March 2017

Lent on Calvary

Wednesday 1st. Ash Wednesday Mass went well.

Our truck got a little help from Garage Thebeau today. We presently have two vehicles for the community plus one, a second pick up, for the farm. We tried leasing our car rather than buying it this time. Next year with the end of the lease we’ll see how that worked out money-wise.

Friday 3rd. With Lent’s approach and beginning, a few guests have been with us after a quiet spell in the guesthouse. One guest has been back for a long retreat after more than ten years’ absence and some significant life-changes.

Saturday 4th. With no dire weather forecasts in the air this time, the chapel was fairly full with Miramichiers for Saturday, English-language Mass. The response of that many voices, with their “For the glory of God and the good of all his Holy Church” is something fairly new for us on Saturdays, lending a different atmosphere to prayer.

Sunday 5th. Brother Stephan delivered a nice rendition of Johann Krieger’s prelude in G minor on the organ at Mass offertory today. It’s a piece of music that few would tire of.

Monday 6th. There was a nice dog, alone outside the barn this afternoon. A rare sight here. He wandered around past our cemetery, to the garage, looked around; seemed as though maybe he was lost but no it was Rémi’s dog. Rémi is our farm hand. Not all dogs are as tranquil as his around our livestock.

Tuesday 7th. This week the monks have to tackle question two for the house report, and give their answer on Saturday. There are actually three questions in one to tackle, all having to do with the contemplative life: How do you stay focused? What distracts you? How do you deal with it?

Wednesday 8th. Brother Léo is reading about the early life and ministry of Louis-Marie Parent, a priest who seems to have been born to shake things up, Léo is getting quite a kick out of it.

Thursday 9th. Our farm hands went to the big and well-attended farm equipment show in Moncton today. Lunch out at the Golden Arches. So, our neighbour Rhéal who works once in a while milked with Glic in place of Alphonse or Mike. Rhéal once had his own dairy farm and was happy to have his first chance in a while to milk.

Friday 10th. Steve went to Saint John today to get some farm equipment. Nice day to drive.

One of our cooks was back to work this week after a few months off due to a back problem. She is a going concern, as they say in the Miramichi, and it is great to have her back.

Saturday 11th. We had our discussion of question two, then worked out some details of how the liturgy will function in Bede’s absence (12 days), and Glic’s absence (three months). There is a lot to wonder at and about, as regards contemplation, and everyone chipped in.  Bede for his part said he feels the community’s Godward focus is strong.

Sunday 12th. As daylight gains on winter, tree damage from the big ice storm is more visible. The inside of the trees is bright, where they are broken and this stands out in the bleak March landscape.

Dom Bede seems to have a knack for finding commercial-free YouTube playlists for lunch music. Today it was Classical Music of the United Kingdom, with sounds familiar and less so. Among the YouTube users’ comments, one that surprised me: “wish I was born in the UK I was born in the US.” We can’t all be British.

Monday 13th. Towards 5:00, some villagers gingerly walked across our frozen lake next to the treeline. From a distance, they seemed fragile against so much white. After turning the corner, they re-emerged on skates.

Tuesday 14th. In preparation for his trip to Rome, Dom Bede made his way to Moncton earlier than planned. This was in order to dodge an upcoming storm which could make getting to Moncton from here difficult. Father Roger and Maurice Gallant re-began work trimming the damaged trees out front. Our front lawn is peppered with trees. I will try to count them for you once the snow is gone.

Wednesday 15th. In the wee hours the wind was howling full force, and it was snowing. The lids of the dumpster were blowing open and shut, banging. Rémi was here by 5:30 to begin clearing the snow: drifts in some places, lawn just visible through the snow in others.

This afternoon, Glic did his last milking until mid-June and set his sights on the land of pasta where he soon will be.

Thursday 16th. A Deacon soon to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Moncton has been on retreat with us.

Glic with Sister Aquinata

Friday 17th. Brother Glic went to Moncton today for flights to Toronto, then Rome for the Formators Program. Glic was wondering if there will be power point presentations he can copy and take back with him. The roster of teachers for the program will include such monastic heavyweights/authors as Sister Aquinata Böckmann.

Glic was in charge of watering the house plants and has handed that task over to Father Clovis.

Saturday 18th. Father Innocent set up Mass in place of Glic. And Brother Léo did the first reading, turning a few heads doing so as he has not read at Mass in years.

Sunday 19th. The farm cats were enjoying a bit of warm sunshine today, finding just the right spot to sit along the barn wall.

Monday 20th. It is odd not to hear Glic’s footsteps in the house.

Glic (left) in Rome

A retreatant from out of province has shown up for his first retreat. Older fellow, and nice.

Tuesday 21st. Brother Léo had a visitor, a work acquaintance from Moncton Cold Storage several decades back. The pump tapped out briefly this morning, meaning, no water. Brother Stephan opened the trap door outside the back door, descended and hit reset.

Abbot Bede meets the Pope









Wednesday 22nd. Father Clovis’ car was parked near our small apple orchard, the aluminum ladder was out and he was working on the trees, a good sign of spring.

Linda our cook prepared a potato chowder with the bottled bar clams we’d received as a gift. These big clams are sort of a gourmet item which is to say, expensive. The chowder was extremely good, even to those not mad for seafood.

The glacier-like stretch of ice on our front drive persists.

Thursday 23rd. Most years we receive word from trappers in the woods as to signs they pick up from the natural world regarding an early or late end to winter, this year we’ve heard nothing.

The birds today were skittish, it was mild out, started snowing just a bit. The birds would flutter around then all return to one tree in a very brief space of time. What does that mean? I guess you’d have to ask a trapper.

Friday 24th. A special calendar in the milk house office has a record to fill in each month regarding breeding. There are 26 spaces, but these days that is not enough. Along with the date, the breed of the sire is listed in code: HO Holstein, SR Swedish Red and White, BS Brown Swiss, AY Ayrshire.

Saturday 25th. Our two travellers sound happy in Rome, and are hoping to meet up for lunch before Bede flies home, soon.

Sunday 26th. A nice group of younger people from PEI finished their retreat and headed for the bridge. One of them left behind an impressive ink sketch of the statue of the Virgin Mary which stands facing the guesthouse.

Monday 27. A light peers out under an annex door, or through the window through the night: the electric light on Father Innocent’s plants, started inside before the greenhouse is fired up to receive them.

Tuesday 28th. A recent guest left behind a beautiful note about what his time here meant to him. Brother Léo works the front door mornings and afternoons. He has a chair by the window and in between calls and visitors, he reads. Through the window, people driving in or walking by smile and wave to him often enough. Often enough, it is very quiet.

Wednesday 29th. Dom Bede got back to us yesterday. He seemed pleased with a busy few days in Rome which brought him in contact with: Pope Francis, the Peliti family, our communities of Tre Fontane and Frattochie. He also managed to meet our Glic upon arrival, and present some of the city to him. This is Glic’s first visit to Rome.

Thursday 30th. Sunrise now occurring just after 7, the view for monks facing the south windows in the chapel at Lauds can be exhilarating. By Vespers the same scene of lake and trees often seems just a sleepy, snowy spring.

Friday 31st.  With a complete coat of snow on the ground, smooth and soft, one can see to what degree the barn cats manage to make the rounds in a day, or a week. Are the cats looking forward to spring? When they are relaxing outside the barn their expression seems to suggest: “Whatever, man.”