Tautringer Feb 08 Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum! The greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary was the first words sung at our Maria Concert last October 14, after our chaplain Fr Anthony had blessed our new pipe organ. The concert actually began with the mellow saxophone tones of Tore Ljøkjel and a text on the Annunciation by St Ælred of Rievaulx, imagining that the Virgin Mary was actually reading the prophecy of Isaiah about a virgin conceiving the Son of God, when the archangel appeared to her and said, "Hail, full of grace!" Four different arrangements of "Ave Maria" were performed by our local Frosta choir, a women’s choir from Trondheim, the nuns, and the saxophonist. Then there were some solo numbers, and more songs honoring Mary were interspersed with several more saxophone melodies and texts from the Cistercian Fathers. The program concluded with two settings of "Salve Regina," the last one being the traditional Cistercian melody sung in Cistercian monasteries all over the world at the end of Compline, the last prayer of the day. We commend ourselves to Mary’s protection during the night. The last word on our lips each evening is "Maria." We ended the concert the same way we end each day in the monastery: by entering the Great Silence. After singing the Salve Regina, we have five minutes quiet to examine our consciences, and the ringing of the Angelus which reminds us of the mystery by which God became human in Jesus. Then Mother Rosemary blesses us with holy water as we leave the church. We asked our guests also to leave in silence, and to receive it as the gift of God which it is. A fitting conclusion to our celebration of the 800th anniversary of Cistercian life on Tautra. Our organ was installed the week before the concert. The builder, Henk Klop from the Netherlands, told us that two weeks before he was to deliver the organ, the barn next to his workshop caught fire. If the firemen had arrived 10 minutes later, we wouldn’t have an organ! The organ is a work of art, with all wood pipes. The case is beech and matches our stalls and benches perfectly. The keys are spruce with ebony overlaid, and bone on the accidentals. The 388 pipes are red cedar with an inlay of pear wood. The wind chest is oak and mahogany; the pedals oak. We are delighted to have this new organ so soon after building the church. The procurator general of our Order, Dom Timothy Kelly, gave us our community retreat last September. We really appreciated his excellent conferences. Since we began on the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, he talked about how the message of the cross is really forgiveness, and this is the basis for our lives as Christians. We have recently completed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We nuns, who increased

the Roman Catholic population on Frosta by 800% when we arrived in 1999, have been part of the ecumenical committee on Frosta since its beginning. Our local Lutheran pastor summed up our journey by saying that we have grown beyond the stage when Christians considered other Christians the enemy, progressed through a stage when we had gained respect for one another and were tempted to imagine that there were no real differences between us, to our present understanding when we acknowledge the reality that the Body of Christ is still broken, and so we support one another as fellow pilgrims and bear the pain of not having intercommunion. As the abbot of the community at St. Paul Outside the Walls said, "Benedictine spirituality is a spirituality of the united Church because St. Benedict [480-543] lived before the divisions in the Church. That's why our style of life goes along very well with this commitment to unity." February 2 is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which commemorates Mary presenting Jesus in the Temple 40 days after Christmas. Our bishop Georg Müller invites the religious in the diocese –all 22 of us!--to a day at St Olav Cathedral for a day of thanksgiving for our lives consecrated in a special way to serving God and the church. This year the invited speakers were two members of Focolare who shared with us their spirituality lived in the midst of the society wherever they are. After their presentation we had an hour of Adoration before the Bl. Sacrament and a Mass with special prayers in thanksgiving for consecrated life. Bishop Georg treated us to an Italian dinner together to conclude the day. While Focolare’s charism is quite different from our monastic lifestyle, which in Norwegian is called an "antique charism," there are many parallels as we both strive to live God’s Word while we go about our everyday tasks. We try to see and serve Jesus in the person who is there: at the door, on the phone, sitting next to us, singing in choir, a sick person or someone in need. We show mercy to one another by giving each of our sisters and brothers a new start every day. We also challenge each other in a moment of truth by giving both positive and negative feedback in areas where we could improve. The bottom line, whether in or out of the cloister, is to enflesh and be the Love of God which has first loved us and called us to do the same. With love from your sisters on Tautra