Posted December 04, 2009 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (December 2009)

by Paulette Curran.

Often when I begin "Combermere Diary," I am confronted with the fact this column is a news article in a newspaper which, though it doesn’t look like it, is factually a magazine. "Newspaper format, magazine content" is how we are described in the Catholic Press Association’s list of publications.

Why am I saying this? Well, since the content of Restoration is primarily magazine, the paper is put together well ahead of time. This is a problem for "Combermere Diary."

First of all, obviously, our news in definitely not up-to-the-minute.

The second thing is that, by the time the paper reaches you, the season has usually changed. When you receive this issue, for example, you will be very close to or already in Advent—at least our Canadian and American readers will be. And you will be reading about our autumn news.

As I write this column, we are immersed in Ordinary Time, practically as well as liturgically. In fact, this time between the associate priests meetings in late September and Advent is, barring the unexpected, a quiet time for us, relatively speaking.

Even the colors of nature are subdued these days. The reds, yellows and oranges of autumn are giving way to browns and grays, a good preparation for the brilliant white of winter.

This is a time when a number of us take holidays, including our three directors general.

The harvest was, praise God, exceptionally bountiful; most of our fruits and vegetables seem to have loved our cool, rainy summer.

The apples, for example, were very abundant and our potato crop was our best ever.

As many of us as possible took part in the potato harvest. What a wonderful experience to unearth those large, healthy potatoes. Along with our homemade bread, they are our staff of life. How well God takes care of us!

And now the harvest is over as is the canning and freezing.

This week the slaughter is taking place, a hard time for the farmers who have been taking care of the animals. It is certainly a great help in more ways than one that over the years friends, some with expertise in butchering, have been coming to help in this process.

This year Norm Bouchard, helped with the beef slaughter, and John Blom, helped with the sheep slaughter and the meat cutting following it. Norm has been doing so for three years, and John for probably twenty.

One lovely event of autumn was the Rural Ramble, sponsored by the local tourist bureau. Our gift shop complex (gift shop, book shop, museum, and flea market) was one of several sites in an event featuring aspects of rural life, both past and present. People are given maps and can drive from site to site.

Among our exhibits were ice cream-making, bees and honey, painting, candle-making, weaving, carding wool, spinning, butter-making, wood carving, and pottery.

Some of our exhibits were interactive. Visitors made butter, turned the ice cream crank (and ate the result), and helped make dipped candles.

Live country music by local friends added much to the event.

Probably best of all, many of our friends and neighbors came, and it was for them a time of visiting with us and with one another.

Still more events also took place during this "quiet" time.

A number of us attended the Life Chain, a time of lining the main street in silent prayer for an end to abortion. For a small town like Barry’s Bay, there was an excellent turnout.

The same day, some of us attended the open house at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, the school of higher learning started by some of the people in this area. (This school, offering a liberal arts education, completely follows the Magisterium of the Church.)

We celebrated Thanksgiving with beautiful displays in our chapels and dining rooms of our harvest. We had some good displays for World Mission Sunday, too. Joanne Weisbeck put up some of the photographs and letters we received from missionaries we help support in various ways.

Currently, for example, we are packing boxes of Church goods, books, vestments, medals, rosaries, etc., to be shipped to India where one existing diocese has been split into two.

Some of us have given talks in a variety of places. Fr. Pelton presented a paper to the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars on Dostoyevsky’s quote, "The world will be saved by beauty," as presented in the novel, The Idiot.

Marie-Therese McLaughlin gave a talk on Our Lady to the newly formed local chapter of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers, and Fr. Denis Lemieux gave a talk on the Mass as part of the diocesan adult faith education program.

Victoria Fausto gave a phone interview on Madonna House and a life of simplicity for a newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Fr. Bob Wild, the postulator, was interviewed on Salt and Light, Canada’s Catholic television station, on Catherine’s Cause.

We, on our part, were given two lively talks integrating the Twelve Step Program and gospel living by Fr. Emmerich Vogt.

In Madonna House, as well as everywhere else, autumn is the time when classes begin. The applicants, who have the most classes of anyone here, have, among other things, their Friday afternoon study day.

The guests are taking a Wednesday morning course—The Fundamentals of the Spiritual Life by Fr. Denis Lemieux. And the spiritual formation program, our program for young men discerning a vocation to priesthood has also begun. This year, the men taking it are Neil Joy, Mark McGucken, and John Orbin.

And, last but most definitely not least, we were happy to welcome back the rest of our MH Ghana team (two had come earlier). Except for Cristina Coutinho. She’s now in MH Belgium.

Well, I guess that’s a lot of news and events for this "quiet time." Remember, I did say, "relatively quiet."

May God grant each of you a blessed and holy Advent.


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