Thursday, December 31, 2020



A New Year's Poem 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

                 G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 27, 2020



Your voice speaks:
Little child out of Eternity, now will I sing to thy mother! The
song shall be fair as dawn-tinted snow.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, daughter of my earth, sister of my soul,
rejoice, O joy of my joy!
I am as one who wanders through the night, but you are a house
under stars.
I am a thirsty cup, but you are God's open sea.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, blessed are those who call you blessed,
never more shall child of man lose hope.
I am one love for all, I shall never cease from saying: one of you
has been exalted by the Lord.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, wings of my earth, crown of my soul, rejoice 
joy of my joy!
                                 Blessed are those who call you blessed.


                 German original: Gertrude Von Le Fort   (German)
English translation: Margaret Chanler

Saturday, December 26, 2020



I have done a Blog in the past  on our dear friend & benefactor, Lauren Ford,  who gifted  our Abbey of Regina Laudis, in Bethlehem, Connecticut, her property, Sheepfold, where she lived for many years and did much of her artwork.

This week of Christmas  I want to portray her art, as I feel the world right now needs simplicity as we celebrate the Birth of our Savior.  It has been a very hard year for all, but most especially for the working class peoples of all countries as they have tried to stay afloat for their families, as their livelihood has been threatened or destroyed.

Lauren loved to use the people of her area in her art, especially the farmers.  This simple, yet moving piece shows the laborers getting the animals fed in the midst of a cold winter’s day. 

Christmas is about simplicity. Jesus was  born in an ordinary manger. A feeding trough was his cradle. He was not born of royalty, but of humble, poor parents. And it was this simplicity that held the destiny of  our salvation.

Sheepfold- with the local people coming to see the new born Child

Friday, December 25, 2020




                                           Lauren Ford-   Friend & Benefactor to  Regina Laudis Abbey






Monday, December 21, 2020



This week  of the fourth and last week of Advent,  we are so concentrating on Mary and the Birth of her Son, that we tend to overlook St. Joseph, who plays a key part in this whole epic.  He is protector, guide and father.

There is little art portraying  the  marriage of Joseph and Mary,  but one which  to me shows the love between them is by Sebastian  Lopez de Arteaga (d. 1656).  So often we see Joseph  as this graying, old man, which most  probably was not the case.  He most likely was not that much older than Mary.  In this painting we see a  virile, handsome young man who is very intent on his marriage-  the mission will be revealed to him later. Like his bride he will accept it with full heart.

In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, may we find comfort in his quiet acceptance of God’s will and joy in his relation to the Son of God and His Mother.

Thursday, December 17, 2020



In our last Blog we presented the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis.   What does this mean for Catholics? According to the decree issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary on Dec. 8, there are 15 ways to receive an indulgence in the Year of St. Joseph. Plenary indulgences remit all temporal punishment due to sin and must be accompanied by full detachment from sin. 

These acts must be accompanied by sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions, the usual conditions to obtain any plenary indulgence.

1) Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph

2) Pray for St. Joseph’s intercession for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.

3) Recite the Litany of St. Joseph for persecuted Christians.

4) Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of St. Joseph the Worker.

5) Follow St. Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.

6) Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy, such as comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead.

7) Pray the rosary together with the family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”

8) Engaged couples can also receive an indulgence from praying the rosary together.

9) Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, because St. Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”

10) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on St. Joseph Sunday.

11) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph on March 19 with an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph.

12) Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on the 19th of any month. 

13) Honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.

14) Pray to St. Joseph on the Feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 27.

15) Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 with an act of piety or prayer.

“All the faithful will thus have the opportunity to commit themselves, with prayers and good works, to obtain with the help of St. Joseph, head of the celestial Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that today afflict the contemporary world,” the decree signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said.

The elderly, the sick, and the dying who are unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic also have special permission to receive an indulgence by “offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts” of their lives with a prayer to St. Joseph, hope of the sick and patron of a happy death.

The decree noted that in this instance the person must have the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions for an indulgence, as well as a detachment from sin.

The Apostolic Penitentiary permits any prayer to St. Joseph approved by the Church, mentioning in particular the “To you, O blessed Joseph” prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII:

“To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.”

“O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.”

“As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.”

Both images: Our dear friend  Br. Arturo Olivas (RIP)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020



What better time than Advent for the Holy Father to proclaim a Year of ST. JOSEPH in honor of the 150th anniversary of the  proclamation as his being the patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870.

Pope Francis said he was establishing the year so that “every member of the faithful, following his example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”

In our own Seattle Archdiocese we have the year of the Eucharist, so how fitting to have the Lord’s foster father in on the celebration.

Pope Francis said the coronavirus pandemic has heightened his desire to reflect on St. Joseph, as so many people during the pandemic have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as St. Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.

“Each of us can discover in Joseph -- the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence -- an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.” 

Throughout the ages the Popes have stressed devotion to St.  Joseph.  In  1937  Pius XI placed “the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector.”

“He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. He won for himself the title of ‘The Just,’ serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social life.”

 “If you want to be close to Christ, I repeat to you ‘Ite ad Ioseph’: Go to Joseph!” said Ven. Pius XII in 1955 as he instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to be celebrated on May 1. The new feast was intentionally placed on the calendar to counter communist May Day rallies. But this was not the first time that the Church had presented St. Joseph’s example as an alternative path toward workers’ dignity.

Beloved St. John Paul II   wrote in his 2004 book “Rise, Let Let Us Be On Our Way”, For St. Joseph, life with Jesus was a continuous discovery of his own vocation as a father.  

Jesus Himself, as a man, experienced the fatherhood of God through the father-son relationship with St. Joseph. This filial encounter with Joseph then fed into Our Lord’s revelation of the paternal name of God. What a profound mystery!”

In his announcement of the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis released letter, “Patris corde” (“With a father’s heart”), explaining that he wanted to share some “personal reflections” on the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic,” he said, noting that many people had made hidden sacrifices during the crisis in order to protect others.

St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

St. Joseph is also the patron of  a good night's sleep, and a happy death.

In a following Blog learn of the  opportunities to gain a plenary indulgence, or remission of all temporal punishment due to sin during the Year of St. Joseph

                                                                            Painting: Pietro Annigoni (d. 1988)

Sunday, December 13, 2020


FATHER JOSEF PERUSCHITZ, OSB, age 41, was also one of the three Catholic priests on the Titanic and was described by eyewitnesses as declining a place on the lifeboats. The Bavarian priest-monk, born in 1871, was traveling on the Titanic to take up his new position as principal of  the Benedictine high school at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota where there were many German settlers. (This community, Saint John’s Abbey, grew to be the largest Benedictine community in the world.)

Like Father Byles, Father Peruschitz had offered Mass on the morning of Sunday, April 14, only hours before the supposedly “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

Prior to the crash, both men had preached sermons on humanity’s need for the spiritual “lifeboat” offered by Jesus Christ amid the dangers of the world. He gave his daily homilies in German, but must have spoken English to have been sent to the United States.

 FatherJosef was a monk of Scheyern Abbey near Munich. He was born in Bavaria in 1871 and was a student at the abbey he would one day enter in 1894.   After profession his duties included teaching mathmatics, music and sports (a well-rounded monk.)

He spent Holy Week at the Benedictine Abbey at Ramsgate (England) just before sailing on the doomed ship.  He wsa to become the principal at the Benedictine High School in Minn.

 He was well-remembered, since he had a beard and wore a soup-plate hat. He was also offered a place, and refused it, preferring rather to stay with the passengers and absolve them.

His body, like those of the other two priests, was not recovered. A memorial at his monastery in Bavaria reads: “May Joseph Peruschitz rest in peace, who on the ship Titanic piously sacrificed himself.”

Friday, December 11, 2020



Three priests, including one now known as a martyr, offered spiritual comfort to fellow passengers on the doomed Titanic. They, along with 1500 others, perished in the icy Atlantic in 1912. All three of the European-born priests,  Father Juozas Montvila of Lithuania, Father Josef Peruschitz, O.S.B. a monk at Scheyern Abbey in Bavaria, and English rector Father Thomas Byles, are said to have declined lifeboats in order to offer spiritual aid to travelers who perished in the shipwreck, which claimed 1503 lives.

FATHER THOMAS BYLES is being considered for canonization.  He was  was born Roussel Davids in Leeds, Yorkshire, the eldest of seven children of the Reverend Alfred Holden Byles, a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Louisa Davids. He went to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1889 to study theology, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1894. While at Oxford, Byles converted to the Church of England, and later, like his younger brother William had done before, to the Roman Catholic faith, taking the name Thomas. In 1899, he went to the Beda College in Rome to study for the priesthood and was ordained in 1902. He was assigned to St Helen's Parish in Chipping OngarEssex in 1905, where he would remain until his death.

An invitation to officiate at the wedding of his younger brother William prompted father Thomas to make the trip to New York City. He said Mass on the morning of the sinking of the Titanic, the Octave of Easter, April 14, 1912, for both second- and third-class passengers in their respective lounges. The sermon was on, the need for a spiritual lifeboat in the shape of prayer and the sacraments when in danger of spiritual shipwreck in times of temptation.

Father Thomas was walking on the upper deck praying his breviary when the Titanic struck the iceberg. As the ship was sinking, he assisted many third-class passengers up to the boat deck to the lifeboats. He reputedly twice refused a place on a lifeboat.

Toward the end he recited the Rosary and other prayers, hearing confessions, and giving absolution to more than a hundred passengers who remained trapped on the stern of the ship after all of the lifeboats had been launched.

Helen Mary Mocklare, a third class passenger, offered more details about the final hours of the priest’s life.

“When the crash came we were thrown from our berths ... We saw before us, coming down the passageway, with his hand uplifted, Father Byles,” she recalled. “We knew him because he had visited us several times on board and celebrated Mass for us that very morning.”

“'Be calm, my good people,' he said, and then he went about the steerage giving absolution and blessings... A few around us became very excited and then it was that the priest again raised his hand and instantly they were calm once more. The passengers were immediately impressed by the absolute self-control of the priest.”

She recounted that a sailor “warned the priest of his danger and begged him to board a boat.” Although the sailor was anxious to help him, the priest twice refused to leave.. “After I got in the boat, which was the last one to leave, and we were slowly going further away from the ship, I could hear distinctly the voice of the priest and the responses to his prayers.”

His body, if recovered, was never identified. His brothers installed a door in his memory at St Helen's Catholic Church in Chipping OngarEssexPope Pius X later described him  as a "martyr for the Church".

Father Thomas has three times been portrayed in films about the disaster. In the 1979 television movie S.O.S. Titanic, he was portrayed by Matthew Guinness. In the 1997 film, Titanic, he was portrayed by James Lancaster, reciting the rosary and Revelation 21:4. Richard Basehart plays a thinly disguised Father Thomas in the 1953 film. His story is featured in a book written by Cady Crosby entitled A Titanic Hero: Thomas Byles. The book documents his early life, his years in ministry and his final hours on board the RMS Titanic.

Interestingly enough, Katherine and William did not reschedule their wedding. They had another priest perform the ceremony. In a Brooklyn newspaper it reported the bride and groom went home from the wedding and changed into mourning clothes and returned to the church for a memorial mass. The couple then left for a short honeymoon in New Jersey.

Later that year Katherine and William travelled to Europe. They visited London and the Houses of Parliament to meet 'Uncle Willie' (Sir W. P. Byles). Katherine had to wait outside in a parlor as women could not enter. According to family legend, a young man came to her and said "Hello Mrs Byles, I am here to give you a tour, my name is Winston Churchill". From London they travelled on to Rome where they had a private audience with the Pope, who declared Father Byles a martyr for the Church.

Saturday, December 5, 2020


 Mother Hildegard has been away for a month, but will be back very soon to offer you new blogs. This is one she wrote in early November and well worth the wait!

When  one of the nuns- from Connecticut- put out the Archdiocesan magazine, I noted that November is Black Catholic History Month.

In this month we celebrate two beloved  Black saints. St Martin de Porres' Feast  was this week (November 3) and the great St Augustine's will be  November 13.

Some people forget that Christianity did not originate in Europe and even express surprise when they learn that Black Catholic History began in the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40) with the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Philip the Deacon. This text  chronicles the conversion of the first Black African in recorded Christian history. And also suggests that the man was a wealthy, literate, and powerful emissary of the Nubian Queen and also a faithful, practicing Jew prior to his baptism. Clearly, he was not an ignorant heathen. The Ethiopian Eunuch's conversion predates the conversions of Saints Paul and Cornelius. Most significantly, many cite this conversion as the very moment when the church changed from a Hebrew and Hellenist community to the truly universal and Catholic Church.

Black Catholics trace their faith history back to Christian antiquity long before other nations heard the "Good News." Christian Africa was indeed a "leading light" in early Christendom. Black Catholics point to three popes who were born in Africa: Sts Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelasius I. All three shepherded the early church through tough and tumultuous times in history. Black Catholics claim many Black Saints like Sts Cyprian, Zeno, Anthony of Egypt, Moses the Black, Pachomius, Maurice, Athanasius, Pisentius, Mary of Egypt, Cyril of Alexandria, Monica of Hippo ( the mother of Augustine), the martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas, and Thecla. Without them  the church would not be what it is today.

Interestingly enough, I had just finished Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming,  and now at noon we are reading the life of Servant of God Thea Bowman (see Blogs  11/12/18  & 10/4/16) . All without realizing what this month signifies.

On thing that stood out for me was Michelle often saying how Blacks (especially women)  had to strive to be better so they could fit in, be accepted.  Thea says the same thing in her writings (her father was a doctor and her mother an educator).  When I commented on this, Mother Prioress said that our Black nun at  the Abbey had the same experience (and she is a lawyer).  So no matter how far we think we have progressed in civil rights, it isn’t far enough, by half!

At present we have six Blacks being considered for canonization in the USA.  We should all take courage in them.

Friday, November 6, 2020




I don’t care who you are or what your work is, there is always some stress. Psychologists tell us that a certain amount of stress in our lives is good, as it basically keeps us going by challenging us.  But too much stress?  In these days of an on-going pandemic, it can be too much for the best of us.  So who can we turn to?


ST. WALTER of PONTOISE  was an 11th-century Benedictine monk who is recognized today as the patron saint of people experiencing job-related stress. He himself experienced his fair share of job-related stress. He longed for a life of solitude, but he kept being appointed to leadership positions in his community. 

St. Walter, born in France was an intelligent and devout man, becoming a professor of philosophy and rhetoric. He then felt called to the religious life and become a Benedictine monk at Rebais-en-Brie.

 King Philip noticed his natural abilities and appointed him abbot of a monastery in Pontoise against his will. Walter didn’t have much of a choice, so he obediently accepted his new position.

Life wasn’t easy as the discipline at the monastery when he arrived was horrid. Because of his dedication to monastic life, many of the monks were angry, so  they captured and imprisoned him. He was eventually released and resumed the work he began, devoting himself more to prayer, asking God to grant him the strength to persevere. 

St. Walter fled several times from the monastery because he couldn’t deal with the stress of the situation. 

At one point, Walter left his position at Pontoise to become a monk at Cluny under Hugh  (St. Hugh (d. 1109), sometimes called Hugh the Great, was the Abbot of Cluny from 1049 until his death. He was one of the most influential leaders of the monastic orders from the Middle Ages.) but he was forced to return to Pontoise.  

A story told of him, was that he once took the road to Touraine and hid himself on an island in the Loire, before being led back to the abbey. He also escaped to an oratory near Tours dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian before being recognized by a pilgrim there. Poor man, he just never gave up  trying to avoid his  duties. 

He even fled as far as Rome, delivering a written letter of resignation to Pope Gregory VII, but the Holy Father turned him back and said he was forbidden to run away from his monastery ever again.

After coming back to Pontoise, Walter worked hard to combat corruption and the lack of discipline among his monks and the clergy of the region. He faced the same ordeals of St. Benedictine in the early monasteries he was put in charge of.

With grace, St. Walter embraced his responsibilities using his God-given talents. St. Walter is a good intercessor to help you get through any stress that work is causing for you.

Monday, November 2, 2020



As I like to say, there are no coincidents in heaven.  We have just celebrated the beatification of Father Michael McGivney  and someone  who had a great devotion to him, has passed to the Father- all too soon for many, as he was only 45 years old. Shortly before he passed away, a relic of Bl. McGivney was laid upon his chest, as those in the hospital room sang the Salve Regina.


ANDREW THOMAS WALTHER, president and chief operating officer of EWTN News, died Sunday evening in New Haven, Connecticut. Remembered first as a loving husband and father, in his life’s work he was dedicated to serving the Catholic Church and defending persecuted religious minorities throughout the world. 

Only in June of this year, did he take on these responsibilities and was soon after diagnosed with leukemia. During the course of his treatment, Andrew continued to lead the EWTN News team and to serve both his family and the Church.

“Andrew Walther’s death is a source of great sadness for all of us at EWTN and for me personally. Although Andrew had only been in his role as President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News since June, he had already accomplished so much. He had also been a friend and collaborator for many years before joining the Network. His death is a great loss for all who knew him, for EWTN and for the Church,” Michael Warsaw, chief executive officer and EWTN board chairman, remembered Nov. 2.

For 15 years, until his death Andrew worked for the Knights of Columbus, where he was Vice President for Communications and Strategic Planning. He served as an advisor to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, while overseeing numerous initiatives for the Knight, including a pandemic response campaign earlier this year and other crisis response projects.

With his wife, Maureen, he co-authored “The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History,” a book released this year.

Andrew's work on behalf of Middle Eastern Christians  was especially close to his heart. He played an essential role in a Knights of Columbus effort to assist persecuted and refugee Christians, through a fund that has distributed more than $20 million in aid, especially in Syria, Iraq, and the surrounding region. This offered on-the-ground assistance to Christians rebuilding lives, churches, and  towns destroyed by ISIS, including an effort to completely rebuild the Iraqi town of Karamles on the Nineveh Plain. His work in the region has been widely praised by bishops and other Christian leaders across the Middle East.

Born in California  in 1974, he attended  the University of Southern California (USC) where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Classics. He taught writing for several years, and was recognized with the university’s Excellency in Teaching Award.

“He was a man of deep faith and extraordinary gifts who always used his talents to serve others. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy that includes years of service to the Church, to the cause of persecuted Christians around the globe and to building up the culture of life. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and their four young children. He was a tremendous man and a wonderful friend whom I will miss greatly. That his death came on the Solemnity of All Saints is a great consolation to us all,” Warsaw recalled.

He and his wife Maureen  married in 2010 and are the parents of four children. It is fitting that we remember him especially on this day of All Souls.