Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Visiting Brother

We are pleased to have Brother Francis Maduchi from our monastery of Awhum in Nigeria staying with us. He will be praying and working with us for a couple of years. You are a blessing in our midst, dear Brother Francis!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Covenant in Christ

The early church was fond of applying to Christ and baptism the image of the just Noah, who passed through the waters that destroyed a sinful world in the wooden ark, and emerged as the first-born of a new creation in a new covenant with God.

Justin Martyr tells us:
In the flood was implicit the mystery of man's salvation. At the time of the flood the righteous Noah with his wife and three sons and their wives, making in all eight persons, were a figure of the eighth day on which Christ appeared as risen from the dead and which is always first in rank. Now Christ, the first born of every creature, is become the head of a new race, which has been regenerated by him through water, faith and wood, which embraces the mystery of the cross, as Noah, together with his family, was saved by the wood of the ark carried on the waters.

Baptism is God's judgment against sin. We escape judgment through our baptism, by our faith, by the wood of the cross and through repentance for our sins. Lent is a time for us to strive to conform our will to God's will. We must cling to the wood of the cross in the ark of the Church which is our salvation and repent of our sins.

Reflections from Father Timothy's homily for the First Sunday of Lent

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lenten Morning

As a dusting of snow falls on this Lenten morning,
we recall God's unfathomable mercy.

For you do not cease to spur us on
to possess a more abundant life
and, being rich in mercy,
you constantly offer pardon
and call on sinners
to trust in your forgiveness alone.
Never did you turn away from us,
and, though time and again

we have broken your covenant,
you have bound the human family to yourself
through Jesus your Son, our Redeemer,
with a new bond of love so tight
that it can never be undone.

from Euchristic Prayer I for Reconciliation

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

In his homily this morning Father Abbot spoke about the essence of Lenten repentance. The Greek word used in the Gospel for repent is metanoia literally changing the mind. Jesus' call to repentance is his invitation to change our way of thinking, to remember that we are deeply loved by God. Living and acting as God's beloved ones can change everything.

Monday, February 20, 2012

From the Greenhouse

We share some photographs of the current crop of orchids cultivated by Brother Adam in the Abbey greenhouse. In these bleak winter days the cloisters are filled with their beauty.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

First Blossoms

Spring is officially 31 days away, but the first crocuses were just spotted outside the Holy Rood Guild shipping room.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jesus Heals

Each Sunday one of the priests in the monastic community is assigned to preside and preach at the Sunday Mass. Yesterday we heard from our Father Kizito. We share a reflection from his fine homily.

The leper showed a tremendous amount of courage, choosing to break the Law by approaching Jesus. This was no small matter, for this kind of behavior was completely forbidden. It takes courage to honestly face the truth of our lives, the neat and clean, as well as the messy. It takes courage! The leper showed a tremendous amount of faith, believing that his healing could come from one place and one place only. "If you wish, you can make me clean." This healing was pure gift on the part of Jesus. "Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, 'I do will it. Be made clean.'"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Lady of Lourdes

Mary is gateway to all the compassion that Jesus longs to be for us. Through her intercession we pray for all the sick, for all who are in need. We are assured of her attentiveness.

Gate of Heaven,
pray for us.
Morning star,
pray for us.
Health of the sick,
pray for us.
Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We marvel at the story of Saint Josephine Bakhita, whose feast we celebrate today. Stolen from her family and sold into slavery when she was only about nine years old, Bakhita’s childhood was filled with cruelty and suffering. Her young body cruelly tattooed, whip marks on her thighs, a leg forever damaged by brutal kicking, so much so that she limped for years thereafter.

Children are great survivors. But surely this was a little girl who suffered far too much. Hounded by pain and death from her girlhood, Bakhita learned early on how to live and to be as if death did not have the last word. So finally years later when she hears about Jesus, she is magnetized and seeks baptism with a tenacity and conviction that astound us. And when she gazes at the cross she is transfixed. The cross is key to her self-understanding, her true self-identity, her freedom, her hope. Jesus, an innocent victim like her, gives her life, her survival meaning at last. She is drawn into his reality, his death-defying death. And so she calls Jesus her Padrone –literally her “Big Daddy,” her Master; at last a Master she can serve with joy and freedom, one who will never, ever hurt or do any violence to her. Light as a feather on the breath of God, Bakhita is lifted up into him and becomes most truly herself.

Surely we dare not compare ourselves with Bakhita. But we all have scars of our own, so many stories brief or lengthy of infirmities of mind or heart or body or soul; illnesses and tendencies inherited; so many things we cannot change, past hurts and abuses endured. In his wounded body Jesus has drawn all of our stories into his story; and it is no longer a dead-ended tale, but a story of life and hope. We do not need to avoid our death, our dyings, for now we can find him there.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


To the visitor or newcomer a day in the monastery may appear to have a seamless, uncluttered beauty and perfect orderliness. The monastery is beautiful and our day has a rhythm and formality. As monks we know that as we seek to be faithful in work, in prayer and in fraternal relationship, we very often arrive at a place of vulnerability born of a somewhat bitter self-knowledge. We learn that the monastic life is not about our achievement but about our readiness to make our weakness available to the mercy of God. Perhaps this is our most important work- to realize that we are in desperate need of this mercy. At best we become accustomed to letting things fall apart, noticing the fragmentation that is inevitable, unavoidable and ready to welcome it as opportunity. In the end the harmony and integrity that we seek as monks can be ours because God desires to transform all that is fractured and broken in us into something whole and beautiful.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Good Counsel

Ordinary Saturdays in our liturgical calendar are always dedicated to Our Lady. And so today Vigils, Lauds and Mass were sung in her honor. She is always with us. And there are numerous images of her all around our Abbey. Here is a charming bas relief from the seventeenth century carved on the back of a giant armchair in our sacristy. Mary is shown as Mother of Good Counsel with the Christ Child's arms twining about her shoulders. Somewhat crudely carved, the image is suffused with great tenderness despite its rather naive execution.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Holy Infant

Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the last scene in the Church's cycle of Christmas feasts. And so once more we have the opportunity to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation, God the Word becoming infant, from the Latin infans meaning "not able to speak." Indeed the Word became speechless out of love for us. Once more we rejoice and wonder at God in Christ as newborn. Friends recently sent us this lovely photograph of their new baby which helped stir our imagination.