Lenten Reading

snow heart

We must marvel at Divine affection for the human soul.

Affection deserves affection

and deep calls to matching deep

in the roar of tumbling waterfalls.

Great, O Lord, are the waterfalls of your affection -

pouring forth and instilling love.

Love is not mute;

it has a voice (Wisdom 1:7).

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

you know what kinship, if not what identity,

exists between charity and the Spirit.

Charity holds all together.

The Spirit speaks mysteries

and openly speaks the mysteries of love.

The Holy Spirit itself bears witness to our spirit.

The very experience of grace is the Spirit’s call to us.

Love does not merely chat, it charms,

and attracts us to the Holy Spirit.

Thus the Apostle writes, “The Holy Spirit who is love

is poured into our hearts.”

Love leads us onward to the Lamb,

leads us to completion in God.

Thus we are called

to bear the white robe washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Sharing the Pasch of the Lamb,

we bear great tribulation -

and thus become meek, gentle and like a lamb.

And in the fire of charity

we become incandescent but never consumed.

Reading for Matins from Sermon 29 Super Cantica, by Gilbert of Holland (12th C. Cistercian), excerpted and edited by Sr. Donald Corcoran, OSB.

Happy New Year & the Month in Review

St. Paul’s Monastery in Minnesota has asked us, as part of our affiliation process, to send them a monthly report on our life here at Transfiguration Monastery. When appropriate, we thought we’d share these reports with our blog readers. What follows is the report for December, 2014.

Advent and Christmas: Community Outreach

We always find that there is a delicate balance between keeping Advent as a time of silent inwardness as we wait for the Lord’s coming, and participating in the many convivial activities to which we are invited in anticipation of Christmas. The first of these events was the ecumenical “ladies only” Advent/Christmas celebration, held each year at one of the churches in Windsor, on a rotating basis. On December 3 of this year, Zion Episcopal hosted the service and subsequent party, while the Catholics were responsible for the liturgy, a responsibility that was passed on to the three of us. Sr. Donald prepared a talk based on the idea of giving Jesus our heart, as expressed in the Christmas carol, The Little Drummer Boy, Christina Rossetti’s poem, In the Bleak Midwinter, and the round, Pauper sum ego. The congregation joined us in a couple of verses of Gustav Holst’s setting of In the Bleak Midwinter, and for Pauper sum ego, we recruited some of the Methodist choir members and well as the Episcopalian organist to help us out.

On Sunday, December 7, we participated in a parish outing to Syracuse, where one of the oldest friends of our community, Charlie Rock, was receiving the Immaculata Award at the cathedral, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the life of the parish. The church was packed with family and friends of those receiving the awards, among whom were a couple of other friends of ours, and we were happy to be able to be there to support them.

The following Thursday, we were invited to another annual event: a festive lunch with members of a local ladies’ prayer group, many of whom are among the oldest friends and benefactors of Transfiguration Monastery. Sr. Donald typically gives a short spiritual talk, and small gifts are exchanged. We managed to forget to bring the case of 12 bottles of our homemade raspberry wine vinegar for the group, so the following week, Sr. Donald brought our gifts to their weekly prayer breakfast (more about that later).

DSCN0878On the 12th, a group of young people, all lay ministers to prisoners and the homeless, came for a day of recollection, accompanied by a deacon and former student of Sr. Donald. The theme of the day was Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16: “I am the bright and morning star.” The Moravian star in the window of our chapel provided the backdrop, and Sr. Sheila taught the group the Moravian Christmas hymn, Morning Star, O Cheering Sight.

On December 17, Charlie Rock and his wife, Carol, invited us to be present as Fr. Dwyer, our chaplain, blessed the manger scene in front of their house. Charlie and his (and our) good friend, Ron, had built a beautiful little wooden stable to house the crèche figures, which were placed on a bed of straw, and the whole tableau was surrounded by little white lights. Charlie’s neighbors reportedly stop in front of the crèche to pray on their way home. (There’s very little traffic on this road.) Charlie’s effort inspired us to set up a little yard art of our own, something much DSCN1295simpler that we could manage on our own:

On December 21, Sr. Donald traveled to Mt. Saviour Benedictine Monastery near Elmira (home of Mark Twain, about an hour and 1/2 from here by car), to give a talk on Thomas Merton to the Friends of St. Benedict. As usual, her talk was very well received.

Guardian Angel Activity

Our Guardian Angels, always on the ball, were called upon to work overtime this month.

The deacon candidates, together with other friends of the community, had been raising money to buy a vehicle to replace the dying Subaru that Sr. Donald had been using for her trips back and forth to Syracuse. They’d reached about $15,000, enough to buy a good used car, and one of the local Knights of Columbus had said he knew the Subaru dealer near Binghamton and would ask him to give us a good deal. When Sr. Donald drove to the ladies’ prayer breakfast on the 18th, she sensed that the old Subaru was not long for this world. She told the ladies that she was off to see the Subaru dealer, and they said, “We’ll say a Hail Mary that you get there.” Sr. Donald replied, “Maybe you should say last rites.” As she pulled into the dealership, the car gave up the ghost, leaking transmission fluid all over the parking lot. The dealer gave Sr. Donald another car to drive home as a possible purchase for her to show to Sr. Miriam and me, and the following week the car was ours.

Our Guardian Angels also came to the rescue in the bookkeeping department. Sr. Miriam, who is new to this job, had done all of her calculations on paper, knew what she wanted to enter into the computer, but was stuck when she tried to get Quickbooks to coöperate. As it happened, Sr. Donald had overheard someone in the parish mention that she worked as a bookkeeper, and then it turned out that this Jennifer lives across the road from us. She came over after work one day, solved the problem in short order, and offered to come back any time we need help.

Christmas Liturgy

We begin our liturgical observance of Christmas with Christmas Eve Vespers at 4:00, which ends with the chanting of the martyology and full prostration at the end for those whose knees can manage the effort. At 6:00 we celebrate Christmas Matins, an hour-long service which we sing from start to finish, including the readings, with the exception of the collect at the end. The haunting Gregorian chant tone for the Gospel is very close to that of the Hebrew genealogy in the Book of Ruth, which St. Matthew’s Gospel incorporates. Traditionally, the superior chants the Gospel, but we’ve decided to have everyone sing it together.

At. 9:00, we have “Midnight Mass”, or “Mass in the Night”, as it’s now called, with traditional carols, followed by a party in the refectory for any guests who come to the Mass. This year, we had a full house.DSCN1288 Fr. Dwyer wore for the first time a gold chasuble, donated by a friend of the monastery, in memory of her daughter who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

On Christmas morning, we have Lauds at 8:00, followed by Mass in the parish at 9:30. A friend offered to cook our Christmas dinner this year, which took the pressure off Sr. Miriam. As usual, a number of friends joined us for the festive noon meal.

May the Angels continue to accompany all of us during the coming year! MJM Angels

A Healthy and Happy New Year to All!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

DSCN1285

And now the glory, the glory! As Luke sets down the story!

As John of Patmos philosophizes it!

      et Verbum caro factum est,

      et habitavit in nobis.

Bright as the heart of a diamond, that night in Galilee.

As a snowflake’s terrible crystal the wings of those Melechim,

Quicksilver swift, and singing, Cherubim and Seraphim,

Until the Babe awoke and yawned, and the darkness fell again,

Healing, annealing, eyebrow-seeling, the swaddling Darkness of El:

Love’s darkness, eternal, maternal, luminous, numinous Dark.

          from And a Light Shines in Darkness, by Charles Brady, America, Dec. 19, 1987

Happy Feast Days this week!

our_lady_of_guadalupe_4x6

To one that is so fair and bright
Velut maris stella,
Brighter than the day is light,
Parens et puella,
I cry to thee to turn to me:
Lady pray thy Son for me,
Tam pia,
That I may come to thee,
Maria.

In sorrow, counsel thou art best,
Felix fecundata:
For all the weary thou art rest,
Mater honorata:
Beseech him in thy mildest mood,
Who for us did shed his blood
In cruce
That we may come to him
In luce.

All this world was forlorn,
Eva peccatrice,
Till our Saviour Lord was born
De te genetrice;
With thy Ave sin went away,
Dark night went and in came day
Salutis.
The well of healing sprang from thee
Virtutis.

Lady, flower of every thing,
Rosa sine spina,
Thou bore Jesu, heaven’s King,
Gratia divina.
Of all I say thou bore the prize,
Lady, Queen of paradise,
Electa;
Maiden mild, Mother
Es effecta.
(Anon. Medieval)

Thanksgiving Blessings

DSCN0251

On this snowy Thanksgiving morning, we give thanks especially for you, our friends, and pray God to shower you with blessings.

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
William Shakespeare

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun, that looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.
Iroquois Prayer

Upcoming Days of Recollection

Our next Oblate Day will take place on Saturday, November 15. Sr. Donald’s morning conference will be on oblate formation, and the afternoon conference on beauty as a way to God.

On Saturday, November 22, Sr. Donald will offer reflections on Thomas Merton and the spiritual journey: a celebration of his life and work, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The schedule for both days will follow our usual format:

10:00: coffee and snack

10:30: conference, followed by discussion and/or quiet time

12:00: midday prayer and a home-cooked lunch

1:30: conference

The day of recollection 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.

Suggested donation: $25

Chanting Meditation: September 20

On Saturday, September 20, 2014, we shall be sponsoring a day of chanting meditation with Marsha Eger in the parish hall of Our Lady of Lourdes Church here in Windsor. No special singing ability or prior experience with chant or meditation is necessary.

Marsha

Marsha has a Master’s Degree in Ritual Chant and  is a teacher and singer of chants of all world traditions. She teaches chant and meditation in Ireland, notably at the Benedictine Abbey of Glenstal, as well as in Europe and the U.S. Her description of the workshop is as follows:

“During this day-long workshop, a perfect break from the everyday busyness and stress of life, Marsha will discuss the benefits of chanting and meditation and will lead participants in chants from many of the world’s spiritual traditions. Chanting will be followed by periods of quiet or meditation, so that participants can experience the power of a chanting meditation practice. This in itself will create inner peace, but we will go more deeply. Throughout the day the focus of discussion, chants, poetry and prose, will be on inner peace, living calmly amidst the turmoil and stress of our lives. We will look at how both Western and Eastern traditions approach the idea and practice of creating inner peace as a state-of-being.”

Practical details:

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Marsha will be taking care of registration for the workshop. (If you are coming from out of town and would like to stay at the monastery guest house, please contact the Sisters to reserve a room.)

COST: $50

To enroll: email Marsha at: chantingmeditation@yahoo.com

or call her at: (607) 592-2465

Please bring your own lunch. Tea/coffee breaks will include homemade treats.

Please email Marsha with any questions and to register at: chantingmeditation@yahoo.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 90 other followers