Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcome to the Abby

Mt. Angel Abby is a seminary school of theology and philosophy. They have a guest and retreat house which people can rent. It consists of a Monastery, Seminary and world class Library.

Mount Angel Abbey is a community of Benedictine Monks founded in 1882 from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. We maintain a monastic tradition that has been a vital part of the Roman Catholic Church for more than 1500 years. Responding to God's call to holiness and preferring nothing whatever to Christ, we dedicate ourselves, under a Rule and an abbot to a life of prayer and work. We strive to support one another in community, to serve God, the Church, and the larger society. We do this as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist together, pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times daily in choir, and devote ourselves to reading and silence.

The Purpose of a Monastery

A monastery should be a place on earth that points to heaven. Saint Benedict established his monastery as a "school of the Lord's service" so that its monks could learn the life of Christian charity, for nothing points to God more eloquently than love. The good order of the monastery is meant to reflect the obedience of God's creation. Its chanting of psalms is an echo of the heavenly choirs of angels and saints, and the hospitality it offers the guest becomes an invitation to come away for a while and set one's heart on God alone.

"We must run and do now what will profit us for eternity. Therefore we intend to establish a school of the Lord's service."

Prologue of the Holy Rule, v. 44-45

Mount Angel Seminary

Five years after establishing their community, the Monks of Mount Angel Abbey opened Mount Angel College. Two years later, Archbishop William Gross of Oregon City asked them to attach a seminary to the College. Over the years, with the increasing costs and complexity of school operations, the College and its associated high school have closed. The Seminary, however, has maintained continuous operation. Today it is home to 114 seminarians from approximately 30 dioceses, plus 40 candidates for priestly formation from religious orders. Counting 25 lay students working toward advanced degrees in theology, the Seminary maintains a total enrollment of just under 200.

As a photographer I fell in love the strong dynamic light, the tones and colors and the overall beauty of the site. As a man who loves peace and quite I fell in love with the atmosphere.
If ever you need a break from civilization, this is the place to come. The hustle and bustle work of man is long gone from here.
The light really makes this location ripe for all kinds of HDR options. From cooked to realistic; HDR is a must due to the high contrasting lights and shadows.
This is a "cooked" HDR processing. Do you notice the surreal, painterly feel to the shot? Fake, yet enticing.
This is the exact same shot and HDR file, processed to be a natrual representation of the scene and then converted to the black and white, which is a natural presentation of how I truly saw the scene in my head.
This photo of the Organ in the main sanctuary and the man playing it is a great example of one of the many options for somewhere between cooked and natural looking HDR.
The man being blurred was a natural result of the long exposures being blended with the shorter exposures. But in this photo, the moving person adds to the scene. But that is just my opinion.
This is the same scene with a darker black and white conversion to it. I did this to change the mood of the scene. It is the same scene, from the same HDR file, but now the blurred man  has an eerie feeling about it, like a phantom.
This statue, and I apologize but I do not know catholic symbolism so I assume this is of Mary, is a great example of high contrasting light sources. Without HDR, either the windows would have blown/burned out or the interior would have been under exposed.

The Library was has so much to offer, but it was vault, which we had access to, that was simply stunning. Mount Angel Abbey was founded in 1882 by Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. The monks quickly became involved in pastoral work and in education, and in 1889 opened the Mount Angel Abbey Seminary. The Swiss monks brought a sizable library with them to Oregon. Unfortunately, only a few books survived a disastrous fire in 1926, which destroyed the library as well as the rest of the abbey. The few volumes which survived reminded later generations of monks of their roots and of the generosity of the founding monastery.
All of the book in this shot are older than our nation, some even older than the 1492 sailing of Columbus to the Americas.
1676 is the actual date of the printing of the book making it 100 years older than our nation.
The nucleus of the current library collection was secured in 1932, when the contents of a used bookstore were purchased in Aachen, Germany. For the next twenty years, as the monks worked to rebuild the abbey and the seminary, the library's collection grew slowly.
Just to let you understand how well preserved these books are, the Expo of the Creed book is the book that was made in 1676. True story there.
This is the man, Joseph. His knowledge of all of these amazing books comes from his 20+ years of experience in developing, researching and managing the library. He hs since retired, but continues to work as a voulnteer. I won't go as far to say that this amazing man knows everything, but I will say he could answer all of my questions and talk intelligently about every book I asked about.
I have a dream to work with the Mt. Angel Abby library to digitally record and preserve all of the these magnificent books. The photo above is not the way to do that, but rather was used to capture and present the fine details of the print and to point out that in the time of this book's development, there were no printing presses. In some cases, the book were mass produced using hand pressed plates, but for the most part, most books were hand written.
Now, don't think this is just some pretty art. This is the opening art for the Book of Genesis to a copy of the bible that was literally hand written and illustrated in 1480. Yes, that is right, I said 1480.
This is the last shot from the Abby for now, but I wanted to again focus on the man with all of the knowlege.
In this shot he is thumbing through one of the oldest books he showed us, I loved how this turned out. The sense of motion combined with the stillness and calm the man portrayed in his manners and voice.
I want to thank him for his knowledge, dedication and passion for sharing with others. Thank you Joseph.

No comments: