On Sunday, May 7, while on vacation with my family in Massachusetts, we decided to go to Mass at Most Holy Trinity Monastery, home to the Maronite Monks of Adoration. We were in Massachusetts to visit my wife’s sister and her family. She and her husband are Godparents to our first-born son. It was a trip we had planned for months. It came at a great time for me.
My wife’s family has a long history with the Maronite Monks. As a family, they would attend Mass nearly every Sunday with the monks. My wife remembers time with the monks at their monastery in the Black Hills of South Dakota with great fondness. It was one of the first things she mentioned when we met nearly six years ago. I also have a love for the Maronite liturgy.
Knowing that the monks now resided in Massachusetts and that my sister-in-law and brother-in-law had seen them in recent years, we decided to take a trip to see them while we were there. I was excited to finally meet a few of the priests who assisted with my wife’s formation growing up. I was also excited for my boys to experience the liturgy and to breathe air from the Eastern Church into their young lungs. Although they probably won’t remember it, it was still a good experience (and they behaved too!).
After waking all the children before the sun and getting them dressed and fed and driving 90 minutes to make the 8am Mass, we turned into the driveway of the Most Holy Trinity Monastery in Petersham, MA. The monastery is located on a parcel of land in rural Massachusetts surrounded by a forest of tall trees. Although they are removed from the hustle and bustle of life, they are a beacon of hope to all who live in the area and visit the monastery.
If you have been to a Maronite liturgy, you know what we experienced: an Eastern liturgy with lots of incense, prayers in English, Arabic, and Aramaic, chanting, and a consecration that reflects the Last Supper. The solemn chanting of the hooded monks set the liturgy to be prayerful and holy. Even though I often feel like this in Mass, it was as if heaven and earth were united as one. It was a wonderful experience that reminded me what a blessing it is to be able to introduce my children to the Eastern rite liturgies and appreciate the celebration of the Mass in a new way.
After Mass ended, we were invited by Fr. Louis Marie to join him in a small conference room inside the welcome center. He prepared for us a simple breakfast that filled our hungry bellies. We were able to spend close to two hours with him and two other Monks, Fr. Elias, and Fr. Robert, all three of whom had resided in the Black Hills while my wife was a child. It was a joy to hear my wife and her sister reminisce about their experiences roaming the hills and attending Mass in the caves with the monks as well as sharing updates on their families and all the new things that had happened in recent years. At the end of our time there, as the bells began ringing for daytime prayer, we took a picture and said our goodbyes.
If you would like to learn more about the Maronite Monks of Adoration at Most Holy Trinity Monastery in Petersham, MA, begin by clicking here.
St. Charbel, pray for us.