Friday, August 28, 2015


Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside.

Which of us, having experienced the tenderness and love of Christ no matter how briefly or intermittently; would not agree with Saint Augustine that no matter how much we may love or long to love our Lord, it is always too little and too late?

Like Augustine, we have tasted the Lord and now hunger and thirst for more of Him.  He has touched us, and we burn for His peace.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Unlimited Love and Life

Father Robert reminded us in this morning's homily that Jesus is trying to reveal to us "what unlimited love looks like."  He continued, "Jesus is offering an alternative to the inevitable death of our world of limits." The Lord Jesus is, indeed, inviting us to a "new level of intimacy which goes beyond experiences that come to an end." It is as if He were saying to us: "Do not be satisfied with your limited level of life. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will abide in me and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of him. So you who eat me will live with unlimited life because of me."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mary our Queen

Mary, as an ordinary human being, represents all of us and each of us. Mary represents every human being who attempts to respond to God’s loving summons. Julian of Norwich the 14th century visionary, saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in one of her visions. And Christ revealed to her the “high, marvelous and singular love: he has for “this sweet Maiden his Blessed Mother.” Julian understood that in Mary “our Lord speaks to all humankind that shall be saved as if it were all to one person, as if he said ‘Do you want to see in her how you are loved?’" Julian adds that in contemplating Mary, her truth, wisdom and love, “I may learn to know myself.” Julian invites us to contemplate Mary, not so much in order "to see in her what we must do" but “to see in her how we are loved.” 

As Christians we love the Mother of God because, beyond all desire or deserving she was made the Mother of God. Where Mary is, we are to be. As Mary is, we are to be. We are loved by God with the same love that he loves Mary.

Madonna by Sandro Botticelli. Reflection by Father Damian.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Solemnity of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Love is the only one of the movements of the soul, of its senses and affections in which the creature can respond to its Creator, even if not as an equal, and repay his favor in some similar way... Although the creature loves less, being a lesser being, yet if it loves with its whole heart nothing is lacking, for it has given everything.

How well Saint Bernard speaks to our experience. Baptized into Christ we are one with Christ, one with Christ in mysterious relationship forever. He calls us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, all our mind, our very being. But how can we? We can love because God gives us the love with which to love. 

Text from Sermon 83: On the Song of Songs

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.

Each time we hear this Gospel, we are embarrassed by Peter's question. It's as if he were saying, "What's in it for us?" But Jesus is not put off. The generosity, the mercy of God are prodigious, extravagant. And so Jesus promises us "a hundred times more" than what we have given up for him. 

So it is that we have heard the older brethren encourage the younger brothers not to be afraid to give their all.  "God will not be outdone in his generosity," they tell us. The meaning is clear- Do not fear to give up everything for love of Christ. He notices and wants to recompense us to overflowing.

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Assumption Day

Processing through the cloisters while singing to Mary on this feast day seems like child’s play, playful even in its solemnity. And so we remember that Liturgy after all accomplishes nothing. Praise and prayer do not accomplish anything but afford us the extraordinary privilege of honoring Our Lord and His Mother. These are the joys of our unaccomplished lives as monks.

Photograph of the temporary shrine to Our Lady in the southwest cloister, where we pause for prayer during this day's procession. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, 

not seven times but seventy-seven times.

Forgiving that much may not be good news in our culture, especially our judicial culture, which justifies and even institutionalizes resentment and revenge. As is illustrated by the forgiving debtor in today's Gospel, unless we understand the importance of forgiveness and practice it in our relations with others, we will never achieve inner freedom. Instead we will be prisoners of our own bitterness and add harm upon harm. 

In asking us to forgive, Jesus invites us to something far more liberating and expansive.

Photo by Brother Brian.Meditation by Father Dominic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Belonging to God

In a recent letter Pope Francis reminds us that the “consecrated life is beautiful, one of the most precious treasures of the Church, rooted in the baptismal vocation." He continues, “The Father forms the heart of the Son in those whom the Spirit has called." And so, candidates for the religious life need “big hearts…capable of receiving all, hearts rich in mercy, full of tenderness."  
With obvious joy, the Holy Father tells us that, “there is nothing more beautiful in life than to belong forever and with all one’s heart to God, and to give one’s life for the service of others.” He concludes, “there is great freedom in an obedient life, great fruitfulness in a virgin heart, great richness in not possessing anything.” We pray that more and more we may open our hearts to the Lord and all he desires.

Excerpts from the Address to Formators of Consecrated Men and Women, given by Pope Francis on April 13, 2015. Photograph by Brother Brian.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Little

"Bring the boy here to me."
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”

In the Kingdom of God a little can accomplish much more than we realize. We pray that the Lord Jesus will increase our faith, increase our desire to be faithful in little things, increase our confidence in his love for us in our ordinariness.

Photograph of the Abbey hayfields by Brother Brian.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Beholding the beauty of the transfigured Lord Jesus on the mountain top, Peter exclaims, "How good it is to be here." It is good for us monks to be here in this place, good for us to continually open our hearts, our minds, our eyes to the Beauty that Christ Jesus is. His wounded and transcendent Beauty has the power to transform and transfigure us.

Photograph by one of  our retreatants.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Brother Alberic

Our Brother Alberic O'Connor passed away peacefully on Monday, August 3rd in the Abbey's infirmary. Born and raised in Bedford, Massachusetts, he entered the monastery of Our Lady of the Valley in Rhode Island, and after the fire in 1950 transferred with the community to St. Joseph's Abbey here in Spencer. He pronounced his solemn vows in 1953. Over the span of sixty-seven years in monastic life Brother Alberic served in the Trappist Preserves kitchen, the retreat house, the laundry and as telephone operator and refectorian. A monk of great vigor as well as gentleness, Brother Alberic's true strength always rested in the long hours he spent in the stillness of personal prayer. With gratitude for the gift of his presence among us, we monks commend Brother Alberic's soul to your prayer. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015


As living stones, we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2.5

We celebrate today the 40th Anniversary of the Dedication of our own Abbey church.  During the early years of the monastery's foundation here in Spencer, the growth of the community was remarkable. And ground was broken for our church on 19 March 1952. On 15 August 1953 the first Mass was solemnly celebrated in the newly completed church. Designed by some of the monks in collaboration with a local architectural firm, the church was built by contracted lay workers and the many monks who assisted them. The church was finally dedicated on August 1, 1975. 
We are grateful for the beauty and simplicity of our monastic church, grateful for the labor and inspiration of our monastic forebears. And we pray that we may become more and more "living stones" in Christ's own Body which is the Church. We share some pictures of the early days at Spencer from the Abbey archives.