Thursday, 31 December 2009

Hogmanay New Year

On the eve of New Year some friends braved the drive through snow to the Shrine of Schoenstatt.

A-M writes,

Well today I was still taking photos in the snow but at the Scheonstatt

shrine in Milton of Campsie.

A true sanctuary in the midst of the biting cold.

The grounds are usually great for exploring and enjoying the peace and

quiet- but not today.

Last day of the year..............


Octave of Christmas

1 January


The most famous Marian homily of antiquity

From a homily by Saint Cyril of Alexandria

(Hom. 4: PG 77, 991.995-996)

This is the most famous Marian homily of antiquity. It was delivered in the Church of Saint Mary at Ephesus between 23 and 27 June 431, while the third Ecumenical Council was in session there. This Council, at which Cyril presided as papal delegate, condemned Nestorius, and solemnly recognized Mary's title of Theotokos, Mother of God.

Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world's reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say:

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

We salute you, for in your holy womb he, who is beyond all limitation, was confined. Because of you the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.

What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the holy Trinity.

Who can put Mary's high honor into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking his own servant to become his mother?

Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

New Year - Hogmanay

Our Lady of the Southern Cross

On this Eve of New Year, this beautiful picture reminds us that wherever Jesus is present His Blessed Mother is also close by and whenever Mary is, there is a sense of community, of friendship and fraternity. Our gaze fixed at this time on our Infant Saviour may His peace be with you and all your families this Christmas and throughout the coming year.

Artist Paul Newton said that the oil painting was commissioned by Cardinal Pell for World Youth Day in Sydney 2009. Paul’s words are moving and deeply theological.

He says

``I was approached by Cardinal Pell about six months ago.

``Over two months I worked up designs, exploring a number of different compositions before finally settling on this one.''

His aim was to capture the intimate relationship between Mary and her son.

``She is totally focused upon him and holds him affectionately to herself,'' Mr Newton said. ``At the same time she holds him so as to face us, the viewers, as if presenting or giving him to us.

``I wanted to suggest in Mary's demeanour serenity and great humility, not drawing attention to herself but rather to her son.

``While the painting features Mary it is really Christo-centric. He is the only one making eye contact with us. In his gaze I attempted to suggest not only the innocence of a baby but also the wisdom of ages, present in the one who would become our saviour.''

The painting features symbols of Australia, such as a wattle garland on Mary's head,

the Southern Cross in the night sky, a background landscape with gum trees and a broad meandering river, inspired by the paintings of Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts. There's also the NSW floral emblem, the waratah, sculpted into the corners of the frame.

``The cardinal also asked me to include a Broome pearl, which Mary wears as an earring. The pearl is a traditional Christian symbol... the `pearl of great price'.''

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Holy Child laughs . . .


The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

God loved the world so much . . . . Jn. 3:16

At the Carols Service for the Knights at the Guesthouse – at the Christmas refreshments there was a very small child looking very happy. She smiled and beamed her benign gaze on each one, looking into our eyes with wonder.

This morning, the Gospel (Lk. 2:22 . . .) speaks of Simeon

In the Temple and the widow Anna.

Both speak the body language of their aging years and speak the words of prophesy.

The body language of the Child Jesus expresses the infant’s contentment and smiling with embrace of love.

We have just been singing of the ‘laughing eyes’ in the opening Hymn:

The Holy Child of Bethlehem

beholds his Mother’s face,

And laughs to see reflected there

His own dear gift of grace

His gift of grace.

And that brightens our morning in celebrating the Mass, asking the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Holy Family

27 December [Holy Family]

Lk 2:41-52

Homily - Fr. Aelred

After the visit of the shepherds to the manger St. Luke tells us that ‘Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart’. And at the end of today’s Gospel Luke again says, ‘Mary stored up all these things in her heart’. Mary kept the memory of these events in her heart with a view of discerning the hidden meaning behind the marvellous happenings that she was caught up in.

Mary didn’t immediately fully understand the meaning of what was happening to her and what God was asking of her. But that’s how it always is. Profound lived experience always begins with some perplexity. We don’t know at the time what is happening to us. It’s only afterwards, perhaps long afterwards, that our eyes are opened and we begin to understand. Hence, the importance of reflection.

More than once we read the Gospels that Mary was perplexed. So what did she do? She pondered, reflected and prayed, seeking to understand what was happening to her and her Son. Mary comes across in the Gospels as a silent, reflective person who all her life pondered and prayed over how God dealt with her.

It sometimes happens with us that we have an experience but miss the meaning of it because we don’t reflect on it. But with reflection, we can derive precious insights from our experiences. It’s easy to recall pleasant experiences, but not so easy to recall painful ones. We are tempted to suppress our painful memories. Even so, they can still influence us, lying beneath the surface. In fact, they can be the root cause of a lot of poison in our lives. So we need to recall our painful experiences too: it’s how we recall them that matters. They can provide the raw material from which we derive understanding, compassion and wisdom. When Jesus got lost in Jerusalem it was a painful and anxious time for Mary. Yet she stored the memory in her heart, and by so doing, learned from it.

There are unreflective people who seem to learn little from experience. But for others experience is the real fruit of much pondering.

Parents need a lot of wisdom. What Mary learned from her praying and pondering she passed on to her child, who St. Luke tells us, ‘increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men’. Jesus was taught, nourished, and formed by a wise woman who loved God with all her heart and soul.

Ida of Nivelles

Bl. Ida of Nivelles, 1198-1231, Cistercian nun of Ramage

The Life of Ida of Nivelles, “Send Me God” translated Martin Cawley ocso, pp. 62-63.

21. The Christ Child at the Christmas Masses

(21a) Once on that most sacred night when the Lord of majesty (Ps. 28.3) deigned to be born of the Virgin (Antiphon: Christmas), bodily illness confined Ida to the infirmary regime.[i] When vigils were over she sat out in the cloister, waiting expectantly for the Lord to send her a grace-filled blessing.[ii] Then, at the first mass, when the celebrant was elevating the host, she saw in his hand a little boy, newborn it seemed and truly fair beyond the beauty of little ones anywhere.

(21 b) But on seeing him, there came over her a fear and a trembling (Ps. 54.6), because never had she had any longing to see him in that human guise. She was concerned lest her faith prove incomplete and fall short of believing in the wondrous mystery of this sacrament and thus lessen her merit with God, inasmuch as human reason, or rather human sight, would be providing experiential evidence. But the Lord knew full well the firmness of her faith and he did not let her be upset for long, for at that very moment he inwardly bade her rid her mind of all such scruples. Reassured thus by the Lord, her attention went to the priest who was singing the mass and to the status of his soul, as she watched his manner of dividing that little boy into the three parts (EO 53.100), and to his trembling reverence as he consumed that delightful and salutary banquet-fare. She lingered on in the cloister,"[iii] seated again at the same spot, until the end of lauds, inwardly relishing the sweetness of that wondrous vision, and ever jubilantly joyous of mind.

(21 c) After lauds had been sung, Ida washed her hands and rinsed the inside of her mouth,"[iv] and so entered the church with the other infirm nuns (EO 4.10), and sat down in a corner to the rear of the choir. Then, while the second mass was being sung, she again beheld in the priest's hands that little boy, so refined and so gracious of countenance, whose inner joyousness showed outwardly like an overflow of honey.

(2Id) When the other infirm sisters were going in procession up to the altar to communicate (EO 57 and 58), Ida was somewhat terrified and withdrew her foot (Gregory, Dial n Prol. 1), lest she be caught within the procession still unable to ingest that living babe."[v] Hence with ardent yearning she begged her Beloved to show the goodwill of his mercy by tempering these wondrous visions of his sacramental body and enabling her to partake of it unimpaired and to welcome his whole self into her entrails and into the very marrow of her soul.[vi] She lingered at the same spot until high mass. Even then, just as in the earlier masses, she again beheld the little boy, slightly taller this time in stature. He was coming down from the altar to offer her his embrace and his kiss, and in his sweet warm mercy he was delightfully surrendering himself to be embraced and kissed by her in return. And then in a gracious whisper he told her: 'Oh, sweet friend, I have been showing you my humanity such as it underlies the form of the bread. This I have done, not from any doubt about your faith or your readiness to believe, but from my own wish to let you know with what love, what concern, what zeal I regard yourself!' Hearing this, Ida answered in the silence of her thoughts: 'But oh, my sweetest one, what gratitude, what joyous exultation would fill my inmost heart if you would instead show me how praiseworthy, how love worthy you are in your divinity.' The sweet boy replied to her thought saying: 'Do not ask such things of me, daughter, since no mortal can, in this life, come to know what I am like in my divinity. For the present, peace to you, oh friend of peace; have peace in me; for when I make all things new and gather you to myself (Apoc. 21.5), then can you come to know the glory of my divinity face to face (Gen. 32.30).'

(21 e) Then, lest her sisters be scandalized that on a day of such solemnity she not receive Christ's sacrament, she asked her beloved Jesus"[vii] to deign to allow her the possibility of receiving his body without difficulty. Accordingly, the vision came to an end and she approached the altar with the rest of her sisters and received with all peace the very author of peace. And the wondrously abundant and agreeable savour (Ps. 144.7) which divinely inebriated her that day, was to persevere in her soul up until Candlemas.

[i] In infirmitorio cogebat detineri: for participation in the liturgy by those in the infirmary, see EO 91 and 92. Ida was attending the Christmas hours in church, seated behind the choir.

[ii] In infirmitorio cogebat detineri: for participation in the liturgy by those in the infirmary, see EO 91 and 92. Ida was attending the Christmas hours in church, seated behind the choir.

[iii] In eadem autern loco claustri in quo residebat. [. . .} usque adfinem laudum permansit: a chilly spot on Christmas night for someone sick, but the community as a whole was expected to sit there for the intervals between the Christmas offices and masses. Individually, however, they also had the option of warming up in the calefactory, though not that of going back to bed (EO 4).

[iv] I do not find this personal oral ablution mentioned elsewhere.

[v] The nuns' embarrassment over this elaborate ritual is illustrated in Lew 19.

[vi] Et totum totis animae suae medullis inviscerare posset. Literally: 'be able to inviscerate the whole him with the total marrows of her soul', See Arn I.3b, n. 21

[vii] Rogavit dilectum suum Jesum: for Goswins rather rare uses of the name Jesus, see Niv 2e, n. 16: Niv 29b--3: Arn II.5b: Ab l l e. The less emotionally-charged name, 'Christ', can come without supportive terms of reverence or endearment, and can be written as a simple 'x', imitating the Greek monogram. The grammatical ending is then added as a superscript. But not so here, as Ida invokes Jesus in prayer, she embellishes the name with a term of affection (beloved). In B fol. 19vb Jesus is spelt out in full, and its Greek monogram worked in: ihesum. In A fo1. 164r there is simply monogram ihm (the 'm' being for the grammatical case) but an extra term of affection is slipped in: the adjective pium, (her loving, kind, beloved, Jesus).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

See Christmas 2008 Post -

Thursday, 25 December 2008
The Infant Resting on the Cross.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Charles Dumont Scourmont Abbey

Scourmont Abbey:
see the Abbot's Chapter and Homily word,

Writings of Fr. Charles.
Here are three of his more recent publications:

Charles Dumont Monk-Poet
A Spiritual Biography

Elizabeth Connor OCSO; Foreword by Mark A. Scott OCSO
Introduced to the spiritual theology of the twelfth-century Cistercian Fathers when he entered the abbey of Scourmont, Belgium, Charles Dumont shared his ever deepening knowledge as editor of the Order's French-language journal,Collectanea Cisterciensia, in articles and translations of texts, and in lectures in Europe and North and South America. He has also written and published poetry, combining his love of language with his love of the Fathers and their language.

Elizabeth Connor earned an M.A. in Classics at the John Hopkins University before entering the Abbaye de Notre-Dame du Bon Conseil in Québec, where she has served as formation director and prioress.
ISBN: 978-0-87907-040-3


Pathway of Peace
Cistercian Wisdom According to Saint Bernard

Charles Dumont OCSO

'A new book on Saint Bernard. And we mean new, not simply in the sense that it is another book, but that it is a book capable of communicating the bernardine good news in all its freshness, in the newness that inspired the abbot of Clairvaux in the twelfth century.

This work by Father Charles Dumont will be helpful to all of us who want to read Saint Bernard's works fruitfully. Still more, reading this work will nourish and motivate a generous self–giving and will enlighten and guide the offering of our life. The author knows how to put the permanent values presented by St Bernard alongside our present–day experiences. He knows how to distinguish what is obsolete from what is enduring and he has re-translated the abbot of Clairvaux into a contemporary idiom to help us understand it.

Charles Dumont is a Cistercian monk of Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey in southwestern Belgium. Already well known for his work on the spirituality of another of the Cistercian Fathers, Aelred of Rievaulx, he shares in this volume a lifetime of reflection on the doctrine of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.'
ISBN: 978-0-87907-687-0
ISBN: 978-0-87907-787-7


Praying The Word of God
Charles Dumont OCSO

There are numerous ways of reading the Bible and as many reasons for doing so. In this essay, Pére Dumont traces the sources and the historical usage of the term lectio divina in western Christendom in order to focus on its primary and fundamental meaning: The Bible read and received as a 'word coming from the mouth of God'.

There are numerous ways of reading the Bible and as many reasons for doing so. In this essay, Pére Dumont traces the sources and the historical usage of the term lectio divina in western Christendom in order to focus on its primary and fundamental me...
ISBN: 978-0-72830-150-4

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sr. Denise Memorial

Late Advent Day 23rd Dec. O Emmanuel.

Mass Community Memorial of Sr. Denise OCSO

Clarté-Dieu is the name of the Abbey where Sr Denise has been assassinated by bandits/robbers

Clarté-Dieu; the Clear God (if it may be called) is a lovely title, ‘Clear God’.

And the words addressed by the Abbess at the Cathedral are in fact simple and clear; just taking some of her lines:

v She died on 7 December, 2009.

v It was also she who woke us up in the morning.

v living each day as if she knew it was her last.

v It is a ripe fruit that she harvested.

v The month of December was very dear to Sr. Denise and she said that she would die in December.

v it was thanks to her cries and to the noise of the shots that the rest of the community reached safety. Otherwise, more would have died.

v Let us pray to the Lord that the blood that has been shed may enrich the Church and help it to bear good fruit.

v May Our Lady of Peace and Our Lady of la Clarté-Dieu, Virgin most pure, guard us with her protection.

As we celebrate this Mass we pray for her soul and thank God for her life sacrifice and we are inspired by her life to sacrifice and offer our lives.

La Clarté-Dieu Abbey

December 7, 2009 : Sister Denise Kahambu Muhayirwa was born in 1964 in Kiluvu (D.R. Congo). She entered La Clarté-Dieu in 1991 and made her solemn profession in 1999. Sister was 44 years old and had been in monastic vows for 15 years when the Lord called her. She deceased victim of the violence. (

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Assassination Cistercian Sister Congo

Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance
(Trappists) ocso org

La Clarté-Dieu (Congo

17 December. On 13 December a second attack on La Clarté-Dieu (Murhesa, Dem.Rep.CONGO), was stopped by the police.

7 December, 2009. After dark three armed men entered the compound of La Clarté-Dieu. Sr. Denise Kahambu Muhayirwa (44), the guestmistress, attempted to flee and was shot dead. The attackers escaped. Two nights earlier in a nearby parish a priest was killed in similar circumstances. Please pray for Sr Denise, for the community of la Clarté-Dieu, for her bereaved family and for the troubled and strife-ridden region.


December 9, 2009


Your Excellency Monsignor Francis Xavier Maroy, Archbishop of Bukavu,

Dear priests and religious consecrated to the Lord,

Dear parents and family of Sr. Denise,

Dear brothers and sisters who have come to support us and to accompany our Sister,

On behalf of the entire community of the monastery of Our Lady of Clarté-Dieu, I express my profound gratitude for the sympathy you have shown on this mysterious day of the Pasch of our sister.

The death of Sr. Denise KAHAMBU falls in the same category as that of Fr. Daniel whom we just buried, and of all the other victims of human wickedness in our region, known or unknown.

Our Sister was called Denise KAHAMBU MUHAYIRWA.

She was born 12 December, 1964, in Kiluvu, in the diocese of Butembo-Beni.

She entered the monastery on 15 December 1991.

She made her temporary profession on 8 December, 1994, and solemn profession on 23 December, 1999.

She died on 7 December, 2009.

She excercised successively the following jobs in our community:

The service of assistance in the guest house, gardiner, portress responsible for the reception of the destitute), sub-mistress, responsibility for the farm, chantress, and the job of welcoming people as portress. It was in this last service that she died. It was also she who woke us up in the morning.

She exercised her responsibilities with energy and courage, and we saw in her a great gift of discretion. Recently she was quite busy cooking quantities of food for the poor, living each day as if she knew it was her last.

It is a ripe fruit that she harvested.

The month of December was very dear to Sr. Denise and she said that she would die in December.

She died around 8 PM, after celebrating with the community the First Vespers of the Immaculate Conception, and after singing the Salve Regina at the evening service, Compline.

It was after this chanting of the Salve that she headed to her work of clearing the tables where she had served our guests who had arrived from Goma to participate in the Clothing of their daughters, two postulants who were to begin their novitiate on 8 December.

It was around 7:30 PM, on leaving Compline, that we became aware of the presence of undesirable guests in the courtyard. Those who shot her did not speak to her, they did not ask any questions nor demand money. They pursued her as she ran, crying out, trying to escape them, and they fired a shot that went through her thigh. She fell to the ground. They also fired at the visitors, but did not hit them. The noise alerted the whole community: each one fled as she could, and we all found ourselves in the dormitory. The assailants immediately came to the doors of the dormitory, but we did not open them, and we had no way to get out to help our sister who continued to bleed. After a few minutes she died.

The death of Sr. Denise first of all allowed our visitors to save their lives.

Second, it was thanks to her cries and to the noise of the shots that the rest of the community reached safety. Otherwise, more would have died. So it is with sorrow but also with this awareness that we celebrate this event. In this, we thank our sister who gave her life for all the community, and I invite the Trappist sisters to rise and chant the Te Deum. It would be good for the choir to accompany us as well. And afterward I will continue.

Finally, this death is in solidarity with many other persons, known and unknown, innocent victims of the massacres in our midst.

We thank again each and every one for the eloquent witness of your concern and your love for our sister and our community.

Let us pray to the Lord that the blood that has been shed may enrich the Church and help it to bear good fruit.

May Our Lady of Peace and Our Lady of la Clarté-Dieu, Virgin most pure, guard us with her protection.

Bukavu, 9 December 2009
Sr Jeanne Lubingo, superior