This evening, Friday, November 6, 2012, six Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church, will pronounce perpetual vows at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Spokane, Washington. The congregation will also witness the temporary profession of three sisters.
This was no ordinary journey for the sisters.
In 2007, 15 nuns from a schismatic convent in Washington State rejoined the Catholic Church by formally renouncing their state of schism and making a profession of the Catholic faith. Their former order holds to the position that popes elected since John XXIII are invalid and that Vatican II was a heretical council.
The new order’s title reflects its pilgrimage to full communion with Rome. “Mary is our guide. With a title so ancient and yet so popular today, ‘Mother of the Church’ she understands the need for unity in the Church,” explains Sister Mary Eucharista.
It all began in 2002 when a parish priest and his parishioners began a prayer campaign to bring the sisters back into the fold. They enlisted the help of the Missionaries of Charity who came to Spokane in 2006 in part to address the spiritual poverty of the sisters on “the Mount” (a former Jesuit scholasticate).
To a sister, they credit the witness of the Missionaries of Charity as their strongest motivation to return to Rome. They saw in the MC sisters “so much charity, so much love, so much goodness;” says Sister Kathryn Joseph. “They won us over with their prayer and charity.”
Fr. George Rutler in a recent homily quoted the late Edward Gibbon who wrote about the decline of once-great civilizations.
“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Fr. Rutler notes that the only people who have the selfless energy that builds noble societies are those like the saints in the picture (right). “The real leaders are not those who hypnotize naïve people into thinking that they are the source of hope. Those who can rescue nations from servility to selfishness are not on slick campaign posters, but in stark black and white photographs like that taken on Molokai in 1889.”
The picture (Father thinks it is the first ever taken of two saints together) is of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Marianne Cope.
Let us pray for holy vocations to the priesthood and religious life on this election day!
On November 21, 2012, the Church will celebrate Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”). Catholics around the world are encouraged to honor the cloistered men and women religious who have devoted their whole lives, hidden in the world, to God. Blessed John Paul II established this worldwide day in 1997.
The faithful can honor these faithful servants by attending Mass and offering up special prayers for cloistered religious, by making visits to monasteries and cloistered convents, or by sending cards or letters to contemplative communities.
The IRL has free resources that can be used to prepare and celebrate this day including:
- Press Release
- Liturgy Planning Guide
- Homily Notes
- Prayer Cards
- A Novena for the Feast of the Presentation of Mary
- Clip Art
- Bulletin Announcements
Pope Benedict XVI referred to cloistered, contemplative life as “the heart” which provides blood to the rest of the Body of Christ. When the heart weakens, we all weaken!
We pray for all the consecrated men and women in convents and cloisters, monasteries and hermitages, that their silent prayer and hidden sacrifices might supply the grace needed to transform our world.
Please pray for the Little Sisters of the Poor who have homes for the elderly in Totowa NJ, the Bronx, Queens, and Enfield CT. They also have a novitiate in Queens Village. One of the Little Sisters contacted us and asked for prayers. Medications, food, electricity, and fuel are all very real concerns since nursing homes are not considered ‘priority’ emergency sites as are hospitals.
Mother Maria Christine said, “Having been an eyewitness myself to the Hurricane Katrina, I also know that goodness, love and generosity abound in times of crises such as this, so with prayer let us be persons who dispense hope to those around us. Our God is so much greater than this superstorm.”
May God protect them.
On the Sister’s website they note that their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, has been ‘appearing’ in the most unlikely places! In August, a statue of Jeanne was dedicated at Creighton University. The miraculous cure of Creighton alumnus Dr. Edward Gatz of Omaha led to Blessed Jeanne Jugan being declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. And in October, the Montfort Fathers placed a statue of Jeanne at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville (Long Island), NY. The shrine has an Avenue of the Saints and Jeanne now resides near the statues of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints. . . .
May you return to your Creator
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life. . . .
May you see your Redeemer face to face.