Thursday, July 31, 2014

If you go...

If you go to England or Ireland and you are of a Benedictine persuasion, you must consider visiting not only ruins of past abbeys and monasteries (of which there are many) but present day ones. That is what comes to mind today as I have been browsing through the Benedictine yearbook 2013 which I found just lying on a table in our community room. It's subtitle is: a guide to the Abbeys, Priories, Parishes and Schools of the Monks and Nuns following the Rule of Saint Benedict in Great Britain, Ireland and their Overseas Foundations. (A bit of a mouthful!).

But I love these kind of things and I'll share with you some of the current reality of the RB life there.

1) In the year of these statistics there were 290 Benedictine men in 10 abbeys, and 35 nuns in three monasteries in the English Congregation.

2) There are, additionally, 13 more communities of women and 10 of men in this geographical area belonging to other Benedictine congregations. These groups account for 373 women and 163 men.

3) The Cistercians, who reformed the Benedictine order in the 11th c, have 8 houses of men (142 monks) and 4 houses of women (65 nuns).

In a word, "small" and getting smaller all the time. However, I have been to 2-3 of these places and they are really something to visit. First, because they were founded in years such as 1607 or 1625; secondly, their architecture is marvelous; third, the obvious, we are all Benedictine and our commonalities far surpass the European/USA differences.

P.S. They all have websites: go to the Geographic section and search for England--Voila!

On the home front, we have had a couple days of summer storms passing through--Translation: thunder and lightening to beat the band, along with rain, of course. We often comment that we wish we could magically swoop up our rain water (and snow in the winter) and send it off to areas suffering drought.

A terrific lightening storm came through Monday night. Here's a huge tree that was hit and fell, luckily, just in the yard of the people's house.

Monday, July 28, 2014


This past week I had the opportunity to take a week away--away from the regular schedule, the regular responsibilities and the regular daily activities. To that end, we spent a great deal of time outdoors and here is one of our best forays: walking along our downtown bayfront. What a cacophony of activities! You see tourists doing absolutely everything--from eating outdoors to taking the ferry to Presque Isle to playing putt-putt golf and fishing; locals are working in the hotels and businesses and there are summer-only activities everywhere. Here are three scenes that caught my eye:

Even in the part of the bay that houses boats and working businesses, these water lilies made it through. 

Here is a catch of walleye all ready to be filleted, right on the spot. When I asked the fishermen what they do with them, they said, "Eat 'em!" (I had thought these might be for sale to local restaurants or stores--silly me.)

And here is our Brig Niagara, not open today, but still visible, albeit "behind bars."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Good Read

Orbis Books,the publication arm of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, has been producing a series titled, Essential Writings for a number of years. They are up to 40-50 volumes now and the latest one is soon to be available: The Essential Writings of Joan Chittister. It is an excellent compilation of the BEST of her writing chosen from her over 50 books, scores of speeches and over 700 articles in both magazines and online.

A link to the full set of Essential Writing books is here.

In a more summer vein, here are some Glinodo scenes I came upon this week.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Children in danger

We are all very concerned with the children being sent to the U.S. to escape the violence of their homelands. This weekend we just received this from the Benedictine Sisters in southern Texas who are involved in US border issues.

They wrote, "You should call your members of Congress and urge them NOT to repeal the provisions in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This bill was unanimously agreed to by ALL members of Congress.

It would not return vulnerable migrants to danger and it would reduce the likelihood that the U.S. would deport children back into the hands of traffickers and others who would exploit them. Proposed changes to the TVPRA mean that children would not have a meaningful opportunity to have their story heard, apply for asylum, or be cared for humanely by child-welfare personnel. The children would be deported to potentially life-threatening situations.

Congress should NOT rescind this bipartisan law at precisely the time when more children are in need of these protections.

Call 1-888-427-0530 and ask for both your Senators and your Representative and say,"Please protect unaccompanied children and don't repeal the TVPRA."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

To pluck words

In a book I'm reading, World Enough and Time, the author Christian McEwen wrote this: "In the same way as one pulls the petals from a daisy, so too can we pluck one letter at a time from familiar words, revealing the core beneath....My own favorites center on a little cluster of words that seem, like koans, to conceal a deeper meaning. It is as if one bit into a juicy peach to find its wizened stone or broke apart an egg to show its golden yolk. For example, when where is plucked, it reveals here; the small domestic hearth expands into the cosmic earth. Most miraculous of all, perhaps, eyes open into an all-confirming yes."

I loved this and I was totally distracted during our last three prayer periods in searching for plucked word pairs in our psalter! Look at what I found: least---east; glove---love; trust---rust; swords---words; praises---raises; calms---alms; swings---wings.

I know that a clever writing teacher or poet could do a lectio divina or other meditative exercise with any number of these. Here's my own simple example from one I found: Giving alms is a practice that surely calms the inner spirit of selfishness.

The early morning eastern sky from my 4th floor office window.

Don't miss this Smilebox collage on our website of a discernment retreat we sponsored last weekend. Cute!

Monday, July 14, 2014


I've been saving this announcement for a special day and today is that day: We have triplets! Yes, Mount St. Benedict continues to be some sort of nature preserve extraordinaire with our multitude of birds, rabbits, a coyote, wild turkey, deer and now, ta da: triplet fawn. How common are triplet fawn? Answer here.

Sr. Ann H. did get a photo of them at Benetwood Apartments in our backyard and on July 4th we had a Name the Triplets Contest: Sr. Rose Ann won with the names Eenie, Meenie and Minee. (She gave Moe to the single young buck we see almost daily.) Then this week another sister spotted the triplets in our front yard.

I've only seen the single fawn, not even the twins, let alone E, M and M. We're counting on the apples in our back orchard (and they are on their way) to give us all a chance to see them regularly.

Such fun!

We all miss our Sr. Veronica Byer greatly. In her honor here is her favorite statue (the one she used to cover with plastic bags in the rain and snow and sit with when she said the rosary) . The flowers reached  full bloom this week. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Play it Again, Sam

For all its poverty, and the City of Erie certainly has its share and more, summers do bring a large number of free events for our people. Many of them are music based and are spread out throughout the large public areas, as well as in neighborhood parks.

This week we attended one of our favorites: noontime music in the Erie Art Museum courtyard. Since it's right downtown, hospital, bank and insurance employees walk over for their break. Street people and day care clients (old and young) mingle with the suburbanites who come in for the concerts. The weather was perfect and a large lunchtime crowd enjoyed the James-Taylor like voice and music of Sam Hyman. His latest album, "Play it Again, Sam" is available through itunes, amazon and other music outlets.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Findley Lake

This weekend we visited the "lake" but not Lake Erie via Presque Isle....way too busy, as we had three gorgeous days of warmth and sun for the holiday. Instead we traveled about 15 miles south to the little town (I don't know if theoretically it's even a town) of Findley Lake and enjoyed a wonderful three hours in a pleasantly crowded holiday place on a lake that was man-made in 1815--according to the historical markers. Here are four scenes that particularly caught my eye:

Outside of town this old pump still stands in the front yard.

Again, on the road that circles the lake, was this pretty little cottage/house.

Norman Rockwell would be grinning from his grave: yes, they have a huge tree from which hangs a long, long rope and teenage boys took turns swinging and dropping into the water. WOW--Americana and the 4th of July in spades!

This little girl was fishing with her Dad off a pier. He would put on the bait and take off the fish, but she held the pole--and caught about 6-7 little fish in the hour we watched her. A natural!

But...the very best was on a guy who was walking toward us wearing a T-shirt that read "Findley Lake" and underneath in smaller letters: "shhhhh, it's a secret!"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

Last night was a perfect summer evening for a walk to the lake, via the paths--over the bridge, through the woods, past the hermitages, out to East Lake Rd and down to the lake. On the way we passed "tokens" that our hermitage guests leave in amidst the trees and bushes along the way. Here is a sampling, though I didn't get them all.

By the way, our hermitages are packed at this time of year, so if you're thinking you might like to come for a get-away for a few days---sorry, think 2015!

This little white bunny is hiding in an old downed tree.

A birdhouse on the unused circular steps to hermitage 3.

A "shrine" to St. Francis and his love of nature.

There are a number of "inspirational" stones. Just one word.

Another birdhouse for our many, many birds.

I think this ought to be in Maine where there really are moose or elk. We have bucks but not as large as this big fella.