Archive for the 'Cloistered life' Category

A Glimpse into the Santa Fe Carmel

Friday, May 1st, 2015

santa feFor the year of Consecrated Life, the Carmel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Teresa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has put together a charming little video to give people a glimpse into their life.

The Carmel is situated in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains, on the high desert of northern New Mexico, reminiscent of the terrain of the Order’s first founders who lived in the 12th century on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land.

They are part of the Spanish Catholic legacy of Santa Fe that has been present for more than 400 years. Santa Fe means Holy Faith! Their monastery traces its heritage back to Avila, Spain by way of Mexico.

A history book on the Carmelite order states that St. Teresa actually arrived here before the Carmelite sisters! A picture of her is found on the reredos of San Miguel Mission (built in 1610), the oldest church in the United States. The oval picture, found on the top left of the reredos, dates from the early 18th century and originated in Colonial Mexico. It is considered one of the earliest portraits of the saint.

reredosThe Carmeles arrived in Santa Fe in 1945 from the Carmel in Dallas, Texas. They in turn founded houses in Albuquerque, NM; Jefferson City, MO; and Kenya.

We pray that we may be a second Bethany where Our Lord may rest among those who have chosen the better part.

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An Eastern-Rite Carmelite Monastery

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Holy Annunciation Monastery in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, is the only Carmelite Monastery in the Western Hemisphere belonging to an Eastern Catholic Rite. They belong to the Order of Discalced Carmelites and have the special mission to pray for the unity of the Eastern and Western churches.

Mother Marija of the Holy Spirit, Sister Marie Helen of the Cross and Sister Ann of the Trinity (d. 2001)  inaugurated the monastery on February 23, 1977. Fr. Walter Ciszek (may he one day be canonized), SJ, encouraged Most Rev. Michel Dudick, the Bishop of the Ruthenians (Byzantine Church) of Passaic, NJ, to accept them into his eparchy.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, several Byzantine rite girls came to them from Slovakia and Carpathia. In return, in 1995 and 2002, they sent Sisters there to begin the Monastery of St. Therese in Koritnyani, Transcarpathia (Ukraine). In 1999, they accepted Sisters of the Syro-Malabar Rite from South India, now five in byz 3number, who today comprise one third of their community.

Six to seven  hours daily are devoted to prayer and sacred reading. They also operate a bakery with mail order sales (you can request a catalog for Christmas!), design gift cards and breed miniature horses. Check out their website (Carmelites Mini Corral) if you would like to purchase a stallion, mare, foal or show horse!

 

 

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5 Myths About Cloistered Life

Monday, April 27th, 2015

marbury3The Dominican nuns of St. Jude Monastery in Marbury, Alabama, have a little brochure describing the 5 myths about cloistered life.

Myth #1: They pray all day

Their whole life is harmoniously ordered to preserve remembrance of God throughout the day. They chant the 7 hours of the Divine Office daily and have times for Adoration, meditation and the rosary. But they also clean, cook, nurse, study, recreate and more. They rise early and go to bed late and their hearts are free for God alone.

Myth #2: Talented. Go elsewhere?

Of course, all of the talents a women brings to the cloister are put to good use (teacher, musician, artist, writer, nurse) but the greatest gift a woman gives to God is the gift of herself, so that it may bear fruit a hundredfold for the life of His Mystical Body. Contemplatives are Christ’s chosen spouses, imaging in a radical way the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with her Lord.

Myth #3: The Cloister is for Introverts

The cloistered life involves solitude of heart which leads to deeper union with God. It also involves intense community, for you live in the enclosure with your sisters 24/7, 365 days a year. They pray, work and recreate together, striving to grow in unity of heart and mind rooted in love of God. . The cloistered life is for both introverts and extroverts—both have strengths and challenges which are transformed by grace; both serve God.

Myth #4: Cloistered Nuns Never Talk

The question is not, “Do I like to talk?” Rather it is, “Am I able to keep silence?” Silence is an ancient monastic observance which directs a nun’s thoughts and affections towards God rather than in unnecessary and distracting chatter. During work hours, however, the sisters speak when necessary and talk during meetings, classes and recreation.

Myth #5: Unfit for the Active Life? Try the Cloister.

Actually, the cloistered Dominican life is just as demanding though not as distracting as that of a student, mother or active religious. Normal good health is essential to enter upon their life of total dedication, complete self-giving to Jesus through Mary for the salvation of souls, lived through the monastic life of the community.

Contact the Dominican nuns for the brochure or if you are interested in knowing more about their life.

 

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Carmelites – Doubly Blessed

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Malaya Twins This vocation story is interesting because of the generosity of the family in offering two daughters to God, in this case twins, who made their solemn profession as Discalced Carmelites on February 14th, 2015.

The twins, Sr. Mary Sheila and Sr. Shirley Therese, age 25, became Carmelites in Sarawak, Malayasia. Twins are common in the family and these twins are one of four sets in the clan! Their mother Juliana, had a difficult first pregnancy with them and prayed that God would spare at least one of them. He doubly answered her prayers by preserving the life of both. When Sr. Shirley was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10, Juliana prayed again for the life of her daughter, promising if she were healed that she would offer this child to God. She was double blessed again, because both children accepted the call from God to enter religious life.

Rather than viewing this as a double loss, their father, Stephen said, “It’s not a sacrifice by the family. It’s a gain for the whole Roman Catholic community and we are all right with that.” The twins’ mother was instrumental in bringing a Sunday school to the parish and said that the twins at an early age showed a devotion to God, preferring saints’ stories to other books.  A friend said, “Juliana is a very hard-working Catholic and we can all see she has brought up her seven children very well. The twins are the eldest, followed by five other children who are all very obedient and God-fearing. She has set a very high standard for other Catholic women to follow.”

Their monastery in Mir, Sarawak, was founded in 1985 and houses ten nuns. The twins are the first members of the indigenous tribe of the Kenyahs to become Discalced Carmelites.

The brochure from the monastery states: “The Carmelite Monastery is an open witness to the reality of the presence and the existence of God, which in today’s broken world, is often denied. It is a reminder to the world of the validity of Gospel values.”

“In the hidden garden, the needs, joys, wounds and sorrows of the world are carried before the throne of God hourly every day, especially in the Sacred Liturgy.”

To read more, visit the Borneo Post (now that’s a great newspaper name!)

 

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Timeless Lenten Meditations From Mother Mary Francis, PCC

Friday, February 20th, 2015

pccJust in time for Lent, Ignatius Press has released a book of profound and timeless Lenten mediations from Mother Mary Francis, PCC, the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico.

Mother Mary Francis (1921–2006) was abbess for over 40 years and is most famous for her classic book on Poor Clare life, A Right to be Merry. This new work, entitled A Time of Renewal: Daily Reflections for the Lenten Season, presents beautiful meditations on the liturgical season of Lent, revealing the treasures of the liturgy to Christians in all walks of life. Her insight into Holy Scripture and her poetic way of writing make her reflections on the daily Mass readings fresh and attractive.

As the Ignatius Press press release says:

Mother Mary Francis excels in the art of persuasion, aware that the human heart cannot be forced but only gently led to holiness. She makes this goal attractive and desirable by tirelessly explaining why striving for holiness is the happiest and wisest way to live. This book provides a wealth of material for plundering the riches of the Lenten season and for deepening one’s spiritual life. Her meditations are profound and timeless, not changing from year to year, thus providing a lifetime of Lenten meditations in this one volume.

To order, visit the Ignatius Press website (www.ignatius.com) or call: 1-800-651-1531.

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Handmaids Sell New Mexico Monastery

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

opbOn October 17, 2014, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood agreed to the sale of their former Motherhouse in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, to the sovereign nation of the Jemez Pueblo. Rev. Mother Marietta, H.P.B., and the Pueblo’s governor, Joshua Madalena, were the signers of the agreement, which had a closing date of December 31, 2014.

The New Mexico monastery of Cor Jesu, located in a rural area in the mountains between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, was home to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood for sixty-seven years. It was in 1947 that Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Handmaids to support the priesthood by their hidden lives of prayer and sacrifice, and daily Eucharistic Adoration. Father Gerald knew that “in strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church.” The sisters visibly display this charism by the wearing of a wine-red habit, symbolic of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the white veil, symbolizing the white Host of the Eucharist.

With the sale, the sisters will have completed the move to their temporary home (though they are still working out some business and legal details for the transfer to Tennessee) on the grounds of Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in the diocese of Knoxville under the paternal care of Bishop Richard F. Stika. With the arrival of the five sisters from New Mexico and the presence of their newest member and first native Tennessean, Sr. Christiana, the sisters had a very joyous family reunion.

Bishop Stika said, “Their prayers and many sacrifices as a silent proclamation of the Gospel are the very ‘soul and leaven’ of the Church’s evangelization efforts and works of mercy. Indeed, cloistered religious are truly indispensable co-workers in the mystery of redemption.”

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Poor Clares of Omaha Have a New Home!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

osc omahaThe Poor Clare Sisters of Omaha have a new home!

This Poor Clare community was the first one to be established in the United States. In 1875, Sr. Mary Magdalen and her blood sister, Constance Bentivoglio, departed from Italy for the United States. Attempts to establish a monastery in New York, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia failed but in 1878, Bishop James O’Connor of Omaha and philanthropist John Creighton (of Creighton University fame) welcomed them with open arms.

Their new monastery is on a leased parcel of land on the grounds of Mount Michael Abbey in Elkhorn, Nebraska. This peaceful setting will give them the quiet and space that is very suitable to the nine nuns life of prayer. There are rooms for 18 sisters in the new monastery.

Sr. Theresina Santiago, O.S.C.

Sr. Theresina Santiago, O.S.C.

In a newspaper article in 2011, Sr. Theresina said, “There is so much to pray for. Nothing can ever happen to us that is beyond God’s power to do something about.” According to one source, John Creighton asked the Poor Clares to pray for a friend of his who didn’t have children. Some time later, John Creighton received the word: “Twins arriving. Call off the Poor Clares!”

There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the enclosure of the Poor Clares. The nuns are having an open house at the new monastery on Sunday, February 8th, 2015, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at 22625 Edgewater Rd, Elkhorn, NE 68022. You will be able to tour the entire Monastery, beginning in the chapel, where Sister Theresina will explain the way of life of a Poor Clare Sister. This is the only time the contemplative area will be open to the public, so you won’t want to miss this exciting tour!

For more information, visit their website: omahapoorclare.org

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St. Therese and Two Prisoners’ Conversions

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

st therseIn the The Story of a Soul, the Carmelite nun St. Therese of Lisieux recounts the conversion story of Henri Pranzini, a triple-murderer whom St. Therese feared would die impenitent. Calling Henri her “mon premier enfant” (my first child), she “wanted at all costs to keep him from falling into hell, and to succeed I employed all means imaginable, feeling that of myself I could do nothing. I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord.”

After Henri’s execution in 1887, Therese learned of his last moments. “He turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him, and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance!”

card_295_Jacques_Fesch2237-final-front-webI mention this because Crisis magazine recounts the conversion story of another infamous murderer, Jacques Fesch, who was executed for murder on the Feast Day of St. Therese, September 1, 1957. Calling his childhood “utter wretchedness,” he was robbing a store when things went horribly wrong. In prison, he confessed to the chaplain that he “had no faith.” But his lawyer was a devout Catholic, concerned for his client’s soul.

A book about Our Blessed Mother sparked the start of his conversion. Later, Jacques recalled: “At the end of my first year in prison, a powerful wave of emotion swept over me, causing deep and brutal suffering. Within the space of a few hours, I came into possession of faith, with absolute certainty. I believed … Grace came to me. A great joy flooded my soul, and above all a deep peace.”

The night before his execution, he wrote, “Suddenly the thought comes: no matter what I do, Paradise is not for me! Satan is behind this. He wants to discourage me. I throw myself at Mary’s feet…I am going to recite my rosary and the prayers for the dying, then I shall entrust my soul to God…. But, good Jesus, help me!”

On Tuesday, October 1, the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Jacques made his last Confession, and received Holy Communion, offering his life for the conversion of his father, for those he loved, and for the man he had killed.

His last words, before he was guillotined, were to ask the priest for the crucifix which he kissed. In this moment, St. Therese was surely praying for his same intentions and for this child of God who returned to the Father who created him.

Jacques said he lived like a Carthusian monk while in prison. His prison cell was a monastic cell. We often get profoundly moving letters from prisoners who live like Jacques – repentant, expectant, and prayerful. We send them, free-of-charge, IRL  materials to help them on their journey. Most are grateful that a real person bothers to respond to their letters at all. They often feel invisible. Please pray for these “monks in blue” that they may experience God’s mercy and forgiveness, live truly holy lives and offer their prayers and sufferings for the good others, particularly those they have harmed.

Happy New Year to you all.

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Rocky Mountain Carmelites

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

There is a nice write-up in a local Catholic newspaper on the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the article, they talk to Mother Margaret Marie Miller who in October was named the new Mother Superior. Mother was one of the five founders who came from Alhambra, California, in 1952 to found a Carmelite monastery in the then-sparsely populated Catholic diocese.

“To be a Carmelite is a real vocation,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “The Lord gives it [the vocation] to you, but you have to be open and you have to be open to whatever he wants from you.”

Mother was inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux and like her wanted to save souls. She considered becoming a missionary but concluded, like St. Therese, that in the cloister she could reach everybody. “That was the thing that struck me. I didn’t even know what the life was going to be like, I just knew that I was going to pray for the whole world. You pray for the whole mystical body and that is what sounded really great.”

ocd utahI am reminded of a priest whose father wanted him to become a doctor. He said, “Dad, as a doctor, my patients are going to die. As a priest, I can lead them to eternal life.” Carmelites are praying people unto eternal life.

She has some practical advice on prayer. “Prayer is very simple; it’s not complicated. Prayer is a loving exchange with someone that loves you. God is all-powerful; His will is Him, so it’s pretty simple: Open your mind and He is with you all the time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simple.”

You can support the eleven Carmelites in Utah by purchasing their candy and holy cards and the like. You can also get a first-hand glimpse into their lives by watching their very appealing YouTube video.

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First Profession in Marbury: A “Twin” Celebration

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Sister-Mary-Thomas-OP-and-twin-brother-Dominic-RankinWhat makes this picture unique? Well, it so happens that the two happy people pictured in it are Sr. Mary Thomas of the Holy Name of Jesus, OP, and her twin brother, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College. I have featured twin vocation stories before but never a twin brother and sister!

Sr. Mary Thomas made her First Profession on November 22nd at the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama. Her brother was given permission to fly-in from Rome, Italy, for the occasion. Also in attendance were her Mother and Father and younger brother. What generosity on behalf of their parents to present two children to the Lord as a religious and priest.

The Feast Day on the 22nd celebrated the life of St. Cecilia. As Mother Mary Joseph said, the readings and chants for St. Cecilia could have been chosen just for a Profession ceremony.  “Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit rex speciem tuam: Hearken, O daughter, and see; turn thine ear: for the King desires thy beauty.”

It was also an extra-special occasion because the Mass was a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata (Sung High Mass) celebrated by Fr. Dominic Marie Langevin, O.P. Before Vatican II, the Dominicans celebrated almost exclusively their own ritual of Mass and the Divine Office. Sister’s brothers grew up serving in an FSSP parish, so they quickly picked up the slightly different rubrics for serving the Dominican Rite.

In this Year for Consecrated Life, may many blessings descend upon the Dominican nuns in Marbury. May all families be open to and welcome with joy their children’s call to religious life.

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