Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the eve of 2016

To end the year, two of my favorite things: Google Doodles and Mary's poems.

"Don't Worry"

Things take the time they take.
Don't worry.

How many roads did St. Augustine follow
before he became St. Augustine?

Mary Oliver, from her new book Felicity.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The week between

The week between Christmas and New Year's Day brings a different pace to our lives. The most obvious difference is that Morning Prayer is at 8:30 am, a full two hours to sleep in! Secondly, a number of sisters have an abbreviated ministry schedule--some go in part time and some just take turns "holding the fort" as the ministry itself is not in full swing. And third, a number of sisters who have family out of town take this time for a 4-5 day visit--and with the weather allowing perfect travel in our part of the country this year--they are stress-free trips!

There are dozens of little holiday arrangements on every free table top. Some are religious, some secular.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas comes to the Mount

The electric train in the community room.

A huge wreath above the receptionist's desk.

A bowl of Christmas tree balls in the hall.

Our lovely community room tree, really the top of a dying tree
from Glinodo.

The children's nativity in a display case. Mary, Joseph and the angel await the baby Jesus. Don't miss the footwear.

The beautiful chapel tree, another Glinodo "top."

The annual Dicken's village.

Stella Steff's ever-growing magnolia tree all lit up
in the inner courtyard.

The community room's manger set.

In the midst of the holiday and holy days celebration--everyday life: Go Cavs!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our First Snow

by Mary Oliver

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creek bed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain-not a single
answer has been found-
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

Our first snow: December 18.

Seven-Mile Creek is running well with the fast-melting snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Emmaus children's Christmas

Here's Sister Anne (prioress), Sister Rosanne (Sister Santa) and yours truly, delivering 100 Christmas gifts for 28 families that I and my "helper elves," especially Sister Mary Grace who wrapped dozens of pairs of sneakers, contributed to the annual Emmaus Ministries children's Christmas gift program. Each child could ask for one clothes item. Sneakers are by far #1, but they are followed closely by pants and "outfits" for the 5 and under crowd...which, by the way, are delightful to pick out!

Thank you Emmaus for all you do for the needy of Erie! And thanks to all the sisters at the Mount who helped and encouraged us in this annual project!

Making deliveries to the Emmaus Food Pantry. Each family gets
a large garbage bag filled with the gifts for their children---
One-thousand children in total.

The beautiful O Antiphons are here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent reflections

This weekend held a reflection/retreat experience for both the oblates and community members.

On Saturday, thirty oblates of Mount St. Benedict Monastery arrived for an afternoon of reflection, followed by dinner with the community and attendance at the Vigil of the Third Sunday of Advent.

Sunday afternoon community members gathered for an early brunch right after liturgy followed by faith sharing and prayer on our Advent-Lent book for this year: Joan Chittister's In God's Holy Light. This book contains 35 "wisdom stories" from the Egyptian desert mothers and fathers of the third, fourth and fifth centuries.

Here's one that we had for this weekend: Abba Sisoes says, "Seek God and not where God lives." Of which Joan wrote: "Abba Sisoes demands an answer from each of us. Who is our God? A cornucopia of good things for spiritual children or a co-creator of life who waits for us to see the world as God sees the world and then do our part to make all of it holy? It is Emmanuel, God-with-us, that we seek."

Our beautiful Christmas PEACE sign, usually sitting in a field
of white snow, but this year standing in the grass!
 Sunday we broke a 114-year record high for the date: 66 !

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Early December

Here are two of our "winter deer" enjoying some of the hundreds of apples local farmers dropped off here at the Mount over the past two months. They were way more than we could use so when we had done all we could I placed a couple dozen out at a time and was amazed at how fast (overnight) they would be gone. I caught this pair one day so I snapped a photo right through my bedroom window. Thank you local growers!

If you haven't had a chance to browse through the Fall/Winter issue of our Mount magazine, maybe now is your chance. It's a real beauty. Yours truly took the photos on page 27! The piece on the cover by Brother Thomas is just one in our collection of over 100 pieces. A few of the dark blue ones are on display throughout the monastery right now as appropriate environment for the Advent season. They are always so stunning.

Our ever-beautiful chapel windows. December 9, 6:00 pm

Monday, December 7, 2015

Wild about Advent

We are "wild" about Advent--and why not? Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, we had a superb liturgy, marvelous homily and beautiful music/singing.

Then, this is the sky that greeted us at sunset:

And every day there are scriptures like this one from the second week's Monday liturgy:

" The desert and the parched land will exult; 
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.  
They will bloom with abundant flowers, 
and rejoice with joyful song....
then will the eyes of the blind be opened, 
the ears of the deaf be cleared; 
Then will the lame leap like a stag, 
then the tongue of the mute will sing. 
Streams will burst forth in the desert, 
and rivers in the steppe."
Isaiah 35

Thursday, December 3, 2015


On December 2, 1980 three Catholic sisters, two Maryknollers and one Ursuline from nearby Cleveland, were murdered in El Salvador where they were ministering to the oppressed poor of that country which was in the beginnings of what was to be a 12-year civil war. They were all in their 40s. A young laywoman, Jean Donovan, age 27, was working with them and was also martyred.

To mark this 35th anniversary we held a beautiful, yet very sobering and sad holy hour in their honor.

The life of Jean Donovan was recounted in the book and movie Roses in December. This rose, with numerous buds surrounding it, is blooming in one of our gardens today.