Monday, December 27, 2010

Come in from the Cold

Come In From the Cold


"Wisdom and Warmth, and a signal! Thanks for your hospitality on a cold Advent morning spent successfully shaping an image for my Christmas sermon in the quiet peace of Wisdom House."

Pastor Bill Carter
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
Avon, CT

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, come to Wisdom House for a quiet place to read, reflect, write, and pray. Coffee and tea are available. Visit the Wisdom House Chapel and the MLT Gallery. BYOL--bring your own laptop!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Perfect Day

This January, 1985 cover of The New Yorker magazine had no title. Maybe it should be: The Makings of a Perfect Day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Young Christmas Ornament Designer Visits Wisdom House

Melanie Torres and her mother, Jackie visited Wisdom House recently for a tour of the facilities which was given by Sr. Rosemarie Greco, administratorof Wisdom House.

Melanie, a senior at Litchfield High School, designed Litchfield's town holiday ornament for 2010. Litchfield's Parks and Recreation Department chose Wisdom House as the subject for this year's piece.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Litchfield's Parks and Recreation Department's Christmas Ornament Honors Wisdom House

Litchfield Parks and Recreation's long tradition of creating ornaments using local subjects continues with this year's ornament honoring Wisdom House. The ornaments have been a Litchfield tradition for 20 years. They are struck at the world-famous foundry of Woodbury Pewter in Woodbury, Connecticut.

Litchfield High School senior, Melanie Torres submitted the winning drawing from all the other budding artists in Mrs. Barbara Salinger's art classes. Melanie enjoys drawing and photography and she hopes to study engineering and computer science in college.

Pictured here are Mrs. Barbara Salinger(l), Melanie Torres(center) and Sr. Rosemarie Greco, DW, Administrator of Wisdom House (r).

The ornaments are offered for sale at the Litchfield Town Hall, the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield Parks and Recreation, and at Wisdom House for $10 each.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


The angelic body bowed low

in adoration

Before the woman soon-to-be-

with child.

"Blessed," he called her.

"Why?" she asked.

"Chosen," was his answer.

He waited. She wondered.

"How? Not now," she said.

"God changes time," said

the messenger.

"A son but no husband?

A mother before

being a


"Impossible!" she pro-


"Exactly," he smiled.

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Have you been to a shopping mall lately? The malls are filled with holiday festivity, providing an environment that quickly transports us from Thanksgiving to Christmas. When we go to the mall to shop, we accept the consequences of waiting on long lines. We wait—and the waiting might be a calm, resigned wait or a stressful one.

Waiting with patience is really a sign of this season which the Christian church calls Advent. We wait with joyful expectation for something good to happen and for someone special to come into our midst.

There are no long lines or impatience in this kind of waiting. In fact, sometimes the waiting is done quietly, with reflection and prayer. Even in the natural world, we wait for the dawn of light because the darkness comes so early. Now, we wait for Christ to come again and show himself in our midst.

Let us be awakened as we wait, and in this awakening may we recognize the signs of ope, light, and of God among us.

Rosemarie Greco, DW

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Lessons and Carols

On Sunday, December 5, Advent Lessons and Carols at St Michael’s Parish, Litchfield, CT was an inspiring experience of community and worship. As a preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ, this service of Christian worship, which dates back to the late 19th century, invited the community to focus on the meaning of Christmas. Scripture readings from Genesis, the Prophets and the Gospels were interwoven with hymns and medieval carols.

The service of Lessons and Carols at St. Michael’s Church was led by Music Director Dr. Marguerite Mullee and Rector Rev.M. Jennings Matheson with organist Susan Theodos and St Michael’s Choir and Readers. The ministry of music during this service was spiritually healing and renewing. It was a perfect example of music nourishing faith.

For readings and a format for Advent Lessons and Carols, visit .

Saturday, December 11 at 8 pm, Handel’s Messiah will be performed at St Michael’s Parish. For information contact the parish at 860-567-9465 or visit

Monday, December 6, 2010

Responding to the Cycles of the Seasons

"Consider the way many plants respond to the cycles of the seasons. They shed their leaves to withstand the cold, and grow a new set when the sun and warmth return. They meet severe requirements with convertibility." (Moshe Safdie)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bringing Opposites into Harmony

Bringing opposites into harmony seems to be one of the challenges of this winter season.

Over the years we learned how to respond and balance nature's challenges.

Winter brings us cold weather and so we light our fireplaces or turn up the heat in our homes.

Winter brings us long nights and we respond by decorating our buildings with lights.

The trees outside are bare and so we surround ourselves with blossoming plants and evergreens.

It may seem like life is nowhere to be found but instinctively, we know how to bring forth light where there seems to be none.

In the harmonizing of opposites we find peace.

In the apparent absence of light we find signs of hope.

And after all, isn't that what this season is about?

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace.

May people of peace bring you hope.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent: Resting on Sturdy Hinges

When was the last time you took time to look at the familiar things that
surround you? When was the last time you took time to look at a hinge?

Hinges make it possible for doors to function -
The quality and strength of the hinges
increase the function of the door.

Advent is the door through which we pass each year to prepare to remember
the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

And, like all trustworthy doors, Advent rests on sturdy hinges. This door
hinges on
Scriptural reminders of God's promise to Israel to send them a savior,
God's promise to free them from oppression
God's promise to be their God -
their guide through the ups and downs of life.

Let us hinge our preparation for Chrismas on a
strong Advent of prayer, generosity, and works of charity and

Let the hope we have be seen in the lives we live!

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wisdom House to Present Program about Neapolitan Crèche

This famous Neapolitan Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was given to the museum by Loretta Hines Howard. Some years earlier,  Mrs. Howard also gifted the Abbey of Regina Laudis with a similar crèche, which is on permanent exhibit at the Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut.

On Saturday, December 4, from 9:30 a.m. until- 3:30 p.m., Wisdom House will present  a program about this crèche. Mother Cecilia Schullo, OSB and Sister Angèle Arbib, OSB, will speak about the history and spirituality of the crèche.   After lunch, participants  in the program  will drive to the Abbey to see the  creche, where it is on exhibit in the Bellamy Barn.  For more information visit out Web site.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord's Leads Workshop on Creating Spirit Books

On Saturday, November 13, 35 participants came to Wisdom House to create their own Spirit Books under the guidance of artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord. Ms. Gaylord presently has an exhibit in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery at Wisdom House of 12 of her handmade books from her 50-book series titled, "Spirit Books."

Participants used natural elements from the grounds of Wisdom House along with special paper and decorative pieces small and large brought by Ms. Gaylord.

It was exciting to see the natural elements come alive again as they entered and surrounded the books-in-progress.

Besides the attached slide show, click here to access photos taken by Ms. Gaylord.

Here's a link to the photos she put on flickr. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Gift of Wisdom: Gift Certificates Toward Wisdom House Programs


Gift certificates for programs at Wisdom House are available year round.  They are especially useful as Christmas and holiday gifts.

To order a gift certificate of any amount, print this memo, send a check and your mailing address and we'll send the certificate to you.  Please make checks  payable to Wisdom House, 229 East Litchfield Road, Litchfield, CT 06759.

Your certificate will offer the gift of peace and hope into the coming year.

Any questions?  Call us at 860-567-3163 or email us at

Gift certificate amount:    $__________________________

My name and address:      __________________________



Thank you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Daisy Standing

Autumn lingers on with one visitor from the last season still as fresh as
the day she bloomed.

Behold the resilient daisy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Letting Go When we are Let Go

In this season of autumn, we give thanks because the earth yields its harvest and surrounds us with abundance. As the plants surrender their fruits, providing a feast for us humans, the plants themselves become barren and they surrender to the winter season.

Creation itself is letting go of its fruit. It has completed another cycle of its life and says that we, too, will have to experience the naturalness of letting go and of not clinging to things.

In our society these days, we find that in many cases it is people who are being let go from jobgs that are so essential for their survival. It is one thing for us to let go of something we have clung to, but when we are being let go of and abruptly cut off from a source of life, the pain feels insurmountable.

Jesus says that if you love your life for His sake, you will find it. Let us pray during this season of abundance that we might use God’s gifts with care. Let us also act, offering life and support to those who have been let go, that they might soon find new life.

Rosemarie Greco, DW

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Casagrande Institute for Interfaith Conversation: Money and Faith

On October 29 - 30, the 12th Casagrande Institute for Interfaith Conversation took place at Wisdom House. The theme was "Money and Faith." The interfaith panel of Barbara Cohen, Mufti Ikram-UL Haq, Rev. Terry Marie Wysong spoke to the role of money in their spiritual traditions. Margaret Shea Mc Carthy, MBA gave an introduction to money: its story, purpose, and function in society down the ages.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rich Answers: Nancy Wynn, Director of The Clare Gallery in Hartford

Recently, Sr. Rosemarie Greco interviewed Nancy Wynn, director of The Clare Gallery, located in The Franciscan Urban Center of St. Patrick-St.Anthony Church in Hartford. The gallery is one of many outreaches of the parish, originating in 1829 as Connecticut's first Roman Catholic Church.

The interview was aired as the Wisdom segment of The Conference of Churches radio program, "Rich Answers." The program airs on WRCH 100.5 FM every Sunday morning from 5:30 - 6:30 am. Sr. Rosemarie and Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP are the Wisdom Correspondents for this program.

For more information about the many ministries at St.Patrick-St.Anthony Church, visit

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn and the Practice of Tonglen

The season of Autumn is full of signs of transitions in nature and in all of life. Is it also a time to give thanks for all that has been part of the past spring and summer and also to ask forgiveness for all that gives pain and suffering.

The American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron explains to participants in a retreat, the practice of "Tonglen" which means "taking and sending". Tonglen practice is an aid in transforming difficulties into the path of awakening and compassion for self and others. In "Tonglen" we breathe in suffering and pain and breathe out peace and compassion.

For more information on Tonglen, read "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron or view the video .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 24: First Annul Global Awareness Day

We hope you will visit the site of The First Annual Global Oneness Day here to watch a video and read  about this interfaith and intercultural movement.

From the Web site:

This is a day – the first one in history – dedicated to celebrating and demonstrating our inner oneness and our outer diversity, a day when the greatness of the whole is reflected in the greatness of its parts.

We invite you to join untold thousands of people in cities and villages around the world showing what it means and how great it feels to live in unity, diversity, harmony and compassion.

And if we can do it on this shared day, then there is hope that we can do it every day! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spirit Book Workshop at Wisdom House on Saturday, November 13

Image created from photos of rose hips and hydrangea and hand lettering 

 Spirit Book Update:  

The Spirit Book Series is on exhibit at Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut, until January 8, 2011. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I will be giving a Spirit Book workshop on Saturday, November 13 from 9:30 to noon  at Wisdom House.  For those with bookmaking experience, it offers a chance to let go and take part in a simple project which requires only an engagement with the materials and the moment. For those without prior bookmaking or art experience, it is an excellent entry into creative exercise.

Several of the Spirit Books will be in a group show at Harbor Gallery at UMass Boston from Nov.15-Dec. 14.

Wishing you a wondrous autumn filled with the gentle light of the season.

In good spirit,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homily reflections for the Scripture readings for the Roman Catholic Mass will occasionally be posted. These are unedited versions submitted to the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, for their publication. (Printed here with their permission).
 Homily based on these scripture readings:

1. Joel 1,13-15; 2,1-2 
2. Luke 11,15-16

Focus:  Time for Choice; Time for Conversion

 These weeks of October are marked by discussions and debates leading to our governmental elections .  Uppermost in many of our minds are the humanitarian concerns that affect us personally and as a community.  Basic needs such as employment, health care, education and peace are necessary if we are to pursue happiness and find human dignity. These are the goals our nation was founded to provide and they are also the gospel values that Jesus  calls us to experience.  We hear these concerns raised in campaign speeches of candidates for governmental offices.  We know, too, that these have been the same concerns proclaimed by many candidates for leadership over the past decades.  These concerns provoke our consciences to search for God’s will as we make decisions for future leadership.  We hope that God can save us from devastation and demise and make us a wholesome people and nation.

Today’s reading from the prophet Joel speaks to a society riddled with concerns about the well-being and survival of the human family. In Joel’s time, about the year 400 BCE, many thought that history was coming to an end because the times were so bad and so troubled.  For many years the people lived with struggles and devastation in their midst.  This moved Joel to call for a national time of mourning and fasting, hoping that this could turn the tide to move positive days.  He directs the call for a fast to the priests of the people, the leaders, and urges them to cry out to the Lord for salvation from their terrible plight.  Darkness and gloom are spreading over the land.  Conversion is necessary to change the course of events.  Truly, Joel’s words are prophetic for our time just as they were for his time.

Then, in the Gospel, Jesus casts out a demon and says. “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste”.  Jesus casts out demons not because he is associated with demons but because he is  Son of God.  Empowered by God’s Spirit, and the “finger of God”, Jesus identifies and  drives out evil.  He does this in the Gospel story and he does this when we call upon him to cast out evils in our lives and in our society in order to bring God’s presence to people, places and things.  Jesus drives out paralyzing  demons in order to bring God’s life and healing into being.  Jesus always offers life and salvation.  A time of fast and prayer is sometimes necessary  for this kind of change to take place.

Joel called for reform among the leaders.  Jesus calls for exorcism of evil in our communities.  Both of these prophetic voices anguish over the suffering of the people.  Jesus, above all, knows  the suffering of today’s people in their struggle for life, liberty and happiness.  The campaign speeches of our governmental candidates point out to us the dark side of our nation’s culture because they name our weaknesses and point to our hopes for a better day.  We still have time to ask for guidance from the “finger of God” to direct our minds to those actions that will alleviate devastation for people and hold the promise of God’s life in our  local and national communities.

Joel and Jesus, prophets of God, acted with the conviction that God’s promises of peace and fullness of life are possible for all people.  We are moving toward a days of  decision.  Let us be sure to bring God’s values to our decisions so that God’s reign may be seen on earth.

--Rosemarie Greco, DW

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thomaston Savings Bank Awards a Grant to Wisdom House

Sister Rosemarie Greco, administrator of Wisdom House, accepts a grant award of $1000 from Roger Perreault, Director of Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation, and Diane Roveto, its Bethlehem Branch Manager. The grant was given to assist in funding the restoration of the historic stone wall(c.1785) at Wisdom House.

An accompanying letter from bank president, Stephen L. Lewis, states, "I believe we have witnessed today the kindness and charity of the individuals that make a distinct difference in our local townships."

The celebration of the bank's grant night was held at The Thomaston Opera House in Thomaston, CT. For further information, visit

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rich Answers: The Catholic Worker House, Hartford

Sr. Jo-Ann Iannott, OP, Wisdom Correspondent for The Conference of Churches, interviewed Jacqueline Allen-Doucot, co-founder of The Catholic Worker House in Hartford.

The St. Martin de Porres Catholic Worker community is a lay community of Catholics and like minded friends, living in the north end of Hartford, working and praying for an end to violence and poverty. To find out more about the outreach of this community visit

Her interview will be aired on the program, "RICH ANSWERS" on WRCH 100.5 FM on Sunday, October 10 at 5:45 am. The program is sponsored by The Conference of Churches.

Wednesday evening, September 29, Wisdom House hosted its 12th Annual Wisdom Award Celebration.

This year's honorees were Marie Wallace of Litchfield and Dr. Matthew Pagano of Winsted. Marie was honored as a Promoter of Democracy and Matthew was honored as a Courier of Compassion.

Family, friends, and colleagues joined in the evening's celebration.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Antoinette Bosco Discusses 'Radical Forgiveness'

On September 11, Antoinette Bosco, author and award-winning journalist, presented a program titled, "Radical Forgiveness." She shared with participants what she had experienced and learned about forgiveness from the events in her life. Through small group interaction, there was an opportunity for participants to share their stories and experiences of iving and receiving forgiveness.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homily: Table Talk

This homily was originally written for use in the Celebration of the Eucharist.  Thus, the reference to the table of the Eucharist in the closing paragraph. 
Scripture Readings:
1. Acts 25:13b-21
2. John 21:15-19

 Table Talk

Tables are meant for sharing.  We know of all kinds of tables: kitchen and dining room tables, computer tables, pool tables, snack tables, laboratory tables, just to name a few.  Each table evokes its unique type of sharing.  At some tables we share information; at others, skills at games; at still others, we share the quest and challenge for new discoveries.  All of these add to the quality of our lives and draw us into unique relationships with those who share the table with us.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is at a breakfast table with his disciples.  The sharing that takes place is revealing as well as painful.  The Gospel says that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, but we are not told the substance of Jesus’ revelation.  On the other hand, the questions that Jesus raises after this breakfast cause Peter to reveal something intimate and painful.  In Jesus’ question to Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter is taken off guard.  Peter is distressed at being asked the same question three times.  He relies, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

One would think, in this breakfast conversation, that this talk about love would lead to further talk about their relationship, their good times together, their hopes for the community and the like.  The “table talk,” however, takes a seemingly strange turn.  Jesus tells Peter to serve the community and immediately follows this with talk about aging and dying.  These topics are typically avoided at table because they touch us at a most vulnerable point.  Yet Jesus does not avoid difficult topics.  He encourages us to speak about things that weigh heavy on our hearts.  He supports us in our fears and anxieties.  He knows what we are experiencing.

The conversation doesn’t end with this.  Jesus does not expect Peter to wallow in self pity over the thoughts of debilitation as he ages or dying in a way he doesn’t plan.  No, Jesus implies that we need to let go of control in our lives, be open to the subtle action of the Spirit of God in our thoughts and attitudes and, in the midst of this, get on with life and follow Jesus.

We all bring our concerns to the table.  Jesus and Peter brought their concerns about commitment, service, aging and death.  Tables are meant for sharing at whatever level we are able to share.

Today, now, we find ourselves at a Holy Table.  This table of the Eucharist is where we find Jesus in a unique way.  It is a table where we can expose our deep concerns, anxieties and fears about ourselves, the world and our loved ones.   It is a table where Jesus waits for us to unburden whatever weighs heavy on our hearts.  It is a table where we are nourished with the life of Jesus and the Spirit of God to go forth, follow Jesus and find the sheep.

What shall we say, today, as we approach this table?

--Rosemarie Greco, DW

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thinking About the Animals that Provide Food for Humanity

October 4 is the feast of St Francis of Assisi, a man noted for his love of creation and care of animals.  This is a good time to think about the treatment of the animals that provide food for humanity.  Click here to view the documentary video of the Humane Society, “Eating Mercifully.”

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fr. James Martin: 'Laughter and the Saints'

Fr. James Martin, SJ, Culture Editor of€ America magazine, presented a day retreat titled, "Laughter and the Saints: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life" at Wisdom House on September 18. Over 70 people attended this retreat day and had an opportunity to take a fresh look at the importance of the role of humor in our relationship with God and our own spiritual growth.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rich Answers: On Abolishing the Death Penalty

Rosemarie Greco, DW of Wisdom House interviews Ben Jones, Executive Director of CT Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP) for "Rich Answers," a weekly program sponsored by the Conference of Churches which airs on Sunday morning between 5:30-6:30 am on WRCH-FM, 100.5 FM.

The mission of CNADP, since 1986, is to work to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut. According to their mission statement, "CNADP opposes the death penalty since it is poor public policy. The death penalty does not deter crime; it is not efficient; it kills mentally ill persons; it is economically and racially biased; it kills innocent people and does not provide closure for families. It is revenge and not justice." To learn more, visit their website

Rosemarie Greco,DW and Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP are Wisdom Correspondents for the Conference of Churches in Hartford.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homily: Christians Hope in Jesus and the Power of His Resurrection

Homily reflections for the Scripture readings for the Roman Catholic Mass will occasionally be posted. These are unedited versions submitted to the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, for their publication. (Printed here with their permission).

Friday, September 17, 2010

1. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

2. Luke 8:1-3

Focus: Christians Hope in Jesus and the Power of his Resurrection.

Jesus the healer is the hope of so many people. For centuries, Christians have prayed to Jesus for strength to endure illnesses, loss, and infirmities, and we have hoped for miracles from Jesus. Their strong devotion and faith brings them to Jesus as their only hope for release from difficulties. Such hope is found in today's Gospel where we find Jesus traveling, meeting people, preaching good news of God's care for them. Among his travelers are some women who had been healed by the touch of Jesus. They gave living witness to the power of Jesus. Hope in Jesus makes unbelievable things possible.

Ultimately, the hope of Christians rests in our belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, is very emphatic that our belief in the resurrection of the dead and the resurrection of Christ is the core of Christianity. It is also a mystery of our faith, seeming to defy rational explanation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#997ff) attempts to give understanding to this mystery but we will not fully understand the fullness of resurrection. Our faith gives us insight and our experiences confirm our belief.

Jesus often used elements of natural creation to teach others. If we look at creation all around us, we can observe the cycle of life and death and rebirth. Even the stars explode and give forth new life. Life, death and rebirth is an amazing mystery. To state precisely how all this happens, specifically how resurrection happens, "exceeds our imagination and understanding". It is faith that gives us access to this mystery (Catechism #1000). It is also our faith that is strengthened when we say during the Mass, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" or, in other words, "Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world."

We place our hope in Jesus Christ. The power of our faith and hope in him cannot be underestimated. For St. Paul, belief in Christ's resurrection is so essential that, without it, he believes his preaching is empty and so is our faith. In the resurrection of Jesus, we see the power of God and the Holy Spirit at work in the body of Jesus. Our baptism into Jesus Christ makes us confident that this same God and Spirit will be at work in us. This is our faith and our hope.

--Rosemarie Greco, DW

(Photo: Andrew F. Ford)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'Women and Spirit' on Ellis Island Starting Sept. 24

The story of Catholic sisters in America is presented in an exhibit, "Women and Spirit" on Ellis Island, NY. This exhibit features the work, ministries and innovative works of Catholic sisters in America. You can view some of the exhibit here. The exhibit opens on September 24 and closes on January 22, 2011.

A bus ride to the exhibit is being organized by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Wilton, Connecticut, for Saturday, October 23. They can be reached at You may also phone Nancy Holland, coordinator for the bus, at 203-761-9732 for information and to reserve a space. See flyer below (click on images to enlarge.). Also, please note that the RSVP deadline for this trip is September 24.

"Women religious have made an incalculable contribution to this nation. Running schools, hospitals, orphanages from America's earliest days, these women helped foster a culture of social service that has permeated our society," said Cokie Roberts, News analyst and author.\\

Click here to view videos about this exhibit.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti's Poems and Photos on View in her Show, 'Continuous Present' at the University of Connecticut, Torrington Campus

Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, a photographer and poet, will discuss the sources of her creativity and the photographs and poems on view in her show, "Continuous Present," in the Whitson Gallery at the University of Connecticut's Torrington campus on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

A reception will follow the discussion. The event is free and open to students and the public. "Continuous Present" will be on exhibit at the campus's Brick Wall Space Gallery from Thursday, Sept. 16, through Friday, Nov. 19.

For more of this story, click here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wisdom House Staff: Gerard Hall, Chef

From Chef Gerard Hall:
I have been asked to write about why I like working at Wisdom House. Well, given that I am the chef here and loathe talking about myself, I've decided to write a metaphorical analogy about stew. As an aside, I consider myself a parochial townie with a natural curiosity about what's out there, and I'm perfectly happy to figure it out from right here. So anyway, the story goes that some 30 odd years ago a father sent his son to the grocery store to purchase the fixings for a traditional Irish stew. As the young man left the house, the father admonished his son to find the same ingredients his grandpa used to make stew. The young man asked his father why get the same ingredients? The father was almost beside himself and said, "Well don't you love your grandpa's stew?"

"Yes," replied the son.

"Well then, why shop for anything else?" asked the father.

Paradoxically, the young man left for the store without an ingredient list, but with all the ingredients necessary. Thirty odd years later, he finished shopping and ended up at a retreat house working for someone who
said, "Make it like your Grandpa's."

I do love this place and you all add spice to my stew. God bless.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Awakening a new Reverence for Life

Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. (The Earth Charter)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Awesome Transformation

"We are indeed in a great moment of awakening.there is a newness about our time and we need to be sensitized to the awesome transformation that is being required of us." (Thomas Berry, CP)

Photo: Andrew F. Ford

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where Does the Energy Come From?

Where does the energy, the power, come from that allows this to be? The nature of divine Mystery far surpasses our understanding. ( From: "Awe-Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality," Barbara Fiand, SND de N)
Photo credit: Andrew F. Ford

Monday, August 23, 2010

Earth, our Home, is Alive...

Earth, our home, is alive with a unique, resilient community of life. (Preamble, The Earth Charter.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some Thoughts on my Artist's Retreat in Silence at Wisdom House

Some thoughts on my Artist's Retreat in Silence at Wisdom House, July 9th -16th, 2010

I got more than I ever expected from my time at Wisdom House in terms of opening my mind and finding clarity as well as finding new directions in my work.

Everything was taken care of. I felt free to let go of the day-to-day 'stuff' of life in order to just focus. And the private studio space, tucked away in the corner of the building, was the perfect place to delve into my studies.

The mealtime schedule was also wonderful. I enjoyed the regular punctuation of my work schedule and the 4-5 hour blocks of time it created. The structure helped me focus. Having a light supper almost seemed to add more hours to the day.

When making arrangements for my stay, I gave little thought to meals. I was caught off-guard (often several times a day) by Chef Gerard Hall and the kitchen's absolutely superb, healthy, beautifully served meals. We abstained from speaking during my retreat while we thoroughly indulged our palates!

-Ann Hirsch

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wisdom House Staff: Bonnie Mis

Bonnie Mis serves Wisdom House as Guest Services Coordinator. From initial contacts to the conclusion of group events, Bonnie oversees the details of the variety of retreats, programs, and workshops that take place at Wisdom House. Bonnie says she enjoys "the variety of people and organizations I get to learn about and work with all year".  These number over  500 organizations and retreats yearly. Bonnie has been Wisdom House's Guest Services Coordinator since 1993.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Story of Stuff: Chemicals in Cosmetics

Wisdom House shares its concern for health and wellnes with this video about toxins in cosmetics from "The Story of Stuff."

From The Story of Stuff Web site:

This morning, just hours after we released our new film, The Story of Cosmetics, three members of the U.S. Congress introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which would close the gaping holes in federal regulation of personal care products.

The current law - if you can call 1938 'current' - allows the cosmetics industry to make its own decisions about what's safe. The FDA can't require companies to assess cosmetics ingredients for safety, can't require that all the chemicals in cosmetics are disclosed to consumers, and can't even require product recalls.

That's nearly as screwy as putting lead in lipstick!

We joined forces with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to release The Story of Cosmetics for two main reasons:
First, our 50-plus year experiment with 'better living through chemistry' is one of the most distressing features of the way we make our Stuff. We load everything from shampoo to cell phones with toxic chemicals-ingredients that we know or suspect are linked to cancer, reproductive harm, learning disabilities, and asthma.

Few consumer products tell the story of 'toxics in, toxics out' quite like cosmetics: the average person smears between 6 and 12 personal care products on his or her body every day. Its like a giant science experiment-we're using all of these mystery chemicals and just waiting to see what happens.

Which leads to the second reason we felt this story had to be told: for way too long the onus has been put on you and me to figure out what's safe and what's not.

Sure, we can choose to buy the safer products made by responsible companies, but the really important decisions don't happen when we take a product off the shelf. What counts is when companies and government agencies decide what should be allowed on the shelves in the first place.

Can't we all agree that a little more government action would be helpful when it comes to our safety and the safety of our children?

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 would phase out the most dangerous chemicals, set up a system to assess cosmetic ingredients for safety, require companies to be transparent about what's in their products, and provide adequate resources for the FDA to do its job. It will also help small businesses in the cosmetics industry meet the new regulations and spur the development of greener chemicals.

Please click here to continue reading this story and to find out what you can do to make a difference.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rich Answers: Sister Evelyn Lamoureux, DW, on Human Trafficking

Sister Evelyn Lamoureux, DW (Right) is interviewed for WRCH-FM (100.5 FM) radio by Sister Rosemarie Greco,DW (Left). Evelyn is a member of a tri-state committee which advocates for people who are being trafficked. Human trafficking is a crime as well as a form of slavery. Women and children are the main victims.

The interview airs on Sunday morning, July 25 at approximately 5:50 AM. on the radio program, "Rich Answers," which is sponsored by the Conference of Churches.

For further information about Human Trafficking, visit . This website promotes awareness regarding human trafficking, exchanges best practices in advocacy for and empowerment of survivors of human trafficking and recommends actions to counter human trafficking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remember Saint Louis Grignon de Montfort

On July 20,1948, Louis Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716) was proclaimed a saint (canonized) in Rome for the Catholic Community. Saint Louis was a missionary, mystic, singer, poet, sculptor, writer, founder of three religious congregations: the Daughters of Wisdom (and ), the Company of Mary and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel.

Wisdom House Retreat Center continues the legacy of Louis de Montfort to seek wisdom in its emphasis on spirituality, education and the arts.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Hills Were Alive

Music filled the air in the Litchfield Hills in June with over 100 people attending two special concerts at Wisdom House.

On Saturday, June 5, Susan Hellauer, one of the founding members of the renowned group, Anonymous 4, directed a schola of 15 participants in a performance of the original music of 12th Century German Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. On exhibit in Wisdom House Chapel were reprints of Hildegard's mystical art work.
On Saturday, June 24, the Susan Iadone Recorder Workshop faculty on recorders, violas, and voice performed pieces spanning four centuries of music. The informal and entertaining evening brought forth well-known and lesser-known repertoire.

Each evening was followed by a reception and stimulating conversation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rich Answers: Deborah Rogala, The Resettlement Project in Hartford

Deborah Rogala (right), program director of The Resettlement Project in Hartford, was interviewed by Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP (center). They are joined by Sister Betty Secord,RSM (left) who ministers in the program.

The interview airs on Sunday morning July 18 at approximately 5:50 am on WRCH 100.5 FM. The program, titled "Rich Answers," is sponsored by the Conference of Churches.

The Resettlement Program is part of Community Partners In Action, Inc. The program's mission is to provide long-term case management services to women released from prison to help them build a new life for themselves and their families.

For further information about the program, visit

Wisdom House Staff: Sister Rosemary Connelly, DW, Housekeeping Coordinator

Sister Rosemary Connelly, DW, has served as the Housekeeping Coordinator since 2006. Rosemary and her team believe that cleanliness is an important aspect of respect for guests at Wisdom House. She says, "I enjoy being part of this ministry of the Daughters of Wisdom by helping to provide a peaceful, clean environment. This helps our guests find peace and serenity."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rabbi Rami Shapiro Discusses Lovingkindness with Sr. Rosemarie Greco

We are all born in the image of God. Living out the likeness of God is a choice. In this retreat, we will explore Biblical attributes of Lovingkindness and teachings from various faith traditions as the framework for cultivating a life of goodness. In this brief video, Rabbi Rami Shapiro reflects on the transformative power of lovingkindness.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Upcoming Retreat: 'Awe Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality'

"Awe Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science & Spirituality" is the theme for a retreat presented by Sister Barbara Fiand on August 14-21 at Wisdom House. Barbara says: "Ours is an age when many of the disciplines are converging and arriving at similar conclusions about the universe and our place in it. The call for transformation is beckoning us. I am convinced that spirituality needs to be at the forefront here. Ours is a sacred moment and God is in our midst waiting for our "Yes " to work through us toward the deeper liberation of all." For more information about this retreat, visit here.

For more information about Barbara Fiand, SND deN, visit here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happiness – What Makes it Possible?

In the book, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, Kathleen Dean Moore says this:

I would suggest that the elements of happiness might include

1) a certain baseline standard of security

2) significant contact with the natural world, its sights and sounds and comfort

3) meaningful work

4) family or some other set of people who love you and whom you deeply love

5) stimulating ideas

6) celebratory arts – and

7) the time to pause and notice these and rejoice in them.

We wish you happiness, always.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pamela Greenberg: 'The Complete Psalms'

PAMELA GREENBERG (Poet and writer, The Complete Psalms): I began the translation at a very dark time in my life. I came to religion as an adult really as an act of desperation. I felt I needed to believe in something, and I struggled with depression. I had an intuition that in the psalms I would find something of the relationship to God that I was looking for....Click here for the complete interview and video on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

'I Will Wake the Dawn: Illuminated Psalms'

View a gallery of selected details from an anthology of 36 psalms, “I Will Wake the Dawn: Illuminated Psalms,” by Hebrew manuscript artist Debra Band (Jewish Publication Society, 2007). In her introduction to the illuminations she writes: “Just as psalms occupy a central role in Jewish liturgy and many home and life-cycle rituals, so are they valued in the other Abrahamic religions. Islam holds the Psalms of David, known in that tradition as Zabur, among its sacred texts, although it does not incorporate them into liturgy. Psalms have formed the core of Christian prayer since its inception. Jesus, as a Jewish rabbi, quoted Psalms liberally in his teachings, and the earliest Church Fathers founded Christian prayer on Psalms. Click here for the full story and the images.

Friday, June 25, 2010

At Wisdom House: Music for Healing and Transition

From June 17-20, more than 100 people attended the Fifth Biennial Conference of The Music for Healing and Transition Program, Inc. at Wisdom House. A sampling of the license plates that dotted the parking lot gives an idea of the span of visitors from the U.S.who attended the conference. The conference theme was "The Heart-Centered Musician: Expanding Horizons." For information about this organization, visit here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wisdom House Staff: Jack of All Trades Bob Belzil

Bob Belzil has served at Wisdom House since 2004. He describes himself as "a Jack of all trades" and this is very true. Bob's previous experience and work on submarines has given him skills to do detailed technical work in confined spaces. At Wisdom House, he has a spacious place of 70 acres in his care and he keeps all operations working smoothly. Bob says, "Wisdom House is a serene and peaceful place to work. The people I work with are very supportive of Wisdom House and each other. There is never a boring day and there's always something different to do. Many times in passing through or working in the chapel, I can actually say a small prayer while working, and get paid to do it! How cool is that!"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

At Wisdom House: Rabbi Rami Shapiro on the Theme of Lovingkindness

Rabbi Rami Shapiro will offer a retreat at Wisdom House on July 9-11, 2010, on the theme of his book, The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness. Some reflections on his book are given here, with the permission of the publisher, Skylight Paths. To sign up for this retreat or or to order a copy of the book, contact Wisdom House at 860-567-3163 or

Rabbi Rami Shapiro's Biography

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning storyteller, poet, and essayist, and director of the Simply Jewish Foundation. He is the author of Minyan: Ten Principles for Living a Life of Integrity (Bell Tower); Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained; The Hebrew Prophets: Selections Annotated and Explained; The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated and Explained; Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot—Annotated and Explained (all SkyLight Paths); and other books.

Book Description

Open your heart and mind and discover—through the sacred art of lovingkindness—the image and likeness of God in yourself and others.

We are all born in the image of God, but living out the likeness of God is a choice. This inspiring, practical guidebook provides you with the tools you need to realize the divinity within yourself, recognize the divinity within others, and act on the obligation to manifest God’s infinite compassion in your own life.

Guided by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, you will explore Judaism’s Thirteen Attributes of Lovingkindness as the framework for cultivating a life of goodness. Shapiro translates these attributes into practices—drawn from the teachings of a variety of faith traditions—that allow you to actualize God’s glory through personal deeds of lovingkindness. You will enrich your own capacity for lovingkindness as you:

• Harvest kindness through compassionate honesty
• Make room in your heart for reality
• Recognize the manifestations of God
• Embrace the paradoxical truth of not-knowing
• Be present in the moment
• Do right by others

With candor, wit, and honesty, Shapiro shows you that by choosing to act out of love rather than fear, with kindness rather than anger, you can transform how you perceive the world and ultimately lead a more complete spiritual life.

Q&A with Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Why did you write this book? Do you consider yourself a master of lovingkindness?
I wrote this book for the same reason I write all of my books—to think things through. Writing is the way I make sense of life and how I live it. If I considered myself a master of lovingkindness there would have been nothing to work through, and this book would never have been written.
I struggle with being kind, just, and compassionate daily. Most days I wake up with the intention to be nothing but loving and kind, but by the time I finish brushing my teeth the first seeds of selfishness are already planted. Then I spend a good part of the day weeding my mind of this emotional kudzu that threatens to chock off my spiritual air supply.

So, no, I don’t consider myself a master of lovingkindness, or anything else for that matter.
I know that the Dalai Lama says his religion is kindness, and that Aldous Huxley's best advice to humanity is that we should be kinder to one another, but I can't help thinking this is too simple.

Is lovingkindness really all that is necessary?
Necessary for what? Enlightenment? Salvation? World peace?

I used to be obsessed with enlightenment. I did all I could to trigger some earth-shattering experience of the presence of God (Absolute Reality) that would change my life forever. After a while I realized that every experience changes my life forever, and I started to focus on other things, like holding open an elevator door for the person racing to catch the car.

And while salvation was never my thing, I’m still a bit obsessed with world peace. Yet no matter how many protest signs I hold, no matter how many rallies I attend, or peace groups I support, humanity continues to slaughter one another, and that makes me angry. And my anger would excuse all kinds of behavior that was anything but peaceful. So I still do what I can, but I focus more on being peaceful myself by being kind toward others.

Your book offers so many wonderful tools for practicing lovingkindness, but I can’t help wondering if only the enlightened can be truly loving and kind. Do you have to be enlightened to achieve what your book talks about?
It is a fantasy to think that enlightened people are naturally good and kind. I know too many gurus, sages, rabbis, pastors, and priests who have had incredible encounters with God, yet treat others with contempt. Unfortunately, the one does not preclude the other. Altered states of consciousness like enlightenment do not of themselves bring about altered traits of behavior like compassion.

It is not that difficult to experience an altered state of consciousness. Nor is it that hard to grasp the philosophical systems of those saints and sages who speak from a fully enlightened perspective. But to know the truth is not the same as to do the good.

What is difficult is putting other people first. What is difficult is not allowing selfishness to determine your behavior. What is difficult is to act with love and kindness when your emotions are raging with anger and frustration.

No, you don’t have to be enlightened to be kind. But you may have to be kind in order to be enlightened.

Your book draws on the teachings and practices of many different religions. Do you ever worry that we water down religion when we don't focus on just one faith?
We water down religion when we ignore the differences among religions and pretend they are all one. I am not comfortable with people who try to make all religions fit together in one loving chorus of “Kumbaya.” Religions are different and often mutually exclusive. But I am not interested in religion in this book. I am interested in lovingkindness and how to cultivate it. I am not interested in ideas religions may have about love, but in the practices they offer to help us become more loving.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice compassion (metta), or a Jew to make Sabbath. You only have to practice compassion and make Sabbath.

This book is not an attempt to water down religion, but to challenge people to deepen their practice of compassion by adopting proven techniques for doing so from the world's great religions.

If you had to choose one biblical practice to share with the world, what would it be?
Given the title of this book, it is not surprising that I choose “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Note that the Bible does not say, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Loving your neighbor has nothing do with loving yourself and everything to do with realizing that your neighbor is yourself, that self and other are part of a greater whole I call God.

But there is more to this than that. Because Biblical Hebrew is written without vowels, the Hebrew word for “neighbor” (rayecha) can also be read as rahecha, your evil. The Bible could be saying, Love your evil as your self.

What does that mean?
Until you take responsibility for your own capacity for evil you will project it onto your neighbor, making love impossible. So to "love your neighbor as yourself" you must recognize both your interdependence with all other selves, and your own capacity for evil. Seeing your own evil will allow you to have compassion on others struggling with their inner demons. This awareness never excuses evil, but it does help us deal with it without becoming self-righteous.

If every religion teaches lovingkindness, why are people of faith so often lacking in compassion?
Religion is a product of human beings. As such it reflects the dual nature of humanity: love and fear. When the Bible, for example, tells us to love the stranger (Leviticus 19:33) in one passage and commit ethnic cleansing in another (Deuteronomy 7:2), we can be certain the Bible speaks in two voices reflecting the two-fold nature of its human authors. The Voice of Love leads to justice, peace, and kindness. The Voice of Fear leads to violence, exploitation, and cruelty.

So even as a religion teaches the Way of Love, it also sanctions the Way of Fear. People of faith are free to listen to either voice. Over the past decades, religion, especially the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have fallen under the sway of the Voice of Fear and those whose power comes from it. The people of faith they raise up are too frightened of God and one another to be gracious, gentle, or loving.

What is the one thing that keeps us from practicing the sacred art of lovingkindness?
Fear. Lovingkindness requires courage and trust, two traits that fear makes impossible.
Trust means trusting that the universe is capable of sustaining love. Trust means living without surety, without certainty, without a net; knowing that we can't know the ultimate truth and yet trusting that whatever that truth is it is found in acts of justice, compassion, and humility rather than exploitation, cruelty, and domination.

Since we cannot know that this is so, we have to have the courage to live as if it were so. People who lack the courage to trust are often too afraid to love. They are driven to control what is ultimately uncontrollable: their lives and the lives of others. In their quest for control, they fall into the trap of power seeking and manipulation. They abandon generosity and live in a self-created world of deprivation. They imagine a God who saves some and damns most, who values one strip of land more than another, and one book over all others. Once you fall into the trap of a limited God you fall into the fear-based quest to placate God, and in so doing become more and more limited yourself.

Practicing the sacred art of lovingkindness breaks the illusion of a limited God, ends fear and the violence fear sanctions, and allows you to engage the unknown with humor, grace, and kindness. I can’t imagine devoting ourselves to anything more important than this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wall Done

The stone wall at Wisdom House is being repaired and restored through the generous gifts of friends of Wisdom House and a grant from the Seherr-Thoss Foundation of Litchfield. The stone wall has its origins during the "Golden Age of Stone Walls in New England", c. 1775-1825. The restoration of the stone wall is being hand done by stone masons, Jeannie Pedane and Peter Flynn. Each stone was removed and reset so that the original integrity of the wall could be maintained. We at Wisdom House and our guests are most grateful for this restoration.