The Background: You don’t need this post to realize that posts have slowed down in the last month. It’s not from a lack of news but a lack of time; it’s a question of being practical.
On Monday 17 July, we began celebrating on weekdays, as we do on Sundays and non-work days, Lauds in its entirety. On weekdays, we then have a brief break: the ordained monks vest, candles are lit, lights turned on and we celebrate Mass in its entirety. That is to say we are no longer celebrating Mass integrated with Lauds. That was a longstanding paradigm of celebration even when I entered the community forty years ago.
A Little Community History: At that time we also had “small group masses” on Mondays and Saturdays, throughout the day. The times and locations were posted on the bulletin board as our options for the day. That also meant that we celebrated full Lauds every Monday and Saturday. By the way, Lauds and Mass were only integrated during the Summer; the rest of the year, it was Vespers integrated with Mass.
All the same, it was an evolving practice. Around 1979, some of the non-ordained monks didn’t like Mass integrated with Vespers–they said they were too tired after the day’s work; that’s when Mass integrated with Lauds (and Lauds only) became the norm. After he retired as Abbot (1990) and was the Retreat House confessor, Fr. Mark Delery asked that we have Mass integrated with Lauds on Saturdays, so our weekend guests could assist it community Mass integrated with sung Lauds, rather than a recited Mass celebrated just for them after Saturday Lauds. Finally, after the turn of the century, we discontinued small group Masses altogether so we could celebrate one Mass (integrated with Lauds) every week day.
The Past Month’s Project: I find the present change very welcome and much more satisfying than truncating both Lauds and Mass. However, the change means that there must be readings and petitions for Lauds ever day. I spent a week and a half before 17 July getting a head start with a four week cycle of petitions for weekdays, about two months worth of petitions for saints’ memorials and feasts and four weeks of daily Lauds readings. Since then, I’ve completed the remaining thirty weeks of Lauds readings for Ordinary Time. Advent and Christmas and Lent already have Lauds readings, a project completed in the 1990’s in the hope of someday celebrating Lauds in its integrity (there was some discussion of the change then, but at that time, the possibility did not get full community support). That’s why there haven’t been many posts for the past month.
In the beginning of May, when I had major surgery, I remember telling one of the nurses that my overnight in the hospital was like a day at a spa. I quickly realized there was something wrong with that impression and said as much about my out-of-control work schedule as about the great care at Inova Hospital in Leesburg. I’m trying to stick to what I can get done and not do everything that needs to be done.
Very Important News: In this past months, as many visitors to the Abbey realize, Br. Luke suffered a fall and needed hip surgery, which was successfully performed at Winchester Medical Center. He then went to Lynn Care in Front Royal for rehab. After the full course of rehab, he regained as much mobility as possible, but would be dependent on a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Br. Luke realized and accepted the limitation and, by that time, was feeling at home at Lynn Care–which is roughly thirty miles from here. He asked to remain there, if possible, which it is. Br. Joseph Vantu brought Br. Luke’s computer printer to Lynn Care, which is how Br. Luke has been doing his art work for quite a number a years. It’s vastly reassuring to know that Br. Luke can get the care he needs and is at a place where he feels secure and at home–and is still close to the community. Please continue to keep Br. Luke in your prayers.
Our Lady of the Angels–End of an Era, New Beginnings: At the very end of July, Sr. Mary David de Fero died, the first death for the young community. Sr. Mary David was one of the two original founders of Our Lady of the Angels, who opted to change her stability to the new foundation rather than return to Mount Saint Mary, Wrentham, Massachusetts. By the way, other sisters of Wrentham have come down to Virginia and also changed their stability but Sr. Mary David and Sr. Barbara are the only two of the very original group still there. I don’t think Sr. Mary David would mind my mentioning that apart from her enormous energy and dedication to her community, she had a very frank nature and salty sense of humor. She and I got along very well. Just a week after her burial–the first burial is always a significant event in any community’s life–the sisters then celebrated the dedication of their new church. Eight monks of our United States Region were guests at Holy Cross Abbey and attended the dedication at Crozet as well as a number of our own monks.
The Canonical Visitation: Abbot Damian Carr of Spencer, down here for the dedication of Crozet’s new church, stayed on at Holy Cross to conduct our Visitation. He told me that, given our small numbers, it was one of the easiest Visitations he ever conducted. Without allowing us to rest on our laurels, it was a very encouraging experience and contributed a stimulating Visitation Card (or report) for our consideration. It was certainly a validation of Dom Joseph’s leadership and a stimulus to all of us to continue in the direction we’ve been striving to go.