Sunday, September 25, 2016

Road Trip to Eastern Oklahoma and Clear Creek Monastery/Convent

It was a warm September day still with no AC in the car, but still well worth it to venture out on one of our frequent Saturday day-trips.  I don't know, but I think one reason I like day trips around the state is to better appreciate the subtle details of Okie life that I sometimes overlook in my not infrequent angst with Okie backwardness.

One of our favorite stops is Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, which happened to be on the way to Clear Creek.   The manners and small town charm of the customers and wait staff is a refreshing reminder that the crassness and incivility I experience in the City are not necessarily ubiquitous throughout the state.

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Country Cottage restaurant--Locust Grove, OK

After a nice salad and generous helpings of amazing homemade fried chicken, we kept on truckin' past Peggs, OK and ventured south into the long north-south valley that makes up the Clear Creek community.  Around every bend you catch a pastoral view of the valley in contrast to the hills, as well as bends in the creek.  After moseying down a few miles of gravel, you end up at the gate to 1,000 acres of pristine monastic ranch land.

Passing through the gate, you are now on the hallowed ground of 2 contemplative communities of traditional Catholic religious--Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey (aka Clear Creek monastery) for the men (LINK), and the Benedictine Sisters of Clear Creek for the ladies (LINK).  Sheep and cows greet you from pastures on either side of the road.

After parking, we get out and gaze upward at the vertically expanding construction of the Abbey's new Romanesque-style church.  The atmosphere is silent and peaceful.  A passing monk politely waves.  This would be a short stop-in visit, visiting the bookstore and paying a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.   Next time I want to buy some of their homemade cheese and one of their hand-painted icons.

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Cardinal Burke's Visit to Clear Creek

Bishop Slattery's Legacy:

I was reminded of the decades long labor of Bishop Slattery, who recently retired, in establishing this community.  How he frequented Fontgombault monastery in France to help bring some of their monks to Oklahoma to establish a monastery dedicated to traditional Liturgy and Gregorian chant.  It was a major undertaking, and thank God the good bishop was able to fully establish them canonically as an Abbey before his retirement.  If you catch my drift.  It would take hurricane-like forces to take down their walls, figuratively and literally.

But then there are the Clear Creek Sisters, God bless them.  Several women growing in numbers, originally attached to the Fraternity of St. Peter, their Benedictine charism more fittingly places them with the monks in the lower foot hills of the Ozarks.

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As we take the side road to their convent, I feel some concern. Given the incredible shut-down of the Doloran Fathers Latin Mass Order by the new Tulsa Bishop, and given the fact these Sisters are similarly not yet fully established by canon law, I can't help but wonder if these simple ladies are sitting ducks.

On our way home we stopped at a countryside gas station for refreshments and to sample the local hospitality.  Coming back out of the store, you have a wide vista of Fort Gibson lake to the West surrounded by hills.

It was definitely a restful, mindful day.

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