Merry Christmas
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - 09:41

A meditation from Our Lady of the Mississippi, on one of the antiphons we sing at Vespers late in Advent:

O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the peoples; before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse.  Come, save us, and do not delay.
One of my favorite Mary Oliver poems is one entitled “Can you Imagine?”
“Can You Imagine?”

“For example, what the trees do
not only in lightning storms
or the watery dark of a summer’s night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now – whenever
we’re not looking.  Surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade – surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.”
I think of it sometimes when we have today’s antiphon, and think how hard it is to imagine that God chose to reveal his salvation in this way – in one man, rooted in one family in one nation. I mean can you imagine?  Surely you can’t imagine he didn’t want to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting others to have a better view of him, or to tell more people about his Father’s mercy, or to get to someplace where his message would be better received –where he could live a long life healing and teaching.  Surely you can’t imagine that he wanted to pass from this earth leaving nothing behind but a small band of scared followers to spread the good news.      
            God rooted himself by his incarnation.  The all-powerful Word willed to be confined to a place, to a family, to a body.  God chose a particular human life, and a short one at that, and one many today would consider extremely confined (even sheltered)– no great career arc, no great romance, no children, never going beyond the bounds of his provincial little country.  He didn’t experience “everything” as people often say he did – not being a woman, not growing old.  Yet in that one limited life we see the gathering of the whole of human history and the whole of divinity.  This is the mystery.  And in sharing that life, all of human experience somehow is contained in Him.
            Can we imagine that this was his joy? That although he could have picked any number of other ways to manifest himself  in the world, he chose this way because it seemed the most beautiful to him?  That he delighted in how one limited life could open onto eternity?  Even harder, can we imagine that he delights in dwelling in the cramped spaces of our own being, for no matter how much room we make for him, it is not much space for the eternal Word.  That he wants to be rooted in us, that his growth in us might be our own.  That whatever our individual limitations are they don’t take away from his happiness, but are part of it.  That our historical particularities are part of what makes us appealing soil for the Word.  All we have to do is, being rooted in him, stand there loving every minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings slowly thickening, and the occasional wind, even when the tree we are rooted to is the cross.  


Herod comes to Conyers
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 08:57

The Play of Herod is a beloved Atlanta tradition performed annually since 1974. It is one of a group of remarkable liturgical dramas, found in a Benedictine monastery in France, which are among the earliest dramatic works in the Christian era.

This production combines two 12th-century manuscripts from the Benedictine monastery of St. Benoit-sur-Loire near Fleury. The Play of Herod is a liturgical music-drama, thought to be the earliest form of medieval drama.

In the Camerata Theatre production, the world of Herod is dreamlike, shadowy, and stark. The Christmas story unfolds in a medieval ceremony of simple gestures and ancient, haunting melodies. It is a tale of awestruck shepherds, kings from afar come to worship a baby, a King Herod clinging to power, the bloody slaughter of children. A consort of viols, recorders, krumm horn, hurdy-gurdy, and percussion accompanies the singers.

The Play of Herod is sung in Latin, with English translations projected above the action.




Monastic Life Retreat at Guadalupe
Monday, November 18, 2013 - 08:57

One of the men who completed the Monastic Life Retreat at Guadalupe Abbey in Oregon, wrote this about his experience:

I am not in a particularly unique position for a North American guy in his mid-twenties.  I’ve recently finished college but, for whatever reason, am at a loss as to where to go next.

What I’ve found curious is that my indecision is not from a lack of options or suggestions.  There are a million voices vying for my attention (some being good, i.e. family, dear friends); but, in daily life, finding solitude or a space to retreat that cacophonous environment can be very difficult.  Even impossible if one can no longer recognize that the silence is missing.  In our over-mediated society, when everything grabs your attention, nothing can hold it – all inputs, all voices become equally worthless.

Now, I can’t continue by saying that my experience in the Monastic Life Retreat program at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey solved my problems and directed me toward a lucrative salary position, or that I even found real resolution to the issue of, “Where do I go next?” – The Abbey, as I hope one would imagine, is not of that ilk.

But, I did find that solitude that I was so desperately craving.  And it has made all the difference.  While my month as a MLR has not been without struggle, it has been within one of the most loving and encouraging communities I have ever experienced.  I am grateful to the brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe for welcoming me into their quiet and restful home and for teaching me through example, as well as long and patient conversation.

The life of prayer is not and ought not be exclusive to monks, but I did find that a monastic community was a wonderful space to gain a deeper understanding of prayer, free from those competing distractions outside the cloister.  I will continue to return to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey to wrestle and pray for the rest of my life.

From St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, MA
Monday, November 11, 2013 - 13:57
In this two-tiered manuscript painting of The Legend of Saint Martin, the story begins on the bottom level. There the Roman soldier, Martin, cuts his military cloak in half to share it with a shivering beggar. The upper tier shows Martin's dream vision that night in which Christ appears to him wearing the cloak and thanks him for his generosity. Our Lord's message is clear, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." We want to notice the needy one in our midst; Christ Jesus assures us that He is the Needy One.
St. Albans Psalter, English, early 12th century, Dombibliothek Hildesheim, Germany.
Monastic Diamond
Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:23

On October 28, Fr. Luke Kot, at age 102 one of the seniors of the whole Order, celebrates the 75th anniversary of his entrance into monastic life. At Mass, he received a special staff.

Fr. Luke entered Gethsemani Abbey in 1938. In 1944 he left as one of the founders of the new community in Conyers, GA, Our Lady of the Holy Ghost (now, Holy Spirit). He served the community for many years as tailor and in our Visitors' Center. He continues to make finger rosaries.

News from Our Lady of New Clairvaux
Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:58

Abbot Paul Mark Schwan, OCSO and the monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux announce the ordination to the priesthood of Brother Placid Morris, OCSO by Bishop Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento, October 18, 2013.

News from Wrentham
Monday, September 23, 2013 - 08:22

On September 8, 1013 our Sister Christina Sepe made first vows.  Sr Christina grew up in Wisconsin and had spent a number of years in Massachusetts before entering Mount Saint Mary's Abbey.


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