"It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude -- in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old." Catherine Doherty

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mary, mother of God Sunday and the New Year...

As we move through Christmas and enter the New Year we celebrate,
Mary, mother of God Sunday on this the first day of 2012.

I can't help but see the connection between the day, the celebration and where my family is living.

Almost exactly a year ago we accepted this position as caretakers/renovators/managers, etc at the Mary Theotokos retreat center. Through out the year we went from removing debris and garbage to construction repairs, plumbing, electrics, animal husbandry, marketing, teaching, running retreats,(sometimes with a staff of two.) and much more. We plowed, hayed, hammered sawed, lugged, and spent quite a few days in physical therapy, (my wife and I) wondering what God had in mind when he sent us here. But we have had many wonderful visitors from all over the world on group retreats and poustinia. We hope that we may have brought many people closer to God, both Christian and
non-believers. We have supplied food to the local food shelves, performed out door Shakespeare with students ranging from Pre-K to High School, had the Roman Mass and the Eastern Divine Liturgy in our Chapel, sugared syrup, warmed over bon-fires, broke bread with all sorts of new friends and most importantly we have sat in the Chapel, in groups or alone to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or the Rosary and other devotions.

We have been so detached from the chaos and fear of the secular world that even now a trip to town seems a novelty.

It has been the hardest year for us, but through the love of friends, family and neighbors, as well as strangers and many prayers we have dealt with several hardships, each one bringing us closer to God, and closer to buying stock in assorted ibuprofen suppliers.

So we continue for another year if God allows it, and dive into Solar Power, a sheep herd, Christian Home School Co-ops, more Christian theater camps, expanding the produce supply to reach more local families, offering more group and individual, get heat in each building ( no more watching our breath in the house!) and many other ventures to reach out to our rural poor as well as the many pilgrims who come with only a donation or an just an offer of labor to pay for their retreat in the wilderness.
Another year making this place, dedicated to the veneration of Mary, a refuge for so many to come and through Mary, to reach her son.

It has been a transformational journey for us, far out of our depth of experience, completely on faith and we are so grateful to so many who have reached out to help.

So, a reflective day after the holidays. A new resolve of will to serve Mary and her son in this mission with our family in tow, and a day to consider our connection to Mary, mother of God.

Here is a much more eloquent entry from:

"Mary’s divine motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight. She consents to God’s invitation conveyed by the angel (Luke 1:26-38). Elizabeth proclaims: “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43, emphasis added). Mary’s role as mother of God places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan.
The precise title “Mother of God” goes back at least to the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos (God-bearer), it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching about the Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos. At the end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through the street shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!” The tradition reaches to our own day."

Happy New Year from
the Mary Theotokos Retreat Center
in Newark, VT.

Pax et Bonum
John Walker

Stay tuned for more news to come about a large group planning an outdoor winter adventure retreat very soon!