Today is a special day of rejoicing in our monastery here because it is the 60th anniversary of the monastery’s formal inauguration. A group of pioneer Sisters came down from a monastery in Detroit to the piney woods of east Texas in 1945, and have been living the monastic life of our cloistered Dominican Nuns since then.
That was the year I graduated from high school and began college. That was the year that World War II ended in Europe in May and in the Pacific in August, after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan.
My reflection upon the function of a monastery reminds me of a little incident that occurred back in 1952, while I was in the navy. I had met a sailor at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, California, who was preparing to be discharged from the service and to enter the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He and I went from the bay area of California up to the Trappist monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity in Utah, to make a retreat there. We hitch-hiked all the way. In Ogden, an old man in a station wagon picked us up and took us to Huntsville, and then on to the monastery out in the country nearby. On the way, the highway passes along a ridge of mountains in the Wasatch range to the east of the road. As we were riding along, my friend whose name was Ernest, pointed up into the sky above the mountains and said to me, “Do you see it?” “Do I see what?” “Do you see that column of praise and prayer rising from the monastery behind those hills up to God?” My faith was not quite strong enough to allow me to see anything with my bodily eyes, but I certainly believed in that column of prayer and praise that Ernest referred to.
Well, a similar column of prayer and praise of God has been arising from this convent of contemplative nuns here in Lufkin for 60 years, and, please God, it will continue to glorify God for many years to come. A monastery accomplishes a number of things. First, it gives adoration and praise to God, as is required by the sovereign majesty of God and the obligation of his creatures to acknowledge his greatness and divinity. Then, it bears witness to the world to the importance of religion, that virtue by which man worships God. Then, it sanctifies those who live within its community. And finally, it serves the wider community of the Church and of all mankind by praying for them, and in particular for those persons and intentions which are recommended to the prayers of the monks or nuns within the monastery. Those functions have been going on here in Lufkin for 60 years. God grant many good vocations to this convent so as to continue its vital work within the Mystical Body of Christ for many years to come. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.