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Sisters Of Bethlehem In Livingston Manor


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#1 :: Perpetualove ::

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 06:09 PM

I had a page bookmarked for this community. I "think" their whole is "Monastic Family of Bethlehem and St. Bruno," - but don't count on my being right! I have been told they are the closest thing to Carthusian Nuns that we have in the United States. Has anybody visited them or does anybody know them? Any information would be much appreciated! (I did find an address, and I wrote to them, asking for information...but so far...NOTHING!) Thanks in advance. Perpetualove

#2 Gemma

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 06:47 PM

I had a page bookmarked for this community. I "think" their whole is "Monastic Family of Bethlehem and St. Bruno," - but don't count on my being right! I have been told they are the closest thing to Carthusian Nuns that we have in the United States. Has anybody visited them or does anybody know them? Any information would be much appreciated! (I did find an address, and I wrote to them, asking for information...but so far...NOTHING!) Thanks in advance. Perpetualove



Their full name is Monastic Family of Bethlehem and the Assumption of the Virgin. And yes, they are the closest to Carthusian nuns that we have here in the U.S. They take St. Bruno as one of their main patrons due to the eremetical aspect of their charism.

Other than that, there's not a lot more I could tell you.

HTH.

Blessings,
Gemma

#3 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 07:13 PM

I had a page bookmarked for this community. I "think" their whole is "Monastic Family of Bethlehem and St. Bruno," - but don't count on my being right! I have been told they are the closest thing to Carthusian Nuns that we have in the United States. Has anybody visited them or does anybody know them? Any information would be much appreciated! (I did find an address, and I wrote to them, asking for information...but so far...NOTHING!) Thanks in advance. Perpetualove


Yes, I received special permission to go on retreat there several years ago.
They were founded by a cloistered Dominican nun and consider themselves "carthusians" though not formally attached to the Order.

They have about 11 sisters in LM. Everyone who enters goes to the Motherhouse in France for formation at some point. Novitiate, I think. The monasteries are not autonomous so you could be sent anywhere!

They have a beautiful and interesting liturgy. The Office is Eastern Rite and the Mass Roman Rite. They have a chaplain who is an OMI priest who has his own hermitage.

The Sisters each have a hermitage with the Bl. Sacrament. There is the main church were they gather for Matins/Lauds, Mass and Vespers. They do the other hours in their cell at the scheduled times.

The silence is beautiful except for when the loons shriek at night over lower lake Magdala!
They are very much out in the woods of NY and there is all sorts of wildlife.
They support themselves by doing fine china and having 8 beautiful hermitages available for retreat.
Their families can come visit I think once a year and they drive down to the guest house outside the gate to visit them.
The prioress is basically the "Mother" of the community and you can only talk to her. On Sundays they gather for a walk but they talk about a pre arranged spiritual subject.
I was told by a woman who was there briefly that they are also very much into natural medicine. She had a rash and they didn't want her to go to the doctor. I think that was in France, though.
Here is a link with photos of their monastery in Israel. It's very similiar to at Livingston Manor.
There used to be a website with some really nice pictures but it's no longer up.

I hope that helps. Be patient. They are lovely sisters and it just may take time. If you don't hear in a month don't hesitate to call.

God bless you!
Sr. Mary Catharine

#4 clarissa

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 05:16 AM

i saw a documentary about the sisters in israel. they live in silence and do most of their work alone in their cells and speak only when praying. they also talk during a weekly lesson in hebrew; the sisters come from all around the world and i think they have french as the language of the community but they are learning hebrew..

they are really amazing! it's a very special way of life, very beautiful!

prayers for your calling :sign:

#5 :: Perpetualove ::

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 04:40 PM

Thanks so much for all of your answers. Sister, it sounded like you had a beautiful time there. Thank you for sharing. I really do appreciate all of your prayers! And the blessings, too!!! Perpetualove :)

#6 Chiquitunga

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 12:49 PM

Hi! I've also been to the Sisters of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor a few times. It's a wonderful place.

Their full name name is The Monastic Family of Bethlehem of the Assumption of the Virgin and of St. Bruno. (or the Sisters of Bethlehem of the Assumption of the Virgin and of St. Bruno) Usually people just say the Sisters of Bethlehem. I have also heard them called the Little Sisters of Bethlehem. On one of their cassette tapes in the gift shop it says, "Les Petites Soeurs de Bethleem," so maybe that was their old name.

I know that they prefer writing and sending faxes to receiving calls because of their way of life. (they particularly use the fax machine a lot, which I found really neat) Although, I did speak to a sister on the phone and she was very kind and answered all my questions. They don't have any computers there, which I also think is great.

Each sister has an individual hermitage, although during the novitiate I believe they have a cell in the house. They have the great privilege of having the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their hermitages. They can expose Our Blessed Lord by themselves, as when the tabernacle door is open, and the Host is already set up behind glass.

When you go there on retreat, you will most probably stay in one of the hermitages. The Blessed Sacrament is not reserved in the guest hermitages, but is in the guest house called Midway, in a little room where you can sign up for when you would like to adore. Midway is also where the gift shop is.

When I first went there, what I found very different was the Eastern icons and liturgy. But it is beautiful and I loved the simplicity of the place. I had a sense from them of the Early Christians, as Christianity began from the East. That's one thing I find very attractive about them - their striving to have that same fervor as the Early Christians. In their liturgy they sing, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

To get there I have always used Shortline Bus. www.shortlinebus.com The first time I went there I got off at Livingston Manor, and a friend of the sisters met me and drove me to the monastery. It is up a forested camp road, a pretty long distance from the town. But when I went there last year, the sisters told me they no longer have a driver in Livingston Manor, so I got off the bus at Liberty, NY and went to the local taxi place they referred me to. A taxi driver drove me up there. I felt it was pretty safe, though a long ride.

It's good to arrive there during the day, as they retire at 8 PM. Vespers is around 5:45 I think. But you can also arrive after or during Vespers, as it may not be possible for you to catch the earlier bus, as it wasn't for me.

When you first enter the gate you will be in the guest area of the grounds. Here are the 8 guest hermitages, pretty newly built I believe, and the old guest house, Midway. There is a little trailer called Bethany where you pick up your meals (lunch and dinner) in a zipper lunch-bag container. The sister who welcomes you will tell you all these things and you can talk quietly to her with any questions. Then during your retreat you can write a note with any of your questions or needs to a sister and put it in a box in the trailer, Bethany, and she will pick it up.

To get to where the sisters live and where the church is, there is about a 15 minute walk from the guest area. It is a beautiful walk through a wide forest trail, slightly uphill. The taxi driver told me they are on the highest part of Sullivan County, NY. Don't forget to bring your flashlight (from the hermitage) to Vespers, as the walk back to the guest area can be dark when it's not summer. You may consider even bringing a bigger flashlight than the one they provide, but their's is pretty good.

Last time I went, there was a very nice deacon couple that would come to most of the Offices. They are lay Oblate members of the community and wear the navy blue hoodie that new members in the "School of Life" wear. They are very nice people and help the sisters. I know that in a lot of cloistered communities, Third Order members help, so I was happy to see the Sisters of Bethlehem can receive this kind of help from members of their community also.

When you first enter their order, you spent a year in something called the "School of Life," which lasts a year. The school of life members wear regular clothes, I believe usually a long skirt, and wear a navy blue hoodie. The Sisters of St. John, a very similar order also from France, www.stjean.com, also does this same thing. When I visited them in Peoria, IL, they call this hoodie, the 'robe of Elijah.'

Something very important to them is silence. Sometimes I would even take off my shoes to go up the stairs to the tribunal in church, to not make any extra noise. During Mass and the Offices, guests go up to a tribunal, and the sisters are downstairs. You can see the sisters from a bird's eye view.

When you enter the door to go into the church, check the white note board on the wall (right hand side wall) for any notes, and times for the Offices and Adoration. Once when I came, I forgot to look at this board, and there was a note for me to call one of the sisters when I arrive. So I always check it just in case.

Finally, as the others said the official language of the Sisters of Bethlehem is French. In Livingston Manor, I believe they speak mostly English. Their liturgy is mostly English. There was one reading in French. As another said, they also have some prayers/hymns in Hebrew.

I also went to their Motherhouse in France, so if you have any more questions about their community, please don't hesitate to contact me. I think I will post a few sites I have found on them. Unfortunately the one site that had a lot of great information on the monastery in Livingston Manor is down, as the others have said. But I managed to find a few others, though not as big as the other one.

God bless you!

Margaret Clare

Edited by Margaret Clare, 10 September 2006 - 01:19 PM.


#7 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 01:40 PM

Margaret Clare, you didn't miss a thing!
It's a beautiful place for a retreat and I would love walking to the little waterfall at the end of lower lake Magdala and pray the rosary and Office there.

What made me laugh are all the signs posted to go only 15MPH on the road but they are always zipping up and down at about 60! Well, that is a slight exaggeration!

I love their new chapel. It is so much nicer than the old one. Sr. Amena was the architect, I believe.

#8 Chiquitunga

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 03:37 PM

Here is a site for them in Deutschland (Germany): http://www.dabakus.d.../ausfluege6.htm

Here they are in Quebec, Canada: http://pasto-mission...re-bethleem.htm

If you go to http://www.freetranslation.com, you can get them roughly translated into English.

And here is a site that has a picture of the prioress, Sr. Isabelle, of the whole Monastic Family, though actually the Virgin Mary herself is their official Prioress. :j http://www.elijah.or...christian.shtml

Edited by Margaret Clare, 10 September 2006 - 04:14 PM.


#9 Chiquitunga

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 04:13 PM

Hello Sr. Mary Catherine! :) Yeah, I guess I remembered a lot. That's funny about the speed limit sign. I actually didn't recall that one.

One thing I wanted to add was about their spirituality. It is to live the life of the Virgin Mary here on earth, to follow her into the presence of the Three Divine Persons, where she is assumed into Heaven in glory. They began in 1950 on the day the dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady was proclaimed. One of the mottos of their order is the first line from Ephesians, "Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world, to be holy and immaculate in His Presence in Love."

Important things for them are Silence, Solitude, Eucharistic Adoration, the Early Desert Fathers, having both Eastern and Western traditions, Scripture, and Community. They do not say they are hermits. Community is very important to them, as it is also for the Carthusian Nuns. Their silence is an expression of their deep love and respect for one another, as it says on the site of the Carthusian Nuns. They have much more silence and solitude than most wholly contemplative communties, but they are still living in community - in solitude in community. And on Sundays they have a long walk together where they discuss a spiritual topic - a Carthusian tradition. I haven't visited the Carthusians, but I think a few of the biggest differences between them is:

- The Srs of Bethlehem have the Bl Sacrament in their hermitages, the Carthusians do not

- Eucharistic Adoration is a big part of the spiritually of the Srs of Bethlehem, while the Carthusians do not have adoration, or at least not very much, I am not sure (I was told this by someone else)

- the Carthusian liturgy is all in Latin (besides Greek, Kyrie, etc.), Bethlehem's is Byzantine, with Latin elements and in the vernacular with some Greek, Hebrew, and Latin (e.g. Salve Regina) and Roman Mass, Novus Ordo (English/French/some Latin, etc.)

- the Carthusians are an Order so they take solemn vows, the Sisters of Bethlehem take perpetual vows, as they are a Monastic Family, sharing the wisdom and way of life of St. Bruno, but not part of the Order. (solemn vows can only be taken in an Order, like the Carmelites, Poor Clares, Benedictines - this is the difference between "nuns" and "sisters" canonically speaking.)

Don't quote me, because I may be off, but I remember during a presentation I saw of them in France that it was actually a Carthusian monk, maybe the Father General, who told Sr. Marie, the foundress of the Srs. of Bethlehem, that St. Bruno extends his spiritual patronage over her community. That's when the name St. Bruno was added, and the sisters changed the habit from all blue, to the white Carthusian habit, keeping their distinctive blue veil.

- the Carthusians have Papal Enclosure, while the Srs of Bethlehem have Constitutional Enclosure, enclosure according to the constitutions - see Vatican document Verbi Sponsa

-And finally, the Srs. of Bethlehem have a monastery in the US & Canada, though you can be sent to any of the monasteries, as Sr. Mary Catherine said, while the Carthusians only have monasteries of nuns in Europe, and one beginning in Korea

Here is the site of the Carthusian Order, if you have not already been there: http://www.chartreux.org/

Both great orders! Blessings on your discernment! Please keep me in your prayers! God bless you!

Margaret Clare

Edited by Margaret Clare, 10 September 2006 - 04:37 PM.


#10 HisChild

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 04:58 PM

Wow, they sound amazing! They do silent retreats? Could you let me know their address, so that I may write them? A retreat will come in handy this fall or early spring.

God reward you.

Denise

#11 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 05:17 PM

Here are some photos of Bethlehem monastery:
Posted Image

The Nuns choir from the visitors section, the guest hermitages on the hill, St. Bruno's hermitage, the "refectory" in the hermitage.

The food was delicious.

You are right, they are NOT hermits. I've also heard that the Carthusians aren't very happy that they consider themselves under St. Bruno but that just might be a rumor!

I'm sorry I put all the pictures together as one but it's all I have time for.

Oh, Address: Sisters of Bethlehem, Grooville Road, Livingston Manor, NY 12758.

#12 Chiquitunga

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:32 PM

Hello again to all! Thank you, Sr. Mary Catherine, for posting the beautiful images. I haven't heard that the Carthusians are upset that the Srs of Bethlehem consider themselves under St. Bruno. Possibly it is just a rumor, or a select group of Carthusians. Or maybe it is true, generally speaking. I am pretty sure however that it was a Carthusian monk that extended to Sr. Marie the patronage of St. Bruno, but I'm not sure the exact wording or any other details of this.

On a side note, one more difference between the Srs of Bethlehem and Carthusians, is that the Carthusians get up for the Office of Watching at 1:00 AM, have some time of mediation, and sleep a little again before rising, as the Srs of Bethlehem do not have this interruption of sleep. They retire at 8 PM, and rise at 4 PM for the Office of Watching. (like the old Prime)

I know there are a number of communities who called St. Teresa of Avila their Mother, while not be in the specific order she founded, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns. I don't mean simply all Carmelites (O. Carms. and any other communities with this name - they don't all call her Mother - but a great saint in Carmel) While I'm sure all of the Carmelites are under her patronage in some way, the community of 'Teresian Carmelites' I believe call her Mother, and are associated with the OCDs, and also the contemplative/active Indian 'Congregation of the Mother of Carmel', which has more sisters than the Missionaries of Charity, also call St. Teresa of Avila their Mother.

I think it's good for the Srs of Bethlehem to be able to share the wisdom and way of life of St. Bruno. I'm sure this was inspired by God. I didn't hear them, neither by talking with them in New York, at the Motherhouse in France, nor in their small booklet, mention themselves are "Carthusians" just sons and daughters of St. Bruno, or disciples of St. Bruno.

I once read somewhere that the Carthusians do not want their name "Carthusian" to be used by other institutes, when I read that they asked the lay Carthusians, to rename themselves ST. BRUNO LAY CONTEMPLATIVES. http://www.saintbruno.org/

So maybe this was the issue with the Srs of Bethlehem, if they once referred themselves Carthusians, even only generally. But as far as being under St. Bruno, if their Constitutions and name is approved by the Holy Father, then they're truly sons and daughters of St. Bruno. Here are a few links with addresses to them from JPII. http://www.vatican.v...ethleem_en.html & http://www.vatican.v...etlemme_en.html

I'm sure St. Bruno in heaven is happy to have even more sons and daughters following his wisdom and way of life, and 2 religious families to look after.

#13 brandelynmarie

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:45 PM

I'm sure St. Bruno in heaven is happy to have even more sons and daughters following his wisdom and way of life, and 2 religious families to look after.



Yes... :yes: I'm sure St. Bruno does not mind at all! Thanks for sharing y'all! :blush:

#14 williamb

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:55 PM

Yes... :yes: I'm sure St. Bruno does not mind at all! Thanks for sharing y'all! :blush:


The Carthusians are quite protective of the name Carthusian and of St. Bruno. The Bethlehem family wanted to be aggregated to them but the Carthusians will have nothing whatever to do with it.

#15 Chiquitunga

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 07:55 PM

The Carthusians are quite protective of the name Carthusian and of St. Bruno. The Bethlehem family wanted to be aggregated to them but the Carthusians will have nothing whatever to do with it.


whoa .. that's probably right, though.

The Sisters of Bethlehem are doing very well regardless, as far as vocations and their spirituallity. They are very orthodox and have a great spirit that is distinct from other religious orders and the Carthusians. The Eastern traditions of Christianity is very important to them.

It's probably good for the Carthusians to be strict on this (on their name, and also St. Bruno as I hear now) as they are a very old and well rooted Order that hasn't changed since it's beginnings. If they had another group associated with them, it would probably add complication.

The Sisters of Bethlehem, or the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of both monastic sisters and monks, nevertheless are still disciples of St. Bruno, as they are approved by the Church as such.

Yes... :yes: I'm sure St. Bruno does not mind at all! Thanks for sharing y'all! :blush:



#16 Chiquitunga

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:44 PM

A site on the Carthusians that is very informative: http://www.angelfire...house/home.html

However it says that the nuns have 2 recreation a day. I'm not sure this is true. It also said that their vows are not solemn, but considered simple by the Church.

#17 puellapaschalis

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 09:55 AM

Apparantly they also have a house near Maastricht. I went to see Die grosse Stille today, bumped into a diocesan hermit who told me. I've been trying to do some smart googling for information but haven't had any luck so far.

Love and prayers,

PP

#18 Chiquitunga

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 01:27 PM

Thanks for the information puellapaschalis! It's great this forum is so international!

From the Carthusian site:

"A Communion

Solitary life, whether in cell or in the obedience, protects and nourishes in our hearts the fire of divine love. This love unites us as the members of the same body.

This is a permanent reality; but we express it more visibly on Sundays and Solemnities, when gatherings are more frequent: the offices of Terce, Sext, and None are sung in church; we have a meal together in our refectory after Sext.

In addition, we come together for a colloquium. This latter is a friendly meeting in which, beginning with a text of Scripture, we have rather deep exchanges and we try to incorporate the fruit of these discussions into our lives.

Once a week we have another sisterly exchange in the form of a walk called spatiamentum lasting about three hours, during the course of which each one is able to talk in turn with the others. Through these walks, souls are knitted together, the interior life flourishes, mutual affection is bolstered, and life in solitude is fortified."

I think probably the nuns do not have recreation twice a day as it said on the other site. It sounds like it is only Saturday/Sunday, like the Sisters of Bethlehem.

Edited by Margaret Clare, 17 September 2006 - 01:26 PM.


#19 Chiquitunga

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 12:29 AM

I just found the other day a beautiful Catholic blog by a mother, and she has an article about the trip to France/Switzerland of her two daughers with some of their family this last October. They visited the Sisters of Bethlehem there and have a beautiful little story and 2 lovely pictures. This sister I met and love very much, Sr. Marie D'Aire.

When I was speaking with her, I told her I liked the little Rosary/Jesus-prayer rope she had around her hand, like the one in the second picture (click for a bigger picture), and she immediately gave me hers!

These are such beautiful pictures! I hope this girl joins the order, if it is God's will. What a beautiful story!

Edited by Margaret Clare, 09 November 2006 - 12:50 AM.


#20 Chiquitunga

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 12:41 AM

Here's a site on them from the University of Dayton - Art Gallery Exhibit

Edited by Margaret Clare, 09 November 2006 - 12:47 AM.





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