Monday, December 23, 2013

Brotherhood Revisited {Full House for Christmas}

Under obedience to photographer-mom, Zachary holds his little foster sister for the first time, as Peter assists.

"Are you glad to have your son home?" a friend at Church asked before Mass yesterday.
"Sons. Yes, very glad to have them home!" I answered honestly.

Our family reunification project - aka Christmas Vacation - has begun in earnest, with dual arrivals within 24 hours: Peter from Christ the King high school seminary in BC, and Zachary from sophomore year studies at Notre Dame. 

Learning new skills on Christmas Break, Zachary comforts a newborn.
Zachary's homecoming package included an introduction to his foster sister (known on the blog as) Angelina.  After being home for a few days, Zac asked if Angelina does anything other than sleep and eat, but so far only one fussy stretch and a few alert moments have convinced him otherwise.

Back to the joys of brotherhood, our three guys have enjoyed time together doing guy things like working out after dark in the snow and watching the televised Seahawks game with Tim on his birthday.  This time with a full house will surely fly by, but we will certainly do our best to make the most of our every moment together.

Peter shows 'Luke' and 'Leia' the ornaments on our tree.
Hosting our former foster twins for two days, a favor to their mom whose work schedule conflicted with the daycare holiday closure, brings us ever more family fun in these final days before we celebrate the birth of Christ.  So much joy, such great times to cherish...
Peter continues the Christmas decor tour with little friends in tow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Training Future Fathers {On Handling a Newborn}

Pre-performance rehearsal with first time baby handlers and 'Angelina'

When Father Abbot suggested little Angelina play the part of baby Jesus in Peter's high school Advent play, we were quick to give our consent.  The high school boys were delighted to have a real live baby in the play, rather than the lifeless doll with which they'd been rehearsing.  But their delight was tainted with a dose of understandable nervousness, given that the two young men with baby handling parts were novices in handling a newborn.

Tim gives a few baby handling pointers to the cast of Christ the King's Advent play before showtime.

Tim gladly stepped up to the task of training the guys in the fine art of baby handling, meeting about an hour before show time to offer a few pointers and allow for hands-on experience under close supervision.  The guys warmed up to Angelina right away, and practiced picking her up and passing her off, two important movements for 'baby Jesus' in the upcoming Advent show.

Rehearsing the hand-off of baby 'Jesus'

As the time for curtain drew near, we prayed that our little foster daughter would remain calm and quiet for her debut performance as our Newborn King.  Our prayers were answered, as Angelina gave only the slightest indication of liveliness during the show, squirming a bit in the arms of 'Mother Mary' to the excitement of the audience, many of whom had assumed the figure was probably a doll.

The Three Kings pay homage to baby Jesus in the arms of Mary.

Cast of Christ the King's Advent play, with our son Peter the centurion
Seminary of Christ the King's high school orchestra performs at the Advent program.

In addition to the great privilege of delivering the 'baby Jesus' for the high school play, we enjoyed an outstanding Advent program by the high school and college seminarians of Christ the King.  The high school orchestra, though only a few months along, performed pieces suited for third year, including a favorite piece from Lord of the Rings, and pulled them off beautifully under the direction of Father Peter Nygren.  The entertaining vignette put on by the major seminarians highlighted their unique skills and abilities, including a humorous and fantastic martial arts display and a rousing Celtic musical number.   Under Father Prior Benedict, the high school boys' choir sang "O Holy Night" in its original French, an angelic delight for those of us in the audience.

Bridget, Peter and baby 'Angelina'
Our heartfelt thanks to the monks, teachers and prayer warriors at Christ the King Seminary and Westminster Abbey.  We trust that your efforts, by God's grace, will have everlasting results in the lives of our son(s) and in our families.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Low Mass {+2 New Altar Boys}

Joseph assists Father Saguto with candle lighting before low Mass on Gaudete Sunday, Holyrood Cemetery Chapel.

After almost a year of training and memorizing the Latin responses, Joseph and his friend Jonah had the privilege of serving their first low Mass in the Extraordinary Form at dawn on Gaudete Sunday in a cemetery chapel about an hour and half from home.  This 'old' form of the Mass appeals in a very particular way to many young people, our boys included.

Benedict XVI re-opened the door for the 'old' Mass in 2007 with his Apostolic Letter Summorum Ponitificum.  Interestingly, Benedict XVI specifically noted the appeal of the Traditional Latin Mass for young Catholics:
"Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them." © Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Joseph and Jonah assist Fr. Vreeland at low Mass on Gaudete Sunday in Edmonds, WA.

A look around the congregation in the Extraordinary Form Mass seems to validate that the 'old' form of the Mass appeals to young people.  The pews are packed with young Catholics, truly engaged and actively participating in the Mass.  Many young men eagerly assist at Mass as altar boys, a great privilege to be sure.  Even the very small children are seemingly drawn into the mysteries of the Mass and show age-appropriate reverence and participation. 

Another interesting phenomenon to note in an Extraordinary Form congregation is the average size of the families in attendance.  These authentic Catholic marriages ~ couples living true to their sacred vows with an 'openness to life' and the faithful rejection of artificial contraception and sterilization ~ are truly inspiring to see on such a large scale.  Extraordinary indeed, and while large Catholic families are not found only in Latin Mass congregations by any means, they simply seem more plentiful here.

Before heading off to high school seminary, our youngest son, Peter, had nearly completed his formal training to serve Latin Mass, and was very eager to do so.  However, his distance from home and the infrequency of his home-visit weekends means that he will have to wait, perhaps until next summer, to serve the Latin Mass.  Peter greatly anticipates serving at the Ordinary Form (English Mass) at our home town parish during his home-visit weekends, as his opportunities to serve at the seminary are somewhat scarce.  Joseph, too, remains active as an altar server in our home town parish, hopeful that someday the cassock and surplice will be welcomed back.
In what can only be explained as "God's perfect timing," or better yet, Divine Providence, on this very same Gaudete Sunday, Peter served his first Mass in a cassock and surplice, assisting at dawn in the seminary chapel.  The Extraordinary Form (or Traditional Latin Mass) has not returned to Westminster Abbey, BC, but the vestments worn by the altar boys there are still the traditional (masculine) cassock and surplice.  The extremely reverent, chanted Masses at Westminster Abbey follow the prescribed rubrics beautifully and solemnly, at a measured monastic pace which allows for prayerful contemplation throughout.  An extraordinary ordinary, so to speak.

Jonah and Joseph vested in cassocks for the first time.
How blessed we are to have a wide range of reverent and authentic Catholic Masses to attend daily; from our small local parish in Bellingham, to our FSSP Latin Mass parish in Seattle, to our son's Benedictine community in BC; we are part of an awesome and truly Universal Church.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Tree Hunt {U-Cut}

Noon Road U-Cut Tree farm owner shows us the tree variety map.

We veered off the tried and true Christmas tree route this year, exploring a new U-cut tree farm at the suggestion of a friend.  On the coldest day of the year ~ perhaps the coldest day in human history ~ we braved the great outdoors amidst the bitter winds of North Whatcom County.  Leaving our little foster daughter with Grandma Billie due to the severity of the weather, we made a threesome: Tim, Joseph and me. 

Follow the rules and no one gets hurt.

Being the smallest tree contingent in recent family history, we didn't have to negotiate as many opinions on which tree took top honors and earned a ride home to be lit and decorated in anticipation of the big celebration of our Savior's birth.  Regardless, the selection process did drag on for what seemed like hours.  The tremendous freeze began to paralyze our faces and our fingers, making the discussions of our tree selection brief and to the point.

Taking a moment to refer to the tree varieties map, Joseph and Tim plot out our route through the tree farm.
The old amidst the new
Tim stomps through the lane, looking for the ideal tree to take home.

When the time came to chop, or rather saw down our tree, we were consoled by the fact that we would soon be in a warm car heading toward our warm home.  However, as we loaded the tree into our van, we discovered that its length would necessitate driving with the back door tied down, rather than shut properly.  A relatively small price to pay, both for the tree itself (compared to years past), and for the short open-air ride home, our Noble Fir soon graced the living room ready for illumination.

Joseph begins the sawing chore, through a frozen trunk.
Our tree-cycle
Loaded up and ready to roll
Lit and ready for ornamentation

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Death Bells Toll {Westminster Abbey, BC}

Following the Mass of Christian Burial, Fr. Fulton's body is solemnly processed to his grave in the abbey cemetery.

At first Peter didn't understand why the abbey's solemn bell sounded repeatedly at an uncommon hour on a recent Sunday afternoon.  Soon a priest passed by announcing that Father Michael had died, and asking the high school boys to pray for the repose of his soul.  As the death bells continued to sound, the monastic community began mourning the loss of their departed brother and praying for his swift passing to his heavenly reward.
Lowered into the ground by brother monks and Benedictine postulants, Father Michael is laid to rest following graveside committal prayers on a bitter cold December morning.

Today fewer and fewer Catholic families are opting to include a funeral Mass (or wake or burial) for their deceased Catholic relatives.  Many of the funeral Masses that are being said for our deceased are tainted with abuses, including proclamations that the decedent is 'already in heaven.'  This common and unfortunate occurrence at modern Catholic funerals all but deletes the possibility that the soul may be saved yet suffering in purgatory, relying on our prayers to aid their passage to heaven. 

Father Michael's funeral at Westminster Abbey followed an authentic Catholic approach to burying the dead with the full Rite of Christian Burial: a wake (overnight prayer vigil with the body in the Church), a funeral Mass (celebrating the life of Father Michael within the context of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus), and the graveside committal (prayers of committal and final commendation).  A profound witness for the high school boys, major seminarians, the family and friends of Father Michael and the Westminster Abbey community, this funeral was a reverent, solemn and joyful liturgy; authentic Catholicism in action.

High school seminarians participate in the burial rite of Father Michael Fulton, OSB+ (b. 1926- d. 2013)
Newly acquired official documents made it possible for me to travel to and from the funeral in Canada with our one-month-old foster daughter, Angelina.  Her first funeral, Angelina stayed toasty warm in a fuzzy suit from Owen's family, a handmade hat from Elle, a toasty blanket by Christine, and brought smiles to many faces on this solemn occasion.

Father Peter meets 'Angelina'
A keepsake from Father Michael's funeral included the story of his path from family life to and through his many years as a Benedictine Priest, and also gave a glimpse into his holy death:
On Friday, November 22, he suffered a mild heart attack.  He recovered somewhat in hospital, but on Sunday, November 24, he took a sudden turn for the worse.  When he was anointed, it was the passage of the good thief from the feast of Christ the King that was read to him: "Today you will be with me in paradise."  With characteristic obedience he waited until Father Abbott arrived, acknowledged his presence and then passed to the Lord as the prayers of commendation were being completed.
Peter shares his foster sister with his Benedictine teachers and the monastic community.
As they had so lovingly cared for him and prayerfully aided him throughout his life, the Benedictines of Westminster Abbey, BC, showed tremendous charity for Father Michael in his death.

Dear Lord,
Let perpetual light shine upon him, 
and may the soul of Father Micael Fulton, OSB, 
through Your mercy, Lord, rest in peace.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Displays {Interior + Exterior}

Preparing a place in our main living room for a Christmas tree will be slightly more complicated this year due to my annual (but slightly belated) soap making chaos taking up half the room. The crafty clutter, though hard on the eyes, is easy on the nose ~ the scents of the essential oils beautifying the air.  Soon the freshly minted bars will be mature enough for their relocation to obscure curing areas in the home, but for now they stand in opposition to any urgent decorating or tree importing schemes.

On a short furlough from high school seminary for a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma Billie's, Peter stayed up well past his normal bedtime to hand the outdoor lights with Joseph.  Their decorative enthusiasm, dampened slightly by the parental regulation not to climb upon the high roof in the rain after dark,  netted many strings of lights strung, powered and illuminated before the official end of Thanksgiving and Peter's return to school.

As important as the external preparations for Christmas seem, the internal preparations are much more urgent.  Advent, offered for our eternal benefit as a season of penitence, or repentance, should be a time to clear the ground a bit, making the soil of our souls more fertile for the Lord's coming.  Along those lines, I stumbled upon a tremendous series of sermons for Advent Recollection at the Audio Sancto Sermon Series.  I highly recommend making time to listen to the three sermons on silence, prayer, and the spiritual life.  Amidst your bustling to-do lists and business of the season, give yourself the gift of time to prayerfully fortify your soul for the coming of our Savior.

Jesus is coming!  Will we be ready?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks {Giver + Receiver}

Someone recently quipped that Thanksgiving was 'all about abundance' and cited the number of pies Bridget bakes for the feast as exhibit A for the abundance argument.  Truth be told, I bake quite a few pies for this celebration.  I love pie.  My mom always baked pies for my birthday cakes, but I digress.

The heart of our celebration today centers on 'giving' Someone.  Getting stuffed on seasonal delicacies and saturated with televised sporting entertainment may be the hallmarks of the day in many American families, but the true meaning still remains: We give Thanks to God for His abundant blessings.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me . . . Mark then you who forget God, lest I rend and there be none to deliver. He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me. To him who orders his way aright, I will show the salvation of God. ~Psalm 50:14-15, 22-23

What better place to thank God than in His holy house, the Church?  The word Eucharist means thanksgiving, and by God's grace our family will begin this secular holiday within God's house, praising Him and receiving Him in holy Eucharist.  The rest of the holiday is, as they say, gravy.
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men. Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another. ~Romans 14:17-19
I give my humble thanks to God:
  • For the gift of life and faith given to me by my parents in cooperation with our Lord who gave His life to save me from my sins
  • For the gift of eternal life offered through my baptism and renewed through frequent sacraments, especially Holy Communion and confession; for the Holy Catholic Church
  • For the gift of our marriage, and my husband's infant baptism on the same day as my own
  • For our children Zachary, Joseph, and Peter; for our other pregnancies and miscarriages
  • For our parents, grandparents, siblings, families, Godparents, priests, and the Church Triumphant ~ the saints in heaven
  • For our Godchildren, foster children, spiritual children and their families
  • For our friends, prayer warriors, benefactors, students, teachers, readers, employees, contacts, Scouting and home schooling families, 
  • For the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter (FSSP), Benedictines, Carmelites, Passionists, Dominicans, for our Seattle Archdiocese, and our parishes
  • For our health, home and daily sustenance
  • For our freedom and for those who defend true freedom and the right to life for every human being
  • For Truth

I offer thanksgiving to Almighty God for the many and varied resources so readily available to build up my faith and deepen my knowledge of the Truth:

The Holy Bible
Divine Intimacy
Divine Office 
Church Militant TV
Father Z's blog 
Audio Sancto Sermon Series
The Holy See
Spiritual Food for Thought
Father Broom's podcasts
Father Jim Northrop's podcasts
Father Lappe's homilies
Father Hollowell's blog
Father MacRae's blog
The Radical Life
Divine Mercy: Saint Faustina's Diary

And lest I forget, there is one last thing to be especially thankful for on this day:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eagle Scout Board of Review {Joseph Passed}

Troop mates Caleb and Joseph await their Eagle Scout Boards of Review.
On one hand, Joseph's formal interview for Eagle Scout Rank resembled a 'rubber stamp' experience for a job well done and completed exactly according to the prescribed formula.  

On the other hand, Joseph's Eagle Scout Board of Review included escalating levels of anxiety and a drawn out suspense-filled wait in the hallway after the lengthy interview with an unfortunate precedence nagging his memory, "The last time I had to wait this long for an answer, it was 'No.'"

Whatcom District's Eagle Coordinator gives board of review and public speaking pointers.
Joseph's Scouting career includes many highlights, including serving as Senior Patrol Leader as well as two-time patrol leader of his Burning Bullfrog Patrol.  Jettisoning his patrol to earn the prestigious National Honor Patrol (twice), Joseph's leadership and his patrol's eagerness to achieve set the bar high for Troop 3's other patrols.  Improved communication skills and self confidence blossomed from his experience as troop scribe and chaplain's aid, and various other positions of leadership along the way.  Strong bonds of friendship and healthy doses of competitive sports and group games inspired Joseph to keep suiting up and showing up throughout his years in the troop.

The community Eagle board panel passed Joseph; Mrs. Quinn was his troop witness, and Tim the proud papa.
Paddling the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit (twice) and hiking the 50 mile North Cascades trek Cross to Ross, along with many other Scouting adventures, Joseph certainly advanced in his leadership and survival skills in the great outdoors as well as the more mundane indoors.  Advancing in character, faithfully living the Scout Oath and Law, and maturing into a fine young man along the trails and trials, Joseph earned the highest rank in Boy Scouts.  When the official application clears the national level, it will be official and Joseph will be awarded the Rank of Eagle Scout.

Congratulations, Joseph!
Congratulations, Caleb!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Home Weekend with a Twist

Peter and Joseph prepare for a ride on Galbraith.

Mountain biking, duck hunting, football viewing, and a pizza dinner were all part of the predictable plans for Peter on his second home weekend this fall.  But the big (tiny) surprise rested in his arms as he welcomed a new foster sister, Angelina.  Peter woke up early with lots of love to share and helped feed and bathe our little visitor at the crack of dawn.  Of course early rising is part of Peter's normal routine at high school seminary, but nevertheless, his willingness to jump right in was heartwarming. 

'Angelina' rests in Peter's arms

Joseph's role as the primary teen assistant around the house is relaxed on Peter's home weekends, so not only does he anxiously await opportunities for fun with his little brother once a month, but also gladly shares the chores and duties.  Joseph, true to his easy going nature, joined Peter for a chanted evening prayer (praying the Psalms) one night, doing his best to follow the unfamiliar routine reverently.

Peter feeds 'Angelina' breakfast.

We celebrated another first for Peter as he moved up the ranks of altar servers at our local parish, accepting Father Altenhofen's invitation to serve as acolyte.  Just as Zachary mentored Joseph a few years ago, Joseph trained Peter before vesting, and stood nearby in the role of cross bearer ready to assist if any situations arose.  Peter handled his new liturgical role with poise and reverence, and took great care to perform his duties properly and not to draw attention to himself.

Peter serves as acolyte at Sunday Mass, behind the scenes at E's baptism.
Peter serves first Mass as acolyte, assisting Father Joseph at the altar as Joseph looks on from the cross bearer seat.

Returning to school Monday evening with a bag of clean laundry and a pile of books, Peter greeted his schoolmates and spent a few minutes in the game room before the bells rang for evening prayer.  As many of the major (college) seminarians had not yet returned from home weekend, several of the high school students, Peter included, were able to pray vespers from within the Benedictine's choir.  Joining the community's Liturgy of the Hours in the abbey church and feasting on home made piroshky (freshly prepared by the high school boys under Father Peter's tutelage) rounded out my monastery drop-off experience quite nicely.  Peter's home weekends really are a blessing for all of us.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Working the Night Shift {Fostering a Newborn}

After Mass on the Feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, we answered a call to take in a newborn whose parents cannot yet take care of her.  Due to a strange 'coincidence,' it seems like Saint Charles himself was involved in this new foster placement, but I'll save the 'communion of saints' story for another day.

For privacy purposes, we shall call her Angelina on the blog.  To answer the most common question: No, we don't know for how long she will be with us.  It could be one week, one month or longer.  The fostering process involves much mystery and many moving parts.  Our prayers (and hopefully yours) go out for little Angelina and for her family at this time of separation and the various trials and tribulations accompanying such an unsettling occurrence.

Within 24 hours of our new foster placement, our friends began showering gifts upon little Angelina.

Speaking of St. Charles...
St. Charles Borromeo, St. Peter Canisius, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo and St. Robert Bellarmine are the only four people mentioned by name at the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; cited as responsible for the Council of Trent, which gave way to the modern day catechism. Have you ever looked at the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Inside, the teachings of the Church are clearly taught with Biblical citations throughout.

If your authority on what the Catholic Church teaches includes lapsed and/or poorly catechized Catholics or anti Catholics, there's a good chance you'll be pleasantly surprised when you discover what the Church actually teaches and why.

Recently, someone shared an interesting fact gleaned from a historical study of the reformation.  Another asked in response, "I wonder if you will also study the counter-reformation?"  If studying one side of the great divorce of the Church makes sense, doesn't studying both sides of the huge break seem appropriate?  The documents from the Council of Trent make for some interesting reading:


No one, moreover, so long as he lives this mortal life, ought in regard to the sacred mystery of divine predestination, so far presume as to state with absolute certainty that he is among the number of the predestined,[74] as if it were true that the one justified either cannot sin any more, or, if he does sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance.
St. Charles Borromeo was a key player and brave leader in the counter reformation, and quite an effective reformer within the Church.  He's also a personal friend and a great and powerful intercessor, alive in heaven.  My grade school and parish Church was named in his honor, and I consider him one of my finest teachers.  Thank you, Saint Charles Borromeo; please pray for us!

Friday, November 8, 2013

News from Notre Dame {Zachary's 2nd Year}

Notre Dame; the Golden Dome

About this time last year,  my husband Tim arranged for a surprise return home for Zachary during Notre Dame's fall break.  Although it would have been truly awesome to have a repeat performance this year, it wasn't in the cards, so Zac spent his break week on campus getting caught up on homework and sleep.  His break from the normal university routine allowed for a few extra phone calls, which we enjoyed greatly. 

Rival football fans, Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff visited Zachary at Notre Dame for the Oklahoma University game in October, and proudly sat in the OU section with a crowd of supporters bussed in from Chicago for the big event.  Grandma's Sooners claimed victory, but Zachary's time with his grandparents included many other special moments that were less rivalry and more camaraderie.  Taking a long tour of campus, attending daily Mass together at the Basilica, and eating out off campus were a few of the highlights.  Grandpa's trusty camera bit the dust, and Zachary tends toward photographic minimalism, so unfortunately there are no images to share from their time together at ND. 

Autumn view from Zachary's dorm room in Knott Hall

This year, Zachary joined a few extra curricular clubs, including the Notre Dame men's boxing team.  Early season training focuses on conditioning and sound quite intense; Zachary reports icing up to five different injuries so far.  Training with punches begins soon; please consider this a prayer request.  All for a good cause, the boxing club season culminates with the fundraising event "Bengal Bouts" which supports missionary work in Bangladesh.

On the topic of sophomore year academics, Zachary reports that his philosophy class "Paradoxes" is his favorite.  Second year German studies continue, and Zac's renowned theology professor, Father Daley, S.J., is both teacher of "Conversions" class and a coach for the boxing club.

Zac's view from the stands at a ND hockey game
In six short weeks, our firstborn will return home for Christmas break and share a bit of wintery adventure and family time here in the Pacific Northwest.  Six weeks...six short weeks!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Abbey Visit {High School Seminary Parents' Day}

Peter picks up the flute and joins the high school seminary orchestra.

Some things just feel right, even though difficult, painful, or requiring great sacrifice.  Peter's attending high school seminary this year as an 8th grader is one of those things.  Our family and home school just isn't the same without Peter here, and the past few months adjusting to his absence have been both trying and rewarding.

Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff join Joseph, Peter and Father Peter, rector, after Sunday Mass.

Given that Peter comes home for a few days' stay each month, and that his orthodontic appliances require the occasional visit home for business' sake, we enjoy his company fairly regularly despite the miles and international border that distance us.  Peter uses a phone card and an old fashioned pay phone to call home every so often which offers the gift of instant communication that the one-week+ snail mail routine can't offer.  The students do not have access to the internet, so all other modern forms of staying in touch are out.

Peter, tour guide at Westminster Abbey, BC

A few times each year, the high school seminarian host a performance for parents and families showcasing their orchestra and elocution programs.  Combined with the show, parents are able to visit with the monks who teach the seminarians and receive important feedback about their son(s)' grades, behavior and adjustment to community life at the monastery.

Peter performs on stage in an adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

An added bonus to any visit to the monastery is the open invitation to join the community for chanted Liturgy of the Hours.  Sounding bells from high above in the abbey's tower alert everyone when the time for prayer draws near.  On our recent visit for Parents' Day festivities, Peter shared his prayer book with his Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff, who were visiting the abbey for the first time.

Showing us around the beautiful campus on a break between Mass and midday prayer, Peter shared his favorite viewpoint, hidden away behind the seminary.  We also made a stop at the cemetery, to continue our All Souls Octave prayers for the holy souls in purgatory.  The little cemetery saw many visitors that day on account of this special season of remembrance.

Brothers reunited for the day
Father Peter, harpist, shares his instrument with a seminarian's siblings on Parents' Day.