Monday, March 6, 2017

Lenten blessings

As any readers of this blog will have noticed, the Abbey Chronicler has been off-duty for a few weeks.

We're appraising our blog situation, and hope to be rejoining you shortly.

Meanwhile, visit the Abbey's website,, for news.

Blessed Lent!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

O Tannenbaum!

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, a week before Christmas, a group of Sisters bundled up, piled into the pickup truck, and slipped and slid over the snow to find a couple of trees for our Christmas festivities.

Across the snowy field and into the trees...

Heading up a north-facing slope in search of a Douglas Fir.

"Does anybody see a good one?"  "Look! Over there!"

"Are we sure this is the one we want?"

The descent from the mountain.

Wishing everyone a joyful, grace-filled, and merry Christmas Season!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Words for our Advent Journey

Since December 25th falls on Sunday this year, Advent is as long as it can be. We take advantage of that extra week to present some reflections on the Mass entrance antiphons for the four Sundays of Advent.

First Sunday of Advent
The season begins with the Ad te levavi ,  the first verses of Psalms 25: “ To you I have lifted up my soul; My God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame, nor let my enemies rejoice over me; let all those who trust in you not be confounded. O Lord, show me your ways, lead me in your paths.”
            This antiphon sends us on our Advent journey very realistically. Enemies, shame, and confusion are real, but our Lord does not leave us without his help and guidance. There is also a movement from and individual point of view to invoking God’s help for all who trust in him. The watchwords are trust and way.

Second Sunday of Advent
The prophet of the season, Isaiah, now makes his appearance in the Sunday antiphons, in a free combination of verses 19 and 30 from his chapter 30. “People of Zion, behold, the Lord will come to save the nations, and the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart.”
            Although the prophetic voice addresses the people of Zion, it announces universal salvation, carrying on the communal theme of the first week. Just what is “the glory of his voice”? How can it be made audible in the joy of our hearts? Will it perhaps be made more audible, the more joyful our hearts become? Perhaps resting in deep joy at God’s coming can help more people to hear the Lord’s voice and its glory.

Third Sunday of Advent
This is Gaudete Sunday, taking its name from the opening words of the entrance antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all people; the Lord is near. Be worried over nothing, but let your prayers and petitions be known before God.” 
These beautiful words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians exhort us to trust in God’s nearness. If God is close by, there is no reason to worry, so rejoice! As in our antiphon for the Second Sunday, perhaps the more wholeheartedly we rejoice, the more clearly God’s voice will be heard, and his nearness recognized by others.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
            This Sunday’s antiphon has also made its opening words famous: Rorate caeli: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down justice; let the earth be opened, and let the salvation spring up.”

            Another way of translating this thought from Isaiah 45:8 is to personify the objects of the verbs. Thus we ask the clouds to rain down the Just One, that the earth may bring forth the Savior. In either case, the vivid agricultural imagery invites us to meditate on the collaboration of heaven and earth, for our spiritual well-being as well as for our physical survival. God’s grace invigorates our souls just as the rain brings growth to the arid soil. We continue to trust that God will supply grace, and we pray that we may be open and “porous” enough to receive it, that we may help salvation to germinate throughout the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Give thanks to the Lord!

Sr. Fidelis amid the bounty of winter squash produced by the Abbey vegetable garden earlier this year. It is no longer shirtsleeve weather!

Despite the recent very dry weather in Colorado, we had a bountiful harvest from the garden this year. We even raised a unique vegetable, which seems to be the result of cross-pollination between last year's zucchini and pumpkin plants. What we thought were zucchini grew larger and larger in circumference, and eventually turned a lovely orange color. The sisters working in the garden dubbed them "pumpini", and we have been enjoying them in various recipes for several months now.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth shows off a pumpini on the vine late this summer.

Here a pumpini is enthroned as the focus of our Thanksgiving Day harvest display, surrounded by other fruits of our labors: besides garden potatoes and pumpkins, honey, cheese, and eggs from happy hens (and ducks). There are also some decorative item that we didn't raise here at the Abbey, such as the dried beans and the Indian corn.

Sacristan Sr. Maria Gabriel and Sr. Hillary with the artistic arrangement of the fruits of our labors with which they decorated our Abbey Church for Thanksgiving Day. The place of honor at the center is held by a "pumpini", the hybrid pumpkin/zucchini which grew in our garden this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sr. Elizabeth makes solemn profession of vows

On Sunday, November 6, our Sister Elizabeth Baumgartner professed her solemn vows as a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of St. Walburga. The Most. Rev. Samuel Aquila, Archbishop of Denver, presided at the festive Mass for the occasion, and some 80 friends, oblates, and relatives joined us for the celebration. All of Sr. Elizabeth’s immediate family was able to attend; she is the eldest of seven, and this was the first time they had all been together since her brother’s wedding nine years ago. 

A providential sunbeam illuminates Sr. Elizabeth as she approaches the altar in our Abbey Church as the Rite of Solemn Profession begins at Mass after the proclamation of the Gospel.

A native of Denver, Sr. Elizabeth, 46,  was born Judith Baumgartner, the eldest of the seven children of Dennis and Joan Baumgartner. She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School in Englewood in 1988, and then entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, and served for 15 years on ships stationed in Italy, Japan, Spain, and Maryland, first as a communication officer, than as a cryptologic officer.
 “At each overseas duty station,” she recalls, “I was able to travel throughout the various regions and experience the customs and cultures of the respective countries that I lived in, as well as during numerous port calls that the ships made.”
In 2007, Judith left active duty in order to more fully discern a vocation to religious life. “When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I never dreamed of entering a monastery,” she reflected. “However, as I became more involved in the life of the Catholic communities at the various duty stations, I felt a call to religious life.”
 After corresponding with our Abbey and visiting several times, she entered in 2008, and was received into the novitiate in May, 2009. She made her first profession of vows on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 2011, taking the religious name Elizabeth, for the wife of Zechariah and cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:5).
“I was drawn to the daily rhythm of prayer and work of Benedictine life,” Sr. Elizabeth recalled. “The joyful spirit of all of the Sisters, as well as their love of and fidelity to the monastic life, made a deep impression on me.”
Like most of our Sisters, Sr. Elizabeth helps out in many different work areas. She is a talented cook, and her worldwide experience of different cuisines has enriched our already varied kitchen.  She is an energetic and conscientious groundskeeper, keeping lawn machines and other equipment up and running. And while a Benedictine monastery is a different kind of community than either a big family or an aircraft carrier, sharing space with other people is nothing new to Sr. Elizabeth. Her willingness to adapt to different characters and situations makes her a treasured member of our community. 

.Abbess Mother Maria Michael and the newly professed Sr. Elizabeth after the Mass, with St. Benedict in the background. Besides the white double veil and pleated choir robe of the fully professed nun, Sr. Elizabeth wears a wreath for the celebration, symbolizing "the crown that is imperishable."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Advent Day Retreat for December 10, 2016

Day Retreat
for Advent

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Abbey of St. Walburga
Led by Sr. Maria-Walburga Schortemeyer, OSB

9:30 a.m. —3 p.m (lunch included)
Suggested offering: $25 per person

   Take a break from the “Christmas rush” and make time for Advent. Join us for a day of prayer and reflection on the themes of this beautiful season.

To register, please call 970-472-0612 or

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Abbey Calendar for 2017 is Now Available

Since we moved our Abbey from Boulder to Virginia Dale in 1997, 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of our monastic life in the far northern reaches of Colorado. Our Abbey Calendar for 2017 celebrates this anniversary with a review of our history, and photos celebrating the adventures of the past two decades, as well as some much older photographs from our pioneering days in Boulder.

The calendar is available from the Abbey Gift Shop for $12.50.Shipping for first calendar $2.75; $1.25 for each additional calendar ordered -- please call 970-472-0612 for more information or to place an order.