An Exciting Announcement

In February of this year, our Community was awarded a grant of $4,100.00 from the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation.  We were rather perplexed and didn’t quite know how to react since we had not applied for a grant!  But here it was; a generous gift to be used in support of our work.  After many questions and ultimately accepting the grant, we spent the next few months looking at real needs, trying to identify the best usage for the money.

I am happy to say that we have chosen to apply the grant toward the creation of a real Sacristy for our retreat house, St. Gabriel’s.  The celebration of Mass, Adoration and other liturgical ceremonies are central to the ministry of St. Gabriel’s and we hope that by having a dedicated Sacristy for our sacred vessels, vestments, books and other such items, we will be able to more easily accommodate the needs of the many groups, including Priests and Religious, who come to us for spiritual nourishment and refreshment.

We are very grateful to the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, described as: “One of the oldest community foundations (founded in 1918), The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF) is committed to improving the quality of life in the Pennsylvania counties of Greater Philadelphia (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia).  A foundation and a public charity, TPF connects philanthropic resources to societal needs.  TPF manages assets of approximately $370 million and more than 900 charitable funds established by its fund holders.  It distributes about $25 million annually to nearly 1,000 nonprofits as grants and scholarships, and promotes greater philanthropy and stronger nonprofits in service to community needs.” 

Let the work begin!

To learn more about The Philadelphia Foundation visit:




Wasn’t there a St Bartholomew’s Fair in merry old England?  Our lives are no longer ruled by saints days and seasons….unless one lives in a monastery!  This day in August is St Bartholomew’s day, however.

St. Nathaniel (aka St Bartholomew) is mentioned in the Bible as having been brought to Jesus of Nazareth by Philip, another early disciple and Apostle.  This narrative is found in the Gospel of St.John and is the sum of what we know about him [John 1:45-51] except that legend says that he carried the Good News to Asia where he died a gruesome death while witnessing to his Risen Lord.

Have you ever wondered what he saw when he looked on Jesus that first time and heard his voice?  He gives an immediate witness, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!”  He did not even know Jesus!  Then Jesus tells him, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (aka, Jesus)

Could it be that at the bitter end of his life as he was being carved up (I mean it was grim!) – did he look up and SEE – see the heavens open and his Lord Jesus not just standing there but as the eternal “connection” between our ugly fallen world and the heaven of angels – did he see Jesus as the ladder of mercy that eternally forms the salvation of our otherwise hopeless world?  Did he see this as a confirmation of his life and witness?  In some way, I think so.  May it be not less so for us.


Rosa Mystica


Recently we had beautiful yellow roses on the Altar to celebrate a Sister’s Golden Jubilee.  Outside the rose season is here.  Alas the deer ate most of our roses.  Perhaps they taste as good as the look!  Having never tried one, I don’t know.

Do you know this devotion to the Rosa Mystica?  Our Blessed Mother has visited us under many “titles” – and this one is rather new to me.  How lovely to begin a new devotion in the month of June – and on 13 June at that.

Our age is so harsh.  Every day we read of more blood shed and violence.  We need our Mystic Rose – in fact the 3 Roses: PRAYER, SACRIFICE and PENANCE.  Let us join our prayers to hers to build a better world washed clean in the Precious Blood of the LAMB.


No, that’s not how the song went….It was “Monday,Monday” wasn’t it?  Be careful, dating ourselves here!

Today is a glorious Sunday on the East Coast after a spell of rainy days.  Is this a busy day for you?  Maybe it includes going to Church.  We hope.  Then to the garden center.  Maybe other things.  If you are lucky you might get a chance to work in your garden.  Maybe.  While we are not the sort who forbid any “work” or “entertainment” on this day, yet it is in our world generally lost as a day of REST.  At least here at the Priory we don’t run errands and we try to have a change of pace.  Try.

George Herbert has a beautiful poem called SUNDAY which begins:

“O day most calm, most bright, / The fruit of this, the next world’s bud, / th’endoresment of supreme delight, / Writ by a friend, and with his blood; / The couch of time; care’s balm and bay: / The week were dark, but for thy light: / Thy torch doth show the way.”

This is from another age, for sure.  Yet the soul of the human creature needs such a day – according to the ancient Hebrew law – the need is one day a week!  We need to think about this for the sake of mental and spiritual health.

“The Sundays of man’s life, / Threaded together on time’s string, / Make bracelets to adorn the wife / Of the eternal glorious King. ….This day my Savior rose, And did enclose this light for his…..Christ hath took in this piece of ground, And made a garden there….”

Of the Tomb and the Resurrection we read:  “There was a garden in that place……”  So, do gardening if you can, – and remember our Lord and that garden!

scenery shrine


I just had a thought……Love is the universal solvent.  Well, no, science says that water is the universal solvent….

Love however is somewhat like water.  It wants to “get there” no matter what it has to go through.  Divine Love will pass through stone – of tombs or hearts.  It will do a lot of damage on the way, if necessary, just like water driven by gravity.  Divine love is not in any hurry.  Water was in no hurry to create the Grand Canyon.

Nothing stops water.  Men can be ingenious in trying to control or contain water.  Where I grew up there are more than a thousand miles of dykes – which don’t always hold back the water.  Divine Love cannot be controlled.  Many waters cannot quench the Love our Lord has for each of us.  Nor can death.

And a quote from Benedict XVI – Joseph Ratzinger – when he ponders that the world ….”is not the meaningless plaything of voracious death.  It provides a place for exiled love, because through the mortal wounds of Jesus Christ, God has entered this world.”

egret at sunset

Egret at sunset by Mark Hollis


Our Easter season is more than half past but it is still the season of that somewhat strange word “alleluia” in the liturgy – both of the Mass and the Divine Office.  It is almost certainly a word that has it origins in the middle eastern roots of Christianity – one which is still used in its oldest form anywhere native women of that area raise a joyful “shout.”  Given what all is going on in that part of the world, one supposes than the “lu, lu, lu” in not heard often.  Sad to say.

Why do we sing this word?  Once again, sharing from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

“Singing indicates that the person is passing beyond the boundaries of the merely rational and falling into a kind of ecstasy; the merely rational he can express in ordinary language (that is why overly rational people are seldom tempted to sing).  ….Now singing finds its climactic form in the Alleluia, the song in which the very essence of all song achieves its purest embodiment….In fact we are dealing here with something that cannot be translated.  The joy that requires no words because it transcends all words.  In this it resembles certain kinds of exultation and jubilation that are to be found among all peoples …. What does it mean to sing with “jubilation”?  It means: to be unable to express in words, or to verbalize, the song that sings to you in your heart.  … A jubilus is a shout that shows the heart is trying to express what it cannot possibly say.  And to whom is such a jubilus more fittingly directed than to him who is himself ineffable? …The Alleluia is like a first revelation of what can and shall someday take place in us: our entire being shall turn into a single immense joy.”



Nature’s alleluia!



Easter Sunday has come and gone.  But the Easter season is just getting underway.  What does any of this mean in our lives today?  Probably the biggest problem the Christian religion has ever faced was and is that empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.  I mean, he was brutally executed and dead.  So that should have been that.

Christians profess that Jesus Christ is not to be found in a cemetery because He rose from the dead.  We say that.  However a “Jesus” on the loose is a real problem, so religion has somehow to nail Him down again……Explain things….Get everything defined and put it in a catechism book – understand it.  Jesus and his times can be explored and placed in history.  We can relax.

When Mary Magdalene dashed into a room full of men, she said the most astounding thing anyone ever said about someone who has died –  HE LIVES!  People who bust into the wake saying things like that are nuts.  Those first disciples had to deal with the most profoundly upsetting reality the world has ever known – a dead friend who comes through the locked door and asks “What’s for supper?”

We could be accused of sometimes trying – for about 2,000 years – to get that door locked again.  I don’t know about you, but a Jesus Christ, Son of God Almighty on the loose is enough to give me pause.  My life can’t be the same.  It’s big.  No one can understand it.  Let us not look for the LIVING among the dead!  HE LIVES.  ALLELUIA!  This is the Day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!