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Who are the Trappists?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Trappists is the more familiar name of the Order of Cistercians of Strict Observance (OCSO). The Roman Catholic Trappists OCSO began in 1664 at the Abbey of Notre Dame de la Grande Trappe in Normandy, France. The monks are known as Trappists, while the nuns are known as Trappistines. The Rule of St. Benedict guides the values of the Trappists and Trappistines. The sixth century Rule of St. Benedict was written by the Benedict of Nursia and is based on pax, or peace, and labora, or work and prayer.

The Trappists and Trappistines believe that a service to Christ means a simple, hard working lifestyle away from the mainstream population. Monastic communities are usually small and have only about 25 people in each community. Over 2,500 Trappists and 1,800 Trappestines belong to the OCSO.

Trappists and Trappistines spend most of their time praying, meditating, reading Scriptures and working in community service. Trappists and Trappistines devote their lives to God. Peaceful silence and thoughtfulness are important to Trappists and Trappistines living in monasteries.

Trappists and Trappistines do not take a vow of silence. However, as part of the OCSO, they do promise to convert to monastic life and to control their tongue. The OCSD believes in communication, not through constant conversation, but by behaving in a friendly and thoughtful manner. Trappists and Trappistines usually save conversations for special occasions or for reasons having to do with spiritual or work discussions.

A guest house is sometimes available at many Trappist monasteries. Guests interested in learning more about the monastic lifestyle may arrange ahead of time to stay in a guest house as long as they receive the approval from the Trappists. Often, the guests are those who feel a calling to serve God in a monastery and want to try the lifestyle out before taking the big step of converting to monastic life.

Seven Trappist monasteries, six in Belgium and one in the Netherlands, brew and sell beer with the Trappist logo. The logo signifies that the beer was made under the control of the Trappists and sold not for profit, but for assistance in monastic projects. The logo was created by the Trappists to stop non-Trappists from using the Trappist name on their products. The Trappists also produce wine and cheese.

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Discussion Comments
By Vincenzo — On Dec 11, 2014

@Melonlity -- I honestly don't see how. Alcohol, in and of itself, is typically considered evil by the more conservative protestant denominations. Catholics have never viewed alcohol as evil and, in fact, it is not uncommon to see priests enjoying a drink at a wedding or some other special occasion.

Remember that Christ's first miracle was turning water into wine and that might give you some idea of how wine fits into the Bible. And the Lord's Supper? Wine was served there and that practice is duplicated by Catholics at communion.

I believe the emphasis in the Catholic church is to teach people to not abuse alcohol. If they have a drink here and there, that is fine. Being a drunkard, however, is not fine.

By Melonlity — On Dec 10, 2014

It has always fascinated me that monasteries produce beer and wine. Isn't that suspect in a Biblical sense? I mean, I realize that making beer and wine is a great way for monasteries to raise money, but it would seem that practice breaks a few taboos.

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