The Gallery Community

The first Visitation monastery in the United States was founded in Georgetown, Washington, DC, in the late 1700’s. On June 6, 2013, this monastic foundation established a new community called the Saint Jane de Chantal Gallery Community.

When the Visitation Order was founded on June 6, 1610, by St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, it had its beginnings in Annecy, France, in a house nicknamed “La Galerie” because a “gallery” ran along one side of their new monastery.

The purpose of the new Gallery community is to invoke the Holy Spirit and pray that the blessings of vocations may come to the Visitation family for the glory of God and for the benefit of God’s people.  The Gallery community is an opportunity for young women “to experience our monastic way of life as handed down to us in the spirit of our charism…As a monastic, contemplative community the sisters of the Gallery Community will be faithful to their lives of prayer, their Constitutions and the Spiritual Directory placed in the hands of their Holy Mother, Saint Jane de Chantal, by Saint Francis de Sales on June 6, 1610, Trinity Sunday.”

In this Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI encourages everyone to rediscover and retrace the history of our Faith. By embracing with new fervor their founding charism and way of life, the Visitation sisters believe that this will once again attract women who wish to single-heartedly follow after the Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was Saint Francis de Sales’ hope that the Visitation nuns be “daughters of prayer in the Church and daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For more information, visit their website!

The Price of Being Loved

The Head of St. John the Baptist

The price of being loved by the Almighty is high, as also is the price of growing in His love. The more precious the commodity, the higher the price; the most precious possession in the world is the love of God. You don’t get this, I don’t say for nothing or cheaply; you pay, and you pay dearly.

Can we be more specific? What does God expect of us who claim that we love Him as recompense for His prior goodness to us and as the wages, so to speak, to merit an increase of His bounty on our behalf? He finally expects these two things:

  • That we are willing to give up whatever pleasant things He may want us to surrender.
  • That we are willing to take whatever painful things He may want to send us.

Between these two, surrender and suffering, or as I prefer, sacrifice and the cross, lies the whole price range of divine love…. The love of God is paid for as Christ paid for the love of His Father with the hard currency of willing sacrifice and the holy cross.

When I was younger, and I thought, smarter, I didn’t talk quite this way. But experience is a good, though costly, teacher.

—Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Mother and Son

I wonder how many mother and son feast days there are in the Church calendar besides the obvious ones involving Jesus and His Mother? Elizabeth and John the Baptist? St. Basil and his mother, St. Emilia?

St. Monica and St. Augustine are remembered, side by side, mother and son, on today’s and yesterday’s calendar.

Monica died in 387 and was buried in the city of Ostia, which was the port city of Rome. The city was covered by the sands of time but can be visited today and is found in a remarkable state of preservation. Monica’s relics were brought to Rome in 1430 and placed in the Basilica bearing her son’s name. In 1945, some young boys digging a hole in Ostia found a fragment of her funerary epitaph which had been written on stone.

In his writings, particularly in his Confessions, Augustine pays great tribute to his Mother whose tears and prayers brought Augustine to the baptismal font in Milan where St. Ambrose welcomed him into the Church. Strangely enough, Augustine is not buried in Rome but rather in Pavia, Italy, though he died in North Africa where he was bishop of Hippo.

Pope Benedict XVI was greatly influenced by Augustine’s theology. We might even say Monica as well for Benedict was appointed Cardinal-bishop of the Augustinian Church of Sant’ Aurea at Ostia where Monica’s remains were originally interred. The Holy Father also chose to have a shell on his Papal arms which harkens back to a legend about Augustine. It seems Augustine came across a young boy using a shell to pour sea water into a hole in the sand. When asked what he was doing the boy replied, “I am putting the ocean into this hole!” When Augustine said that this was impossible the boy responded: so too it is impossible for Augustine to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

When we despair and lose heart over a loved one’s distance from the Faith, it is good to remember the words spoken by a bishop to Monica, who wept over the dissolute lifestyle of her son:

“It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

Cistercian Centenary

August 20th is the Feast Day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and this year the Cistercians are celebrating an extra-special anniversary for 2013 is the 900th centenary of St. Bernard’s entrance into Citeaux, the Motherhouse of the Cistercians.  The date of his entry was either 1112 or 1113 so for the past year the Cistercians have been commemorating this anniversary with a daily prayer for vocations.


Cîteaux Abbey was founded in 1098 by Sts. Robert, Alberic and Stephen Harding, monks from the Benedictine Abbey of Molesme who were seeking to follow the Rule of St. Benedict more closely. St. Bruno also resided in the vicinity of Molesme around the same time (1082) but he left to become the founder of the Carthusians.

When St. Bernard arrived at Citeaux, which hadn’t had a vocation in some time, there were thirty men with him, including his uncle and four of his brothers! When he was only in his twenties, he established a new Cistercian abbey in the Valley of Light or Clairvaux. At the time of his death, 700 men resided at Clairvaux and 68 new abbeys had been founded by him. What a difference one Cistercian made in the life of the Church!


So let us join the Cistercians today and pray their prayer for vocations:

Most gracious Father,

in setting up the New Monastery our fathers followed the poor Christ into the desert.

Thus they lived the Gospel by rediscovering the Rule of Saint Benedict in its purity.

You gave Bernard of Fontaine the ability

to make this new life attractive and appealing to others,

in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Grant that we today, after their example,

may live our charism deeply in a spirit of peace, unity, humility,

and above all, in the charity which surpasses all other gifts.

May men and women of our time be newly called to follow the Gospel in monastic life,

in the service of the Church’s mission, and in a world forgetful of You.

Remember Lord, Cîteaux, where Bernard arrived with his companions.

May the brothers there continue to live in the enthusiastic and generative spirit of the founders.

Remember all who live the Cistercian charism.

Remember all Cistercian communities, those which are aging and those newly-born,

in all parts of the world, north and south, east and west.

Let them not lose courage in times of trial,

but turn to her whom Bernard called the Star of the Sea.

 Holy Father, from whom we have already received so much,

grant us again your blessing that our communities may grow in numbers,

but above all in grace and in wisdom, to your glory,

who are blessed for ever and ever.


Soldiers of Christ

August 15th is a special day for Miles Christi for it was on this day in 1984 that their founder, Rev. Fr. Roberto Juan Yannuzzi, MC, received the inspiration to found a spiritual army of priests and brothers dedicated to the sanctity of the laity, especially college students. They do this through retreats, specifically through the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and catechesis. In the few decades since its founding in Argentina, the Order has spread to the US, having locations in Michigan and California. Amazingly, they were invited to the US by the IRL’s founder, Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.

In the latest newsletter, Rev. Fr. Yannuzzi, quoting Hilaire Belloc, said that “great sculpture is not fashioned in butter. The best carving is done in the closest-grained wood, and against the grain.” These are the type of men he is seeking – young men who “become tough men, men of character, men with a backbone. In other words, exactly the contrary of what the world and contemporary culture promote.”

In their Constitutions, it says: “A horror for a mediocre, useless, and empty life is deeply rooted in every true miles Christi, who, looking at his Lord on the Cross, asks himself, `What have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what must I do for Christ?´” (Const. 11).

Miles Christi, which means “soldier of Christ,” conducts the Spiritual Exercises across the country on a regular basis. Click here to see if one is coming near you! They also have a love for the rich liturgical traditions of the Church, including Latin and Gregorian chant. Their Schola Cantorum, made up of students and religious, has sample downloadable chants available on their website.

Miles Christi says that a “Filial love and veneration of the Holy Father is a salient feature of our Religious Order. In Rome we possess the beacon of the Truth” (Const. 78). How marvelous that one of their own countrymen is now the Vicar of Christ for the universal Church!


To Win the World for the Immaculata

Two weeks ago, the Conventual Franciscans celebrated the simple professions of seven young men. Friar Patrick from New York, Friar Joseph from Ireland, Friar Israel from Nevada, Friar Don from Texas, Friar Thomas from California, Friar Colton from New York and Friar Gregory from Australia professed the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and received the cincture with the three cords as a reminder of the evangelical counsels that they promise to follow.

How wonderful that these young men will continue the tradition of not only St. Francis of Assisi but also of his spiritual son, St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrate today. The professions took place at Marytown which is the National Shrine of St. Maximilian. The American Novitiate, located in Mishawaka, Indiana, is where the novices take classes on the Franciscan rule, constitutions, vows, Church documents of the consecrated life and its history, prayer forms, Scripture, communication, Mariology and the Secular Franciscan Order.

According to Brother Paschal Kolodziej, their order “has always had a great emphasis on community and prayer. Many young people are attracted to this call to be a friar minor. Our call is to be a ‘lesser brother’ to all those we minister to. That can take many forms and ministries.” He adds that “the fraternal aspect attracts young people who are looking for a sense of belonging. We have always been of service to the Church in many different ways. Obedience to the Church has always been one of our hallmarks.”

St. Maximilian, the “martyr of charity” who was killed in Auschwitz in 1941, wanted to “win the world for the Immaculata.” May these seven friars in their various ministries draw many souls to Christ through the loving hands Mary, His mother.

Teeing Up for Evangelization

“I realized, with the help of grace, that Jesus Christ was not just a nice man, but God become man.” This realization drove Brother Peter Hannah, O.P., from the driving range of the golf course to the Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic.

Bro. Peter was raised Presbyterian but it wasn’t long before golf replaced God as the most important factor in his life. Reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis convinced him as to the truth of Christianity. It was a short step from Lewis to G.K. Chesterton, “the first person I came across who wrote of the Catholic Church as if it were a distinct entity.”

Attending Mass with a friend was a revelation. He realized: “If what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist is true, this is the most astonishing and beautiful thing that I have ever seen. If the Catholic Church is right about the Eucharist, then I must become Catholic, since God is manifesting Himself here in a way He isn’t in other Christian communions.” He made a resolution to do a holy hour every day and after 2 months was convinced of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist. Six months after his reception into the Church, he knew he was called to the priesthood.

Bro. Peter was drawn to the Dominicans because of their focus on evangelization. His full name in religion is Brother Peter Junipero after the great saint, Junipero Serra, the Franciscan missionary of California, Peter’s home state. God willing, Brother Peter will be ordained a priest next year for the Western Dominican Province. To see the complete story, visit the National Catholic Register.

The Family of Clare

Happy Feast of St Clare!

Most people are familiar with the Poor Clares, the contemplative Order of nuns founded by St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare but did you know that there are four branches on the family tree? The Poor Clares, the Poor Clare Colettines, the Capuchin Poor Clares and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.

Perhaps the most famous Poor Clare of today is Mother Angelica, PCPA, who founded the Eternal Word Television Network. This is very appropriate for St. Clare is the patron saint of TV.

The least known of the Poor Clares, at least in this country, are the Capuchin Poor Clares. They were founded by Venerable Maria Laurentia Longo in Naples, Italy in 1538, a few decades after the founding of the Capuchin Franciscans. Both groups were founded in an attempt to return to a more primitive way of Franciscan life. The most famous Capuchins Friars  of recent vintage are Padre Pio and Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston.

The Capuchin Poor Clares are fairly new to the US, their first monastery being established in 1981 in Amarillo, Texas. There are now 4 additional monasteries in the US: Wilimington, DE; Alamo, TX; Denver and Pueblo, CO. If anyone is near Wilmington on August 10, please join them at 11:00 for a special Eucharistic Celebration in honor of St. Clare. You can support these wonderful sisters by buying their Clarisas butter cookies, made from scratch, in small batches, using nothing but the finest ingredients!

You know, I am sure, that the kingdom of heaven is promised and given by the Lord only to the poor: for he who loves temporal things loses the fruit of love. Such a person cannot serve God and Mammon, for either the one is loved and the other is hated, or the one is served and the other despised. St. Clare of Assisi

An Ancient Spirituality

Oldest Known Dominican Missal, Lausanne Monastery

There are many ancient Rites still in use in the Church today which gives us a beautiful glimpse into the spirituality of our ancient forebears. The Dominican Rite is one of the most fascinating. I was prompted to look more deeply into it today because at morning mass on this Feast of St. Dominic, the priest said that it is a tradition for Dominicans to process with the processional cross facing backwards. This allows the friars and the priests to “gaze upon the cross.”

The Dominican Rite came about due to the rapid growth of the Order and the need for a uniform liturgical spirit to bind the preachers together. Today, we are used to the Roman Rite being the norm for most of Catholicism. You can imagine as the local churches were built up in the early Church and communications were lacking, that many geographically-oriented and community-unique rites came into existence and flourished.

The Dominican Rite was codified in 1256 and remained in use until 1968, when the Roman Rite of Mass and of the Liturgy of the Hours was adopted. Today, the Dominican Rite may be used with the permission of the master of the order or the local provincial. Other orders have their specific rites with the same stipulations such as the Carmelites, Cistercians and Norbertines. The Carthusian Rite, however, is different and is celebrated as the norm by this congregation.

The Eastern Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominican Province of St. Joseph) has this beautiful reflection on the unique place of this Rite in their spirituality and rich heritage:

The Dominican Rite’s relative sobriety and simplicity likewise gives evidence of the antiquity of its sources.  It has nourished the greatest saints of the Order, many of whom – including St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Vincent Ferrer – have written extensively of the Dominican Rite’s unique beauty and theological depth.  It is therefore a genuine source of the tradition of the Order, and a privileged means by which to enter into the original spirit of St. Dominic’s friars.

To order a CD of Gregorian Chant: Dominican Liturgy, click here.

Vocations and Commitment

Sr. Jeanette Marie, the Vocation Directress for the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was heartened as she said to hear the Holy Father, Pope Francis, describe one of the things that prevents young people from entering religious life. The issue is Commitment!

As everyone knows, the popularity of marriage is in a steep decline. People live together and then move on. It used to be said that “I am living with him/her to see if marriage is in the cards” which it usually wasn’t. Now it is: “I am living with him/her until the next him/her comes along.”

This problem casts its long shadow on religious life and vocational discernment. A religious vocation is to eternity. Sr Jeanette wrote that we live in a culture that fails to see the good of making a lifetime commitment; a culture that says, “I will choose this vocation provided that everything goes OK.”

In his talk, Pope Francis said, “To become priests [or] Religious – is not primarily our choice. I don’t trust the seminarian, the novice who says: ‘I have chosen this path.’ I don’t like this. It’s not right! But it is the response to a call and to a call of love. I hear something within me, which makes me restless, and I answer yes. The Lord makes us feel this love in prayer, but also through so many signs that we can read in our life, so many persons that He puts on our path.”

Sr. Jeanette  believes that there are three things you can do to come to a decision about religious life:

  • learn about religious life and celibacy
  • pray about your vocation, seeking the guidance of your parents and spiritual advisors
  • plan to arrive at a firm commitment towards your calling – before it’s too late!

The Mercedarian sisters will have a discernment retreat for young women October 11-13, 2013, in Baton Rouge, LA. Now is the time to test your commitment to follow the Lord in faith!