By Carl Bunderson for CNA
.- A new album from the chart-topping community of Benedictine nuns in rural Missouri has an intimate selection of the songs they sing when they gather for Eucharistic Adoration at their monastery.
“We pray that the music on this album will contribute to a more profound belief, adoration, hope and love…in the Blessed Sacrament among many, many souls,” Mother Cecilia told CNA.
She is prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, whose album Adoration at Ephesus is newly available.
“This new album contains much of the music we sing for Eucharistic adoration,” she explained. “The Sisters gather for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Sunday, Thursday, and Solemnity for just over an hour. As the priest first places Our Lord in the monstrance, we sing a hymn to greet Him.”
Recording Adoration at Ephesus in the St. John’s Chapel. Credit: Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
Eucharistic Adoration at the community then proceeds with a moment of reverent gratitude for the Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament, chanted Vespers, and often a communal rosary.
“Then there is time for silent prayer, as we converse heart to Heart with the One whom we love.”
Just before Benediction, Mother Cecilia said, “we sing a Tantum Ergo,” the hymn which traditionally concludes communal Adoration.
“After Benediction and the Divine Praises, as Our Lord is placed back in the tabernacle, we chant a final reposition hymn in His honor. There are a variety of these ‘farewell’ hymns on the disk, and (we) were sure to include two of the most well-known, Holy God, We Praise Thy Name and Adoremus in Aeternum.”
Adoration at Ephesus includes 24 tracks, in both Latin and English, that the sisters sing in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Ten of the tracks, which were recorded this spring, were arranged by the sisters.
In addition to the times of communal Adoration, Mother Cecilia explained that “on the vigil of the Feasts of the Apostles, the Sisters take turns adoring during the day and all through the night.”
“Our main intention during these hours is for our bishops – that they will have great fortitude and fidelity to the Faith, especially amidst growing persecution from all sides.”
Though the community practices limited enclosure, their music albums have brought them international renown and popularity – they have been Billboard’s Best-Selling Classical Traditional Artist for three years in a row, and their albums have topped Billboard’s Top Traditional Classical Albums.
Life in the community is marked by obedience, stability, and “continually turning” towards God. They have Mass daily according to the extraordinary form, and chant the psalms eight times a day from the 1962 Monastic Office. They also support themselves by producing made-to-order vestments.
The proceeds from the sales of Adoration at Ephesus will help to fund the sisters’ new monastic church.
“The chapel in which we now pray was conceived as a temporary one,” Mother Cecilia said. “As the community grows and the hospitality apostolate expands, the necessity of undertaking the design and building of a new church has become a pressing reality.”
“In releasing Adoration at Ephesus, it is our hope to use the funds raised for the construction of a house of prayer – a new edifice where the Lord may truly be adored in spirit and in truth,” she added.
“We have been so touched thus far by the generous response our friends have shown in adding donations for the Church to their pre-orders. It has been tremendously inspiring.”
The sisters’ new chapel “is being built up by faith in the charity of our friends and spiritual family spread across the country,” Mother Cecilia said. “Their faith provides the living stones with which we press on, striving to raise up a beautiful house for God.”
The prioress concluded by reflecting on the link between the album and the apparitions at Fatima, noting that “this very month is the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the Angel to the three little shepherds near Fatima.”
“I was simply astounded that our album corresponds so perfectly and intimately with the message he brought to the children and the world. If one word had to be chosen to summarize that message, it would be: adoration.”
“We pray that all souls will adore our Eucharistic Lord with great faith, love, reverence and thanksgiving!”