I learned after I had been married that Andree, my wife, had spent some time in retreat at the The Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut.
Her time there had left a deep impression upon her. She spoke often of the nuns she heard rather than saw. Occasionally, one would catch glimpses of them through wooden gratings, but their singing drifted out into the chapel, and from there plunged a dagger of beauty into the heart.
The Gregorian chant of the nuns is a prayer sung. Plainsong, the official music of the Catholic Church, predates both harmony and polyphony. Andree, I should mention, was a singer, and music for her even now sets her soul aflame. And so, here was this cleansing wave of beauty washing over her, the poetry of the texts in Latin informed with the inexhaustible and numinous mysteries of Christ’s birth, passion, death and resurrection.
Later, we visited The Abbey of Regina Laudis together. No doubt Mother Delores Hart was among the nuns behind the grate, her voice folded into the canticum novum, lost in a prayerful sound that for more than a thousand years has spiraled up to Heaven from Benedictine monasteries.
We did not see her. We were not meant to see her. But she was there, and is there.