Our 10th anniversary

The Annunciation for Sure "What wonders the Lord worked for us. We rejoice and are glad."We are so glad and grateful that each one of you has come to celebrate our tenth anniversary with us on this Feast of the Annunciation. This is not only the patronal feast of both the old and the new Tautra but the Feast when we remember and celebrate the newest of all events in history, the Incarnation of God’s Son. This event initiates the life of Jesus in our midst. So soon we will be celebrating the culminating Mysteries of His life, passion, death and Resurrection. All prayer and liturgy has this event as its center of significance and font of gratitude.I know I can speak for all the Sisters when I say that this decade has been the most challenging and rewarding of our lives and the one for which we are most grateful. So many happy and holy memories come to mind! I would like to share only a few with you this evening. Some of these quite amazing events are mentioned in the recently published History of the Support Group, on sale this evening in the cloister.The miracle of Munkeby, exactly ten years after our arrival, is re-enacting it before our eyes. With out-stretched arms we welcome our brothers from Citeaux as they return to Trondelag after 472 years. Just now they are here for the first time together for seven weeks. We look forward to their return for good in early September. What an anniversary gift!Foremost among our blessings we want to thank Mother Gail, Mother Nettie and each of our Sisters at Our Lady of the Mississippi, who made every sacrifice to send us to Norway and to make sure we lacked nothing necessary for the foundation. May Our Lord always bless them with all they need.Then we thank God for one another, our health, deep joy and resiliency. We praise Him for our vocation to Tautra, the uniqueness of each one’s gifts and idiosyncrasies that constantly surprise us and invite us to go beyond our limits and self-centeredness.Long before we came to Tautra our Bishop Georg, Sr. Ina and the Support Group were praying and working to prepare for the monastery and ever since we arrived they have done all they possibly could to be of assistance and encourage us. Bishop Georg in the name of the diocese bought the property for us and has been a calm and constant friend and advisor. I would venture to say that no monastery could have a more faithful and self sacrificing Support Group than we have.The countless donations from all over the world and especially from our own Cistercian monasteries and the German Catholic church have provided us with the new Tautra Mariakloster, which has won five international architectural prizes. The immense contribution to our financial stability provided by all those who have sold soap for us at the medievalmarkets these past 9 years, as well as all who have bought and promoted our products is inestimable.We want also to thank all who contributed by prayer and financial aid to the construction of the monastery, as well as all the workers, the volunteers and guests who have come to live, pray and work among us, bringing their unique gifts and talents: cleaning, cooking, helping in the soap department, drawing down graces by their generosity and service. We could not have persevered without you.Now I would like to focus on smaller, but no less endearing acts of loving kindness, that have engraved Norwegians on our hearts.We had scarcely arrived when Olaug, one of our nearest Tautra neighbors, came to the door with fresh lefse, the likes of which we had never enjoyed. These have been followed by many krumkaker, and affectionate expressions of continuing acceptance and support from this same elderly couple. The other Tautringers seem always to be bringing cream cakes, warm rolls and breads, potatoes, carrots, fish, etc. in abundance.Then there was the answer to our prayer for a carpenter to raise the first bell tower for the first March 25th. Roger Lein and Frode Nilssen came knocking at the door to ask if they could be of any help. Their firm is now completing the new visiting center and boutique. Lein-Nilssen AS is now completing our new visitors’ center which will include a larger boutique and an exhibit which explains Cistercian life.We have been humbled and uplifted by the kindness and appreciation of the former bishop of Nidaros, Finn Wagle and all the Lutheran parishes who have had collections more than once to help us with the costs of building, especially our own pastor Gustav Danielson and our Frosta menighet.We seem to have just come in time to benefit from the best three mayors Frosta has ever elected, Jens Hagerup, Boje Reitan, and Lars Myraune. Our police chief, Atle Matre, never ceases to touch us by his personal care for our well being and safety.So many gardeners, landscapers and helpers have given generously of their time and expertise to assist us with bushes, flowers and back muscles! Bjorn Olav and our other patient teachers have accomplished miracles with most of us in Norwegian. He and our special friend, Torbjørn, from Åsen always respond when we have any special need and yearly provide incomparable Christmas trees. It seems, we are more overwhelmed every year by the gifts lavished upon us from all over Norway at Christmas.Then we think of the couple in Frosta who opened their home to receive one of our newcomers who needed immersion in the language, the lady who appeared at the door relatively early on a hot Sunday with a huge bucket of blueberries, one of the local florists who brings us boxes ofChristmas and Easter flowers, all these are proof positive of the immense generosity that has surrounded us this past decade.One fourteen year old girl who visited us with her parents when we started to try to raise money for the monastery has sent us 100 kroner from her own job every month for the last six years and still continues! We wish we could give each one of you a special accolade but we entrust that to the Lord. May our smiles and embraces convey all that our prayer desires for each of you!To paraphrase St. John: "If all would be told the world itself could not hold all the books that would have to be written." These are just a few of the scenes that enliven our conversations as we ponder your continuing welcome to these inflytterer.It is quite surprising, isn’t it, that I have had any other time available with so many thank you notes to write!In Luke’s accounts of the Resurrection Jesus encourages His disciples to experience the reality of His actual, living Body when He says: "Look at My hands and My feet; it is really I. Touch Me and see….." As we gather this evening we want to tell each of you how your love and friendship have touched us and shown us the life-giving presence of Christ Incarnate present among us. You have been the hands and feet of Our Risen Lord for us-going ahead, preparing the way, anticipating our needs and enfolding all in a mantle of love. Thank you! Don’t ever stop!M. Rosemary