New Look for New Melleray Abbey Church

After 50 years praying in a monastery chapel whose interior arrangement hasn’t seen the slightest change, it was anyone’s guess how Father Kenneth, nearly 90, would react to the new arrangement of our church furnishings. Being shown to his chair in the infirm section, he only had words of gratitude: “Thank you! God bless you!”. Maybe he was cheered by the fact that his new seat is brightened by light from a large window and a splendid view of the yard beside the church. The reorganization consisted of removing about half the choir stalls from the east end of the chapel and introducing a new altar on floor level where elderly priest-presiders can more easily function. Monks who have been going to choir for fifty years are adjusting to the fact that we now “close ranks”, (fill the gaps in choir), by moving in the opposite direction, toward the west. We like the fact that the brothers are congregated more closely and are now closer to the guest section. Brother Paul, the organist, is grateful to have the choir much closer to the organ where he can hear us better. The Easter Vigil with no guests present and only the monks praying together at 2:00 in the morning was characterized by a touching intimacy and warmth as we prayerfully attended to the seven scripture readings with the church lights dimmed. Maybe we also appreciate both the grace and the fragrance of the Easter lilies which are so much closer to us as we pray. Overall, the brothers seem appreciative of this change, which might have been a difficult experience, but seems instead to have become a ray of light radiating from Christ’s resurrection quietly revealing to the community the possibility of life that never ends.