Fall Workshops

Apples. Fall 2015We will be offering three workshops this Fall, the first of which, “Ageless Spirit,” will be held on Saturday, October 24. Marsha Eger, poet and specialist in sacred chant, will guide us in an interfaith day of recollection on the joys and challenges that come with the accumulation of a large number of birthdays. Marsha, who lives near Ithaca, NY, has given many such workshops at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland as well as in the U.S.

November is a good time to reflect on our own mortality, as well as remembering our beloved dead. On Saturday, November 14, Nancy Billias, Benedictine Oblate and professor of philosophy at Saint Joseph’s University in West Hartford, Connecticut, will help us reflect on metaphysical, psychological and practical considerations concerning the end of this earthly life and entrance into the eternity of God.

Advent is a time of inwardness when we prepare for the Lord’s coming. Nancy, who also teaches mindfulness at Saint Joseph’s University, will join us on Saturday, December 5, for a workshop on living mindfully during this season of frenetic shopping and parties.

Depending on how many people sign up, the workshops will be held either at the monastery (with a maximum capacity of 20) or at the parish hall of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Windsor, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The suggested donation of $25 includes lunch and snacks. If you would like to attend, please call the monastery (607-655-2366) or email us at transfigurationmonastery@gmail.com.

In addition to the workshops, we are planning to host an Oblate Day on Saturday, November 21. Oblates are lay associates of the monastery, similar to third order Franciscans and Dominicans, who live the Rule of St. Benedict in ways adapted to their secular circumstances. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an oblate, please call or write us for more information.


Ageless Spirit Workshop: May 9

On Saturday, May 9, Marsha Eger will guide us in reflecting on the joys and challenges that come with the accumulation of a large number of birthdays. Originally, the workshop had been scheduled for May 16. We hope you’ll be able to join us on the 9th. Marsha has asked that all participants bring a notebook.

Last Saturday, Marsha led a group of 10 guests and three Sisters in a day of chanting, meditation and poetry. The chants were from the Jewish, Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions, while some Gregorian chant made its appearance at noon prayer. It was a restful, restorative day for all.

Marsha has given us permission to post one of her poems below. It is published in a collection of her poems entitled Voice of My Soul, Wisdom from the Stillness, available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and the Book Depository.com

More Thoughts on Chanting

All of nature chants.

All of nature is a chant.

We are one big chant.

As each bird sings it’s beautiful, unique melody;

as each cricket plays its violin limbs;

As each river rushes; each brook babbles;

each ocean wave roars and laps as it unites

with the particles of sand on the shore;

each is chanting a unique tonal quality

that combines as a joyous universal symphony of sound.

Each leaf of every plant that twitters in the wind is

dancing and singing a silent prayer of delight.

Each rock in its invisible motion is humming OM.

Every minute atom that oscillates in timelessness

is chanting the ecstatic chant of life.

The whole world, indeed the whole universe

is pulsating with chant.

This is All about One Big Chant.

The universe was created in sound and

is sustained in sound.

Source is one infinite vibration of love, light and bliss.

We must all begin to really listen,

to listen to everything around us.

Listen to our own hearts

beating with the rhythm and harmony of life.

In our purest unadulterated states, with effortless ease,

we are One with the Universe.

May we all chant with pure intention.

May we all chant for love, harmony, and peace.

Christ is Risen!


Excerpt from a Facebook post by Marianne Williamson:


The resurrection is not an article of faith, but rather an existential fact.

The resurrection is a description of how the universe self-corrects, life always reasserting itself even when forces of death and darkness have temporarily prevailed. Like a tiny flower growing through cracks in broken cement, peace of mind emerging after periods of deep grief, or people continuing to fall in love despite the ravages of war, love always gets the final say.

Easter is the revelation of God’s eternal imprint on every moment, for every life. It is the potential for light that exists even within the deepest darkness. It is the reason to hope when all hope seems lost. It is the possibility for a new beginning that seems impossible when all has gone wrong. As a principle, resurrection does not require our recognition in order to exist. But as a practical reality, it requires our willingness in order to become fully activated in human affairs. Our openness to infinite possibility – a willingness to consider that there might be another way – is the mind of man allowing itself to be illuminated by God.

At Easter, we celebrate our ability to rise above the consciousness of darkness, ignorance and death. As we do, something begins to change within us, our very openness to the deeper meaning of the resurrection opens doors within the mind and within the heart. Jesus died and then he rose. And now it’s our turn. Where parts of us have died – to hope, to growth, to new life forces – may our own crucified selves be restored to new life. On this day, may we each rediscover at the deepest level the meaning of “Hallelujah” and the reason to praise God.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

In the Passion According to John, Jesus says: “It is finished.” But the English translation betrays us here. When Jesus dies on the cross, it is not finished and it is far from over and done with, which is what “finished” tends to mean in English. Much better is the English word “fulfilled.” This fits John’s theological vision much better. The fulfillment is that Jesus has been “raised up” so as to draw all people to himself. This fulfillment, far from being finished, is a new beginning.

                                              Abbot Andrew Marr, Three Rivers, Michigan

Schedule for Holy Week and Easter

Palm Sunday:     First Vespers:     4:00 p.m.

                            Vigil Mass:           5:00 p.m.

Holy Thursday:  Vespers:               4:30 p.m.

                           Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church: 7:00 p.m.

Good Friday:       Tenebrae:           7:30 a.m.

                            Liturgy of the Passion:  3:00 p.m.

                            Compline:             6:00 p.m.

Holy Saturday:   Tenebrae:             7:30 a.m.

                            Noon Prayer:      12:00

                            Vespers:               4:30 p.m.

                            Easter Vigil:          8:00 p.m.

Easter Sunday:   Lauds:                   7:30 a.m.

                            Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church: 9:30 a.m.

                            Vespers:                4:30 p.m.

                            Compline:               6:00 p.m.

Spring Workshops


The snow is melting, birds are singing, all sorts of creatures are emerging from hibernation, and the joy of Easter, with its promise of rebirth on so many levels, is only three weeks away!

We invite you to join us this spring for two workshops, one on the benefits of chanting and meditation, and the other on the joys and challenges of aging.

Marsha Eger, teacher and singer of chants of all world traditions, will lead the chant workshop on Saturday, April 18. Marsha teaches chant and meditation in Ireland, notably at the Benedictine Abbey of Glenstal, as well as in Europe and the U.S. She will lead participants in chants from many of the world’s spiritual traditions and discuss how chanting and meditation in both Western and Eastern traditions can create inner peace.

Marsha will also join us for the second workshop, on Saturday, May 16, which we envisage as the first in a series of gatherings in which we will address the developmental stages and spiritual tasks of the afternoon and evening of life.

We will follow our usual schedule of offering coffee, tea and a snack at 9:30, with a hot, home-cooked lunch after noon prayer. The workshops will end at 3:00, but all are welcome to stay and join us for Vespers at 4:00 and the Vigil Mass for Sunday at 5:00.

Suggested donation for the day: $25

If you would like to join us for either or both of these days, please respond to this post or call the monastery at 607-655-2366.


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!


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