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Friday 23 March 2018

A Trip to Narnia: Lenten Retreat at the Abbey of Sainte-Marie des Deux-Mongagnes, QC

This Lent Jane (my wife) and I were able to spend a few days in retreat with the nuns at Sainte-Marie des Deux-Montagnes just outside of Montreal on the north shore of the St. Lawrence.  

Dom Charles, the Abbey Chaplain, met us at the Gare Central train station in Montreal and accompanied us, through the snow, to the Abbey.  

It was both refreshing and encouraging as we passed the lamp post into the snow covered abbey -- a bit like entering Narnia where Aslan is worshipped and revered.
Snowy days at the Abbey
When we had a meeting with Mother Abbess she expressed thanks for our prayers for new vocations  as we had joined with so many who have supported the nuns in their vocational outreach over the past year.

Almost weekly now, a young woman comes to visit, to pray and to consider if God is calling her to the contemplative Benedictine life.  They  attend the offices and hear the glorious Gregorian chants, meet with the nuns and share in the rhythms of the monastic life. They come from P.E.I to B.C. and the USA.
Dom Charles Gilman, a monk of 

l’Abbaye de Saint-BenoĆ®t-du-Lac,

  is the bi-lingual Chaplain to the nuns of the Abbey. We might say 'tri-lingual' because increasingly the Mass is celebrated in Latin, at the abbey, the lingua franca, if you will, for both English and French-speaking nuns.
Since the Abbess, along with Dom Charles and others, have developed a strategy for reaching out to English as well as French-speaking women, there has been a steady flow of inquirers and soon, God willing, more postulants, novices and, ultimately (because according to Mother Abbess it takes 10 years to form a contemplative nun) professed Benedictines.

One prayerful friend of the abbey tells Dom Charles that in prayer he visualizes ten white veils (novices) in the company of the professed sisters who process into the Abbey Church for the daily offices and Mass.
 Jane with Soeur Louise an icon painter and Sacristan at the Abbey.
The Sacristy of the Abbey Church.  Icons abound here and in the Guest House where people come to buy them for personal devotion or for their parish church.

After a visit to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Barry's Bay and other visits,  together with the production of a compelling video about abbey life produced by Longbeard Associates, more inquiries are keeping the nuns busy with correspondence, hospitality and other requests.

You can view the video on Youtube: 

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