Sunday, January 20, 2019

OHC Council in Santa Barbara, New Arrival in West Park

I heard from some of you that the photo collages were too small to enjoy. So I'm trying them two sizes larger this time around. Let me know what you think.

The members of the Council of the Order of the Holy Cross were meeting in person at our Californian monastery in Santa Barbara this past week. It was nice to move around in sandals and a sweater for a few days in the middle of our New York winter. But, on the downside for the New Yorkers, it rained every day we were there. The Californian Brothers were grateful for the replenishing of their water reservoirs after years of drought. Thanks be to God!

The Council comprises Br. Adam McCoy, Br. Reginald Crenshaw and our own Bros. Bernard, Bob and Robert Leo. We advise our Superior, Br. Rob Magliula on matters of import to the Order. We had three good days of meetings and did some important work, including planning for the Order's next Annual Chapter in West Park in June.

Br. Robert Leo and I arrived a couple of days before our work meetings began. On our Sabbath Day (Monday) I walked the seven miles back and forth to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on the Santa Barbara Pier. I learned a lot about the great diversity of American sharks. I've been making efforts to exercise more in the simplest possible fashion: walking more. I downloaded an app that tracks my progress against a daily goal of 8000 steps (an attainable stretch from my usual 5 to 6000 daily steps). To date, I've met my goal 17 out of 18 days so far. Yeah! Once the daily goal gets too easy to meet, I'll move the goal up a bit. 

Santa Barbara, California. from top left, clockwise: me with Br. Will our OHC Dean at age 92 (he goes for a walk every day; there's my model): selfie in front of a tangerine tree just outside the chapel; the Mount Calvary monks and their guests (from left, Br. Reginarld Crenshaw, Br. Tom Schultz, Br. Robert James Magliula, Br. Bob Pierson, Br. Bernard Delcourt, Br. Adam McCoy, Br. Robert Leo Sevensky, Br. Brian Youngward, Br. Will  Brown; me in a "shark cage" at the Ses Center with my back to Big White (photograph); live jellyfish exhibit.
All four West Park Brothers flew back home together on Friday. All this flying has given me a headstart on this year's reading... On that same day, Mr. Maximilian Esmus arrived at Holy Cross Monastery to try his monastic vocation. He was received as a Postulant the next morning by our Superior, Br. Robert James, at daily Chapter.

Please keep Max in your prayers as he discovers monastic life in the months to come. He joins Vance Greenway in the Postulancy. They will have classes together with our monastic intern Ben Hansknecth. It's good for all these men to be in a "class" of their own.

A winter week in West Park. From top left, clockwise: Mr. Maximilian Esmus reading in the enclosure's common room; St Francis and friends contemplating the first snow of this month; Max reading; Sr. Shane Phelan, CMA presiding at our Sunday Eucharist with Br. Josép and Vance Greenway serving (the man in the black cassock on the left is Max).
Keep warm. Blessings!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Eve, Holy Name, and looking at Long Retreat

Baby Jesus is already a week old. And a new calendar year is upon us. Here are a few more memories of Christmas (compliment of Vance Greenway, our Postulant).
From top left, clockwise: fog on the Hudson at the end or our meadow; icicles on the cliff face along the Husdaon; Br. Bob and guests singing silent night as we put baby Jesus in the creche at the end of the first Vespers of Christmas; Vance Greenway (a.k.a. Swami Chidbrahmanda to his Advaita friends) with his friend Lakshmi, from Washington, DC; Baby Jesus tucked in his crib; guests praying at the creche.
A couple dozen guests joined us to ring in the New Year the quiet way. I always find the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve relaxing and so it was this year too.
Relaxing in the Guest House. From top left, clockwise: McArrow C., from NYC reading in Pilgrim Hall; pieces of a new jigsaw puzzle spread on the table; Nigel Richards puzzling with the help of a passing wise man; Nigel and Sr. Shane, CMA, considering the puzzling task ahead; The Rev. Sonia Waters and The Rev. John Mennell, of Montclair, NJ: Gary Johnson amd Melissa Morgenweck, of NYC, reading by the Christmas Tree; The Rev. Kathleen Bishop, and the Rev. Jim Jones, of Long Branch, NJ, visiting with Sr. Elizabeth, CMA, in the Avery Brooke Library.
On New Year's Day, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. It's a great way to get the year started. In the afternoon, we sing Vespers earlier than usual and then close the Guest House for ten days.
New Year's Day. From top left, clockwise: McArrow receives heavy-duty counseling from a red-antlered nun (Sr. Shane, CMA); St Augustine enjoying his blooms of amaryllis in the church; Meredith Kadet Sanderson, from Liverpool, NY, donning jingle bell antlers; a tableful of guests, monks, and residents enjoying each other's company; lining up for the midday dinner.
Later that afternoon, the monks and residents of the monastery get together in the Pilgrim Hall to enjoy ourselves near the big Christmas Tree. We have take-out pizza and watch a movie. This year's movie was Disney's live-action movie version of "Beauty and the Beast." Brother Josép prepared another batch of coquito (a Puerto Rican coconut nog) for the occasion.
New Year's day Pizza and Movie evening for the community. From top, clockwise: the community assembled in Pilgrim Hall to watch a movie; Br. Josép and Yanick Savain (maybe they are comparing notes on their respective coquitos); Bros Aidan, Bob and Bernard playing Scrabble on New Year's Eve (Aidan won... whatever); enjoying conversation before the movie; Center, our elder, Br. Laurence testing the pizza (it was good, from Rino's in New Paltz).
This Wednesday, the community is enjoying a sabbath day. On Thursday, we are starting our eight-day annual Long Retreat. We will be in silence round-the-clock to focus on prayer, meditation, holy leisure and rest. We will re-open the Guest House on Friday, January 11.

That Saturday (January 12) three of us will fly to our monastery in Santa Barbara for an in-person meeting of the Council of the Order of the Holy Cross (Bros. Robert Leo, Bob and Bernard are on Council). We will be away for a week. I will probably get back to blogging by the end of January.

We wish you all a Happy New Year! Come and visit us in 2019!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

the end of Advent, the beginning of Christmastide

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, Brother Aidan and his Mom, Stephanie Owen, went to visit
Brother Rafael at his nursing home in the nearby village of Highland. All three of our nursing home residents came to the monastery on Christmas Day (Brothers Adrian, Lary and Rafael).

That Sunday evening, frequent guest Holly Christiania, from Kingston, NY, gave a reading of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." At intermission, we munched on cookies and enjoyed hot chocolate: "God bless us, everyone!"
Advent 4 Sunday. From top left, clockwise: Br. Aidan and his mom visiting Br. Rafael and bringing him communion; the Advent wreath fully lit; Holly posing for a snapshot in front of the not yet decorated tree; guests at intermission; Br. Aidan congratulating Holly on a lively reading of the story; Brothers bringing presents and goofing off in the Brothers' parking lot.
Traditionally, we wait until Christmas Eve to deck the halls. Three crews decorate the Brothers' common room in the enclosure, the church and Pilgrim Hall in the guest house. The guests are invited to join in the decoration in the guest house. Brother Laurence teaches guests to do origami which ends up prominently featured on our two Christmas trees (one in the guest house and one in the monastic enclosure).
Decking the halls. From top left, clockwise: a festively decorated Br. Aidan with Br. Bernard: Br. Josép wondering what is making Br. Randy smirk in the enclosure common room; Br. Laurence teaching origami to a guest; their handiwork on the tee; Mike Dickinson, Br. Aidan's uncle trimming the tree.
Before first Vespers of Christmas (and again before Christmas mass the next morning) a schola of Brothers and our intern Ben Hansknecht sang Christmas pieces interspersed by beautiful cello playing by Sister Karla Holland-Moritz, a Benedictine solitary from California who stayed with us a few weeks.
First Vespers of Christmas. From top left, clockwise: the creche awaiting the arrival of baby Jesus; Sr. Karla playing a Bach piece on the cello; origami on the Christmas tree; Sr. Karla; a fully trimmed tree in the enclosure's common room.
After first Vespers of Christmas, we laid baby Jesus in his crib. Afterwards, we gathered in Pilgrim Hall for some caroling, more cookies, and eggnog. After a spirited singing session, we reverted to Greater Silence for the night.
Caroling at the foot of the tree. Guests and brothers enjoying the singing.
On Christmas Day, our various priests were involved in several masses around the region (Br. Bob and Br. Randy are priest-in-charge in Marlboro, West Park, and Red Hook parishes). Our resident, the Rev. Matthew Wright ministered to his parish in Woodstock. And our Br. Aidan presided and preached at the monastery. They were all happy to take a break from their ministerial duties and tuck into a Christmas feast upon their return to the monastery.
From top left, clockwise: The Rev. Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan looking forward to the Christmas dinner; Br. Aidan presiding at the Christmas Eucharist; Mother and Child enjoying the greenery; the fully trimmed Christmas tree throning over Pilgrim Hall; Br. Laurence inspecting the goods befor the Christmas dinner.
All the monks and residents of Holy Cross Monastery wish you a blessed Christmastide (don't forget Christmas lasts twelve days)!