Handmaids Sell New Mexico Monastery

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Cloistered life | No comments yet.

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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Candles & the Feast of the Presentation

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Liturgical Year | No comments yet.

Today, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple, is also the celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life. This day of prayer, 40 days after Christmas, was instituted in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. Also known as Candlemas Day, it is the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ, the light of the world. Consecrated men and women, by their profession of vows, are called to be this light of Christ in the world.

There was an article on the internet talking about the link between Candlemas Day and Groundhog Day. It is not as farfetched as it first appears.

Candlemas Day got its name about thousand years ago when people began bringing candles, their source of light, to be blessed. In the darkened church, the Canticle of Simeon was sung. Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah (Luke 2: 29-32). When he saw Jesus, he took Him in his arms and praised God, saying:

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

One recalls the words of Isaiah as well: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined (Isaiah 9:2).

An ancient English poem, called Candlemas Day, reads in part:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.

The Feast of the Presentation will be celebrated in the United States in parishes on Sunday, February 8, 2015. Let us pray for those who have consecrated their lives to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, that they may live these vows with renewed fervor, open hearts and steadfastness for the sake of God’s people and their own salvation. May they be a light that ignites the hearts of all.

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Children’s Book Explains Religious Life

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in General interest | No comments yet.

bonosaIt is very hard, if not impossible, to find a children’s book that explains and explores the beauty of a religious vocation. Many children have never ever seen or spoken to a religious sister, brother or priest, and probably do not have the faintest idea what religious life is all about. How will vocations be sparked in young hearts if they are not introduced to this beautiful life of self-giving to God?

Therefore, a new book on religious life by M. Cristina Borges with illustrations by Michaela Harrison fills a big void. Entitled Of Bells and Cells, it explains that we are all called to a vocation in life but some are called in a special way. The book makes it clear that religious communities are families who pass on a way of living, praying and thinking about God from one generation to the next.

Terms like postulant and novice are explained, as well as what daily life in a monastery or convent is like. The ceremonies for new religious, the meaning of a habit and a new name show children that these individuals are entirely dedicated to God. There are wonderful pictures that show the typical habits of Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, Poor Clares, Redemptorists, Carthusians, Missionaries of Charity and the Conceptionists (for trivia buffs the first congregation of women to come to the USA.).

One of the most effective areas of the book is the section on the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, explained in a very appealing way. Religious, she says, who profess the vow of chastity “work to be as pure as the Virgin Mary, giving birth to Jesus in people’s hearts.”

The call to a cloistered or active life is delineated but “all religious imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, doing simple things very well for love of Jesus.” The concept that men who are religious can also be priests is explained in detail along with what a priest as an alter Christus means. Finally, the appendix gives the history behind the aforementioned religious orders as well as the Little Sisters of the Poor and a few religious saints.

The book can be ordered from St. Bonosa Books (stbonosabooks.com). It is a beautiful way to ignite in the souls of young people a desire for this often hidden vocation in our secular world.

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The Life of St. Benedict for Children

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.

osb 1It is often difficult to find good, non-syrupy books about the lives of the saints. Therefore, it is a real joy to read a new book about the life of Saint Benedict that stays true to the biographical details known to us through the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Entitled The Life of Saint Benedict, the book was written by a son of Saint Benedict, Br. John McKenzie, O.S.B. Brother John is a monk from the Monastero di San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and his twin sister, Scholastica. A native of Michigan, Brother John entered the Benedictines in Norcia in 2005 and made his solemn profession in 2009. He is currently studying theology in Rome.

The 48-page, hardcover book is charmingly illustrated by Mark Brown, a lay oblate of the monastery, with pictures that are engaging enough to enthrall a small child yet full of rich details to interest adults. What child doesn’t like a story with a dragon in it? Featured in the book is the close relationship between Benedict and Scholastica, the founding of the Benedictine family, the miracles attributed to Benedict, and his virtuous life, totally dedicated to God.

Brother John

Brother John

Brother John explained why he embarked upon this project: “The Life of Saint Benedict is filled with great imagery and authentic monastic wisdom. The Benedictine monastic life expands over 1,500 years of lived tradition and it has a home on all continents of the world! This book was simply put together so that families, most especially kids, can get a chance to understand the greatness and uniqueness of my holy founder, not to mention his twin sister Saint Scholastica, who also plays a central role in this book.”

The Life of St. Benedict can be purchased from Ignatius Press (1-800-651-1531, ignatiuspress.com). In this year dedicated to the Consecrated Life, this book is a great introduction to one of the giants of the Church whose way of life remains as attractive and vital today as it was 1,500 years ago.

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Poor Clares of Omaha Have a New Home!

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Cloistered life | No comments yet.

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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Ven. Maria Teresa Casini Miracle Approved

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Women's Communities | No comments yet.

teresa casiniDid you know that in a small town in Ohio, sisters are praying and offering reparation for priests? And to carry this ministry further in the Diocese of Youngstown, they also care for priests in retirement in two homes. These sisters are the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart and they are in the news because Pope Francis issued a decree last week approving a miracle attributed to their foundress, Ven. Maria Teresa Casini, thus paving the way for her beatification.

Mother Maria Teresa was born in Frascati, Italy, in 1864. She entered religious life as a Poor Clare until ill health forced her to return home. Here, though, she had a vision of Jesus, His Heart pierced by a thorn, His face contorted with pain. He made it known to Teresa that these wounds were caused by unfaithful priests.

oshjEventually, Teresa and a small group of companions, formed a community whose mission was to sacrifice, pray, supplicate, work and grow weary for the sanctification of priests. She also opened a boarding school for boys to satisfy the Lord’s request to “give me holy priests.”

Mother Teresa died in 1937. The first of her boys, the Little Friends of Jesus, was ordained in 1938. During her life, she offered “the oblation of herself, in faithful response to the Love that overflows from the open Heart of the Savior, and which she imparted to so many daughters and priests.”

Pope Pius X wrote in 1904: “In order to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ, nothing is more necessary than the sanctity of the clergy.” God bless these sisters for their selfless love for these men of God, for through them, through the sacraments, we are fortified and purified for the journey.

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lou osbDid you know that Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic, and his successor, Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, were Christians? And that a Foreign and Prime Minister of China, Lu (Lou) Tseng-tsiang, became a Benedictine monk under the name of Dom Pierre-Célestin? We think of China as a non-Christian country but there are illustrious men and women who carried the banner for Jesus Christ. Lu himself was a reformer who tried to simply the bureaucracy and institute fairness into government.

Lu was born a Protestant in Shanghai in 1871. Due to the influence of his father, he developed a love for the Bible and good literature. In 1892, he was sent to Russia as part of the Chinese delegation where he served for 14 years. An impressive man that he worked for old him:

“The strength of Europe is not to be found in her armaments; it is not to be found in her science; it is to be found in her religion. In the course of your diplomatic career you will have occasion to study the Christian religion….Take the most ancient branch of that religion, that which goes back most nearly to its origins. Enter into it. Study its doctrine, practice its commandments, closely follow all its works. And later on, when you have ended your career, perhaps you will have the opportunity to go still farther. In this most ancient branch, choose the most ancient society. If you can do so, enter into it also. Make yourself its follower, and study the interior life, which must be the secret of it. When you have understood and won the secret of that life, when you have grasped the heart and strength of the religion of Christ, bring them and give them to China.”

lou osb2It was in St. Petersburg that Lu met his Belgian-born wife, Berthe Bovy, and they were married in 1899. The same priest who presided at their wedding would receive him into the Church in 1912. After the war, Lu became involved in famine relief work but when his wife became ill, they moved to Europe where he became China’s ambassador to Switzerland. After her death, he surprised everyone by becoming a Benedictine monk at the abbey of Abbey of Saint-André-lez-Bruges in Flanders. He was ordained a priest in 1935 in his 64th year! He died on January 15, 1949 at the abbey, never to return to China. His prayers for his country must now be entrusted to Our Lady of China.

 

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St.Teresa’s Walking Stick

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.

st teresa of avila tourThe original walking stick used by St Teresa of Avila during her many journeys across 16th century Spain is on the move in honor of the 500th anniversary of her birth. St. Teresa was born on March 28, 1515, and died on October 4, 1582.

The walking stick, which began its journey on October 15, 2014, St. Teresa’s feast day, is on pilgrimage around the world to commemorate this great event. By the time the journey has ended, it will have traveled to 5 continents, 30 countries and traversed 117,000 miles. The places selected are some of sites most important to the Discalced Carmelites as well as the missions in Africa. Already it has been to the United States, Mexico, South America and the Far East. Now it is in Kenya and will travel to many more African countries before it heads back to Europe and the countries of Croatia, Italy, France (Lisieux of course!), the Czech Republic, Portugal and back to Spain.

The worldwide pilgrimage is called the Way of Light (Camino de Luz). The generosity of the Carmelite Fathers in Spain  allowed this eventful pilgrimage to take place. The walking stick is in a special container and is symbolic of St. Teresa’s own spiritual journey. Pilgrims are invited during this special year to imitate her longing for God which took her to many heights and places.

The Superior General of the Carmelites, Fr. Saverio Cansitra, says that her mission is “to remind the Church and human beings of all times that the center of man is God and the center of God is man…. Teresa shares with everyone, with anyone in any place in the world whose journey is lost on an aimless path, what she found: a dwelling and a way.

 stickSt. Teresa herself said, “If they lose their Guide, our good Jesus, they cannot find the way… Our Lord Himself tells us that He is ‘the Way'; He also says that He is ‘the Light’ (John 14,6); that no man cometh to the Father but by Him; and that ‘He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also.’ Such persons tell us that these words have some other meaning; I know of no other meaning but this, which my soul has ever recognized as the true one and which has always suited me right well.”

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Bl. Junipero Serra to be Canonized

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.

serraToday came the exciting news that Pope Francis will canonize Bl. Junípero Serra during his visit to the US this Fall. Father Serra (1713-1784) is the founder of the California missions and the great evangelizer. He was born on the island of Majorca, Spain, where he became a Franciscan friar. He came to the New World in 1749. In 1769, he arrived in San Diego where he established his first mission.

Father Serra established nine missions himself, and twenty-one others were eventually established on the El Camino Real. It is always a thrill to be traveling in California and stumble across the roadway today. Here are the missions he founded:

serra21769 – San Diego de Alcalá; 1770 – San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; 1771 – San Antonio de Padua; 1771 – San Gabriel Arcángel; 1772 – San Luís Obispo de Tolosa; 1776 – San Francisco de Asís; 1776 – San Juan Capistrano; 1777 – Santa Clara de Asís; 1782 – San Buenaventura

Father Serra died and is interred today at the mission in Carmel (San Carlos Borromeo). You can see the cell where he died and his tomb and an impressive cenotaph (monument). The cenotaph depicts a life-side bronze statue of Father Serra lying in death, with his bare feet resting on a grizzly bear, the symbol of California. Three other life-size bronze sculptures are nearby: Fr. Juan Crespí, who predeceased him; Fr. Fermin Lasuen, who succeeded him as the president of the missions of Baja and Alta California; and Fr. Julian Lopez, a friar at the Carmel Mission.

Pope John Paul II visited Carmel in 1987 and called Father Serra the Apostle of California. He went on to say: “’In Him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything’ (Phil. 4, 13). These words of the great missionary, Saint Paul, remind us that our strength is not our own. Even in the martyrs and saints, as the liturgy reminds us, it is ‘(God’s) power shining through our human weakness.’ It is the strength that inspired Father Serra’s motto: ‘Always forward, never back.'”

 

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Year of Consecrated Life Pilgrimage to Rome

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.

rome-at-dusk-itineraryThe Year of Consecrated Life began on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and ends on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2, 2016.

At the end of this special year, the Vatican is holding an International Symposium (gathering/workshops/events) for Religious, Secular Institutes, and Consecrated Virgins in Rome. The dates specified by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) for the gathering of Consecrated Persons are as follows:

  • Symposium for Secular Institutes, and Ordo Virginum January 29-31, 2016
  • Symposium for Religious January 28-30, 2016
  • Vigil at St Peter’s Basilica January 30, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Audience with Holy Father February 1, 2016
  • Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life with the Holy Father Feb 2, 2016

The ORP/Kairos (Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi ) which acts as the pilgrimage organizer for the Diocese of Rome has arranged for a pilgrimage package for Consecrated Virgins, Religious, and Secular Institute members interested in participating in this Symposium with an optional extension to the Holy Land. For those interested in seeing where hermits, religious, and the Ordo Virginum began, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This pilgrimage package is available so that consecrated persons can attend the International Symposium, with lodgings, meals, transportation and other major details being arranged by the Vatican’s office of pilgrimage. Consecrated persons can relax, attend the Symposium, enjoy each other’s company, and prayerfully visit some of the sights in Rome and Italy that are of special significance to consecrated life.

A religious priest-chaplain is being provided who is familiar with the different forms of consecrated life. Guides to the sacred sites will be available in English, Spanish, French, and Italian, and the pilgrimage is open to religious, secular institute members, and consecrated virgins of all nationalities. If enough people from any country want a guide of their own, they will receive a guide speaking their own language.

They will be lodging as much as possible in places run by religious orders, not 5-star luxury accommodations. They are working towards getting donations and sponsors for people who cannot otherwise afford to attend. For more information, see the ORP/Kairos website.

 

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