Archive for the 'Cloistered life' Category

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, 2015, 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 closure, the sisters have completed the move to their new home 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 Sticka 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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Wahpeton Carmelites Celebrate 60th Anniversary

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Community 60thOn November 1, 2014, the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance of the Carmel of Mary in Wahpeton, North Dakota, celebrated the 60th anniversary of their foundation. It was an eventful day, a triple event―the celebration, a bishop and an election― making it all the more memorable.

Back in 1954, seven sisters left the Carmelite Monastery in Allentown, PA, to settle in the northern plains. Being that it was a Marian Year, it seemed appropriate that the new Carmel should be named in honor of Our Blessed Mother. Bishop Leo Dworschak, who had issued the invitation to come to the diocese, wanted a Marian monument to commemorate the year, and in his opening Mass on November 1, he stated: “This is a great day for the Fargo diocese!”

To celebrate this year’s occasion, Bishop John Folda of Fargo offered Holy Mass at the monastery with the chancellor, Father Luke Meyer; the chaplain, Father Jim Tiu; and a former chaplain, Father William Ovsak concelebrating. The local Lay Carmelites were also in attendance.

Following the Mass, triennial elections were conducted in which Sister Madonna was elected prioress, followed by Sister Mary Ruth, First Councilor, and Sister Joseph-Marie, Second Councilor. A luncheon was served for the attendees after which Bishop Folda visited with the Community and expressed his great joy in having a cloistered Carmelite monastery in the diocese. They are the bishop’s prayer warriors!

At the Carmel of Mary, the nuns observe strict papal enclosure and center their lives on the solemn celebration of the liturgy. The monastic day begins at midnight when they rise from their warm beds, in the dark of night, to praise of God and offer intercessory prayers the world. The nuns chant The Liturgy of the Hours in common seven times throughout the day. They pray especially for the needs of priests, of the Church, and of the whole world.

The sisters welcome prayer intentions (and vocation inquiries!)

www.carmelofmary.org

Carmel of Mary

17765 78th Street SE

Wahpeton, ND 58075

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God’s Little One: The Life of Margaret Sinclair, Poor Clare

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ven margaret sinclairA Poor Clare Colettine nun whose cause is open for canonization is the subject of a new feature film in production by White Lyon Films under the direction of screenwriter Dianne Thomas. Margaret Sinclair, known in religion as Sr. Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, was a Scottish-born working girl who joined the Poor Clare Colettines of Notting Hill in London. She died at the young age of 25 and her memory and impact have grown with the passing decades. Described as “a striking contemporary example of evangelical heroism,” many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Margaret was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1900 to a poor, working class family. She left school in 1914 and worked in factories to support her family. After helping a young man recover his lost Faith, he proposed marriage but she said, “I have done what God inspired me to do, to help you the little I could, to regain the light. From that point God and his Blessed Mother must have showered down blessings on you, because you have remained steadfast, and I trust God that you will continue doing so, because you know He is the only real happiness.”

Her sister joined the Little Sisters of the Poor while Margaret left home and country to become a Poor Clare Colettine in Notting Hill, London, as an extern sister. She desired enclosure but the sisters thought that her lack of education would make the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin too difficult for her. She was clothed in her habit in 1924 in the presence of her family and her sister, now a novice.

sinclair pccIn 1925, she contracted tuberculosis of the throat and was moved to a nursing facility where she was lonely for the monastery and her mother abbess. However, her bed was a magnet for visitors, for her joy was radiantly evident. In her suffering, she said, “If I can gain one soul for Jesus it will be worth it all.” She died on this day in 1925, in her habit, with a copy of her vows at her side.

 Sister Mary Francis was declared Venerable by Pope Paul IV in 1978. During Pope John Paul II’s visit to Britain in 1982, he said, “Margaret could well be described as one of God’s little ones who, through her very simplicity, was touched by God with the strength of real holiness of’ life… I fully appreciate the aspirations of the Catholics of Scotland, and elsewhere, for that singular event to be realized, and I know you are praying that it may come about.”

You can read a short biography of her life by a Poor Clare nun and watch a documentary. Travelers to Scotland can visit The National Shrine of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair in the Redemptorist church of St Patrick’s Cowgate, Edinburgh.

 

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A Passionist “Dad” Reflects on His Daughter’s Vocation

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

noraThe following is an excerpt of a reflection written by Matt Wenke on the occasion of his daughter Nora entering the Passionist Monastery in Whitesville, Kentucky. To read the full version, click here!

When other men’s daughters might have expressed an interest in the convent or the cloister, I wouldn’t have questioned it at all. “What a noble and beautiful vocation!” or “What a meaningful life with a holy purpose!”

When I heard of my own daughter’s interest in the cloister, my immediate thought was, “How often can you come home to visit?!!!” Isn’t this sad… that my first thought wasn’t just about Nora’s vocational fulfillment and spiritual well being? My initial thought was about the fact that I might be missing my daughter’s presence in my home and her gentle, delightful company.

I looked at my daughter. A pure soul. A deeply spiritual young woman, wanting to discern God’s call for her, freely. She has the desire to conform herself to God’s Will that I have prayed for, for all of my children, whether God’s call be to the single life, marriage, lay ministry or consecrated religious life. To be authentic followers, we have to be open to all choices, not just for ourselves, but for all of those we love and for all of God’s children.

When Nora came home from her three month aspirancy visit, she never fully returned. Her body was home, but her spirit belonged to a cloistered convent in Kentucky. She reminded me, “I need to be going about God’s work for me, and it isn’t here, anymore.” She didn’t say this, meanly. It was just a statement of fact. Nora’s words to me reminded me of Jesus’ words to His Mom and Dad (Mary and Joseph) at the Finding in the Temple… “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

I prayed to have the courage and love to give back to God, she whom He’d only loaned to us for nearly nineteen years, my only daughter. God gave His Son for me. Could I place back in His loving arms the beautiful daughter He had created?!

I won’t lie to you or pretend to be a strong, courageous man. I cried and cried countless times as I looked at my beloved daughter, praying the rosary beside me each night, and tears came to me as I looked at her, across the room at Morning prayer or during our recitation of the Angelus, many days at Noon. Not one day of her two month visit did I take her presence for granted.

Well, the time came. The Gospel reading was perfect … about finding a precious pearl and buying the field, in order to hide and later possess that valuable pearl or “treasure.” This “pearl” will be joined to the string of precious pearls, which is the Sisters. She will be balanced and placed in just the right place to further enhance the beauty of Jesus’ chain of pearls who are already there, in the cloister.

I observed with joy and wonder and awe Nora’s radiant joy upon returning to the cloister. Nothing bad for her could bring her this visible joy and peace and ecstasy she seemed to be experiencing! I was shocked on the morning of Nora’s entrance, that her joy and love were infectious. I could only think about my daughter’s joyful, unselfish, pure and FREE decision to enter cloistered religious life… and to give ALL to God! What is sad about that? Nothing! My daughter entered the cloister with my smiles and my blessing and my glorifying God…. For calling my dear daughter. She belongs to Him! So do you and me!

Is your daughter/granddaughter or other loved one thinking of joining the sisters or embracing a religious vocation?

Pray for courage and love and generosity. Don’t deprive yourself of a chance to sacrifice. Don’t deprive God of His Beloved Bride… your loved one!

MattWenke2Be assured of my prayers for you, whether you are the aspiring nun or her family and/or loved ones.

 Prayerfully,

 Matthew R. Wenke

August 3, 2014, (One week after our daughter’s entrance).

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Mother Angelica Update

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

m angelicaThe Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Alabama recently gave an update on Mother Angelica’s health. As they relate in their newsletter, Mother is living a “life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, with all His helplessness and dependence on others.”

 “Although she is bedridden, Mother Angelica is strong and doing well. Our good Friars celebrate Mass in her room on Sundays, and each morning she receives our Lord in Holy Communion, the Divine Life that sustains her and gives her strength.
“Thirteen years ago on Christmas Eve, Mother said, ‘Jesus is coming today and I am going to the Chapel to wait for Him.’ It was there before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that Jesus visited her with a stroke. Since then she has lived a life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, waiting till He comes again.
“In her later years, before the stroke, Mother Angelica developed a great devotion and love for the Divine Child and it seems that Jesus wants her to experience His own Childhood with all His helplessness, totally dependent on others.
“So as she waits, Jesus continues to come to her in His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. It is Jesus who lives His life in her. With St. Paul she can say, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'” (Gal. 2:20)

The PCPA nuns were invited to the Diocese of Mobile in 1962. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was founded on August 15, 1981. In 1999, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, north of Birmingham, was consecrated. Mother suffered a severe stroke on Christmas Eve in 2001.

Bringing new life to their beginnings, sisters were sent to their original monastery in Ohio in 2002. They also sent sisters to help restart their “cradle” monastery in France. Two new foundations were begun in Tonopah, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas. And to think that Mother Angelica started EWTN with $200 in a garage. That’s all it takes for the Lord to begin His work.

We pray for blessings on Mother and her sisters, EWTN listeners and viewers, in grateful thanks for all Mother has done for the IRL, religious life and the Church.

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