Friday, November 02, 2007

Monastic Pilgrimage through Catholic France, including Fontgombault

Fr. Longenecker is spearheading a pilgrimage to France (an an ad banner can be found for the next few months over to the right in the NLM sidebar) and he has kindly submitted a quick note, at my request, about the pilgrimage.

From Fr. Dwight Longenecker:

"One of the earliest sources for the Liturgical Movement was the revival of Benedictine life by Dom Prosper Guèranger at Solesmes in Northern France in 1833. The Abbey at the little village of Solesmes had been a relatively insignificant monastic house from the eleventh century, and it had fallen victim of the decline of monastic life and the French Revolution. Guèranger was the local parish priest, and fired with an enthusiasm to restore traditional monastic life, he bought the decrepit monastic buildings and re-established the Benedictine life with a strong emphasis on Gregorian chant and proper liturgical restorations. I first came across the Solesmes Congregation of Benedictines by visiting Quarr Abbey (a monastery of the Solesmes Congregation) on the Isle of Wight when I was living in England . I visited on retreat as a young Anglican priest, and was entranced by the monastic life and the transcendent liturgy. It informed my own developing understanding of the liturgy, and my friendships there were one of the great influences that finally led me to convert to the Catholic faith. We were received into the Church at Quarr Abbey by one of the monks.

"During the summer of 1987 I took a hitch hiking pilgrimage from England to Jerusalem and stayed in Benedictine monasteries all across France and Italy . I had the opportunity then to visit Solesmes and share in the fine liturgy that is the hallmark of the place. Dom Guèranger’s community continued to be influential in the development of liturgy in the twentieth century. The Solesmes congregation now has twenty three monasteries and eight convents around the world. All of them are dedicated to maintaining Gregorian chant and fine traditional liturgy, and some of them are at the forefront of the revival of the monastic liturgy in Latin.

"While visiting the Benedictine monasteries I also encountered St Thérèse of Lisieux, and my interest in both saints produced a popular book, St Benedict and St Therese—The Little Rule and the Little Way.

This Spring I will have the opportunity to re-trace my steps in Northern France by leading a special Benedict and Therese pilgrimage tour. We’ll be visiting Lisieux, Chartres , Mont St Michel, Solesmes and the abbeys of St Anne Kergonan and Fontgombault. We’ll also visit the Benedictine Abbey of St Benoit sur Loire where the relics of St Benedict are venerated. There will be a chance to visit Orleans and the St Joan of Arc museum, see the Bayeux tapestry and have a tour of Paris including a visit to the Rue du Bac. Wherever possible we will join in with the monastic worship. I will be celebrating Mass daily and conducting retreat talks on the two saints. More information about joining this tour to the traditional heartland of France can be found here: Tour website

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