Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This  is Christmas-tide, which we celebrate to the full in the Monastery, as the world takes down their trees, children return to school and Santa- not to mention the Christ Child- is  but a memory. Today is the 5th day of Christmas-  what are these twelve days of Christmas, which we sing about in carol?  They are the days between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan. 6) when the Magi appear to the Child. Traditionally, in many parts of the world this is the day when children receive their gifts.

While much of the country is digging itself out of snow and ice, or nearly collapsing into the Pacific with rains, it has been mild in our Pacific Northwest area.  We pray that life improves for the many suffering, not only in our country, but other areas of the world.

May the Christ Child enlighten all who sit in darkness and may the hearts of all be open to His love.  A Blessed New Year from all at OLR!

Friday, December 17, 2010


December 17

Tonight at Vespers we sing the first Great "O", O Sapientia (O Wisdom).

The seven "O Antiphons" " are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights." It is believed they were sung as far back as the 5th C. in France.

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isiah and Micah, and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are:
    Sapientia-       O Wisdom
    Adonai -          O Lord of Israel
    Radix Jesse  -  O Root of Jesse
    Clavis David -  O Key of David
    Oriens -           O Dayspring (Dawn)
    Rex Gentium -  O King of the Nations
    Emmanuel  -     O Emmanuel  (God is with us)

The Great “O"s not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.  As we daily sing these ancient antiphons, you shall all be included in our song! Many Blessings!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


In the midst of Advent, with the wondrous feasts of light, Our Lady of Guadalupe & Santa Lucia, we have been busy preparing for the Coming of Christ thru our Liturgy & prayer,  while also  trying to expend some energies on gifts for others and sales to promote our products.  The sale on our small island was a success while the one on the mainland, not so grand!  We have over the years been asked to list some of the products we offer but have not had the means.  I will do so here:  thru some photos.

Friday we sing the first of the O Antiphons: O Sapientia (O Wisdom).  In my next blog I will attempt to explain the significance of these antiphons in the preparation for Christmas.  Blessings, MH
NB  Any of the products can be purchased on line.  Contact me at :

Herb products

Cotswold wool blankets

Raw Cotswold wool
Sheep hides

Sheep and alpaca roving

Handmade jewelry


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Yesterday our two new Jersey cows arrived: milk cow Claire and her few weeks old heifer calf,  Lucina. The trip down from the farm near the Canadian border was hard on Claire calling for a  stop at Chuckanut  Animal Hospital  though there was nothing wrong. Just a scare! Claire is mom's registered name and we felt in the spirit of the season we would call her daughter Lucina, another name meaning light or brightness.  As you can see they are lovely esp. the calf and  both are very sweet-natured.

It has been a busy week making the plum puddings for sale and for ourselves, the Christmas Linzer tortes and other goodies, and getting ready for an off-island Christmas sale, not to mention orders for hides, fleeces and herbal products. Of course our Advent Liturgy daily leads us into the fullness of the wondrous mystery to come in a  few weeks.  We pray that all the world may know the peace of our tiny island and rejoice in celebration!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Yesterday Mother Prioress, Rose and I made sauerkraut.  Had 120 lbs of cabbage. Took us 3 hours.  Now it "rots" for about 5-6 weeks. Then we can or freeze it for the year.  This year we salted it right after it was shredded so that made it easier for MP, who always does the tamping to get the water out of the cabbage.  This is necessary to get a good product.

Last week had book club at OLR  and introduced a book called GOAT SONG by Brad Kessler. You ask?  who cares about goats or even the making of cheese?  This book is far more!  All in our club were glad to have read it! The book sold out in two months after first printing. One of those books you tell your friends about and they pass it on. Kessler gives you lots of information on the intertwining of goats and human history. He is a poet at best! Our Mother Noella- "The Cheese Nun"- is mentioned in the book, one of the reasons I chose it. Several times he mentions St. Benedict and there is a chapter on a monastery of contemplative men nearby. (This man is Jewish, which makes his use of Catholic nuns & monks  and Saints all the more extraordinary).

How is the soul like cheese? This is one of the many questions asked by  Kessler.
He provides the answer: "It starts out raw and unformed and tries to reform itself over time. It is constantly corrected and rebuffed, purged of blemishes and taints and sins".

Goat Song is  more than a book about goats and cheese. While we learn much about them,  they are but a path that leads us to contemplation of life itself.
Blessings for the week, MH
Mother Prioress -- cheese instructor

Making  raw milk COW cheeses

Sunday, November 28, 2010


SUNDAY, NOV. 26, 2010
As we have celebrated Thanksgiving and today have the leftover turkey and trimmings, I start this blog in gratitude for all that we have and hope to share some of our monastery and island riches.

We are nine Benedictine nuns who follow the 1500 year old tradition of our founder, St. Benedict. We still sing the ancient Gregorian chant in Latin  and  pray the eight hours as set by St. Benedict.

We have a  300 acre farm where we raise minor breed animals, Cotswold sheep and Highland cattle.We have fine wool llamas and alpacas. We also have a certified  raw milk dairy, milking Jersey cows by hand. Of course there are the usual chickens ( and some not so usual) which give us fresh eggs. Our dogs include two Portuguese Water Dogs and a chocolate Lab.  There are too many cats to count, but they manage to keep down the unwanted critters in barns and houses.

We grow lush gardens of flowers, vegetables and herbs, which we use in preparations for sale. Most of our animals are pasture grazed and we apply organic methods whenever we can. We support ourselves, in part, by selling the fruits of our labors: fleeces, rovings, battings, spun wool, hides and knit goods from the sheep; meats, dairy goods and herbs to our island neighbors. Our interest are many:  weaving, spinning, jewelry design, rosaries, herb products.

We have two retreat houses, so have many guests through the year  who come to pray and work with us.  We have people of all faith ( and some without).

We also offer informal internships through a monastic "Land Program".

These internships are open to men and women, of all faiths, over the age of 18. Internships may be for six months or one year. Interns live in housing provided by the monastery and are invited to share in the rhythm of work and prayer that structures the life of the community, though no religious affiliation is required. Internships may begin at any time of the year.

Ferry to Shaw, Mt. Baker in background

Many interns come for a "break year" after graduation from college or high school. Others come seeking clarity on life decisions: for a career focus, or a religious vocation, or for respite from burnout in their jobs. We have had people from all parts of the country, and from Ireland, France, Japan, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

In this blog I hope to share more on prayer, cooking,  farm life (Mother Prioress and I are WSU Master Livestock Advisers) and other topics.

Island view

You  can see our website for more information  at:
Many Blessings for the day, Mother Hildegard, OSB