BLESSING OF SEEDS
We fervently entreat thee, O Lord, to bless these seeds, preserve and foster them with gentle breezes, fertilize them with heavenly dew, and deign to bring them to a full harvest for the use of soul and body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
BLESSING OF BEES
O Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth! Thou didst create all living things for man's use. Moreover, thou didst order by the ministry of thy holy Church that candles made from the industry of bees shall burn during the Sacred Mystery in which we consecrate and consume the most holy Body and Blood Jesus Christ, thy Son. Send thy holy blessing upon these bees and this beehive to make them numerous and productive, and to preserve them from harm, so that their yield of pollination, wax and honey can be turned to thy honor, and to the honor of they Son and Holy Spirit, and to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through the same Christ our Lord.
...for then are they truly monks when they live by the labour of their hands. (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 48)
People often wonder: why do we have land? From its foundation, the Abbey of Regina Laudis has recognized the importance of the land in developing and sustaining a Benedictine way of life and spirituality. In 1947 our foundress Lady Abbess received 50 acres of land on a hill in Bethlehem, Connecticut from Robert Leather, a local industrialist, with the condition that this land would be a place where many people could come to know and to praise God. Lady Abbess’ founding vision brought together the development of this land with the personal growth in call of each person who worked and prayed upon it, a vision which we continue to bring forward as we strive to integrate our work and our prayer through wise stewardship. Since then, the Abbey has grown to comprise approximately 450 acres of cultivated land and wilderness, including a non-commercial working farm, professionally operated by the community. The manual labor required to fulfill this call characterizes our Benedictine life, |
In the process, we often hear that the common stereotype of a nun is broken when our guests see a community member driving a tractor or working with a chainsaw, expanding the notion of what it means to be a contemplative Benedictine nun. Among the varied works undertaken on our land, we manage our hay fields and pastures, typically harvesting 6,000-8,000 hay bales a year, which feed our flocks and herds. We process wood from clearing projects on our land to sell in our woodlot; and we harvest and preserve fruits and vegetables from our gardens and orchards, as well as honey from our own apiary.
LENT 2014—BLESSING OF SEEDS AND BEES
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
In his Holy Rule in Chapter 49, On the Observance of Lent, St. Benedict exhorts us:
The life of a monk ought at all times to be lenten in its character; but since few have the strength for that, we therefore urge that in these days of Lent the brethren should lead lives of great purity, and should also in this sacred season expiate the negligences of other times.Each community member is asked to offer something to God
...over and above the measure prescribed for him...with the admonition that each tell the abbot/abbess what he or she is offering in order to receive the blessing of authority. At Regina Laudis this offering takes the form of Lenten Resolutions, written down and shared with Mother Abbess and placed on the altar during Mass on the First Sunday of Lent.
It is also our custom on this day to have a Blessing of Seeds that will be planted in the Spring. Mother Margaret Georgina who is in charge of the Abbey's vegetable gardens introduced the blessing to the community, monastic interns and guests gathered in the Lower Monastery Chapel:
As a Benedictine community we live a life related in a fundamental way to the cycles of the earth. Our monastic custom of blessing the seeds on the first Sunday of Lent allows us to make many associations. One very powerful one is to think of ourselves as seeds going into this unknown time of Lent, in relationship to Christ, with the prayer to give ourselves as fully as we can. In the words of Christ: 'Unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it remains a seed.' So today we have before us the seeds, for forage crops, flowers, vegetables, tulip bulbs brought from Holland by Rick Roark and the gift seeds from Crosman's. But the seed needs a lot of assistance, so we have some of the seeding equipment, trays and boxes, water and soil blockers— to remind that we can't do it alone.After blessing the seeds and bees Mother Abbess prayed that the resolution offered by each one of us would bear fruit this Lent.
And we accent in particular today our dependence on the bees for pollination. Here we have this observation beehive, which is on its way with M. Ozanne to a meeting this afternoon of young people called the Wanna Bees. The queen that is in here is home grown I am told. And it is the time of seeding of the bees.
So as we offer the traditional blessing of the seeds, it we hope that this prayer extends to the seed that is each of us, beginning this movement together into Lent, depending on one another.
GALLERY OF 2014 LENTEN BLESSING OF SEEDS AND BEES
HAY AND APPLE HARVESTS
2013 was a banner year for our hay and apple harvests. A record 8,725 hay bales were harvested. The hay season lasted from June to October with 14 fields harvested during the 1st cutting and 10 fields during the 2nd cutting. The work of the hay harvest is coordinated by Mother Augusta and the Hay Group who keep a watchful eye on the weather. Three successive days of warm dry weather are needed for cutting, tedding the hay for drying, and baling. Our community is extremely grateful to the volunteers, friends, family members and Monastic interns who help bring in the hay. Although the work is heavy and usually carried out on very hot summer days, there is a spirit of joy and cooperation. Everyone has a role: cutting, tedding, baling the hay, carrying bales, stacking the trucks, driving the trucks, stacking hay in barns and providing much-needed drinks and refreshments. The day culminates in the group singing the Salve Regina in gratitude for the harvest and safety of all who participated in the work day.
This year New England had a gorgeous autumn with mild crisp weather during the days and cool nights. And with autumn comes the apple harvest. During our October Retreat month, community members and Monastic interns harvested 60 bushels of apples. The yield from our 10 apple trees included Empire, Macoun, and Red and Golden Delicious varieties.
GALLERY of 2013 HARVEST SEASON
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