Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy Week Schedule

Welcoming guests is at the heart of any authentic service that a monastery offers to the broader church and world. And Liturgy is one of the principal means by which we extend our Christian and monastic hospitality. Especially during this most holy week, we invite our friends and neighbors to join us at prayer. 

Palm Sunday
Vigils at 3:30 am
Lauds at 6:40 followed by Solemn Mass
with blest palms distributed following the Liturgy
Vespers & Benediction at 5:10
Compline at 7:40

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
our normal daily schedule with
Vigils at 3:30 am
Lauds at 6 followed by Mass
Vespers at 5:40
Compline at 7:40

Holy Thursday
Vigils at 3:30 am
Lauds at 6:40
The Beginning of the Sacred Triduum with
The Solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper at 4
followed by procession to the Altar of Repose
Compline at 7:40

Good Friday
Vigils at 4:30 am
Lauds at 7:40
Solemn Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at 3
Compline at 7:40

Holy Saturday
Vigils at 3:30 am
Lauds at 6:40
Vespers at 5:40
Compline omitted

Easter Sunday
Solemn Paschal Vigil Mass at 3 am
Lauds at 7:30
Easter Day Mass at 11
Vespers & Benediction at 5:10
Compline at 7:40


I will put my sanctuary among them forever,

 the sanctuary of my wounded body.

My dwelling shall be with them,

the sanctuary of my broken body.

I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the Lord,

 by the sanctuary of my body,

who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever,

 that is the sanctuary of my crucified body.

 I will console and gladden them after their sorrows,

 by the sanctuary of my broken and risen body.

It is better for us
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish,

 but may be hidden in the sanctuary of his body.

Poetic rendition of today's readings by one of the monks.
Illustration by Eric Gill.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Perfect Fulfilment

Jesus proclaims that he has come not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. All that he is, all that he proclaims, all that he accomplishes in his dying and rising reveals the fullness of God's desire for our well-being and salvation. Indeed the whole Law has been set before us in Christ Jesus, our Lord; he whose Body is forever marked with the wounds of his passion. His wounded risen body has become our sacred text wherein we can read the truth of who we are, the truth of our sadness and our hope.
Photo of antique corpus which hangs in the Abbey's Santa Cruz Hermitage

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Making Room

In today's gospel from Saint John Jesus tells us:

A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.

The monastery is our home. Jesus is the Word who asks constantly for "room" in our hearts, in this our home. With him we monks are sons of our heavenly Father. In Christ and through the shedding of his precious Blood, we are freed from our slavish repetition of sinful ways that do not lead us to life. The call is continually to listen and make room for the Word and the freedom he offers. 

Monday, March 26, 2012


In the predawn darkness of our morning Vigils, we heard these words of our Cistercian Father Blessed Guerric of Igny:
In these days of Lenten observance the solemnity of our Lord's Annunciation provides us with a welcome interlude, so that those who are wearied by bodily affliction may be revived by spiritual joy, and those brought low by the sorrow of repentance may be consoled by the annunciation of him who takes away the sins of the world.
Indeed we rejoice in Our Lady's fiat. She let her life be interrupted by God's plan. She made room for God. May we do likewise.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bearing Fruit

Jesus tells us that the seed must fall into the earth to bear abundant fruit, and then, “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself.” Clearly this “lifting up” is his crucifixion. He will be raised up on a cross of humiliation, pain and death. And His lifting up will be his abundantly fruitful self-gift to his Father for us. He longs to draw us with Him to the Father through the narrow gate of his passion.

We may notice our resistance, and perhaps we do not want to enter through this narrow, probably painful gateway. But Jesus dreams something quite different and more beautiful for us. He offers us the cross a way out. He longs to draw us into his own his loving self-offering as a way out of death as dead end- self-giving as a way that absolutely cancels death, smashes it to pieces forever. Jesus comes to show us a more excellent way. He show us that death has no power over us at all, never did, never will.

Crucifixion by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Friday, March 23, 2012

At the Cross

Think of the Son of God, how he
Died on the tree our souls to save,
Think of the nails that pierced him through,
Think of him too, in lowly grave.

Think of the spear the soldier bore,
Think how it tore holy side.

Think of the bitter gall for drink,
Think of it, think, for us he died.

Think upon Christ who gave his blood
Poured in a flood our souls to win,
Think of the mingled tide that gushed
Forth at the thrust to wash our sin.

Crucifix in the south cloister.
Lines from Gaelic hymn at Friday Lauds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Lady of the Valley

As we remember today Saint Benedict's passing into eternal life, we recall also the disastrous fire at our first American monastery, Our Lady of the Valley, in what is now Cumberland, Rhode Island on 21 March 1950. The remains of the original buildings eventually became what is now the town's public library and senior center. Every few years those in formation make a pilgrimage to the site.

The original gate house of the monastery.

The remains of the front entrance of the Abbey church.

The cloister with its original rib vaulting.

Detail of botanical corbel at the base of the rib vaulting.

Monday, March 19, 2012


We rejoice in the fatherly protection of our patron Saint Joseph. At Vigils this morning we heard these words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:
There is no doubt that the Joseph to whom the Savior's mother was betrothed was a good and faithful man. In him the Lord found a man after his own heart to whom he could safely confide his most holy and secret design. To him he revealed the unfathomable, hidden depths of his wisdom and granted him knowledge of that mystery which was known to none of the princes of this world. In a word that which many kings and prophets had longed to see and had not seen, to hear and had not heard-
that was granted to Joseph.

Saint Joseph was a man who could kept a secret, God's most precious Secret, as he loved those entrusted to him.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Hope

I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
"I am like a verdant cypress tree"
Because of me you bear fruit!

Lent means spring. We notice the tender shoots of first flowers and recall the words of this morning's first reading from the Prophet Hosea. The Lord is going up to Jerusalem, where he will be nailed to the verdant tree of the cross. Drenched in the fountain of blood and water flowing from his open side, we will be filled with life and hope. Indeed because of Jesus' self-offering in love, we shall blossom and flourish.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


By the example of their faithfulness in prayer and generosity at work, by their kindness and wise admonitions, our senior monks teach us wisdom. Here we see from top to bottom Brother Matthew Joseph, Father Edward, Brother Roger, Brother Bernard and Father Laurence.

Friday, March 9, 2012


We are moved by the story of Stephanie Decker the woman from Indianapolis who saved her two little children by covering them with a blanket and protecting them with her own body as a tornado ripped through their home. Stephanie lost parts of both her legs, which were crushed by falling debris. But her eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter survived last Friday's storm unharmed because of her love and bravery.

How like Jesus is this loving mother. Through his passion, death and resurrection he protects us with his wounded body from unending death and misery. Our Cistercian father, Blessed Guerric of Igny, will speak of Christ's love in this way:

Blessed is he who allowed his hands and feet and side to be pierced and opened himself to me wholly that I might enter 'the place of his wonderful tent' and be protected. Indeed it is a safe dwelling place to linger in the wounds of Christ the Lord. The protection this tent affords surpasses all the glory of the world. It is a shade from the heat by day, a refuge and a shelter from the rain, so that by day the sun will not scorch you, nor the storm move you.

from The Fourth Sermon for Palm Sunday

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Late Winter

The sober simplicity of the late winter landscape matches and mirrors our quiet prayer and lenten fast. Fittingly we sang these words at Lauds this morning:
As Spring awakes the frozen earth,
So Easter blooms from Lent's restraints.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lenten Dawn

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."

This morning the Father’s voice is heard on the mountaintop in an intense spiritual experience named Transfiguration. And we eavesdrop on an intimate conversation, as the Father names his Son beloved. Baptized into Christ, we have been baptized into this belovedness. This is our blessed truth, our indelible dignity with Jesus, in Him, through Him. We hear today with Jesus the voice of the Father’s eternal love and good pleasure, the pleasure of the Father in the Son with the Spirit. This is our truth, we are beloved in Him. Far beyond our foolishness and frailty and sins and tendencies toward sin, our belovedness in Christ is a dazzling reality that nothing can eclipse. Nothing can separate us from the Father's love. As Jesus prepares for his self-offering on the altar of the cross, we are given a glimpse of his resurrected radiance, the radiance of the Father's love for his beloved Son.

photograph by Brother Jonah

Friday, March 2, 2012

Preferring the Desert

The austerity of these Lenten
days makes space for deeper
prayer and a move to the inner
room of the heart where we
can seek the Lord in secret,
a move to the quiet and
emptiness of the interior desert.
We are reminded of the words
of Thomas Merton:

Contemplative prayer is,
in a way, simply the
preference for the desert,
for emptiness,
for poverty.
One has begun to know
the meaning of contemplation
when he intuitively
and spontaneously
seeks the dark
and unknown path
of aridity
in preference
to every other way.

from The Climate of Monastic Prayer