Friday 1st. In Chapter this morning, Dom Bede commented on the Rule of Saint Benedict’s teaching on humility. Bede coined a new phrase to describe asceticism that has lost its way: ‘self-imperialism.’
Saturday 2nd. Father Innocent is planning for travel, home to Nigeria for a brief visit. He has been there once since arriving at Calvary in 2008. Today marked 60 years of profession for Brother Léo. He says his mother took the train from Memramcook to see him on that day, but the superior at the time, Dom Alphonse, did not have her brought from town to the monastery, and Léo has never known why.
Sunday 3rd. Brother Stephan is back, and Henry was here in plenty of time for Glic’s profession, which was a joyful moment. Exteriorly, first vows mean that Glic changes his white scapular for a black one, like the rest of us wear. First vows are for three years. At lunch we talked about many things, including Donald Trump, who does not inspire great confidence on the part of our Brother Henry. Henry is originally from the USA.
Monday 4th. To celebrate the Annunciation, and Brother Léo’s Jubilee, the Sisters joined us for midday prayer and lunch. Mère Alfreda was here, along with Sisters Anne, Thérèse and Maureen. Lunch seemed to be to their liking. It was great to have them by. In the corner where I sat, we talked a bit about books and movies. And Léo. And food.
Tuesday 5th. Some days, cats are a discrete presence around here. Other days, today, wherever you look outside you see them. How many cats might we have? Leaving such questions behind, Dom Bede made his way into town today by bicycle, after donning his bright orange safety jacket. In the town’s centre he was able to inspect the site of the car accident of yesterday. A vehicle fleeing the police at high speed ramped through the air, through a pole and into a lady’s dwelling.
Wednesday 6th. Steve’s sister and her husband took leave of us after a nice few days’ visit. In Chapter, we got an update on our soon-to-be-operative back-up generator. Dom Bede pointed out that, unusually, we did not have even one power outage the past winter.
Thursday 7th. Each month a little ordo with page numbers for hymns lets us know which Saints we will be celebrating, what hymns to them we’ll sing. Our Ordo is based on the Ordo the Order sends out: some memorials are facultative, others are chosen to be celebrated Order-wide on a given year, such as Saint Stanislaus, patron of Poland April 11th this year.
Friday 8th. Dom Bede announced in Chapter that Saturday April 16th will be a special day here, a day of prayer for refugees and immigrants. That will be the day Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew visit the Island of Lesbos off the coast of Turkey, which is currently overcrowded with refugees.
Saturday 9th. One advantage with the geothermal heating system is, warmer rooms in spring and early autumn because heat is always available. Previously, the Abbot had to decide when to switch the system on and off. Though Bede laughs at the suggestion that this spring seems promising (all is cool and grey outside) he admits it’s the least winter-like April we’ve had in several years.
Sunday 10th. A little sunlight was reflecting off the edge of the mostly white lake this afternoon. Surprisingly bright. The dirt road winding around the side of the dairy barn has been dragged with a weight to make it flatter after the melt. It looked as though more earth had been aded to it, too. Ready to roll and roll they will, at tilling, planting, harvest time.
Monday 11th. Dom Bede spoke about obedience in Chapter; specifically, about when it would and when it would not be necessary to ask permission. Bishop Robert Harris from the diocese of Saint John was by for lunch; always a joyous occasion. He said that the Diocese’s recent Disciple Maker Index Survey succeeded in eliciting an unusually large response. As Msgr. Harris had recently visited Calcutta, we were able to hear about life there, and about Bishop Harris’ ties to Mother Teresa’s religious family. Tales of our various overseas experiences ensued, with hair-raising accounts of the feared army ant.
Tuesday 12th. The milk tester was by yesterday and left us a report with our dairy farm ranking. We did well. We are #2 of 3 farms in the county, and are above average for Canada. The ranking system seems a bit complicated. Father Innocent went to Walmart today to look for a suitcase. It was too windy to bike today, except for brief trips around the property.
Wednesday 13th. Father Innocent took a bucket load of earth to the greenhouse using the tractor, today. Then his work began preparing the beds, to which plants started indoors will soon be transplanted. Innocent visited the sisters’ green house this week in order to see the set-up there. This year, apparently, that green house will not be in use. Innocent got stuck with the truck while at the Sisters so Steve drove over and pulled him out.
Thursday 14th. The power is still going out from time to time as work on the back-up generator continues. It turns out that we will need both the new generator and the one it was supposed to be rendering obsolete. Each generator will supply a separate part of the operation in the event of a power outage, so now they need to be shielded from one another. Field fertilising season looms, and as such the big truck that gets filled with liquid manure, as well as the rig for filling the truck from the septic lagoon, are being tuned up.
Friday 15th. High winds raised some debris from around the new generator this afternoon; plastic over the roof, towards the lake. Felliniesque!
Saturday 16th. Father Roger said Mass for immigrants and refugees, just as Pope Francis neared the conclusion of his visit to Lesbos. Here as elsewhere the turn in world events gives pause, and the Pope’s gesture strikes home.
Sunday 17th. All is quiet when the monks begin their prayers at 3:40 -sort of. These days, the blast of an ATV motor is not rare at that time of day; local youths taking advantage of night’s stillness in order to use the highway as a drag strip. Somewhat more gingerly Dom Bede and Father Graham set out on the highway after Mass, for the regional meeting in Rougemont Québec, and a stop at our motherhouse in Mistassini.
Emerging from winter
Monday 25th. Dom Bede and Father Graham made their way back to the monastery, encountering friends of Father Clovis’ en route of a sudden and out of the blue. Things were quiet enough here. The Abbot spent part of the night in the emergency room being treated for a urinary tract infection. One development is that since this chronicle left off, the back-up generator has become fully operational – end of a saga!
Tuesday 26th. Father Clovis is busily gathering cut branches from our apple orchard. The greenhouse stove is emitting sweet smoke, and tomato plants are newly emerging from the earth there. The Ford had its tires changed from winter to summer today. Opinion from those visiting Thebeau Enterprises Ultramar was that, although we have had less rain than normal this month, the ground will not prove too dry for farmers.
Wednesday 27th. Our trucks have been at work spreading manure on the fields. Unfortunately, repairs have been springing up for Steve to carry out, here and there. This morning both the sump pump and the drain in the bottom-most section of the milking parlor gave out. “Paging Red Green!”
Thursday 28th. A tree on our front lawn was cut down in impromptu fashion. Someone just decided it was time to do so, which is not our usual procedure. Looking down from the second floor, the front lawn seems to look better without the tree, as there are now so many trees, getting bigger. The situation of not so long ago-Calvaire being a barren-looking place-is no longer the same.
Friday 29th. Our first Montbéliard cross breed is now nearly ready to calve herself. Montbéliard cows are renowned for their sturdiness, which enables them to tough winters in Northern France, outside. Aurora is a strikingly even-tempered cow.
Saturday 30th. Brother Léo has been dipping into some authors that are new to him: Charles de Montalembert (first published work, life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary); Columba Marmion. Upstairs, a window facing east that wasn’t replaced with the others has partially shattered, and the inner pane is cracked. These windows were/are true antiques.