Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This feast remembers those infant boys who were killed to protect the throne of Herod from the newborn King of the Jews (whose birth had been announced by the magi). This feast reminds us to protect, cherish and care for human life in all stages.

Collectively, the feasts we celebrate during these days are to remind us that the observance of Christmas cannot be isolated from the rest of the Church's observance of the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, dying, and rising of Christ); this is the reason he was born in the first place.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."
Luke 2:16-18

This is the Christmas tree and statue of the Infant Jesus which is in our refectory (monastic dining room)

On another note, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I am being transferred to another monastery, as of January 1. Although many people refer to me as a monk, technically I am not. A monk has stability to one particular monastery and it would be a rare exception that might take him away from that one monastery to another. I, on the other hand, am a friar. The word friar comes from the latin frater, which means brother. A friar is not attached to any one monastery and can be sent anywhere his Order has monasteries.

So, I have been asked to take up a new post in one of our two monasteries in Southern California. Although my responsibilities will be greater I don't foresee that it will be an obstacle from my continuing Monastery Daily Photo. So, please bear with me a few days while I spend a few days with my family and complete the transition.

In the meantime, please know that all of you, my blogger friends, go with me in my prayer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family

The front door of the monastery

Closeup of the creche at the front door.

The Sunday following Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family is comprised of Jesus, his mother, Mary and his foster-father, Joseph.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:3-7

Saturday, December 26, 2009

St. Stephen, Deacon and Protommartyr

December 26
Feast of St. Stephen

My good blogger friend, J. of Greensboro Daily Photo, asked me if I would write a little about St. Stephen, as we celebrate his feast day today. J. and her husband are the original "Sacred Sunday" bloggers. Be sure to stop by Greensboro Daily Photo every Sunday and tell them that FA sent you.

St. Stephen was one of the early deacons of the Christian Church. He became the Protomartyr (first martyr of the Church) because of his death by stoning. His crime? Blasphemy against Moses and God. His prosecutors? An angry mob led by St. Paul (although at that time he was known as Saul of Tarsus).

For more information on St. Stephen, go to the source.

While most people are taking down Christmas today, the Church continues celebrating. Yesterday, Christmas day, began the Oktave of Christmas - 8 day liturgical celebration which turns Christmas day into 8 days, ending on January 1, the Solemnity of the Mother of God. After that, the Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - this year, January 10, 2010.

So, don't take that tree down, just yet. Let's keep celebrating. And besides, isn't today the second day of Christmas? Yes, the twelve days of Christmas began yesterday and ends on January 5, the day before the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), when the three Kings arrived in Bethlehem.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Emmanuel - God is with us!

Monastic Church on Christmas morning

Detail of creche

This evening, at the start of Vespers, I had the privilege of chanting the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ. This text comes from the Roman Martyrology of December 24 and situates the birth of Christ within the context of salvation history.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year
of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

"The angel said to them, "I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. ”
Luke 2:9-19
Gospel of Midnight Mass of Christmas

A blessed Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Antiphon - Day 6

O Antiphon for December 22
O Rex Gentium (King of the Gentiles) (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).

Monday, December 21, 2009

My World Tuesday - O Antiphons - Day 5

O Antiphon for December 21
O Oriens (O Rising Dawn) (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20); Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness & the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).

In my monastic world, we don't begin decorating the Church or the monastery until as late as possible (this year the decorating begins tomorrow). So, the beautiful 12 foot Noble Fir sits in the truck until it takes it place of honor in the Church.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphons - Day 4

Fourth Sunday of Advent

O Antiphon for December 20
O Clavis David (O Key of David) (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphons - Day 3

O Antiphon for December 19
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).

Please note that in the above picture the child Jesus statue is absent from the creche. We place him in the scene on Christmas eve.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Skywatch

December 18 is day two of the Christmas novena. The "O" Antiphon for today is:

O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2), and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us (Jer 32: 21).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Novena

December 17 is the first day of the Christmas Novena. Each member of the community takes a Day of Recollection (Retreat Day) during the nine days before Christmas. On the night before his Day of Recollection, the community processes to his cell, with lighted candles, singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and the Prior presents him with a statue of the infant Jesus.

Every evening during the Christmas novena the "O" Antiphons are sung at Vespers. These antiphons address Christ with seven Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ.

"O" Antiphon for December 17
O Wisdom (in latin: O Sapientia) (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30), and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My World Tuesday - Cloister

In a monastery, the basic living quarters of the building and property is reserved for the private use of the monastic community (monks, friars, nuns, etc.). Unless they are providing a service to the community, lay (secular) people are not usually permitted in this area, which is called "the cloister". The cloister enables the monastic community to maintain silence and to focus on the presence of God. To quote a Sister in the movie "Trouble With Angels", "cloister is not always a place"....indeed, something to think about.

By the way, my world is still experiencing internet trouble (sigh).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday - Gaudete

Christ is the light in our darkness. Rejoice!

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent - also known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is latin for rejoice (from Gaudere). The liturgy on this day takes on a tone of rejoicing as we are called to anticipate the coming of Christ in the Nativity and His coming again at the end of the world. In the darkness of Advent, we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath, which is rose colored and the priest wears rose colored vestments in order to offer encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation - especially prayer and fasting for Christmas.

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:4-7
2nd Reading for Mass on Gaudete Sunday

The photo is a glimpse into the beautiful skies we have seen in Northern California for the last few days.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Looking out

A consecrated man living in a monastery must be detached from many "earthly" things. Two of these things should be the computer and the internet. However, I discovered this week that I'm more attached to these two things than I care to admit. Our internet connection has been down all this week and it's not been easy. Perhaps I'm just thinking about the business email that has been piling up, along with all the prayer requests that comes with that, and I even had to call in payroll (I was at a loss)...or perhaps I'm just missing the opportunity to catch up on all my favorite blogs. In any case, I stopped by a coffee shop today to post my Skywatch...and also to catch up on the "all important" email.

"If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection."
Our Holy Father, St. John of the Cross
Discalced Carmelite
Feastday: December 14

Happy Hanukkah to my dear Jewish friends, especially Dina and Lori Lynn!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


The term Trinity describes the central doctrine of Christianity - in God there are three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian creed (in use since the sixth century) describes it in this way:
"the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God."

Happy Second Sunday of Advent

Friday, December 4, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Full moon

"It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as the faithful witness in the sky."
Psalm 89:37

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1st Sunday of Advent

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Today, the First Sunday of Advent, begins the new Liturgical Year and the season of Advent. The word advent in latin means "coming". So, Advent is the preparation time for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. Although Christ came, historically, two thousand years ago, He come again to us, mystically, at Christmas. And He will come again in the Second Coming where He will judge the living and the dead.

Advent is a time of joy and hope, tinged with a touch of penance so that we may be spiritually prepared to receive Him at Christmas. This is all symbolized in the Advent wreath whereby we have the four candles (one for each Sunday). The evergreens symbolize life in the midst of winter; the candles symbolize the light of Christ in the darkness (the pink one for the 3rd Sunday represents joy); and the purple (color of the season) represents the penitential flavor of the season.

Friday, November 27, 2009


When most of America was feasting on God's bounty, it's important to remember that there are many people, even in our own towns and cities, who went without an abundant Thanksgiving meal. It's our tradition, on the day after Thanksgiving, to pack up our leftovers and clean out our pantry and deliver if to the local food bank. So, please join us, on this day after, in a prayer to end world hunger.

UPDATE: My friend, Dina, at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo, reminded me about a great organization that works to end hunger. See her comment about Heifer International in the comment section.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

"I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift."
1 Corinthians 1:4-7

I pray that each of you have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving. May your tables be filled with the bounty of the Lord and may your hearts be filled with His love and peace.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My World Tuesday - music

This is my view of the "world" 5 to 7 times each day. As the principal organist for the monastery I plan all our major liturgies, choose the music for every Mass and prayer time, and accompany the singing on the organ....and I love every minute of it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sacred Sunday - Christ the King

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
Matthew Bridges (1800-1894)

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King. Christ the King Sunday celebrates the all-embracing authority of Christ as King and Lord of the cosmos. As the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, it emphasizes the end times and the second coming of Christ.

Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and begins a new liturgical year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Office Door

This is my world on a daily basis. I go in and out of my office door at least ten times each day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sacred Sunday

Christ has no body on earth but yours;
no hands but yours; no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out-
Christ's compassion to the world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.

OHM, St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila)

Monday, November 9, 2009

My World Tuesday - Deer

There are many wonderful advantages to living in a monastery situated in a rural area. This is one of them. Last week I looked out my office window and there was this beautiful creature. As I opened the window to get a picture this fawn turned and looked right at me. The older deer will usually run pretty quickly. But, not this young one. He/she stayed and let me click away.
May God be praised for all His creatures, great and small.

For more My World Tuesday click here

Thanks to Dina at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo for introducing me to My World Tuesday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Altar of Sacrifice

The word altar appears twenty-four times in the New Testament. In Hebrews 13:10, St. Paul speaks of Christians having an altar where those who did not believe in Jesus could not partake. The Eucharist which happens on the altar, refers to the eternal, once-for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is made "present again". It is a re-presentation of the one sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.

There is fixed altar in every church, since it more clearly and permanently signifies Christ as the living stone (1 Peter 2:4; Ephesians 2:20). The reason an altar is called 'fixed' is because it attached to the floor so as to be irremovable.

Roman Catholicism requires that there be only one altar in a newly built church, and that it be made of stone, ideally made of natural stone, such as granite or marble, as the altar symbolises Christ who is regarded as being the cornerstone of the Church. In practice, however, solid and well-crafted wood is often used, due to the expense of stone. It is still customary to place relics of saints, specifically those of martyrs, under the altar (as Mass in early Christianity was customarily celebrated above tombs of martyrs ).

Because the altar represents Christ, only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be placed on the mensa (the flat, horizontal surface of the altar). Candles, which are required at every Catholic liturgical service, are placed either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of the altar and the sanctuary. Catholics also place a cross, or crucifix (a cross with the figure of Christ), on the altar or near the altar, where it is clearly visible to the congregation.

General Instruction from the Roman Missal

Happy Sacred Sunday

Friday, November 6, 2009

Skywatch over downtown

O most High, almighty, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!

Praised be my Lord God with all creatures;
and especially our brother the sun,
which brings us the day and the light;
fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor:
O Lord, he signifies you to us!

Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon,
and for the stars,
which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.

Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind,
and for air and cloud, calms and all weather,
by which you uphold in life all creatures.

an excerpt from the Canticle of the Sun
St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2 - All Soul's Day

This morning after Mass, we processed to the cemetary while the monastery bell rang the "death toll" (the toll that is rung when a brother dies). At the cemetary, at the graves of our deceased brothers, we sang the In Paradisum from the Requiem Mass, and prayed for their souls.

May the Angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs greet you at your arrival
and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the choir of Angels greet you and like Lazarus,
who once was a poor man, may you have eternal rest.

Today is All Soul's Day. It is the day we remember our faithful departed who are in purgatory (in other words, they have not reached heaven, nor have they gone to hell). Catholics believe that purgatory is a state of purification for the soul that is not properly disposed to be in the presence of God. This is called the Church Suffering. We, the Church Militant (the living), have the responsibility to pray for those in purgatory so that they may become the Church Triumphant (those is heaven).

In Latin countries, November 2 is also know as Dia de los muertos.

Today is my first time at My World Tuesday. Check it out!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sacred Sunday - Lake Tahoe

This photo and text was chosen for Skywatch Friday. However, travelling, lack of internet connection and some touble with Blogger prevented my posting it. So, I offer it, today, for Sacred Sunday.

In our encounter with Christ
it is not enough to contemplate Him
as the historical person revealed in the Gospels.
Nor is it enough to contemplate Him
in the encounter of faith through grace
by which we become united with Him and others
in the mystical body.
We must also be able to meet Christ in the
divine, continual act of creation, redemption and sanctification of the total universe.
Sr. Ilia Delio, O.S.F.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

I'm on the road again. This time at a meeting in beautiful Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Our meeting place is right on the lake with spectacular views of the water and mountains - it is God's glory as revealed in His creation.

Lake Tahoe

Prayer spot on the water

The Lodge

Close of day

Bless the LORD, my soul! LORD, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory,robed in light as with a cloak. You spread out the heavens like a tent; you raised your palace upon the waters. You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind. You make the winds your messengers; flaming fire, your ministers. You fixed the earth on its foundation, never to be moved. The ocean covered it like a garment; above the mountains stood the waters. At your roar they took flight; at the sound of your thunder they fled. They rushed up the mountains, down the valleys to the place you had fixed for them.
Psalm 104:1-8

Sunday, October 25, 2009

St. Elijah icon

St. Elijah, leader and father of Carmelites,
interceed for us and the whole world.
The LORD then said to Elijah: "Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there." So he left and did as the LORD had commanded. He went and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.
1Kings 17:2-6
Happy Sacred Sunday

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skywatch Friday Clouds

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:17

Thursday, October 22, 2009


For the fruit of all creation, thanks be to God.
Gifts bestowed on every nation, thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping, silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth's safekeeping, thanks be to God.

In the just reward of labor, God's will is done.
In the help we give our neighbor, God's will is done.
In our worldwide task of caring for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing, God's will is done.

For the harvests of the Spirit, thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit, thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us, for the truths that still confound us,
most of all that love has found us, thanks be to God.
Fred Pratt Green

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Sacraments confer grace based on the belief of ex opere operato / ex opere operatus, which means they work by the very grace of God and are not dependent upon the worthiness of the minister or the recipient. By the very fact that a priest or person intends to do what the Church intends means the sacraments work. For a sacrament to be considered "valid and licit" two things must be present. The proper matter and form need be used. If the proper matter is not used, the sacrament is invalid. If the proper form is not used, the sacrament is illicit. The sacraments also need to be performed by the proper minister with the faculties to perform it. In some situations, others, including in some cases, the laity, may be given permission to act as extraordinary ministers of the sacraments. The matter, simply put, is the material used for the sacrament, for example, water for baptism. It is the sensible, visible part of the sacrament. The form or formula is the prayer that goes with the sacrament, for example, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The seven sacraments are Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Order and Anointing of the Sick.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stairs to.....

So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
Hosea 2:16