Sunday, October 15, 2017

Returning Pilgrims, Visiting Seminarians and Missionaries, Departing Aspirants

Well, the Celtic Pilgrims have returned this past Saturday. Matthew Wright and Yanick Savain are back in St Mary's House at the top of our driveway. And Br. Scott is on a two week stopover in the middle of his six-month sabbatical. The Rev. Elizabeth Gillett also stayed over for a night on her way back home. She reported that it was a fantastic pilgrimage. Br. Aidan stayed behind and went on to a one week retreat in a hermitage in Glendalough, Ireland.

Today, Sunday, we got to see our favorite two missionaries; Heidi Maria Schmidt and Monica Vega. They currently work in Argentina but they got to know the Order of the Holy Cross well in Grahamstown, South Africa. Their friendship with our Superior, Br. Robert James, dates back to that time.

During the week, we were glad to see Donna Marquardt attending mass with us. Donna used to live up the road on Route 9W. She would come to mass or the office several times a week. Nowadays, she lives in Poughkeepsie and we are grateful to see her from time to time.
From top, clockwise, Br. Scott and the Rev. Elizabeth Gillett just back from Britain;
Donna Marquard, a frequent weekday visitor;
Br. Robert James and Missionaries Monica Vega and Heidi Maria Schmidt
From Tuesday to Thursday, we were observing our regular Contemplative Days. During Contemplative Days, we observe Greater Silence round the clock; we have a simplified liturgical schedule; monks are dispensed of their usual work; and we limit Guests attendance to 15 people.  Many frequent visitors actually cherish the greater quiet of those days and seek out the possibility to stay in the Guest House at those times. Check out our Retreat Programs web page to find out when these are taking place.
From top, clockwise, Tim Maguire used to come often when he lived in NYC. He now lives in Toronto and was happy to come back after a few years of absence; Princeton seminarian Rick Cummings starts a new puzzle with his wife Sandi; Anne Starke is a nurse from Nyack, NY often comes to recharge her batteries.
This coming week also sees a number of seminarians stay at the Monastery. Many seminaries have a "reading week" in the middle of their semester. As they have no lectures during that week, seminarians are free to visit during the week.
From top, clockwise, the Pear Loafers, a group of women writers who has visited us for 16 years;
Yale Divinity seminarian Landon Moore playing cards with Br. Bob Pierson and guests; Landon Moore, Aynsley Hartney and Br. Joseph . Joseph and Aysnsley go back to Joseph's days as parish priest in Memphis, TN.
This week-end, we had a group of writers who started coming to the monastery every year on the week of Nine Eleven. The Pear Loafers were continuing a tradition of writing retreats started by Madeleine L'Engle. That tradition is also carried forward by the many writers' retreats lead by Beverly Donofrio at the Guest House.

This week-end, we also hosted young interns at St Hilda's House, New Haven, CT, who live in intentional christian community while doing social justice work during the day. Thanks be to God for these young missionaries.
Meet the Hildans - from left to right, Molly Wyrsch, Morgan Flanagan-Folcarelli, KC Crewdson, Kelsey Hitchcock, Charlie Heeley, Matthew Roberts, Amy Endres. And you recognized Br. Joseph in the white habit, of course.
Today, Sunday, a couple who had just started another jigsaw puzzle flagged me down in Pilgrim Hall on my way to pray graces over our dinner. Chet and Anne-Marie remembered me as a freshly entered Postulant on their last visit thirteen years ago. It's always fun to discover the continuity over time of our hospitality ministry. I suggested Chet and Anne-Marie come back sooner next time.
Top, clockwise, "Moi", Chet and Anne Marie Erler from North Andover, MA;
Marian and Michael Carroll from Waterbury, CT.
The Rev. Michael Carroll and Marian Carroll try to come every year, with or without a parish group. It was good to see them again.

On Saturday morning, the monks crashed Kairos' rehearsal in the North End of the monastic library for a friendly "Meet and Greet" event. We all got to introduce ourselves and give a bit of background to our lives inside and outside the monastery. It was impressive to discover all the good that the Kairos folks do in the world when they are not singing at our monastery.
Monks and Kairos singers mix for a "Meet and Greet" event
in the area where Kairos rehearses every Saturday.
This past weekend, our two aspirants left the monastery to continue their respective discernment. It's always a bittersweet moment as one doesn't know what the future will be made of, and we got to know and like each other over the duration of their stay. Please pray for ongoing discernment of their vocation for Giovanni and Vance.

So when do I get to take your picture at the monastery? Come and visit us soon. We love to have you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Writers, Yogis, Aspirants and Pilgrims

A week ago on Sunday, we had a Choral Vespers featuring a Bach Cantata by our "Artists in Residence," Kairos - a Consort of Singers. Kairos sings a cappella and with musicians both sacred and secular music. We call them "Artists in Residence" because every Saturday morning they rehearse in the North end of our Monastic Library. Over the years, they have built a good audience throughout the Hudson Valley.

Their Bach Cantata Choral Vespers and other concerts at the monastery regularly attract crowds of 80 to 100+ attendees. I remember Br. Scott, a Kairos singer, as are Br. Josép and Br. John, saying a few years ago that a successful concert for Kairos was when there were more people in attendance than people performing. Well, nowadays, all their concerts are great successes by that measure.

You can check out their calendar of concerts on their website. This year we have scheduled Kairos' concerts a little earlier, starting at 3 p.m. This enables some of our Guest House visitors to linger for the concert and make their way home afterward.
Kairos - a Consort of Singers on the Great Cloister.
Edward Lundergan, their director is in the middle front row.
This past week, among our many guests and visitors, we had writers, yogis, and aspirants. The Monastery is a popular destination for writers of all sorts who want some focused, quiet time to make progress on their manuscript. Over the years, we have hosted poets, novelists, essayists, film writers and composers. This week, Meredith Gould and Drew Griffin were beckoning the muses in the Guest House.

Meredith is the author of several books. She also is our contractor on the re-design and upgrading of our website for the mobile age. She has helped us assess and upgrade our full range of net properties (web, facebook, blogs, instagram). And she is delivering all this early and under her consulting budget! I'll tell you more about the new website when we launch it.

Drew is new to book writing. He is the pastor of Cross Church NYC on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He is a frequent visitor and likes the quiet of our Guest House.
From top, clockwise, Meredith Gould with old friend Peter Pearson, our postulant;
Drew Griffin portrait and relaxing in a favorite corner of Pilgrim Hall.
This week yoga teacher and frequent visitor David Robles taught about Yoga and the Monastic Life, exploring parallels and similarities between Patanjali and the Desert Fathers. I wished I had been free to attend; maybe next year if David offers another retreat like this. Frequent retreat leaders The Rev. Masud Syedullah and The Rev. Garrett Mettler were here to lead a group to explore how to be Agents of Peace in a Time of Fear. All these committed teachers mingled and exchanged over our refectory tables with their attendees.
Retreat leaders and guests, from top, clockwise, David Robles, Masud Syedullah and Mark Graceffo;
frequent visitors The Rev. Deborah Magdalene from Wappinger Falls,
and Emilie Trautmann from New Paltz, who also volunteers in our gardens;
Son and Mother, Brady Dale from Brooklyn and  Bonnie Fennimore from Kansas.
A week ago, two aspirants arrived within a day of each other. Aspirants are invited to live with the monastic community in the private enclosure for two weeks to get to know in more real ways what it is they may be called to. They participate in all the activities of the community (with the exception of our monthly group therapy session). It gives them and the community a good gauge of whether we can try and live together in the future.

Giovanni Margaryan is in-between jobs in the fashion industry in NYC. He has visited us several times and wants to see whether he's called to become a postulant in our community.

Vance Greenway is known as Swami Chibrahmananda in the Ramakrishna Order of monks which he joined in 1999. He is re-exploring Christianity which he grew up in. He is with us for two weeks so that we can all decide whether we want to live together for six months for his further discernment of the place of Christianity and Christian monasticism in his life.

Please hold both these men in your prayers that God may enlighten their heart to know what to do next.
From left to right, Giovanni Margaryan helping in the sacristy;
Vance Greenway aka Swami C. in his favorite color.
And then, there is Sunday, the Feast of our Lord. It's a festive day and a transition day for us. We move from our hospitality ministry throughout the day to the quiet of our sabbath after Vespers. We celebrate a festive day and we also say goodbye to our Guests.  Tessa Kale, Associate, and her husband Brian McCarthy are "Sunday Regulars" as is Sarah Gardner.
From left to right, Tessa Kale and Brian McCarthy from Poughkeepsie;
Sarah Gardner from Highland.
Eventually, the bittersweet moment of farewells comes.
Associate Jamie Dollahite and college friend Pastor Susan Gray.
And as a final note, news from our brothers on sabbaticals and on pilgrimage. Brothers Scott and Aidan are greatly enjoying the pilgrimage they are making with 30 voyagers through Scotland, Wales and England. The Rev. Matthew Wright and Yanick Savain are among the pilgrims and enjoying their first taste of Western Europe.

Br. Robert Sevensky is enjoying his stay in Cambridge. He recently did a 17 kms hike from Cambridge to Ely.
Top, from left to right, Br. Aidan, The Rev. Matthew Wright, the Yorkminster Dean, Br. Scott and two more pilgrims;
Bottom, Br. Robert Sevensky with Ely cathedral in the background.
Have a blessed week!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Come, Beloved, and pitch your tent into my heart

What a week! It all started with Br. Josép's renewal of his annual Benedictine vow. It is a simple and tender ceremony that takes place at the outset of our daily Chapter meeting. This is Br. Josép's second year in annual vows. We give thanks for his vocation, his love and many gifts. "Come, Beloved, and pitch your tent into my heart."
from left, clockwise, Br. Josép signs his instrument of profession;
Br. Josép reads his instrument of profession aloud;
Br. Josép is greeted by his brothers
Throughout the week, we had several groups and individual guests visiting us. They came from nearby and from far and wide.
Avove, clergy and parishioners from St Andrew's in Shippensburg, PA;
Below, the Women's Fellowship Group from St Mark's, Brooklyn, NY
They came with their own retreat program or attended one of our sponsored programs (on icon writing and on memoir writing). Christine Hales led and Advanced Icon Writing Workshop. Her husband, photographer Michael Hales came along. Beverly Donofrio offered an advanced retreat for memoir-writers.

Some came to visit a monk like Presbyterian Minister Barara Anne Keely visiting her long-time friend, Br. Bob. Others came to help us out, like Derek Nolan, our Merrill Lynch account manager, helping us to invest according to our ethical values and making financial progress along the way.
Clockwise, from above, Christine and Michael Hales; Derek Nolan of Merrill Lynch;
Br. Bob and his friend Barbara Anne Keely.
Repeat visitors, Associates and newcomers mixed happily in the Pilgrim Hall, the church or the refectory.
From left, clockwise, long-time visitor The Rev. Barbara Hutchinson, of St Andrew's Shippensburg, PA,
Br. Roy blessing the icons painted in Christine Hales' workshop,
The Rev. Anne Brewer, AHC, thinning down her library to the benefit of ours.
Others came to bestow the benefit of their craft on our monastery. Jason Breen, woodworker, and Zachary Roesemann, AHC, iconographer, collaborated with our Br. Robert James to design and produce a beautiful new tabernacle and underlying credenza for our Saint Augustine church. Next time, you visit, come and pray with the Blessed Sacrament and discover new beauty in our worship space.

The Tabernacle (Hebrew: "residence" or "dwelling place"), according to the Hebrew Bible, was the portable earthly dwelling place of God amongst the children of Israel. During the Exodus, it was a sacred tent. The word "tabernacle" came to be used for a receptacle for the consecrated elements of the Eucharist; especially: an ornamental locked box used for reserving the Communion hosts.

The tabernacle is a focus for our devotion to the ever-present God. Mystically, one can assert that God dwells in the tabernacle of our heart. "Come, Beloved, and pitch your tent into my heart." In front of the physical tabernacle we are reminded of that reality.
From top, clockwise, Jason Breen, woodworker, Zachary Roesemann, iconographer
and our Superior, Br. Robert James; inlaid wood representign the Holy Spirit hovering over the consecrated elements;
reminders of our churh's arches and columns frame the beautiful face of Christ.
In another woodworking endeavor, this weekend, our Bruderhof neighbors came with a team of workhorses to haul large logs of American walnut off our land. The wood will be processed in their various local communities (Maple Hill and Woodcrest) to be made available to their young people to learn crafts such as furniture and dishes making. The dozen men squad was very effective at getting several large logs up the hill and into trailers. We wish our Bruderhof brothers and sisters much joy in woodworking.
From top, clockwise, I tried my hand at sawing with a Bruderhof companion;
Bruderhof brothers using levers to roll and lift the logs;
Two beautiful workhorses seemed not to mind the work.
We are nestled in the midst of a rich network of connectedness. And you are part of it. Thank you.
"Come, Beloved, and pitch your tent into my heart."