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"
The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center