Experience of Silence at Holy Cross Abbey in VA
Six PathNorth members recently had the opportunity to spend two days of silence and reflection at a Trappist monastery, Holy Cross Abbey, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The Experience began at Noon on Wednesday when the participants met for lunch at a local restaurant a short distance from the monastery. After sharing a meal and some conversation, we drove to the Abbey and left the outside world behind. At the Guest House, we met a lay volunteer who showed us around and answered some questions about the monastery.
Late that afternoon, our silent retreat began and we were officially “off the grid”. Everyone had the chance to attend the five services in the monks’ “hours” (their daily cycle of prayer and song). All of the services, even the one at 3.30 AM, were well-attended by the Members. Besides the services, the meals were the only other scheduled events. We thus had lots of time for personal reflection, for taking walks along the river, for unwinding a bit and getting used to the richness of the silence.
From Wednesday afternoon to Friday after breakfast, we all observed silence, with the only exception the brief one on one conversation with a Trappist monk on Thursday.
As we ended our silence, we entered into a group discussion where we shared our thoughts on what we found to be meaningful during our time together. All agreed that they would like to come back. Finally, we had the pleasure of meeting with the Abbot, Fr. Robert, for about an hour where we asked questions about the life of the monastery and changes in society today. As our time at Holy Cross Abbey ended, we drove through the monastery gate and back into the so-called real world.
For two days, we had the privilege of entering into the reflective stillness of Holy Cross, and finding there fellowship and spiritual renewal.