Sunday, June 13, 2021

Chapter of the Order of the Holy Cross

This week, we prayed for Br. Randy on the anniversary of his Life Profession (in 2010).

This Saturday, Br. Luc was off to a two week vacation at our monastery in Santa Barbara, CA.


On Thursday, we held the 309th Chapter of the Order of the Holy Cross. The West Park monks gathered in our Chapter Room and we got all together on Zoom (from California, Ontario and the Western Cape province of South Africa). Due to the time difference with South Africa, we held our meeting in the morning, starting at 8 a.m. EST (2 p.m. for our South African Brothers, 5 a.m. for the Californians).

A second chapter on Zoom. From top left, clockwise: the Brothers in West Park's Chapter Room (Bros. Bede, Josép, Robert Leo, Scott); all the West Park Brothers facing the screen and camera; the gallery view of our Brothers on the Zoom call; Bros. Bernard (Secretary of Chapter), Robert James (Superior), Aidan (managing the Zoom screen and the mikes) - (2 pictures)

This is the second time we conduct our Chapter on Zoom because of the Covid 19 pandemic. We were well prepared and conducted our business swiftly (reports, council elections, resolutions and the like).

At 10 a.m. we had the in-person visit of Derek Nolan, our Account Manager at Merrill Lynch to give us an overview of how our long-term financial reserves are performing (the short of it is "very well despite a harrowing year"). He brought donuts. Too bad you can't share those on Zoom...

At 11 a.m. we had a Zoom presention by Bishop Stacy Sauls and Andrew Joyce of Love Must Act about Holy Cross School in Makhanda (Grahamstown's new name), South Africa. Check out their website. We are grateful for the work they do on behalf of the students and their families, and the devoted staff of the school.

We look forward to the day we can do this all in person in the same locale again. Zoom works. But there is a richness and depth of interaction in being together in conference and meetings for a few days that we are all missing. Patience, patience!


The blooming report says roses, roses, roses; in all colors and with or without sweet perfume but always with thorns.

Blooms from our gardens. From top left, clockwise: a little arrangement of coreopsis and lavender on my office's desk (2 pictures); salmon pink roses near the Pantocrator icon (3 pictures); an arrangement of yellow roses and lavender in front of the St Augustine icon.

This coming week, I am leaving on an eight-day Ignatian retreat at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachussets. The Monastery Column will be back in two weeks' time.

If you're vaccinated, thank you. Tell folks how great it is to be able to do things that were no longer advisable before. The more unvaccinated people hear from friends and family about the benefits of being vaccinated, the more likely they are to join you in getting the jab. I am getting to go visit my family in Belgium in July. I haven't seen them in person in two years.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Cookout and Corpus Christi

This week we observed two anniversaries of ordination: 37 years of priesthood for Br. Bob and 3 years of priesthood for Br. Aidan. We give thanks for their priestly vocation which expresses itself both within our community and in our region.

On Monday, we had our traditional Memorial Day cookout. The weather was the coolest I've known it for this cookout but the food was delicious and the company cheerful. We give thannks to Br. Josép who is the instigator, organizer, shopper, preparer and cook of these cookouts. He gets lots of help setting up and taking down but he does most of the work.

Memorial Day Cookout 1: the preparation. From top left, clockwise: a deliciously spicy pasta salad; the Griller-in-Chief getting started (Br. Josép); getting the charcoals lit; goodies on the grill; the community lines up to fill their plates (2 pictures)

Our friend Ben Hansknecht was visiting from Boston for the weekend. Ben was our intern two years ago.

Memorial Day Cookout 2; the guests. From top left, clockwise: overview: Ben and Br. Robert James; another overview; Yanick Savain and Matthew Wright; Bros. Aidan and Bernard digging in: Bros. John and Richard in the forefront: overview from the lawn.

Later that day, Br. Josép was seen taking care of his beloved rosebushes.

Outside. From top left, clockwise: Br. Josép tending the rose garden near the parking lot of the enclosure (3 pictures); an unidentified flowering bush (azalea?) on the pond of the John Burroughs Sanctuary; irises and peonies in the garden.

I invited our two anniversary priests to a game of Scrabble with a martini on Thursday between supper and compline. Br. Bob is a Scrabble champion and I managed to be within a point of catching up with him at the end of the game (Yeah Bob anyway!).

Monastery people. From top left, clockwise: Bros. Aidan and Bob playing Scrabble with me (behind the camera); our volunteer Susan Barbarisi in a vacuum cleaner duel with Br. John in the Monastic Library; the same two dusting the shelves; the Brothers in their habits for Sunday dinner waiting for the bell to call us inside the refectory with Ben Hansknecht.

On Thursday, we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi.

Br. Josép received our latest Associate this past Saturday; Joseph Conlon of Washington, DC. Br. Josép has received so many new Associates in the last few years that I suspect he could do this with his eyes closed. These last few weeks we have received a couple of Associates in person, but throughout the last 15 months we have also done this on Zoom.

Reception of an Associate and Corpus Christi flowers. From top left, clockwise: the promises, the cross and the aspergellum ready in the church (2 pictures); Bro. Josép receiving Joseph Conlon as an Associate of Holy Cross (also in the center picture); peonies on my desk in my cell; Br. Robert James' arrangement of several types of peonies and irises mixed with sages and baptisia and phlox (3 pictures).

It is so good to see more familiar faces showing up in church for the divine office or mass, particulary when they no longer need to wear a mask! We have missed each one of them during these past months of confinement. We look forward to seeing both familiar and new guests in the fall. Make sure to get vaccinated to stay at the Guesthouse. Getting the jab saves lives (ours and those of uncounted others). 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The peonies' turn

This week, Br. Randy was on his second week of vacation in Texas. He is due back on Memorial Day.

Br. Robert Leo was on a mission trip in Vermont and took the opportunity to visit friends.

We are slowly but surely getting ready for our annual chapter of the Order of the Holy Cross on June 10. I am Secretary of Chapter so I get busy. Reports are coming in, read and distributed. Resolutions and grant requests are prepared. For the second time in a row, we will need to conduct the chapter on zoom for the brothers who don't reside here in West Park. There will be a second OHC Chapter meeting around the time of the centennial of our St Augustine Church in October. By then, we are hoping we can all be vaccinated and travel to West Park to be all together for a while.

This week, the peonies have blossomed in spectacular fashion. They make such good cut flowers. They are everywhere.

On Saturday, Br. Josép, our Director of Associates, had organized a zoom reception of a new Associate, Philip Loud. Br. Josép had extended an invitation to other Assiociates to join in to welcome Philip in the Holy Cross community of Associates. Over twenty Associates turned up for the occasion. It was good to see so many of them. We look forward to welcoming our Associates in person come September.

Receiving an Associate. From top left, clockwise: a bouquet in elaboration on the sacristy porch: Br. Josép preparing the online reception of an Associate: an artist at work (Br. Robert James - 2 pictures); the assembled Associates on zoom to receive Philip Loud; Br. Josép putting the last touch to the preparations.

Peonies, peonies, peonies everywhere.
Blossoms. From top left, clockwise: a red rose bush near the enclosure porch; peonies in bud; baby pink peonies; softest simple off-white pink peonies (2 pictures); peonies and a few irises; peonies welcoming visitors to the church (with the required health advices, masks and disinfectant gel).

This Sunday morning, feast of the Holy Trinity, I was in charge of  "holy smoke." The technical term is being a thurifer. I like a good smoke and the smell of our lovely incense (thank you Brother Luc for its manufacturing).

Preparing for mass of Holy Trinity Sunday. From top left, clockwise: two chasubles laid out for the altar party; the ingredients of the day's recipe; the thurible doing its thing (2 pictures); the Book of Common Prayer laid out for the celebrant to pray with the altar party before and after the mass.

Have you hugged a friend lately? If you are both vaccinated, you can. It's a wonderful feeling. Be safe. If you can, get the covid-19 vaccine and save lives while improving yours.