Monday, February 21, 2011

Conversation With a Brigittine Monk

This past Wednesday, I got to visit a Brigittine Monastery, the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon. I really didn't know what to expect, but drove out through the brown February rural landscape. There were patches of blue after the mostly rainy Tuesday.

The monastery is back off the main roads and secondary roads amidst farm lands.

The parking lot was empty and it was quiet as  I walked the short path to the priory church.

 I sat in the empty church and read what I thought was the Monastery newsletter - The Rosary Light & Life - which had a long story by Father Reginald Martin about going to Lourdes.  As I look at it now, that turns out to be from the Rosary Center in Portland.  But the Monastery's newsletter is online.

Then I walked over to the main entrance and rang the doorbell and entered into a small shop where the chocolate made at the Monastery is sold.

It was there that I met Brother Francis, who's been a Brigittine monk for 32 years.  I told him I'd heard the monastery was here, but didn't know what I'd find, but I did know they had chocolate.

He said, unfortunately, that was what most people knew about it.

I said that I was more interested in learning about what life was like here.  But no, to his question, I wasn't interested into looking into the possibility of entering the monastery.

We talked for about 20 minutes.  First he told me some of the basics of the order - things I'd read online already.

The Order of The Most Holy Savior, popularly known as Brigittine, was founded in the year 1370 by St. Birgitta of Sweden to give praise and honor to God. Elements which characterize the Brigittine Order include a deep love of Christ, especially in remembrance of His sufferings, the fullness of liturgical worship, a respect for learning and authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the holy Mother of God, all incorporated into a simple monastic life style.
The Brigittine Order exists at present with thirteen monasteries of contemplative nuns and a congregation of contemplative -apostolic sisters whose mother-house is located in Rome, in the actual former dwelling of St. Birgitta.
The Brigittine Monks existed from the fourteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century, when they were dispersed, largely due to the European wars. (In 1970, a Brigittine Monk, Richard Reynolds, martyr, was declared a saint.)
. . . In March of 1976 Brother Benedict Kirby founded a new branch of the Brigittine Monks. This monastery has the canonical status of a Priory "Sui Iuris."
Then he told me their schedule, which is also online. 
4:45 am Rising
5:05 am Office of Readings, Lauds
6:00 am Solitude
7:45 am Mid-morning Prayer
8:00 am Conventual Mass
8:45 am Conference/Work
12:00 nn Mid-day Prayer
1:oo pm Solitude
3:00 pm Mid-afternoon Prayer
3:30 pm Work
6:00 Evening Prayer
6:30 pm Collation
7:00 pm Recreation
8:00 pm Rosary, Night Prayer
 They basically live, work, and stay at the monastery which is about ten acres - plus they have an agreement with local farmers to be able to walk around on the farms neighboring the monastery.  They have a day off every year when all the monks go on an outing.  They've been to the coast, to Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, and I think Brother Francis said they'd been to Portland.  They can leave the monastery for doctor and dentist visits. 

I was interested in how they kept contact with the world.  The prior of the monastery gets email, a major way they get requests for prayers, which the prior passes on to the other monks.  Prayers can't tell God to do anything, they have to be conditioned - God willing.

They don't watch television (I didn't ask about radio), they have magazine subscriptions, and his favorites were the Smithsonian and National Geographic.  They also get a number of Catholic journals.

Silence was not a part of this order, if I remember correctly, though it is part of some meditations

Originally, the monastery was just south of San Francisco, but they knew it was a temporary location and was too noisy right next to a busy street.  They eventually found this spot in rural Oregon, well off the main road and some minor road until you get to the dirt road Monastery Lane.

New Advent tells us about St. Bridget of Sweden:

The most celebrated saint of the Northern kingdoms, born about 1303; died 23 July, 1373.
. . . Her father was one of the wealthiest landholders of the country, and, like her mother, distinguished by deep piety. St. Ingrid, whose death had occurred about twenty years before Bridget's birth, was a near relative of the family. Birger's daughter received a careful religious training, and from her seventh year showed signs of extraordinary religious impressions and illuminations . . .
In 1316, at the age of thirteen, she was united in marriage to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was then eighteen. She acquired great influence over her noble and pious husband, and the happy marriage was blessed with eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden. The saintly life and the great charity of Bridget soon made her name known far and wide. She was acquainted with several learned and pious theologians, among them Nicolaus Hermanni, later Bishop of Linköping, Matthias, canon of Linköping, her confessor, Peter, Prior of Alvastrâ, and Peter Magister, her confessor after Matthias. She was later at the court of King Magnus Eriksson, over whom she gradually acquired great influence.
 Her husband died in 1349.

Bridget now devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism, and to religious undertakings. The visions which she believed herself to have had from her early childhood now became more frequent and definite. She believed that Christ Himself appeared to her, and she wrote down the revelations she then received, which were in great repute during the Middle Ages. They were translated into Latin by Matthias Magister and Prior Peter.
St. Bridget now founded a new religious congregation, the Brigittines, or Order of St. Saviour, whose chief monastery, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus and his queen (1346). To obtain confirmation for her institute, and at the same time to seek a larger sphere of activity for her mission, which was the moral uplifting of the period, she journeyed to Rome in 1349, and remained there until her death, except while absent on pilgrimages, among them one to the Holy Land in 1373.
It was an interesting and peaceful morning.   (I could take pictures, but not of the monks, who wear grey robes.)


  1. I wish you had a picture of the monks and their names

  2. Anon, the monk I spoke to was Brother Francis. I was allowed to take pictures, but not of the monks.

  3. I am interested in purchasing a small(ish) statue of St Brigit as a gift for a nun of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Newcastle upon Tyne in NE England. Sr Mary Bridget was given this name in religion &, although she is (very) Irish, she assures us that she was named after St Brigit of Sweden. Sister is being moved to another house of her Order & we would like to give her a statue to remember us by & to say 'thank you' for her work & friendship.
    Can you help please?
    My email address is:

  4. Hello! Do you have any e-mail from de monks?

  5. Anon (April 11, 2014) The info was at the website that I linked, but when I try it now, it doesn't come up. I googled it and got the same url. Keeping up the website is not a high priority there. But google offered this phone number. You could try calling: (503) eight three five eighty eighty. Good luck.


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