24 March 2010

Time to put my money where my mouth is (or at least where my fingers are)

In previous posts I have talked about such topics as "Detachment" and "Obedience". Well now I get to practice both!

We Cistercians have a visitation from our Father Immediate or his delegate once every couple of years. This year was our year for it. As a postulant I did not get an opportunity to read the Visitation Card, but one of the things it apparently "suggested" is that I "refrain" from blogging during my novitiate.

Well the novitiate begins tomorrow. And so, for a while, my blogging ends.

I hope you continue to pray for me as I continue on My Journey. If at all possible, I will try to coax a professed member of the community to make the occasional posting on vocation discernment.

There might be the possibility of slight technical glitch tomorrow in which pictures of me after my clothing get posted. Don't you just hate when the computers foul-up like that.

God's Blessing and Peace to you all!
Please keep me in your prayers.

17 March 2010


I start my pre-novitiate retreat tonight. I will be on retreat until The Feast of the Annunciation. Then I will receive my habit. Please pray for me.

God Bless!!


16 March 2010

Hereford Cathedral

Everybody should go to Hereford Cathedral. It is beautiful. It is the home to the 13th Century Mappa Mundi (Map of the World) and the Chain Library. And it holds an even greater treasure. Hospitality. Not just the "Have a nice day" stuff, but genuine hospitality. The staff there want to make sure you enjoy your visit.

AND ENTERANCE IS FREE!!! With begrudging understanding, most big Anglican churches have an entrance fee when a worship service is not going on. Not at Hereford. God Bless them.

If you have the opportunity, attend the Choral Evensong. One can even sit in the quire (choir) and follow along with the choristers.

The city of Hereford is beautiful, as well. It truly is worth a visit.

Mediaeval Madonna and Child

Interior shot of the Norman Arcade

The Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Ethelbert the King is situated near the banks of the River Wye.

Belmont Abbey

On Saturday the novitiate went to Hereford. Our first stop was to beautiful Belmont Abbey. Benedictine hospitality was up to its normal high standards. We also received a grand tour which lead us to the top of the church tower and throughout the monastery. If you believe that you are called to the monastic life, but you would like active apostolates, too, Belmont Abbey is definitely worth a look.
Belmont has just restored their Pipe Organ. Our Br. Rafael got to try it out for a while.
The restored reredos

Stained Glass windows of St. Wilfred and (our) St. Bernard
The Abbey of St. Michael and All the Angels.

14 March 2010

Fellow bloggers beware

Lately I have been getting comments from either China or Taiwan: sometimes in English, sometimes in Chinese. There are hypertext links to "adult" web-sites on these comments.

So,my fellow bloggers. If you get unusual post, make sure there are no links to other websites.

For the rest of you. Later today, I hope to post details and pics of Belmont Abbey and Hereford Cathedral.

God Bless!

12 March 2010

Good News

I received some very good news today. My request to become a novice has been accepted by the Abbot's council. Please God I will be clothed on The Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March, 2010.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. Please keep praying for me.

God's Blessing and Peace to you all!

04 March 2010

Grace of the Present Moment

Today at Mount St.Bernard we had our first truly Bona Fide sunrise during Lauds. As we turned to the east to sing the Sub Tuum the windows were golden and the statue of the Madonna and Child was silhouetted. It was quite beautiful. Right after Lauds we meet briefly for Chapter and then we have roughly a half-hour until Mass.

So I went out for a brief stroll after Chapter. The Sun was bright, the sky was clear and very blue. It was a bit chilly and there was a light frosty dew on the lawn. The flowers are beginning to poke their shoots above the soil and there are velvety buds on the trees.

This lovely scene gave me pause for thought. I am quite focused on my upcoming "clothing". God Willing it is 21 days away, not that I'm counting (right!) The thought of being clothed, of canonically becoming part of the community, of having a role in the community besides manual labour and washing up after dinner every other week, occupies a lot of my time. Even prayer time.

One of the priest here warned me that I should be looking for the grace of the present moment because there is always another thing to look forward to. After clothing, there is simple profession two years later. Then solemn profession three years after that. Then maybe ordination to the diaconate, the priesthood, etc. etc.

Trying to be aware of the grace that God gives us every day, is not as fun as looking forward to milestones, but it is still quite important. I find it easiest, if that is the right way to phrase it, after I receive Holy Communion. For me that is always a quiet and often intense time for me. So I invite you to look for the grace of the present moment too.

May God's grace and peace be with you always.

17 February 2010

Ash Wednesday

It has been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. I have had a lot on my mind -- in a very good way.

Back in January I had mentioned a little bit about our community retreat. I must say I did find it funny that so many people asked me where we went for the retreat. I may have hurt a few feelings when I said, "What part of 'Enclosed Monastery' do you not understand?" Mea Culpa

The retreat was led by Mother Nikola, the Abbess of Minster Abbey near Canterbury in Kent. She gave two talk a day for a week. Most of her talks were about life in choir. Physically, The choir is two sets of wooden seats (stalls) that face each other across the church. Choir is where monks and nuns come together to pray the Divine Office. It is a major part of the life of any monk or nun, and the raison d'ĂȘtre for us that are enclosed.

The choir is a microcosm of what is going on in one's community life and a macrocosm of what is going on in one's own mind. With a little bit of introspection one can learn a lot about themselves and about the health of the community around them. Community life here is healthy. People do not absent themselves from the Divine Office or Mass. I have seen that in other communities, and it seems to be very painful. And how people responded to others' errors is also pretty good. Often, we just get on with the office; once in a while there is a laugh; but, I have never seen sneers, "tsks", or the like.

How I respond to the people around me says more about me than them: The other day I was quite frustrated with one of my brothers. It was a solemnity. So the hymn was in one book, the antiphons and responsories were in three parts of another book, plus there is the psalter. This brother was flipping back and forth in his book trying to find his place. I tried to assist, but he resisted my help. [How dare he!] After the Office, I stayed in church for a few minutes to pray out my frustration. I feel the Lord really spoke to me. He let me know that my frustration was with myself [long story] and my trying to control the situation with my brother was just winding me up tighter. If I stopped trying to control the situation, that my frustration would go away. The next couple times he was lost with his books, I offered help. Once he let me help and once he did not. Both times I went with the flow, and both times I felt better.

Mother Nikola also spoke about the manner in which we sing the psalms. One side says one stanza, and the other side says the next, and we go back and forth until the psalm is concluded with the "Glory be." Mother Nikola reminded us that we are not taking turns, but we are sharing the Word of God between us. We give a stanza, and we receive a stanza. I have found this most helpful. Now when I get distracted during the office, I remind myself to either "Give" or "Receive" with each stanza.

And now we begin the holy season of Lent. This year, instead of the abbot assigning a book, we have been told to choose a book on the Venerable John Henry Newman. As well as spiritual reading it is our preparation for his upcoming beatification. I do not know which book I will read: whether is is by Newman or about Newman. But I will keep you posted.

God's Blessings and Peace to you all.

30 January 2010

I Have a Confession to Make...

For the last week we were on retreat. During that time I went completely without emails or the internet. The doctors have told me that the tremors and the nervous tick should pass shortly. ;-)

A little while before the retreat while in prayer, the idea of making a General Confession came to me. Just a few days before the retreat I was reading from A Spritual Directory for Religious (Gethsemani, 1946). In it there is a recommendation that postulants should make a General Confession before receiving the Habit. I spoke to my Novice Master, and he thought it was a good idea. Then I made arrangements with my confessor.

A word to the wise, one should always talk with their spiritual director or confessor BEFORE making a General Confession. A General Confession is not for somebody who has a problem with scrouples, it is not for somebody who has a poblem with a past confessor, and it is not for somebody who is recovering from a sinful life and doubts the Mercy of God. General Confessions are often used by people as the begin a new chapter of their life: not just receiving a habit, but before marriage, before ordination, or when re-committing your life to God. I did it is not only to prepare for the new chapter in my life, but to firmly shut the book on the old chapter.

There are two schools of thought on how to make a General Confession. One is recommended, and one is not.

I had started down the wrong path. I tried to identify every sin in my life as best as I could. I began to think of things I did when I was eight and nine years old. DO NOT DO THAT! If you have confessed your sins before you can be sure of the absolution that was given. If you were baptised after leading a sinful life, those sins were forgiven. God's Mercy and Forgiveness is real, permanent, and absolute. God's Love is stronger than the memory of ANY sin.

What you want to do is examine the patterns of sin in your life. Examine them honestly. I prepared a number of hours of three days - with frequent prayers to the Holy Spirit for assistance to uncover everything. I included smoking the things in my past that I do not ever want to go back to. I even including smoking cigarettes. Now when someone has an addiction, there is a limitation to there culpability; but when I started smoking there was no addiction at that point. Now the body, as scripture teaches us, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (And before you say it, cigarette smoke is not incense!). I knew that smoking can harm the body, and that is why it is a sin. I have written this not to preach at smokers, but purely as an example of uncovering ALL sinful patterns.

I looked on the internet for advise on making my General Confession. A lot of what I read was not helpful. But I did find one thing that was. If I can find it again, I will post the reference to it. But it gave a simple list:

Write down all your sinful patterns as a guide for your confession. DO NOT MAKE THIS LIST ON ANY COMPUTER. DO THIS BY HAND, AND DO NOT LET THE LIST OUT OF YOUR SIGHT.
At confession, if it is too emotional for you to read the list, hand the list to your confessor.
Get the list back.
After confession burn the list and flush the ashes down the toilet.

Now I did not follow the last peice of advice, but I did avail myself of a frequently used criss-cross paper shredder.

One last thing. General Confessions are not required of anyone. If it is not something you think is helpful in your spiritual life, you are by no means obliged to even consider it, let alone actually do it.

May God's Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Peace dwell with you always.

23 January 2010

Retreat Time

We are going on a community retreat in a few hours. It will last seven days. During that time I will not be posting anything or even checking emails. It will be an spirit-filled internet-free week. I will probably write some things during the retreat and post them afterwards.
God Bless

p.s. God Willing, it is 61 days until I am clothed as a novice. Not that I am counting. :-)

17 January 2010

More Ideas for Discerment

Here are a few more thoughts on the process of discernment. The following is taken from some correspondence with someone thinking about becoming a sister.

Every Order that exists was founded for a specific reason and has specific gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are called "Charisms". One of the goals of Vatican II, was to get orders to rediscover their Charism. The Charism can be their spirituality and our their mission, or both.

In my estimation, School Sisters should not run medical clinics and Nursing Sisters should not be teaching Grade Schools. I believe this solely because it is not a part of their Charism. However, if a school sister wanted to serve the poor, maybe she could teach in a poor neighbourhood; and if a nursing sister wanted to teach, maybe she could teach nursing, pharmacology, or what have you. The Trappist monasteries that ran schools now have very few monks, because that is not what Trappists are supposed to be doing. [If anyone disagrees with these statements I would not mind an open friendly dialogue with them. I will not debate you,but I will post your opinions].

I believe the orders that are dying off either have outlived their charism (eg, there is a order that was founded to rescue slaves from Barbary Pirates) or they are not living out their charism (teaching sisters that are trying to be social workers [there are, btw, sisters who specialize in social work).

If you were to become a sister or nun, would it matter where you were? I believe part of my vocation is to be in England, that is why I am over here. Some people are particular to even what neighbourhood they are in, and there are those for whom location does not matter.

Does the size of the community matter to you? Large, Small, any??? Does the wearing of the habit matter to you?

As far as apostolate with children: one can teach, one can teach children with special needs, one can teach children in abject poverty (both in the US or abroad); one can work with orphans, wards of the state, or run-aways; one can work in hospital, etc.

Remember, if it is important to you, it is important!
Some times God chooses to speak to us through things that are unimportant to others.

These are my thoughts, and I speak for myself alone. I hope I speak with Christian Charity and concern.

God's Blessings to you all.


ps, there are only ten weeks until my clothing as a novice, God Willing

09 January 2010

Requiem Mass for Fr. Peter Logue, OCSO

The Requiem Mass for Fr. Peter Logue, OCSO will be at Mount St. Bernard Abbey on 11th January 2010 at 11:00 AM.

08 January 2010

Father Peter Logue - RIP 1913 - 2010

This morning at 12:50 AM Fr. Peter died. He was a monk at Mount St. Bernard Abbey for 75 years. He is lying in repose in the monk's church at the abbey. His small frame belied a great man. He was greatly loved. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday is the day we remember the Lord's Last Supper. Thursday was the last day Fr. Peter shared in the Eucharist, a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet. On Friday we remember the Lord's own death. It was on the cross Christ said to the good thief, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43). May Fr. Peter share in the Heavenly Banquet today.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Requiescat in pace

06 January 2010

Please pray for Fr. Peter

Fr. Peter is the oldest monk at Mount St. Bernard Abbey. Fr. Peter is the oldest monk to ever be at Mount St. Bernard Abbey. Fr. Peter I believe is the oldest monk in England. Fr. Peter recently turned 96 years of age, but we do not think he will be with us much longer.

Sancte Benedicte et Sancte Joseph orate pro eo nunc et in hora mortis.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison


03 January 2010

Some steps in Discernmet

I have received a couple emails from someone who is taking a fresh look at the possibility of a vocation. I do not want to disclose anything personal about this person, but I would like to share some general points just in case there is any one else in the same position.

Trying to discern your vocation is TOUGH. I think it is tougher for women because there are so very many orders. It is important to remember that a lot of the spiritual life is just you and God in silence. Every human being has issues,and in honest silence they will slowly rise to the surface. For instance, I never realised how judgmental I was being. In distractions from prayer, my judgmental-ness came quickly to the surface. Even though I did not vocalise any of it, I was shocked how bad I was (am). But, like the rest of life,I rely on God's grace for assistance.

So as you look at your vocation, look at its component parts.
  1. I consider the core of any vocation to be responding to God's Love with our love. Whether you are married or single, in religious life or not, God calls us to live a life of love.
  2. You should go to a monastery (of men or women) and experience the Divine Office, also called The Liturgy of the Hours. If you check out a monastery's daily time table it might have: Lauds, Vespers, Compline or Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer listed. I had never known about this until I was in my 20's. BUT I love the Divine Office, and it is a large part of my life. There are different ways of celebrating the Divine Office: In Latin, In Modern Translations (I have even seen politically correct translations), sung or recited.
    • This is part of almost the life every nun or sister.
    • Nuns, like monks, are contemplatives and are enclosed to varying degrees. The purpose of enclosure is to keep the distractions of the world out, not to keep you locked in... though at times it can feel that way.
    • Sisters are active, that is, engage in active apostolates("outside" jobs): teaching, nursing, parish ministry, foreign missions, social work. Some orders are very flexible in how they balance prayer life and active ministry.
    • I sought a monastery that celebrated the entire Divine Office in common: Vigils, Lauds, Sext, Terce, None, Vespers, and Compline. Some active orders might only celebrate Lauds and Vespers in common. You have to decide what you like.
  3. You also have to decide, do you want to live alone, in a small group, in a larger group. Small groups are toughest and require a lot of patience, compassion, and Love. In an order like the Carthusians, you are basically a hermit: most of your days is YOU and GOD in Silence. If that is your calling, it is beautiful. If that is not your calling, it is probably scary. It scares me.
  4. If you are looking at community life, a balance of ages and the presence of other people trying out their vocations is a very good thing. When there are older members you have wisdom on which you can draw; when there are younger members, there is the promise of a future.
On this the Feast of the Epiphany, may we follow our guiding light of Faith to meet our King.

God Bless You all!