It’s the feast of Saint Bernard, one of the founding fathers of the Cistercian reform of monastic life. Our reflection is from Thomas Merton, writing in 1952. The celebration of the Eucharist has changed in religious communities as much, if not more than in parishes; there is one Community Mass each day, but there is still room for silence with God.
Our picture is from the trailer for Outside the City, a film by Nick Hamer about the Monks of Mount Saint Bernard’s Abbey in Leicestershire. Read on for Thomas Merton’s reflection on this day.
This week it is my turn to say the brothers’ Communion Mass, Our Lady’s Mass. It is always a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin, always the same. I like it that way.
In the summer time, this Mass is said at three o’clock in the morning. So I leave the choir after morning meditation to go and say it while the rest of the monks recite Matins and Lauds. I generally finish the brothers’ Communions by the end of the second nocturne, and then go off into the back sacristy and kneel in the dark behind the relic case next to Saint Malachy’s altar, while the sky grows pale outside over the forest and a little cool air seeps in through the slats of the broken shutters.
The birds sing, and the crickets sing, and one priest is silent with God.
Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, Hollis & Carter, London, 1953, p336.
South winds jostle them,
Drink, and are gone.
On their passage Cashmere;
I, softly plucking,
Present them here!
Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete, via kindle
Flowers yesterday, flowers today; it’s winter, so why not hover and hesitate, pause for a moment; present them to their maker in loving gratitude. This beautifully arranged bouquet was placed in our room by Karin when we visited her and Winfried, a gesture of love which stays with me although we are long gone!
It was only at the end of Britain’s National Insect Week that I ever became aware it existed, but I am pretty sure the bees, bugs and beetles won’t mind being translated to July. In my occasional blog, ‘Will Turnstone’ I was able to mark the week on 27 June, its last day:
Here’s a bee, to remind us of how important they are. Thanks to the bees, this pyracantha, or firethorn, will be covered in flaming yellow, orange or red berries come the autumn. Our blackbirds love them. There’s always something to look forward to in the garden. Laudato si!
And if you’ve no garden of your own (and even if you do have a garden of your own) enjoy other people’s as you pass them by. And be thankful for their artistry and effort.
Working from home, our daughter and son looked out of their windows. One spotted a sparrow, nesting in a hole in our brickwork ; the other a red admiral butterfly who, as a caterpillar must have found a safe place to sleep through the winter but woke to a strange new world one warm May morning. Lovely to look up from the screen to see such sights!
For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Psalm 83.4
Another quiet morning at L’Arche’s garden, beside the River Stour. Thanks o corona virus, I was alone, working outside at the table, when Robin flew down beside me, hoping that a worm or insect might appear as I emptied plants out of small pots to put them in bigger ones. He found something and flew down to share it with another robin: his wife, his hen, who made a soft call in her throat.
Back home, where this picture was taken, the robins were hunting in pairs too. They cannot abide sharing territory with any other robin, except their mate; we saw battles over the Glebe bird table a couple of yearsago.