30 July 2008

A Nun Walked into a Bar . . .

It sounds like the beginning of a joke. It could be, but in this case, it is not. On 12 August, one of our number will be speaking about "Freedom vs. Obedience" at the Office of Young Adult Ministry's (Archdiocese of Washington) Theology on Tap program. We'll keep readers guessing who it is (unless you'd like to download the flyer.)

We might consider for a moment what our holy father, Saint Francis de Sales, might say about this. Considering that he earned his title "Patron Saint of Journalists" not by the voluminous writings he produced but, rather, by his act of slipping handwritten copies of his sermons under the doors of those who did not attend Mass, we would like to think that he might welcome an opportunity to share the faith in a setting where Church-goers and non-Church-goers alike gather to listen, discuss, and be challenged in their daily living.

Any locals who attend will most likely see sister drinking a glass of her signature "room temperature" water but we have a little joke about nuns and beer we would like to share, given the content of this post. We take no offense at this and hope that the same is true for our readers. Enjoy!
While shopping in a food store,
two nuns happened to pass by the beer, wine, and liquor section.
One asked the other if she would like a beer.
The second nun answered that indeed, it would be very nice to have one,
but that she would feel uncomfortable about purchasing it.
The first nun replied that she would handle that without a problem.
She picked up a six pack and took it to the cashier.
The cashier had a surprised look, so the nun said
"This is for washing our hair."
Without blinking an eye, the cashier reached under the counter and put a
package of pretzel sticks in the bag with the beer and said "The curlers are on me."

26 July 2008

A Day in the Life . . .

. . . of a retreatant: pray, eat, rest, read, walk outside, repeat. So far this summer we've welcomed 6 retreatants and we expect a few more before the school year starts up again. A cursory check of the above picture shows one of our magnolia trees, our second cemetery (iron crosses in the back left) and an outdoor swing (back right). A careful study of the picture, however, reveals a happy retreatant in the tree.

If a retreatant's schedule is of interest to any of our locals, email us to schedule some quiet time for prayer and rest (and some pretty good food!)

"We pray best before beauty!"
St. Francis de Sales

22 July 2008

"Bean" Busy!

Some of us have "bean" busy in the garden: feeding the mosquitoes (and spiders) as well as the squirrels. Once upon a time, in a garden very close by, the bipeds and squirrels could race for ripened fruit. And then, just a few years ago, the squirrels became more simple, less picky, and they began to eat the fruit just as it began to ripen. Now, the squirrels have decided that they are tired of sharing their fruit with the selfish bipeds who live in the building which lies in the shadow of their trees . . . and they have decided to eat green tomatoes (unfried, too!) So, the bipeds have worked out a very equitable solution: the squirrels can have ALL the tomatoes that have teeth marks in them (which are MANY!) and the bipeds can have all those that don't. Needless to say, the kitchen windowsills are loaded with ripening tomatoes (since the tomatoes are picked as soon as they reach their full size and just before they develop teeth marks.)

A somewhat defeated Sister Anne E holds up a half-eaten tomato.

On a brighter note, it seems that our squirrel friends do not like peppers, onions, leeks, basil, lemon verbena or sage. Above, Sister Leonie Therese prepares to trim the "rosary beans" (technically called "red-seeded asparagus string beans") which mature between 12" and 18". They look nifty tossed into spaghetti and they can also be braided and baked as a side dish. Thankfully, our furry friends have not yet discovered them!

18 July 2008

A "Moving" Feast

In dioceses of the United States, the Commemoration of St. Camillus de Lellis is moved from the anniversary of his death, 14th July (to allow for the Memorial of Bl. Kateri), to the 18th. As we recall this patron of doctors and of the sick who himself suffered from in infirm leg, an injury sustained in battle, it is a good reminder for us to recognize and to minister to the sick among us.
Some of us are daily surrounded with the physically sick who need our care. Others of us may not have the physically sick in our midst but surely we have people in our lives who suffer from spiritual or emotional maladies. It is not always easy to care for those who suffer. Often a person who is physically ill or who is spiritually sick and, perhaps, feels rejected or hurt can be unpleasant when approached. Yet, when one considers that it is Christ whom we serve in our suffering brothers and sisters, the inconvenience of an ill temper or the sting of having our kindness rejected or received ungratefully is easier to bear. The Lord will not ask us how our service to His people was received ... He will ask only how it was rendered. St. Francis de Sales suggests that performing our acts of charity -- all our actions, really -- in a spirit of devotion will help us to accept the sometimes challenging circumstances which we may encounter when caring for the sick.
"The world, looking on, sees that devout persons . . . minister to the sick and poor, restrain their temper, . . . and do many other things which in themselves are hard and difficult. But the world sees nothing of that inward, heartfelt devotion which makes all these actions pleasant and easy."
St. Francis de Sales

14 July 2008

What Next?

Even if this were only a joke -- and a joke in very bad taste, at that -- one would be convinced of the urgent need to pray for all those who do not believe that man is created with an immortal soul. It seems, from the CNN report, that the peddler was really interested in collecting on his soul ... and the unfortunate appellation of the pizza joint which purchased the deed is a mere suggestion of the agony awaiting those who may be tempted to treat immortality with such disrespect: more than greasy pizza and, likely, a different kind of heartburn.

All kidding aside, it is hard to miss the fact that this story originates in New Zealand, very close to where World Youth Day 2008 is will begin tomorrow morning. Perhaps it is a gentle reminder to pray for all those who will be participating in the event and all those whose lives will be touched (even if inadvertently) by the pilgrims, the prayer, the witness and all the events of these days. May World Youth Day 2008 and its "afterglow" be far-reaching and long-lasting in the work of preaching the Kingdom of God on earth and drawing many minds and hearts closer to the Lord.

10 July 2008

A Helping Hand

On Tuesday morning, Father Valentin Viguera, SDB, our religious assistant to the Vatican arrived for his official visit. Tuesday evening he shared with us photos of different Visitation monasteries he has visited in Africa, Spain and Central and South America. On Wednesday, Father gave us two conferences; perhaps the highlight was his discussion of the spiritual virtues which are most important to our life as Visitandines. During his conference he used his hand as a tool for us to remember the virtues about which he spoke. The palm, he explained is essential; without the abnegation of our own will, we cannot embrace the will of God and live out the virtues which are represented by the fingers. Beginning with the pointer finger, the virtues he discussed are: accepting God's Good Pleasure in all circumstances, humility, gentleness, simplicity and joy in the common life. All were impressed with the originality and clarity of this "handy" tool which Father (through our faithful interpreter, Sister Leonie Therese) explained during his second conference. The hand -- and all its virtues -- will, no doubt, become the subject of many future discussions in community. We are grateful to Father Viguera for his time spent with us and his interest in the Visitation.

"The spirit of this little congregation is one of gentleness, littleness, simplicity and poverty; we should not depart from this, but so completely subject our inclinations to its spirit . . . always allowing gentleness and humility to prevail in what we say or do."
St. Francis de Sales

06 July 2008

Fair Trade

In today's Gospel, Our Lord invites us to take up his yoke and learn from his gentle and humble heart. The weary are invited to approach him and (one can only presume) trade their heavy loads for his light burden. Hardly a fair trade -- but such a bargain for the unworthy mortal!
Surely each of us can think of someone we know who has been relieved of a burden: perhaps a mended relationship, a project completed, a responsibility removed, etc. There is a often a visible sign of a person's relief: steps are lighter, smiles come more easily -- an all-around air of gratitude. It is this to which the Lord invites us today. Our responsibilities and concerns will not disappear when we respond to the Lord's invitation to approach him, but they will be disarmed of their power over our hearts and our peace of mind.
We can only take up the sweet burden of the Lord if we first lay down what is already on our shoulders so that, in wearing his yoke, we may learn to become more like him who is gentle and humble of heart. When we surrender our own burden to wear his yoke, we know that our burden cannot help but to be lighter because it is shared . . . for it is his yoke and it is the Lord to whom we are joined.

"Certainly nothing can humble us so effectually before the mercy of God as the multitude of His benefits . . . the lively consideration of graces received makes us humble because a knowledge of them excites gratitude."
St. Francis de Sales

02 July 2008

Patriotic Preparations

As we prepare for our annual 4th of July family (and friends) picnic, we share a few happy memories from our Memorial Day cook out. While we were preparing for the picnic, we realized that the only indoor/outdoor tablecloths we have are for Halloween: unusual but practical decor for a patriotic picnic!

We were blessed to have with us two vocational retreatants during the month of May. In addition to the phenomenal table-rolling skills of our sisters, the video portrays an impromptu "air instrument" contest. (We would have called it an "air guitar" contest, but it features mostly air piano and air drums ... evidencing that a good time was had by all.) Click play for a two-minute visit to our Memorial Day festivities.