A monastery on Schiermonnikoog

A monastery on Schiermonnikoog


The English version of the complete website  is to be found on this scroll-down-page.

Intention 

We are monks who want to build a monastery on Schiermonnikoog, an island in the northern Netherlands. We are leaving our abbey in Diepenveen (Netherlands) behind us. We will be taking the Cistercian tradition with us, to live with God in a way befitting us: retreating in simplicity.

Come further to find out more and to be inspired.

Brother Alberic, Abbot

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CONTOURS (1)

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The birth of a future

The future is that which is sown today. At the same time, there is a deeper level. The future is born of God – and we may contribute to that.

That, which was initially inspiration, is now gaining shape. We have made a start on the island in the form of a house where we are staying temporarily until the new monastery is ready.

CONTOURS (2)

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Community

We live in a circle of brothers around God, for the simple reason we feel compelled to do so. We question each other about that which moves us. Genuine self-awareness, a basic principle for those sincerely seeking God, only grows through living with others. In our mutual relations and towards God, we are each other’s support by being faithful to our life choice.

CONTOURS (3)

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JESUS CHRIST

He humbled himself to share in our humanity, and which enables us to share in His divinity.

This short inconspicuous sentence, taken from the Liturgy of the Eucharist, says it all. Jesus Christ, who stands beside us in the depths of our humanity and who enables us to share in hidden divinity. We follow Jesus with all our humanity in the hope of that divine life.

CONTOURS (4)

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MARY

She is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror. 

This is just one of the many texts with which we greet Mary throughout the day. She preserved and cherished the mystery of Christ within her. We hold her image in our minds. She preserves and cherishes the mystery of Christ in all of us.

LIFE (1)

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A LIFE WITH GOD

Through the days and nights, our purpose is to live openly and in connection with God. No matter how commonplace something is, it is dedicated to the secret between God and each of us, beyond the words. That is the core of our life. The silence and simplicity of the island, the nature, the sea and the beach are seamlessly aligned with our way of life as a community of monks and they intensify our life with God.

LIFE (2)

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DAY & NIGHT

Being a monk is a tangible way of following Christ. It continues lifelong. It places great demands on a person. That is why we align our daily schedules and our outer life to the right tune. Everything gets a place and time in the rhythm of our lives, and in a way that enables us to be monks to the best of our ability.

LIFE (3)

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A WEEKDAY

There follows below an overview of a normal weekday; Matins, Lauds, Tierce, Sext, Noon, Vespers and Compline, these are the names of our seven daily prayer services.

Matins (04.15 to ± 04.45), followed by over two hours of silent time for personal reading and prayer and breakfast.

Lauds and Eucharist (07.15 to ± 08.00) after which the day begins, with for example chapters, tidying rooms, a walk, study and lessons.

Tierce (09.45 to 09.55) labour for two hours

Sext (12.15 to 12.30) meal and approximately one-and-a-half hours of silence

Noon (14.20 -14.30) labour for two hours

Vespers (17.30 -18.15, including sitting together in silence) evening meal and an hour of silence

Complines (19.30 to ± 19.50) the night begins.

LIFE (4)

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DAILY BREAD

We require a source of income so we can follow our daily lives and that it can provide us with our daily bread. We are still looking for that.

We are currently focusing our attention on building our new monastery and the quality of our life as monks. We can still live from the proceeds of our old abbey and the accompanying farmlands, but a new source of income is required. Our preference is living from the work of our own hands.

We are currently focusing our attention on building our new monastery and the quality of our life as monks. We can still live from the proceeds of our old abbey and the accompanying farmlands, but a new source of income is required. Our preference is living from the work of our own hands.

INSPIRATION (1)

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ORIGINS

The living, unwritten Cistercian tradition is visible in monasteries and communities, in everyday events and in areas where Cistercians make history.

Do not expect a historic overview of the origins of our order here. Such overviews are abundant on the internet. In our lives, words such as ‘origins’ and ‘tradition’ should entice and tempt us to participate in something greater than ourselves.

It started as a community of about eight monks, living in simplicity in the woods of the French Cîteaux. That was in the year 1098. It was not until decades later, after the last founder died, that people starting building large stone abbey complexes.

We want to return to the origins of the Cistercians: a community of monks in all simplicity. Each person’s path to God is central in that.

Moreover, that is how it all began. With all the changes in the past and still occurring today, there are always monks who start again and pass on the Cistercian charisma to the generations coming after them. In this way, the history of our own order becomes a source of inspiration for us.

Sion Abbey in Diepenveen is an important place for us. Our monastery began in 1833. We are now leaving it behind us. We hold that place in high esteem. Visit the Sion Abbey memorial (NB the memorial is still in construction).

INSPIRATION (2)

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 Sources

The Cistercians have written extensively. Their monastery library, and that of the generations of monks before them, is of immeasurable size. Here, we look at a few pearls from the wealth of wisdom they hold. They are in chronological order. Should you like to read more, you can go to the monastery library (NB the monastery library is in construction).

John Cassian (4th – 5th century). To be constantly mindful of God, this sacred formula must remain clear in our minds: O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me (Ps  70:2). This verse was justifiably chosen from the entire panoply of Scriptures. It is an interpretation of the love of a fervently benevolent soul; it expresses the notion of the snares that exist. For who desires to be helped always and in everything demonstrates the need for God’s help not only when it is hard and bitter but likewise during prosperity and joy.

Benedict of Norcia (5th – 6th century) Listen is the first word of the Rules of Saint Benedict for monks. The last word means something like ‘and you shall get there’. With that, the entire rule is summarised: Listen…and you shall get there.

On listening, Benedict also says:

Our eyes opened to the divine light, we must listen with an attentive ear to that which God’s voice exhorts daily: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Dorotheus of Gaza (6th – 7th century)

Imagine a circle drawn on the ground. Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the centre, and that the radii are the different ways human beings live. When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the centre of the circle, they come closer to one another at the same time as to God. The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another. See, that is the nature of love.

Bernard of Clairvaux (11th – 12th century) Love overflows. Refer to the source of life. Fill yourself first so that you overflow, and then I will share in your abundance.

William of St Thierry (11th – 12 th century) Get to know yourself. Be present in yourself to gain inner insight. Purify yourself, practise prayer, and you shall find the Kingdom of God within you. O image of God, recognize your dignity; let the effigy of your Creator shine forth in you. Thus, be completely true to yourself and use your whole self to know who you are and in whose image you are made.

Isaac of Stella (11th  –  12 th century) It is for these reasons, my beloveds, we have led you away from this distant and desolate and horrible seclusion; and it was a wise decision, so you can be humble here and will never accumulate any wealth. Yes, here, in this loneliness, cast out far at sea and with little in common with the rest of the world, devoid of all human and worldly comfort you become dead to the world. Because look around you, and you see you no longer possess any other world than this humble little island at the edge of the world. O God, here, solitude is stacked on solitude and silence accompanies silence.

Armand-Jean de Rancé (17 th century) The call of God is the call of the heart; it is the desire that ensures it is heard and obtains everything when it is alive and intense.

Thomas Merton (20 th century) The soul knows God.

André Louf (20 th – 21 st century) The Word of God itself forms the first instrument for sound spiritual discernment. It offers us the key to understanding what is in the heart of man.

Michael Casey (20th – 21st century) By penetrating deeper into the mystery of Jesus, we experience our inner mystery even more intensely.

BECOMING A MONK (1)

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Awakening

You do not become a monk you are one. Somewhere, some day, it happens. You discover it is your path. And on the way you learn to live with that knowledge, on the way the notion grows that it is inevitable. You know that you only want to live hand-in-hand with God. You knock on our door.

BECOMING A MONK (2)

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Underway

You can knock in various ways nowadays. As in the past, it is still possible simply to knock with your knuckles. Yet we have a telephone too and a computer with internet connection, so you can send a mail. See contact (below).

In practice, we first make an appointment to talk. We then become better acquainted. We are Roman Catholic, you may not be. We can discuss such discoveries. If the mutual conviction develops that further orientation would be useful, you can occasionally join in with the life of the monastic community. Thus, you slowly start a process that goes from aspirant, postulant and novice to a professed monk. However, let us not look too far ahead. First this, the realisation you wish to become a monk, that our way of life also appeals to you, that you want nothing more than to dedicate your entire life to God. You understand that if you come here, you come here to die, both in a spiritual as physical sense. The grandeur of this moment is satisfied by taking time to consider it. You can then slowly discover, possibly with us in our home, if this life really is for you.

NEWS & CONTACT

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CONTACT

We currently still live in Sion Abbey, but we regularly stay with one or more of our brothers on Schiermonnikoog.

We can be reached on the island by telephone on 06 38689117.

Postal address: Langestreek 9, 9166 LA Schiermonnikoog

Mail: kloostersmo@gmail.com

HOSPITALITY

We do not have a guesthouse on the island. However, there are plenty of options to stay on the island. Due to a lack of space, it will only be possible to take part in our services after the construction of our new monastery. That could take a few more years.

DEVELOPMENTS, NEWS & BACKGROUND

We are still very busy with preparations. Just as with the long pilgrim journey, things are increasingly falling away and the essence remains. That is the real news, the development that concerns us. Clearing through the debris until only being a monk remains.

In the meantime, it is also relevant what is happening on the outside. We attempt to report that on this page. As many things are still ongoing, unfortunately there is nothing concrete to communicate.