Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is prayer?

What is prayer? 
It is the mind detached from earthly things
and the whole heart pointed
to that in which it hopes.

~ Isaac of Ninevah

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pray without ceasing...

If you want to pray “without ceasing”
never cease to long for God. 
The continuation of your longing
is the continuation of your prayer;
if you cease to long for him,
prayer ceases.

~ St. Augustine

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on prayer...

Prayer is called meditation
until it has produced the honey of devotion,
when it may become contemplation…
when the love of God takes possession of our hearts,
then we contemplate His goodness,
hoping to satisfy our love.

~ St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Nunning

You can tell its Advent in the monastery:  large Advent wreaths are set up in the chapel, the refectory (monastic dining room), our recreation room as well as several other locations.  Wherever you look, it seems that you have the visible reminder in purple and pink that there are four weeks to prepare your heart to receive Christ in a special way at Christmas.

Advent is about waiting and preparing.  Preparing to celebrate the Birth of Christ that happened 2000 years ago, the coming of Christ when He returns, and the coming of Christ in the here and now of Christmas 2011. 

How do we prepare?  For us, today is a day of recollection, a day of prayer.  Just as one would spend time with friends or loved ones, we spend time today and during these days of Advent in a special way with our Divine Bridegroom asking Him and inviting the Spirit to make our hearts even more like unto His own Sacred Heart and an intimate dwelling place for Him.

What are you doing this Advent to make your heart a home for Christ?  Take some time today to ask the Lord what He most desires for you.  Who knows, you may be very surprised at the gift Christ gives you for Christmas...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Climb Until Your Dreams Come True

Often your tasks will be many,
And more than you think you can do…
Often the road will be rugged
And the hills insurmountable, too…
But always remember, the hills ahead
Are never as steep as they seem,
And with Faith in your heart start upward
And climb ’till you reach your dream,
For nothing in life that is worthy
Is ever too hard to achieve
If you have the courage to try it
And you have the Faith to believe
For Faith is a force that is greater
Than knowledge or power or skill
And many defeats turn to triumph
If you trust in God’s wisdom and will…
For Faith is a mover of mountains,
There’s nothing that God cannot do,
So start out today
with Faith in your heart
And Climb ‘Til Your Dream Comes True!

~Helen Steiner Rice

Friday, November 25, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas ~ A New Version

This delightful little updated poem catches what our culture tells us these days leading up to Christmas -- and Christmas itself is about.  We are an Advent people -- people preparing a place in our hearts to welcome anew the Newborn King.  Read on to the end -- and find out what this season is really about...

'T'was the night before Christmas
and all through the town
Not a sign of Baby Jesus
was anywhere to be found.

The people were all busy
with Christmas time chores
Like decorating, and baking,
and shopping in stores.

No one sang "Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed".
Instead, they sang of Santa
dressed-up in bright red.

Mama watched Martha Stewart,
Papa drank beer from a tap.
As hour upon hour
the presents they'd wrap

When what from the T.V.
did they suddenly hear?
'Cept an ad.. which told
of a big sale at Sears.

So away to the mall
they all flew like a flash...
Buying things on credit...
and others with cash!

And, as they made their way home
From their trip to the mall,
Did they think about Jesus?
Oh, no... not at all.

Their lives were so busy
with their Christmas time things
No time to remember
Christ Jesus, the King.

There were presents to wrap
and cookies to bake.
How could they stop and remember
who died for their sake?

To pray to the Savior...
they had no time to stop.
Because they needed more time
to "Shop til they dropped!"

On Wal-mart! On K-mart!
On Target! On Penney's!
On Hallmark! On Zales!
A quick lunch at Denny's

From the big stores downtown
to the stores at the mall
They would dash away, dash away,
and visit them all!

And up on the roof,
there arose such a clatter
As grandpa hung icicle lights
up on his brand new step ladder.

He hung lights that would flash.
He hung lights that would twirl.
Yet, he never once prayed to Jesus...
Light of the World.

Christ's eyes... how they twinkle!
Christ's Spirit... how merry!
Christ's love... how enormous!
All our burdens... He'll carry!

So instead of being busy,
overworked, and uptight
Let's put Christ back in Christmas
and enjoy some good nights!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to Observe Thanksgiving

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

~Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Smallest Prayer

God hears the very smallest prayer,
Nor sends a cross too great to bear,
And though we stumble now and then,
He always picks us up again.
There is no moment day or night,
When we are hidden from His sight,
No wall too high nor door too stout,
To keep His loving care without.

His ways are wiser than our own,
His strength remains when ours is gone,
We must not doubt nor question why,
He sends the answers by and by.
And this I know within my heart,
All darkness fades and shadows part,
And that sometime, somehow, somewhere,
God hears and answers every prayer!
~ by Grace E. Easley

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Horses

Just up the road from my home is a field,
 with two horses in it.

From a distance, each looks like every other horse.
But if you stop your car, or are walking by,
you will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will
disclose that he is blind.

His owner has chosen not to have him put down,
 but has made a good home for him.

This alone is amazing.
If nearby and listening,
you will hear the sound of a bell.
Looking around for the source of the sound,
you will see that it comes from the
smaller horse in the field.

Attached to her halter is a small bell.
It lets her blind friend know where she is,
so he can follow her.

As you stand and watch these two friends,
you'll see how she is always checking on him,
and that he will listen for her bell and then
slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she
will not lead him astray. When she returns to the
shelter of the barn each evening, she stops
occasionally and looks back, making sure her
friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses,
God does not throw us away just because
we are not perfect or because we have problems
or challenges. He watches over us and even brings
 others into our lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by
the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others see. Good friends are like this.
You don't always see them,
but you know they are always there. Please listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Simple Rules to Be Happy

Remember these five simple rules to be happy:

1.  Free your heart from hatred -- Forgive.

2.  Free your mind from worries -- Most never happen.

3.  Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4.  Give more.

5.  Expect less from people but more from God.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Solemnity of Christ the King

The following reading is taken from Vigils (or Office of Readings, as it is known in the 4-Volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours):

From a discourse of Origen on prayer
The coming of the kingdom of God, says our Lord and Saviour, does not admit of observation, and there will be no-one to say “Look here! Look there!” For the kingdom of God is within us and in our hearts. And so it is beyond doubt that whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws — God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Therefore, as we continue to move forward without ceasing, the kingdom of God within us will reach its perfection in us at that moment when the saying in the Apostle is fulfilled, that Christ, His enemies all made subject to Him, shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father that God may be All in All.
For this reason let us pray without ceasing, our souls filled by a desire made divine by the Word Himself. Let us pray to our Father in heaven: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.
There is something important that we need to understand about the kingdom of God: just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist.
So if we want God to reign within us, on no account may sin rule in our mortal body but let us mortify our earthly bodies and let us be made fruitful by the Spirit. Then we will be a spiritual garden of Eden for God to walk in. God will rule in us with Christ who will be seated in us on the right hand of God — God, the spiritual power that we pray to receive — until he makes his enemies (who are within us) into his footstool and pours out on us all authority, all power, all strength.
This can happen to any one of us and death, the last enemy may be destroyed, so that in us Christ says Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? So let our corruptibility be clothed today with holiness and incorruption. With Death dead, let our mortality be cloaked in the Father’s immortality. With God ruling in us, let us be immersed in the blessings of regeneration and resurrection.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stitchery Nunning

Our days are full of ora et labora, a Latin saying meaning prayer and work.  While this is true, it is not exclusive of being able to spend time doing those things that we find relaxing and enjoyable and at the same time create beauty. 

Some of us do have hobbies that are sold in our gift shop or in the little "boutique" that we have in our bed and breakfast.  Other hobbies appear for use in the chapel, which is the project being worked on above -- a new pall for the chalice.

No matter what we do, the saying in the Rule prevails:  In all things, may God be glorified!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shake it off and step up!

We received this little story via email, we thought it interesting and thought provoking -- and hope you do to!

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well.  The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out whatto do.  Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him.  They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.  At first, the donkey realized what was happening and creid horribly.  Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well.  He was astonished at what he saw.  With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.  He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.  Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.  The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off an take a step up.  Each of our troubles is a steppingstone.  We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!  Shake it off and take a step up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prayer for Peace and Tranquility

My Lord Jesus Christ,
may your peace be with me.
In you, O Lord, true peace,
may I have peace upon peace eternally.
Through you may I come to that peace
which surpasses all understanding,
that where, in gladness, I may see you in yourself.

This prayer is by St. Gertrude of Helfta, whose feast we celebrate today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Words of Wisdom by St. Albert the Great

It is by the path of love,
which is charity,
that God draws near to man,
and man to God.
But where charity is not found,
God cannot dwell.
If, then, we possess charity,
we possess God,
for "God is Charity."
(1 John 4:8)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Confession heals...

Confession heals,
confession justifies,
confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession.
In confession there is a chance for mercy.
Believe it firmly.
Do not doubt,
do not hesitate,
never despair of the mercy of God.
Hope and have confidence in confession.

~ St. Isidore of Seville

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Charity unites us to God...

Charity unites us to God...
There is nothing mean in charity,
nothing arrogant.
Charity knows no schism,
does not rebel,
does all things in concord.
In charity
all the elect of God
have been made perfect.

~ Pope St. Clement I

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Shoppe Nunning

Photos cannot begin to show all the aspects of our annual "Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe" held this weekend.  Consisting of items that can be gifted for the upcoming holidays, the days include food, fun, and great deals. 

With the help of our very dedicated volunteers who do work for several weeks tirelessly displaying the items to best enhance their beauty and pricing them, they spend three days with us during the actual sale doing the "whatever it takes" to make the days go smoothly.

Our photos give you a "peek" into the kitchen and several of the sale areas.  Besides the wonderful fun it is for everyong, it is also a bit of "undercover evangelization" -- individuals who would not normally visit a monastery come.  The hook may be the pierogies or the pizza -- but it is the peace of Christ that we pray they experience.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Charity may be a very short word,
but with its tremendous meaning of pure love,
it sums up man's entire relation
to God and to his neighbor.

~ St Aelred of Rievaulx

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom from St. Leo the Great

Short and fleeting are the joys
of this world's pleasures
which endeavors to turn aside
from the path of life
those who are called to eternity.
The faithful and religious spirit, therefore,
must desire the things which are heavenly,
and being eager for the Divine promises,
lift itself to the love of the incorruptible Good
and the hope of the true Light.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Delightful Prayer of Adoration

One of our Benedictine brothers shared this with us recently.  We hope you find it as inspiring and as a fodder for additional prayer as we did...

Dear Lord,
there is none in the Heavens,
nor here on earth
that delights me as much as You do.
Great are Your works,
which are treasured by all.
For You remove guilt and pardon sins,
without persisting in anger,
only delighting in mercy.
Heavenly Father,
I will continue to delight
and rejoice in You
as I sing song of praise
to Your most holy name.
How grateful I am
for Your infinite love,
mercy, and kindness
as You fulfill my heart's desire,
so that I may follow
the path of Your commands
all the days of my life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Be Still

Be Still, and Know that I Am God,
My Father said to Me,
And I will fill you with My Peace,
And set your Spirit Free.

You are my Own; I've Chosen You:
You are Precious in My Sight.
Give Me your Heart and I Promise
You I'll be Your Guiding Light.

My Love for you will Never Fade
By your side I'll Always Stay.
My Joy will be your Strength and Shield,
If you'll let Me have My Way.

I'm Standing here with Arms
Outstretched I want to Touch and make You Whole.
Of My Living Waters, Come and Drink,
And I will Quench your Thirsty Soul.

Peace! Be Still! I am with You now,
And no-one could Love You More.
My Love for you will never Die
Of that You can be sure.

That's what my Father said to Me
And I know His Words are true.
I know that He has Set me Free
And He'll do the Same for You.

So just Reach Out, ask Him to Forgive
And Pardon all your Sin.
Ask Him to be your God and King
And He will take You In.

(Psalm 46:10)

Monday, November 7, 2011

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple

The words to this 18th century Shaker song offer us some wonderful thoughts and insights for meditation.  We hope you find it as prayerful as we...

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

'Tis the gift to be gentle, 'tis the gift to be fair,
'Tis the gift to wake and breathe the morning air;
And ev'ry day to walk in the path we chose,
'Tis the gift that we pray we may ne'er come to lose.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

'Tis the gift to be loving, 'tis the gift best of all,
Like a quiet rain, it blesses where it falls;
And if we have the gift, we will truly believe
'Tis better to give than it is to receive.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God Is Never Far Away

My Friend,
God isn't far away
But surrounds you with his love.
It was him who opened your eyes this morning,

It is his strength
That will carry you through this day,
And it is in his peace
That your heart will find rest tonight.

God isn't far away.
He is the light of this day.
He is the sky above you,
And the earth beneath you,
And the life of every living thing.

God isn't far away.
He is in every smile,
In every thought that gives you hope,
In every tear that waters your soul,
In every moment you can't face alone.

God isn't far away.
He is the love on a loved one's face,
He is in the friends along the way,
In strangers you've yet to meet,
And blessings you've yet to receive.

God isn't far away.
He is in every good thing that touches you.
He is in every step you make
And every breath you take.
God is not far away for he is with you

By Nancye Sims 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hospitality Nunning

Mother Mary Anne giving a tour of the Robertshaw Country House Bed and Breakfast.

In his Rule, St. Benedict directs his followers to welcome all guests as Christ.  It was so important that he devotes one chapter, Chapter 53, to it which is entitled The Reception of Guests.  In this, he tells how they are to be welcomed and their needs seen to.

For us, hospitality is a special charism that we extend through our retreat house, monastic guest house, bed and breakfast, as well as in answering the phone, the door and through our website and this blog.  It is seeing the guest through the eyes of faith and seeing Christ that is within them.  Yes, it can be challenging and stretching at times, but by no means is Christ less present.  The reality in those moments is that we need to remove the blinders that we are wearing so that we can see Christ shining through.

It is hospitality that makes us see the guest not as a strange, but a friend that we have just met.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Words of Wisdom from St. Charles Borromeo

If we wish to make any progress
in the service of God
we must begin every day of our life
with new eagerness.
We must keep ourselves
in the presence of God
as much as possible
and have no other view
or end in all our actions
but the divine honor.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

...the rays of His Holy Spirit

As a magnifying glass
concentrates the rays of the sun
into a little burning knot of heat
that can set fire
to a dry leaf or a piece of paper,
so the mysteries of Christ
in the Gospel
concentrates the rays
of God's light and fire
inot a point that sets fire
to the spirit of humankind.
And this is why Christ was born
and lived in the world
and died and returned from death
and ascended to His Father in heaven...
the the glass of his humanity
He concentrates
the rays of His Holy Spirit
upon us
so that we can feel the burn.

~ Thomas Merton

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day

Crucifixion scene overlooking our monastic cemetery.

The Feast of All Souls’ has its roots with St. Odilo, an abbot of Cluny who died in 1048.  He had ordered the commemoration of the faithful departed to be celebrated annually in the monasteries belonging to his congregation.  (Cluny was a reform that began in 910 as a new and somewhat stricter form of Benedictine monastic life.)

This commemoration of the faithful departed later extended to Benedictine and Carthusian monasteries and then to the Church in general.  Before the end of the 13th century, it was almost universally celebrated on the day following All Saints.

We would be honored to remember your deceased loved ones in our prayer during the month of November.  We read the names we received aloud to the community and then place them before the Sacred Heart statue in the Atrium.  Not only will we keep the names in mind, but we also have a visual reminder on our way to and from the Cor Jesu Chapel to lift your loved ones to the Lord in our prayer. 

To send us your loved ones names to remember in pray, please email them to and put "All Souls Prayer Request" in the subject line.  Thank you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI's Intentions for November

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat MĂĽnchen

November's Intentions:

Eastern Catholic Churches:  That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be know and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.

Justice and Reconciliation in Africa:  That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the Second Synod of African Bishops.

For more information about the Apostleship of Prayer, visit: