meals with the monks. Priests of the community are available for counseling and for the sacrament of reconciliation. My wife loves being at Holy Trinity. Women who wish to make retreats may use the family guest house at times when it is not in use by relatives of the monks. Retreats are usually limited to three days for people within the State of Utah. Someone coming from outside the State may make arrangements for a longer stay through the guest master. The abbey church is always open to guests for silent prayer and meditation. Guests are welcome to attend the chants of the monks and the celebration of the Eucharist. Guests make offerings to Holy Trinity to help with the costs of operating the abbey in lieu of paying fees for guest accommodations and services.
Due to new rulings and the aging population of the monks, the abbey no longer accepts novices. Consequently, a volunteer program which is open to unmarried, practicing
Catholic men in good physical and emotional health between the ages of twenty-five and fifty was created. While living the monastic lifestyle, volunteers assist the elderly monks with the daily chores and duties of the monastery. Room and board are provided without charge, but volunteers are responsible for providing their own health insurance. On the spiritual level, volunteers at Holy Trinity Abbey have the advantage of attending daily Mass and chanting of the Psalms, participating in weekly Eucharistic adoration, and taking instruction in spiritual wisdom by the monks who have walked with God in the monastic life for more than fifty years. More details about becoming a volunteer, being a guest, or donating to Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity are found on the website (http://www.holytrinityabbey.org/).
As this week marches on toward Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I prepared for my trip and think about Easter and all that is symbolizes. This is a very spiritual week in the Christian world and the Jewish world. Passover began on the evening of Monday, March 25 and will end in the evening of Tuesday, April 2. I look forward to spending this week in celebration of my spirituality and in reconnecting with my sense of self in a setting of solitude and natural beauty at Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity.
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