28 April 2008

Promoting Chastity

Several weeks ago we were privileged to welcome local author Dawn Eden for a visit. She shared with us some of her adventures promoting the very worthy cause of chastity among young adults. Her 2007 account of her own journey to chastity is a compelling and realistic witness for young women (and men) today. Judging by the title, it might sound as though it were penned by the famous cartoon Road Runner, escaping the antics of Wile E. Coyote. To the contrary, it is written by an intrepid soul who chronicles her escape from the world of empty pleasures and her new-found delight and deep joy in living chastely.

Buy a copy for your favorite college-bound high school senior: a priceless gift for any young woman you care about.

Ms. Eden just finished her first ever high school tour, having recently visited at least five high schools (gleaning from her three posts) in Ontario, Canada. Hats -- err, veils -- off to such an inspiring member of what Pope John Paul II prayed would be the new evangelization.

24 April 2008

Lasting Joy

"I have told you this to that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete."

One of the most consistent themes in the talks and homilies delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during his recent visit to the United States was that of joy. He spoke about how those who live in hope live differently. Repeatedly, he emphasized the importance of joy as a mark of one who follows the Lord closely.

Perhaps one of the major differences between happiness and joy is that one need not always be "happy" to be full of joy. Surely no one is happy to sit in traffic or find the innards of the photocopy machine jammed with paper. Few people are happy when circumstances beyond their control make them late for an appointment or a meeting. When we live with joy, we see God's hand in these circumstances. Hopefully, we don't see His had jamming the copier, but we see Him permitting us to suffer this or that little inconvenience. Sometimes the events which might make us unhappy are bigger than traffic jams. It is a deep sense of the Lord's presence in each event of our lives -- big or small -- which allows a disciple to be full of joy.

"In everything good or ill that befalls you, dear Sisters, see only the will of God. Then whatsoever the event you will always be tranquil because you will have no love, no desire other than that of God's will. If you keep close to God's will, he will give you light and strength."
St. Jane de Chantal

20 April 2008

The Pilgrims' Journal

On Thursday morning at 6.40am, we boarded a "mini-bus" with visiting sisters from our Monastery in Rockville, VA as well as a few friends of the monastery. Our faithful driver dropped us at the "First Base Gate" at National Stadium and, against all odds, was able to meet us in the exact same place, after Mass was ended! It's hard to attend an event with 46,000 other (mostly-local) Catholics and not meet many people whom we know. Prior to Mass, we bumped into our very own Papal Communicant, a member of our class of 2008. In addition, we met many alumnae, parents, friends, priests and fellow religious. In addition, we ran into several groups of our seniors who attended the Mass with faculty and administrators.
The sound of this humble video leaves a bit to be desired, but since only "still" cameras were allowed in the stadium, we captured -- as best we could -- the joy and enthusiasm of the event, to share with our readers. :)

16 April 2008

Section 135

Hiding behind the right field foul pole is a Visitation sister, looking somewhat drawn, awaiting the gates to open at Nationals Park. In addition to 130 students and faculty, ten sisters will be making their way to the new baseball stadium early on Thursday morning. Although we do not know exactly where we will be sitting, our tickets say "Section 135." If the Holy Father hits a deep foul ball, we might just be in a good position to make a catch. All kidding aside, we are very grateful to the Chancery office for their distribution of tickets to religious of the Archdiocese of Washington. Stay tuned for photos from our "Pilgrimage" to Nationals Park.
"I am convinced that without the power of prayer, without that intimate union with the Lord, our human endeavours would achieve very little. Indeed this is what our faith teaches us. It is God who saves us, he saves the world, and all of history. He is the Shepherd of his people. I am coming, sent by Jesus Christ, to bring you his word of life. "
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

12 April 2008

Bring on the Spring!

Last Friday our senior class and our Fathers' club sponsored a service afternoon where dads, daughters and sisters (and some brave faculty members) donned gloves and aprons and helped beautify some of the more neglected areas of the monastery garden. Above, gloves and tools are abandoned for a group picture and a gold/white Twinkie eating contest. We do have pictures of that, but thought -- in good taste -- it might be better not to share them in this post. We can report, however, that the white team duo claimed the victory with a belly-busting 11 Twinkies in 60 seconds. (And gold wasn't far behind at 10!)

Above, Sister Rosemarie and her gardenin' angels pause for the roving camera. More pictures to come from this most delightful and fruitful afternoon of work.

"The Sister Gardener is to be very careful in keeping herself provided with all seeds and necessary plants, and have plenty of cooling herbs for the soups, . . . and likewise medicinal herbs."
St. Jane de Chantal

08 April 2008

A New Line of Spring Clothes

At 3.15 yesterday, our postulant, Catherine, was received into the novitiate and clothed in the habit. We share here a few photos from the ceremony that took place prior to a Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated at 4.00pm in our Chapel of the Sacred Heart, marking Sister Catherine's first "public appearance" in her new attire.
At left, Catherine is pictured on her way into the community room for her Reception. The chore of keeping her white shirts clean and ironed will now be replaced by keeping her white veil in order: a happy trade-off for most novices!

Above, the community assembles and reviews the ceremony prior to singing the opening hymn.

Catherine kneels before Mother Philomena and asks to begin her novitiate and receive her habit.

After a (remarkably) brief period of time, Sister Catherine -- escorted by Sister Leonie Therese -- emerges from the wardrobe in her habit.

Finally, Sister Catherine is welcomed by the community with the kiss of peace.

Thank you to all of our extended Visitation family who attended Mass and shared in our celebration.

"It is quite certain that when God calls anyone to a state of life, He binds Himself, in consequence, by His divine Providence, to furnish that person with all the aids required to become perfect in his vocation."

St. Francis de Sales

04 April 2008

Ex Nihil

Out of nothing the Lord produces great things. Today's Gospel account about the feeding of the 5,000 using the meager loaves and fishes is a wonderful example of how the Lord will take our small and humble offerings -- if we make ourselves available -- and bear fruit beyond any harvest that we could imagine.
In 1962, President Kennedy hosted a dinner at the White House for Nobel Prize Winners and he quipped that it was the "greatest collection of intellect to dine [t]here since Thomas Jefferson ate [t]here alone." Each of us of us knows at least one "Thomas Jefferson" in our lives -- someone whose little finger seems to contain more talent than most of our bodies. It can be very tempting to look at these talents and to compare them to the gifts which the Lord has given us. We may even be tempted to believe that those with more visible (or a seemingly more useful array of) natural talents are more important or more successful in Lord's work of building the Kingdom.
Not so. Not so at all. The Lord sees the manner in which we offer our talents; even if we esteem them to be less-than-adequate, the Lord will produce great works for His kingdom -- if we let Him. Let us pray for the grace to place our gifts at the service of the Kingdom with great trust in the Lord's ability to do great deeds with small and loving offerings.
"If often happens that a person, mean and feeble both in body and mind, and who only attempts small things, will do them with so much charity that they far surpass the merit of great and exalted actions."
St. Francis de Sales