Catholicism Without Compromise: The Norbertines Of St. Michael’s Abbey, CA

Vignette of the Norbertine Life at St. Michael’s Abbey from St. Michael’s Abbey on Vimeo.

I have written only some days ago about the shame some orders, like the Jesuits, are bringing on themselves and how this will – unless they change their tune, which seems improbable – lead to their well-deserved extinction. Stil, it is not all bad and it is fitting and encouraging to report about those who are making a very good job, even if they do not make national headlines with some hallucinated interview about not praying in the name of Christ.

The video above is from St. Michael’s Abbey, a Norbertine abbey in Orange County, Southern California. When I browsed around their internet presence, I thought I was transported into another era. Whilst every Norbertine Abbey has its own degree of authonomy – as is, I think, the case for many religious orders – these people truly take it seriously. Look at their liturgy, with all canonical hours of the office sung every day by every one, priest or seminarian. This is three hours of chant a day, more on feast days. Vocations are dealt with in detail, and already from the video you can see that this is a community that doesn’t have any vocation problem. If you don’t believe the video, look at the confreres portraits and see for yourself.

The blunt request for “at least average intelligence” to be accepted as seminarian is delightfully politically incorrect; the other rather blunt affirmation, that “those who suffer from chronic illnesses or who are handicapped cannot enter the priesthood” is another example that these people tell it very straight (“handicapped”? I haven’t heard the word in decades. How do they dare?!).

They also have a preparatory school and in this case too, you feel transported into another era: compulsory religious education, mass every day before breakfast, mandatory night prayers after dinner. Ranking is, unsurprisingly, very high. I wouldn’t be surprised if sincere vocations among the pupils were high, too.

It seems to me particularly relevant that this abbey is in Southern California, a region generally not known for religious conservatism, and I also found interesting that it was first founded by refugees from communist Hungary. How the Holy Spirit never ceases to create good out of evil!

Whilst the attention to gregorian chant seems extreme, it is not clear (to me at least) whether the mass is a Novus Ordo or a Tridentine; as to the attendance, their wikipedia site seems to indicate that their Mass is open to the public and the fact that they schedule Mass at 11am on a sunday instead of the usual 7am would seem to corroborate the fact.

They also run a couple of parish churches, and seem to offer the Tridentine Mass too.

If someone of those parts reads this blog, I’d be glad to read about their experience. After the tragic news reaching us from the Netherlands, it is good to know that not too far away from the world capital of liberal atheist propaganda, a community of brave friars gives a wonderful example of monastic life.



Posted on May 31, 2011, in Catholicism, Good Shepherds and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That is truly a beautiful video. I had linked it in the video library within the “Credo Bible Study” program some time back. The Norbertines are known especially for their preaching and reverence. Another video I liked was the “Catholics Come Home-Epic” trailer. Videos like these somehow make the day brighter.

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