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25 December, 2015 - A child is born to us

   

   
 

   

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On the eve of Christmas, at 11:30 PM, the whole community of Gethsemani rose from their sleep and gathered in the church to celebrate the birth of Christ into this world.

         
 

We sang hymns, carols, read from scripture, and celebrated the eucharist, surrounded by decoration and liturgy reflecting the full flavour of the season.

At the morning mass, our abbot reflected on the meaning of Christ's presence to us in the world. He quoted St. Bernard saying:

 

 

   

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O humankind, you need not sail across the seas or pierce the clouds or cross the Alps! No grand way is being shown to you. Run to your own self to meet your God! “The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart!” Run to compunction of heart and confession of lips to escape at least the dunghill of a wretched conscience, for there the author of purity cannot appropriately enter.

         
 

Fr. Elias then added:

To call it a little way and a little distance is not to say it is easy. Nothing is nearer and more constantly with us than our conscience and our true self: and yet how inaccessible they can seem. This is part of the Christmas paradox. The infant Savior inhabits our frail, vulnerable and dependent state humbly and purely. Our only way to meet him there is through the door of compunction and sorrow for our wrongs, the one door we most avoid, and the short little journey we most resist taking.

 

 

   

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This Christmas and in this Year of Mercy may we each receive the grace to travel this little way and to go this little distance, both to receive mercy and to become merciful.

- Fr. Elias, Christmas Homily 2015

   
 

 

   

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29 November, 2015 - A blessed Advent season to all

  

     
 

   

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We at Gethsemani want to wish everyone a very blessed Advent season. 

 
     
 

Tertius enim quidam adventus est medius inter illos; in quo delectabiliter dormiunt qui eum norunt. Illi enim duo manifesti sunt, sed non iste.... Adventus siquidem iste medius, via quaedam est, per quam a primo venitur ad ultimum. In primo Christus fuit redemptio nostra: in ultimo apparebit vita nostra: in isto ... requies est et consolatio nostra. 

- Bernard of Clairvaux, Advent Sermon V

     
  There is a middle advent between these two [the incarnation and the final coming], in which we who know him sleep sweetly. The other two advents are obvious, but not this one... The middle advent is a sort of path, on which we travel from the first to the final. In the first, Christ is our redemption. In the last, he will appear as our life. In this one, he is our rest and consolation.  
     

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27 November, 2015 - Archbishop Kurtz visits Gethsemani

  

     
 

   

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The Archbishop of Louisville, the Most Reverend Joseph Kurtz, visited the abbey over Thanksgiving for a brief retreat. 

 
     
 

He took the time to address the community in a special chapter. This has been a busy year for him. As president of the USCCB, he played a major part in Pope Francis' visit to the US earlier this year, and more recently was central to the Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome. 

     
  He spoke to us about the Pope, as well as the Synod on the family, and his meeting with President Obama on the issue of refugees, while also bringing us up-to-date on activities in the diocese. We were grateful for his presence.  
     

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15 November, 2015 - The feast of the Dedication of the Church of Gethsemani

   

   
 

   

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On the 15th of November, 1866, more than 8 years after construction began and nearly 18 years after the monks arrived, the abbey church of Gethsemani was formally consecrated by Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati.

This feast not only marks the commemoration of the church as a building, but is also a feast for the many monks who have lived here through the past 163 years, and those who live here today.

         
 

During the consecration, the walls of the nave were annointed in 12 places, in which we currently have 12 slots to hold candles.

These candles are only installed and lit on this particualar feastday, and they burn for 24 hours, warming the church with their gentle light.

As St. Bernard puts it, "This is so much our own feast that if we do not celebrate it, no one will" (Sermon 1 on the Dedication of the Church). We hope we did St. Bernard proud.

 

   

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10-13 November, 2015 - Fr. Emmanuel aids us in our Opus Dei

   

   
 

   

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Opus Dei means "the Work of God" and refers to singing the psalms in choir, the true work of the monk. The phrase itself suggests its supreme importance.

The Rule of Benedict clearly states that "nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God," (43:3) which means that, by extension, we must work hard at doing the best job we can while we are in choir.

To this end, our choirmaster, Br. Luke, holds regular rehearsals for the entire community during which he introduces new material and suggests areas in which we could improve. 

         
 

For the past few years, we have also periodically called on the help of Fr. Emmanuel from Spencer abbey in Massachussets as an outside ear to help us along.

He worked hard on our behalf through this week with three special rehearsal sessions.

We truly appreciate his generous help and his suggestions to help us better praise God through our chant in choir.

 

   

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