2019 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey (Part 1)

St. Joseph’s Abbey 2019“Take away from a traveler the hope of arriving, and his courage to go on is broken.” — William of Saint Thierry

My retreats are a bit like book ends and it was interesting to read / compare my journal entries between them. The exercise of comparing entries isn’t all that groundbreaking but there’s a BIGGER backstory here that makes this year more interesting than previous. My plan is to use the time between retreats to give fuller context to one incredibly amazing year, especially since SO much of the year was rooted in faith, hope, and charity.

This wasn’t an intellectual retreat either and the time was mostly spent recovering / recuperating from physical exhaustion (although I don’t want to diminish the intellectual meatiness of the homily and conference(s) since both were brilliant).

I took five books from the limestone library but read mostly from two found at the abbey. The first was St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations by St. Therese of Lisieux (Author) and John Clarke (Translator) and the second The Mirror of Faith by William of Saint Thierry. The two books from my own library I did revisit were Dialogues with Silence by Thomas Merton and Life Lessons from the Monastery by Jerome Kodell.

There were a couple of emergent themes. One was inspired by A Joy To Be Around in Life Lessons from the Monastery. The other was in my notes from last year regarding a ‘field hospital‘ that’s traced to The Power of Silence (pages 154-156; see below) and this quote from Pope Francis.

“In a secularized, decadent world, if the Church allows herself to be lured by materialistic, media-savvy, and relativistic sirens, she runs the risk of making Christ’s death on the cross for the salvation of souls futile. The Church’s mission is not to solve all the social problems of the world; she must repeat tirelessly the first words of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry in Galilee: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.’ (Mk 1:15)”

I also took some photos which you can view on Flickr in an album dedicated to St. Joseph’s Abbey.

Personal Plea
IF you find this post please pray for Fr. William. He gave our conference in 2018. Please also pray for the brothers at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Orval Abbey, and Clear Creek Abbey.


St. Joseph's Abbey 2019

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