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09 August 2006

Lutheran Monks? In America?

Yes, there are a few. Granted, not as many as there were in the days shortly after the Reformation. And I don't believe a current Lutheran monastery claims to have operated continuously since before the Reformation. However, despite prejudices and misconceptions about Luther's views on monasticism, Lutheran monks exist in Europe and North America.

St Augustine's House is the sole remaining Lutheran monastery in North America. It follows what might be called a "modern observant" form of the Benedictine Rule. This means, among other things, that the full Divine Office is recited daily with Holy Mass also celebrated daily. When sung, the Office and Mass employ the common Gregorian tones. It has never had many professed members but by God's grace, and with the generous support of a dedicated few, it has remained.

In a few weeks, St. Augustine's House will celebrate its Golden Jubilee, having been founded on 27 May 1956. The Prior, Fr Richard Herbel, OSB, announces that the Golden Jubilee anniversary will be celebrated August 25-26. In good Lutheran fashion, the celebration will commence with an organ recital and hymn sing in the Chapel immediately after Vespers. Then, on the annual "Fellowship Day," after Holy Mass, Dr Robert L Wilken will give a presentation entitled "Monasticism: A Gift to the Church." In the afternoon, Fr Caesarius Cavallin, OSB, (the Prior of the Östanbäck monastery, a Lutheran monastery in Sweden) will given a presentation entitled "The Fifty Years from the Swedish Horizon."

As a member of the Pastoral Council (the legal "board of directors") for St Augustine's House, I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to attend--or, at least, remember the monastery in your prayers.

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