Saturday, June 23, 2018

Our services for the burial of Brother Blaise

Friday 29 June at 7:30 p.m.
The Divine Office of Compline

Saturday 30 June at 11 a.m.
The Funeral Mass and Burial

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Our March 2018 newsletter is online as a PDF.
Click HERE to go to it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TODAY: the monastery elected its new abbot.

He made vows as a monk on September 21, 1981.
He received ordination to the priesthood on July 16, 1988.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Of his own free initiative, Abbot Charles Wright, O.S.B., chose for reasons of age to step down on July 8, his eightieth birthday, from the office of abbot (“father,” the superior) of Prince of Peace Abbey, the Benedictine monastery in Oceanside, California.  Last year saw the fiftieth anniversary of his profession of vows as a monk of the monastery and the twentieth anniversary of his election as its abbot.  The monks of Prince of Peace Abbey will hold their election of a new abbot on August 11 of this year.  According to the monastery’s constitution, its abbot remains in office as long as he may personally choose, including for life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 2011

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“God our Father, let the Spirit you sent on your Church to begin the teaching of the Gospel continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe.

Pentecost!  This is a great feast in which we celebrate the Church’s final phase of God’s design for us.  The first was creation.  God was Creator and we were creatures.  Our relationship was creator to creature and vice versa.  The second phase was when God showed Himself to be the only God and commissioned Abraham to be His messenger; what followed was God’s protection and care of His chosen people, a unique and small tribe that it was.  The third phase was the Incarnation when the one God, the Creator, came to His creatures and even became a creature with all the limitations that implies.  The result of that was that we were no longer mere creatures, nor believers in the one true God, but we were given the privilege of being God’s children.  He is now our Father in a unique way through Jesus.  Our union with Him, through Christ is so complete that Jesus could say, and mean, “As long as you did it to one of these, my little ones, you did it to me”.

We have a High Priest and what does He do at the right hand of the Father?   He is our mediator.  We could almost say that He is constantly showing His Father His scars and saying, “You see these?  I was wounded in the house of those who love me.  Yet, I suffered for them.  Forgive them Heavenly Father.”  The letter to the Hebrews (8:25) puts it so well, “Therefore, He is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for them (us)”.

Our blessed Lord did not come down to earth only to preach and to suffer; He is living and making intercession for us.  He has finished the work of justice on earth, because He paid the debt of sin but the work of mercy in heaven is unfinished.  That intercession continues until the end of time.  And the reason it goes on is that we need His intercession.

The phase we celebrate today, the coming down of the Holy Spirit is that which has given us the dynamism, the animation, the power to be what we are called, “Christians” and “Children of God”.  Now, with the Holy Spirit we have the wherewithal to believe, to act and to BE what we were created to be.  Not only mere creatures or creatures made in union with the One God but now children of His who can act just as He acts, and can live just as He lives.  In fact, we live by the same life that He lives.

Jesus did leave and He did send the Holy Spirit with life-giving power.  He was not an image to be copied but a life to be lived.  He is no longer confined to one place but is indwelling, vivifying.  The Spirit is not in one place, but in all places.

The Holy Spirit reveals the Son as the Son reveals the Father.  It is only through the Son that we know how much the Father loves us.

Jesus said, “Philip, how long have I been with you, and still you do not understand.  He who sees me sees the Father.”  Without Jesus, we would never have known the magnificent love of the Father.  A good analogy would be a prism.  Without it light is seen only as white but with it we see the seven marvelous colors that are contained in that light.

St. Paul in writing to the Corinthians says, “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.  Of course, what he means is that no one can say it and MEAN it unless the Holy Spirit is within him.  No one can truly understand completely that Jesus was the Lord until the Holy Spirit gave him (us) that knowledge.  If we believe, it is only because of the Holy Spirit that we believe.

The fire of the Holy Spirit has come down upon the Church.  That fire must spread.  If we have the fire in our hearts we can, and must, continue to spread the Gospel.  If not, we are not on fire. We are only hearers of the Word and not doers.

The world cannot see the work of the Spirit because the world only goes on what can be sensed.  That is why there is a frenzy of excitement over creatures and created things.  We sense below the surface BECAUSE of the Holy Spirit and ONLY because of the Holy Spirit.  Our prayer should be that others may be open to the Holy Spirit so that Christ may be revealed to the hearts of unbelievers.  We pray that they may believe as Jesus taught, “Then you will know that I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you.”

Come, Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your divine love!  Amen.

= = = =


A warm welcome to the family members and friends of Br. Damien!  This is a happy day and one that has been anticipated for several years.  It is also a great day for this monastic community.  Many times we pray that the community may increase both in merit and number.

We are here to celebrate one thing.  And that thing is not popular today and it is also greatly misunderstood and even feared.  The thing is COMMITMENT!

The dictionary defines commitment as an agreement or pledge to do something in the future.

Of course in your case, Br. Damien, it means giving yourself completely and forever.  It is not like many today who back out of their commitment because they had considered it to be partial and/or temporary.  But commitment means giving of self.

Both readings that you have chosen for the Liturgy of the Word speak of this giving as a dying.  In the words of Jesus we have, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”.

To follow Jesus is to participate in his dying.  Our dying is a dying to self.

A saying “NO” to self, over and over and over until it becomes second nature and when done with love it becomes a true source of joy.  That is the litmus test of giving.  Do we find fulfillment and joy in giving?

The only true fulfillment that is possible for us humans, is becoming mature enough to die for another out of love.  Jesus again tells us, “No greater love does anyone have than to give up his life for his friend”.

But we can never accomplish that “dying” on our own.  Jesus said, “I am the vine you are the branches, without me you can do nothing”.  Paul tells the Romans and us that baptism is the means by which we join Jesus Christ in His death.  And then when rising from the waters we join Him in His Resurrection.

Your dying today, symbolically, and having the pall placed over you, is one of the most poignant symbols possible.  This ritual is a sign that you are no longer living your old life of individuality but now you are donating your life to the Lord and with the Lord as realized in this community.

And we know that you are not able to give what you don’t have.  Your formation in this community has given you years to acquire this facility of giving and our observation of you has convinced us that your motives are pure and your commitment is genuine.

But just as you had to be qualified for admittance, we too must commit ourselves to helping you become who you are called to be.  The burden is not on you alone but now on all of us.

That is why it is a wonderful time for us to renew our own monastic commitment.

During this rite I pray to God:
“Clothe him with compassion with kindness and humility, gentleness, and patience.  Deepen his love for his brothers and for the whole human race.  Confirm his heart in holiness that he may stand pure and blameless before you at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints”.

And in reality that will imply that I ask God to remind us, your monastic family, that we too must be clothed with kindness, gentleness and patience.

Today it may appear that the Church is a sinking ship and many are “jumping ship”.  Our commitment must be to the Bark of Peter.  That is, to see that we do all that we can to keep Her afloat.  We must realize how important the Church is to the world and how much the world needs the Church because through the Church Christ’s life flows.  Unfortunately, because of ignorance, the world rejects what it needs the most.

The Church always prospers the most when Christians are made to suffer and even die.  We may think that the era of martyrdom is over but it is not.  But even those who are not called upon to sacrifice their physical lives, can bear witness which is a type of martyrdom.  If we are true to Christ’s message and willing to die, we are martyrs for the world to see.  Our presence here is a statement that there is more to life than enjoyment and self-preservation.

You have taken, as patron, St. Damien of Molokai, who was more concerned with giving of himself than of preserving himself.  May he help you and guide you to keep before your eyes one of today’ scripture passages, “For whoever wishes to save his life must lose it”

This is not only a great day for us because we now have another committed member of the community but for your family who is present here today.  All the sacrifices they have made to get you here are now being rewarded.  May they be richly blessed for all their efforts and receive the graces that our Lord has set aside for them.

And so, Br. Damien, we joyfully welcome you into your new family and as you commit your life to us, we too joyfully make our commitment to you.


= = = =

By Brother Blaise

About 40 years ago, I took up beekeeping as a hobby.  It has been a source of fun and has provided spiritual nourishment as I learn more and more about these wonderful creatures, and how God has them all working together like a giant social network.  I love to see how they gather nectar from many different flowers and at the same time pollinate the flowers and fruit trees.  In addition, they provide wonderful products such as honey, wax, propolis, royal jelly and bee pollen.

The beekeeping kept building up so that during most of the thirty years of beekeeping, I was extracting one hundred gallons of honey a week.  During one particularly fruitful springtime, I was able to extract over four-hundred gallons from just 20 hives!  At one time I had over one hundred healthy hives.

About ten years ago a few cell phone communication towers were constructed at the northern  edge of our property.  As the cell phone business expanded, they added more units and built more towers.  Since the towers went up, my honey flow slowed down and eventually stopped.  All my bee colonies began dying within two weeks or two hours after I installed them.  I gave no notice to the towers since there could be other things to cause bees to die, such as bug spray in the air, mite infestation, weather conditions, etc.  The problem of bees dying is so large that the Department of Agriculture in the United States, and similar departments in Europe and Brazil are concerned and looking in to the matter.

After ten years of trying different medications and redesigning my boxes, I finally decided to move my bees to a different location.  At the beginning of our abbey driveway is a small canyon with steep hills surrounding it.  I used a regular cell phone to find a spot with no detectable communication signal, and I relocated my bees to that location.  Bees I gathered from new swarms stopped dying off right away, and now the bees are doing much better.  I have about twenty-five healthy hives.  For the first time in over ten years, I extracted my first gallon of honey!  What a joy it is to see the light golden honey again from our own hives!

Another thing going on lately is that the bees used to swarm only two weeks during the year starting in March.  The past ten years the bees started swarming every day of the year.  I used to receive over fifty calls a day to remove bee swarms from homes and businesses in our region.  There were so many calls I could not possibly answer them all.  This year the calls are down to maybe one call per week for me to collect swarms.  Most of these are from old swarms in valve ground boxes or bird houses.  It seems as if the bees are searching for protected places to land and start another hive.  This past week I picked up two swarms from the ground in a parking lot.  Never have I had to pick up swarms from asphalt parking lots.

I believe the cell phone communication towers are taking a big toll on all the bees.

But I am happy to have at least some of my honey production back.

= = = =


January 21
Feast of St. Meinrad.  Fr. Basil was the main celebrant at today’s feast day.  Today is the patronal name day of our Brother Meinrad and the 90th birthday of Fr. Basil Mattingly.

January 22
Brothers Damien and Thomas attended the Institute for Religious Life in San Pedro today.

January 28
Fr. Abbot Charles attended the dedication ceremony this afternoon for the Benet Road Bridge that leads to our property.  The city has named it “The Jack Cassan Memorial Bridge.”  Jack helped the monastery in a variety of ways for about fifty years and was also active in helping many civic organizations in the area.

February 3
Feast of St. Blaise.  Brother Blaise celebrated his name day this evening at Supper.   He has been sick for the past few days but was able to attend supper.

February 5
­­We delebated Fr. Prior Sharbel to be our representative at the General Chapter of our Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation at Westminster Abbey (British Columbia, Canada) in August.  Fr. Stephanos will be the alternate if Fr. Prior Sharbel ends up being unable to attend.  Brother Benedict Leuthner, OSB, from St. John Abbey, Minnesota, has been a guest in our monastery for the past month.

February 23
The sanctuary was full of extra priests today, as we had with us five of Mother Teresa’s “Missionaries of Charity” priests and one diocesan priest.

March 4
The “Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata” (a secular institute of consecrated women) have brought to our retreathouse this weekend a group of laywomen who are members of the Militia of the Immaculata movement.  One of our priests is giving their retreat conferences.  Fr. Abbot was the main celebrant at the Divine Mercy Conference Mass at the Pala Mission.

March 12    The Boys Scouts of America from the San Diego area were here for Mass and lunch.  Six members received the “Ad Altare Dei” medal.  Brother Daniel hosted them and gave them a tour of the monastery.

March 13
Our oblates met this Sunday.  Seven individuals made their final oblations and three others began their oblate novitiate.

March 16
Fr. Abbot Charles attended the Pro-Life conference in Orange County.

March 17
Parishioners of San Diego’s Christ the King Catholic Church are on retreat here this weekend.  Brother Daniel gave conferences on “The Seven Deadly Sins.”

March 20
Fr. Paul and Bro. Philip returned from their weekend at the annual Religious Education Congress in Anaheim.  They manned a booth to provide vocational information about our monastery.

March 21
Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict Our Father.  Brother Benedict celebrated his patronal nameday today.  Brother Oblate Timothy celebrated his 80th birthday.  Brother Noel and Fr. Paul celebrated their 10th anniversary of monastic vows.  Fr. Abbot Charles drove to celebrate the funeral mass for John Zackowski, an old friend of the Monastery.  Fr. Prior Sharbel and Bro. Daniel attended the Funeral Mass for oblate Myra Iserman-Zorza.  Fr. Prior was the main celebrant at this Mass. 

March 25
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.  Fr. Michel was the main celebrant at today’s Mass.  About ninety schoolchildren from St. Joseph’s Academy, San Marcos, and more than a dozen from St. Francis School, Vista, were at Mass.  Abbot Charles was the celebrant at a Funeral Mass for Rosemary Tucker at San Luis Rey Mission.  Rosemary was a board member of Brother Benno’s.

April 1
Dr. Markus Nolte and Fr. Lars Hofnagel from Germany were guests in the monastery.   Dr. Nolte was a classmate of Fr. Stephanos in Rome, and is now editorial director of “Kirche und Leibe” (Church and Life), Germany’s largest Catholic newspaper.

April 14
Fr. Paul and Brother Emmanuel represented us at the San Diego diocese’s Chrism Mass at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.

April 28
Brother Noel gave a harp concert to the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament this evening after supper.  The sisters have occupied our retreat center for the past two weeks, during which they conducted their province’s general chapter.  They operate and teach in several Catholic schools in California.

May 1
The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  It is the patronal nameday of our Brother Joseph.  Brothers Blaise and Noel together with several outside musicians performed in a concert in our library.

May 15
Our monthly oblate meeting featured one of our oblates, Joseph Sims, a convert to Catholicism, who spoke about his Jewish roots and compared the Jewish traditional holy days with the Christian ones.  The conference was well-received.

May 16–Brother Peter was taken to Zion Hospital –Kaiser this morning to undergo surgery on his ankle.

May 17
Fr. Prior Sharbel presided at the funeral Mass of Shawn Sterling Storc at St. Mark Catholic Church, San Marcos.  Mr. Storc was the oldest brother of our former novice, James Storc, who laid the tile flooring inside our church and throughout our monastery.

May 21
Fr. Abbot Charles presided at the Ritual Mass for the Profession of Perpetual Vows by our or Brother Damien.  Two monks of St. Andrew Abbey, Valyermo, were present:  Abbot Damien and Fr. Carlos.

May 30
Fr. Herbert celebrated the seventy-second anniversary of his priestly ordination today.

May 31
Abbot Charles left this morning to conduct a routine visitation (“inspection”) for Ascension Priory, Idaho.

= = = =


+ John Zachowski
+ Margie Mendez
+ Eufemia Bellera
+ Charles Lavine
+ John Pieper
+ Oblate Sylvia Alvarado
+ Sr. Timothy Kirby
+ Julie O’Grady
+ Pauline Cole
+ Oblate Myra Iserman-Zorza
+ Colleen Green
+ Shawn Sterling Storc
+ Ricaard Monacelli
+ Jack Zurcher, SJ
+ Maurine Macletzke
+ Rosemary Tucker
+ Hector Cruz
+ Frances M. Conway
+ Craig O’Neill

Requiescant in pace.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 2011

A Message from Abbot Charles

It is curious how many of our retreatants and guests call our attention to the peace they experience on this hilltop. For some, peace is found in their ability to do what they wish to do in an unhurried manner.

While I was in the seminary I read Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture. His premise is that the great civilizations of the past were able to contribute so much to culture because they had ample leisure time to develop art, architecture, philosophy and even theology. If one is preoccupied with merely earning a living and supplying oneself and one’s family with the base necessities, leisure is rare.

It seems that leisure does not excuse us from all work, because work is necessary and good for us and for building the Kingdom of God. But leisure does liberate us from overwork, from activism, workaholism. Leisure teaches us how to work effortlessly. That is, how to function in a calm, gentle relaxed mode, not a frenzied, driven rushing mode. When we are driven, we are not free. Leisure frees us.

And in our day and age we may have more leisure time but we purposely fill it with activity. So true leisure is not well understood nor easily achieved. We must put an effort into making our lives conducive for achieving leisure if it is to be effective.

For the contemplative the desired result of leisure is a deeper relationship with God by giving God a chance to be heard and then responding to His invitation to be united with Him.

When we experience union with God all other things and activities can be seen in proper perspective. Therefore a degree of lasting happiness is achieved that we had never thought possible and which surpasses all previous happiness which is always short-lived.

Leisure helps us to become ever more human by developing an atmosphere of simplicity and creativity. And leisure in the monastery is not a luxury, a special treat to be enjoyed occasionally, but a necessity. It teaches us that we work to live and not live to work.

However, monks too are being influenced by the world around them and from which they have come. Therefore we, as monks, benefit from those of you who remind us why we are here and what we can achieve.

“Be still and know that I am God!” (Ps. 45:11)

= = = = = = = =

Brother Mario has been in vows for twenty-five years

On May 3, 1985, Brother Mario professed vows as a monk of our monastery. We delayed the celebration of his jubilee until this past October 23, when most of his family was able to join us here for the occasion.

= = = = = = = =

Invitatory: “Come You Faithful”

Anonymous Author

O Come, you faithful, heed the call!
Ps. 94:1-2

His Presence enter, faith endowed!
Ps. 94:6

Present yourselves; Come, one and all—
Ps. 99:2

Join Bethlehem’s rejoicing crowd
Mt. 2:1-6

In Home-of-Bread where famished feed
Ruth 1:11; Jn. 6:35

And Gracious Host allays all need.
Is. 55:1-3; Lk. 1:53

Converging invitations ring:
“All ‘thirsty’, ‘burdened’, Come to Me!”
Mt. 11:28; Jn. 4:12-15; Rev. 22:17

“Come, blessed of my Father-King.”
Mt. 25:34

Reversed our ‘Maranatha’ plea—
1Cor 16:22; Rev. 22:20

Now “Come as Bride and Spirit” sing;
1Jn. 3:2; Rev. 22:17

First/Final welcome: Come and see.
Mt. 5:8; Jn. 1:39

“Come”, “Present yourselves” or “Be present”, as in the Latin, “ad sum”, “I am here!”

= = = = = = = =

Matthew’s Gospel

Fr. Basil Mattingly, O.S.B.

In the “A” cycle of the liturgical readings that we are following this year we are treated to that Catholic Gospel, the Gospel of the Church, the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel according to Matthew.

Unfortunately, the very esteem which St. Matthew’s Gospel has enjoyed in the Church has occasioned devaluation by those with no or low esteem for the Church— especially since it is the only Gospel expressly mentioning “Church”, it is the textual treasury for “Petrine Primacy”, and has Eucharistic allusions, otherwise lacking in the other Synoptics.

But our accepting this sterling Gospel as inspired and by detecting its unique artistic quality, being in the Hebrew tradition of a structured literary composition, we hear the Holy Spirit speaking through Matthew. And Matthew proves himself; if one just lets St. Matthew direct you through St. Matthew he will tell you how to proceed and what to look for. This he does through the traditional (yes, I know) literary techniques with proper prologue and epilogue.

So for starters let us look a little at both prologue and epilogue. The Prologue (Chap. 1:1-18) gives (to the careful student) a subtle directive, a clue for detecting MORE than the surface narrative; the Epilogue (Chap. 28:16-20) summarizes all the preceding content. The Prologue, when carefully attended to, alerts us to the “Heptad” (“7”) as a guiding clue to emphases and more cryptic messages; the Epilogue provides a nuanced summary of Jesus’ final commission to the Church in a sevenfold succinct statement of important elements in the content treated throughout.

But hold on. Here is a practical guide for all readers, even the least academically prepared. Make it your personal experience of the Gospel itself— a guide thereto, by the prayerful practice of the (sevenfold) OUR FATHER— of that digest of the Gospel, “the summary of the whole Gospel”, as Tertullian taught early on. And one really needs no other books or studies for fuller understanding. Don’t forget that we now have The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which ends up with a full treatment of this “Prayer of the Church”— 25 pages and 175 footnotes to explore!

So meditating on the Lord’s Prayer (as well as reciting it) one should view it contextually in its two superimposed contexts: it is a “set-piece” and a centerpiece. This double context offers many fruitful considerations. First, in the historical (ecumenical?) context of a set-piece, it has long been recognized as a variation on the main Jewish prayer, the KADDISH, the yearning for the “coming of the Kingdom”, prayed by all observant Jews in Jesus’ time as now. Secondly, St. Matthew baptizes it, as it were, centering it in the context of his own innovative “Sermon on the Mount” (Chapters 5-7). The first context roots us in our ancestral religion in fellowship with Israel and Jesus’ relatives (Mt. 1:1-18); and the second restarts or continues the ancient covenants with our own rebirth and immersion in the Covenant.

“THY KINGDOM COME” is a common note. But God, hailed familiarly as FATHER, is startlingly innovative. Thus this Gospel (Good News) of Christ as King (for the freely obedient) shows the Shepherd assembling disciples (the kingdom on earth) to present them to the Father, incorporating them in the Kingdom of Heaven, (c.f. Dan. 7: 13-14).

Both this Our Father and St. Matthew’s Gospel are about the Kingdom: the Kingdom of God, “on earth”, the Church, and the Kingdom “as it is in Heaven”.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Funeral Rites for Fr. Alexis Foyo, O.S.B.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him!

Night Prayer on the Eve of Burial
7 P.M., Monday, December 13, 2010
at Prince of Peace Abbey

Funeral Mass and Burial
11 A.M., Tuesday, December 14, 2010
at Prince of Peace Abbey

On November 24, 2010, just past midnight, our fellow monk, Fr. Alexis Foyo, O.S.B., passed to eternal life. He was in a hospital near his family in Florida, having suffered for quite some time from frontal temporal dementia, a disease that deteriorates random parts of the brain. Furthermore he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which rendered him increasingly immobile. He was 59 years old, having been a monk for 27 years and a priest for 22 years.

Alex Foyo was born on July 10, 1951, in La Habana, Cuba, to the Catholic family of Dr. Guillermo Carlos Foyo Facciolo and his wife, Amelia Antonia Trigo Llanes Foyo. He was the third child, having two older sisters. Alex was educated by the Marist brothers until about the age of 10, when in 1961 the family was forced to flee to the United States shortly after the takeover of Fidel Castro. This was a traumatic experience which affected him greatly. He finished High School at Boston Technical School, Massachusetts. Alex joined St. Leo Abbey in St. Leo, Florida, in 1976, under the leadership of Abbot Fidelis Dunlap, O.S.B., and upon entering the novitiate took the name Alexis. He was both monastic librarian and infirmarian from 1978 to 1979. Then he became Assistant Archivist from 1979 to 1980.

After graduating from St. Anselm Abbey College in Manchester New Hampshire, he went on to study for the priesthood at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He was ordained to the deaconate in 1982 and then to the priesthood in 1983 by Bishop Keith Simmons for St. Leo Abbey. Fr. Alexis served as assistant formation director of St. Leo Abbey from 1983 to 1984, until he became assistant pastor at St. Augustine Church in the Miami Archdiocese until 1990.

Fr. Alexis transferred to Peace Abbey on May 18, 1992. He served as formation director from 1994-1997, and then went to Mount Savior Monastery in Pine City, New York, where he helped with pastoral duties and spiritual direction for the sisters in a nearby convent. Upon his return to Prince of Peace Abbey in 2002, he worked on the Retreat, Development and Day of Recollection Committees. From 2003 to 2007, he was in charge of Mass intentions. Fr Alexis became the Assistant Oblate Director under Abbot Claude from 2004 to 2005, and then became Oblate Director from 2005 to 2007 with Abbot Claude assisting him.

Three years ago, he began to show signs of the disease that would eventually take his life. Not understanding what was happening inside him, he would approach many persons with the request to pray for him.

Fr. Alexis was very willing to help anyone who needed his assistance. He was a much sought-after counselor to the Hispanic community that greatly appreciated his ability to speak Spanish. He also helped at local parishes with Mass and confessions. Many Oblates remember him as a compassionate and gentle person who related very well to the persons with whom he communicated.

When news of his death reached us early on November 24, the monks prayed the Office of the Dead for Fr. Alexis at all of that day’s liturgical hours. The wake is planned for 7:00 PM on Monday, December 13, and the Funeral Mass and Burial for Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM. He is survived by two sisters, Sonia Collazo of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and Tania Fernandez of Miami, Florida, as well as several nephews and nieces.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 2010

A Message from Abbot Charles

It seems that Daylight Savings Time will end on Nov. 7 this year. I don’t know who decides the date but it is interesting how it keeps getting moved around. One of the benefits of the time change is that we gain an hour of sleep. Of course that is only making up for the hour we lost earlier in the year.

Maybe it would be better if we compromised and just adjusted the clock a half hour and left it that way throughout the entire year.

One thing we can be certain of is that there is no way of stopping the clock. The old saying that time marches on, is a perennial truth.

But we are always faced with the question of how well we use the time that is allotted to us. Only God knows the exact number of our days. The danger is that we are tempted to think that our own number is unlimited. Therefore very few of us give any consideration to the end of our own lives.

In fact, most of our time is spent trying to keep our attention turned away from our own demise. And Madison Avenue and Hollywood don’t help.

Therefore we seldom plan for the most important step of our whole life. If we see death as a period rather than a comma in our life’s story, what hope do we have?

To accept the fact that our days will end and that there is something (or better yet, someone) waiting for us gives our life new meaning and joy.

And we learn to accept challenges and obstacles as gifts that are designed to make us appreciate the full gamut of life’s experiences. To run from difficulties is to deprive ourselves of the richness of being trained to be of greater service to others. That will be our pass to the other side because the one waiting for us instructs us to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and, “As long as you did it for one of these my little ones you did for me.”

With hope, the number of days or years we have left can be lived in peace and joy rather than fear and the need for distraction. And instead of being concerned with Daylight Savings Time we can be more involved with making the time we have left more fruitful.

Time, during daylight or darkness, is not given to us to save but to use. So while we have the light let us use wisely the time we have left and not waste it lest we lose, not only time, but our life in eternity.


+ Charles, O.S.B.

= = = = = = = =

On Retreat at the Abbey:  Time Spent with God

Prince of Peace Abbey of Peace Abbey oblates and oblate novices enjoyed their annual retreat at the abbey conducted by Fr. Abbot Charles and Br. Daniel.  The topic was, ‘Father’, ‘Brother’, and ‘Son’:  Complimentary Roles in the Rule of St. Benedict.  A spirit of silence was maintained throughout most of the retreat, even during mealtimes, to facilitate reflection and prayer.  As one person commented, that they “got a lot of ‘down time’, ‘thinking time’, and ‘prayer time’”.

St. Benedict would have as the norm in all monasteries a place where people live the motto, “I have said, I resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue.  I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good words” (RB 6:1).  We are happy and blessed to provide a place with ample facilities and grounds where persons can nourish their spiritual life and come closer to God.  But most important of all, we must constantly strive to foster a kind of place of peace and listening in our hearts.  We cannot always go off somewhere to be in communion with God, but we can at least daily spend some “quality time” with our sovereign Lord and Savior.

In this “Babble-on!” world crammed with noisy trinkets that clamor, clatter and beep their way into our (and other person’s) private world, it is wise to take time out for quiet reflection and prayer.  After all, “A talkative man goes about aimlessly on earth,” while “Only a fool raises his voice in laughter” (RB 7:56, 59).  A busy mind finds no rest nor any time for God.  Actually, it is more a matter of “making” the time for retreat than “finding” time.

Not only Oblates, but all persons occasionally need to consider making time for and rest.  The weekly Sunday Sabbath rest refers to God’s third commandment about making holy the Lord’s day.  Remember, time spent well alone with God is never wasted, rather it is both necessary and refreshing.  Many groups schedule time at the abbey for their own particular retreat or day of recollection.  Weekends are the most sought after times, but often during the week groups or individuals want to spend some time far from the madding crowds.

St. Benedict writes, “If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim (Ps 33[34]:14 15)”  (RB Prol 17).

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Spiritual Warfare and St. Benedict
by Stella Utomi, Oblate Novice

Spiritual warfare is a subject many Christians particularly Catholics are not familiar with.  Spiritual warfare goes by many names; spiritual combat, spiritual battle, immortal combat and some call it the invisible war.  Many Christians do not recognize that Satan and his minions wage war everyday for souls.  Many are oblivious of the fact that this battle, this spiritual warfare should take a place of prominence in their spiritual lives because our very souls are at stake.  St Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).

Spiritual warfare is our Christian battle against Satan and his evil spirits to curtail their influence against our spiritual life, our families and against the Christian community.  Simply put, spiritual warfare is the invisible battle against the powers of evil in our daily lives.  Blessed Pope John Paul II in his pilgrimage to the holy monastery of Rila in May of 2002 declared, “It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which monks engage every day against the temptations, the evil suggestions that the demon tries to plant in their hearts; it is a combat that becomes crucifixion in the arena of solitude in the quest for the purity of heart that makes it possible to see God” (cf. Mt 5:8)... “This battle is necessary in order not to be distracted (aperíspastoi) or worried (amérimnoi) (cf. 1 Cor 7:32,35), and to live in constant recollection with the Lord.”

Spiritual warfare is a reality of the Christian life.  We know that our daily lives as Christians consists of ongoing battles, plagued with obstacles and enemies.  To fight these battles we can decide to choose our personal and natural inclination, or choose God’s.  St. Benedict gives advice in the fight against temptations.  “He has foiled the evil one, the devil, at every turn, flinging both him and his prompting far from the sight of his heart.  While these temptations were still young, he caught hold of them and dashed them against Christ” (RB Prol.28).

Spiritual battles are fought in the mind, heart, in relationships and in what is said, and what is left unsaid.  Whatever we entertain in our hearts and mind, and what we speak can trigger the activity of spiritual power for good or ill.  We fail in our Christian commitment unless Jesus reigns in our thoughts, in our speech, and in our relationships.  In the struggle for spiritual survival, we must not succumb to the power of Satan.  This struggle involves those who “are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord” (RB Prol. 3).

Our creator himself did provide us with spiritual armor to fight our spiritual battles, to withstand the attacks of the devil and be victorious.  The spiritual armor is a gift from our God, it has an offensive, defensive, and protective component.   St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians describes for us the tools for this combat. “So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.  To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones” (Eph. 6: 14-18).

The following illustrates the spiritual weapons while giving further scripture support and supplementing it with what St Benedict recommends.

+  BELT OF TRUTH (integrity - walk) is a defense against walking outside God’s will.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (Jn 14:6).  It is only in our conscious walk with Jesus that truth will become a practical reality in our daily living.  “Rid your heart of all deceit…Hate the urgings of self will…speak the truth with heart and tongue…As soon as wrongful thoughts come into your heart, dash them against Christ …Guard your lips from harmful or deceptive speech…hate the urgings of self-will; (RB 4:24, 28, 50, 51, 60).

+  BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is the protective gear we all need by  walking in uprightness, in obedience and in dedication to God’s commandments. We have to be reconciled to God and strive to be in a state of grace always.  “Make peace with him, be reconciled, and all your happiness will be restored to you…You will pray, and he will hear; and you will be able to fulfill your vows.…  He rescues anyone who is innocent; have your hands clean, and you will be saved” (Job 22:21, 27, 30).  St. Benedict says, “Hour by hour keep careful watch over all you do; aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you may be.  Live by God’s commandments every day; treasure chastity…” (RB 4: 48, 49, 64).

+  SHOES help us to proclaim the gospel of peace, are also symbols of action.  Walking in love, repentance and forgiveness is a major weapon of spiritual warfare against curses, spiritual and sometimes physical illnesses, and hatred.  When our feet are protected by the gospel of peace, we are ready to go wherever we have to be, in the peaceful assurance of God’s faithful word.  “How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the messenger of good news, who proclaims salvation and says to Zion, ‘Your God is king!’”  Isaiah 52:6-7.  The Rule of St Benedict advises us to set out on this way, “with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom” (1 Thess 2:12) (RB Prol 21).  “But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love” (RB Prol 49).

+  SHIELD OF FAITH is a sure defense against any kind of attack.  Hebrews 11:1, 6 relates faith in God to hope.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen…  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is.”  Ephesians 16:6 expands this defensive tool: “In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one.  Place your hope in God alone.”  In RB 4:74 this message is emphasized, “….never lose hope in God’s mercy.”  St. Benedict also said, , “Clothed then with faith and performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom” (1 Thess 2:12) (RB Prol 21).

+  The HELMET OF SALVATION is a precious gift.  You must be saved!  Ensure that your salvation is not just intellectual but has in fact transcended from head to heart. The helmet also signifies the necessity of protecting the mind and guarding at all costs what we allow to enter through our mind-gate.  Be ever vigilant over what we read or watch, because the mind is the battle ground for our salvation.  Remember that Jesus is our salvation. “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head” (Isa 59:16-17).  “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle” (Ps 140:7).  “…for he [the Lord] shows us the way to his tent…[as] one who walks without blemish, he says, and is just in all his dealings; who speaks the truth from his heart and has not practiced deceit with his tongue; who has not wronged a fellow man in any way, nor listened to slanders against his neighbor (Ps 14[15]:2-3).  He has foiled the evil one, the devil, at every turn, flinging both him and his promptings far from the sight of his heart.  While these temptations were still young, he caught hold of them and dashed them against Christ” (Ps 14[15]: 4; 136[137]:9) (RB Prol. 24-28).

+  The WORD OF GOD— SWORD is an offensive weapon in the hands of a good Christian.  Satan and his cohorts (wicked spirit beings) cannot prevail against the spoken word.  We must cultivate the habit of committing to mind powerful short verses and speak them out when tempted with things of this world, such as, “Satan, it is written!!  Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4).  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:11-13).  “Listen readily to holy reading,” says St. Benedict; “and devote yourself often to prayer” (RB 4:55-56).  Georg Holzherr, OSB, in his commentary on the rule would add, “The ‘healing remedy of Scripture’ [RB 28:3] is however only effective when the soul is not surfeited with ‘Aliorta’ (every other thing).”

+  PRAYING ALWAYS is the action of supplication.  ”With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.  To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones”(Eph 6:18).  “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all men,” (1 Tim 2:1).  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:8).  St. Benedict urges his followers to “Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer.  Every day with tears and sighs confess your past sins to God in prayer and change from these evil ways in the future” (RB 4:55-58).

It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity.  The bible tells us that we must trust that all things work together for our benefit.  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).  As long as we put our trust in Christ, live in Christ, submit to Christ, and live a consistent life of obedient prayer, and wait on the Lord, the enemy will be disarmed.  And that includes walking in loving relationships with the Lord and your neighbor.

When Satan has God’s permission to tempt our own flesh and blood— our own children, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters— to bring us trials, we must keep our eye on the hand that allowed the trial for our spiritual good, not the instrument.  “Accept whatever befalls you,  in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.  Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him” (Sirach 2:4-6).  Keep in mind brothers and sisters, “…today you are going into battle against your enemies.  Do not be faint-hearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.  For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”  Deut 20: 3-4.  In all these battles, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” 2 Chron 20:15.

More Weapons of Spiritual Warfare
1. Walk in humility and submission to his word and spirit.  This is a powerful spiritual weapon against pride, egoism, arrogance, disrespect.
2. Confession, repentance and forgiveness helps to close any door opened through sin (c.f. psalms 139:23, 24; 32:1-7).  This puts us in a state of grace.  The enemy only has a weak stand in areas of un-confessed darkness. 
3. Generous giving to the work in the body of Christ is a powerful weapon of spiritual warfare against greed, selfishness, insufficiency, poverty.
4. Persistence is a spiritual weapon against impatience, despair, etc.
5. Holy communion—receiving the body and blood of Jesus fortifies us and is the most effective spiritual weapon against all forms of evil.  Prolong your Holy Communion by abiding in Christ and keeping yourself pure of heart.
6. The use Sacramentals such as holy water, anointing with oil, medals, etc., are amongst our common and plentiful weapons of spiritual warfare against sickness, evil spirits, weakness and other burdens. It is our faith and obedience to use them when and where necessary that enables God to do the miraculous work.

St. Benedict in the prologue to his rule said, “Clothed then with faith and performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom” (1 Thess 2:12) (RB Prol 21).

Thursday, January 1, 2009



The Solemnity of Christmas is the patronal nameday of Prince of Peace Abbey. The refrains or antiphons at the First Vespers of Christmas repeatedly invoke peace and refer to Christ as Rex Pacificus— meaning “King of Peace” or “Peaceful King.” Depicting a crown over the waves of the Pacific Ocean, the shield in our coat of arms is a pictorial play on the words “Prince of Peace”.

The Church Has Norms for Coats of Arms

A diocese has a right to a diocesan coat of arms that does not change as bishops succeed each other in the diocese. However, every bishop has a right to his own personal coat of arms distinct from the diocesan coat of arms; and an abbot may have a personal coat of arms distinct from his abbey’s coat of arms. There are items that belong in a diocesan coat of arms that are not permitted in a monastery’s coat of arms, and vice versa. Likewise the elements permitted in an abbot’s personal coat of arms are not the same as those of a bishop. None of our abbots so far has had a personal coat of arms.

When the Holy See elevated our monastery to an abbey in 1983, we assembled a coat of arms for our abbey, but without knowledge of correct Church norms. In other words, our coat of arms is incorrect.  It is configured as the coat of arms of a diocese, not an abbey.

A Veiled Crozier

Interestingly, modern Church norms forbid the crozier in the personal arms of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. Instead, those persons are to use a jeweled processional cross behind their individual shields. A bishop’s cross has one horizontal bar, while that of an archbishop has two. A cardinal’s cross has two bars if he was an archbishop at the time he was made a cardinal, and only one bar if he was a bishop at the time he was made a cardinal. An abbey’s coat of arms and an abbot’s personal coat of arms are not to have a processional cross, but are to have a golden, veiled crozier behind the shield.  At one time in history, the actual crozier of an abbot had a veil hooked to its knob to distinguish the abbot from a bishop. The crozier in an abbatial coat of arms still must have a veil hooked to the knob of the crozier. Therefore our coat of arms as we have had it from the start has been incorrect on this point, since it includes an unveiled crozier. The veiled crozier is the essential sign that a coat of arms belongs to an abbey or an abbot, rather than to a diocese. It is the crozier without a veil that makes our coat of arms incorrect. A final technical note: the bottom of a heraldic crozier is to be pointed, since that is historically how croziers were made.


An abbey itself may include a white miter above the shield in the abbey’s coat of arms, but it is not required. However, an abbot himself is prohibited from including a miter in his personal coat of arms.  In heraldic depiction the miter is always to have a red lining.

The Shield

Our shield is divided vertically down the center. The technical term for this is “partitioning the fields per pale.” A “pale” is a vertical line or post.

The right side as one views the front of a shield is called “sinister,” from the Latin for “left,” since that is the left side for a man holding his shield in battle. Conversely, the left side as one views the front of a shield is called “dexter,” from the Latin for “right.”

Our shield has two ravens in sinister, essentially reproducing the coat of arms of Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland. Ravens figured in the lives of St. Benedict and St. Meinrad. Einsiedeln stands on the site of the ancient hermitage of St. Meinrad, the Benedictine monk who lived the final years of his life as a solitary in the Black Forest above Lake Zurich. The monastery of Einsiedeln is also a pilgrimage shrine housing a centuries’ old image of “Our Lady of Einsiedeln”. Monks from Einsiedeln founded St. Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, in 1854; and monks from St. Meinrad Archabbey founded Prince of Peace Abbey in 1958. The title and patron of the church at both St. Meinrad Archabbey and Prince of Peace Abbey is Our Lady of Einsiedeln, and a copy of her statue from Switzerland is enshrined in the churches of both monasteries.

In heraldry, the upper left as the viewer sees it is the place of honor. On our shield, this place has a gold crown to represent the Prince of Peace (Rex Pacificus). The blues waves below it signify the Pacific Ocean that is within view from our monastery’s church.


The traditional rules of color in heraldry require strong contrasts with certain colors only against certain backgrounds.

The following image constitutes a correct configuration of our coat of arms.

The angled draping of the miter's lappets (or tails) and of the crozier's veil are in keeping with the angled draping of the Lord's tunic in the sanctuary icon of our monastery's church.

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Here is the shield of St. Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, that founded Prince of Peace Abbey in 1958.

This is the shield of the abbey of Einsiedeln, Switzerland, that founded St. Meinrad Archabbey in 1854.