Monastic Art
Gallo canente spes redit...With the cock singing hope returns.
From the Lauds hymn Aeterne Rerum Conditor, written by St. Ambrose

roosterSpringtime is a time of new life at the Abbey. Just after Easter the animals in our flock and dairy and beef herds began to give birth. Eight lambs were born to our flock of sheep and five calves came into the world at our beef herd with five more on the way. For our community members, Oblate Brothers and monastic interns, witnessing and assisting at these births—often in the middle of the night—is a transformative experience, bringing home the miracle of new life during Paschaltide.

On Good Shepherd Sunday, a gorgeous spring day, we had the blessing of our chickens in their refurbished home in St. Anthony's barn. It had long been a desire of one of our novices, Sister Teresa Benedicta, to have Abbey chickens and fresh eggs. eggsOne year ago our first baby chicks came to live in St. Anthony's barn. Our Barred Rock rooster is named Ivan. The chickens are of the Reddish Rhode Island Red and the Cross Ameraucana/anaconda breeds. Abbey friends Dr. Cassandra Beauvais, D.V.M. and Phil Poletza generously offered advice and support in the care of the chickens. Brother Kevin McElroy and Rob Schumman used their expert carpentry skills to transform the barn into a safe place for the flock with beautiful nesting boxes. Sister Teresa Benedict composed a beautiful blessing for the ceremony which was presided over by Father Iain Highet and Mother Abbess. The community, interns and guests got to know the chickens up close and personal.

Blessing of Chickens and St. Anthony's Barn
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
O Lord, you who seek to draw us to yourself as the hen gathers her brood under her wings, let these creatures be blessed in providing eggs for sustenance and enrichment for our soil and gardens. And you, who are the beginning and end of every life, protect this flock and the structures that ensure their safety and health. We ask your blessing upon this barn, these chickens, and all who care for them through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever.

Gallery of Chicken Blessing

On the Octave of Easter our dairy cow Mira gave birth to a heifer whom we named Marisol and a week later our cow Hanna gave birth to another heifer called Stella because she was born by star light at 3 AM. In the video on the left Mira has just given birth to her second calf. While looking around to make sure her newborn calf is safe, Mira is licking the calf and trying to get the calf to stand. In the images below you will see that the calf stood very quickly much to the relief of the interns who witnessed the birth. And now, after a little help from Brother David and the interns, the calf can drink from her mother who is standing stark still and seems very contented.

roosterIt is our custom on the Feast of St. Mark, April 25th, to have a procession to bless the gardens. This procession is sometimes called the Rogation procession from the Latin rogare, to ask. Because through it we are asking the Lord to Bless the work of our hands, to bless the growth and yield of the crops so that they will be healthy and strong and nutritious, to sustain the body.

This procession traces its roots to what was called the Robigalia in ancient times, the annual Roman festival intended to conciliate Robigus, the God of rust, to avoid blight on the crops and other natural disasters. It has undergone many incarnations but the essential purpose of the procession—to ask God’s blessing on the crops—remains.

As a land-based community, we have the particular privilege and obligation to continue this practice. We have fields and orchards and gardens to be blessed! In processing we make public our dependence on God, and witness to our faith that his Blessing can and ought to be asked for.

For the first time our team of oxen, expertly driven by Brother David, lead the procession. Brother David has trained Sam and Eli since they were very young calves. Oxen hold a time-honored place in agriculture. Our guests, monastic interns and Brothers have all worked and will be working in our fields and gardens. We are grateful for this shared stewardship. Father Iain Highet, assisted by the Choir servant, visited and blessed individual garden plots while the main procession followed the road. All participants reconverged at the grapevines before the final blessing.

Gallery of St. Mark's Procession and Blessing of Garden