29 October 2006

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel, the words of the crowd to the blind man are striking -- arresting, even: "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." The blind man had been calling out to Jesus to have pity on him and had been rebuked by the crowd; and now that Jesus asked for the blind man to be brought to him, the crowd speaks a word of encouragement. The crowd speaks to us, too.

So often we call upon the Lord, begging for his mercy, asking for the grace to do his will. How often, however, do we stand poised with courage awaiting his response? Most of us, when we pray, have some idea of how we would like the Lord to respond to our plea. We want to desire God's will for us but, sometimes, deep down inside -- if we are really honest -- we hope that what we desire is already a part of God's plan for us. Desiring our will and God's will to be one in the same is a good and noble prayer -- so long as we are open to the Lord's will as it unfolds -- even when it is different from our own designs. This, indeed, is where courage is important. Jesus invites us to tell him our needs; do we have the courage to approach him?

Like the blind man, let us approach the Lord with unreserved courage. Let us call out to him. And when he draws us near -- when we draw near to him in prayer -- and he asks us what we want him to do for us, let us be honest and courageous in how we approach him. Perhaps it is a worthy prayer that we, like the blind man, may be blessed with the Lord's graces on account of our faith. And, like the blind man, let us follow the Lord who has done wonderful things for us.

"It is not sufficient to accept God's will generally.
We must accept it in every detail and circumstance."
St. Francis de Sales

24 October 2006

Pure Gift

This is not an error. You have reached the Monastery blog of the Visitation Sisters of Georgetown. If you think that this "new face" looks too good to be our own work, you are absolutely right. This is the inspiration and the handiwork of our "guardian angel" Rick Lugari. Rick did the lion's share of the work on the templates for our new webpage and now he's blessed us with a "matching gift" for our blog. Rick is the author of the award-winning blog, De Civitate Dei and a founding member of the prodigiously growing blog, Amateur Catholic. We are as grateful as we are excited about our "matching look." Benefactors come in many different forms, sometimes they even come as angels!

**If you are a regular reader and you've got us listed among your favorites, do add us again and overwrite the listing. The nifty "V" that appears next to our name is a further reminder of Rick's creativity and thoughtfulness. **

Coming Soon to a College Near You!

On Thursday our Sister Anne Francis and Sister Anne Elizabeth will be heading to Wheeling, West Virginia for a short stay with our Sisters at Mount de Chantal while they attend the annual vocations fair at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Contrary to the very convincing illustration, they will not be taking the Visitation school bus, they will not be traveling with two stick figures (and Sister Anne Francis probably won't look so carefree if Sister Anne E does most of the driving.) True to the illustration, however, you will see their smiling faces at our table on Friday, 27 October. So, if any of our faithful readers are local to Steubenville, do stop by to meet us -- at least two of us -- in person.

21 October 2006

Don't Mess with the Holy Spirit

Today's Gospel issues a stern warning about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is a curious point that a similar offence against the Son of Man can be forgiven when we acknowledge the inherent unity of the Trinity. We can offer no concise explanation delineating the doctrine of the Trinity. We can, however, share one of the more beautiful images which inspired a phrase in our Creed.

Lumen de lumine: light from light, true God from true God, one in being with the Father. . .

It seems, that this very familiar phase in our Nicene Creed came from an early attempt to explain the Trinity by Qunitus Septimus Florens Tertullianus -- known to most of us as "Tertullian." Although his later years as a theologian led him away from the fledgling flock of the early Church into the dangers of Montanism, many of his earlier works are an excellent source of spiritual reading. In an attempt to describe the three distinct persons of the Trinity, Tertullian suggested that the Father is like the sun, the source of Light; the Son can be likened to the rays, and the Holy Spirit is the visible effect of the sun and its rays, though itself not visible: a shadow, perhaps. Light from Light. True God from true God.

An insight such as Tertullian's analogy is surely the fruit of prayer. May we, too, ponder the mystery of the Trinity, a mystery ever ancient, ever new.

"By the Holy Spirit, He has come to us and has come beforehand to us, has come into us and has assisted us, has come with us and led us on, this finishing what He had begun."
St. Francis de Sales

18 October 2006

Meet Sister Mary Roberta!

On Monday afternoon our Sister Earlene made her first religious profession and received the name Sister Mary Roberta.

The blue veil, constitutions and pectoral cross are placed on the altar at the beginning of Mass.

"Sister Earlene" stands with Mother Philomena prior to the entrance procession.

Mother Philomena and Sister Mary de Sales replace the white veil with the blue veil.

Both Sister Mary Roberta and our "brother" David sport their new crosses!

Many thanks to all whose kindness and generosity made Monday's celebration such a joyous one!

16 October 2006

Feast of Our Holy Sister

Today is the feast of our Holy Sister, Saint Margaret Mary. Though only a "commemoration" on the Roman calendar, we have the privilege of celebrating the day as a Feast. For a short biography, click here; for a longer biographical article, click here.

In addition to the joy of the Feast, we are also celebrating the first religious profession of our Sister Earlene. Sister "comes out" of retreat today and returns to the fold before her profession, which will take place during Mass. For locals, the Mass for Sister's profession will be held in our Chapel of the Sacred Heart at 4.30pm. Stay tuned for profession pictures.

But above all preserve peace of heart. This is more valuable than any treasure. In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the divine heart. In this way his will can carry out for us whatever contributes to his glory, and we will be happy to be his subjects and to trust entirely in him.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

13 October 2006

Unclean Spirits (part II)

Jesus' words, in today's Gospel, about how an unclean spirit will return to a person from whom it was expelled are rather alarming. An honest look at our spiritual lives, however, will reveal the truth of this prediction. How often have we worked at practicing a much-needed virtue or avoiding some particular temptation and not had any indication that we were making any progress. . . only to wake up one day and realize that what once challenged us is no longer a great struggle. We can't pinpoint exactly when this "unclean spirit" was expelled, but we are just aware that a burden has been lifted. As consoling as this may be, it can also be a temptation for us to think that we are above or beyond the temptation that once plagued us. And this is precisely when the unclean spirit, returning with its seven companions, can catch us off guard. True to Jesus' words, the returning spirits will find our hearts "swept clean" and, if we are not vigilant, they can gain a foothold. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to guard our hearts from all temptations -- those we have exiled and those with which we still battle.

For the first post about unclean spirits, click here.

"There is a very great difference between getting rid of a vice and acquiring its contrary virtue. It often happens that our passions slumber and become torpid, and if, while they are in this state, we do not lay in a supply of strength to enable us to fight and resist them when they wake up again, we shall be worsened in the battle."
St. Francis de Sales

10 October 2006

Shameless Promotion

At risk of boring our locals with yet one more plug for this Saturday's retreat day, we thought we could do a little shameless promoting. Fr. Stephen Spahn, SJ, local vocation promoter for the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus, and our own Sister Anne E. have teamed up -- not for a rap concert, as it might appear -- but for a day-long retreat for young men and women who are discerning the Lord's call in their lives. The retreat day will be held from 9am-4pm at the McKenna Center at Holy Trinity Parish, concluding with Mass in our Chapel of the Sacred Heart, here at the Monastery. Interested readers may email to register: aefiore(at)gmail(dot)com. Or, click here to register by email.

09 October 2006

Profession Approaching!

On Saturday night, our Sister Earlene entered retreat for her first profession of vows which will be on the Feast of our Holy Sister, St. Margaret Mary (16 October). We've tried to "predict" what Sister will look like after her retreat -- the wings and the halo may be a slightly different shade of celestial gold, but we thought this was a pretty good estimation. She'll recieve the navy blue veil as well as our pectoral cross (which is really silver -- the turquoise shading was a slip of the mouse!) In addition, Sister Earlene will recieve her religious name. Suggestions for her name have been fluttering around the house but only the Holy Spirit (and the superior) know for sure what Sister's new name will be. All kidding aside, we ask our faithful readers to pray with us for our Sister during this very special time of preparation.

"If we desire to know whether God wishes us to enter Religious life or not, we must not wait until He speaks to our senses or until He sends an Angel from heaven to signify His will to us . . . we must correspond to the first impulse and cultivate it."
St. Francis de Sales

06 October 2006

Blessed and Baseball?

Today is the commemoration of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. At great risk of scandalizing our readers with this light-hearted speculation, we would like to point out that there has been some question as to whether there is any relationship between the Blessed Marie Rose and the baseball player who shares her last name. Perhaps the timing of post-season baseball division playoffs has something to do with this speculation, but a family resemblance has been suggested between Blessed Marie Rose and Leo Durocher. See below:

Leo Durocher is reputed to have quipped the following: "Baseball is like Church. Many attend, few understand." Since it was Durocher (Leo, that is) who is credited with coining the phrase, "Nice guys finish last," we can take heart in knowing that in the kingdom of heaven the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Perhaps we can safely presume that means that heaven will be filled with "nice guys!" Saint Francis de Sales would agree that being a "nice guy" -- a gentleman -- is an important part of cultivating virtue.

"Sometimes we are too busy trying to be angels that we forget to be good men and women."
St. Francis de Sales

04 October 2006

Il Poverello

Today we honor il poverello, St. Francis of Assisi. Images that depict St. Francis talking to birds and other animals are ubiquitous. Beyond this appealing -- yet incomplete -- picture was a man who was an extraordinary visionary, knew great suffering, and who loved deeply the poor, chaste Christ whom him followed. Click here for a biography of il poverello.

There are at least two -- and perhaps more -- sisters in the necrology of our monastery whose first name in religion was "Assisium." As best we can conclude, this was to honor St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of our Holy Father, St. Francis de Sales. Due to our close proximity to the Jesuits, it is not surprising to find a "Sr. Ignatia" here and a "Sr. Loyola" there, as one walks the rows of our cemetery. In fact, we probably have almost as many permutations of Jesuit saint names as we do "de Chantals," "de Sales" and "Margaret Marys" -- but we are privileged to have a couple of our sisters named especially for the "Other St. Francis."

As we honor this man of prayer, peace and great vision, let us ask his intercession for peace and tranquility in our nations, families and parishes.

"Preach always. Use words when necessary."
St. Francis of Assisi

01 October 2006

Solemn Profession Pictures

As promised, we have a couple of pictures from our trip to Brooklyn.

The bishop presents candles, newly lit from the Pascal candle, to the Sisters as a reminder of thier baptismal promises and as a sign of the Light of Christ.

Mother Susan Marie receives the vows of Sister Judith Marguerite.

As we begin this month of October, let us continue to pray for peace in the world through the intercession of Our Lady.