Archive for the 'Cloistered life' Category

Angelic Warfare Confraternity

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
Fr. Ambrose Little, OP, enrolling the young women into the Confraternity

Fr. Ambrose Little, OP, enrolling the young women into the Confraternity

Last month, the Dominican Nuns in Marbury, Alabama, welcomed seven young women to their monastery for a weekend Vocation Retreat. These high school and college-age women came seeking answers to these questions: What is the vocation of a cloistered Dominican nun? Is it God’s will for me? The girls chanted the Liturgy, engaged in talks and recreation, and kept prayerful silence all day on Saturday so that everyone could have a chance to listen to God without getting distracted.

One of the most moving events of the weekend was the enrollment of six of the girls into the Angelic Warfare Confraternity (one had enrolled the previous year). What is a confraternity you may ask? They were very popular before Vatican II but unfortunately seem to have fallen out of favor since then.

A Confraternity is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women who make a sacred pact to pursue some good together in the Church. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a confraternity run by the Dominican Order and dedicated to the pursuit of purity and chastity under the patronage of St. Thomas and the Blessed Virgin. Who wouldn’t want such supporters!!!

St. Thomas Aquinas is the perfect patron for this Confraternity. His family was vehemently opposed to his Dominican vocation and his brothers even sent a prostitute to his room to lure him from his vow of chastity. Thomas drove the woman out, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with a red-hot brand. According to testimony at his canonization, Thomas experienced a vision of  two angels who bound a cord around his waist and said, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.”

In the enrollment ceremony, which can only be conducted by a Dominican priest (though another priest can do it with permission), the priest confers the blessing upon a cord and a medal of St. Thomas Aquinas. One or both of these items are to be worn at all times, with practical exceptions (surgery, etc.). The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into an official Register. You too can join the ranks in company with St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who were also members!

This Confraternity is not just for the young. Anyone serious about living a chaste life may become a member. In honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, members say fifteen Hail Mary’s for chastity for themselves and all the members of the Confraternity.

Many people who go through ceremony and wear the blessed cord or medal testify to experiencing great relief from temptations and greater strength in resisting temptations. As St. Paul says, “The Kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).

For more information, visit www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org. To see when the next vocational retreat will be held in Marbury, visit the nuns’ website!

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One Heart With Which to Love God

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

kokomoAs one living in the cold and snowy Midwest, getting up at midnight on a dark winter night is not something I relish. I have to be really motivated to leap out of a warm bed. Imagine doing that every day, every week, every year for eighty two years! That is what Sr. Mary Bernadette of the Poor Clare Colettines in Kokomo, Indiana, has been doing since 1932!!!

The oldest Poor Clare nun in the U.S., Sister Mary Bernadette celebrated her 100th birthday on June 29th. One man, who has known her his entire life, said, “Over the years, I’ve learned that Sister Bernadette is the kind of person who lends an ear to you, but then gets right to the point. You can talk to her about any subject, and she always knows what kind of medicine you need. She’s a spiritual doctor.”

Founding Sisters

Founding Sisters

Sister is an Extern Nun who greeted visitors, answered the phone and performed necessary errands. She joined the Poor Clares despite her father’s strong objections and found the Poor Clare life not that much different than life on the family farm for her family was poor anyway. She was one of the founding sisters who came to Kokomo from Chicago in 1959.

The Poor Clares in Kokomo are Colettines meaning that they embrace as their founders both St. Francis and St. Clare as well as St. Colette, their second mother. They rise at midnight for Matins (Midnight Office of Readings) and end the day with Compline (Night Prayer) at 9:00 pm. Of course, there is Lauds (Morning Prayer), Terce (Midmorning Prayer), Sext (Midday Prayer), None (Midafternoon Prayer and Scriptural Reading), and Vespers (Evening Prayer) in between. How comforting to know that they are praying when we are asleep or busy with our jobs or families.

Let us always regret that we have but one heart with which to love God, and that this heart is so poor and weak. but such as it is, God asks it of us! Let us give it to Him constantly and completely. Let Him have this poor heart for time and eternitySt. Colette

 

 

 

The Poor Clares sleep on straw mattresses atop of planks, do not eat meat, do not wear shoes

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Autobiography of a Hunted Priest

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

gerardI recently finished reading The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by Fr. John Gerard, SJ, (Ignatius Press) and happily came across an article in Crisis Magazine that reinforced my opinion that this is one fine book!

John Gerard was ordained a Jesuit priest during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). During her governance, 87 Catholic priests were executed for treason for not submitting to the Act of Supremacy which declared her head of the Church of England.

Fr. Gerard spent his early priestly years ministering to the remnant of Catholics who remained faithful to the Church in England, hiding in “priest-holes” which devout Catholics built into their stately homes to safeguard the  priests who administered the sacraments to them. John won many converts but was ultimately betrayed by a traitor in one of the households and was subjected to brutal tortures before he finally escaped and then left England for good.

When Fr. James Schall, SJ, first heard about Fr. Gerard, he thought it an interesting adventure story but surely one that could not happen in this country. Now he is not so certain. Practicing Catholics were pursued relentlessly in Elizabethan England and is it so different today?

One of the interesting sidebars in the book is a brief mention of Mary Lady Lovel, a pious woman who devoted her life to good works, gave money to the Jesuits and in Antwerp founded (as benefactress) the first English Carmelite monastery. Young English women throughout the ensuing decades fled to Belgium to take up religious life. It was only at the end of the 18th century that the Carmelites could return home and establish the first English Carmelite monastery on English soil at Lanherne in Cornwall.

lanherneEleven Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate now occupy the monastery, the Carmelites having left the site in 2001. Here, St. Cuthbert Mayne celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (using the altar which is  now in their small choir) and ministered to the faithful. A friend of St. Edmund Campion, St. Cuthbert was  martyred in 1577. For more information on this holy site, please visit Friends of Lanherne. 

Through the intercession of the English martyrs, may God bless England with many holy vocations.

 

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Transformed to Christ by Love

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Sr Mary Paul 2-1In 2010, the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) published a book by Sr. Mary Paul Cutri, OCD, called Sounding Solitude. In this 176-page book, Sister Mary Paul draws on the rich heritage of the great Discalced Carmelite founders, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as her own experience in contemplative prayer, to show us how to be transformed to Christ by love.

Sister is a member of the Carmel of the Assumption in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, that was founded in 1961 as a foundation from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. The land for the monastery was purchased because of its proximity to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Vincent. The monks have served as their chaplains, confessors and spiritual directors from the very beginning.

Sister entered religious life in 1955 as a graduate of Mercyhurst College with a BA degree in Biology and a Medical Technologist’s certificate. She was one of the original sisters who came to Latrobe in 1961. Of her long life as a spouse of Christ, Sister says, “God who called me to Carmel continues to fill my days with love, peace and appreciation for this precious contemplative vocation in the Church.”

p_SSThe twelve chapters of her book describe experiences along the way of solitude’s intimacy, solitude’s savorings, solitude’s sufferings, love as its meaning and the power of transformation that takes place through Christ in us.  She says, “To spend time with the Lord in long periods of solitude and prayer is to begin to learn the ways of God and how we are to respond in the likeness of Christ to the work God is doing in us. In our desire for union with God, ‘God will capture the hearts of people, leaving them so touched by love that they have no desire other than to belong to God by consent, as they belong to God by creation and grace.  We are destined to be transformed in Christ by love.’”

To order the book, click here to reach the ICS website..

“I have received comments, especially from our Secular Carmelites who have read the book, saying that it has helped them in their life of prayer,” said Sister Mary Paul. “All praise to God who both inspires and motivates us in sharing the gifts of grace God gives us.  It is all God’s work of love.”

 

 

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The Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Br_Isaac_Post 108With great joy, the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas, welcomed Br. Isaac Sokolowski as an aspirant on October 1, 2013, the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux. Fr. Fabian Maria said, “He has been a very dear gift of God to us and he has been progressing quickly in the monastic virtues of humility and constant prayer. In light of this, he became a Postulant on March 19, 2014, the Solemnity of St. Joseph.”

The community is growing and can use your help. Two ice storms and other issues prevented them from sending out their Christmas newsletter and product catalog. Visit their website to order jellies, honey, pecans, breads, glazes, biscotti, coffee, peanut brittle and fudge. Wow! They are self-supporting but donations are welcome too!

If you are a young man between the ages of 18 and 40 interested in this eremitical life of humility, solitude, obedience and love, you may come for a weekend visit to experience their life of prayer and work and community. An application is on their website. Men over 40 may be considered as oblates and priests on an individual basis. The next weekend on the schedule is June 6-8, 2014.

The vocation of the Carmelite hermit is the contemplative vocation and the foundations of his life are the Eucharist, Sacred Scripture and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For the hermit, the cell is the place of encounter with God.

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Bismarck Diocese Blessed With Two New Religious Communitites

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Sr. Mary Baptist

Sr. Mary Baptist

The Diocese of Bismarck in North Dakota has recently been blessed with the arrival of two very different religious congregations. As you can imagine, currently the diocese does not have many religious. However, Bishop David Kagan and his predecssor were eager for religious to come to minster to and pray for the people. Both will do the work of the New Evangelization in very differnt ways.

I posted months ago that the Carmelites in Alexandria, South Dakota, had decided to send four sisters to the diocese where they will live in a renovated farmhouse (“in the middle of nowhere”) in Emmons County. The four cloistered nuns arrived on March 19 and will have an open house from April 23-25 before they are permanently enclosed in the Carmel of the Holy Face. On April 26, Bishop Kagan will celebrate Mass at 11:00am then the nuns will be enclosed in their new home.

"In the middle of nowhere"

“In the middle of nowhere”

“Prayer is really the foundation for all missionary activity,” said Sister Mary Baptist, the Prioress. “You can talk to somebody and try to convince them, but if they don’t have grace, which is won by prayer, then it won’t be effective. So we really need prayer as the basis.”

The other group of four sisters coming to the diocese is from India. The Congregation of Teresian Carmelites is establishing their first mission in the Western Hemisphere in this most unlikely of places. They will minister to the people of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, assisting the priests and parishes and teaching at a mission school.

One of the Teresian Carmelites

One of the Teresian Carmelites

“It’s important to have the presence of holy people who can model what a life of faith should look like,” said a diocesan spokesman. “They’re also very obviously knowledgeable in the Catholic faith, and so they can evangelize to the people on the reservation and set a good example: that what is valuable to them … [is] a life that is for Christ and has meaning and purpose because it is lived for God.”

Visit the Diocese of Bismarck website or the National Catholic Register for more information.

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Mother Dolores Hart, OSB – Starlet to Cloistered Nun!

Monday, March 24th, 2014

m delores osbDolores Hart was a rising starlet in the 1960s, with a Broadway play and ten highly successful movies to her credit. Then, she made a shocking decision: Hart left the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and entered the contemplative Benedictine monastery of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT.

Now, 50 years later, Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., will be speak on her vocational journey and the spiritual wisdom she gained by becoming a consecrated spouse of Christ on April 25-27, 2014, during the Institute on Religious Life’s National Meeting, at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. Registration is required to attend the three-day event.

Mother Dolores will give three talks at the IRL’s National Meeting. On Friday, April 25, she will address only religious, priests and consecrated persons at 11:00 a.m. On Saturday, April 26 at 1:30 p.m. she will be speaking exclusively to young people, ages 15-25, candidly sharing the story of her vocation. In the evening, Mother will give an after dinner address to those attending the IRL banquet which will honor Msgr. James C. Turro, recipient of the 2014 Pro Fidelitate et Virtute award.

Saint Luke Productions’ latest live drama, Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy, will be performed as part of the weekend’s events. The meeting will feature many other fine speakers including Very Rev. David Wilton, C.P.M, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, Sheila Liaugminas and Mother M. Julie Saegaert, S.C.M.C.

All are invited to be part of this special weekend, co-sponsored by Ignatius Press, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Institute on Religious Life. You can read Mother’s story in a book published by Ignatius Press: Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows.

For more information or to register, visit ReligiousLife.com or call the IRL office at 847-573-8975.

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Weaving a Crown for the Lord – The Poor Clares of Mission, BC

Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Sr. Agnes Marie (far right)

Sr. Agnes Marie (far right)

They may be little known in the United States, but there is a wonderful community of Poor Clare nuns in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. As the sisters closed the Octave of Christmas and began the New Year of 2014, they celebrated the first profession of Sr. Agnes Marie, OSC. As you can see by the picture, she looks to be about the happiest Poor Clare in the world!

Sr. Agnes Marie professed the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure. For the next three years, she will journey with “light step, swift pace and unswerving feet on the path of prudent happiness” (St. Agnes of Bohemia who founded the first Poor Clare community north of the Alps). “A continual, silent self-emptying for the sake of bringing souls closer to God: these were the desires of my heart,” Sr. Agnes Marie said. “Though it is a life of sacrifice, the joys and graces I receive from the Lord far outweigh the costs.”

The abbess, Sr. Marie-Celine, was once a Grey Nun and by joining the Poor Clares in far western Canada, left behind all that was familiar to her including her French Canadian heritage. The sisters have bears on their property and wear “bear-bells” to scare them off. One day, Sr. Christine and Sr. Marie Therese were checking on some newly planted trees when one of them heard a rustling sound, looked over a steep bank and saw a bear. Sister cried, “A bear! Run!” They took off and the bear did too — in the opposite direction!

The sisters are very happy that Pope Francis is showing the same love for the Poor Clares as did his predecessors. Last August, Pope Francis visited the Poor Clares in Albano Italy, alone and without anyone present. In October, he visited the Poor Clares in Assisi and let the Cardinals come in with him saying, “I did not have the courage to send them away.”

The Poor Clare Order was established in British Columbia in 1911. These Poor Clares settled in Mission in 1962.The high point of their day is the Holy Eucharist, and they give the Lord praise seven times a day through the Liturgy of the Hours, including the midnight Office of Readings.

The Poor Clare is one who weaves the flowers of each day into a crown for her King…one petal at a time. She is poor, chaste, and obedient. She is one who is alone on the mountain with Christ, enclosed in His Heart and lifting the entire world in prayer to her heavenly Father.

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The Prayers Continue in Oakland

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Welcoming Mass 2012

Welcoming Mass 2012

The Discalced Carmelites of the Oakland diocese have a new home! After coming to the diocese in 2012, the Carmelites of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph have been living in temporary quarters at St. Monica’s Parish in Canyon, CA. Now, thanks to a generous benefactor, the twelve Carmelites will have a permanent home (see complete story).

This is not just any home! It is a Spanish-style, 60-room mansion that was built in 1925. From the west side of the home, there are panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. In the late 1940′s, it became the home of the Carmelite community of Berkeley who sadly had to disband because of low numbers. Of the four remaining nuns, two went into a nursing facility and two others moved in with another Carmelite community. The house was for sale and was sought after for a variety of uses. Happily, it will remain a place of prayer.

As I have mentioned before, this monastery is a foundation from the Carmel in Valpraiso, Nebraska. The Nebraska Carmel was founded in 2001 and this will be their 2nd foundation, the other being Elysburg, Pennsylvania (2009). The Tridentine masses are typically celebrated at the Carmel and the Liturgy of the Hours is also in Latin. I also read that they use the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre or “Carmelite” Rite, the first Discalced Carmel to do so since 1588.

St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, pray for them.

 

 

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A Pilgrimage with St. Therese of Lisieux

Monday, February 24th, 2014

o.carm. shrineThe Carmelites of the Ancient Observance in Allentown, Pennsylvania, are unique in many respects not the least of which is their monastery and chapel, a close duplicate of the one in Lisieux, France, where St. Therese the Little Flower lived and died. It is also the first Carmel of the Ancient Observance established in the United States.

The Carmelites trace their lineage back to Elijah, the great prophet, though the order was formally begun probably in the 12th century on Mount Carmel in modern-day Israel where hermits were believed to have resided for many, many centuries. You may recall from the first book of Kings that it was the site of the great confrontation between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah challenged them to a trial by fire, won by the true God of Israel. When the people saw fire descend on the offerings of Elijah, they cried: “The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!” (cf. 1 Kings 18)

stella marisFor all who have been to Mount Carmel in Israel, overlooking the harbor of Haifa, it is a place that leaves one with goosebumps. I happened to stay a memorable night at Stella Maris with the Carmelite nuns who live on the mount and offer pilgrims rooms. The cave below the main altar is believed to be the cave where Elijah lived.

Mother Therese of Jesus, O.Carm., founded the Allentown Carmel in 1931 along with her companion, Mother Clement Mary. Mother Therese was born in Germany and Mother Clement in North Dakota  but both came to America by way of a Carmel in Naples, Italy! In fact, an eruption of Mount Vesuvius precipitated their departure.

Mother Therese died on Easter Tuesday morning, April 11, 1939. However, when the mausoleum was being renovated in 2001, her body was exhumed and appeared to be incorrupt, 63 years after her death. So was the green palm branch that had been placed in her tomb. Her body was moved to the Monastery, and the tomb is now open to the public on Sundays for visits and prayer. The cause for her canonization is being studied.

ocarmThe chapel, whose patroness is St. Therese of Lisieux, is full of stained glass windows showing scenes from the saint’s life not often seen depicted in stained glass. Other Carmelite saints are also highlighted. It sounds like a wonderful place to contemplate the mysteries and majesty of God!

With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” (Carmelite motto)

 

 

 

 

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