"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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall was beautiful and busy this year,..downright,...joyous

Fall was glorious this year, colors were simply amazing, God's handiwork up close and personal. Seeing so much beauty all around us makes me think it takes more imagination to be a non believer than a person of faith. A simple walk through the woods beyond the barns and the proof of God's design is overwhelming!

But as usual, I am behind a step or two and the fall colors have pretty much come and gone.

We had a lot going on this autumn so let me get to blogging.

First off, after surviving a few early frosts,  the garden has pretty much fulfilled it's back breaking and miraculous obligation to the local food shelves, 

and it's time to start thinking of shutting things down,..as the pumpkins get too big to lift.

Pretty soon it will be time to let the goats clean things up in there, once all the yummy brussel sprouts are done!

"I live to eat,....and escape from all attempts at fencing".

More on that later,..

Earlier this month we had a wonderful group come to retreat here. 

One of the coordinators painted this beautiful Icon for their Mass services.

This large group began arriving and unpacking with smiles and hugs, just radiating joy in every encounter!

But a simple joyous retreat was not the only intention of this group.

In very short order they all rolled up their sleeves and began working the grounds,..harvesting veggies, weeding, raking, cleaning,..a real "work is prayer" service time.

About the same time two local faith filled young ladies arrived and stepped up the work ethic quite a few notches...as well as the joyous spirit element too!

Not to be outdone, the retreaters visiting stepped up their game and before long it was all backs and elbows around here,..nice to have some help!

Once the work was all done for the day the retreaters began to walk the grounds and set up for Mass with their own Priest!

Talk about living joyously!

and in contemplative prayer...

Once Mass got started then the place was really jumping in a very charismatic way! 

And after working up an appetite, the fellowship continued as this group engaged in great conversation with the great food 
they prepared!

Good times with good friends,

In the midst of this joy fest, came another retreater for a private contemplative time of Marian devotion in our private room above the church.

But this young faith filled missionary was not satisfied with quiet contemplative prayer, or a charismatic Mass, 
she went all Karol Wojtyla on us and broke out our kayak heading for the white caps on Wiloughby Lake!!

So with two retreats going on at the same time, the goats decided it was their opportunity for a major break out and chase through the meadow!

Time to start building the winter paddock and milking barn for these rascals, a bit closer to the house and plumbing and garden over-growth and more warmth than the drafty old barn!

Bringing them closer to the action!

Thankfully yet another joyous pilgrim showed up from far away specifically to contribute to this monumental task as my one and only construction crew.

After a great deal of lifting and hauling, digging and hammering and grunting and groaning (mostly on my part) the new feeding yard, sleeping barn, milking barn hay access room, and play yard protected from snow was finished..

And under the watchful eyes of our St. Francis statue the goats moved in to offer their approval.

With so much activity these weekends quickly drew to a close and departures occurred in a flurry as well.

People packed up and headed out so quickly this was the only group shot I got!

Joyous from beginning to end!

I didn't even get a picture of the horse back pilgrims on their trail ride one afternoon!

Oh, and I forgot to mention we held a Marian Consecration Mass here in the little Chapel for our  latest
"33 day to morning glory" group.

This Marian consecration based on the 
True Devotion of St. Louis De Montfort
is an extremely empowering retreat..

and once again as with other groups we run this retreat with, I witnessed lives change and spirits soar through consecration to Mary.

I urge you to seek out the True Devotion of St. Louis De Montfort and visit the above link as well, for a step in your spiritual journey that will change your life and make you a Saint!

The only regret is that it all happened so quickly at the same time that I never even took a picture of that group, or of the Francsicans who toured the area, or the primitive Franciscans looking for future retreat locations too!

So as I run out of shots I guess it would be best to close this eventful blog of the last few weeks and take a seat,..for 5 minutes before another construction job calls to my aching back.

But from this past month, what ever the task God sets in front of us here at The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center I have learned to go at it, Joyously,..for Mary to use our work for the greater glory of God.

"To Jesus, through Mary"

Deus Tecum

from all of us here in Vermont.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is summer over already?

It's been a whirlwind this summer at The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center as summers are for most everyone I guess.

I seemed to have gone the entire time without even one blog post, so without much witty banter I better get started on updating the blog for all those who have emailed me to ask if we are still here!

Summer began here with a senior pilgrim who arrived in time to see the first group of baby goats to be born, here she is with the baby girl named Faun,..friends for life.

As summer continued the goats grew and grew, developed personalities, camera obsessions and escape tactics that could only be the result of an organized campaign to reach the apple orchard.

First Aaron the buck uses his raspberry tongue call to send the code out for all goats,..

Johnny the wether answers the call from his fellow goat and..

knowing the coast is clear he heads for the apple orchard fence, where he uses his girth to hold the fence down for the others to scramble over.

Fawn makes a call to her fellow newbies to proceed up and out into the orchard, checking to make sure the dog is inside the house first.

Waddles makes her move for those succulent apple tree leaves from her hiding place in the meadow.

when confronting these culprits, Kiwi, pictured here gives no information as to how the escape is managed everyday. She remains stone faced under interrogation.

But once my back is turned I swear I can hear them laughing!

Meanwhile Johnny is training Princess to use her horns in removing fencing.

Before long they are all in the orchard, and that means another day for me to walk the fence line repairing escape routes. I understand why my friends on the local farms remind me never to get anything with a heartbeat in the barns.

As the herd is growing and milking gets underway for the making of cheese, soap, cream and yogurt; my wife takes on the garden single handedly,..with occasional forced labor from the kids.

After much work from all of us including a few early frost warnings, the interfaith food shelves locally have begun collecting vegetables, soon it will be time for canning!

Our Marian Consecration retreats are still going strong, using the "33 Days to Morning Glory" program by Fr. Michael Gaitley,

The five week course ended with confessions and a consecration Mass on a Marian Feast Day.

It was a diverse group of many ages and again proved to be a very powerful retreat, as all these souls consecrated their lives to Jesus through Mary.

Our next Marian Consecration retreat has already begun on the 4th of this month and ends on October 7th, Our Lady of the Rosary feast day. Even in the very first meetings this new group is quickly becoming one of intense sharing and real soul searching,..a perfect retreat for us all.

As Labor day approached two Franciscan Monks from Italy came to stay. Fr. Maximilian and Brother Thomas.

It was a wonderful visit with these two Holy men and also wonderful to find they were Franciscans with a dedicated devotional life to Marian consecration and Eucharistic Adoration. 

Although their stay was short it was really exciting to be in the middle of running a Marian Consecration retreat and then to have lengthy scholarly conversations about vocations dedicated to the same perspective.

Fr. Maximilian left us a fascinating pamphlet he wrote that was a detailed theological essay on Marian Consecration,..is the word coincidence or God-incidence?

I look forward to visiting Brother Thomas in Connecticut who endeared himself to our 6 year old with his gift of a miraculous medal or perhaps Fr. Maximilian in his monastery in Italy who left us all with our hearts full of love for Mary, the Immaculate Conception. As it should be at a retreat center named after Mary, the Mother of God. what a great spiritual recharge these two men gave us by their visit.

Right on the heels of these two Holy men came a fun filled retreat with a Mother Superior from Baltimore and a mother and daughter from Pennsylvania.

This retreat involved lots of quality time on the nearby lake, in the style of Karol Wojtyla and his kayak and fishing fellowship retreats in Poland before he became Pope.

And we just missed the isolated tornado as it tore up the lake and some piers hours later!

So in the end as summer has already drawn to a close, with all its work: mowing, planting, harvesting, feeding, milking, stall scraping, plumbing, construction, fence building, round ups, hospice care, illness's, rowing, fishing, lots of prayer, lots of fellowship and much more. Through it all we are still making it work for Mary, abandoned to God's will with hearts full of joy.
The only way to live.

I am sure there'll be more to report next blog post, hope to maybe see you here soon.

"Through Mary to Jesus"

Deus Tecum 


The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center

in Newark,VT.