Link of the week

Trappist Caskets

They say in life that only two things are certain – death and taxes.

A monk inspects the timber for the casketsAnd, when the time comes to shuffle off this mortal coil, what would be a more fitting tribute to a woodworker than to be laid to rest in a hand-built wooden casket?

The monks at the New Melleray Abbey in Poesta, Iowa have set their hands – and prayerful attention – to the crafting of these final resting places. Built from wood harvested from their carefully-managed forest, each casket is built with strict attention to detail in a spiritual atmosphere.

The monks' workbenchFrom the most basic, unadorned pine casket (the one that the monks lay their brethren to rest in) to more ornate offerings in oak and walnut with raised panels, there is a wide selection of items to choose from. Cremation urns and children’s caskets are also offered with prayerful respect.

As Cistercians, the order follows the ancient monastic Rule of St. Benedict. Consistent with that rule, their vocation is expressed in a life of contemplative prayer, community liturgy, and manual labor.

Even though death is not a pleasant topic, a visit to the site provides a peaceful view of the work these spiritually dedicated men perform.

3 thoughts on “Link of the week”

  1. Back in the late 18th century, it was common for an apprentice, upon completing his journeyman work, to stop and make a casket. His casket. This was to be used not only for its intended purpose, but also was to reside above his bench wherever he worked. This worked as a reminder of our common fate as well as his own mortality.

    Imagine screwing up a dovetail and, in exasperation, looking up and catching sight of your future home. Puts it all back into perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.