30 October 2007

Trick or Treat!

Travel with us for 2 and a half minutes! As promised, we have a little video account of the Visi Vocation Van's trip to the Franciscan University of Steubenville. We gratefully acknowledge the use of free music and sound effects thanks to PacDV.

You may also find this video on YouTube.

26 October 2007

Fair Play

This post hails from Stuebenville, Ohio -- the city of Murals. Readers can rest assured (as can our community) that the "Visi Vocation Van" arrived at the Super 8 last night with all passengers and cargo intact -- Deo Gratias. Last night we paid a visit to the 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel of St. Mary of the Angels. Outside the chapel, Sister Rose found a beautiful nativity scene which is located near the tomb of the unborn child -- a very moving outdoor oratory.

Sister also discovered that our modest accommodations include wireless Internet service -- so we can share a few photos of our adventure along the way!

At 6.30am Mass, we were delighted (but not surprised) to find a chapel full of students and visiting religious. The Vocations Fair began at setting up at 9.00, welcomed students at 11.00 and ended a little after 5.00. Below is a picture of our table.

There were many interesting exhibits at the fair. The Salesians, (not picture in the photo, located directly to our left) were giving away yo-yos and the Benedictine monks of St. Vincent's Archabbey were spinning yarn (in addition to recruiting vocations!)

After the fair ended a number of vocation directors and students gathered for Adoration in the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels. We should have a short video with highlights from the fair posted sometime next week. Stay tuned to see Sister Rosemarie try her hand at a yo-yo!

24 October 2007

I is for Infectious

This month's spotlight on St. Francis de Sales is from the pen (er, keyboard!) of our Sister Maureen de Chantal. One could say that Salesian Spirituality is infectious ... and anyone who spends any time with Sister Maureen is bound to discover this!
Forty years ago, I was a student here at Visitation. Back then, I knew that St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales had founded the Order, but there was little or nothing taught about Salesian spirituality in any formal way. The spirit of our Founders as well as the Visitation charism were both something that we “caught” from the example of the sisters. Their lives demonstrated a love of God and a gentle love for each of us, and we were grateful. At that time one of my teachers gave me a holy card with a quote from St. Francis de Sales on it:

"Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Everlasting Father who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."

Thirty-two years after graduating from Georgetown Visitation, I returned, this time as a postulant. Last December I made my solemn vows. I know much more about St. Francis de Sales now, and I try to live his practical spirituality every day: Live in the present moment, be aware of the presence of God in my every day ordinary life, offer Him each moment and action in my life. And I share it – with love- with my students.

May God be Praised!

20 October 2007

Mass Exodus!

On Thursday morning, we will have a double-departure. Several sisters will be headed to our Federation Meeting just outside of Wheeling, WV and our Sister Rosemarie and Sister Anne E will head to the Franciscan University of Steubenville for their annual vocations fair. As usual, our artwork does not accurately represent all details; we must admit that our "Visi Vocation Van" does not have our monogram on the side ... but readers can be certain that, true to the picture, Sister Rosemarie will be doing a lot of praying in the car -- especially if Sister Anne E is behind the wheel.

To learn more about the FUS Vocation Fair, click here for their press release.

16 October 2007

Feast of St. Margaret Mary

Setting up the Choir for the Great Feast!
On 27th December 1673 St. Margaret Mary had an unusually quiet day in the infirmary, where she worked as an aide. With a little more time than usual on her hands, she slipped into the Chapel to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. It was then that Our Lord blessed her with her first revelation of His Most Sacred Heart.
In her own words, she tells us:

"And so once, when I was before the Blessed Sacrament and had more leisure than usual, for the duties given me left very little, I found myself surrounded by this divine presence, but so powerfully that I forgot where I was and who I was, and I abandoned myself to this divine Spirit, surrendering my heart to the power of His love."
Very few of us are privileged to have such experiences of the Lord (at least on this side of eternity!) but all of us are invited to seek him as earnestly as St. Margaret Mary did. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects about this first revelation is that St. Margaret Mary had a few extra minutes on her hands and sought to spend them with the Lord. There are so many different things which vie for our moments of free time. Let us follow the example of St. Margaret Mary and direct our spare moments -- of mind and heart -- to His Most Sacred Heart.

15 October 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

....but it's good!

Today has been designated "blog-action" day, to raise awareness about caring for the environment. We're not usually into the changing tides of trendy-blogging, but "green" is a worthy cause which is important to those of us who strive to live simply and waste as little as possible. This past Thursday our school celebrated Founders' Day and in her talk about "Thoughtful Concern for Others," Sister Mary Berchmans spoke about becoming more "green" in our daily life around school. At the first mention of it, a round of applause began.

A plug for Sister Mary Berchmans' "green-credibility": just about every memo or announcement that Sister posts on the monastery bulletin board is printed on the back of a recycled piece of paper. Sometimes the information on the back is more interesting than the information on the front (just kidding!) Sister used to use the back of the school bulletin for printer paper, but since the school bulletin went "green" last year, there are very few paper copies to be had. Please join us (and 15,000 other blogs) in encouraging others to talk about (and pray for) the preservation of the environment.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

11 October 2007

Make Straight the Way of the Lord

It may seem early for an Advent theme, but some among us are making "straight paths" even amid the mild fall that we are experiencing here in Washington DC. Sister Rosemarie has been hard at work using leftover bricks to build a path in leading up to the statue of Our Lady in the monastery garden. In the far right hand corner, Nicholas the dog, takes a break from "snoopervising" and enjoys a warm fall morning.

As Sister Rosemarie builds a "path" to Mary, it is welcome reminder for us -- during this month of October -- that approaching the Lord through his Virgin Mother is a powerful way to pray. Our dear sister may be a long time finishing her path to Mary (at least until she finds a masonry saw to tidy up the edges of her bricklaying) but the rest of us can approach Our Lady instantly in moments of trial and moments of joy as we pray for the grace to be as faithful to the will of God as she was.

"Let us then, have recourse to Mary, and as her little children, cast ourselves into her bosom with perfect confidence; at all times and on all occasions let us invoke her maternal love, and strive to imitate her virtues."
St. Francis de Sales

07 October 2007

Every-birdie Gets a Blessing

On October 4th, Msgr. Duffy came 1/2 hour early for Mass so that he could bless the monastery menagerie. Sister Leonie Therese, our faithful sacristan also doubles as zoo keeper for our furry and feathered friends who live in the wardrobe (sewing room). Above, Horace the hamster inspects the ceramic animals surrounding the statue of St. Francis (who was enthroned on an ironing board for the occasion!)

Prior to the blessing, all those present sang "All Creatures of Our God and King." Pictured above are Mother Philomena and Nicholas (sporting his breast-cancer awareness collar), Sister Leonie, holding Lorenzo and Valentino and Catherine holding Horace. Father blessed the furry creatures (and nearly bathed one of the bipeds trying to sprinkle holy water on an escaping hamster) first and then the four birds (three monastery birds and one who is a boarder for a friend of the community who is in the process of moving). Below, Catherine enjoys a moment with Horace (who was not exactly amused that the blessing took place during his nightly sleep!)

03 October 2007

An Attractive Falsehood

It would seem, judging from the experiences of the young women with whom we are privileged to work -- and the rapidly-progressing technological world around us -- that there is a very attractive falsehood (read: lie) being offered by popular culture. The falsehood, which can appear under many forms, is this: if you keep all your options open (for as long as possible) you can shape a life which will be free of suffering and sacrifice.
Today's Gospel poses a sharp contrast to this tempting offer. Most folks who have lived long enough to make a few "real-life" decisions have learned that every decisive choice which is made entails closing other doors and excluding other opportunities. Choosing one college means excluding the possibility of attending other colleges. Getting married to one person means not marrying another person. Choosing to pursue a career in one field excludes other career options. Following Jesus closely means working constantly to change behaviors which are contrary to the Gospel virtues. Today's Gospel reminds us that there is no life of joy that does not have suffering and sacrifice as part of its daily drama.
The missing link, it would seem, between the empty lie that society offers -- a life of no suffering and no pain -- and the Gospel call to follow the Lord is joy. When we are happy with the choices we have made those things which may be marked as "sufferings" are far less burdensome when considered in light of an abiding joy. Most parents acknowledge that the joy of having children requires many sacrifices on their part; those same, however, parents also agree that the joys of raising children far outweigh the sacrifices they have made. And so it is with those who have left behind former ways to follow the Lord. The "painless" life the world wants to offer is a life of indecision; opportunities never seized are joys never experienced. The abiding joy that the Lord offers comes at a price, a dear price, but the joy is out of this world!
"The virtue of cheerfulness requires that we should contribute to holy and temperate joy . . . which may serve as a consolation and recreation to our neighbor so as not to annoy him with our knit brows and melancholy faces."
St. Francis de Sales