2023 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey

“I am like a portable sanctuary filled with the real presence of God. Being a temple of God, how can I but see God everywhere I look? Within your temple, Lord, I sing about your glory. I am that temple, but you are the glory.” — Macrina Wiederkehr

My first retreat to St. Joseph’s since COVID and living overseas. I had Faith of Our Fathers: A History of True England by Joseph Pearce in my overnight bag. The book I selected from the retreat house bookshelf was A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary by Macrina Wiederkehr. I added two [books] from the abbey bookstore. The first is Finding Grace at the Center by Thomas Keating, M. Basil Pennington, and Thomas E. Clarke and the second is Passing from Self to God: A Cistercian Retreat by Robert Thomas.

It will take me a couple of days to synthesize all my notes/thoughts/cryptic sketches but here is a seemingly random collection of quotes that may or may not be stitched together at some point.

“Fonts of Saxon rock stood full of God,
Altars rose, each like a kingly throne,
Where the royal chalice with its lineal blood,
The glory of the presence, ruled and reigned.”
— Robert S. Hawker

“Following the ending of the persecution, Bede speaks of the spread of the faith in the times of peace that followed. Those faithful Christians, ‘who during the time of danger had taken refuge in woods, deserted places, and hidden caves, came into the open, and rebuilt the ruined churches.’ Shrines were erected in honor of the recent martyrs, their blood truly serving as the seed of the resurrected Church.”
— Joseph Pearce

“The hour is coming when you will realize that the spirit and the truth live within you. You are a portable chapel. Remember the sanctuary within. You carry God wherever you go. Why quarrel about churches, temples, or mountains? One particular place isn’t necessarily holier than another.

I recall, however, that throughout the ages, special events have made places holy and we ritualize that holiness in many ways. That’s why Abraham was always stacking up stones, creating altars in the places where God visited him. It was a way of celebrating a special event and a special place that had become sacred because of an encounter with God. It’s the encounter that we must remember even more than the place. We humans sometimes put too much emphasis on the place. Places are important, but I do pray we will never lose the spirit of that encounter, for it is that spirit that will heal us.”
— Macrina Wiederkehr

The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never is despair. — 2 Corinthians 4:6-8

God chose to express Himself
Because of me and you…
And so He came on Christmas
To Tell What Love Can Do!

He spoke His Word in Jesus
To thrill the dark with light
And so His Message blasted
An Everlasting Sight!

He gave His Son to make known
His Presence everywhere
And so in crib shaped from tree
God Laid To Show His Care!

Divine gesture handed down…
See Him for Who He is
And so behold Wondrous Life
No Greater Gift Than This!


— Sherry C. Lane

“The poets and the saints, artists of all kinds, are ripe for visions because they are always hungry. They are hungry for truth. Their entire beings are filled with hunger, hunger to know, to understand, to create. They are hungry to see to the depths of things. They are not satisfied with our ordinary dim way of seeing.” — Macrina Wiederkehr

The Lord says, “O Jerusalem, you suffering, helpless city, with no one to comfort you, I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones. I will build your towers with rubies, your gates with stones that glow like fire, and the wall around you with jewels.”
— Isaiah 53:11-12

Opening to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman 1989 VHS [True HQ] (YouTube)

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