The Art Monastery

by Cole Matson

First of all, sorry I’ve been delinquent for a couple of weeks. Life has been very busy, with major events happening at the first day job, and the second day job finishing up the season. (Strike for our last show is tomorrow!) Plus I’ve been without Internet access for much of the weekend hours, as I’ve been squiring for the Joust at the Virginia Renaissance Faire.

Second of all, as I announced on Twitter, I’ve decided to join the Roman Catholic Church. I plan to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults this September when I arrive in Oxford, possibly at the Oxford Oratory Church of St Aloysius Gonzaga, although I haven’t yet decided between that church and the two parish churches of Headington (where the Kilns is located) – Corpus Christi (which contains Stations of the Cross carved by Faith Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s daughter-in-law) and St Anthony of Padua (where J.R.R. Tolkien worshipped). RCIA will hopefully result in my reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil next spring.

I am preparing a lengthy (probably multi-part) blog post on my reasons for converting from Presbyterianism to Catholicism. I have discussed my conversion with my parents and with my pastors, all of whom are supportive. I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions. I’ve also enjoyed reading the conversion announcement this past Sunday of an Anglo-Catholic priest, Fr. Jeffrey Steel, who has also decided to join the Church, along with his wife and six children. Check it out at his blog, De Cura Animarum. His reasons are similar to mine, including the desire for communion with a Church that can claim a direct line of authority back to Christ through St. Peter.

In the meantime, though, after having just attended the recent TCG Conference held here in Baltimore this past weekend, I’m afire with thoughts for the Baltimore Theatre Alliance, where I currently work, and my future planned theatre company. I did a Google search this evening for “artistic monastic communities,” which didn’t come up with much, but then I search for “artist monks,” and found the Art Monastery Project.

This group has turned a medieval Italian monastery into an intentional artistic community and arts incubator influenced by monastic tradition and ritual, including communal life, meals, and daily sung compline. They will be having their first arts festival this coming summer. I’ve joined their list and their online artists’ network. They’re doing work that’s pretty close to what I would like to do, and I hope to learn much from them, and hopefully visit them next summer. (Anyone up for a joint researching trip to Italy?)

Check them out and let me know what you think. Does this strike a chord with anybody else? Does anyone know of any other monastic arts communities, especially those that are explicitly Christian and/or part of a religious order?

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