Child Casket Fund: Trappist Monks of New Melleray Practice the Corporal Works of Mercy
In the second millennium, their work and witness continued. Sadly, the Church had been torn in two with the first split, East and West. In the East, the Monks continued to be a resource for the kind of theology which brings heaven to earth and earth to heaven. From their ranks the great Bishops of the Church were chosen and the Church was continually renewed.
In the West, the great Monasteries of Europe became the beating heart of the emergence of Christendom. The extraordinary intellect exhibited in the emerging theological tradition birthed in the monasteries enabled the Church to contend with daunting challenges, welcome them without fear, contend for the faith and offer the claims of Truth Incarnate.
The Monks of New Melleray live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. (Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3.) Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.
"The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. (Cf. Mt 25:31-46) Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God: ( Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4)
"He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. (Lk 3:11). But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.( Lk 11:41) If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?( Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17) (CCC #2245 -2247)
These dear men of God handcraft simple, affordable wooden caskets This sanctifying work is a way of life for this community. Following the Rule of St. Benedict, they support themselves by the work of their hands. However, their work is so much more. It is an act of love and you can participate in it. We had the opportunity to speak with their General Manager about one of the aspects of their work of love.
"When a child dies, it hits the monks particularly hard", said General Manager of Trappist Caskets Sam Mulgrew. "They don't like to sell children's caskets and instead have a "child casket fund" that often covers the costs. The Child Casket Fund serves an important role for families who need a child's casket, but were not prepared for the unexpected financial burden.
During the holiday season, in the spirit of gift-giving, many families donate to the fund in memory of a lost loved one, or simply to reach out and help families in their time of need. While the monks don't rely on donations to support their way of life, they welcome charitable contributions to the Child Casket Fund, especially around this time of year, to continue this ministry for families touched by the tragedy of a child's death.
Christina Green, the youngest casualty of the January 8, 2011 Tucson shootings that also injured congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was laid to rest in a casket donated by Trappist monks of the New Melleray Abbey. According to Mulgrew, a representative of the Green family contacted the monks at New Melleray Abbey about making a special casket for Christina. They were happy to oblige.
Christina's casket promptly arrived in Tucson in time for her funeral. It was crafted from red oak and the lid was inscribed with her name, date of birth and death, and a cross. The family also received five small keepsake crosses hewn from the same wood as the casket.
"We didn't want to send an adult coffin that would be too big. We wanted something just for her," said Mulgrew, who is not a monk but manages the business side of the abbey's casket company.
Crafting childrens caskets is an act of love and a corporal work of mercy for the monks. They tenderly craft caskets specifically in children sizes: infant, toddler, child, or youth. Each casket receives the same attention to detail that the premium adult caskets do.
Each child casket includes a natural muslin-upholstered interior, with a pillow and mattress of premium quality. A personalized keepsake cross is available at no additional cost.
The monks at New Melleray offer no easy explanation for the mystery of a child's death. But by providing children caskets, made as if they were cradles, the monks' prayer is that the children will be commended to God's love and care forever.
The Child Casket Fund
At the Trappists' discretion, they frequently donate or discount child caskets to families. The Child Casket Fund is a way for benefactors to contribute financially to this cause. When the Trappists discount or donate a casket, the Child Casket Fund provides a financial reserve to help cover the cost.
Anyone wishing to give a gift of mercy to promote the works of mercy this holiday season to help ease the financial burden for families struggling to afford a child casket may do so by making a tax-deductible donation to the Child Casket Fund
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Monks, New Melleray, Abbey, Child Casket Fund, Benedictine, Cistercian, monastic, works of mercy, Deacon Keith Fournier
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