November 2016


Thanksgiving is a form of prayer. Thanksgiving Day, then, is a national day of prayer. Even atheists who give thanks in any way are, in spite of themselves, praying. Any real expression of gratitude betrays a belief in something beyond ourselves, a belief is something that traditional religion calls “God.” It is said that on the day before Thanksgiving 48,000,000 Americans are traveling. They are going somewhere—home—as to a shrine or a church to join with loved ones on Thanksgiving Day. That is a lot of prayer, even if people don’t know they are praying, which might be the best prayer of all. Forty-eight million travelers: that is still short by a third the sixty-five million refugees in the world. Refugees are travelers, too, only with no place to go, with home and loved ones left behind and whose prayer is desperation. Add to that 65,000,000 the millions of urban and rural homeless in our nation. If 48M Americans are traveling home, there are also hundreds and maybe thousands of others going out to welcome and serve the homeless and to feed the hungry. Our national holiday is not all pumpkin pie. On a day like Thanksgiving we see our beauty and our ugliness, our successes and our failures, the hope of prosperity and the fact of degradation, the works of mercy and the effects of greed. Thanksgiving is a response to mercy. Saint Bernard says that thanksgiving is the highest form or prayer: the highest, so the most precious, the more precious because the more rare. To give thanks for a mercy shown you is to have received the mercy. But to receive mercy we have to admit our need for it. But to admit our need for mercy we need humility. Thanksgiving is rare, then, because of the barrier of our pride. Thanksgiving Day beckons us to prayer, it calls us to mercy, it challenges our pride, and it encourages us to be humble. “How sad,” says Pope Francis, “when we remain closed within ourselves, unable to give thanks.” For our employees and volunteers, we the monks of New Melleray are truly thankful for your collaboration in our ministries of mercy.

Fr. Mark

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.

-- Victor Hugo


Frederick Law Olmstead: Plans and Views of Public Parks


Frederick Law Olmstead: Plans and Views of Public Parks, ed. Charles J. Beveridge, Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2015.



Lavishly illustrated with over 470 images—129 of them in color—this book reveals Frederick Law Olmsted’s design concepts for more than seventy public park projects through a rich collection of sketches, studies, lithographs, paintings, historical photographs, and comprehensive descriptions. Bringing together Olmsted’s most significant parks, parkways, park systems, and scenic reservations, this gorgeous volume takes readers on a uniquely conceived tour of such notable landscapes as Central Park, Prospect Park, the Buffalo Park and Parkway System, Washington Park and Jackson Park in Chicago, Boston’s "Emerald Necklace," and Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. No such guide to Olmsted’s parks has ever been published. Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) planned many parks and park systems across the United States, leaving an enduring legacy of designed public space that is enjoyed and defended today. His public parks, the design of which he was most proud, have had a lasting effect on urban America. This gorgeous book will appeal to landscape professionals, park administrators, historians, architects, city planners, and students—and it is a perfect gift for Olmsted aficionados throughout North America.


Author: Fr. Mark Scott

Tags: Thanksgiving, Frederick Law Olmstead

This simple communication is one way for me as abbot of New Melleray Abbey to communicate with the abbey’s employees and volunteers. My intention is to give our stakeholders some idea of the values and lifestyle of the monks and to share things that I have found worthwhile, thoughtful, and/or humorous. It is hoped that this sharing from the abbot will strengthen the bonds of partnership and collaboration between the monastic community and our extended community of employees and volunteers.

Fr. Mark