This time of preparation is a welcome change in the liturgy. November is a month of sadness for many because the landscape turned gray or because they remember their loved ones who are resting forever. Advent is a time of anticipation for a redeemer. Technology keeps us away from this notion because our computers can solve many problems and planes can attack our "enemies". The peaceable kingdom of the prophet Isaiah is a legitimate dream and brings hope in a society that fights for power or land.
This year, Doug Cummings, a friend of the monastery from Elmira, designed our crèche.
Study Groups Involving Friends & Neighbors of the Monastery:
For some 12 years, a group of Protestant clergy and some members of the Mount Saviour community met once a week immediately after Lauds to study scripture together. That is at 7:30 in the morning; we pondered like St. Luke says Mary did, relating the events of our lives with one book or epistle. The aim was 'faith sharing' rather than 'Bible study' although I have to admit our biggest obstacle was the tendency to turn the sessions into what strongly resembled a study group
It was a wonderful experience especially for those of us who are Cradle Catholics to encounter the deep and genuine faith of our Protestant brothers. It was also a great encouragement to see them come week after week in ice and snow and rain and sleet at that early hour for our time together. The beginning of the second year, one of the clergy asked if we couldn't go somewhere else. I knew this was going to come sooner or later since we were up anyway and they had at least a half hour trip to come to the monastery. It turned out that what he meant was to find some place in the monastery where we had some chairs since the benches were killing his back!
The biggest obstacle and the one that finally ended our gatherings, was the fact that the clergy were leaving for better position in Christian Communities very distant from Elmira. We ground to a halt when two ministers left in mid-year and we couldn't rouse any of their confreres for a 7:30 A.M. gathering.
So we decided to try it with laity and although we had women ministers in the clergy group, we made a special effort to welcome interested women. This is the 2nd. year and we are about equally divided between Protestant and Catholics and only slightly weighted with males.
We know a large number of similar groups exist and we strongly encourage others form similar Faith Sharing small groups. As a rule, someone begins with a prayer and we read the passage under consideration. Someone else gives a brief overview of the passage and its context. This is a dangerous time for academic types since there is a tendency to go and on and on. With a genuine respect for one another, we allow the text to be the focus of our communion for an hour. This year, we are considering the psalms which are full of life and very life-giving. (Fr. Martin)
At one time, the writers for the New Yorker were paid by the word, and one wonders whether writers of Encyclicals have a similar motivation. They are certainly wordy and that can be off-putting for serious study by the ordinary person. We have found that if someone's) can select certain sections as a focus, they more than repay the effort to mine them. At present, Br. James Cronen, Br. Pierre Pratte, John Boler from the Philosophy Department of the University of Washington, and Fr. Martin have been studying Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). In this particular document, John Paul II is certainly in his element. It has also caused us to re-examine Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes (The Church Today) where the themes of the dignity of the Human Mind; Truth; and Wisdom are considered. I don't think we appreciate the pertinence of the Encyclicals for our lives in the modern world. While we can thank John XIII for the change in their style, we need to pray for someone with an editorial razor of sorts and most of all we need some good zeal and imagination so that these valuable writings can be shaped into mind size bites. (Fr. Martin)
"We wish you a Merry Christmas...and a Happy New Year":
We are grateful to all those who supported us during the year by their encouragement, their contribution or gift in kind. We present you a rare picture of the community taken while Br. Sebastian was at the hospital with a broken hip. Br. Raphael and Br. David are also missing. We pray for vocations to continue the "Opus Dei", the work that God is doing in us and through us.
Mount Saviour page