Advent is the opening of the final phase of our salvation which we celebrate in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Salvation is simply our present participation in God’s life, a free gift that only God can give (Romans 6:23). Salvation is the culmination of God’s project in creating us. This is the ‘good news’ which the Gospel announces. In his book on the Creed, Luke Timothy Johnson writes that a strong sense of salvation as a participation in God’s life depends on the strong experience of liberation and power, not as something hoped for in the future, but happening already in our present day lives. In the early Church, the reality of the resurrection is convincing. Christians acted freely and powerfully through the Holy Spirit. If people are living and acting in a way that goes beyond their normal capacities, then some other power must be at work in them. The witness of the early Christian communities was not primarily in their preaching but through the transformation of their lives and the creation of transforming communities. This is a special task for Monks, Monasteries, Oblates and their Friends today.
Johnson points out that this robust understanding of salvation has progressively weakened among us in part by failure to display the power and energy of the Holy Spirit in ourselves and our communities. For the early Christians, salvation was not merely a rescue from sin, nor a restoration but an elevation to divine life by the free gift of God, namely, the event of Christ and the Spirit. This is a gift much greater in its effect on all humans than that of Adam’s disobedience.St. Luke summed it up in the gesture and words of Simeon: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes haveseen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel” (Lk,2:25-32).
Monks and Guests singing Xmas Carols
Pumkins designed by Doug Cummings
Our Christmas Chronicle is usually prepared in late November and you receive it in early to mid December. This year it will be a late Valentine. The good part is that Br. Pierre puts out the news-of-the-month on the web so there was no absolute news black out.. However a little added data of the goings on at the Monastery is always welcome and I apologize for the delay.
The first bit of news is that the term of Br. James Cronen and Br. John Thompson, as members of the Council, expired a few weeks ago. Br James also retired as Sub Prior and Br Pierre was appointed the new Sub Prior. Br. Gabriel is the elected member of the Council. My deepest gratitude to Brs. James and John for their patience and support and I ask all of you to pray for Brs Pierre and Gabriel. .
We had introduced some special Retreats in late 2004 and 2005 on Advent, the Paschal Mystery, Mary Our Mother, and we anticipated the Pope in June with a Retreat on the Universal Love of Christ. We encourage you to read his Encyclical.
In the last mailing of News Notes we were anticipating the Third Annual Damasus Winzen Memorial Lecture by Professor Nathan Mitchell of the Theology Faculty of the University of Notre Dame on 12 June. We received a stimulating 45 minute presentation and its impact can be judged by the fact that the question period lasted longer than original presentation.
Professor Mitchell carries his erudition lightly and joyfully. And he carries more than most. His humility is genuine and invisible which real humility always is.
In November 2005 we began a series on Prayer with Lectio Divina or Reading Scripture as Prayer. January 27-9, 2006 was on Centering Prayer or Silent Prayer. On 14 January we had 95 people for a one day workshop on Centering Prayer led by Deacon George Welsh and Rev. Phil Billotte.
The next Retreat, March 24-26th,
will be on
Prayers of Christ and Prayers of People in Scripture.
At 4 PM, Sunday May 7th will be the 4th Annual Damasus Winzen Lecture, by Fr. Martin Shannon of the Company of Jesus who wrote a highly praised PhD thesis on Fr. Damasus and the Liturgical Apostolate. It will be followed by Vespers and a reception with light refreshments and Compline.
The final scheduled Retreat this spring will be May 19-21st on The Eucharist as Prayer.
The DVD and VHS production of The Everyday: Benedictine Life at Mount Saviour Monastery is selling very well and we continue to receive favorable feedback. There was a glitch at the printers so the book which was due last year with the lectures given during our 50th Anniversary on: The Contribution of Monastic Life to the Church and the World is only now available. The lectures in the first part of the book treat of the over-all contribution of Benedictines. Next are pages of photographs taken at Mount Saviour since our beginning, and finally lectures about Mount Saviour. Our May 2005 or Dedication Day letter describes the content and so does our web site:<www.msaviour.org.>.
The price of both ‘productions’ are on our web site or e-mail us at:< email@example.com.> or write or phone: 607 734 1688 or Mt Saviour 231 Monastery Rd., Pine City NY 14871.On June 11th we received Br. Thomas Colucci of the New York City area as a Novice. His years as a fireman have been a great preparation for community life and it may be that we should send our Postulants for that training in the future. <>Erratic weather made it hard on Br. Bruno and the area farmers last spring. He couldn’t begin until 3 July, then when it was almost over, the cutting machine broke down. Drought conditions reduced the crop growth so it took much longer to obtain an even less amount of hay. The sheep will tell us about it this spring! >
On 14 July Sr. Pat Hudson gave a
emotional maturity that was well received.
On the 18th, installing lights between the Chapel and
Houses was completed. Later in July,
some sidewalks were replaced and new stairs were made that will ease
to the Chapel. The rise in the steps
was deliberately made smaller in order
to slow people down as they entered the chapel.
On 1 and 8 August, the Community had two sessions on Centering Prayer led by Deacon George Welch and Fr. Phil Billotte. Fr. Donald Raila osb and Fr. Nathan Munsch osb visited us just before Dedication Day which was on the 14 th of August. We had a full congregation for Mass and Buffet. Also a delightful musical interlude performed by Clare Gonta and Adrienne Wilson and some young people they are teaching.
Johannes Somary took us through a new CD he wrote and conducted in Russia that was inspired in large part during his time with us several months ago.
September 16-18 some N.Y. Oblates were introduced to Centering Prayer during their week end with us. It is a special joy to greet others who come frequently like Joseph Manzi and his men’s group in October; Members of the Loaves and Fishes Community from Ithaca N.Y. were addressed by Tom and Naomi Cornell and they treated us to an Ice cream social one evening. Student groups & Campus Ministers from Nazareth College in Rochester, Cornell, and Ithaca College in Ithaca, and other near by Colleges are welcomed twice a year. We were also happy to welcome 15 seminarians for a week from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington NY in December. Members of Servants of the Word from Ann Arbor also came in December. They ask us to have some work they can do and reward us with their skills in carpentry, as electrical technicians, etc.The Canadians have long been using a protective covering over their driveways to keep out winter snow. Br. Pierre realized we could use a temporary cover on the link between the east building and the Chapel. Since December 5th we have a lovely Promenade protecting us from rain and snow between the Chapel and the upper floor of the east building. Vive les Canadiens!
At the Development Committee meeting in December, Robert Rossi of the Sagemark Consulting Firm gave us an account of the history of the violin, the results of changes in design and the effect of different materials used for the strings and bow. Then he delighted us with a lively solo mini concert. I have more confidence in a financial advisor who has an appreciation of the arts, and even more in one who evidences skill in one or other of them.
Penelope Allen returned in January to conduct the annual ‘Knitters Retreat’.
Abbot Thomas Hillenbrand of Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota gave the Community Retreat also in January. It was Monastic Life 101 at its best. The basis is our personal relation to Christ and from that our relationships within the Community. Next in order is Prayer stemming from our relation to Christ and the Community which influences our Work and Leisure. This is the structure of a vibrant Community and these elements grow by supporting and stimulating one another. This is also an essential message for families and singles alike.
It is not what’s cooking but who’s cooking?
In Chapter 53 of his Rule, St. Benedict considers the Kitchen servers of the week. Kitchen servers includes the cooks, waiters and probably those who clean the refectory and kitchen He wants the brothers to serve one another so “no one will be excused from Kitchen service unless he is sick or engaged in some important business of the monastery for such service increases reward and fosters love.” Service fosters love and kitchen service is especially powerful in this regard. Writing in Latin, Benedict uses ‘caritas’, the love that God is and communicates to us by the Holy Spirit and the crucified and risen Christ. We translate caritas in English by ‘charity’. Unfortunately, long use has drained the word of its glorious and dynamic meaning so that by now the last thing we want from anyone is their ‘charity’. The ‘charity’ we receive here from those who help us has a quite different ring!
Albert Schweitzer tells of a beautiful experience he had while interned in Africa during WW1 by the British. After a few months in the internment camp, a group of farmers, electricians, carpenters and the like came to the Commandant and asked to do the cooking. They were told the current cooks were professionals and these men had no experience as cooks. But after endless bothering, the Commandant gave them a month as a trial. At the end of the month, the people in the camp were so enthusiastic about the new cooks, that they were given the job. When asked what they had done to make the meals so different, they replied: “We put love in it.”
Throughout the years, we have been fortunate that the monks who cooked for us did the same. Though sometimes it seemed that it was all they put in it and sometimes they added other stuff that made digestion difficult so they had to be given other jobs. From the time Frs. Placid and Bernard came in March of 1951 until we moved into the new buildings in 1964, cooking was a full time job for only one person. After 1964 we began to have several monks rotate the cooking. Br. Gabriel as first cook, is in charge of the kitchen and purchases all the produce, besides taking care of the buildings and several other jobs. Br. James Cronen and Fr. Martin are the other cooks, so we rotate every three weeks and each has several other jobs.
To free us, in part, to do our other tasks,
have volunteered to cook one or two days a week. At
the present time, the volunteers who now cook every week are
Bobby Waite who cooks on Monday and Wednesday, Piero Masia and Dr.
Colucci cook on Tuesday and Thursday, and Dr. Anthony Ciccariello on
Friday. We also are or have been helped
by Fran Bodewes, now deceased, Mary Navone, Teresa Koellner, Veinjara
Marian Rutty, Joseph and Teresa Bucci and a number of others who cook
Fr. Martin and Dr. A. Ciccariello
Fr. Martin Bobby Waite & Br. Gabriel
Dr. Andy Colucci & Piero Masia
Of their many contributions to the kitchen service, their main one is “they put love in it.” And since they don’t so much work for us as with us, their love has spilled over on the monks – cooks, servers, washers and dryers as well. I know it is a cliché to speak about putting love into one’s working or singing or whatever but it is the actual experience which makes an incomputable difference. May God reward them for it!
The grateful monks of Mount Saviour
Do you realize you are empowered by the Holy Spirit as a Missionary?The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature. For it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she takes her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father. (Decree on Missionary Activity of the Church of Vatican Council II, Paragraph 2). One of the ways you can exercise your missionary vocation is to encourage people to make a Retreat. It is especially effective if you have been here yourself. They won’t find the time: they need to steal the time. You might even bring them. Do keep encouraging them. And come yourself.
|We are able to receive Mass Offerings including some for special dates. The Diocese suggests $10 though we can take less.|
us in your prayer and, if possible,
also in your estate planning or will.