Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Visitation

Visiting a favorite cousin. 
Who would have guessed- 
Elizabeth bearing a child, 
after all these years. 
Mary too carrying 
a great Secret.
Though what to say-
an angel in the kitchen? 

Then telling Joseph, 
and that he understood-
noble carpenter. 

And now the stirring, 
the child suddenly exuberant 
inside Elizabeth, 
excited as she is 
to have Mary in the house.

How blessed those who believe
when God promises.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

As He Loved Us

It is for us to love Christ as he loved us. In this he left us an example so that we might follow in his steps. This is why he says: “Set me as a seal upon your arm.” It is as if he said: “Love me as I love you. Have me in your mind, your memory, your desire, your yearning, your sighing and your sobbing. Remember how I made you, how I put you before all other creatures, how I ennobled you with such dignity, how I crowned you with glory and honor, how I made you only a little less than the angels, how I subjected all things under your feet. Remember, too, not only the many things I made for you, but what harsh and undeserved things I endured for you... If you love me, show me that you love me! Love me in deed and in truth, not with the word and the tongue... Set me as a seal upon your heart that you may love me with all your strength.”

Take from me, O Lord, my heart of stone. Take away my hardened heart...; give me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a pure heart! You who purify the heart, you who love the pure heart, possess my heart and dwell within it. 

Lines from our Cistercian father, Baldwin of Ford (+c.1190), Tractate 10.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


For God to be Trinity means that God explodes with delight from within.  Such delight requires mutuality of persons, for it is delight at knowing and being known, delight at belonging to Another, delight at the inability of having one’s own existence apart from that Other, delight in never for all eternity having been absent from the life of the beloved Other, delight that celebrates its freedom in a playful, unstoppable dance that has as stage the whole enraptured cosmos and that thrills in abiding with the blessed Two who are Persons other than Oneself.  This explosive, world-creating energy of delight wells up from the bosom of the Blessed Trinity. 

What is good is “diffusive of itself”, says St. Thomas. God is too good, and therefore too “diffusive” of himself—too exuberant and squandering of his Being—to keep his secret delight to himself. The action of a divine self-outpouring is a central biblical category already at work from the first verses of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…. And the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” Each of these verbs—creating, moving and saying—imply a dynamic outward movement on God’s part, beyond the sphere of his own self-sufficient Being and into the void of nothingness, that he may pour himself out into what is not-God. Note the Trinitarian undertones present in Scripture from the outset: God creates not out of a splendid isolation but with the collaboration of “the Beginning, the First Principle, who says: “I was beside him as his craftsman.” The Father created all things in the Word through the Spirit.  Every action of God is a self-outpouring of divine life that in no way depletes the Being of God.  

The expansive throbbing of God’s triune Heart can never quite contain itselfThe beaming forth of  primal triune joy provides the blissful pattern for all created love and friendship. From the Trinity we learn that our own greatest joy should be to fill someone else with life. 

Reflection by Father Simeon.

Friday, May 25, 2018


"I have given them the glory you gave me... I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." As Jesus speaks these words to his Father in the 17th chapter of Saint John's Gospel, we are reminded of the beauty and dignity that are ours in him.   

And we hear echoes of the following words of Saint John Chrysostom, "But what do I care about heaven, when I myself have become heaven?" Indeed through baptism into Christ, we have become temples of the most high God in the Spirit.

Photograph of Abbey meadow by Brother Casimir.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mary's Month

May is Mary's month. She is never far from from our hearts and our prayer.

In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.

Virgin and Child with Two Angels; Verocchio, c. 1475
Text: Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


What is good is “diffusive of itself”, says St. Thomas. God is too good, and therefore too “diffusive” of himself—too exuberant and squandering of his Being—to keep his secret delight to himself. The action of a divine self-outpouring is a central biblical category already at work from the first verses of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…. And the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” Each of these verbs—creating, moving and saying—imply a dynamic outward movement on God’s part, beyond the sphere of his own self-sufficient Being and into the void of nothingness, that he may pour himself out into what is not-God. 

Meditation by Father Simeon.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


There is always more when it comes to God. God always has more for us- as much as we can bear. In a way, we can say that the Holy Spirit is God’s more- God’s overflowing more for each one of us. So, how much can we bear? How much of God’s love can we bear?

The Spirit guides each one of us in countless and diverse ways. There are absolutely no circumstances in our personal life journeys that exclude the Spirit’s presence. When we sin, the Spirit guides us into repentance. When we are sick, the Spirit guides us into strength and healing. When we face death, the Spirit will guide us into the fullness of life. So, how can we remain open and receptive to the Spirit’s guidance? To my mind there is one essential condition for such openness and receptivity. We need moments in our lives when we can be still, when we can be silent, when we can listen. 

Meditation by Abbot Damian.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saint Dunstan

When the Abbey was constructed  in the early 1950's numerous reasonably priced antique pieces were acquired to furnish the main rooms, other pieces were donated by generous patrons. Among the latter acquisitions were fragments of stained glass, some rare and important. In the Abbey library, shown above, an oculus window high above the mantle was filled with a fragment of stained glass depicting Saint Dunstan. The glass is probably of the fourteenth century, English and quite rare, since much pre-Reformation glass was destroyed during the Dissolution. 

A very popular early medieval saint, Dunstan (909 –988) was an Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, later appointed Bishop of Manchester and London and subsequently named Archbishop of Canterbury. He is credited with the restoration of monastic life in England and the reformation of the English Church. Dunstan was a highly skilled artist and scribe and served as an important minister of state to several of the English kings. 

As portrayed in our fragment, Saint Dunstan wears the mitre, rings, gloves and white wool pallium of his episcopal office. He carries his archbishop's cross. And the dove of the Holy Spirit perched on the apparel of his amice whispers divine inspiration. Saint Dunstan's feastday is May 19th.

Library photograph by Michel Raguin. Photographs of glass by Virginia Raguin.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Come Holy Spirit

Come, Creator Spirit,
visit the minds of your children,
and fill the hearts you have made,
with heavenly grace.

You are called the Comforter, 
the gift of God most high,
living spring, and fire, love,
and spiritual anointing.
You are sevenfold in your gifts,

the finger of God’s right hand;
you are the Father’s  true promise,
endowing our tongues with speech.Enkindle your light in our senses,
infuse your life in our hearts;
strengthen our bodies’ weakness
by your never failing might. 

Drive far away our foe,
and grant peace without end,
that with you to lead us on,

we may escape all harm.Grant us, through you,
to know the Father, also the Son;
may we ever believe in you,

the Spirit of them both.

In preparation for the great Solemnity of Pentecost, we pray our novena to the Holy Spirit. And each evening at Vespers, we chant this ancient Latin hymn. We share a fine translation completed by one of the monks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hidden with Him

Be glad, find joy there, gathered together and present to Him who dwells within, since He is so close to you; desire Him there, adore Him there, and do not go off looking for Him elsewhere... There is just one thing: even though He is within you, He is hidden.

Saint John of the Cross

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Initiation into the sufferings and mystery of the Cross the Lord reserves for those who respond to his gift of unconditional love with their own gift of unconditional love. Two well-known and classic examples of people in recent times whose lives of total self-gift disposed them to be received into the mystery of the Cross were Thérèse of Lisieux, as she approached death, and Mother Teresa, with her long dark night experienced over decades.

In the context of John’s Gospel, Jesus gives this privilege to his Mother and the Beloved Disciple, or John, with whom he is traditionally identified. The rest of the disciples are on a different level. They have faith but cannot share this ultimate intimacy; in this way they are like most of us believers today, and of all times for that matter, who have faith, but haven’t let go enough, aren’t sufficiently at the Lord’s disposal for him to be able to lead them into this degree of intimacy.  Ever since Mary’s assent, her “Yes” at the Annunciation, she is the Son’s companion in everything that happens to him. We cannot think of her as being absent from any essential part of his life. It is of her essence to be where the Son is. Out of her physical motherhood there flows directly a spiritual motherhood. 

Mary raised Jesus, nourished him, and instructed him in the religious traditions of Israel. But then, more and more, it was he who educated his Mother for the greatness of the task that lay before him; leading, enlightening and challenging her throughout her life, up to granting her an intimate share in his Cross. In this way, Jesus prepared her to be spiritual mother to all. As our spiritual mother, she is there to accompany us and lead us to her son, in the fullness of his mysteries, as one who has known the full gamut of human experience herself and knows her Son, more profoundly than any other creature, because he introduced her into all of his mysteries, sparing her nothing.

John, like Mary, belongs to all those whom the Lord freely chooses to stand beneath his Cross and share in his suffering. 

Reflection by Father Timothy. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018


We are the Body of Christ. We live in hope and are saved in hope. Our exaltation – what lifts us up – is this gift of hope, “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…” By hope we are called, urged, and enabled to follow where our Head has gone.

This gift of hope is a key to our vocation as Trappist monks. Our call is to follow Christ in our longing and desire; to reach in behind the veil where Our Lord is seated at the Father’s side; to keep alive the longing for heaven among the People of God. And we have guides to strengthen our hope: all the words of our holy father St. Benedict and the example of our Fathers of Citeaux. We also have St. Paul’s admonitions as a stimulus to hope: to live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace…”

Our vocation calls us to be signs of hope like Our Lady. As Lumen Gentium puts it: Mary shines forth “…as a sign of sure hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God…” 

Excerpts from Father Vincent's homily for Ascension Thursday.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Christian love is the infusion of the divine lovableness and love into the human spirit, repairing the damage which love’s absence has wrought and lifting up the human to the level of the divine. Simultaneously, it is an upgrading of our perception so that we are able to see just how lovable our neighbor is. This gift enables us to see through the objective failings of others to reach the inner core of their being, where everything is beautiful…This is not a human quality or skill but a gift of God that is a sign that we are already living on a supernatural plane. 

An historiated initial from an ancient Cistercian manuscript. Lines by Fr. Michael Casey, o.c.s.o.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension Thursday

Our life is hidden in Christ. and so His Ascension to the Father's right hand is our ascent as well, for we are His Body. And where the Head has gone, so will His Body.  Indeed, to be alive in Christ, we must remember where we are, where we belong. No wonder that the Fathers of the Church will speak of our sinfulness as forgetfulness. We are meant to live mindfully, with remembrance in our hearts of our great destiny and our dignity as God's own children with Christ. As we chant so often, "You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Alleluia!"

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


In his recent exhortation Pope Francis encourages us to notice the holiness that the Lord shows us through the humblest of his people. He then quotes these words of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein):

The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly, the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.

We were reminded of the words of our own Constitutions which speak of the monastic life  as having "a hidden apostolic fruitfulness." In the mysterious reality of prayer for and in the mystical Body of Christ, we hope that our lives here help to draw the world closer to the heart of Christ.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

To Love

Jesus is not proposing an ideal of love to us but rather a gift of God, which both fulfills and simultaneously surpasses our heart’s desire to be loved and to love. Michael Casey will say that Christian love “upgrades our perception” of one another. It is not easy, or even natural, to see simple goodness, let alone God’s presence, in everyone, especially in those whom we readily criticize or find difficult or repugnant. How are we to glimpse buried beneath other people’s failures and sins the seeds of a desire for God?

Our eyes are myopic; we only see the surface; we are never without distorting prejudice. The Good News is that there is nothing moralistic about loving God and neighbor. This precept is a gift - the gift Jesus holds out to us, whom he calls “friends.”

Such love is a gift precisely because we cannot generate it, despite our best intentions. It is not the result of an act of the will - we cannot try harder and force ourselves to love. As Saint John tells us, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” Love arises out of an encounter with God, who is Love, and who loves within us - we learn love by being loved. Thus, we love God because we have experienced that God first loved us. The more we experience God’s love, the more likely we are to return that love.

“To love God is to accept God’s love.” Everything follows from that. And we do that by accepting one another’s love as well, which may be harder and more humbling to do than any of our attempts to love. But nothing more effectively expands the heart!

Love of God and love of neighbor is the same one love, undivided and indivisible, because God is its source, and he is one. The human heart cannot simultaneously experience love and hate; for when we are touched by love, we are taken over by a force which knows no limits, draws no boundaries. Saint Bernard will say, “The measure of love is to love without measure.” This means that nobody can be excluded from our love.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Dominic’s Sunday homily.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


Small flowers, violets, bluets and pussycat paws are blooming in the lawns and meadows of the abbey. These low-growing flowers, symbolic of humility, remind us of Our Blessed Lady and her Son risen from the dead.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


At long last the re-greening of the earth, bird song and warm breezes. Spring came much too late this year; winter lingered. 

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

We read these words by the American poet, Mary Oliver, and remembered to wonder and give thanks the Giver of all good gifts.

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

His Body

Your hand holds up the world
and the universe rests in your love.
Your life-giving body is the heart of your Church;
your sacred blood protects the Bride. 

Corpus from a Crucifix, Italian, Doccia, ca. 1745-50Hard paste porcelain, h. 25 3/8", Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Used with permission. Supplication to God by Cyrillonas, Syrian, 4th century.