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Monday, January 20, 2020

Come and See

This past week saw our third annual Familiares retreat.  The Familiares are young men who, being too young to formally enter the monastery, and wishing to further explore the religious vocation, join themselves to the Sons of the Most Redeemer as Familiars, in the spirit of the Minor Seminaries and Juvinates of old.

Those who wish to become Familiars join themselves to our religious family in a formal manner.  They are clothed in the habit of the Congregation, and are permitted to wear it on certain occasions, to enter into the enclosure of the monastery and join us for an experience of religious life.

One such occasion is the annual Familiares retreat.

In this way they respond to Our Lord's offer to "come and see":

The next day again John [the Baptist] stood, and two of his disciples.  And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God.  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  And Jesus turning, and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?  He saith to them: Come and see. They came, and saw where he abode, and they stayed with him that day: now it was about the tenth hour. (Jn. 1:35-39)

The retreat is held at our Mount Saint Joseph's Kakahu Monastery, in New Zealand.  The week began with the clothing of a new Familiar who came all the way from the United States

The candidate waits at the start of the ceremony.

He receives the Habit of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer from the hands of the Superior.


During the time of the retreat, the Brothers moved out of their cells to make way for the Familiares, and set up camp in a new and temporary monastic Laura.

Br Xavier Maria, beads in hand, leaves his temporary desert-cell.
Cassian says: “The religious prays little who prays only when he is on his knees in the choir or in the cell.” To fulfil the obligations of his state, a religious should keep his soul continually united with God; but to maintain this constant union, continual prayer is necessary. There are three means of acquiring the habit of continual prayer; namely, silence, solitude, and the presence of God. These were the means that the angel suggested to St. Arsenius when he said: “If you wish to be saved, fly into solitude, observe silence, and repose in God by always keeping yourself in his presence.” — St Alphonsus, The True Spouse of Jusus Christ

The Familiars took up their residence in Valsainte, an old wool-shed converted into accommodation.

 It is named after an old ruinous Carthusian monastery occupied for a time by Venerable Fr Joseph Passerat, C.SS.R.

The front door, with Fr Passerat's portrait beside it.

 Valsainte's small but beautifully decorated chapel.

 The Familiars' home for the week.  It's a work in progress but already Valsainte is sealed, double-glazed, heated by a wood stove and fully insulated. It has hot and cold running water, showers and toilets.

There are seven cells.

Each day began at 04:55 with the sound of the bell.  All, Familiars and monks, rose promptly, and made their way in the first grey light of dawn for the morning meditation, followed by the Divine Offices of Matins and Lauds in common, starting at 05:30.

 At 07:00 the Familiars served the morning Mass.

Our Lord's sacrifice renewed mystically, yet really, upon the mount, drawing down graces for the world.

 Breakfast followed Mass and Thanksgiving.  In the monastic fashion, breakfast was taken in silence.

 The body having been refreshed, it can once more be engaged in offering praise to God.
The Office of Terce at 09:00.

 Each day after Terce, the Farmiliars received a conference in Valsainte on aspects of religious life from Fr Anthony Mary or Br Martin Mary.

 Then followed the morning's labour.  Here The Familiars are cutting wood, generously donated by a neighbour.  It's loaded into the back of the vehicle...

 ...driven to the wood-shed...


 ...and carefully stacked to dry for winter fuel.

Br Seelos Maria cut the logs, which were split, and stacked in the same manner.
 Another important task was picking the abundance of ripe cherries.

Many made it...but there were quite a number which mysteriously disappeared between the branch and the bowl!

So much fruit ready for harvest...

The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.
(Matt. 9:37-38)

After the Office of Sext, and Particular Examen, lunch was served.  We were most grateful that, once again, Sr Marie-Celeste and Mrs Enander were able to be part of this retreat and provide the all-important work of preparing meals.
Thank you both for you great effort and generosity!

The afternoon was for spiritual exercises in one's own cell: spiritual reading and mental prayer followed by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

Vespers and Rosary were said in common at 17:30, followed by supper and community recreation.

Night prayers and Compline at 19:30 brought the day to a close.

On Thursday they took a long hike, and conquered Devil's Peak, which stands at 1587m (5206ft), planting a cross at the top and renaming it Holy Cross Peak!

The retreat was ended with a beautiful sung Mass, served by the Familiares and Br Seelos Maria.

Well done Familiars for a good and grace-filled week.  May God continue to lead you along the path of perfection, and draw you ever closer to Himself, and if it be His Holy Will, into the sanctuary of Religious Life!

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