Monday, March 28, 2011

Brother Joseph

Brother Joseph was clothed in the novice habit during Sunday Chapter. Born and raised in Argentina, Joseph is a biochemist who researched cancer treatment protocols before joining us last year. We rejoice to have him in our midst.

Brother Joseph with Father Luke, our Novicemaster.

O God, in that unutterable kindness by which you dispose all things sweetly and wisely, you gave us clothing, so that a triple benefit might be ours: we are covered with dignity, kept warm and protected in body and soul. Father, pour forth the blessing of your Holy Spirit upon us this morning and upon these clothes which your son here before us has asked to receive, so that he may serve you faithfully in the Cistercian way of life.

Father Luke poses in the garth with our novices- Brothers Joseph, Stephen, John, Timothy and Father Paulinus-
and Brother Simeon, the Submaster of Novices.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Imagine all through the ages God Most High searching, searching for a place to rest. Finally in the fullness of time God comes upon the perfect place for encounter, a place of quiet, beauty, peace and complete openness to Him. This place is Mary.

Imagine God’s joy. Through Mary, in Mary God can finally be what He could not be without her. In Mary God finds one who trusts Him absolutely. Mary is a flawless nesting place for God, who is always captivated by what is little, humble and small.

There are so many annunciations, so many invitations to embrace our littleness, our nothingness, that great open space as a privileged place of encounter with the God of love. How to allow ourselves to be tenderly overshadowed by the God who loves us beyond all telling?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fire at Our Lady of the Valley

On 21 March 1950, the Feast of Saint Benedict, the monastery of Our Lady of the Valley in Lonsdale, Rhode Island was ravaged by a devastating fire. The original wing was destroyed; the church was rendered structurally unsound and would have to be demolished. The community of 140 monks was homeless.

Friends and neighbors of the monastery look on
as the fl├Ęche goes up in flames.

A laybrother assists the firefighters.

Monks pray in the rubble.

Well before the fire the monks had been searching for a new location that would insure their solitude and economic stability, since the population in the area around the monastery had increased considerably. And by 1949 the community purchased a large agricultural property, Alta Crest Farms in Spencer, Massachusetts. The 1950 fire merely accelerated the community's projected move. In God's providence the end of one story became the seed for a new one.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Go to Joseph

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph our patron, we go to him as our great exemplar in faith and faithfulness. Perhaps brokenhearted, disappointed, surely confused, Joseph trusted God, and he trusted Mary. He let his life be turned around by God's desire to take our flesh. Saint Bernard will say that God had found in Joseph one to whom He could entrust His dearest secret. Joseph makes a home for God in Christ.

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife.
For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Photographs by Brother Joseph.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Patrick's Prayer

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Excerpts from The Breastplate of Saint Patrick 
with photos of Abbey glass by Brother Daniel.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Fr. Abbot marks Br. Robert's forehead with ashes
during this morning's Eucharist.

Dom Damian, our Abbot, invited us this morning to embrace the discipline of Lent with real intentionality. He reminded us that fasting means "holding fast" to our deepest desire, to Christ Jesus who is the Heart of our Desire. Lent is the springtime of the Church year, a time for new growth. The discipline of our Lenten observance will help us keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him Whom we desire.

Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vision of Peace

We just came upon this image in a vintage picture book of Abbey photographs entitled, Vision of Peace. The accompanying text reads in part, "Life today at St. Joseph's as at any Cistercian monastery is essentially the continuation and extension of the life led by that unique family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Nazareth- the Hidden Life...a contemplative life."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Martyred monks

In May of 1996, seven of our Cistercian brothers of Tibhirine in Algeria were found dead; they had been kidnapped two months earlier. Caught in the conflict between the Algerian government and the extremist Armed Islamic Group, these monks chose to remain at their monastery amid threats from extremist elements and face death in solidarity with the Muslim neighbors whom they loved. A recent French film, Of Gods and Men, tells their story. It was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes. We monks look forward to viewing this film about our brothers of Tibhirine when it becomes available on DVD. Their story reminds us of the love and selflessness we too have promised.

The abandoned monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria.