Saturday, September 16, 2017

Late days of summer

On Labor Day, Brothers Josép and Peter organized a cookout for the community. The weather was perfect; warm but not hot with a light breeze to keep us cool. I discovered the joys of barbecued peaches; yum!

At the beginning of the month, I decided to go back to being a vegetarian (at least until Easter 2018, and then we'll see). So I sampled the great veggie-burgers that Br. Josép grilled for me and himself. It felt very satisfying.

I have decided to do it for a variety of reasons: out of concern for how eating animals consumes such a large part of our agricultural and ecological resources, out of concern for our fellow sentient beings who are mostly mistreated in the way we produce meat, out of concern for my general health.

I once was a strict vegetarian several years ago. The only thing I didn't like about it was the extra effort I put other people to for providing me with vegetarian food when I was entertained. This time around, I will adapt to what my hosts are eating when I am invited somewhere. Otherwise, I will be able to benefit from the fact that there is always a vegetarian option available in our refectory.
A beautiful table at the NY Diocesan Office
One case in point was our Diocesan Bishop's "Leaders of Religious Orders and Episcopal Visitor's Luncheon" this past Wednesday. Bishop Dietsche invites leaders and bishops yearly to enjoy each other's company, share on what's going on in our respective orders and receive the support of our diocesan bishops. Lamb chops were served and lamb chops I enjoyed. I'm trying this out until Easter and then we'll see.
From left to right, Br. Robert, Bp. Dietsche, Sr. Shane, CMA, Yours Truly, Bp. Shin, Sr. Anne, SSM, Esslie Hughes, Diocesan CFO, Br. John Henry, BSG, Sr. Faith Margaret, CHS and Sr. Carole Bernice, CHS
Brother Robert James, Sister Shane of the Companions of Mary the Apostle and myself had driven together to the city for the occasion. On our way back, we got to take a flower arrangement home. We have placed it at the foot of the Mary and Child statue in our church.

Beautiful flower arrangements that graced our table
Bishop Andrew Diestsche is not only our monastery's Diocesan Bishop but he is also the Bishop Visitor of the Order of the Holy Cross. This is a role mandated by our church canons. It enables a religious order to have access to an outsider/insider and to a wise counselor in spiritual and organizational matters. The Visitor is an outsider because he isn't one of the monks, but he is an insider in the church that we belong to. A good Visitor is one that engages in regular contact and cares about what religious orders have to offer the church and the world. We definitely have a good Visitor in Bp. Dietsche.
Our Lady looks right pleased with the offering
This week, Br. Josép has been leading the Associates Fall Retreat. He had Bros. John, Aidan and Joseph also present sessions to the Associates. The retreat looked at a passage from the epistle to the Romans (chapter 12) in pieces and from different angles. The theme was ” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The retreat was very positively received. Among other things, the Associates appreciated broader access to a variety of brothers.

The present Associates celebrated Holy Cross Day with us on Thursday. Br. Robert James preached a great sermon. And our cook prepared a lovely feast. In the afternoon, Brothers and Guests mixed during a pre-Vespers "wine and cheese" event.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

This past Monday, Yanick Savain, Br. Aidan and I harvested honey from two of our four beehives. We harvested about 30 pounds of honey which will serve in the Guest House kitchen and as gifts to donors, staff and contractors that make the monastery hum day by day.
Before uncapping and spinning the honey frames
After extraction and bottling. Et voilà!
From Tuesday to Thursday, we had about 35 teachers and staff of the Mustard Seed School in Hoboken, NJ staying at the Monastery. They come every year. This is their once-in-the-year occasion to be all together without their students and to share and grow together. They do this as their preparation to welcome their students for the academic year. They are an enthusiastic and dedicated group. The school is a faith-based school for PK3 to Eighth graders.

As it happened, we were visited by three four-year olds this week. Ken and Leone, long-time visitors from Manhattan came to visit for lunch with their twin sons. They used to come to the monastery on retreat often before they became parents. Now it is harder to arrange for a retreat. I told them that we often "lose" retreatants for 10 to 15 years while they raise their kids and that it is a treat when they can pop in to come say hello. They were on their way back to the city from a family camp. If it becomes a tradition that they stop on their way home, we may get to see their sons grow.

This weekend, we had a couple of young parents from Philadelphia here with their son. Dad is a priest, so the little one knows to whisper when silence prevails. He is adorable too.
Leone and Ken, long-time visitors to the Monastery and their four-year old twins Frederic and Samuel, See you all soon, we hope!
*****

One of the benefits of our expanded number of able-bodied monks at home is that we can more easily afford to have a few of them out for a few days at a time. This enables more men to conduct missions, visit family or take outside retreat time concurrently.

This week, Br. Josép came back from a visit with his mom in Florida. On the day he returned, Br. Joseph left for Sewanee, Tennessee to officiate at a friend's wedding and Br. Robert James left to officiate at a friend's wedding in Kentucky! Br. Robert James officiated at the wedding of a young man who was a YASC missioner at our monastery in South Africa a few years back where he met his future wife who was also a YASC'er in SA (Young Adult Service Corp). Holy Cross connections will bring you all sorts of good in life... ;-)

Br. Lary suffered ill-health and had to be hospitalized for a few days. He is now recuperating and will soon return to Hudson Valley Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center in Highland where he now lives. Your prayers for his prompt and full recovery would be appreciated.

*****

Now that our driveways and parking lots are repaved, some new landscaping is called for. On Saturday, a few monks and a guest helped Br. Aidan, our Grounds steward. We planted junipers and ivy to reclaim the soil behind a new retaining wall in the Sacristy parking lot before the weeds take over.
Br. Aidan, Peter Pearson, guest Giovanni and Br. Bob planting away

Br. Bob Pierson, our Novice Master demonstrating the value of manual labor

Postulant Enrique Yepes following a good example
*****

As the beginning of the academic year approaches, many of our guests are getting ready for it. This weekend, we had frequent guest Patti Blaine visiting with her husband Evan. They settled their daughter in a new dorm at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and then smartly took quiet time for themselves. Patti, an Episcopal deacon, will soon start a new job as a hospital chaplain. Evan, a statistics teacher will soon meet new classes for the year.
Patti (frequent guest) and her husband Evan (first-timer)
Why not take their example, and come spend quality time with God at the Monastery, or introduce someone you love to the Monastery. We always love to see you visit us.

All the best to those who are starting new jobs or returning to school.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Re-opening the Guest House

In the first half of the week, we took great delight in the last few days of "summer recess" as I like to call it. It is the few weeks in the year when our hospitality ministry is not active and the community can live in a more relaxed fashion to enjoy summer. This year, the weather has been fantastic with moderately warm days and less humidity.
Cut flowers from our garden have kept well with the moderate weather.
Quiet time to play "who moves toward the other first" (Br. Peter or Mouse, our cat?).

This Thursday, we re-opened our Guest House on Thursday. As every end of August, we welcomed a large group of EfM mentors gathering to further their own formation. Education for Ministry (EfM) is a four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. We are glad to support EfM in that way.

An EfM group also meets at the monastery throughout the academic year. Brothers Josép and John are part of it. And a few of our brothers have completed the EfM four-year course in the past.

EfM local groups from New York State and New Jersey also regularly come on retreat at the monastery to reinforce their group dynamic and deepen their learning.

As usual, we also welcomed several individuals including "veterans" and "newbies." It's always nice to see habitual visitors coming back and it's a different pleasure to see new people introduced to Benedictine hospitality.
Our Associate Andrew Jones, an EfM mentor, would also qualify as a Monastery veteran.

The new visitors find out about us by word of mouth and through the internet. Our internet presence (web site, Facebook page, Instagram account, and blogs) is increasingly important to alert the public to our existence and ministries. It is both a means of evangelization and an economic necessity to support our ministry of hospitality which remains our main source of financial support. Br. Joseph Wallace-Williams is currently working with a couple of consultants to audit, review and revamp our internet assets. We are hoping to launch the new website in Advent. You may notice a few changes to our blogs and Facebook page already. More about all that in a future blog entry.

From Thursday to Saturday, we also had a video shooting crew from Fathom Studio at the Monastery. They also shot our earlier capital campaign video. They will also continue to provide graphic design for the remainder of our capital campaign. Expect to see their work in your email or physical mailbox this fall.
 Br. Joseph  and our old elevator "starring"
Chris Hoke at the camera, Jason Smith directing
One of our visitors this week was also an inquirer. Inquirers are men who want to look into monastic life as a possible vocation for themselves. After some correspondence indicates a suitable level of interest and commitment to the necessary discernment, we invite them to come and visit us a few times as a guest to get a "real life" feel for the monastery and its community. Often, if geography allows, an inquirer will visit us several times over his period of discernment. This may be a question of months or, more often, years. If you know someone who might be interested in inquiring about the monastic life, put him in touch with our Brother Aidan, who is our Vocations Minister.

The Brothers are always happy to see you visit the Monastery. Will you give yourself quality time with your Beloved God at the Monastery soon? We sure hope so.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The homing pigeons return

For the last three weeks, the monks have taken it easy. About half of them have gone away on vacation or family visits. Our Guesthouse reopens this Thursday. We are all returning to our usual schedule of offices, meals, work, prayer and study periods.

Br. Randy eclipse-catching while sharing an al fresco lunch with Br. Bernard in Poughkeepsie.
We are grateful for this time of respite. Those who went away benefited from the hospitality of friends who offered their house or apartment for "monastic house-sitting." Those who stayed benefited from our beautiful surroundings all to themselves. 

Brother Josep house-sat near the monastery, in Cottekill, NY. Brother Robert James went on vacation on Cape Cod with a couple of friends. Brothers Aidan, John, Joseph and Bernard went on vacation on Baily Island, Maine, at the invitation of Associates of the Monastery who own a vacation home there. Brother Roy visited with friends and family in NYC and Connecticut. Brother Bernard double-dipped and also got to apartment-sit in Manhattan. Our postulant Peter Pearson got to go teach icon-painting in Indiana and Washington.

Br. Josep pet and house-sitting in Cottekill, NY
Bros. Aidan, John, Joseph and Bernard (picture-taking) on a boat trip on Casco Bay, Maine.
Br. Bernard getting to cook for his Brothers.
Br. Joseph icon-painting to the sound of the ocean.
In the last week, all those who left have come home like homing pigeons returning to their pigeon loft. We have enjoyed the quieter and more leisurely time of these past three weeks. Now we are ready to reenter our routine with renewed vigor and vitality.

*****

While our Guesthouse was closed, we took the opportunity to have our driveways and parking lots repaved. Our main driveway, in particular, was in need of improvement. It sees a lot of traffic, including large trucks that deliver goods for running the Guesthouse ministry.

Besides the improved driveway, our guests will find that our main parking lot is now paved in asphalt and that two designated handicapped parking spots have the required spacing between them.

The paving of the main parking lot should help make it easier to clear snow in the winter. 

Come and visit us soon!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Last days of July

A week ago, Br. Bob Pierson arrived at the monastery after a week-long cross-country trip. He has moved in to become once again part our community. He will take his new responsibilities as Novice Master and Sub Prior this month of August. Br. Bob had been a member of our Mount Calvary monastic community in Santa Barbara, California, for the last three years.

In the time he was away, Br. Bob was also received as a priest in The Episcopal Church. I was happy to worship under his presiding this week. There are eight priests in residence at the monastery, five of whom regularly preside at our Eucharists. While the Order of the Holy Cross was founded initially as an order of priests, we now have both lay and ordained brothers. We give thanks for the many gifts our ordained Brothers bring to our community and the church.

*****


This past week, our guests have been particularly lucky. The weather has been moderate and nice and the Guesthouse has been sparsely populated. As it is, we are closing the Guesthouse for three weeks as we do each summer. Our last guests have gone home Sunday. The Brothers will have a simplified liturgical schedule and long intervals of free time to enjoy summer pursuits. Many Brothers will take this opportunity to go on vacation.
The Rev. Stacey Grossman and Br. Adrian enjoying the Great Cloister
This is also a time we take advantage of to do maintenance work and upgrades to our facilities which would otherwise interfere with our hospitality ministry. This week, a local paving company has started working on our sacristy parking lot (next to the Middle House). Over the course of August, they will repave all of our driveways and also pave our Guest parking lot for the first time. Our driveways were badly degraded in some areas.

*****

On Saturday, Brothers Bob, Aidan and I drove to Hudson to go visit Christine Simoneau Hales' pop-up gallery. Christine was showing some of her recent work in both contemporary painting and icon painting as well as some photographs of her husband, Mick Hale. We enjoyed the works of art and eventually sat down for refreshments and conversation. We rarely get to hang out with people for some length of time and lost track of the time. We made it back home a few minutes late for Vespers. As is the custom in those cases, we sat back in the Visitors Court of the church. And, we'll have to confess our misbehavior in Chapter of Faults this coming Tuesday.

"Chapter of Faults" is a part of our daily chapter meeting where anyone who has committed a fault that negatively impacted the community life stands up and confesses the fault. The whole community then stands up with him and recites a prayer of forgiveness. It is a good way of maintaining accountability to our community and of experiencing the forgiving love of God.


*****

Having leisure time together is an important part of building community. Sunday afternoon and evening are often times to hang out together. We play games, have supper in the enclosure, watch a Netflix movie together.

This week, we inaugurated our own game of Quirkle with new brothers joining in. Up to now, we had been playing Quirkle compliments of the Companions of Mary the Apostle who brought their own game when they visited us.



From left, Enrique, Bros. Bob, Aidan, John, Randy and Josep starting our summer closure with a game of Quirkle
Last night, we watched "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday" a mid-fifties French movie of Jacques Tati, a situational comic who makes me think of a postwar Mr. Bean. Each brother gets to suggest movies to put on our queue, but this one was a reminder of my own childhood.

*****

This Monday morning, Brother Robert James and I went out for our customary walk. Usually, we walk over the Walkway Over the Hudson. But today, we discovered Fanny Reese Park, an underused little gem in the town of Highland. Our Monday walks are an opportunity to exercise and to catch-up on our respective weeks at the monastery. It is good for the body and good for the soul.

Fanny Reese Park in Highland overlooks the Mid-Hudson Bridge to Poughkeepsie
***** 
This week, we also started a Monastery Instagram account. You can follow it at www.instagram.com/holycross.westpark. If you post monastery pictures on Instagram, please use the hashtag #holycrosswestpark.

This coming Thursday, I leave on vacation with Bros. Aidan, John, and Joseph. We are going to Bailey Island in M
aine. Later on, I will also be going to Manhattan for a few days of visiting.




Sunday, July 23, 2017

Connections

From Tuesday to Friday morning, we shared our contemplative days with about seventeen guests this week. 

Contemplative Days are an opportunity for our community to slow down, hunker down in prayer, study and meditation. We observe greater silence around the clock, simplify our liturgical schedule and try to stay away from work tasks that can wait. During those weeks, the silence is deeper and some guests particularly like the quieter, calmer atmosphere even if that means less interaction with the monastic community.


During Contemplative Days, we connect with God in God's primary language; silence ("Silence is God's first language," wrote the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross).


Articulated language is a wonderful thing, but at times it can get in the way of discerning God's voice in our life. A daily practice of meditation or silent prayer is a great way to keep that discernment going but, at times, it is good to use that in larger doses.


We observe Contemplative Days four to five times in the year (check out our Retreat Programs page to find out when the next ones are).


*****


After the silence of contemplation, I experienced a burst of social activities. Both things are a good mode of experiencing the presence of God. One evening, I got together with a priest friend who lives in Albany. It's become a summer tradition for us. We both drive to the village of Catskill and have a nice dinner in a lovely Italian restaurant bordering a large pond. We catch up on our lives and respective ministries.


Then on Saturday, I represented my community at important events of two religious communities that are dear to us and very different from one another.


Together with Br. Joseph, I attended lunch and two initial professions of the religious vow at the annual congregation of the Brotherhood of St Gregory.  They are a Christian Community in The Episcopal Church. Their members are dispersed throughout the church and support themselves through secular or church jobs.


They were meeting nearby at the Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappinger Falls for their annual congregation. Forty four of their forty five members were assembled in the presence of their Bishop Visitor. 


It is always touching to see people committing their lives to God in their initial profession of the vows. Blessings on Brothers Max and Scott who took the plunge that day.  It is also an opportunity to reflect back on our own journey of commitment to our Beloved. It is very similar to what married people may experience when they attend someone else's wedding.


In the afternoon, I dropped off Br. Joseph at the monastery and picked up Br. John to make our way to Accord to celebrate their patronal feast with the Companions of Mary the Apostle. They are a small ecumenical community, open to people of all genders. They share a God that is beyond categories, beyond masculine and feminine, and that the power of the Divine is accessible to all.


It was a lovely gathering of a dozen souls for a "coffee table Eucharist" and a potluck dinner. In a few years of religious life as the Companions, Sisters Shane and Elizabeth have garnered a beautiful community of kindred souls.

All counted, I attended three Eucharists of the feast of Mary Magdalene that day. I joked that I glowed in the dark that evening...


*****


This Sunday morning, Brothers Robert James and Josép accompanied me to visit our Brothers Lary and Rafael at their nursing home. Both were in good spirits but had modern issues of connectivity, what with their mobile phones or computers. We dealt with each of those and brought them communion.


I thank God for all our connections, at home, around home and throughout the places where our Associates and our guests live.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer treats

Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons in the Hudson Valley. But summer has its pluses too. At night, I love to look to the meadow and see the fireflies putting on their modest but fascinating pyrotechnic show. Barring close range lighting strikes, of which we got a damaging one a few weeks ago, I also love summer thunder storms (albeit from the protection of a building).

This week, friends invited me to an al fresco theater show at the Boscobel estate, in Cold Spring. A large tent, looking out on the Hudson River and West Point is the setting of plays throughout the summer. We got there early to picnic in the park and then saw a new adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice." It was a lot of fun. Live theater is such a special treat. And I've decided I'll need to read the novel soon to re-visit the joys of the play and discover the writing of Jane Austen.

Picnic at Boscobel with Gwyneth, Tim and Alison - the theater festival's tent is seen in the background
Throughout the week, the house has resonated with the sounds of flutes as pupils of Gary Schocker rehearsed and performed lots of lovely music. Sunday morning, they gave a concert in the church. Other guests (having been warned a the time of making their reservations for this week) seemed to enjoy it too.

This Saturday, we received a new Associate; James Ryan of Long Island, NY. He came up for the mass and stayed for the day. The weather was perfect for a visit.
Our newest Associate, James Ryan
This week-end, we had the visit of two Vedanta devotees. Swami Chidbrahmananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, was interested in revisiting Christianity from his Vedanta experience. He was accompanied by his friend Santa Das who is leading youth camps with him this summer. They were on a break between two groups of young people visiting their camp.
Swami Chidbrahmananda, Br. Bernard, Santa Das
A few monks had an opportunity to have long conversations with each of them. I got to explore our respective concepts of God and to reflect on the Christian concepts of hell and sin. In shorthand, I believe sin is to experience my deliberate separation from God and that hell is becoming aware and experiencing where my life fell short of divine love when I will be in the evident presence of Absolute Love (God).

This Sunday, our Sisters from the Companions of Mary the Apostle visited us. Sr. Shane was with us for Mass and throughout the morning. Sr. Elizabeth joined us for dinner and an after-dinner game of Quirkle.
 
Bros. John and Enrique being inducted in the joys of Quirkle by our CMA Sisters
This past Monday, Br. Scott left for the South African part of his sabbatical. He will be living with our community in Grahamstown, enjoying their winter (Br. Scott does prefer cool weather). He will be back with us in September for a few weeks before heading back out for the British parts of his sabbatical.


This Saturday, Br. Robert Leo left on the first part of his sabbatical too. He will be visiting friends and family in New England and Pennsylvania and will be back for a few days in September before leaving for the English part of his sabbatical.

We will miss them both but are really happy for the opportunities these sabbaticals offer each of them.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hanging out with Associates


Thirteen Associates and Associate candidates joined us for a time of retreat this week. They lucked out on the weather; it was sunny with temperatures in the high seventies, low eighties throughout the week.

Allan Spencer, new AHC of St Catherines, Ontario
Brother Josép, the Interim Director of Associates, had prepared a program centered on the theme "Back to Basics." I was asked to present a session to the Associates and talked with them about Christian hospitality (a theme on which I had preached last Sunday).

Hospitality is one of the basic values of Benedictine spirituality on which we ask our Associates to center their rule of life: Community, Hospitality, Humility, Balance and Mindfulness.

Dave Vaughn, new AHC of Onley, VA
The Associates also got to spend time with Bros. Josép, Roy, Robert James, Bede and Robert Leo (the James and Leo middle names is how we keep our new and past Superiors distinct).

 
Br. Josép is doing a great job working with Associates and Probationer Associates (people who are "trying it on for size" and discerning how to write a rule of life). As a matter of fact, three Probationers were received as Associates during this week.

Liz Haak, new AHC, of New York City
If you are interested in spiritual growth and in a more ordered spiritual life, then you may wish to consider becoming an Associate.

For more information or a copy of the Associates’ Rule, please contact Br. Josép Martinez-Cubero, Interim Director of Associates, Holy Cross Monastery, PO Box 99, West Park NY 12493.

*****

Br. Lary Pearce
This past Monday, Br. Lary Pearce moved to the same nursing home as Br. Rafael Campbell-Dixon in the village of Highland. He will receive the much needed care that is appropriate for his health situation. The Hudson Valley Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center (HVREC quite a mouthful) is situated 7.5 miles South of the monastery. We can easily visit and also take our brothers out on occasions. 


Recently, Br. Rafael came to the monastery for the visit of the Presiding Bishop. 

Br. Rafael pays attention to the Presiding Bishop's preaching

This morning Br. Roy and I brought communion to our two HVREC residents. They were both in good spirits and happy to see us.  

Some of our Associates took some free time in their retreat schedule to go visit Rafael and Lary this week. We'll be happy to give you driving directions if you wish to do that next time you visit the monastery. 

Please pray for Br. Lary as he negotiates this important transition in his living arrangements.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Guests famous and not-yet-so-famous

This week, we were delighted to welcome The Most Rev. Michael Curry to the monastery. He is the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. He was coming to be with nine volunteers of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) and the Episcopal Volunteers In Mission (EVIM) who were completing two weeks of orientation (most of it at the monastery) with Church staff.


Bishop Michael took the opportunity to preach at the festive Eucharist for the feast of St Peter and St Paul. He preached on how the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.


After the mass, the monastic community had an opportunity to sit down with the Bishop for coffee and conversation. I was a beautiful opportunity to get to know our Presiding Bishop better.
Coffee and Hudson Valley apple cider donuts to fuel conversation
Br. Laurence offers an origami mobile of his making - all with biblical symbols
The community's goodie bag for the PB




Framing the visit of our Presiding Bishop were the receptions of two new Associates; at mass, Br. Josép, our interim Associates Director welcomed Jarrett Kerbel on Wednesday and Meg Galbreath on Friday. It's always a privilege to bring new members into the Holy Cross family of Associates. If you want to become an Associate, get in touch with Br. Josép (associates@hcmnet.org).

Our two newest Associates. Will you say a prayer for them?
On Friday, at Vespers, the community prayed over the YASC and EVIM missionaries who were returning home the next day. They enjoyed their orientation and appreciated their time at the monastery. Some came to call it "home." We certainly look forward to their returning after their year of mission abroad to debrief their experience. Thank you to all the Church Center staff and their consultants who prepare these missionaries so well.


Episcopal volunteers and monks
We keep these missionaries in prayer throughout the year. May they be received as a blessing and receive many blessings in return.


Missionaries and their Presiding Bishop

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Transitions, transitions, transitions!

The Prior is back. Only, it's not the same Prior.

From early 2007 to mid-2011, Br. Bede, who was then the Prior of Holy Cross Monastery kept readers informed on things going on at the monastery and their import or meaning for him. Br. Bede wrote pretty much on a weekly rhythm. I don't know that I will match that, but we'll see.


I am very fortunate that I have become the new Prior of our monastery at a time when our community is thriving. Seventeen monks live at the monastery today. That's the largest number of monks here since I joined the Order in early 2004. We pray and chant well together. And we work, serve and play well together. I hope to tell you more about our crew in the future.


What strikes me today is the sheer amount of transition that is going on within our walls. Here are some of the transitions I can think of for the moment.



Light transitioning through a prism. Happy Pride Month to all, by the way.

Br. Robert James Magliula was elected Superior of the Order of the Holy Cross at its annual chapter meeting in West Park on Thursday, June 8. He was installed as our new Superior on Saturday, June 10. That's what I call a fast transition. Br. Robert James will be in residence at Holy Cross Monastery and is in the process of moving from his previous cell and office.


He succeeds Br. Robert Sevensky who has been the Superior of the Order of the Holy Cross (OHC) for nine years. Br. Robert is leaving for a well-deserved six-month sabbatical on July 15 in the United Kingdom. He will come back to us in January 2018. That only leaves the past and new Superiors a few weeks to pass on the baton.


Once our OHC Chapter had elected new members to the five-brother Council that advises the Superior they met for their first in-person meeting on Sunday, June 11. One of their jobs was to consider the local elections of Priors and Formators in our four monasteries (Santa Barbara, CA, Toronto, ON, Grahamstown, South Africa, and West Park, NY).


They approved the candidates selected by their respective houses. And that's how I became "official." Our monastery had conducted the election of a Prior Coadjutor back in January. This was a novelty meant to enable a smooth transition of responsibilities between the incumbent Prior, Br. Scott Borden and myself. It has proven a very fruitful way of handling the transition.


As it happens, Br. Scott had a most unfortunate accident in mid-May at the monastery while conducting re-wiring of our internal electronic network. He fell from a scaffold and broke both his arms. He soon had reparative surgery which has been very successful in speeding up his healing. He still wears removable casts at this time but is doing really well.


Soon after his accident, Br. Scott and I decided it made sense to speed up the transition of responsibilities and I became Acting Prior, pending approval by OHC's council. At this stage, I have been in charge of our monastery for five weeks.  I can definitely say that it has thickened the consistency of my calendar.


The Prior of a monastery is the leader who is ultimately responsible for the administrative and pastoral management of the monastery's community, its ministries, its businesses and finance. I have started being involved in several ways in all of these areas. 


Luckily, this is a team sport and I rely on the brothers a lot; there is very little that the office of Prior enables me to do alone. I have to give guidelines and perspective, then delegate, then supervise and fine-tune the guidelines as we go. What's different from corporate management is that all along pastoral concerns mix with the business of getting things done. Few managers live round the clock in an egalitarian, love-oriented environment with their charges. It has its advantages and challenges.


Brother Scott has started taking a six-month sabbatical. For the moment, he is at home recuperating from his accident and surgery and generally taking it easy - when he is not fixing some of our Information Technology that got fried by a thunder-storm last week...


Soon, he will leave to go visit our house in Grahamstown, South Africa. He will then attend a religious ecumenical conference in Germany (on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation). He will then return a few weeks to our monastery and may take classes at the Enneagram Institute. In October, he will lead with Br. Aidan Owen a pilgrimage in England and Scotland. Finally, he will spend time with the Community of the Resurrection, a Benedictine community in Mirfield, in the North of England.


This means, the Order and the monastery are in new hands and we will be out of two faithful and talented brothers for the better part of the rest of 2017.


But there are more transitions going on. In May, two men entered the monastery as postulants; the Rev. Peter Pearson and Mr. Enrique Yepes. They will try their vocation with us through their six-month postulancy. God willing, they will then be clothed as novices of our Order and continue their monastic formation while increasing their involvement in the worship and work of the community.


By mid-July, Br. Bob Pierson will relocate from our monastery in Santa Barbara, California, to become our new Novice Master. At present, Br. Robert James Magliula is doing double duty by giving classes to our men in formation.


Regretfully, Br. Simon Thuku asked to leave our novitiate and returned to live in New York City in mid-June. We have greatly appreciated living and worshiping with Simon and we wish him the very best in the next stage of his life.


As you can see that is a lot of transition to go through in only a few months for a (still relatively small) band of monks. We are all relying on our respective support networks to help us learn and grow through it all but it can get stressful at times.


I believe we all look forward to some stabilization and routine settling in in the months to come, God willing. In the meantime, may I ask for your prayers for all the men involved. In return, don't hesitate to let us know what we can pray for together with you.