Dear Oblates and Friends of Mount
As you know Father Martin retired this summer, June 15th in fact, and I
was appointed Prior Administrator. So, it was suggested that I tell you
about who I am. I began monastic life at St. Paul’s Abbey in my home
state of New Jersey right after graduating from high school in 1944.
Prior to graduation I became acquainted with a priest-monk from that
monastery who was celebrating Mass daily at the Holy Spirit Parish near
my home. When Easter vacation came around he invited me to visit his
monastery for a few days. I entered their minor seminary that Fall. I
came to like the life there more and more with its daily round of
prayer, study and shared life style with other students. We were able
to see the monks praying the Divine Office (all in Latin in those days)
and to participate in the festive Eucharist of Sundays and major
feasts. As I learned more about Saint Benedict, his famous Rule for
Monks and his influence in the Church and history, I became more and
more enthusiastic about becoming a monk. And, did so there; I went on
to be solemnly professed and an ordained priest. Where I was, the
vocation was threefold: monastic, priestly and missionary (East Africa,
S. America and the East). As time went on my vocation became more
specific in the simply monastic dimension. After much consultation,
prayer and patient waiting, I asked to transfer to M.S. where the
vocation was explicitly and simply monastic. I was finally able to
transfer in the fall of 1966.
I finally arrived
at this holy mountain. It is a great honor and privilege to be called
as a successor of Fr. Damasus. I can only attempt with the help and
inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the full support of each member as
we strive together to keep burning the flame and the zeal for the
Divine Agape, which Fr. Damasus kindled on this mountain with the help
and prayer of many helpers, not only within the monastery but all those
oblates and devoted friends near and far who have carried us in their
hearts and prayer.
Wishing you all the blessings and peace of this joyful season.
Fr. James Cronen, Prior
Dom Geraldo Gonzales, osb, secretary of
the Abbot Primate and Fr. James in Rome.
The Incarnation of Jesus is a new
I recently read Elizabeth Johnson’s, book about Mary, Truly our Sister.
It opened some doors that I didn’t even know existed on the mystery of
the Incarnation of Jesus and St. Paul’s references to the new creation.
Scripture and the Creeds say Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
Aware of how conception takes place, I settled for the usual biological
explanation. However, “conceived by the Holy Spirit” is not a
biological but a theological statement. Theologically it was a new act
analogous to the original creation of the world. Raymond Brown
states: “It was an extraordinary action of God’s creative power, as
unique as the initial creation itself.” (Raymond Brown, Birth of the
Messiah, 531) As Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, explains the birth
stories of heroes in ancient mythology are different from the birth
story of Jesus in the Gospels: “The main contrast consists in the fact
that in pagan texts the Godhead almost always appears as fertilizing,
procreative power, thus under a more or less sexual aspect and hence in
a physical sense as the “father” of the savior-child. Nothing of this
sort appears in the New Testament: the conception of Jesus is new
creation,…. [not a mere physical act by God]. God does not become the
biological father of Jesus,…. For the Sonship of which faith
speaks is not a biological but an ontological fact, an event not in
time, but in God’s eternity.” (Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to
This was news to me to learn that Mary’s pregnancy was not a miracle,
but a new act of God analogous to the initial creation and this is
really turning my life around .I remember that St. Paul spoke of Christ
as a second Adam (1 Cor. 15:47-49), but I took the expression as an
analogy or metaphor and totally missed its real significance. It means
that for the entire course of his life on earth, Jesus was the only
member of the new creation. Only after the events of his life on earth
including his death and resurrection and the gift of the Spirit are we
able to participate through him in the new creation.
As Elizabeth Johnson writes, ”The Savior’s coming depends not in the
first place on human decisions, but on God’s own incalculable desire to
be among suffering, sinful human beings in the flesh. Ontologically
Jesus’ origin lays in God the Most High. His existence has its
foundation in God. He is born wholly of grace, wholly of promise, God’s
gracious gift to human kind. The novum of his approach lies in the
incomprehensible depths of the mercy of God.” (Elizabeth Johnson, Truly
Our Sister, pg 235)
It shook up Mary and Joseph and it is apt to shake us up, for it makes
us aware of the divine initiative that blesses the world with a new act
of creation by the Creator Spirit. I ask your prayers that this turning
in my life will continue and that others experience the amazement and
wonder that belong to their participating in this new creative act of
God. I hope to write more on this later, but I pray that you can now
begin to recognize the difference between the season’s greeting of
“Merry Christmas” and the blessing of a prayer-filled “The Lord be with
you”, which the Spirit wants you to hear at this time, at this Feast.
Brief Community News
· We are very lucky that Br. John Thompson
(Italy) & Br. Thomas (Prince of Peace Abbey) were both able to
attend training programs outside of the monastery. It is a benefit to
both them and us.
· Lambing season went well, we had 263 lambs
born. The loss to coyotes was much less than last year.
· Fr. James & Fr. Martin visited Bishop
Matthew Clark on June 11th to tell him of our change in leadership and
thank him in his support and encouragement. We have been very well
received by the diocese since Bishop James Kearney welcomed us into the
Rochester Diocese in 1951.
· Some of us were able to attend some talks at
the Abbey of the Genesee given by Fr. Brian Daley, SJ on Patrology who
also gave us our retreat this year.
· On June 15th we had a simple transfer of
leadership and Fr. Martin got his old job back as guest brother.
· On June 28th we were happy to attend the
ordination of Edison Tayag whom the Diocese had sent to participate in
our summer program. In 2004 I was able to visit him at the North
American College in Rome and Br. John was able to visit with him during
this last summer in Rome.
· Fr. James’ brother Robert Cronen passed away
the 30th of June after a long illness.
· The weather was perfect for our 4th of July
picnic with guests, but it presented a real chore for Br. Bruno &
Br. Thomas to complete the haying due to the frequent rains.
· Fr. James Kilzer of Assumption Abbey
accepted our open invitation to visit from July 14th to 25th. It was a
pleasant exchange and we are eager to welcome any visiting monks and
members of the American Cassinese Congregation to come experience our
· At the end of July Br. Pierre was able to
visit his family in Canada.
· On July 30th Fr. Patrick Mundy of the
Ogdensburg Diocese came to visit as a long-term guest. His visit was
interrupted for a triple by-pass, but he is recovering very well.
· Towards the end of August Fr. Martin visited
Procopius Abbey in Lisle. Ill. After his return he had a fall and broke
a bone in 2 places in his pelvis. He is recovering well.
· Sept.12-14 some of our NYC Oblates were here
for the annual Fall meeting.
· Fr. James went to Rome from the 15th to 27th
of Sept. for his first meeting with the Abbots and Priors at St.
· On Oct. 6th Br. William also had a fall and
is slowly recovering.
Br. Gabriel oversaw the successful completion of the new roof for the
Mt. Saviour Extra
On Aug 10th Elissa
Quinn, soprano, and Marcos Kreiger, pianist, performed a classical
concert for our delight. Elissa helped Madaleva in the women’s
guesthouse and has been studying voice and we're delighted to witness
her improvement over the years.
Our D-Day celebration was on Aug 17th. Music was provided by Fritz
Orzelek of Albany.
On Sept 18th Matthew Innocelda, who was one of our summer students,
gave us a talk on his 1st tour of duty in Iraq before returning for his
2nd tour of
The topic for the annual Emmaus meeting, which is always held on
Columbus weekend, was ecology. Representatives from the Genesis Farm
(Judy Leaf and Geraldine DeSapio) conducted the program and it was very
Starting in 2009 there will be Centering Prayer every 2nd Saturday of
the month from 8:30 to noon led by Deacon George Welch. If you would
like to attend please contact Deacon Welch at (607) 733-6541.
6th Annual Knitters Retreat – This wonderful retreat will be held Jan.
16-19, 2009. If you are interested please contact our guest brother.
Deadline for registration is December 30, 2008.
Damasus Winzen Memorial Lecture – the 7th annual lecture series will be
given by Sister Judith Kubicki on Sunday May 2nd.
Orchard and Garden Report
This year’s growing season would have been nearly ideal except for a
severe hailstorm lasting about 20 minutes on July 17th. At our women’s
guesthouse (a little higher in elevation) the hail was the size of golf
balls. At least one third of the state’s apple crop was affected. Our
2nd largest apple crop at over 14,000 lbs. was “cosmetically
challenged” in appearance but still useable. We sold apples for four
weeks in the gift shop, made 570 gallons of apple cider and 100 quarts
of applesauce so far. We were again blessed and thankful for all the
volunteer help and for Br. Bruno’s contribution of spraying the orchard
while Br. John was in Italy for the Monastic Formators’ Program.
Another 1000 lbs. of produce came from our small garden courtesy of Br.
Thomas and helpers. While Br. John was away Br. Thomas discovered his
green thumb. He was responsible for starting this years plants from
seed as well as the tilling and planting of the garden. The fresh
produce was greatly appreciated by the community and guests.
Many thanks to those who have made donations to us throughout the year.
We were able to replace the roof over the boiler room. This will keep
the heat effectively inside the East building. We also installed
smaller more efficient boilers.
Our next project is to have the underground oil tanks removed and
replaced. To remove and replace these tanks that is now a requirement
by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will
cost us around $10,000.
| Please remember us in prayer and, if
also in your estate planning and will. Our legal title is -
The Benedictine Foundation
of New York State.
Phone: (607) 734-1688
Fax: (607) 734-1689