Saturday, August 31, 2013


Another Saturday to remember Our Lady. Here are lines from a hymn we often sing: 
Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day. 
Indeed Mary is tender prelude to all that Christ Jesus is for us and gives to us.

Photograph of the eastern hills at the edge of the Abbey property.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Schola Cantorum

We share a video of the Abbey's schola under Father Gabriel's direction. Here they chant a Byzantine hymn to the Virgin on the Solemnity of the Assumption during the communion procession. (This is a re-posting of a video taken by Brother Jonah; we apologize for the private block that was initially locking the presentation.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Jesus tells us in today's Gospel, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. As Father Peter reminded us in this morning's homily, Mercy, the mercy of God in Christ, is the only way for us to possibly make our way through the narrow gate. Only the Mercy who is Christ Jesus our Lord can sneak  us through. He who is the Way, he alone will draw us to the Father, into the Kingdom where we too can become mercy-makers, mercy-sharers.

Photograph of the monastery sacristy by Brother Brian.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brother Albert

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil.4
Our Brother Albert passed away on Monday after a prolonged illness. We will remember him for his joyfulness and carefree generosity. Born in Philadelphia in 1939, he attended LaSalle College and entered the Abbey in 1961. He served the community in countless ways through the years. Among his many offices, he was sub-master of novices and director of The Holy Rood Guild. And many remember his kind presence at the Abbey's bookstore and gift shop. May Brother Albert rest in great peace enjoying the beauty of Christ's face in company with all the angels and saints in Paradise.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Fire of Love

“Fire” is Jesus’ name for God’s constant intervention in our person, by which he continues the work of our creation.  At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Luke had already reported the prophetic words of John the Baptist concerning the nature of Jesus’ work on earth: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk 3:16).  This means that Jesus intends to purify us as gold is cleansed of dross by fire, to create in us a capacity to see the invisible and also a capacity to stretch our will so that we come to desire not the things of this earth but the very things God loves most: charity, truth, justice, mercy, compassion, selfless service.  These are, you see, the qualities that must be possessed by any citizen of the Kingdom in which Christ is the King of Love.  To become fully Christian means for us to undergo a sometimes painful process by which we come to love only God for his own sake and all other persons and things only through this one love of God.  The marvels of life in Christ’s eternal Kingdom are precisely what God has promised us at the far end of our transformation into sons and daughters of God in Christ.  This urgent work of transformation is the anguish devouring the Heart of Christ, because he cannot rest until he has accomplished his mission of extending the fire of his Father’s love to every person on earth.

Do you not detect amazingly powerful joy fueling Jesus’ words, “How I wish (this fire) were already blazing!”?  The Letter to the Hebrews spells out for us the nature of Jesus’ joy: “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”  Crucifixion was the “baptism” with which Jesus said he had to be baptized.  Even though the cross promised such suffering to him, nevertheless the anticipation of the cross could fill him with joy because it meant the final fulfillment of his mission to open up his Father’s Kingdom to one and all.  This means that Jesus loves both the Father and us more than he loves himself.  When a person can derive joy from an event that will strip him of life itself but that will also give that life to others, this means that there is no place left in that person—no faculty, thought or desire—that has not become completely transfused with the power of love. 

Reflection by Father Simeon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Turning Point

God’s unique intervention in Mary’s life radically changed the whole direction of her personal history and challenged her to give up every preconceived notion of virtue and righteousness.  Nevertheless, Mary still had to live out the full course of her appointed time on earth in an (externally speaking) most ordinary manner.  And yet within, in the interior chamber of her prayer and in her keen awareness of God’s intense presence in her being, she was one unceasing act of gratitude, praise and joy; in her own words: "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his servant in her nothingness.  Henceforth all generations will call me blessed."  These words of her Magnificat mark the most significant turning-point in the human race’s understanding of itself.  Small, hidden, humble Mary turned the course of world history and man’s self-understanding on its head. 

Reflection by Father Simeon. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady

We place ourselves in your keeping, Holy Mother of God.
Refuse not the prayer of your children in their distress,
but deliver us from all danger,
ever Virgin, glorious and blessed! 

We celebrated with great joy this titular feast of our Order this morning with procession through the four cloisters and then outside to the front entrance of the Abbey church. Then followed the solemn Mass. In addition there will be special foods at table for dinner, and this evening's Vespers will be followed by Benediction. Very soon we will post a video of our procession.
Photograph of the station of Our Lady in the west cloister by Brother Jonah and an ancient antiphon to the Virgin.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Worth the Wait

It seems we spent an awful lot of our childhood waiting. Maybe it’s an essential part of being a kid. We waited in line, we waited our turn, we were told to wait until we were asked. We had to wait until someone bigger or older got something for us. And sometimes it was really hard to be patient waiting for Christmas or your birthday, but you had to. 

Waiting is part of powerlessness, poverty, littleness. Perhaps we thought that when we grew up, with a car and some money, we’d be able to call the shots, we’d be big and we wouldn’t have to wait anymore. But soon and much better, with friendship and love, waiting became expectation, hope, attentiveness and sometimes a fluttering heart. For when you’re waiting for someone you love, the waiting is worth it, the waiting itself is delicious; desire trumps the tedium, desire lets us embrace the powerlessness that’s always part of loving someone. That’s when the waiting, the desire becomes itself possession.

It’s always worth waiting for someone you can’t wait to see; it can make you high for weeks, sustain you in difficulty, holding in dream and desire one whom you love and hope to be reunited with. We think of soldiers at war gazing at photos. As monks we’re made to live with that kind of high expectation. Somehow we wait as we pray; our praying is our waiting. It’s what we came for. And with loving expectation, the waiting, the desiring is itself the reward. We’re meant to live in incessant desire and vigilance for a Someone supremely worth our waiting. Desire is possession. “Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,” Jesus says to us this morning. And he seems to be depending on our attention, desiring our desire for him. 

Excerpts from this morning's homily.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

God Our Guest

Every day of our lives God approaches us in many different disguises, hungry for our hospitality, hungry for our company and the love of our hearts.  We often complain that God has deserted us, that he does not answer our prayers, that he does not take pity on our sufferings.  We are oftentimes the ones who do not know how to deal with the fact that, if anything, God has perhaps come too close for comfort, though maybe we may be looking for him only ways that flatter our vanity or indulge our self-centeredness. God approaches us in ways that are mysterious, disorienting and challenging.  God, the Almighty, presents himself often in forms of neediness that deceive our logic and that challenge us to lay aside our haughtiness and laziness in order to become servants of anyone in need.  The greatest, though not the only, way of showing hospitality to God is to listen to his Word, to receive what he has come to give us.  Even at the purely human level, one of the most important aspects of loving is knowing how to receive love.  How could this not be all the truer when we realize that God has, literally, everything to give us?

Photograph of Fr. Robert at prayer by Br. Brian. Reflection by Fr. Simeon.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Brother Francis

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5.18  
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Rom 8.28 

Brother Francis entered the monastery in 1952 when he was 25 years old. The construction of many of the Abbey buildings was underway, and he helped carrying bricks and stones. He says, "When I entered the monastery God gave me the desire to give myself totally to Him, and that desire has never left me." Indeed Francis is a continuing source of edification and inspiration for his brothers.

Brother has worked for many years at Trappist Preserves in quality control and scheduling jelly production. In addition he is the Abbey's master of ceremonies.  And through the years Francis has patiently trained scores of newcomers for their roles in the liturgical functions.

He says that the monastery has been the perfect place for him in that it allows him to "cultivate mindfulness of God and living in His presence." He continues, "When I reflect on my life within the monastery and before, I begin to see how God has been active in my whole life; and I have come to believe that God really does love me."

Thursday, August 1, 2013


In his brief treatise on prayer Origen speaks of one's entire life as prayer. He notes that 'one prays constantly... who unites deeds of virtue or fulfilling the commandments with prayer and prayer with right deeds'. He elaborates this by saying that the entire life of a saint taken as a whole is a single great prayer and that what is customarily called prayer is part of this single great prayer. Frank Houdek, SJ

As today we celebrate today the 38th Anniversary of the Dedication of our Abbey Church, we recall the incessant praying that our Church has held, the prayers of monks and their guests through the years. We ponder, and we wonder at all the desires and urgent pleadings, the prayers of praise, the hymns of gratitude and thanksgiving that our Lord has heard from within these walls.