Monday, December 29, 2014

Snowy Owls

The November 8th issue of our Erie Times News carried this nature blurb: "Will last year's invasion of snowy owls be repeated? It's not likely. An invasion in Pennsylvania comes once in a lifetime. With an abundance of food for the owls during the Arctic nesting season, more young were reared than usual. It's believed that adults would then drive the young birds out, causing a southward invasion into the U.S."

But as luck would have it, the snowy owls have returned to Presque Isle State Park and this weekend, on an unusually warm 50 degree day, one of our best photographers took camera in hand and headed out to trek her way out to Gull Point (accessible only by foot) to see if she could find one. And she did.

It was a marvelous experience she reported and although there were dozens of amateur and professional photographers around, the snowy owls were not perturbed or frightened.

See these two articles in the Erie Times this month to stay up on our 2014-15 "invasion."
Article one and article two.

A "regular" owl taken also at Gull Point.
Ann Muczynski, OSB

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014--inside and out

Last year we received two large wreathes, about 3-4 ft in diameter. This one is in our dining room, the other is on the wall at the front entrance. 

I absolutely love our chapel windows (as does everyone else!). Here's what they did  on the floor at the center of the chapel at noon this week.

The open waters of  Lake Erie at our shoreline--calm and peaceful on December 24th!

Even without snow these red berries stand out along the fence on the Glinodo side of East Lake Rd.

A bat house is poised on the cliff above Lake Erie.

Monday, December 22, 2014

To shake with joy and grief

As you surely know, we love Advent. Everything about it: the songs, the scripture, the theme as the "season of waiting," even the growing darkness and shortness of daylight--which begins to reverse today, thank goodness.

But into these last days of our beloved Advent has come the grief of loss, as we mourn the loss of the Sister who had been among us the longest and two longtime oblates.

We Shake With Joy

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.

Mary Oliver

BEFORE: the very top of one of our evergreens is the community room Christmas tree this year.

AFTER: Our annual Trim the Tree gathering and the transformation that ensues.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December dreary days

This is the only snow we've received in December, and it only stayed about 24 hours. In its place we've had cold rain and dreary days. Bring back a little snow!

But then the poinsettias started to arrive--red or white, we have both kinds. Here's a lovely red one alongside a beautiful arrangement of orchids that came for one of our sisters. WOW, it's a beauty.

Last reminder: don't miss our schola singing Sr.Mary David Callahan's O Antiphons..on the front of our community homepage here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gaudete Sunday

Advent is moving along, as are the days of December toward the "official" beginning of winter, this year on Sunday, December 21.

We had a joyful liturgy Sunday in the Gaudete tradition of the liturgical year. Here are a couple views of the Advent environment in the center of our chapel. Where do these visual artists get their ideas? their talent? their seemingly endless expressions of the sense of our celebrations?

P.S. The O Antiphons start this week, on the 17th, if you enjoy these unique, rich traditional titles of the Messiah. They are on our community's site, under "Pray With Us." Click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Accidental Theologians

Here's an excerpt from the book Accidental Theologians by Elizabeth Dreyer that our community is reading for Advent (and will continue reading in Lent). We will also have one gathering together and share our reflections, reactions and ideas from our reading. It's starting out to be a really great read.

"Along with other Christian denominations, Roman Catholicism has worked to unite head and heart, knowledge and faith, reason and love. The mystery of Christ is best entered into and plumbed for meaning in ways that engage the whole person. In this sense, we can think of full theological knowledge as wisdom. Wisdom weds the work of reason, study and intellect with a life of passionate commitment to Christ and virtuous love. In the case of the four women Doctors of the Church who had no access to formal advanced education, we have theologies that reveal their significant native intellectual gifts, but which are notably grounded in graced experiential knowledge linked to their intense engagement with God."

The book is about Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux, the four women doctors of the church and how they shaped Christianity.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Some Advent Views

Different things do come out for an annual appearance only during Advent. Here Mary and Joseph, who normally share the south niche all year, now have a beautiful Advent weaving between them.

All along the cloister walk, between the chapel and the dining room, four lovely stained glass sun catchers are hung, a new one each week.

This very large poinsettia was donated to us this weekend by an oblate-friend who won it at the SBA alumnae annual Christmas Party. It came without the gift certificates that were attached!!! But, it's a beauty and, upon closer inspection, is really four separate plants all put together in one larger pot.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

57 Count

For Advent this year we were surprised by a brand new collection of hymns. The booklet (below) features the smallest stained glass window on the south side of our chapel, the one with the little harp.

It also features 57 hymns for this, the first season of the liturgical year. According to my rough estimate we don't even have enough prayer periods from the Vigil of the First Sunday through the morning of December 24th to sing them all--even once! But no fear, many are simple mantras and they will be incorporated into the Sunday liturgies, too.

And yet, even with such a variety, we all have our favorites that we could sing day after day. Here's one of mine: from the then St. Louis Jesuits of the 1970s and 80s, whose individual members are still writing great "church music." This was written in 2001 by the group member Dan Schutte. Click here to hear "A Time Will Come for Singing"---#46 in our new booklet.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent and winter waiting

Advent began beautifully this weekend, highlighted by a phenomenon that we haven't had in quite a while. Each Vigil of Sunday in Advent our tradition is to have the newest postulant carry in the first candle the first week, the youngest novice the second week, the youngest temporary professed the third and the youngest professed the fourth. We've had lots of "substitutes" over the last decade or two but this year---this year---we have all four and it is such a delight. Congrats to our newest postulant Karen who did a fine job this first weekend.

Lots of guests this holiday weekend included at least three groups from Buffalo that I met. All three were asked if they were affected by that horrid lake effect storm and all three said no, and gave us the exact distance it was from them! One said, "I was about five blocks from it." Another said it ended two miles from their house and the third was in downtown Buffalo which was largely untouched! Here, we ended the month at 25" and lost first place in the you-know-what contest. Yeh! We've been down to the pavement all week with no predictions of anything new in the 10-day out forecast.

Here's a huge lake freighter docked at the east pier near our library and Maritime Museum this weekend. Note the fishermen sitting at the open water of the bay.

Nearer to home, a walk in our own woods brought this fallen log covered with fungi.