January 2005

In January we had the pleasure of welcoming Srs Herovima and Vitalia, orthodox nuns from Varatec Monastery in Romania, for a week of learning how to make soap. Their monastery has 450 nuns and they are looking for additional industries to keep them all busy. Though we had a few communication problems at first since we had no common language except a little English (we got some translation help from our parish priest in Levanger who is Romanian), these sisters were very smart and needed the process to be explained only once. In February, Mississippi Abbey sent Sr. Anne Elizabeth Sweet to give us classes on St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Sister has a Ph.D. in Scripture from Notre Dame and contributes regularly to journals in the U.S. In this letter, Paul speaks of the "language of the cross." One of us commented that the only way to learn a language is to use it. In our Cistercian life together we have ample opportunity to practice denying our own will, preferring the good of the other, and supporting one another. This is our daily use of the language of the cross. We needed especially to support each other when Sr Ina left us on Feb. 17. Although God chose her as the instrument by which he would bring Cistercian life back to Tautra, Sr Ina had a strong sense from the beginning that she was preparing the foundation for someone else. She did not feel called to stay on Tautra, but rather called to return to France to help her monastery Laval’s pre-foundation Meymac. Sr Ina left a big hole in our community, and a big hole in each of our hearts. We are very grateful to her for all she has given us on Tautra, especially a solid and deeply spiritual foundation for our liturgy in Norwegian. It takes three of us to fill her shoes as organist, not to mention liturgist, sacristan, chantress and bookkeeper. In March we welcomed Mother Gail for her annual visit. It is always good to reconnect with our motherhouse Mississippi Abbey, though we hope to be able to become autonomous perhaps in about a year. Even before Mother Gail had departed, another Mississippi nun, Sr Maria Elena, arrived to help us for two months. We showed our gratitude by giving her lots of work. She is a wonderful cook and baker, and our taste buds are enjoying the hint of Mexico that has appeared in our meals. As spring and the building progress, we plan to update our website with news and photos. Take a peek at www.tautra.no. Please continue to pray that this project, the first newly built Cistercian monastery in Norway in 800 years, will be to God's honor and the glory of his kingdom. We could never have reached this historic moment without all of you.

With love from your sisters on Tautra