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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Carmelite House of Studies - Mt Angel, Oregon

The new House of Studies of the California-Arizona Province was officially consecrated on December 8, 2005. These are my reflections on that wonderful event:

Many times the fruit of our prayers remains hidden from us. This is not one of those times. For years we have been praying for vocations. Our prayers are being answered in abundance with many answering God’s call. A place to house these laborers in God’s vineyard has become a necessity. This past December, with great celebration, we gave thanks and praise to God for the dedication of the House of Studies in Mt Angel, Oregon.

“I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’, and now our feet are standing within your gates” (Psalm 122).

The structure of the house is very beautiful, and the careful work of the craftsmen is expressed in every detail. There are many windows to allow plenty of light in, and on the day of the dedication the sun was pouring through, representing the light that will shine forth from this place. The chapel is exquisite, with its Carmelite simplicity and powerful invitation that draws one to stay and spend some time with our Lord who is so perceptibly present.

With the exhortation of St John Chrysostom, I continue to pray that they may, “Paint their house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant with the light of justice. Decorate it with the finest gold leaf of good deeds. Adorn it with the walls and stones of faith and generosity. Crown it with the pinnacle of prayer.”
(Office of Readings – Friday after Ash Wednesday)

It is indeed a perfect dwelling place for the Lord.

I praise God for the vibrant life and faith that flows forth from the Friars that occupy this space. There is no doubt about it; our future is full of hope and promise.

Since the dedication in December 2005, I have had the opportunity to return to the House of Studies. It is a flurry of activity with sixteen friars; student master, Fr Christopher LaRocca; assistant, Fr. Colm Stone; and fourteen students. It is simply buzzing with energy.

Their dedication and commitment to prayer is evident as it flows into their active involvement with their studies and ministries. I observed such joy radiating from each one of them!

In the early thirteenth century, Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acre, commented on religious communities of his time. He said, “Others, in imitation of the holy anchorite, the prophet Elijah, led solitary lives on Mt. Carmel…They lived near the fountain called Elijah’s Well…where in little comb-like cells, those bees of the Lord laid up sweet spiritual honey.”

Several centuries later, in a small town in Oregon, his words still ring true.

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