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Here you can order CDs online featuring abbey music, consisting of a carefully selected compilation of religious music. Many CDs are unique as they were recorded in the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge. You’ll hear the brothers sing during the Liturgy of the Hours. Inspirational songs that transports the abbey to your living room.

Now evening is upon us

‘Lord do not leave me alone’. Just like the first prayer service of the day the compline is also begun by the cantor with a humble prayer to God. The other monks join in: “God, be not far from me”. Each day to follow, Psalms 4, 91 and 134 are repeated. In a presentation on 24 May 2000, at the celebrations of the abbey’s 100th anniversary, Henk Wite described his experience during this final prayer service of the day:

“Following the final prayer the lights go out, except for the light shining on the statue of Mary in the apse and the light necessary for the organ. The monks and the guests turn to Mary and sing the Salve Regina.
The words have been uttered, the singing is over. The light on the organ is extinguished, the spotlight remains on Mary. The abbot’s blessing signals the start of the period of silence. The tolling of the bell takes over the movement. It is not only the transition from day to night, from activity to rest, from communication to silence, but also the attempt to make contact with the invisible mystery that surrounds life and that resides in us through the sights and sounds of life. It is man moving towards God.”

If I have not love

This CD ‘Geloof, Hoop en Liefde’ (Faith, Hope and Love) features three liturgical celebrations sung by the monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge.

They are observances that can be characterised as prayer services and in which the songs, with their characteristic monastic sound are derived from the abbey community’s specific liturgical practice. The model is not the same as one of the classical components of the monastic Office, but is closely related.

The essence of the liturgical celebration is like a conversation of word and response. Traditionally in this context these have become the terms lectio, meditatio and oratio. In this three-part process the liturgy is experienced as a conversation with God. The foundation of all liturgy can be expressed as hearing, reflecting and replying.

The three celebrations on this CD derive their structure from this basic principle.

Many songs from our liturgical practice have found their way outside the monastery, especially into the liturgical practice of many parishes. We also offer this CD as inspiration to all those actively involved in preparing liturgical celebrations.

Now my heart knows

The most commonly visited location in our churches and chapels is often a place dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. What are people looking for there? What moves so many, also in our abbey church, to simply light a candle? She is called upon as a last resort in desperate situations, for support in the hour of death, as a back door for hopeless cases, as Our Lady of Refuge.

‘Per Mariam ad Jesum’, These are the words carved into the façade of our abbey church, because it was through Mary that God’s Son found a path into this shadowy world, to both comfort and overcome it with Godly light and heavenly love.

In the scriptures Mary is described as a young woman, a virgin, a mother. These images appear in our living rooms and churches. They can also be seen in multiple locations in and around our abbey church:
The statue by Niel Steenbergen depicts Mary, the first believer, holding our Christ in front of her, Mary as the ultimate contemplative example.
In the back of the church we can find our way home through the icon of Our Lady of Tenderness;
a welcoming Mary, depicted in a stained glass window in the chapel in front of the abbey, welcomes visitors with open arms;
in the Sterrebos Chapel behind the abbey Mary is enthroned as the Seat of Wisdom;
at Christmas we see her once more as the young mother with the baby in the crib.
A litany of images: Mirror of justice, pray for us, Seat of wisdom, pray for us, Cause of our joy, Mystical rose, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Ark of the covenant, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, etc.

At the beginning of the Gospel Mary unreservedly says “yes” to God, thus causing her to be our road to contemplation. At the end, Mary is in the company of the disciples when the day of Pentecost dawns. Once again she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what happened only to Mary at the beginning of the Gospel, now also happens to us when we walk in the footsteps of her Son, as his disciples.

The title of this CD, ‘Now my heart knows’, is derived from the beginning of the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, which the brothers sing every day at the end of evening prayers. We are in the ‘present’ and sing of Mary’s expectation and fulfilment every single day. We are invited to share in her joy through song, and would like to invite all listeners of this CD to take the Canticle of Mary and transform it into a personal hymn of rejoicing.

Until he comes

Since time immemorial the Church has sung the O Antiphons during the days leading up to Christmas.

In the Gregorian tradition the first letters of these seven antiphons form the words ‘ero cras’ in reverse order: ‘Tomorrow, I will come’. Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex and Emmanuel.

For seven successive days before Christmas these antiphons structure the Magnificat during evening prayers. Full of expectation, we sing in alternating images as a herald of what is to come: O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dayspring, O King of the Nations, O Emmanuel our king. The O Antiphons is the common thread that winds through the CD Until He comes. Seven short liturgical moments of song and prayer with the themes of each of the antiphons. The monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge offer them to you as moments of reflection in preparation period leading up to Christmas.

Anticipation, expectation, future, incarnation: all images that are an inherent part of the Advent.

Until He comes

‘… but there will be people who pray and do justice and wait for God’s own time.’

This quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s baptismal sermon in 1944, written during his captivity to the parents of his godson Dietrich, evokes in awareness in us that the salvation which comes is not to be force, but rather must be patiently waited for. However, this is no passive wait! Waiting on God’s timing requires an active attitude to life.

Advent prepares us for God’s descent into mortality – Emmanuel – God with us.

In one of our songs we sing ‘Share your daily bread with others, so that you can behold God’s salvation.’ Prayer, praise and the Holy Scriptures call for real commitment, to do what is just.

In his collection ‘Een tijd van spreken’ (A time for speaking), the author F. Crompton expresses in a striking manner how prayer and waiting on God’s timing are interwoven: ‘He that prays moves forward towards he that comes and towards what comes. Someone who wants to pray is someone who wants to move forward. Perhaps he does not possess the strength to do so, but he sighs, he is prepared to move, he yearns and pleads… he is, by any means necessary, oriented toward the future; anyone who prays attempts to find cracks in the wall of obscurity. If he does not find them, he continues to search, he waits, he tries to perceive things more clearly, because he is keeping watch. He strives to make room for the future in the present. Thus he moves forward seeing, towards what cannot be seen.’

Until He comes!

Return to me

Forty days: preparation time for Easter, time for reflection on the Paschal Mystery. The concept of a period of preparation for Easter dates back to the fourth century.

The constitution of the liturgy of the Second Vatican Concilium says the following about the significance of the forty-day period: ‘The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. (Sacrosanctum Concilium no.109).

In one of the texts in the prefaces to the forty-day period this meaning of the period of preparation for Easter is formulated in more detail: ‘For by your gracious gift each year your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts with the joy of minds made pure, so that, more eagerly intent on prayer and on the works of charity, and participating in the mysteries by which they have been reborn. They may be led to the fullness of grace that you bestow on your sons and daughters.’

The brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge called this CD ‘Keer tot mij terug’ (Return to me): a quote from the prophet Joel, the first reading on Ash Wednesday.

This CD is the rendition of a morning, afternoon and evening service as sung by the monks in the abbey church on a daily basis. The choice of psalms, songs, acclamations, readings and prayers is determined by the theme of the forty-day period in a more general sense.

The songs can be found in the Book of Psalms and the Abbey Book.

We offer you the content of this CD for reflection and inspiration in the run-up to Easter.

His hour has come

Holy Week. You may ask yourself what about the events that will take place during this week are so holy. We all know about the events to come: the elation of Palm Sunday makes way for subdued sobriety. The arrival in Jerusalem will end in catastrophe. A man full of goodness and love, in the prime of his life is tortured and executed in a horrific manner.

What begins with a shout of ‘Hosanna’ soon turns into ‘Crucify Him!’ Two extremes that follow each other in quick succession. During Holy Week, we are confronted with these extremes in a single movement. The adoration and the hatred; they trip over each other. Where does one end and the other begin?

Two stirrings of the soul that mirror each other, extremes that are found first and foremost in our hearts. Yet we call the week that lies ahead of us ‘Holy’.

At the beginning of Holy Week, our Palm Sunday celebration starts at the abbey gate. Or are they the gates of Jerusalem? We allow our imagination to run free. We wave our palm branches, a sign of victory (Revelation 7:9), of peace (Gen. 8:11), and of eternal life. That is holy.

In the process we conjure up the memory, but we also grasp for the future and anticipate the great Messianic entry, the moment Jesus actually enters Jerusalem, the Holy City, the City of Peace. His hour has come.

As God’s people we are on the way to that definitive entry. What we imagine is death and life: both are held out in front of us. Yes or no, the choice is ours. Onward to Jerusalem, in remembrance of Him.

Jesus, King of the Jews, hanging on the cross, that symbol of our faith signifying which has become the symbol of death’s trampling. ‘Today you will be with Me in paradise.’ It always sounds like a valid word in view of our lives’ own limitations.

‘Your cross freed us from our death-throes, Christ, Lord. We thank and honour you for dying and for your resurrection.’

A Holy Week!

I come back to life

To a certain extent the truth of the liberating resurrection message is wordless. Hallelujah: the Easter jubilation that is so characteristic of the Easter season. A musical, virtually wordless movement that will lead us from Easter to Pentecost on our way to reminding ourselves that words never suffice to express the transcendent experience of the resurrection.

A kind of second language is necessary, derived to reshape our darkened and fragmented world to create a fundamental community of solidarity, something at the deepest level, more fundamental than all the contradictions in and around us.

The language of the symbols that unite this presence and absence in a paradoxical tension: the Easter candle that reminds us of the beginning and end, alfa and omega, of the stigmata, of the suffering, as well as the light that strikes us on Easter morning, the light of Christ!

The biblical man sings as a result of all these experiences. While singing something is detected of the mystical relationship between God and man, a relationship that is virtually impossible to know by any rational means. The reality that is evoked, which is revealed, does not allow itself to be unravelled by categories of thought. Music is not visible. Neither is God. This is what makes music in general and song in particular appropriate tools of mediation. The divine can manifest in sounds without surrendering its elusiveness.

Thus we are able to understand the mystery of Easter. It is a reality that lies beyond the intellect, which cannot be understood using your mind. The rational context, thinking, the mind is thrown out of joint, all in such a way that even the method of asking questions is undermined. After all, what do I understand when it is written that He had to rise from the dead?

This reality cannot be clarified by anything other than the spirit. Easter is seeing the reality through the Spirit that Jesus gave us. ‘… He gave up his Spirit.’ (John 19:30) Easter and Pentecost brought together in a single transcendent flash. To give up the spirit, is not the same as saying goodbye.

Jesus does not leave: He does not take, but gives! He gives up His Spirit.

‘… the darkness fades, the hour is late.

The Man of Easter holds out both his hands –

to greet his Pentecostal bride.’

On this CD the brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge testify their faith in the risen Lord and they would like to share this sense of faith with you.

That speaks in your silence

The main theme of this CD by the brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge is silence.

Silence is created by structure. More specifically it exists in a monastic context as a result of the daily routine that determines life in our abbey. Monks love silence as they love God. Yet you do not hear a representation of choral prayer as it is celebrated in the abbey church on a daily basis, but a musical and creative expression of what is sometimes born out of the silence: a song, a sung psalm (polyphonic or not), a motet, a poem punctuated by minor instrumental transitions.

What silence do we mean? Because silence is characterised by many voices, it can also take many forms. When not concerned with or by God it is a deathly emptiness that cuts off all life; however, when it concerns a believer who is silent in the presence of God, it involves a filled space that makes the spirit flow and swell! We would like to bear witness to the hush that perfects silence, to the peace it brings.

A meaningful word is sometimes born out of the silence, poetry. ‘Concepts and words must not become smokescreens, but rather should be seen as windows’, says Abraham J. Heschel. Such an insight is shared with us by the poetic man that timidly interprets the mystery with the wit of poetry. The poets of the psalms, as well as contemporary poets that build on the tradition of the psalms: they recount everything that touches or moves them, everything the silence tells them, always against the mysterious background of human existence.

Not only the silence is devoted to God, but also the praise (cf Psalm 65). Whether we are singing or are silent, working or praying: as long as it can be done in His light, we trust that He sees it as good. The brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge invite you to share in their silence and their praise.

As a new beginning of life

‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us’.

Three times a day these words are prayed in our abbey church during the Angelus prayer. The community prays in silent meditation, eyes focused on the statue of Mary. Praying in wonder at the mystery of the incarnation that grew and reached its fulfilment in Mary with the birth of Jesus.

On the first day of Christmas the prologue to the Gospel of John is heard during the liturgy, a preface to the story of Jesus of Nazareth, and overture in which, just as plays out in a piece of music, all the themes that will appear will be conjured into existence: a hymn to Christ as an overture to an incarnational symphony.

What occurred in that stall in Bethlehem also serves as a reality of the here and now, today. The revelation of the word made flesh is a process that has not taken place once, but that does so continuously, as people become open to the advent of this revelation in their own lives. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given’.

Meister Eckhart, the Rhineland mystic, begins one of his Christmas sermons as follows: ‘Here in time we make holiday because the eternal birth which God the Father bore and bears unceasingly in eternity is now born in time, in human nature. Saint Augustine says this birth is always happening. But if it does not happen in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me.’

The Word becoming flesh in me, the true light that enlightens every man that wants to see. With one ear that listens to his inner self, to what resides in man, and from this places finds a path to God and humanity, this one reality: God makes history with people, if you want to see it, if you want to hear, if you want to believe.

The psalmist assigns it an extraordinary task: ‘So that you may recount to another generation: That this is God, Our God forever and ever. He will be our guide, even unto death.’ (Psalm 48, 14c-15). That the child of Bethlehem, whose birth we are celebrating, may also be born in us.

The brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Refuge happily recount this story in song and music.

Books

We are pleased to present a number of books that were published in-house by the brothers in our community.

Books about icons by brother Louis Bastiaansen +

De Verrijzenisikoon (The Resurrection Icon)
De ikonen van de Goede Week (The Icons of Holy Week)
De Drievuldigheidsikoon van Andrej Roebljew (The Trinity Icon by Andrei Rublev)
Theotokos, ikonen van de Moeder Gods (Theotokos, Icons of the Mother God)
De Openbaringsikonen (The Revelation Icons)
De thaborikoon (The Thabor Icon)
Icons from the Apocrypha
€5 each

Waarde en betekenis van de ikonen (Value and significance of icons) €1.50

Memoirs of Brother Frans

Honger, heimwee en verlangen (Hunger, homesickness and longing) €14.95
Over de Arbeitseinsatz in de tweede wereldoorlog (About the Arbeitseinsatz in the Second World War)