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Monastery Retreat House Newsletter December 2021​



Monastery Retreat House Newsletter December 2021
Life at the Monastery

We do a lot of waiting in our lives. At doctors’ appointments, airports, street lights. We can also wait in longing for loved ones to arrive home. We wait, often in fear, for the so-called “Other shoe to drop”. Yes, we are all acquainted with waiting. It is not always pleasant to wait, sometimes it can lead us to draw on our deep wells of patience.

Advent is also a time of waiting for those who take their faith seriously. Waiting for the coming of the Lord. I suppose that mankind has been waiting for a very long time for this coming. Perhaps it is not conscious, but our desire for peace, healing, and most importantly, to be at peace with ourselves, I feel is our desire for the Infinite. Which I believe has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus.

Prayer is a form of waiting, to just be, to open up one’s heart to God, in hope. The hope part can be tricky since life goes on. There are wars, inner conflict in our countries, racial and religious hatred, sickness, and a long list that could go on and on.

Yet we are called to hope. To hope can be like trust, we have to choose to hope, to trust in God’s Word, no matter how grim things can seem. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is Jesus Christ

There is also joy in our lives. We can sometimes overlook what actually gives us joy, and not be aware of it. Pain wakes us up, joy, and peace, perhaps, can lull us to sleep. We are made for joy, not for pain. It is pain that hits us over the head and causes us to question. So try to stay awake and thankful for what gives you joy and not take it for granted. Be thankful, be aware of the many little events, and things, that really does bring us a bit of joy, and yes, rest.

The community is doing well. We continue to be careful during the pandemic, and we have received our booster shot. We are hopefully going to reopen the Retreat House in February. We are waiting for the renovations of our church to be completed. While l do like our chapter room as a chapel, I do miss the big Church. I am glad that we have the back of Church available for visitors during the day, to come and pray or just sit with the Lord. We have also now opened our Abbey Store the hours are 11:00 AM - 4:30 PM Monday-Saturday.

Well my friends, let us together wait in hope for the coming of the Lord during this Advent Season. May we seek to make this Advent a time of deep prayer, and to focus on what is truly important in our lives.

May all of you be blessed this Advent and may it continue into Christmas and the whole of 2022.

Br. Mark Dohle
Retreat Master


Zoom Retreats – December

The Liturgy as a Spiritual Experience - Saturday December 4 – Alison Umminger

12 Step Spirituality for Everyone - Saturday December 11– Br. Michael

To register please call our office at 770-760-0959, Monday – Friday 8:00-1:00. We are asking for a donation of $45.00 for our retreats.

To see the rest of our Zoom Retreats for the year visit us at www.trappist.net .
Highlight – Br. Nathanael Falarca

Br. Nathanael Felarca was born April 26, 1956 in Charleston, SC. His Parents emigrated from the Philippines during his father’s service in U.S. Navy. (WWII vet) The family moved to Norfolk, VA where he grew up, he is the second youngest of 8 siblings.

Br. Nathanael had a 25 year career as advertising art director/graphic designer in Tidewater, VA and also New York City. In the words of Br. Nathanael “Burn-out from deadline drudgery and disillusionment with secular culture impelled a radical change: to seek God’s true purpose for my life.” Following several years of spiritual discernment, Br. Nathanael entered the monastery in 2012.

He now serves as the monastery Treasurer, along with working in the Abbey Store and bakery. Br. Nathanael is a kind person and always ready to help, we are so blessed to have him as part of our community\



Advent and Repentance

The church sets aside two periods every year when we are called to reflect on the meaning of repentance and to act on it. Both periods, Advent and Lent, urge us to take stock of our lives, find out what is missing, and to go about finding it. And such is the way we prepare our hearts for the great feasts of Christmas and Easter.

We are now into the Season of Advent. We have four weeks to focus on our lives and what they mean in the light that shines from a birth yet to come. And perhaps that is what we are called to ponder. The light is already shining on us. It is a light we can never lose, for it is a living part of us. But for a good part of the year, we may be too busy, too preoccupied, to bask in the mystery that burns brightly in the life of every human being who has been born into the world.

There is no chasing after the proper meaning of this light. It is right in our midst, within us and all throughout our world. What might help to see it, maybe even bask in it for a while, is the relaxed effort to be still, to look back and remember, and then to simply look around.

It is kind of like making the invisible come into view. It is a trust in the many and ordinary ways God makes his light shine through the beauty of human life, human activity.

And there are many places you can look. Think back on growing up and all the love that was poured into you. It was, in most instances, a wordless, but very real and effective loving. Your parents named you with joy. They held you tenderly, with a love that could never be as well expressed in words. They clothed you, schooled you, and prepared you as best they could for life’s journey. And as you entered this big world, you met countless people who eased your way with kindness, patience, and tales of their own ups and downs. The word “encouragement” is a beautiful word. It basically means to give heart to, to support, and to uplift. These gifts we often look to God to provide. And provide them he does, all through our lives, through the kindness of others. We are bearers and sharers of grace. We impart God’s light to each other.

Our Father Augustine gave a beautiful homily this morning in which he quoted St. Francis of Assisi. Francis told his followers to spread the light of the gospel, and, if they felt compelled to do so, to “use words, if necessary.” In other words, the immeasurable flow of light that shines in this world every second of life illumines all that we are and know without the need for words. The best words we can ever hope to say are those that point to the wordless presence of God in our midst. God is beauty. God is truth. God is goodness. God is sublimity. All seemingly such lofty things, until we pause for a while, look within, and see that these are living mysteries of our hearts.

Take some time this Advent and simply rest, and remember. God wants to tell you something – that he is already there, in your life and mine, waiting for us to better see him. He wants us to see where and what Christmas really is – not a calendar date but a human mystery that dwells within each of us. +++James Stephen Behrens, OCSO

Heavenly Father,

You give us this blessed season of Advent as a gift of time to
prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

But all too often we turn this gift into a source of frenzy, stress and anxiety;
a time when we’re apt to prepare for a Christmas celebration looking perfect on the outside,
but spiritually exhausting and without true meaning.

Restore in us that inherent quest for quiet expectation and hope.
Show us the way to a more peaceful, prayerful disposition that
makes us more open to a conversion of heart.

And give us the courage to let go of things that are
ultimately unimportant to the true meaning of Christmas.

Help us be good stewards of this Advent season,
so that on the Feast of the Nativity,
we will be ready with our own sacred space for the arrival of
your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we now pray.


Source the International Catholic Stewardship Council, Catholic Stewardship, December 2016, e-Bulletin


By Their Own Hands

In his "Rule for Monks," St. Benedict stated that the monks were to work for their living "by their own hands." As such, the community at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit strives to be self-sustaining and baking is a primary industry.

Monk's Fudge Monk's Fruitcake Monk's Biscotti

GOOD NEWS: Our Abbey Store has opened! The store hours are Monday-Saturday from 11:00am to 4:30pm. Come and shop for the holidays especially our delicious monk-made fruitcake, fudge and biscotti cookies. We also sell other food items, books, jewelry, religious articles etc. If you live far away, you can purchase items via our online store. Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts

To place an order from Our Abbey Store you can reach us by telephone at:

1-800-592-5203 OR Local 770-929-3448 or email us at monasterygifts@trappist.net.

Honey Creek Woodlands – A Natural Burial Ground

At the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The Monastery community offers a quiet and beautiful resting place for people of all faiths, as well as those who have struggled to find faith. We are pleased to provide our land and promise to reverently protect it for those who share it with us. If you have any questions or would like to set up a tour, please call 770-483-7535. Our hours are 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-

Edited by markdohle


Recommended Comments

What can I say? I have no better words to put on the plate, as the meal being served is already beautifully garnished with digestibility.

As it concerns the Good, the idea of the absolute Good, Socrates would have little to argue against, and nothing to disagree with the definition put forth here.

God is beauty. God is truth. God is goodness. God is sublimity. All seemingly such lofty things, until we pause for a while, look within, and see that these are living mysteries of our hearts.

This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed—whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed. 

“Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father....In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

I guess you do know your politics, belonging to such a godlike institution, and the master too. If I'm ever in the neighborhood, I'll be sure to stop by and visit the retreat, if it has an open door policy to other religions, as I read. However, my religion is a strange one, because I'm a Socratic at heart, mind, and soul.



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You will be welcome if you are ever in the area.  Thank you for your comments, my friend.

i am not very good at politics I am afraid, but you seem to be very good on the subject.



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