Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DO NOT.....

Jesus in the Garden with Mary Magdalene 
Donald Jackson-  St. John's Bible
Until his final hour he had never
refused her anything or turned away,
lest she should turn their love to public praise.
Now she sank down beside the cross, disguised,
heavy with the largest stones of love
like jewels in the cover of her pain.
But later, when she came back to his grave
with tearful face, intending to anoint,
she found him resurrected for her sake,
saying with greater blessedness, “Do not –”
She understood it in her hollow first:
how with finality he now forbade
her, strengthened by his death, the oils’ relief
or any intimation of a touch:
because he wished to make of her the lover
who needs no more to lean on her beloved,
as, swept away by joy in such enormous
storms, she mounts even beyond his voice.
Rainer Maria RilkeNew Poems, Second Part, 1908)
(translation, Ann Conrad Lammers, 1998)

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Camaroon, Africa

''When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ''Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?'' But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.'' Mark 16:1-4

The spirits of the women (notice no men came) had been crushed by the passion and death of Jesus. They were discouraged, disheartened, and defeated.

Two of these women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, had seen where the body had been placed and knew that a huge stone had been rolled across the entrance to the tomb, so as they approached the gravesite they remembered the stone and realized that they couldn't move it on their own. Yet they continued on, with hope someone would be there to help.

We all have stones placed over our path to happiness and obstacles to joy. Yet once again as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior, we are reminded that only He can bring us true joy and true happiness, removing the obstacles of sin and suffering, which block our hearts from Him.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Louisa Jenkins- Mt. Angel OR

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man He had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light".

                            From an Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday

Friday, March 25, 2016


It has been a bad few weeks at the monastery  with the death of  a beloved ewe, a female llama, from our beloved "Mamma Llama", and on Holy Thursday we lost one of our Jersey cows (Lucina) after she gave birth to a lovely, healthy heifer calf.

Our Dutch intern Marijke with twin ewe lambs from La Ren (who died)- Photo intern David
Lambs thriving on Jersey milk

This morning we learned that friends who were here for the Last Supper Meal and Mass gave us a check to purchase another Jersey.  The Lord takes away but gives in abundance. We all look forward with great longing to the feast of Easter and the joys it brings.

Intern David with happy lamb!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Annibale Carracci- 16C. Italy

Most of us live, from time to time, in Holy Saturday. We experience the jubilation of Easter and the stark pain of Good Friday, but those are immediate and momentary. Holy Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection, fear and hope, pain and comfort. Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and for Jesus' first disciples.

On Holy Saturday, we don't know what the future will bring.  Like those first women on that first Holy Saturday, we live with an uncertain future.

While Holy Saturday is a day of quiet and silence, it is difficult for us to experience Holy Saturday during Holy Week. Holy Saturday speaks most directly to the daily reality of our lives. After the shock of death or words that bring despair we have to begin living with the "what next?" as we enter the void of unknowing.

Between the great dramas of life, there is almost always a time of empty waiting . If we are willing to rest in this Sabbath, we may come as close to Jesus as we get through the rest of the year. There in that quiet cave where we wait to see how our redeemer will choose to come to us in the dark.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Flowers in the desert

Death of any kind is rarely a welcome experience.  You would think we would be used to it watching nature year after year resurrect into glorious spring, after the death of winter. On the farm, we witness death as animals are slaughtered to provide food, or a beloved animal  or pet dies. For some reason it seems to happen more frequently in Lent and for some reason it is harder to bear, perhaps because we do not look forward to Holy Week and Passion.

We resist death, trying to numb ourselves from life's inevitable stripping away of our  earthly "security". But when we turn to face death honestly, we feel the fullness of the grief it brings and we slowly begin to discover the new life awaiting us.

Aidan with LaRen & her first lamb- 8 years ago
Rather than a presence only at the end of our lives, death can become a companion along each step, heightening our awareness of life’s beauty and calling us toward living more fully. St. Benedict tells us we should keep death daily before our eyes...  death to sin, death to our old ways, and death which brings us home to  eternal life.

Two animals died last week, my oldest and favorite ewe (after the gate was left open last year and the ram got her).  Father buried her under the fig tree. She left us with two beautiful black ewe lambs, which will be a reminder of her for many years to come.

A few days later one of the female llamas was found  dead in the pasture.  A gentle soul and the only female her mother (our first llama) ever gave us. We left her as food for the many eagles to have as a feast.

LaSeranada as a yearling
Such deaths make us ponder our own mortality and that  Lent is a painful reminder of what (and whom) we lose to death. My brother died five years ago this month and it seems like yesterday.

We must remember Lent isn’t about Good Friday’s cross and loss, but Easter Sunday’s empty tomb.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Patricia Trudeau (New York)

HOLY SATURDAY  has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. The day should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering...The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible.  Even His enemies are cautious, attempting to obliterate any

Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, while the Church must mournfully admit that too many of her children return home from Calvary cold and hard of heart. When Mother Church reflects upon all of this, it seems as if the wounds of her dearly Beloved were again beginning to bleed.

According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa". Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of His resurrection.

Grunewald- Isenheim Altarpiece, Colmar, France
While the body of her Son lays in the tomb and His soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to His ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death.

Although we are still in mourning, there is much preparation during this day to prepare for Easter.
On Holy Saturday we remember Christ in the tomb, in silence, with hope.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Charles Ricketts (d. 1931) English

Lamentations did not appear in art north of the Alps until the 14th century, but then became very popular there, and northern versions further developed the centrality of Mary to the composition. The typical position of Christ's body changes from being flat on the ground or slab, usually seen in profile across the center of the work, to the upper torso being raised by Mary or others, and finally being held in a near-vertical position, seen frontally, or across Mary's lap. Mary Magdalene typically holds Jesus' feet.

Pieta- Lazar Vozarevic- Belgrade (b. 1925)
In fully populated Lamentations the figures shown with the body include The Three Marys, John the Apostle, Joseph and Nicodemus, and often others of both sexes, not to mention angels and donor portraits As time went on  the artists concentrated on Mary's grief for her son, with less narrative emphasis and the  outcome of this trend was the Pietà, showing just these two figures, which was especially suitable for sculpture, the most famous of course is Michelangelo's.

Van Gogh

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


The Polish artist JACEK ROSSAKIEWICZ (b. 1956)  said about his art: "In my understanding, to express man's spiritual life is to create art. The subject of the painting doesn’t matter. But the art has to originate in the inside, it has to be a result of man's life experiences. It cannot be simply planned; how to shock, how to draw attention to one's self, it cannot be done for money either. Because the spiritual and emotional state of an artist while painting, or working on a different work of art, is encoded in the painting and this energy is emanating from it."

Of his  Passion cycle he writes: I chose the Gospel according to Saint John because of its description of the events after the Resurrection. As I was working on these paintings, my spiritual life was deepening. It was a personal, emotional experience. Without the faith these paintings would have never come into being. This was a testimony of my faith and a desire to provide a testimony of adoration for Jesus.

Everyone knows that the Way of the Cross ends with the Deposition. It ends with the most pessimistic moment in Jesus' life and in the history of Christianity.

It is painted in the green tones  but here it is an earthy green - green ground. This greenness is muted. It is visible that Jesus is dead. There is no life in Him anymore.

Of his "Pieta":
The painting became a depiction of total destruction. The paint was scraped off and burnt. A black abyss was created and it is the main theme of this painting. This black abyss, such a painting of total destruction is for me - with regard to spirituality - a reflection of our times. In my opinion such destruction is taking place right now.