The Cistercians

In 1098 the holy Robertus left the abbey of Molesmes with a group of monks in order found a new monastery in Citeaux, Burgundy. Citeaux is in latin: Cistercium. That is why the name is: Cistercians. Their intention was to live there according to the serfs. In the course of the centuries the Cistercians knew several reforms after a prosperous period. The one of La Grande Trappe in Normandy, starting in the 17th century, survived the French Revolution. La Grande Trappe even remained the mother-house of the Order up till 1898. Then the Citeaux abbey could be bought back by the Order. But the name "Trappists" was kept in popular speech.

The Cistercian-life

You'll become a monk after having passed a probationership as a stagiar, a postulant and a novice. The monk promises not to heave another riches than God (vow of poverty), not to obey anyone but God and His Word, made clear by the abbot and the brothers (vow of obedience). All this lived in a lasting familiar community (vow of stability). The escutcheon of the Achelse Kluis abbey, three trees along a streamlet, expresses significantly the vocation and the mission of the Cistercian-community: a community (the three trees) pointing upwards, firmly planted in the reality of the world, which is going pas (as a streamlet!).

The monk is a finger-post to God. Such as St. Benedict says in his Rule for Monks (year 510): the monk doesn't put anything above 'God's Work', the choral singing as a community, in which he opens himself for God's work inside him. Prayer-life presumes the humus, in which it can take a firm root: the 'lectio divina"or spiritual lecture, in which the Bible has a pride of place. In this manner of life the monk atempts to listen to God. "Listen" is the very first word of St. Benedict's Rule and is the resume as well. The silence and the seclusion are in the monk's life of vital interest. No aim as such, is it the way the monk will go listening to God and only to stay in his presence a condition is outward silence; at first you are in the Silence (inside yourself) and further on the Silence in all his work: Kitchen-garden, orchard, kitchen, bakery, laundry, vestry, office, sacristy: in everything the monk is doing , the very first he attempts to do, is, to be united with his God.

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