St. Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cistercian order and patron saint of beekeepers, pray for us!
Before you ask, no, it’s not pronounced like the dog, as in ber-NARD. It’s pronounced BER-nerd.
The Cistercians, also known as the Trappists, came about due to St. Bernard’s observation of laxity within the Benedictines of his time. The official name of the Trappists is the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance—O.S.C.O.
I spent some time with his descendants at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani—most know it as the home of Thomas Merton—a few years back. Here are some pictures I took when I was there:
Sign at the entrance.
View from the parking lot.
One more from the outside…
…before we turn to the monastic-only area.
Here it is.
Sanctioned by a Gethsemani monk.
The spartan abbey church.
As above, so below.
The cross carried by the founders of the abbey.
Postcard in the backyard.
Yes, it’s really him. Known monastically as Father Louis.
Other monks basking in their eternal reward.
Thomas Merton’s private hermitage. Being a guru certainly pays.
Me and my good friend, Brother Conrad. I considered joining just for his sake.
The marvelous Father Anton. The simplest, most joyful man I have ever met. Too bad I have those stupid sunglasses on all the time.
The road leading away from Gethsemani.
I do miss it. Such a life is compelling to everyone, at least some of the time. But I like seeing my family, and I like Lucy, too, and joining up at Gethsemani would eliminate both of those things from my life, plus many more. I can’t wait to visit again, though.
The Order is a monastic institute wholly ordered to contemplation.