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THE ABBEY OF THE PHILIPPINES is a monastery of the Cistercian Order that is located on the island of Guimaras, separated from the large city of Iloilo on Panay island, by a strait of the Sulu Sea. The Cistercians were founded in 1098 near Dijon, France. Monks of this Cistercian Order live a life dedicated to the contemplative search for God. Very early men of great natural talent and of culture were attracted to seek God in these monasteries which radiated a spirit of simplicity, and where there was evident austerity, manual labor and prayer that have characterized the Order at its most flourishing periods. The quality of many of its abbots and monks resulted in the rapid spread of its monasteries throughout Europe where they often played important roles in the spiritual and cultural lives of their regions. By the quality of their writings, the scholarship and art of their manuscripts and the outstanding architectural achievements of their cloisters, many of which are still in use today, the Cistercians exerted a considerable influence in the life of the various nations of Europe. In the 17th century at the monastery of La Trappe in Normandy, a reform of the Cistercian observance was undertaken. The monasteries descended from that reform movement were organized into what is called the Trappist- which are a separate Order of Cistercians, in the year 1892.

In more recent times Trappist-Cistercian monks, having remained in continuous existence in spite of numerous political and social difficulties ever since the twelfth century, have spread widely throughout the world. Europe, North- Central- and South- America, Africa. Australia, New Zealand and Asia -all have Cistercian monasteries today. This ABBEY OF THE PHILIPPINES was founded by the United States Region in 1972 and is the only men's monastery of the Order in this country. There is a community of Cistercian nuns on the Island of Mindanao for which this abbey supplies the chaplain and other assistance.

St. Benedict

The primary role of Cistercian life is to seek union with God and to witness to His holiness and His desire for the salvation and sanctification of all persons and to unite all peoples in their adherence to Him through their faith in Christ and his Catholic Church. The means of fulfilling this role in the world and in the Church is primarily by prayer, both public and private. Cistercian monasticism is a form of Benedictine monastic life, being based on the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by the twelfth century monks at Citeaux, France. This Rule of life emphasizes community life lived under a superior known as the abbot. The abbot governs not in his own name but as a representative of Christ so that it is his task to discern the will of the Father in all things, after the example of Jesus in his life and death on earth. In order to be free to dedicate themselves more fully to prayer, holy reading and study the monks are to labor with their own hands as well as to administer the monastery buildings and grounds. They do not have parishes or schools and live, as far as practicable, within the monastic grounds. Hospitality has characterized the monasteries that follow the Benedictine Rule beginning already in the sixth century, in the time of Benedict and Cistercians follow this tradition. Here at the Abbey of the Philippines we have a rather large church built in 1997 and a modern guesthouse with private facilities. We welcome those who wish to spend some days or even weeks with us in prayer and meditation, joining in prayer at the office and mass along with the monastic community.

Cistercian monasteries are located in solitary places in the country for the sake of living more quiet and hidden lives in simplicity. Members of the monastery take a vow of stability that binds them to the monastic community for life. Characteristically, their livelihood involves agriculture, though in modern times some other source of revenue is usually required. Here in the Philippines we have a farm and cultivate rice and various vegetables for our own use and that of our many guests. We also have a large orchard of mango trees and process the fruit into jam and dried mango slices. In addition we make other jellies from various fruits growing on our property, especially guava. We also have a small bakery and make cookies. We sell these products in the store located at the gate of our monastery. At present there are some 35 monks in the community; more are interested in joining us. We are in the process of expanding our food production facilities and improving our farm and woods so as to be able to provide adequately for our financial requirements as the traditions of our Cistercian Order call for.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO

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Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey . 5045 Jordan, Guimaras
Updated November 25, 2006 . (c)2002 All rights reserved

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