Sunday, November 23, 2003

Clear Creek Priory, Farming Co-operatives, Groceries for the poor, and assorted other topics

That's what you can expect to read about in one small e-mail group when Robert Waldrop updates us periodically on his activities. Waldrop is immersed in the Church's social doctrine and puts it into practice in his life as no other that I know of. (The link at the left to Catholic Social Justice Teachings is a link to one of his websites and has been there since the inception of this blog.) He is a constant inspiration and something of an indictment of me and my use of "talents". The following is his latest report, principally about his attendance at the recent ceremony at Clear Creek for the blessing of the foundation stone.

[By the way, "coop" is a reference to the Oklahoma farming co-operative which self-markets locally grown produce.]


This has been a week of peak events.

Thursday of course was Coop Delivery Day.

Friday I went out to Clear Creek Monastery for the blessing of the
foundation stone of the monastery conventual church that they are
building. I estimate the crowd as at least 300, and half of them
were under 30 I'm sure, lots and lots of kids.

The Abbot of Fontgombeault was there, also the Bishop of Tulsa.
The ceremony was very beautiful. It was held in what will be the
crypt, the church will be above the area we were in. The foundation
walls are nearly 3 feet thick (I measured them with my arm), solid
reinforced concrete, eventually it will be faced with bricks and
native stone from the monastery grounds.

In his remarks, the Bishop said that the building had been designed
to last at least 1000 years, and that who knew what kind of changes
in the social and cultural surroundings would happen during that
time, but that whatever happened, the praise and worship of God by
the monks would continue.

As part of the ceremony, the monks placed a gloriously illuminated
manuscript in the stone. The gave out holy cards afterwards which
were a full color production.

The manuscript charter reads:

IN the name of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity.

In the year of our salvation 2003 which is the 26th of the exaltation
of his Holiness the Pope John Paul II to the supreme pontificate,
the ninth of the elevation of his excellency the Most Reverend Edward
J. Slattery to the See of Tulsa, the 27th of the institution of the
Right Reverend Dom Antoine Forgeot as Abbot of Notre Dame de Fontgombeault,
on the 21st of November, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, by a gift of the grace of God, the first stone of the
conventual church of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek
was blessed by his Excellency, Bishop Slattery, in the presence of
the monastic community, of several members of the diocesan clergy,
and of a great number of the faithful.

May this stone grow in size and become the dwelling place of God
among men, may these monks, as authentic sons of Saint Benedict always
assure in this place the service of Christ the King and of his church,
following in the footsteps of Dom Edward Roux and Dom Jean Roy,
the first Abbots of Fontgombeault, who taught them to seek the One
Thing Necessary Until the Dawning of the Day of Eternity, Ever Tending
towards the Things on High.

May God deign to bring to its full realization this undertaking,
which is His own work, accomplished through the labor of men.


Within this stone has been enclosed, along with the present charter,
a stone fragment from the site of the Tomb of the Apostle Saint
Peter in Rome, others from the church of the Dormition near Jerusalem
and from La Salette in France, as well as a few medals and coins.

(end transcript)

The first two letters, IN, of the manuscript are very large and decorated
in blue, red, gold and green. The rest of that first phrase is arranged
in four lines of red capitals next to the IN.

The initial word of each paragraph is larger than the rest of the
paragraph and also illuminated, and the paragraphs are separated
by illuminated decorations. The AMEN is centered and in large letters.

After the ceremony (and during it I slowly wended my way around until
I was close to the front), I dipped the tip of the crucifix of the
Rosary I carry with me at all times into the fresh mortar around
the stone and let it dry. It seems to be adhereing nicely and so
a bit of Clear Creek will go with me wherever I go and whatever I

The monks threw a great reception afterwards, wonderful raisin cookies,
pound cakes, and their own cheese, and of course wine. I told them
if they ever get their production up, their cheese would be a big
seller. About six pm, the about 100 of us remaining went into the
crypt again and attended at the monks vespers as the sun set behind
us over the western mountains. The wind was down by then, and thus
the monks chanting was more audible and it was a very nice end to
the day.

I ran into several people who said they read this group and cinjustann
in the archives and visited our CW websites. There were so many the
names started to blur, actually, so I can't say, "Well, I saw so
and so and etc", I do remember seeing Kirk Kramer in passing although
like me he was doing a lot of wandering around so it was just a quick
visit. I met somebody who had something to do with the Rooster Cogburn
list and I told him I wasn't getting those emails anymore so he promised
to look into it.

We talked a lot about the coop, and I also talked with a family with
a dairy out there close to Clear Creek about selling their milk through
us and starting to also make butter.

The weather was glorious. About 70 degrees, a bit of a wind, but
even in the evening no jacket was needed. If Oklahoma weather was
always like this, everybody would live here.

If we ever decide to work on a major CET gathering, I think we should
do it at this monastery. I think it is going to grow into a center
of traditional Catholic agrarianism in North America, a lot of the
people there were people who have moved into the area to be close
to the monastery, and they have bought small landholdings. One of
them wants to sell us a parcel, not that we have any money, but I
would really like a retreat/hermitage within walking distance of
that monastery. Going there is a very healing process for me. I
asked the guestmaster to send me info about their process of becoming
an Oblate of St. Benedict associated with their monastery. Dorothy
Day was also an Oblate.

Who else did I see. . . Sister Claire Marie, who used to be a moderator
of lists here at CIN, I met two monks from a Trappist monastery in
Ava, Missouri, a very traditional Benedictine nun from Pennsylvania,
and of course the monks. Because of the occasion, the monks were
given permission to mingle with the crowd at the refreshment table,
and I was a bit surprised to find out that they all knew who I am
and what we do.

The monk in charge of the refreshments afterwards made up a big tray
of their cookies and gave me two pound cakes to bring home, which
we carefully portioned out this morning in the Thanksgiving food
bags that we distributed. He said this was a tradition at Benedictine
monasteries in the past. I do confess to you my brothers and sisters
that I saved about six cookies for us, they were really good. and
they were simple cookies, raisin and spice cookies. And their cheese!
Especially the cheddar! I have never been to Europe, but I bet
that's what European artisan cheese tastes like.

Before I left I had a long visit with Brother Joseph Marie, who is
in charge of their agroforestry, sheep, and cattle and the monk I
work with in re the Oklahoma Food coop (I have mentioned the monastery
is a member?). The soil on the monastery grounds is very poor, and
we talked a lot about strategies to improve it. he is trying to
learn how to harvest sassafrass as they have those trees growing,
also hickory and walnut. I told him that I thought it was very
odd that of all the places the monks could have gone, they came here,
15 miles from the capital of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, in
the ancient and worn hills of eastern Oklahoma. He agreed, and said
that all the monks felt that there was something odd going on with
this foundation but that time would unveil these mysteries and we
would all come to understand them.

There is part of me that -- if it wasn't for my vocation as a Catholic
Worker and my job at Epiphany Church -- would put my property in
OKC up for sale and move out there to ten acres or so and just be
a small farmer in Cherokee land.

The round trip of about 6 hours of driving yesterday provided a lot
of time for reflection too, which was nice.

This morning we made our Thanksgiving deliveries, unfortunately there
were about 50 requests that had to be turned away because of lack
of food (although I am emailing them to someone who will take them
to a parish to see what can be done), and then in the afternoon we
got ready for our looming freeze. Picked about 3 quarts of hot peppers,
20 pounds of green tomatoes, a bag of purple hulled peas and another
of trail of tears beans, a quart bag of rose hips, and seeds for
purple and pink echinacea. The tomato and pea vines and pepper plants
were hauled to the compost, and the last of mulching was done.

So here we are, the feast of St. Cecilia, and I am just now finishing
with my tomato harvest. What a weird fall, weatherwise, but how
blessed it has been spiritually. One news report I heard today put
the freeze off until Monday, but there will be no time on Sunday
to do this harvest, as besides my regular two masses where I do music
I am cooking buffalo stew for 150 native Americans Sunday evening,
assuming they can find enough pots. I really need to find our own
pots so I can cook these big meals.

Robert Waldrop, okc