Gems and Musings from the House of Brede

I have a new book on my list of favorites: In This House of Brede by Rummer Godden. It is a book beloved by many people. I’m not surprised to find myself enjoying the book, after all, it is about religion, nuns, and the everyday ordinary-extraordinary ins-and-outs of life at a Benedictine Abbey; It is the story of a Christian community. 

I’m going to share some of the little gems I’ve highlighted in the book with whatever musings that have come to me. I hope they are helpful or amusing in some way. Here is the first of several more to come. 



This quote was amusing to me. With a few tweaks, the author could’ve been describing Holy Resurrection Monastery in the small village of Saint Nazianz, Wisconsin where my family and I live. As someone who moved across the country just to live in the same village as the monastery, I have often thought ‘If these villagers only knew how many people would love to have this place in their backyard.’ You see, the locals rarely visit the monastery. The monks get many visitors, some from other places in Wisconsin, some other states, and yes, some from overseas. But the Catholics here go to the Roman Catholic parish in the village. I must say, many locals have been extremely supportive in many ways. They just aren’t Eastern Catholic.

The variety of guests who come to the monastery from all over and for many different reasons, do have one thing in common: They are all pilgrims, seekers, searching for something. The little band of monks, with their daily prayers and keeping of the liturgical calendar, do not pretend to have all the answers. What they have, and what I think brings people back again and again, is a window. A window into heaven. You enter into an icon when you enter into the everyday ordinary-extraordinary ins-and-outs of the life of the monastery. As Saint Pope John Paul II said, 

“The monastery is the prophetic place where creation becomes praise of God and the precept of concretely lived charity becomes the ideal of human coexistence; it is where the human being seeks God without limitation or impediment, becoming a reference point for all people, bearing them in his heart and helping them to seek God.”

I am finding this fictional story about Brede to also be a window. The author is talented and writes about community life in a true and insightful way. It leaves me with much to reflect on. There are also many funny spots, like this section describing a new woman arriving at Brede to join as a postulant. She takes a few shots of whiskey at the local pub before stepping into the Abbey:

In the chapter house the novice mistress took charge of the postulant, presenting her to the nuns in turn, to be given the Pax, the Kiss of Peace. ‘Kiss the community!’ Philippa had shrunk in dismay when Dame Ursula had told her about the Pax. ‘Kiss them all! But, Mother, I smell of whisky.’ ‘Postulants smell of all kinds of things,’ said Dame Ursula placidly.

I hope you have a blessed and relaxing weekend!




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: