Spencer Trappist Ale and Trappistine Chocolates Pair Well!

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Just an hour away from the sisters of Mount St. Mary’s Abbey, their Trappist brothers of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA are celebrating a new first. Spencer Trappist Ale.  The first certified Trappist Beer in the U.S.

And we expect they will pair well with Trappistine chocolates.   We recommend pairing a glass of the new ale with our Trappistine Dark Chocolate Squares.  (See links below for other pairing hints and tips.)


Following the Cistercian/Benedictine rule, the monks, like their sisters here at Mount St. Marys Abbey, are committed to preserving the natural.   Not surprisingly, then,  Trappist Ale is made with only four natural ingredients:  water, hops, barley, and yeast.  It is unpasteurized and unfiltered, which enhances the flavor and aroma of the beer.

And, like their sisters at Mount St. Mary’s abbey, the monks at Spencer, MA are also committed to renewable energy. Read more about the monks and their beer at www.spencerbrewery.com.

Help us celebrate the work of our Trappist brothers’ hands:  enjoy a glass of Spencer Trappist Ale with some of our chocolates today.

Ask your local purveyor of beers how you can purchase some of the first production of Spencer Trappist Ale.  And, our chocolates are just a click away.  Enjoy!

Gave Up Chocolate? Break that Resolution!

If removing chocolate from your diet was part of your New Year’s resolution, then maybe it’s time to break it – for your own good!

Dark Chocolate has often been touted in health magazines as a powerful antioxidant, and also gives you the benefits of improved brain activity and blood flow, and may help reduce blood pressure.

Two of the most surprising findings about dark chocolate are that it helps prevent Type II Diabetes, and tooth decay.  (But not too much sweet/milk chocolate.  It still contains sugar, which is bad for both your teeth and blood sugar levels.)


It’s the flavonols in chocolate that help prevent insulin resistance, which is associated with Type II Diabetes.  Flavenols are also found in vegetables, such as celery, parsley and thyme, and fruits like apricots, apples, and grapes, as well as red wine and tea leaves.

But chocolate has the highest concentration of flavenols of all these foods.

Another study done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made, is found to be a “defense shield” against strokes, because of its positive impact on the cardiovascular system.  A ten year study showed that subjects who ate the most chocolate were 17% less likely to suffer a stroke.  The study’s researchers attributed this to the anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties of chocolate.  It is also possible, they said, that the flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

What’s more, dark chocolate is found to be a mood booster.  Its is purported to increase levels of endorphins (natural opiates) produced by the brain as well as serotonin, a mood-boosting substance also produced by the brain. Increasing serotonin production in the digestive tract may also boost your immune system .

And, the higher the percentage chocolate (the darker the chocolate), the better.   Dark chocolate is made with less sugar, and has a higher concentration of pure chocolate, which contains all the beneficial substances.

But don’t overdo it – the recommended daily intake of dark chocolate is one ounce per day.  So, update that resolution, and add some chocolate to your shopping cart today.

Try our Dark Chocolate Squares, Almond Bark, or a Dark Chocolate rose today. It’s a delicious way to improve your health!

The Real Story Behind the Trappistines and Green Energy


Trappistine Sisters at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey under the shelter of the solar panels on their Wrentham fields

The story was in papers from Boston to Providence – the sisters of Mount St. Mary’s Abbey  were celebrating and blessing the opening of the first of two solar field installations on their property!  The event was graced with state and local politicians, and with the businessmen who had managed and overseen the project from start to finish, and flooded with local residents.

This was a big story, and everyone wanted a piece of it.  For some, it was the appearance of the politicians that was the draw.  For others, it was that the Town of Franklin had made great strides toward their energy conservation goals, and had a newfound tax revenue stream to the tune of $300,000 a year.  For still others, the curiosity of an obscure group of 40 some cloistered nuns who, once again, set records in leveraging green energy on their property.  And for some, it was a celebration of thanksgiving to God for His great Providence.

So, what IS the real story behind these Trappistine sisters and their green energy?  Well, I guess that depends on your perspective.  But for this writer, and outsider to the order, and a relatively new insider to the Trappistine Quality Candy organization, the real story is about  God’s great Providence bestowed on those of steadfastness, faithfulness, and perseverance.  It’s about a lifestyle pleasing to God that that has stood the test of time, and the fruit that this lifestyle bears.  The prayer “Prosper the work of our hands” – Psalm 90 – comes to mind.

In a world where immediate self-gratification and self-promotion seem to rule the day, it’s refreshing, even stimulating to see such clear evidence of God’s continued faithfulness to His promise and to His people, and that a simple, selfless, God-centered lifestyle can and does prosper.

How many other organizations can you name that have been ongoing and spreading for nearly ten centuries – since 1098?  Whose members subsist and even thrive by the work of their hands, not concerning themselves with maximizing profits, but rather with covering the cost of their simple lifestyle, and sharing in both times of need and times of abundance with the poor?

The Sisters of Mount St. Mary’s Abbey have done all of that, by the grace of God, surviving and thriving with the changing seasons, years, centuries.  A photo of the sisters strolling the lengths of the solar fields clad in their other-worldly habits, and sandaled feet portrays it all so clearly: this life of simplicity, faithfulness, and trust in God has real staying power!

But their prosperity is in something greater than the financial prosperity by which he world measures it.  The sisters have enough – truly, all that they want.  But their wants are few, and their blessings are many.  While the towns and companies reaped great financial benefits from the project, the sisters are counting their blessings, not their profits.  They are thankful  for having recognized the opportunity to preserve the environment, while making good, responsible use of the fields that they once worked as a dairy farm.  And, for being able to retain and protect the nature and the peace-filled privacy that surrounds their cloistered world.  Yes, they will benefit from the land lease for the solar panels.  But after that 20 year lease, they will get their land back, and will have the option of restoring it to its natural state.  A dual means of protecting nature and the environment:  clean, solar energy for their town, while preserving healthy soil, and undeveloped land.

When I asked Mother Maureen about the connection of their order with green energy, she shared with me this excerpt from the Cistercian Constitutions:

“Following the example of the Fathers of Citeaux, who sought an
uncomplicated relationship with the God of simplicity, the sisters’
lifestyle is to be plain and frugal… The sisters are
to be concerned about conservation of the environment and to manage natural resources prudently…”

Naturally, then, it follows that the sisters are interested in opportunities to leverage renewable energy on their land, and they have sought them out and followed through dutifully.  And the revenue sources from these ventures have helped to offset the increasing utilities for their chocolate candy production, and for the abbey.

“Living by the work of our hands is both a joy and a challenge,” adds Mother Maureen, head of the Abbey at Mount St. Mary’s.  The sisters labor year-round, in between their hours of prayer,  to maintain their property and run their candy business in order to be self-supporting, a hallmark of the Cistercian/Trappistine order.

Authentic Trappist products must be “made in or on the vicinity of the monastery, and must be run and operated by the monastic community.  The process of production must be in accordance with the business practices proper to a monastic way of life…”  And the profits “are primarily intended to provide for the needs of the community or for social services.”

The Trappists are known here and abroad for their skill in beer, wine and cheese making.  Here in the US, Trappist/Cistercian orders make wine, jams, creamed honey, breads, fruitcake, chocolates and other specialty  items.  And the most recent addition to this list is Spencer Trappist Ale, which is about to be released by the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, MA.

Read more about Spencer Trappist Ale Here


Trappist Monks at the New Clairvaux Monastery in northern California

The monastery fields here in Wrentham were, in years past, worked as a dairy farm.  Today the sisters support themselves through the fabrication of fine chocolates and other confections at their Trappistine Quality Candy factory on the monastery grounds.  And the solar fields that were once used for silage are now gleaming with solar panels, set in rows like grapevines.  On an adjacent field, rather than a silo, stands a lone wind turbine, laboring silently to produce electricity for the monastery.

Using geothermal energy to heat and cool their building, and hosting both solar and wind energy on their property have been multi-faceted blessings.  They give the sisters the joy of living in obedience to their faith life, help them offset their operating expenses, and benefit their neighbors, the Town of Franklin.  All the while protecting their private, cloistered lifestyle where they can spend the majority of their waking hours in prayer and communion with God.

“We didn’t plan it.  It seems that this is the way that God is leading us,” says Sr. Alice Chau, a member of the Cistercian order of nuns at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey.  “We did all these three [green energy projects] out of necessity.”  Sr. Alice left her home in Hong Kong to join the abbey 20 years ago.  She recently served on the steering committee for the solar field project.  Along with Sr. Christa-Maria, who joined the order from Germany, and Sr. Bonitas from Korea, she also steers the order’s candy business.

The sisters’ lives are based around prayer and work.  They tout the three “L’s” as the three themes that define their lives and govern their days:  Liturgy, Lectio Divina, and Labor.  They rise at 3 a.m. daily, and pray in community (Liturgy) with one another 7 times each day.  The balance of their time is spent in Lectio Divina, an individual, scripture-based, contemplative prayer, and, finally in Labor.   Prayer rules the day, and the sisters cease work whenever they hear the abbey bells sound, signaling time for communal prayer.   Their labor is chocolate making and is done in silent prayer.  Therefore, when they say that their chocolates are “made with love and prayer”, they are being literal and true to their word.

When you’re enjoying Trappistine Quality Candy chocolates, the sisters hope that you will also receive the love and prayers they offer each and every day for you – and for the world;  prayer to which they dedicate their lives, and which has sustained them for centuries and will continue to sustain us according to God’s promise.  And, they are grateful to you for helping them to financially support their life of prayer for the world.

Maybe we can all learn something from the wonderful example of the Cistercian/Trappistine order: living life simply, faithfully, frugally, in prayer.  Offering our work as a prayer as well as a means of supporting only our needs, not our wants; being simple in our needs, and respectful in use of the earth’s natural resources.

So, now you have it; the REAL story behind the Trappistines – AND their green energy.

Read the Boston Globe Article Here

Read the Sun Chronicle Article Here

Read the MetroWest Daily News Article Here

Read the Pilot Catholic News Article Here