Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Seize the now

         as it arrives.

See the new

           as it arises!


Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Going Home

The words of the well-known Christmas song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are familiar to all of us.

The reality and mystery of Christmas is about leaving home to find a home.

During this Christmas season we follow Mary and Joseph as they leave their home to go to Bethlehem. There in the city known as the “House of Bread,” their child Jesus is born.

There in a stable which housed livestock, the Living Word babbled like every other baby. There the Word of God took our humanity and made his home among us – inside the same flesh and blood that make us who we are.

Because of him the shepherds leave their flocks to follow the invitation of the angels,  Wise Men do not return to their homeland but follow the promise of a star, and Mary and Joseph take flight into Egypt so that their baby can be saved from harm.

This Christmas let us not be afraid to leave what is comfortable and to stretch out into unfamiliar terrain to find God still living among us – still making a home among us in unfamiliar faces and the most unlikely places.

~ Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

The Way of Wisdom, the way made visible in Jesus, is the way of justice, the way of fairness and mutuality that treats all beings with respect.

~ Love of Eternal Wisdom #139, Saint Louis de Montfort, revisioned by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

May you be rooted in Wisdom and branch out in justice on this Christmas feast.

                                                 Your friends at Wisdom House

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fire in Winter

"Since Advent comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent.  If God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time."  
~Edward Hays

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Well-Rounded Retreat

Women of Emanuel Baptist Church of Stamford, CT, had a fall retreat at Wisdom House which combined religious teachings, worship, community building, and creative crafts.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Seeking Light

"We are all looking for light, ever-more light.

Why not seek it together?"


~ Alfred Steiglitz

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Thanks & blessings be

to the Sun & the Earth

for this bread & this wine,

this fruit, this meat, this salt,

this food;

thanks be & blessing to them

who prepare it, who serve it;

thanks & blessings to them

who share it

(& also the absent & the dead).

Thanks & Blessing to them who bring it

(may they not want),

to them who plant & tend it,

harvest & gather it

(may they not want);

thanks & blessing to them who work

& blessing to them who cannot;

may they not want - for their hunger

sours the wine & robs

the taste from the salt.

Thanks be for the sustenance & strength

for our dance & work of justice, of peace.

~ Rafael Jesus Gonzalez ~

(In Praise of Fertile Land, edited by Claudia Mauro)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Double Belonging: Being At Home in Two Traditions

The 13th Casagrande Institute for Interfaith conversation was held September 25 - 27. Speakers included Robert Kazun Gunn, Ann Holmes Redding, and Neil Theise. The theme for the weekend was Double Belonging: Being At Home in Two Traditions. The presenters spoke about their integration of Christian/Buddhist principles, Christian/ Muslim principles, and Jewish/Buddhist traditions into their lives.  An introduction to the theme is given in the video lin below here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79hCe4rztHU

Monday, November 18, 2013

Looking for Happiness?

Do we want to be happy? God is present everywhere! Let us live in the presence of God.              

(Saint Louise de Montfort, Hymn #24)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Greetings from Malawi


Greetings from Malawi!  I am writing from Wisdom House in the town of Lunzu, Malawi, where thirteen Daughters of Wisdom have gathered for a time of preparation for making their Perpetual Vows. 
Coming together for the first time from India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Malawi, the participants are enjoying this opportunity to discover the richness of each other’s cultures and to create a community across the boundaries of their various entities. 

During these past three weeks, they have been deepening their understanding of the vows and of the meaning of the Kingdom of God in our world.

We are looking forward to the continued presence of Wisdom among us in the weeks ahead.

~ Sr. Evelyn Eckhardt, DW

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Retreat

The Guild for Spiritual Guidance met at Wisdom House for its fall retreat. The Guild provides multifaith programs for those with a searching spirit.

For information visit www.spiritualguidance.org.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What's Happening at Wisdom House in November?

November 22-24… Women’s AA/ALANON Retreat
Discover how the 12 Steps as a spiritual practice impact our lives and the realities of everyday life…

Saturday, November 23…. Advent Through the Arts
Experience how the arts of music, literature and painting bring the scriptures of the season alive for us...

To register for these and other programs, click Wisdom House Retreat Portal.
For more information call Wisdom House at: 860-567-3163

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Wisdom Award

Wisdom House presented its 2013 Wisdom Award to Victor M. Muschell and Martha M. Babbitt at a dinner in their honor on September 25.

Mr. Muschell was honored as a Promoter of Community Progress and Mrs. Babbitt was honored for Nurturing Life and Art.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autumn Hay Gathering

The long warm summer season produced ample hay for farm animals.  Here a local farmer cuts the grasses from one of Wisdom House's fields which will keep his horses well-fed during the winter.  Wisdom House grows about 10 acres of grassland during spring and summer months to sustain animal life.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sacred Heart Peer Ministers Retreat 2013


(Photo courtesy of Andrea Cecilli)

A retreat for student peer ministers who volunteer to minister on the Sacred Heart University campus in Bridgeport, CT, was held at Wisdom House. These students lead small Christian faith sharing communities, coordinate approximately five retreats a year, coordinate weekly fellowships, train and schedule liturgical ministers, and act as mentors in many capacities to other students.  They are an integral part of the campus ministry team. The retreat was a bonding experience as well as a weekend of training. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

57th International Spiritual Training Seminar

Bishop Yoshiko Teshigawara (left) and Rev. Mario Kawakami, Vice Chief (right) spoke to members of  Seicho-No-Ie (say-choh-no ee-yay) at their Seminar at Wisdom House. 

Seicho-No-Ie is an international Peace and Faith Movement based on the Truth that all religions emanate from one universal God. The founder was Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi (1893-1985). The community has met at Wisdom House several times over the past years.  For information visit www.sniists.org.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Casagrande Interfaith Institute. Double Belonging: At Home in Two Traditions (10/25-27 at Wisdom House)

Pictured here is one of the three presenters, Neil David Theise, MD (Jewish-Buddhist). 
Belonging and practicing in two traditions is a growing phenomenon.  What is it like to be at home in both?  Explore this with others at the Interfaith Institute, Oct. 25-27.  Listen to lived experiences and share your own and your concerns.

This interfaith institute is endorsed by Hartford Seminary (www.hartsem.edu).

For more information on this Interfaith Conference, visit www.wisdomhouse.organd look under Attend a Program. Or, contact programs@wisdomhouse.org / 860-567-3163.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Casagrande Interfaith Institute. Double Belonging: At Home in Two Traditions (10/25-27 at Wisdom House)

Pictured is one of the three presenters, Ann Holmes Redding, PhD (Christian-Muslim). 

 Belonging and practicing in two traditions is a growing phenomenon.  What is it like to  be at home in both?  Explore this with others at the Interfaith Institute, Oct. 25-27. 
This interfaith institute is endorsed by Hartford Seminary (www.hartsem.edu).

For more information on this Interfaith Conference, visit www.wisdomhouse.org and look under Attend a Program.  Or, contact programs@wisdomhouse.org / 860-567-3163.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Casagrande Interfaith Institute. Double Belonging: At Home in Two Traditions (10/25-27 at Wisdom House)

Rev. Robert Kaizen Kaku Gunn, PhD (Christian-Buddhist), pictured below, will be one of the presenters.

Belonging and practicing in two traditions is a growing phenomenon.  What is it like to be at home in both?
This interfaith institute is endorsed by Hartford Seminary (www.hartsem.edu).

For more information on this conference, visit www.wisdomhouse.org and look under Attend a Program.  Or, call 860-567-3163 or contact programs@wisdomhouse.org.



Friday, September 27, 2013

MLT Gallery Opening - "Collage: A Cure for a Disordered Life"

On Sunday, September 15, an exhibit of the collage works of Ingrid Freidenbergs of Lakeville, CT opened in the MLT Gallery at Wisdom House.
Some sample photos of the event are here. Click on the following link, www.bzmedia.bz/wisdom_house.htm  and scroll down to see a video of her artist talk.

About her work, Ingrid says: "In collage, one can restructure and rejoin parts from the past, from private passions, from the lost, from a shattered world. World War II transformed my life. Collage has become my mode of expression; a cure for a disordered life."

The exhibit will be at Wisdom House until December 31, 2013.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gift of Shawls

The Spiritual Life Center, West Hartford, CT, at their 30th Anniversary closing celebration presented prayer shawls to 30 organizations which support and nurture spiritual growth and community well-being.
Wisdom House was one of the recipients honored.

Pictured here is Daughter of Wisdom Pat Schmidt, DW, prayer shawl creator, presenting the shawl she made to Rosemarie Greco, DW, for Wisdom House.

The celebration took place on September 12, 2013.


Friday, September 20, 2013

The Beguines: In Their Own Words - A Reflection

After attending the close reading of the Beguines with Elizabeth Dreyer, PhD, what surprised me is how Mechthild of Magdeburg, who wrote in the 12th century,  touched what I'm going through here in the 21st century.

Her writings spoke of her desire to please and also to share herself by entering into a dialogue with her soul. At another time, she describes in detail how she prepares herself with her wardrobe and patiently she waits to be approached, hoping that she is ready and able to meet her dancer (The Lord).

She writes "I cannot dance, Lord, unless you lead me. If you want me to leap with abandon, you must intone the song. Then I shall leap into love."

This beautiful image shows her vulnerability and willingness to trust and to be led.  These readings  brought to my attention my own inner struggles and desire to be able to follow and the willingness to take the risk to leap into that mystery of ardent love.

Thank you, Sister Mechthild for confirming that my feelings are genuine and true.

Sue O'Brien
Associate of Wisdom

Monday, September 16, 2013

In the Governor’s Garden

New Hartford artist David Skora was invited to have a piece of his work placed in the sculpture park at the Governor’s mansion in Hartford. The title of his piece is “Crosscut.”

David is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Western Connecticut State University. He also is a member of the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery Exhibition Committee at Wisdom House.

Friday, September 6, 2013

To Live Out What I Am

During a study day reading the texts of three Medieval Beguines, I was impressed with the writings of Hadewijch of Antwerp. Her passion was to pursue Love - to "live out what I am." This love was joy, but it also contained suffering from being absent from, yet seeking, Love... which knows God most deeply in Wisdom.

This writing disrupts the hierarchical dualities of the values of her time.

It searches for another way, in a little known spirituality, to escape boundaries imposed by some Church authorities at the time. This mystical voice of protest is phrased in this way by Dorothea Soelle in her work, "The Silent Cry:"
Now in acting as what I am, I find delight that gives me love and new ascent. It weighs me down that I cannot obtain Knowledge of Love without renouncing myself.

~ Bonnie Odiorne, Associate of Wisdom

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day

Americans celebrate Labor Day every first Monday of September. This holiday celebrates the efforts of workers with most workers and students getting the day off.

A machinist named Matthew Maguire, secretary of the New York Central Labor Union, proposed a Labor Day holiday in 1882. Some believe it was actually Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor that proposed the holiday that same year. It became a federal holiday in 1894, but 30 states had already recognized the holiday individually.

The holiday tradition is also owed to the Knights of Labor, who held a large labor themed parade in 1882. Other labor associations continued to make Labor Day celebrations popular.

Many observers relax at home or head to outdoor recreational activities, such as boating, barbecues, and camping. It is a day to celebrate the end of summer, as many schoolchildren start school after Labor Day. It may also be marked with firework shows and other patriotic events.

Parades are the most common mode of celebration, which often feature processions of labor groups. One of the larger parades is held in Brooklyn.  The parade boasts up to three million participants from a variety of ethnic groups.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Portrait of Jesus at Six A.M.

Portrait of Jesus at Six A.M.

This morning I woke up with a brush in my hand, determined to deconstruct the image of a mono-toned man who only reflects one side of salvation.

The hieroglyphics of hierarchy have bleached your blemishes
With despotism and domination since before I was conceived
But this morning, it will change.

This morning, the silenced voices of my own ancestors will dance
Through the hues of your hair.

This morning, the persecuted presence of lost populations
Will thrive through the tones of your countenance.

This morning, the cries of the Cherokee Will ring through the satin of your garb, And the voices of bigotry Will be silenced through the shading of every lost seeker.

This morning, the beauty of night and noir and noise will eradicate all limitations of my salvation and my canvas will capture the beauty of each color in the world.

This time, the truth and hope and glory found in the every drop of dew and in every morsel of majesty will come alive on this easel.

This time, the splendor of my savior will seep into sources it has never seen because the brush I use has been erected by the fingers of fluid faith.

This time, I will paint your face the color of water, Your skin the hue of a night sky, Your body reflective of each person who has ever seen beauty in the moon.

~ Kaeley J. McEvoy

Poem used with permission of author. She is a senior majoring in Religious Studies at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. Image of "Jesus of the People" used with permission of artist Janet McKenzie - www.janetmckenzie.com


Friday, August 23, 2013

Beguines Continue to Inspire

Maria Roja, Associate of Wisdom
Participating in Dr. Elizabeth Dreyer's session on "The Beguines: In Their Own Words" on July 27 at Wisdom House was an enlightening experience.

Our group engaged in a Close Reading of selected texts from three 13th century Beguines (laywomen/mystics):  Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Brabant, and Marguerite Porete. 

This was a first such experience for me... wherein we slowly read the selections, shared our impressions of their writings, and attempted to discern the meaning beyond the words. This was no easy task given their creative writing styles, unique language, and the highly oppressive cultural limitations imposed upon them... plus the challenge of putting ourselves aside in the process. Under Dr. Dreyer's expert guidance and facilitation, the experience was fun, energizing and most enlightening.

I found myself intrigued by and drawn to the writings of Marguerite Porete, who, according to Dr. Dreyer, was the most radical of the three authors. I admired her courage, self-confidence, and the depth of her mysticism and inner authority.  Her writings stretched and challenged me towards growth beyond where I'm at now. She was a "free" spirit and her love for and commitment to God was unquestionably total and she wanted to share that with others

Marguerite wrote in one section of her book about the "freeness of charity." She wrote, "... at this stage of spiritual growth one is unencumbered from all things."  Many of us strive for this!

For more information about Marguerite Porete, see "Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls,"  Paulist Press series, " Classics of Western Spirituality."

For information about the Associates of Wisdom, contact Maria Roja at info@wisdomhouse.org.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Out of Control

Author and poet Rabbi Rami Shapiro presented a weekend program at Wisdom House in mid-July based on his book, "Recovery: The Sacred Art."

Participants explored the various ways we succumb to playing God and, therefore, prevent the cycle of control from being broken so that we can move into a fuller life. Rabbi Shapiro led the group in various chants and interspersed teaching and storytelling with great humor. Visit www.rabbirami.com.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wisdom Way

The actions of Jesus model the way of Wisdom; the way of mindfulness, discernment, holiness, and humility.

Photos taken at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine.
(#123 from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort's Contemplation on Divine Wisdom by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Book available through Wisdom House, $5 plus $2.50 shipping.)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

To Praise, To Preach, and To Bless

The feast of St. Dominic de Guzman is celebrated in the Catholic Church on August 8. This 13th Century preacher founded the Dominican Order dedicated to preaching the Gospel. This meant that from the beginning, they were "on the road." A contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi, Dominic's vision was to send preachers wherever the truth, justice, and the compassion of the Gospel needed to be heard and lived out.

One of the mottos of the Order was VERITAS (truth), so study was and is an important part of their lives.  One of the other mottos was "Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere" - "to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation."  Each of these mottos gives impetus to Dominicans in their prayer, their life, and ministry today all over the world.

Dominicans are known as joyful women and men who through their lives, their prayer, and their service, give praise to God, bless all that God has given, and preach God's unending fidelity. They are everywhere. You can find them fighting for justice and peace as well as creating a painting or writing poetry.

 For more information about the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, visit www.dominicanorder.org. In particular, to learn about the Dominican Sisters of Hope, of which I am a member, go to www.ophope.org.

Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP
Art and Spirituality Coordinator
Wisdom House

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friendship, Education, and Empowerment

The Youth Leadership Summit met at Wisdom House for educational workshops in July. The youth attending came from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Besides input sessions from group leaders, the youth had the opportunity to enjoy Wisdom House campus including our outdoor swimming pool.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Never Enough

Francis of Assisi didn't advocate organizing your stuff.  He advocated a radical poverty that meant you would never have enough stuff to organize.

(Excerpt from" Ethical Eating," Franciscan Media, p. 4)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Franciscan Volunteers On Retreat

Members of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry were at Wisdom House recently for a time of retreat and community building.

They are a group of lay men and women, living in community, who dedicate themselves to ministry in the Church in collaboration with the Franciscans of Holy Name Province.

To learn more about them, visit their website www.franciscanvolunteerministry.org.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We Need the Bees

Dear Friends,

Recently at Wisdom House, we held an Ecology and Spirituality forum discussing the problem of bee colony collapse disorder where thousands of bees in our country are dying. With their death comes the catastrophic situation which will have a drastic effect on our food supply. As the pollinators of so much of our food supply die, so does the reality of having those foods available to us to nourish us in the future.

 We ask you to consider signing the petition mentioned below to ask our congressional representatives to vote for the Save America’s Pollinators Act and suspend the use of bee-killing pesticides.

Please click the box below and be part of the solution to an urgent ecological crisis.

We currently have a special installation art piece in our Marie Louise Trichet Gallery which is dedicated to awareness of this issue. The gallery hours are Monday-Saturday, 10am – 4 pm. The show will be in the gallery until September 7.

Thank you.
Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

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