For monks, we celebrate the Lenten Spring as a time to welcome the new life of Jesus’ resurrection and all the ways God is inviting us to new life in Him. So with everyone else we receive ashes as an outward sign of taking up inward movement toward reconciliation. God calls us to a self knowledge which doesn’t turn away from our need for conversion, for honest assessment of where we are in embracing our commitment of faith and the welcome of the grace being offered to help us change – a behavior, an attitude, a way of thinking.Read More »
Our Lent began in a grace filled way this year when Sister Mary Ellen of Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, MA arrived to give our annual retreat. Sister Mary Ellen provided us with a series of reflection on the treasure of monastic life, skillfully weaving together pertinent scripture passages, references to the Rule of Saint Benedict and Cistercian documents and authors, quotes from theologians and other authors as well as personal experiences and adventures.Read More »
During the second week of January Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt of the theology faculty of Loyola University in Baltimore came to Mepkin to offer classes in Christology to the men in formation. Having begun a relationship with the Mepkin community back in the 1990s when studying for his doctorate at Duke, Fritz has visited the monastery quite a number of times, and was with us last year for an abbreviated time as a monastic guest.Read More »
Genesis 12:1-4a; II Corinthians 4:1-12; Matthew 13:44-46
What a journey you have been on, Father Gerard Jonas! While still very young, growing up in a fervent Catholic family in the rural outreaches of the Philippines, you desired to be a priest. But there was great doubt this could happen, because you were a sickly youth. You persevered in your desire and received great support from the person who was to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu. Ricardo Cardinal Vidal saw something special in you and God cleared the way by restoring health to you just in time for you to enter the seminary. The same thing happened as you neared ordination. Health was restored and so you were ordained twenty five years ago by Cardinal Vidal on your mother’s birthday.Read More »
Genesis 28: 11 – 18; I Peter 2 : 4 – 9; John 15 : 9 – 17
How awesome is this place. This is none other than the House of God. This is the very Gate of Heaven… You are living stones, chosen and precious… You did not choose me, but I have chosen you.
These are the Scriptures we have heard, my brothers and sisters. These are the Scriptures which give meaning to our lives and to this day, this day we call JOY NEVER ENDING. Together they form the envelop which surrounds us and in which we bathe, by which we are nourished and through which we are energized to run the race to the end.Read More »
On May 16th, Fr. Kevin Walsh joined 14 of the novice directors from other Cistercian monasteries in the United States for a meeting at Saint Joseph Abbey in Spencer, MA. Gathered were five directors from women’s houses (including one from the common observance house of women in Idaho) and ten directors from men’s houses. Sessions were focused on the topic of spiritual accompaniment using Dom Bernardo Olivera’s book A Light for my Path to organize the presentations and discussions.Read More »
The Christian journey is the journey to come to live the fullness of God’s life. Jesus shows us the way. And today we have in the scriptures examples of the process: What must happen in us to come to our true selves at the deepest level. We start with the recognition that we have constructed a false self to protect ourselves from pain, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, of not feeling loveable. You don’t realize it until you have an encounter with self, a moment of insight, a recognition of weakness, of sin, a realization of a real need. Then comes the moment of truth that this is not who you really are and we then come to understand that we are on two journeys in life.Read More »
On January 12th, 2016, the memorial of Saint Aelred, Father Jim Caffrey began his time as a postulant at Mepkin Abbey arriving from Dublin, Ireland. A priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Father Jim had visited Mepkin a number of times, lived with us for an extended period as an observer and came to hold firmly that God is calling him to join the community at Mepkin. It was all the unfolding of his response to God’s call to live the life of a contemplative monk. His years of service as a diocesan priest included parish work and many years as director of the Office for Young Adults. In each parish he offered the faithful the opportunity to learn about contemplative prayer, in particular lectio divina. Kindly keep Father Jim in your prayers and pray for those men involved in a process of discernment with us believing God may be calling them to enter Mepkin.
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We are pleased to have Jason Allen return Mepkin to in order to have a time with us as an observer. Jason has visited Mepkin previously and grown in his belief that God is calling him to take up the Cistercian life of work and prayer living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Travelling from Athens, Georgia where he works as a manager of a restaurant, Jason came to us having been discerning his monastic call for many years. Along the way he allowed himself to visit a number of monasteries, speaking with his spiritual director regularly, relying on the wisdom and insight of his spiritual director as he came to more fully understand God’s will for him. Please keep Jason in your prayers as he begins the formal process of application to enter Mepkin.Read More »
O holy night. Fall on your knees. God has come to us. The face of God appears in the face of a tiny babe. Jesus is the face of God and the face of God is Mercy. God is love. God is Mercy. As we enter into the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as we enter into this holy night where God-Mercy, where Jesus-Mercy pitches his tent among us and dwells with us, let us be mindful of the words of our own Trappist brother, Father Louis, Thomas Merton. I have always overshadowed Jonas with my mercy. Have you had sight of me, Jonas my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.
Let us hear the echo of that mercy throughout the fourteen readings we will hear and the songs we will sing. Let us embrace the mercy who comes to us to save us and to lead us to the fulness of life.
Let us pray.Read More »
Blessed Christmas, my brothers and sisters. Blessed Christmas from the monks of Mepkin to each one of you and to all your families. There are hardly any sweeter words we can say to one another than these: Blessed Christmas! Merry Christmas! And so, let us turn to each other and say it!
What a journey we have been on this evening. What a journey. And it all ends in the magnificent cadences of the Prologue to John’s Gospel. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. How often have we heard those words? How often have we meditated on them? Some Christmases that is all I have said as I sat before the crèche, sat or knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God has become human. God has pitched his tent in our midst. God has become one of us. God is not only “out there,” or “over there” or transcendently other. God is my brother, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. Like me in all my vulnerability and in all my weakness and in all my frailty. Reflection on this phrase often led me to ponder that God did not just appear as an adult in majestic and manly power, but rather as a tiny, helpless infant; that God didn’t come to the palaces of the rich, but chose to be born of people who were poor; that God didn’t come to Rome, the center of power of the world at that time, but to an out-of-the-way place like Bethlehem and among the peripheries of society.Read More »
Genesis 28:11-18; I Peter 2:4-9; John 15:9-17
How can we celebrate the feast of Joy Never Ending this year without thinking of the two brothers we buried this year after over a century of monastic living at Mepkin? Joy captures and defines Brother Robert and Father Christian more than any other virtue or characteristic could. The two of them have given us an example of what monastic life is all about. It is about Joy. Not the surface, peripheral, ha-ha type of joy. No, the deep down freshness kind of joy. The joy that permeates us to the core, that says: Life is good, because God is good and God is here. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: abide in my love…. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. Our two brothers lived this reality to the full. When did we ever see Robert without his infectious smile? I lived with him for over 50 years and I can remember him angry or sad only once. He kept perspective in his life and would not allow the little daily annoyances to swerve him from the deeper reality of Joy Never Ending. And Father Christian’s constant mantra was: “Where there is more truth there is more joy.” His companion mantra built on this: “Joy is the main characteristic of the Christian…. There is no such thing as a sad Christian.” A Christian who may be sad, yes, but a sad Christian? No. Didn’t the new pieces to the monk crèche, crafted by our friends who are here with us, Karen and Michael, capture this so well? Robert’s smile and exuding happiness as he drove his mowing tractor, and Father Christian zipping around pushing his walker with the big smile on his face. With such examples before us, how can we not be inspired to make such joy our own?Read More »