Journal

Second Sunday of Advent "Lead kindly light," says John Henry Newman, "amid the encircling gloom." The encircling gloom which at first seemed so impenetrable yields now to one more small light giving of its substance and surrendering its heart to the flame. Lord Jesus, transform us into persons of mercy. Help us to share and to be the mercy we have received. Two small candles will burn bravely this week, shedding your gentle light. As we light this second Advent Candle, help us to yield our inmost being to the flame of your mercy and to be your mercy this week to all whom we encounter as we journey forward into the full light of your coming.

First Sunday of Advent Here we are again, standing at the threshold of another Advent. In this season of the year when darkness steps to the fore and pushes aside our daylight, we take a step into the liturgy of Advent where we illumine the darkness with the light of a candle in an ever-increasing crescendo of light and presence. It is our time of journey. A journey into the experience of the God whose essence is love and who wants nothing more than to share that essence with us in the person of Jesus. Since all good liturgy carries with it the use of earthy elements and symbols, we light a candle to announce that the God of Gods...

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! We hope that your day was blessed and full of family, friends and celebration. And probably a football game, too?? Ours was a happy time of relaxing with one another and our two brother monks of Erlac around a table laden with a delicious din ner provided for us by our good friend and dentist, Dr. Escobar. After our celebration at the table of the Eucharist, we all donned our aprons and helped prepare the feast together. Margarita had prepared ahead of time what could be done, and so it didn't take us long at all to finish. I think you can see from our smiles that a good time was had by all.   Now...

Happy Autumn, dear Friends! We enjoyed our annual community retreat the week of October 18-24.  This year our retreat director was Fr. James Palmigiano of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA.  This is the third time over the years that he has been our retreat director and, as always, it was fabulous.  The weather cooperated to provide nice days for long walks in our beautiful high desert or just sit quietly under a tree to read and pray and... enjoy God.   We had a little Halloween fun, too.  Margarita and Fabi applied their pumpkin-carving skills to two of the many pumpkins that our dear friend Leroy brought us.  Here are some of us with our Halloween decorations in the refectory....

Autumn has turned out to be a time of many moods! It splashed the hillsides with yellow and dazzled us with the bluest of blue skies and dancing white clouds - just to make us smile. Then came the winds that blew in a gully-drencher of a rainstorm. Our arroyos were raging with water in a way they haven't in a long time. Fish Canyon gushed across the road and stranded our Sr. Nettie on the other side until the waters subsided. Luckily she was able to get through before nightfall. A couple of our neighbors helped her and she made it safely. The rainfall for that storm was almost two inches. We could almost hear the trees' sigh of...

The grass on the Santa Rita foothills is still green at the roots, but otherwise it has that gone-to-seed autumn look.  The "Gold Fields" are blooming all over, adding splashes of golden color everywhere.  On the roadsides and on the edges of the dry river beds, tall sunflowers adding their own shades of gold, brown and green. We have wonderful dark skies and wide horizons for astronomical viewing here.  Early on Sunday morning, Sr. Pam set up her Uncle Lee's telescope on the patio outside the chapter room, and several of us had a planet-viewing session.  Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are all visible to the naked eye in the east right now if you know where to look.  We focused on Jupiter and its...

All good things must come to an end, so we bid adieu to Fr. John and Sr. Eleanor with a supper party.  It's been a joy to share in Sr. Eleanor's warm Irish humor and good spirits this summer.  We wish her all the best in her studies.  We are grateful to the abbot and community of the Genesee for lending Fr. John to us for these past two weeks.  He served us at both tables: the Eucharistic table at Mass, and by cooking a few meals for our dinner table.  "Chef Jacques" knows his way around the kitchen and the internet recipe scene.  His meals were delicious! There's a local saying that if a roadrunner crosses the path of a...

August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the patronal feast of our Cistercian order, so we always celebrate it with special joy. But this year our joy was doubled as we celebrated our Sister Kate's Golden Jubilee of vows. Three members of Kate's family traveled from Pennsylvania for the occasion. Our good friend Fr. John Denburger from the Abbey of the Genesee in New York presided at the Jubilee Mass. Many of our local friends attended the Mass. Later in the day we had a festive meal just with the Sisters, Kate, and her family. We thought you would enjoy the photos.  We couldn't include every photo of our guests, but the presence of...

Monsoon season is here and the hills and valleys around us are turning a glorious green.   The season began with a bang, quite literally, when lightning struck one of the electric poles on our property, and fried the transformer for our water system. Only a few hours after the electric company fixed this problem, a furious storm knocked out power to a larger local area.  Due to the extreme conditions, it was 10:30 the next morning before power was restored everywhere.  God bless the electric company repair crews!  They work long hours this time of...

On May 5, our good friend Fr. Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Odilia's Parish in Tucson, brought a group of nearly 50 parishioners for a visit in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life.  Sr. Pam was asked to give them a brief talk about our Cistercian way of life, and then she and Sr. Nettie gave them a special tour of our altar bread bakery and the art studios.  Fr. Miguel celebrated Mass for the Sisters and guests in the monastery church.  Lunch followed, picnic style, in the cottonwood grove behind the bakery.  ...