Sunday, February 17, 2019

Second Life Profession in under three months !!!

On November 20 of last year, our Brother Josép gave us the great joy of witnessing his Life Profession. This past Tuesday, Brother Aida gave us the great joy of witnessing his Life Profession, less than three months after Brother Josép. We are over the moon about the commitment of both these beloved Brothers.

You can view more of Aidan's profession pictures at the following two sites:
- Br. Randy's pictures,
- and The Rev. Janet Vincent's pictures.
But you'll find my small selection in collages below.
Br. Robert James, our Superior loves to arrange flowers and knew that tulips are a favorite of Aidan's. Tulips were also featured in Br. Robert Leo's sermon. In the middle ground of the bottom right picture, we see Aidan's uncle Mike on the left and the back of Aidan's head as guests look towards him.
Life Professions are always very moving and this one was no exception. Br. Robert James presided and Br. Robert Leo preached. The first was Br. Aidan's Novice Master and the second was Superior when Aidan entered the Order of the Holy Cross.
The profession service. From top left, clockwise: Br. Aidan prostrated in front of the altar during the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus hymn (Come Holy Spirit); the examination of the candidate for Life Profession by the Superior; Br. Aidan receives a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict; a humorous moment during Br. Robert Leo's sermon (Br. David Brian Hoopes from our Toronto Priory is next to Aidan); Aidan joyfully prepares to embrace his aunt Dawn.
During his beautiful and moving sermon, Br. Robert Leo referred to a blog entry wrote on the feast of the Epiphany "planting tulips in a time of war." It says a lot about where he is in his monastic vocation and is well worth the read. As is always the case for such a festive occasion, all the Brothers were involved in the celebration.
Brothers celebrating the Life Profession. From left, clockwise: a rare picture of a photographer photographed - Br. Randy; Br. Robert James listens as Br. Robert Leo reads the gospel; Mr. Max Esmus, our "junior Postulant" is also a gifted organist and accompanied the service beautifully; Br. Aidan with our proud Superior.
Many of Br. Aidan's relatives and friends participated in the feast. We always are happy to see them visit us.
From left, clockwise: our long-term resident Yanick Savain congratulates Br. Aidan with a well-printed smack on the cheek; the community of monks (locals and visitors) surrounding the newly-professed; Br. Aidan with friends from his time at Union Seminary in NYC (from left, C.B. Stewart, Meredith Kadet-Sanderson and Lindsey Briggs).
The day of the profession saw a snow storm. Several guests planned to stay overnight to avoid traveling difficulties. It gave Aidan to visit with them in a more leisurely way.
Hanging out. From left, clockwise: Br. Bernard snatched a green ribbon from a profession present to improvise a fetching cravat; Br. Aidan visiting with Denise Wade, and Hannah Poole; with Associate Cheryl Kuchler.
And then, after such a portentous day, life goes back to normal as it should.  There too ongoing conversion to the monastic way of life is happening.
Everyday scenes after profession. Br. "Weeder in Chief" as he styles himself starts seedlings for the coming spring (what faith!); Mr. Ben Hansknecht, our monastic intern  introduces Aidan to the strategy game of Tak; Br. Aidan showing off his newly acquired profession cross on a visit to Br. Rafael in the Highland nursing home; one of Aidan's many green contributions to our living environment (an amaryllis forced from the bulb).
Please pray for our two recently Life Professed Brothers (Josép and Aidan).

If you know a man who would consider a monastic vocation, direct him to Br. Bob Pierson, our Vocations Minister, and Novice Master. We love to grow vocations as much as Br. Aidan loves to grow tulips.

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).

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Polar vortex and Associates Retreat

This past week, another Capital Campaign project came to fruition. The stained glass restorers brought us back our British Saints. The glass has been cleaned; the leading has been redone; the windows have been framed in wood. The new panels will now live indoors in the Pilgrim Hall (protected from the weather and the movement they suffered on their hinges when in the back of the church). They look beautiful, particularly when the afternoon sun hits the windows behind them. And of course, the Pilgrim Hall was once the monastery's church when we had only the 1902 building: so our saints feel right at home there. Come and hang out with Dunstan, Chad and Aidan in Pilgrim Hall.
The renovated stained glass panels. From left to right, St Dunstan, St Chad and St Aidan.
We sustained the polar vortex that struck the Northeast US. We particularly appreciated that the HVAC units that were installed last summer as part of the capital campaign contributed to keeping the church at a comfortable temperature for worship. Unfortunately, our Refectory HVAC units reached their lower limit of efficiency and struggled to keep the room comfortably warm for a couple of days (comfy sweaters were encouraged for dinner attire). We are welcoming the return of above freezing temperatures.
Winter occupations. Mr. Maximilian Esmus, our new postulant, also works in the monastic library. Meanwhile, Br. Randy courageously gets a car cleared up of snow accumulation to venture out.
During the week, we welcomed a group of seven students and a professor from General Theological Seminary. I led them in exploring types of personal prayer, both kataphatic and apophatic types (to throw a couple of high faluting terms here).

As the weekend approached, Associates gathered for a retreat. Br. Josép led the group in exploring how to embody their Christian commitment in daily life. On Saturday, we received our newest Associate, Alex Gilchrist, from Philadelphia. If you wonder about becoming an Associate, ask Br. Josép about it.

Associates enjoying the Guesthouse and the traditional pre-Vespers reception during Associate retreats. From top left, Chris Amy, from Toronto, enjoying a quiet read in the Avery Brooke Library; Br. Bob catching up with Associates Joyce Palevitz, from Austin, TX and Nadine, Revheim, from Beacon, NY; Br. Randy telling them about his ministry to the people of Christ Church in Red Hook.
We hope you are staying comfortably warm, wherever you are.