December 31, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 Every year a few days before Christmas a few sisters go out to the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree for our refectory.  We have a tree farm and lots of woods so there are many to choose from.  This year we chose a Norway spruce.  It is a very wide tree.
The day before  Christmas Eve the tree is decorated.
 This year the tree was decorated with mostly items from nature.  The garland was gold ribbon and the tree top decoration was a whimsical angel.  It all looked very elegant.
Tree top Angel
Bird's Nest

Hydrangea and Pine Cones

November 6, 2019

55 Years in Iowa

Srs. Gail and Joan
On November 4th we celebrated our 55th anniversary of foundation.  We were founded from Mount St. Mary's Abbey in Wrentham, MA. in 1964.  We have two foundresses remaining at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.  Our day was filled with gratitude and memories of all who came on the foundation and all who have helped us over the years especially the monks of New Melleray Abbey.

September 21, 2019


Sr. Madeleine
We had an amazing garden this year.  We have eaten tomatoes at every meal, absolutely delicious!  There is now gallons upon gallons of spaghetti sauce in the freezer and we are still enjoying summer squash, kale,garlic and other produce from the garden.  Our two novices are in charge of the garden and are doing a wonderful job!
Sr. Harriet

June 10, 2019


Blessing of our sanctuary icon on Pentecost Day
June 9th, 2019

Yesterday, on Pentecost we had the blessing of our new Our Lady of the sign icon.  Our former icon was damaged beyond repair after using an oil lamp to light at Compline each night for many years.  We commissioned Mary Bennett of Philadelphia Pa.  to write the icon for us.  Mary is the blood sister of our Sr. Nettie.  Mary has written other icons for  us and we esteem her as a great iconographer.  She proved it again with the icon of Our Lady of the Sign.
Prayers blessing the icon
Incensing the icon
Fr. Mark Scott, the abbot of New Melleray Abbey blessed the icon at the end of Sext.  It was a beautiful and meaningful event for our community which we will have for years to come.  This icon will be lighted with an electric light!   Fr. Mark then joined us for dinner.
Sopranos singing
Regina Caeli Jubilee

The icon depicts the Theotokos during the Annunciation at the moment of saying, "May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38). The image of the Christ child represents him at the moment of his conception in the womb of the Virgin.  Someone mentioned to me that the face of Christ is of an infant but the face of Mary is not of a young teenage mother but a mature woman who has been under the cross.  This icon is also sometimes called the Virgin of the Sign, a reference to Isaiah 7:14:  “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.”  The Holy Spirit gave birth to the Son of God descending into her womb; and gave birth to Church of God ascending into the upper room.
The Greek letters to the right and left of Mary’s head is an abbreviation for “Mother of God”.  The three stars on the Virgin signify that she was a Virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ.  Her halo signifies her holiness and the gold cuffs on her sleeves portray her as a Queen and indicate her intercession for all people.  Her mission is dedicated to the coming of the Kingdom of the Son of God. 
    Inside the mandorla, appears the King of the Universe. The Greek letters on left and right are abbreviations for "Jesus Christ".  He appears vested in divine robes of gold that symbolize his divine glory.  His halo and the lettering within, proclaim his divinity: "I am who am".  His right hand is raised in a blessing.

April 12, 2019

Burning the Prairie

The prairie a few weeks later
It is spring and an ideal day came this past week to burn our natural prairie.  It must be a calm day with no wind with rain soon in the forecast.  The prairie is located on the left hand side of our road as you drive onto the property.  In a few weeks the prairie will become a blanket of spring green.  I will post a picture when it happens.

April 7, 2019

Sr. Marie Madeleine Receives the Cistercian Habit

Laura receiving the habit from M. Rebecca
Today at Chapter our postulant Laura received the habit of a Cistercian novice.  She also received a new name of her own choosing, Sr. Marie Madeleine.  Sr. Marie Madeleine has a deep devotion to St. Mary Magdalene and chose the French version of the name.

Sr. Marie Madeleine in choir

Sr. Marie Madeleine and Sr. Joan
Srs. Harriet and Marie Madeleine
The novitiate and M. Rebecca

March 4, 2019

Visit with Dom Armand Veilleux

Dom Armand Veilleux stopped by to visit the community after he attended a planning meeting in Chicago for the upcoming International Lay Cistercian meeting.  Dom Armand is the retired abbot of Scormont Abbey in Belgium, the abbey that is famous for its beer.
He is very knowledgeable about matters of the church and of our order.  As a young monk he attended all the sessions of Vatican II, and recently he attended the beatification of the our martyred  Atlas brothers in Algeria.  He visited the brothers 2 months before they were abducted.

Dom Armand gave us several talks including the history of early Cistercian documents that even today guide our life, the history of the monastery in Algeria and several spiritual talks.  He is very interesting and his breadth of knowledge is amazing.