Sabbath Psalm

Psalm 92 as rendered by Gaya Aranoff Bernstein

It’s good to pause
to praise the Lord
and notice all you have
with Sabbath eyes

to take the sofa
off your back
and sit

to start the morning
sing the dawn
and see the work of God

to slow
the pace
of time

to wonder at the colors
and the fragrance of the earth
to look up and
to see the cerulean skies

to wait until the stars bring back
inevitable night
and you resume your search
to gather shards of scattered light

those who never stop
to lift their eyes
can’t contemplate
the work
of God

the righteous are renewed by God
like palm trees near a stream
like cedars old and strong
and evergreen

from Psalmsongs: A Gathering of Psalms (Arthur Kurzweil Books, 2014)

False rumor!

Last week, we got a vocation inquiry from someone in California who said that she’d heard that Transfiguration Monastery was closing. She did not want to disclose the source of the rumor.

For the record, we’re alive and well, living our contemplative monastic life to the best of our ability, in fidelity to God and to the Rule of St. Benedict. We plan to keep going for as long as God gives us life and health, and we hope that there will be women discerning a vocation to contemplative monasticism who will ask to join us.

If you would like to attend the Oblate Day on July 26 and have not yet signed up, please contact us as soon as possible. We have room for one additional overnight guest.

Oblate Day, July 26, 2014

We invite all Benedictine oblates, as well as those interested in becoming oblates, to an Oblate Day on Saturday, July 26. Sister Donald will give two conferences on the theme, “Deepening Prayer,” and there will be ample time for silent reflection and prayer.

The schedule will be as follows:

10:00: coffee and snack

10:30: conference, followed by quiet time

12:00 midday prayer and lunch

1:30 conference, followed by quiet time and an opportunity to meet with the sisters

The Oblate Day ends officially at 2:30, but all are welcome to stay and join us for Vespers at 4:00 and the vigil mass of Sunday at 5:00.

Six bedrooms are available for overnight guests coming from a distance.

Suggested donation: $20.

Iconography Retreat

This past week, six of us had the great privilege of writing an icon of St. Michael, under the tutelage of Mrs. Roseanne Rouff, with talks on the theology of icons by Sr. Donald. Our friend Betsy Hughes catered the noon meal each day, thus freeing Sr. Sheila and Sr. Myriam to participate in the retreat.

Before her retirement, Roseanne worked for 34 years as a special education teacher. Her expertise in this area was evident in the care with which she prepared the materials for each participant, the clarity of her instructions, her infinite patience and her supportive attitude. Of the six participants, four of us had never written an icon before. Any initial tension around our “performance” soon gave way to the realization that the point was not to create a great work of art, or even to finish on time, but rather to center down, enter into the process and connect with the Archangel Michael.

In addition to sharing illuminating theological insights, Sr. Donald talked to us about the sacred geometry in the icons of the Transfiguration and the Holy Trinity, as well as the significance of the various colors. She also prepared a folder for each participant with meditations and articles for further reflection and color reproductions of a wide variety of icons. To nourish our prayer, she led us in a meditation that she often uses when giving retreats on the Trinity icon.

At the end, we all expressed the hope that Roseanne would agree to lead us in a second class. Roseanne felt strongly, and we concurred, that the three days had been too short. Even though the point was prayer, rather than having a beautiful finished picture to take home, we’d all felt a certain pressure to finish. If we do this again, possibly next October, we’ll schedule four full days, instead of three.

DSCN1039 DSCN1040 DSCN1046 DSCN1051 DSCN1074

New Beginnings

Daffodils are blooming despite chilly weather, tiny leaves are emerging on trees and shrubs, and Transfiguration Monastery is blessed with new beginnings. On Shrove Tuesday, God sent us a new sister, a transfer candidate from another Benedictine Monastery. She was happy to find us, and we are delighted to welcome her.

Sister Donald, whose deep faith, fidelity and perseverance have kept Transfiguration Monastery alive and afloat against all odds, has asked to be relieved of her position as prioress. The Superior of St. Paul’s Monastery has asked Sr. Sheila to take on the role of prioress, beginning on May 1. Sr. Sheila is counting on your prayers!

Iconography workshop and retreat

Trinity icon


We shall be offering a retreat/workshop in iconography, beginning on Sunday afternoon, May 18, through Thursday morning, May 22. Sr. Donald will give talks about the spirituality of icons, and Mrs. Roseanne Rouff, an experienced practitioner and teacher of iconography, will guide the participants in writing an icon of St. Michael. The workshop will be geared to beginners, but open to iconographers of all levels. Room, board, and all necessary materials are included in the $450 tuition fee – a real bargain, compared to other iconography workshops we checked out online! Due to space limitations, we can accept only 5 participants, so if this appeals, sign up soon!

Christ is Risen!

A blessed and joyful Easter to all!


Tell Them

Breaking through the powers of darkness
bursting from the stifling tomb
he slipped into the graveyard garden
to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that I have journeyed far
into the darkest deeps I’ve been
in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that fear will flee my light
that though the ground will tremble
and despair will stalk the earth
I hold them firmly by the hand
through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
the globe and all that’s made
is clasped to God’s great bosom
they must not be afraid
for though they fall and die, he said,
and the black earth wrap them tight
they will know the warmth
of God’s healing hands
in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
smelling the blossomed air,
tell my people to rise with me
and heal the Earth’s despair.

                                                 Edwina Gately

Poem for Holy Saturday

Another poem by Edwina Gately:

The Creative Potential of

the Dead End

I have come up against

a wall-

a blank-

nowhere to go-

unsure, lost-


Creativity is released

in any death,

when we b elieve in life,

when we are people of hope.

For people of hope

there is never any real death

for death has been conquered by Christ

and life has been exchanged for it.

I have faced death often

in many different ways

and everything has seemed hopeless


At the moment of death I am called

to a faith response

that defies reason.

If only we had even a scrap

of resurretion faith,

there would be an abundance

of life and hope.

We turn away too often

in despair

in hopelessness

in tiredness

in anger

in self-pity

in defeat.

We turn away from the Dead-End

the tomb,

because we are blind.

We fail to see the light

waiting to be called forth

in resurrection.

Jesus saw his dead-end coming.

Everything he worked and preached for

was crumbling around him.

The whole thing was in shambles;

his followers scared and confused,

but he never turned back,

even when he got to the dead-end

-he walked right into it in faith,

and he destroyed death

and dead-ends.


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