27 February 2007
24 February 2007
Preparations for our 400th anniversary have begun and as we approach 2010 our Religious Assistant to the Holy See, Father Valentin Viguera, has suggested that the years leading up to this great jubilee be marked by a theme. For 2007 he proposes our Holy Founder, Saint Francis de Sales. In a letter from his feast, 24 January 2007, Father Viguera suggests that we disseminate the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales in a variety of ways. In the spirit of this request, our blog will post a feature about Saint Francis on the 24th of every month. In this first post, our archivist, Sister Mada-anne, reflects upon one of her favorite quotations:
"St. Francis de Sales wrote frequently about work.Here's a favorite: 'Flies trouble us by their numbers,not their strength; in the same way, little things trouble us more than great things by their very number. Accept the duties that come to you peacefully, taking them one by one . . .' The Georgetown Visitation Monastery Archives contain--literally--millions of manuscripts and papers, some important, some not. All of them must be preserved and catalogued so that the information they contain will be accessible to researchers and scholars. Even more important to the community is the archivist's duty to make sure that the traditions of the monastery itself are handed down from generation to generation intact, and that's a challenge, but also, fun! The office of Archivist is a dream job, especially since it also involves keeping track of the art works in the community. This is a favorite: (note the statue she is touching ... right next to the mouse pad featuring our Holy Founders) a marvelous woodcarving of St. Francis de Sales done in1985 and presented to the sisters by its creator, artist Nancy Hanel. This wonderfully lively statue presides over the archives, with occasional forays into the chapel, or the choir, or the schoolroom--a most important reminder of our living heritage, and, incidentally, the all time favorite of the archivist. "
Coming soon (coming eventually...) a video tour of the new monastery archives.
23 February 2007
20 February 2007
15 February 2007
Interestingly, the Church has made him the patron saint of toy-makers. (Does anybody know why? We sure don't!)
In the Heart of Jesus God shows that he wants to be understood in his absolute desire to love, forgive and save; in the Heart of Jesus God teaches that the Church, in her ministry and Magisterium, must always be loving and sensitive, never aggressive or oppressive, although she must always condemn evil and correct error; in the Heart of Jesus God has us understand that it is necessary to share in his work of salvation through the "apostolate of prayer'' and "commitment to reparation."
Pope John Paul II - On the canonization of St. Claude in 1992
13 February 2007
11 February 2007
A reader wrote in asking how, in the Salesian tradition, we reconcile a docility to the will of God with the "liberty of spirit" which is found in the writings of St. Francis de Sales. A fabulous question!
To clarify, St. Francis de Sales speaks of the two wills of God. He suggests that we refer to those things which we know the Lord wants us to do as His "signified will" and those things which the Lord permits (but does not necessarily desire) as His "permissive" will. Amid the Lord's permissive will (such as finding the copy machine jammed when we are in a hurry -- to use an everyday example) we are encouraged to remember and observe the Lord's signified will. Surely the Lord did not desire the copy machine to jam; he did, however, permit it to become jammed. As we struggle to accept this, we are encouraged to remember the precepts of good Christian behavior ... such as refraining from the temptation to dismember the person whom we suspect may have caused such a mini-disaster.
Within this context of striving to accept the circumstances in which we find ourselves, how does "liberty of spirit" fit? An example or two of this spiritual gift:
There are suggested methods of introducing a Visitandine novice to a deeper method of prayer when she begins her formation. There is, however, a note in our constitutions that if some other method of prayer seems to work more effectively for one particular novice, the novice mistress, using her judgment, should have a great liberty of spirit to encourage this.
An everyday example: in our rule of life, we are obliged to make one hour of meditation prior to the first community exercise of the day and one half hour in the afternoon. In addition, we are to make one half hour of spiritual reading at some time during the day. Perhaps a sister intended to make her spiritual reading at 4.30pm in the Chapel. If, shortly into her reading, she discovered a guest entering the chapel who needed to be consoled, we hope she would have the liberty of spirit to approach the visitor and ask if she could be of help. And more so, that she would have the liberty of spirit to see her response to circumstances which the Lord permitted as a service, a prayer pleasing to the Lord. Surely one would not plan to do spiritual reading at a time when we expect a visitor -- but, rather, we would try to have the inner freedom to accept the circumstances which we cannot control and allow the Lord to use us as He pleases.
Liberty of spirit is a freedom of heart that allows us to detach ourselves from the "outcome" that we would like to see in a given situation. Perhaps the sister, setting out to do her spiritual reading at 4.30pm, had imagined herself finishing a certain chapter in her book by the time the bell for Vespers is rung. Through the grace of liberty of spirit, however, she is detached from that "outcome" and open to whatever the Lord's permissive will has in store.
St. Jane de Chantal
07 February 2007
04 February 2007
It was a thrill to watch Sister look around the "new" monastery after we deposited her luggage in her new room. Below, she is pictured with Mother Philomena and Sister Mary Roberta in the background.
While she was visiting her village in Lare, Kenya, Sister Rosemarie was able to see, firsthand, the progress of the Mercy Center Project which she, an ocean away from her home, initiated through the generous benefactors who helped her.
Stay tuned for a tour of the new archives and more "new monastery" photos -- coming this week!