Amid the hills of north central Alabama, shrouded in early morning fog set ablaze by the afternoon sun, you will find the unassuming seat of the reign of silence. A profound spiritual silence, produced by the purity of monastic lives, enables a common civilian such as myself to feel Gods presence.
Dedications abound with "God incarnate" and "Christ the King", His name and form shapes this holy atmosphere in addition to the ceaseless devotion of a small brotherhood of traditional Benedictine Monks devoted to the ancient ways of the Roman Catholic Church.
Father Leonard, devoted priest, faithfully followed a steady course along the straight and narrow path of life-long dedication to his Church. Then soon after the implementation of Vatican II, he found himself at large in the wilderness outside of mother Church. His life of single-minded devotion to God soon energized the forces of nature to reward Father Leonards purity of heart. A parcel of property was secured and a small group of devoted like-minded souls united to raise Christ the King Abbey surrounded by the ancient forest in the hills of Alabama.
On my most recent trip to the Abbey, I was accompanied by my three youngest sons, Michael 15, Matthew 13, and 8 year old Johnny. As we wound our way up the serpentine driveway in our pickup truck, complete with camper and speedboat, these robust and dynamic boys quickly zeroed in on the Abbey as a spiritual beacon. Our motley crew became uncharacteristically tranquil as we approached the refuge. Cramped from long days of driving, my boys stumbled out of our cluttered truck inspired and awe-struck by the serene and holy atmosphere. We were warmly greeted by Father Abbot and the Monks who reverently showed my sons the monastery church, which was built using very sketchy plans combined with much prayer and manual labor.
Now nearly complete, the Abbey is a repository of ancient knowledge and holy artifacts, which includes one of the most precious of all holy relics, a splinter from the cross upon which Christ was crucified. My sons, now completely taken up with the sacred ambience, were shown the historic personification of the saints as illustrated in the Gothic style stained glass windows that were created by our studio for the Abbey.
Soon enough my sons discovered Ginger, a stray dog adopted by the Abbey and while they all enjoyed a romp in the sun, the Monks and I discussed the design and plans for the monasterys final stained glass window, "Christ the King" (see this window on this page).
Nearing the end of our day, we were led down to the cool chambers of the guest dining room located under the sanctuary. Once there, we were treated to a vegetarian feast. As we quietly dined, we were enthralled by the echoes of the Monks Gregorian chants of holy praise drifting down the corridors as they dined separately from us in ancient monastic tradition.
For the remainder of the trip, no matter how fine the restaurant, my sons would often remark, "Dad this food is good, but not as good as the food at the monastery!"
New installation of stained glass for Christ the King Abbey, Cullman, Alabama.