Very close to the Western New York college town of Geneseo is a Trappist Monastary and bakery where the well known 'Monks Bread' is produced.
AS with many monastic sites, it also welcomes visitors to their chapel for services.
This complex also provides a bookstore located next to their bakery store.
Besides bread the monks produce some very high quality fruitcakes and other baked goods.
For those too far away to visit in person the Abbey of the Genesee has a website where bakery products can be ordered.
In the bookstore you will find a large number of books by the late Trappist Monk and well knwn author, Thomas Merton who was killed in a commercial plane crash in the late n Merton is well known as a mystic who still maintained his connection with his monastic order and the Church as he wrote many books about the spiritual renaisance and enlightenment he experienced. Merton was a former U.S. Army chaplain who witnessed some of the horrors of mankind at the former German concentration camps after World War Two. Mysticism deals with a person's inner guidance rather than the following of any external religious organization's teachings. Iit is strongly frowned upon by most eccleastical authorities as a threat to their authority.. Normally their approach to dealing with flowering mystics is to claim their discoveries as error or ban such activity outright. With Merton the Church authorities examined hs work and were unable to find doctrinal error so they resorted to an alternative method of just ignoring the writings in hopes others would also. I Merton never challenges the Church's doctrines but goes way beyond them into other religions and philosophies. like Zen, Islam, and Confuicianism A visitor to the Abbey at Piffard near Geneseo will notice immediately a very Zen style of archetecture and design with a minimal amount of what is normally seen at Catholic religious locations. Merton's hand is very much in evidence on these grounds. Although anyone familiar with recent church history will be very aware that it has a very long way to go as an organization dedicated to the betterment of mankind and society it knows when it must chang policies or lose membership. There is often a large delay in this process but that is one of the hallmarks of a large conservative organization.
© 2006 albert vallone - 4/12/14