Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Corpus Christi Weekend -- Chant Workshop and Eucharistic Procession

 This past Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ -- still known popularly by its former Latin name, Corpus Chisti. We took advantage of the beautiful Latin Vespers and Mass propers of the day's liturgy to schedule our annual Gregorian Chant Workshop for the days preceding the feast.
Chant workshop participants sing with Sr. Hildegard as they practice the Latin Introit for Sunday's Mass of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
 We had fifteen chanters this year, ranging in age from 10 to 83 years old, and coming from New Mexico, Montana, and even Minnesota as well as from Colorado.

Nuns, retreatants, and visitors gather around an outdoor altar in the guest courtyard after Sunday Mass to pray at our first stop in our Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
The weather smiled upon our Corpus Christi procession, with cool temperatures and fluffy white clouds scudding through the blue Colorado sky to give some relief from the sun, especially for those of us dressed in black. We sang our way around the Abbey building, pausing to pray at four altars which had been tastefully decorated by teams of Sisters with textiles, statues, and flower arrangements.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mosaic Art at the Abbey

Creativity flows in our Abbey Conference Room with twelve eager mosaicists at work.

This past weekend was our annual Mosaic Art Workshop, which we have been hosting with artist Kathy Thaden for five years now. The many windows in the conference room provide lost of air and light for the twelve participants that Kathy is able to take each year. Not surprisingly, the registration roster fills up very fast, and there is always a waiting list. (For more on Kathy beautiful mosaic art, please visit her own website: www.thadenmosaics.com.)

On the morning of Trinity Sunday we all got an early start when the fire alarm went off just after midnight. The mosaicists had been working together since Thursday evening, so they had become a cohesive group of ladies, all very comfortable with each other. By the time Sr. Hildegard woke up enough to stumble over to the guest wing to make sure they were okay, the whole crowd was standing outside, enjoying the mild spring weather and looking at the stars.

Our supersensitive fire detection system sounds the clarion call at the slightest suspicion of smoke or heat -- this time it seems to have been set off by an electrical glitch of some kind. Not so good for getting uninterrupted sleep, but when it comes to fire detection, the more sensitive, the better.

A close-up of the artists at work on their colorful mosaic pieces.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Welcoming Wayfarers

Sunday evening we had a chance to exercise hospitality the way St. Benedict would have back before websites, or even postal services. Bill Marcell,  who is bicycling from Florida to Alaska (yes, that's right), had been hoping to make it to Laramie, 30 miles north of the Abbey, but the cold rainy weather had slowed him down. Stopping to eat at The Forks, the landmark restaurant and gas station in Livermore, 14 miles south of us, he inquired about finding a place to stay. Our Livermore neighbors recommended he call us, and he appeared just after Vespers. He departed this morning, during Mass, so we weren't able to schedule a photo opportunity with this modern pilgrim, For more on his journey, visit his website: www.keys2alaska.com

Bill is not the first two-wheeled wayfarer to stop by the Abbey. Several years ago a whole group of young men from Fort Collins stopped off at the beginning of a longer trip they were taking. And a few years after that, another lone cyclist had to call it a day sooner than planned because of rain. But 2015 has been the best year so far for cyclists. In the summertime a couple from France stopped by for a night. Not satisfied with one continent, they are cycling around the world -- with a few exceptions in the form of oceans.

Then in September last year, we met Cynthia, on her way from Washington State to Florida. She had already walked across the country a few years before, and was now doing it by bicycle. She ended up camping out on a couch in our parlor, since every single bed was occupied that particular night. Since she'd spent lots of nights in a tent, the parlor couch was comparatively palatial.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Springtime Solemnities

Sacristan Sr. Maria Gabriel arranges the bounty of beautiful cut flowers donated for our Abbey Church from our florist friends at Flower Corner in Fort Collins.

This is one of those years where, as some say, the June solemnities all come in May. The celebration of the 50 days of Eastertide ends with the Solemnity of Pentecost, preceded by the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord. (Along with the rest of the Archdiocese of Denver, we now celebrate Ascension Thursday on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Some of us are still adjusting to that, but it seems less odd every year.)

Following Pentecost this Sunday, we look forward to Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi on the next two Sundays. (Properly, this last is now known as "The Solemnity of the Most Holy Boy and Blood of Christ", but the old Latin name is much handier.)

Since all of these liturgical celebrations depend on the date of Easter, they frequently fall in June, but this year's early Easter brings them all into May. It remains to be seen whether we will have an outdoor procession this year for Corpus Christi, but many of us have vivid memories of past years, marching around the Abbey grounds in flowing black cucullas, singing and reciting litanies while roasting in the alpine sunshine under the bright blue Colorado sky. It's always a nice custom, but having the feast fall in May increases the likelihood of cooler weather.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Making Benedictine Connections Around the World

We were happy to welcome a fellow Benedictine Nun from Down Under for several weeks this spring. Sr. Hilda, OSB, from Jamberoo Abbey in New South Wales, Australia, made the long journey to little ol' Virginia Dale for a personal retreat. While here she got a glimpse of our picturesque landscape, and even had the opportunity to make a field trip to Laramie, Wyoming -- famous the world over from Westerns. On her departure, Sr. Hilda was so kind as to praise our liturgical life and hospitality, and started on her long journey home refreshed and renewed in body, soul, and spirit.

Since snow does not fall in the region of her home monastery, she was especially appreciative of our several April snowstorms, and took advantage of the opportunity to build a snowman and practice throwing snowballs -- at rocks, fortunately, not at us. Indeed, perhaps we had such a snowy April just because of her prayers!
Our Australian visitor loved standing out in the white stuff falling out of the sky.