Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Epiphanies

In a rural county like ours sometimes a drive to a town not so far away is less than a straight shot across a few miles. There is no way to go 'as the crow flies' so the trip takes a twisty circuitous route up hill and down just to get over the 'mountain'. A few days ago I drove early in the morning to one of those not so far away towns. Not being pressed for time, as often is the case, I took it slow to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Yet, my mind was going a mile a minute planning the rest of day, wanting to be ready for whatever came next.

My churning brain finally came to a halt when I saw ahead a woman standing off to the left side of the road absolutely stock still. She wore beige clam diggers, a light blue shirt and a curled brim straw hat, all very stylish. Surely a New York City weekend visitor was my quick evaluation. Her back was to the road and she was gazing out over the vista before her eyes. By her posture and stillness, I knew in an instant that she was savoring a particularly beautiful early morning sight. I slowed to share her obvious enchantment.

Plainly she'd had the sense, the openness, the availability to allow herself to to gaze contemplatively as she strolled and then to soak in the gift before her eyes. Still slanted rays of morning sun were bathing in golden light an open marsh which deeply penetrated the surrounding woods. Greens and yellows were iridescently assertive, defying the lingering vestige of the cool night's low slung haze. The view was positively mystical.

The woman had succumbed to an invitation to enter into a rare moment and linger there for a time. She and I were taken by the power of this sight; transported into another realm. Proceeding on my way, I thought of that brief moment as an experience of kairos time, God's time; the mystery of which is merely being hinted at in new theories coming from the science of quantum physics. This is not chronos time. It is not linear, not limited; only infinite and immanent. In this epiphany moment, in this moment in kairos time, I recognized how chained I am to chronos time - linear, controllable, knowable and therefore to be managed all on my own. What must I do; how must I try to be in order for my mind and spirit, my body and soul, to reside more in the realm of kairos time;  in the realm of God's time?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Helmut Eric Nimke - 90 Years Young

My Dad's Birthday Celebration

A Speech

* son
* husband
* soldier
* father
* engineer
* boat builder
* reader
* student of history
* lover of art
* traveler
* citizen
* compassionate democrat
* grandfather and great-grandfather

Mom and Dad - 68 years married
Dad had some definite ideas about how he wanted to celebrate his 90th birthday. It had to be at West Point. His family and old friends had to gather around. Good food and drink had to be abundant. The cake featured his design in keeping with a patriotic theme. And there had to be opportunity fora speech. Thus it was.

My father's speech was motivated by his tremendous gratitude for the gift of American citizenship. He arrived here at the age of eight years. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946. He is a student of history and keen observer of the national and international scene. He spoke of his concern for our troops and his belief that they should all have been home a long time ago. He sopke of a country that has lost its fundemental bearings as a democracy for all, serving all. He spoke of the absence of compassionate capitalism in a time when corporations seem the only worthy charities in the eyes of many. He spoke from his experience of the Great Depression and World War II; from his firsthand knowledge of the benefits of US Citizenship, free higher education at City College of New York and the G.I.Bill; from his commitment to organized labor.

My parents remain in their own home (not without worry by his daughters). He drives and cares for my mother. He reads a great deal and is still performing mechanical miracles which would be daunting to others like replacing the motor in the snow blower he continues to use!

Blessings on this next year, Dad!

Yes, There was Ireland

So much has happened here in our monastery  since my return from Ireland on June 6 that  the three week sojourn there seems, on one hand, a distant dream. But on the other, the faces met, the experiences shared, the warmth lavished upon me are as close to me now as they were in that brief time.

The community at the Redemptoristine monastery in Dublin was truly a home away from home. The prioress, Sr. Gabrielle, could not do enough to welcome me, to facilitate my teaching effort, to allow true bonds to be formed between myself and the sisters of the community. She even saw to it that I received quick treatment for a sinus infection. Should you wish to see the website of the Dublin monastery here is the link:  Look for the link on their site to the web-cam in their chapel. Yesterday, Sr. Maria Sidorova professed first vows and a video of the Mass should be up on their website.

I was invited to Dublin to present some talks regarding the mystical inspiration of our foundress, Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa and how her spirituality is reflected in our current Constitution and Statues, also called 'The Rule'. But I also know that Sr. Gabrielle is very eager to promote unity in our international Order of autonomous monasteries. One way to do that is to have experience Redemptoristine life in other monasteries of the Order and form relationships with the sisters who live in those houses.

Although our Church, especially at the parish level, struggles to provide good adult education, almost thirty years ago I experienced a great blessing in a series of presentations in my parish entitled "Introduction to Scripture Scholarship". The gifted presenter, a sister in the Congregation of Religious of Jesus and Mary, enlightened us with all of the information we needed in order to begin serious study of scripture - historical background of the period, literary genres in the Bible, surrounding culture, problems of authorship, difficulties of translation from ancient languages, influence of recent archaeological discoveries, and comparison of various modern translations.

As I presented my material  material in Dublin I came to think of the effort as "An Inroduction to the Study of the Mystical Inspiration of Maria Celeste." Much of what I had to say was not new to the sisters but it was newly arranged, contained new twists and vocabulary and applied some modern psychological insights. We talked about the nature of mysticism, the time honored mystical tradition in our Church and how Maria Celeste stands firmly in this tradition. We spoke of the social, cultural and historical milieu of Naples in the first half of the 18th century. We compared translations of Maria Celeste's many written works and saw, once again, the challenge of the work of translation. And we took a good look at Maria Celeste's mystical inspiration as it delineates the process of surrender to God, devotion to constant awareness of Jesus Chirst, and the gradual transformation into the very being of Jesus to which it all may lead. We express our charism as that of becoming "a living memory of Jesus Christ". Finally, energized by being 'dipped' into all things Celestian, we examined our Constitutions and Stautes and found the mystical inspiration of our foundress reaching out to us on every page.

To do research and to teach was a personal blessing. To meet these wonderful sisters was pure joy. To experience Redemptorsistine life with them; to pray and sing, rejoice and intercede with them; was renewing and fortifying.

And yes, there was Ireland. I know now why Ireland wins hearts and keeps them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Return of the Blogger

Yes, it has been a long time. In fact, I have not posted to this blog since May 14, 2011, the day before leaving for my wonderful trip to Ireland. I promise that details will follow. Reasons for the seven-week hiatus are many; more travels upon my return to this side of the pond; the on-going search for a new location for our monastery; celebration of my Dad's 90th birthday; the annual novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help; and a myriad of other normal day to day kinds of things. In time there will be updates on all of this. In an effort to start that update, I am publishing below the letter sent out by our community in preparation for the novena.

Dear Friends, Spring, 2011

Once again we invite you to the annual novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, June 19-27th. Our country and our world are in great need today on so many levels. Let us bring these needs with full confidence to the Mother that God has given us, the Mother to whom the Son entrusted us from the cross, saying, ‘Behold your Mother!’ Yes, we turn to Mary, who is always ready to help us. We confidently invoke her powerful intercession as we prepare for her feast day on June 27th. You can send us your intentions to be place before her picture in our chapel. Please join with us as we pray to God though Mary for the general intentions of the novena:

• the poor, the sick, the suffering people of our world
• peace and harmony for all families and nations
• an end to violence and war, and the safe return of our armed forces
• a future full of hope for our young people
• our Church and all its needs, for healing and holiness
• the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon our President and Congress
• those coping with natural disasters
• vocations to the religious life and priesthood

If you are able you join us at Mass on these days the times are as follows:

Sunday, June 19th 11:00 a.m.
Monday – Friday, June 20-24th 8:00 a.m.
Evening Triduum of Masses:

We will have Rev. Kevin O’Neil, CSsR, a native of Kingston, as our celebrant and homilist for the Triduum, June 25-27. Fr. O’Neil, has a Ph.D. in Systematic and Moral Theology and teaches at Washington Theological Union in Washington D.C. He has co-authored a book, "Seeking Goodness and Beauty: The Use of the Arts in Theological Ethics" We are delighted to have Fr. Kevin with us these days.

We began this year of 2011 with the blessing of being able to care at home for our Sr. Peg, with the help of the wonderful people of Hospice, during her final months. Sister died peacefully on February 21, 2011, with the community surrounding her with love and prayers.

We look forward to welcoming many of you, especially for the concluding Triduum. It will be the last one hosted by our community here in our beautiful Chapel, as we prepare to move by June 1, 2012. As we write this letter we do not yet know where we will be going but we place our trust in God’s loving Providence, and entrust this intention, too, to the kindness of your prayers.

At the end of January we received this news from the newly elected Redemptorist leadership, Rev. Kevin Moley, CSsR Provincial and his Council that a decision had been made by their Chapter to end Redemptorist ministry at Mount St. Alphonsus in January of 2012.

The Church Communities, also known as the Bruderhof, have leased the entire property and plan to continue the use of the existing facilities as a religious community and an educational center. Some of the property will be used for farming, which hearkens back to the days when Redemptorists first worked the land when it served as the Congregation’s North American seminary.

Our monastic community was begun by the first Redemptoristine Nuns to come to the United States. After fifty-four years of living our life of prayer along the Hudson River we will miss living beside the majestic Mount and all the priests, brothers and you, the people who have graced its halls and our lives over the years.

Our Foundress, Ven. Mother Maria Celeste Crostarosa, a dear friend of St. Alphonsus, knew well what it was like to move when she left the founding Redemptoristine monastery in Scala, Italy and ended her wandering in Foggia.

In her mystical writings Celeste often spoke of Jesus as the Wayfarer (uomo viatore): the ‘One on the Way’ doing the work of redemption during his thirty-three years here on earth. We are called to be a ‘Living Memory’ of Him in the here and now, ‘united to him through a union of love and holy works, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit we will continue to carry out the salvific plan of love of the Father of Jesus, living once again with His believers.’ The Mystic Who Remembered by Rev. Joseph Oppitz, CSsR

As a Church gathered in prayer we can obtain many graces from God through Mary’s powerful intercession. If you live at a distance or are unable to come, pray from your own special place. You are part of the ascending chorus of prayer, and God and Mary will be pleased with your offering of petition, praise and thanksgiving.

Your Redemptoristine Sisters in Esopus


Holy Mary, help all in distress, encourage the fainthearted, console the sorrowful, be the advocate of all the clergy and religious, strengthen family life,bring peace to our world, intercede for all God’s holy people; let all feel your aid who implore your Perpetual Help.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us your Mother Mary,whose miraculous image we venerate, to be our Motherever ready to help us, grant we pray, that we who earnestly implore your aid may deserve to enjoy perpetually the fruit of your redemption.You who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Pray for Us