Tag: monestary

A huge loss from the Montecito Fires

One of my friends was just here last weekend…this is a huge loss for the Episcopal community.

A news release from the Diocese of LA:

Mount Calvary
Historic Mount Calvary Retreat House, shown here in a file photo, was destroyed by a wildfire that started on November 13.

Bulletin: Montecito fire destroys

Mount Calvary Retreat House

News, Los Angeles) — The raging Montecito wildfire has destroyed historic Mount Calvary Retreat House, staff and Santa Barbara County officials have confirmed.

The resident brothers, members of the Order of the Holy Cross, and staff are safe following evacuation, said Nancy Bullock, program director for Mount Calvary, speaking by phone from All Saints by-the-Sea Church in Montecito.

Bullock said that All Saints is currently working to determine if any parishioners have lost homes in the blaze, which has claimed more than 100 residences across 2,500 acres. Bullock’s husband, Jeff, is rector of the parish.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, who is in close telephone contact with clergy leaders in the Santa Barbara area, asks the prayers of the diocesan community for all those affected by the fire. The bishop and staff of the Diocese of Los Angeles have pledged their support in assisting the coordination of fire recovery efforts. Checks, payable to the Treasurer of the Diocese and earmarked “Montecito Fire Recovery” may be sent to the Bishop’s Office, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026.

Mount Calvary’s prior, the Rev. Nicholas Radelmiller OHC, is leading the brothers and staff in assessing next steps of response to the fire damage. Bullock said the brothers and staff at Mt. Calvary, were able to leave with some of the hilltop retreat house’s valuable art treasures, as well as  computer records, “but so much is lost.”

Mount Calvary staff will assist groups and individuals in seeking alternate locations for upcoming retreats, all of which are now cancelled owing to the fire, Bullock said. The Cathedral Center retreat center in Los Angeles is available to assist this process.

At Santa Barbara’s Trinity Church, rector and deanery co-dean Mark Asman is meeting with staff and volunteers to assess the situation and crisis response. Further information will be reported through the Episcopal News email list as soon as it becomes available, Asman said.

Asman said Trinity Church’s rectory and parish house were able to accommodate the brothers overnight November 13. St. Mary’s Retreat House, an Episcopal Church site near the Santa Barbara Mission, has also extended hospitality, although it was subject to a temporary evacuation November 13.

Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the fire zone a disaster area as fire fighters continue to work to contain the blaze.

Mount Calvary Retreat House, with its panoramic ocean views, was founded in 1947 by the Order of the Holy Cross, based in West Park, N.Y.

–Report filed by Bob Williams, canon for community relations, Diocese of Los Angeles.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/a-huge-loss-from-the-montecito-fires/

a weekend in silence…

…or close to it.

Friday morning, October 20th, my friend and I left the apartment building at 5:15 am.  She had graciously agreed to drive me out to Lafayette for my weekend retreat.  The goal was to get there before the beginning of the Lauds at 6:30am.

I was to spending the weekend at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey.  I had set up the retreat initially to talk to one of the brothers about participating in the Monastic Life Retreat the abbey offers.  However, by the time the weekend rolled around, I knew that this would not be the focus of my weekend after all.

At home I left most of the trappings of my day to day life.  I brought with me only a change of clothes, some books for reading and reflection and my moleskine notebook in which to write (I even left my watch at home).

The abbey itself is located on approximately 1400 acres of land on the west side of the Dundee hills.  This is an area now famous for its numerous world famous vineyards (in fact Sokel Blosser’s vineyards border the east side of the abbey’s land).  The abbey’s land is however largely forested with the exception of some farm land at the base of the hill.  The monks use this land to grow vegetables they use for food.

Back to my story…

After Laud’s (which is actually the second service of the monastic hours), I had to wait until my room was available.  During this time I sat out on the deck of the reception area and read a bit from the collection of poetry by Rumi I had brought with me. Shortly before noon, I was told my room was ready.  The room I would be staying in over the weekend was simple.  A twin bed, a desk and a rocking chair.  Perfect simplicity.

12:30 brought the Sext service.  After which came a silent dinner with other retreatants.  We would be eating a vegetarian diet for the weekend (as the monks themselves do).  After supper I decided to head off to the trails above the abbey’s buildings.  Near the top of the hill there is a shrine to the Lady Guadalupe that made a good goal.   While there were defined trails, they were still not the heavily used trails I was used to.  At times the trail even had a blanket of growth covering it completely.



One of the best things about this short hike, was that I didn’t run into anyone else on the hike.  It was just me and the trees.

More to come later…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/a-weekend-in-silence/

off the grid

Early tomorrow morning (as in 5.15am) I am heading out to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey for a weekend retreat.  I’m leaving the cell phone, the laptop and the bustle of the city behind.  What I’ll be taking with me, a couple books, my moleskine and an open mind and spirit.  It’ll be a weekend of silence and discernment.

The books I’ll have with me:

  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  • Jesus the Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran
  • The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about the weekend when I get back on Sunday!

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/off-the-grid/

The Seven Storey Mountain (pt 2)

For my review of Part 1 of The Seven Storey Mountain click here.

Parts 2 & 3 of The Seven Storey Mountain were much more enjoyable for me.  And as a result, I got a lot more out of these sections of the book.  I think in the end I had the expectation of the later Merton who was much more open to non-Catholics.  The harshness of the young Merton (and Father Louis) was a little unsettling for me.

The things that stuck most for me in this section were nuggets of wisdom about discernment and vocation.  Merton’s journey from conversion to the monastery was fascinating for me as well.  My reading of this book has been timely for me.  This was of course a purposeful reading on my part.  With the hiatus of my path to seminary it has been a time to rediscover aspects of my faith.  My faith hasn’t been something I’ve questioned, however I have let it coast somewhat recently.  Its time for me to get my hands a little dirty with my spiritual life again.

I’m going to take a weekend retreat at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey next month.  I’m really looking forward to this time to really focus on my faith life.  There are also a few sections of The Seven Storey Mountain that I plan to meditate over the next month or so.  I’ll probably post on a few of those later on this blog.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/the-seven-storey-mountain-pt-2/

Common Ties: Seclusion and prayer on Abbey Road

My friends Elizabeth and James (the ones driving around the US for a travel blog) posted about a great little trappist abbey in Oregon’s Wine Country.  Seclusion and prayer on Abbey Road.  If you click on the link, you’ll be able to view an audio slide show as well.  This is a place that I’ve wanted to do a 30 Day Monastic Retreat at for some time.  I’m hoping to make it work sometime in the near future.  I’ve quoted her text below:

We pull into Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey at 6 a.m., the modest grounds emerging from a thick fog at the edge of the long and desolate Abbey Road in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

It is a black morning, but Father Martinus greets us with a cheery shake of the hands; we find out later that our guide was, and usually is, awake by 2.

The atmosphere on the grounds is deliberately cloistered. Among the monks’ many vows is silence, practiced at various intervals throughout the day. We slip quietly into the church behind Father Martinus and take our seats among the dozen laymen gathered for Mass.

We later learn that the name Trappist is derived from the Cistercian Abbey of La Trappe, whose monks took refuge in Switzerland in the late 1700s when the French Revolution suppressed all religious houses. Trappist monks have for centuries lived by a strict code of poverty and seclusion, as set out by the Rule of St. Benedict.

Here, on the outskirts of the tiny enclave of Carlton, is no different. One by one the monks fill the front of the church, their long white robes glowing in the dim flicker of candlelight. Some of the monks are so old they stand leaning forward, hunchbacked and frail. I wonder how well they can hear the Abbott as he leads the church in Mass. It is a somber scene.

After prayers we meet with Father Martinus and are introduced to a few of the monks. Most are too shy to be interviewed, but Father Martinus can barely contain his enthusiasm; he has been with this order in Carlton since it moved from New Mexico in 1955, and he is delighted to share his home. He is an exceptional storyteller with a gift for vivid scene-setting, and he translates brochures into several languages for the abbey.

Thirty-two monks inhabit this order, down from 60 in 1955. There is also typically a small number of retreatants, who can stay for as short as a day and as long as a month. Brother Paul, a graduate of Notre Dame, is among the youngest in his 30s, and Brother Clarence, who tends to the abbey’s forest, is among the oldest in his 80s. And yet age doesn’t seem to matter here; the men share such fundamental beliefs that they become united through their choices, not their experiences.

The day progresses slowly, a welcome change from the chaos of our last few days in Portland. Throughout the grounds the monks speak in near whispers. Their movements are deliberate. Their schedules are tight. Church bells chime with each passing hour, and the simplicity is disarming. We breathe the clean air deeply.

When we pull away from the monastery at noon, past the 1,000 acres of forest, the sky is a pale gray and flocks of birds form shifting patterns above us. We are only an hour outside of Portland on our first stop of the Pacific Northwest leg of our tour, and already we have happened upon a place that feels worlds away.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/common-ties-seclusion-and-prayer-on-abbey-road/