Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Visitation and a Life Profession Anniversary

Last week and this week, our Superior, Br. Robert James Magliula was conducting his annual visitation of our house. Br. Robert makes a visitation to each house of the Order of the Holy Cross every year. The objective is for him to get a sense of how a house and its monks and residents are doing. He gets to live alongside the community during his visit and to conduct in-person interviews with all the members of the house. The visitation is a little bit different for Holy Cross Monastery because, when he is not traveling, our Superior is in residence at the monastery. Still, it helps to see everyone in one-on-one interviews over a limited period of time. Towards the end of his visitation, the Superior makes a report to the house of what he has found. He highlights communal strengths and weaknesses and may make suggestions of how we might to conduct our common life.

Last Monday, Vance Greenway our "senior" postulant fixed us apple and walnut pancakes for our Sabbath breakfast. There were many smiling faces in the West Atrium that morning! Later in the day, I found our youngest and oldest members in conference over origami. Br. Laurence was teaching various origami foldings to Max Esmus, our "junior" postulant. Our inter-generational age difference has now stretched to 64 years between Laurence and Max.
Sabbath day blessings. From top left, clockwise: our postulant Vance Greenway preparing delicious pancakes for the community; Br. Laurence and our postulant Max Esmus sharing in the joys of origami.
On Thursday, I had invited Br. John Forbis to go out on the occasion of his recent birthday. That morning, in church, at the Prayers of the People, I discovered that it was the twentieth anniversary of his Life Profession! We went to a nice Mexican restaurant in Rhinebeck. As is usually the case on such occasions, John and I got to know each other a little bit better for the effort. Our waitress found it lovely to celebrate a monastic anniversary with us. She didn't think she'd ever done that before!

Through our windows. From top left, clockwise: the old oak in the little cloister from the bell tower window; hungry deer in the meadow; trying to photograph the Coast Guard through an insect screen... ends up looking artsy; a better shot from my cell's unscreened window (you can see the river is covered in ice floes from side to side).
When the temperatures went up in the middle of the week, I did my daily walking outside. I had been confined to walking the stacks of our library for a while in order to reach my daily steps goal. I discovered that our hungry deer had managed to rip off the protective netting on some new conifers planted in front of the Guesthouse. Of course, those poor plants are now munched to the wood... At times, I count up to fourteen deer together in the meadow. Without an apex predator to keep their population down and their browsing behavior furtive, the groups of deer become something of a pest. Many indigenous tree kinds can't grow to maturity and are decreasing. Human predation does not have the same benefits as restoring a trophic cascade in an ecological system. Wolves, anyone?

This Friday, Br. Aidan left for a four-day pre-profession retreat at the New Skete Monasteries, in Cambridge, NY. Keep him in prayer as he prepares for his big day (this coming Tuesday).

This week, we had parish groups and a large Centering Prayer retreat, led by Leslee Terpay with whom I will lead a Centering Prayer Intensive here in May. The Guesthouse was in continued silence until Friday and guests basked in it. And as always, we welcomed many individuals.
From left, clockwise: a guest admires the icon of St Augustine a the entrance of our homonymous church; Br. John led the parish retreat of St James, Langhorne, PA; I was bellringer this week (my shadow in choir cowl and the tip of the bellrope).

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