Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is the day that Catholics proceed to the altar (usually during Mass) to have ashes (in the form of a cross) placed on their foreheads while the following words are being said: "Remember, that you are dust and to dust you shall return" or "Repent, and believe the Gospel". The practice of placing ashes on the face is an ancient practice of public penitents. The ashes themselves come from the burning of the palm fronds of last Palm Sunday and are mixed with water to form a sort of paste that adhere to the forehead.

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics are to abstain from meat and to fast. Fasting means that we may eat one full meal and two smaller meals not to combine, in size, to one full meal. Elderly persons and those with medical needs may be exempt from the fast, but not the abstention from meat.

All this is part of our spiritual preparation for Easter, which I will explain in a later post.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pope Benedict encourages priests to blog!

The words that surround the main dome of St. Peter's Basilica relay the words that Christ said to Simon Peter when he gave him the "keys to the kingdom". "And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

We Catholics believe that the Pope is the successor to St. Peter - the Vicar of Christ on earth. Although he does not always speak "Ex Cathedra" ("from the chair" which would mean that his teaching is infallible), we do take what he says very seriously.

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI issued a proclamation challenging priests "to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis."

This is not a new area for the Holy Father. Just last year he joined the you tube generation and began a you tube channel: He also used text messaging to reach hundreds of thousand of youth at Youth World Day 2008 in Sydney.

Although my time has been extremely limited these days, and I have missed many days of posting on Monastery Daily Photo, I am deeply encouraged by the Holy Father's support of my blogging. I hope, in the very near future, to be able to return to regular posting. Thanks for sticking with me.

Viva Papa Benedicto!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My World Tuesday - Bookstore

"From early morning until evening, he expounded his position to them, bearing witness to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from the law of Moses and the prophets."

Acts of the Apostles 28:23
referring to St. Paul

Part of my new monastery and Retreat House is a Religious Bookstore and Giftshop. There are very few Catholic book/gift stores in this area so we are quite popular, not only with our Retreatants, but also with people who come from all over the area to shop.

Besides religious books we also offer statues, rosaries, medals, music and movies, and a wide array of religious gifts. We have overgown the small space - as you can see - that's why it appears so cluttered. So, it is on my to do list to reorganize the entire shop, and perhaps, one day, to expand.

Besides our regular retreat and book/gift store visitors, we also have people coming by to obtain our oranges, avocados and lemon (for a donation). So, we have quite a bit of traffic coming through our property. This is going to take some getting used to since I have enjoyed the silence of our Northern California monastery for so many years.

For more My World Tuesday click here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sacred Sunday Sunset

(view from the back of the monastery)

"Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad and do not weep" - for all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. He said further, "go, eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength".

Nehemiah 8:9-11
1st Reading of today's Mass

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sacred Sunday

"My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver."
Proverbs 8:19

(road to lower parking lot amidst the orange groves)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Skywatch Friday - lone bird

"I look upon myself as a weak little bird, with only a light down as covering. I am not an eagle, but I have only an eagle's eyes and heart. In spite of my extreme littleness I still dare to gaze upon the Divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and my hear feels within it all the aspirations of an Eagle...I Divine Word! You are the Adored Eagle whom I love and who alone attracts me!...Eternal Eagle, You desire to nourish me with Your divine substance and yet I am but a poor little thing who would return to nothingness if Your divine glance did not give me life from one moment to the next."
St. Therese of Lisieux
the little flower - Carmelite Nun

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My World Tuesday - dawn

I'm still getting used to having to walk outside to get to Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Mass each morning. In my former monastery, I just walked downstairs and was near the inside entrance to the monastic church. Here, our morning services are open to the public so we use the Retreat House chapel. However, this time of year, the 6:20 a.m. walk is a pleasure because of the beauty of my favorite time of day - dawn. And it is Southern California, so, the temperature has been in the comfortable low 50's.

For more My World Tuesday click here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

View from the Retreat House

"I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where shall come my help."
Psalm 121

My new home sits in the shadow of the San Bernardino Mountains. This time of year the mountain peaks are usually covered in snow. However, it has been in the mid-70's all week long. Therefore, very little snow. This photo shows the view from the plaza of the Retreat House where our retreatants can sit, relax and contemplate the beauty of creation. Our retreats are usually silent experiences. Silence? Because it is in the silence of the heart that we cultivate the possibility of hearing the voice of God.

Note: If you enlarge the picture you'll get a sneak preview on part of our orange groves.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A new year...a new home

"For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
Isaiah 56:7

Happy New Year to all my blogger friends.

I'm not quite settled, but I am moved into my new home. The picture above is our small monastery. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a house of ministry, thus, the monastery is smaller and so is the community. At present, there are only four in the community, but we hope to have a new arrival later this summer after three of our men are ordained to the priesthood.

In this house we do retreat work. We have about 40 acres which holds, besides the monastery, a retreat center, a convent for the Sisters who run our kitchen and dining room, our Provincial Superior's residence and about 25 acres or orange and avocado groves. As Prior and Retreat Director I am responsible for the community and the whole property. I hope to be back to blogging regularly. So, I will show you bits and pieces as time goes by.

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.