After a long hiatus, the community resumed meeting for its Information Forum. These had originally been planned as monthly gatherings, but events and circumstances pushed them into the shadows. It is hoped that they will again become a regular part of our schedule.
The fast approach of Advent will move us into planning for Christmas celebrations. Some details have been set. The Guest House itself will be closed from December 18th until January 7th. This will give time for thorough cleaning and a respite for those involved in providing hospitality there. Christmas Day will occur on Sunday, pushing such feasts as the Holy Family and the Baptism of Christ from Sunday to weekday celebrations. The vigil of Christmas will be celebrated privately to maximize our energies for the mass itself at midnight. The rest of the day’s schedule will be:
Lauds 7:00 a.m.
Tierce 9:00 a.m.
Morning Mass 10:30 a.m.
The positioning of our altar in the center of the church will disturb former arrangements for placing the crib scene, trees, and other decorations. This has reduced available space. We will need some creative rethinking to avoid screening the liturgical functions from view with a decorative forest.
The meeting was an opportunity to bring everyone up-to-date on current projects in the monastery. We are waiting for final arrangements for the removal of the last two corn bins from our farmyard. There has been extensive work repairing the heating system in the Infirmary. This wing has an independent system for heating and cooling which had been malfunctioning. The call system for the Infirmary also had to be updated. This allows the monks in the infirmary to summon help or assistance from those on duty.
Br. Robert continues to reside at Accura Care Center in Cascade. He had a health scare this past week, and was taken to the Emergency Room, but all the tests showed no need for concern. Br. John returned from a short stay at the hospital and Stonehill Care Center after a serious infection incapacitated him.
Our forester, John Schreider, has put together a formal proposal for increasing buffer areas on the three creeks which run through our property. Part of this plan would be to plant more trees in these areas. Trees could not be planted this past fall because of the extreme dryness of the land, but we have the new plantings ready for the thaw in 2023. Apparently, we have the second largest tree farm in Iowa.
Two long-term guests participated in the meeting. These two men are planning to stay with us in the community for a year. We have had a couple other long-term guests who resided with us for shorter periods. This program seems to be working well. The men live with us and share our monastic life without making any formal commitments. It is our attempt to share contemplative monastic life within a broader context of participation. We are encouraged and enriched by their interest and eagerness for monastic living.
Br. Paul Andrew, the Vocation Director, remarked that there have been a number of inquiries by men who are still in remote stages of vocational discernment