You perhaps know of their famous CD. I recall meeting one of their monks in their beer garden back in the 90s – as he sat down, he set his car keys and cell phone on the table. This may not fit your image of Cistercian monasticism – but since 18th century “Josephinism,” all monastic orders in Austria have had to be active in parishes or schools in order to remain in existence. In addition to their pastoral duties, the monks of Heiligenkreuz are well-known for their reverent celebration of the liturgy in Gregorian chant. – Ed.
“The last time there was such a wave of young people who want to share our life was in the Middle Ages,” according to Father Karl Wallner, rector of Heiligenkreuz [Theological] College. All those entering had their first contact via internet.
On August 12, six novices make “temporary [simple] vows,” and five novices extend their vows. On August 15 – all Cistercian monasteries celebrate the Assumption of Mary as a patronal feast – seven monks will make “perpetual [solemn] vows.” On Augst 16, four monks who have already completed their [masters level] theological study will be ordained as deacons by auxiliary bishop Franz Lackner of Graz. The new deacons will be in parishes of the monastery for pastoral formation or to continue their doctoral studies. On August 19, Abbot Gregor Henckel-Donnersmarck will receive seven young men into the novitiate and clothe them.
Personnel nearly doubled
Starting August 19, there will be 88 Cistercians in Stift Heiligenkreuz. In recent years Stift Heiligenkreuz has nearly doubled its personnel, said Father Wallner. The average age is 47 years.
“Uncomplicated joy in the faith”
When asked why there are so many vocations at Heiligenkreuz, Father Karl Wallner answered calmly, “Certainly not because we became publicly well known through the CD “Chant – Music for Paradise.” Rather, the CD simply made known what has always attracted people: the solemn liturgy according to the norms of the Second Vatican Council in Gregorian Chant, uncomplicated joy in the faith, which comes from our faithful unity with the Holy Father and with the Church’s magisterium. Certainly also, because we have great unity within our community. And that we have a lively youth ministry, and that we are so open to guests and seekers,” said Father Wallner, who is also youth minister of the monastery.
First contact via Internet
Those entering all had their first contact with the monastery via internet. Pater Wallner: “Many have recounted that they virtually visited the website of the monastery several times a day, until they found the courage to visit the monastery live. Father Wallner left no doubt: “Ultimately, we ourselves are amazed at the many vocations, and we have no real explanation for it. We are very thankful to God, and we see therein a mandate to do more for him and to show to the world of today the light of Christ which reflects on the face of the Church.”
From ORF (Austrian national radio), tr. AWR.