Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Two-Handed Coffee Mug

In the previous post, I mentioned "our" Cistercian monastery up the road in Berryville, Virginia. We in the diocese of Arlington, Virginia are blessed to have these monks living the contemplative life among us, as well as a convent of Dominican nuns in Linden, and a convent of Poor Clares in Alexandria. We have our own "constellation" of cloistered contemplatives who light our sky by just being who they are. They pray. Thank God for them.

The monks at Holy Cross Abbey also have a gift shop where they sell things like their own classic, double handled Trappist coffee mug. I use this one to drink my coffee almost every day.

Holy Cross Abbey coffee mug, with the monastery shield. Its even made in USA!

Trappist monks don't eat meat. But they drink coffee. They drank coffee even before Vatican II! (Well, maybe some don't drink coffee, but these big mugs are great for soup or other foods and drinks.) The two handles were traditionally found on children's mugs in France, and I presume the French Trappists brought this with them when they founded communities in the United States. Monks will say that the two handles remind them that they must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

The symbolic shield of the monastery is also a reference point for many things in my own life. The waving line at the bottom represents the Shenandoah river. The line above it, with right angles, represents the Blue Ridge mountains. This is the "place" of the monastery, but it also conveys to me the sense of my own home in this valley, and the daily impact of its beauty on my life. The shield also has two crossed lines, which represent -- of course -- the "Holy Cross." And there is also the star in the upper left corner, which symbolizes the Virgin Mary.

Holy Cross Abbey also makes THE. MOST. AMAZING. FRUITCAKE. EVAH! Seriously, listen, I do not like fruitcake. But I love this fruitcake. They bake it themselves. They also have fruitcake pieces covered with dark chocolate! Oh my!

But I love my coffee mug. And I'm glad it has two handles, because some days I feel like I need them both.

3 comments:

laurahiblclark said...

Tri-bar cross? Byzantine?

John Janaro said...

Ha, that's interesting. But I don't think they had that in mind. The symbolism that I described above explains it. Cistercians are pretty "western" (although they did have a monastery on Mt. Athos in the middle ages).

Anonymous said...

Have Blind Uncle, looking for a 2 handle coffee cup or mug. Has hard time with reg.coffee mugs and cups. Spills alot.