Recently, the new Icelandic representative to the Holy See presented his letters of credence to the Holy Father. During that visit, Pope Benedict mentioned the fact that although there are only about 5000 Catholics in the tiny nation in the North Atlantic, there is a monastery of cloistered Carmelite nuns there.
I was particularly happy to know that. The Church is very well aware that one of our greatest forces for evangelism is the silent life of our contemplative nuns and monks, and therefore these religious try to establish their monasteries in areas where the Church is least numerous. Back in the 1940s, the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky had the happy problem of too many young monks coming to them from the military service following World War II. They needed to make a new foundation, and so they did so in Utah, where the Catholic population is small. During my navy years, a navy buddy and I hitchhiked from San Francisco up to the abbey outside the town of Huntsville, Utah. An old Mormon gentleman picked us up on the highway near Ogden and took us all the way to the monastery. It turned out that he had sold the monks their cattle when they first arrived in that magnificent valley surrounded by the Wasatch mountains. They have already celebrated their 50th anniversary in Utah, and we can be sure that the seeds of the gospel and the Church are being sown there by the silent lives and prayers of the Trappists. Their approach is far different from the door-to-door evangelism of the young Mormon missionaries, and in the long run, will be far more effective.
Please pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, both cloistered and active. The Church and the world need them! Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.