28 September 2008

Field of Dreams

...if you build it they will come. And come they did: in droves! All summer long the dump trucks drove up St. Joseph's drive to deliver dirt, seed, sod and other needed ingredients to help make the (re)dedication of our Moore Field a dream come true. This year's Sports Saturday found us blessing the newly-completed soccer (and soon to be softball) field. In addition to evening the slope of the field and adding length to bring our soccer field closer to regulation proportions, the field renovations also made room for "mezzanine" level seating for soccer and softball fans. Prior to the renovation, fans either watched from the upper deck (also known as the St. Joe's parking lot) or the field level bleachers (provided one could run -- or slide -- down the hill without sustaining an injury). Now, between our upper deck and field level seating, there is a lovely "terrace" with Adirondack chairs and low-rise bleachers. With accommodations this good, we might need crowd control at Moore Field! The development office and the athletic department make a great team!

Mr. Kerns (with Moore field behind him) invites the soccer and softball coaches to come forward as Mother Mary Berchmans prepares to read a prayer during the ceremony.

Also in attendance, among some of the sisters, was Nicholas, the monastery guard dog who is sporting his softball uniform shirt.

We don't know what St. Francis de Sales thought of soccer and softball, but he did have a few things to say about recreations which include "field sports." As always, the message of moderation is clear in his words of wisdom:

"It is a great mistake to be so strict as to grudge any recreation either to others or one’s self. . . . Walking, harmless games, field sports, etc., are such entirely lawful recreations that they need no rules beyond those of ordinary discretion, which keep every thing within due limits of time, place, and degree. So again games of skill, which exercise and strengthen body or mind, such as tennis, running at the ring, chess, and the like, are in themselves both lawful and good. Only one must avoid excess, either in the time given to them, or the amount of interest they absorb for if too much time be given up to such things, they cease to be a recreation and become an occupation."
St. Francis de Sales

24 September 2008

Leftover Meatballs

Sunday was a Salesian double-header for us. We had our Salesian family Mass at 10am, attended by over 200 guests and our meatball supper in the evening which drew some 30 plus locals for Vespers and supper. Highlights included Sister Philomena's top-secret response to the "What do the nuns do all day?" question ... we can't tell secrets on the internet but inside sources report that "dancing" was part of her response?!?! Curious readers will have to attend next year's supper or stay tuned for an up-coming excerpt from her comments. :)
A pre and post-supper attraction was the "Picture Yourself with Us" display where guests were able to pose as part of a life-sized group of sisters and see what they might look like in a habit. Nearly all the guests took a turn "stepping-up" to the display. In fact, in addition to the many women who tried in on for size, three men joined in the fun. Among them, a certain head-of-school and a venerable Monsignor -- we promise not to tell the archbishop which Monsignor.

Below, author (guest and set-up helper) Dawn Eden prepares to pose as a Visitandine.

Below, one of our alumnae tries it on for size.

One observer suggested using the picture as a "change of address" postcard (not to mention a change of wardrobe notification as well!) Some guests looked a bit more natural than others when posing ... pictured below is one for whom the ensemble seems to be a good fit. Even St. Jane de Chantal (standing behind her) appears to be smiling in agreement.

20 September 2008

Nuns With Clubs

No, it's not a game of bridge or even of hearts . . . it's our school's annual club fair!

Normally each freshman preregisters for a co-curricular club of her choice but our upperclassmen are free to "shop around" at the club fair with dozens of co-curricular clubs such as Model United Nations, Science Fair, Booster Club, Triathalon Club and the Environmental Club. Also on display at the club fair were after school clubs and "full time clubs" such as "The Wicket" (school newspaper) and the chorus.

Sisters were well represented at the fair with Sister Leonie Therese recruiting new members for her art club and Sister Maureen de Chantal, pictured below, discussing the Salesian Leadership Club with a potential member. Sister Mary Roberta and Sister Philomena (see below) signed up a record number of girls for the Thursday after school Rosary club and Sister Anne E is squinting into the sun as she attempts to lure students to the dodgeball table with a bag of twizzlers. Stay tuned for future posts about nuns with clubs!

16 September 2008

God the Visitor

In today's Gospel we hear the townspeople's reaction to the miraculous healing of the widow's son. The crowd proclaims that "God has visited his people." For Christians, it is not hard to see the larger context which points toward the approaching death and resurrection of our Lord. In the "smaller picture," however, the townspeople tell us something insightful in their reaction to the miracle they witnessed: it is easy to forget that God is always with his people.
Surely the crowd's reaction is one of joy -- at the widow's grief consoled, of surprise -- at the Lord's power over death and, possibly, of fear. One can almost get a sense of the crowd looking toward God because God answered their prayers (or, at least the prayers of the widow of Nain). There is a temptation to use the word "miracle" only when the God does our will: when our prayers are answered. Is it no less a miracle when we do His will? Sometimes it means accepting the circumstances that befall us -- those things which we cannot change -- the vicissitudes of daily life that St. Francis de Sales so aptly named God's permissive will. God indeed visits his people: always. God is always with his people; it is for us to accept the reality that His ways are not always our ways, but He is no less with us amid suffering than He is amid consolation. If anything, our suffering affords us a space in which to welcome Him even closer.
"Now, whatever we accept simply because it is God's will is acceptable in His Sight, so long as we accept it heartily and out of love:—the less of self the more of God — and a single-hearted acceptance of God's will purifies any suffering very greatly."
St. Francis de Sales

12 September 2008

The Terrorist in Our Basement

Seven years ago this day found us at a loss for words. How does one explain what happened on that Tuesday morning which began as usual but unraveled into tragedy before lunch. The following day we had a school Mass to pray for healing of all those affected by the terrorist attacks. In the month that followed the 9/11 attacks, one of our sisters, giving a tour of the monastery crypt, was struck by the life-history of one of the crypt's "permanent residents."
Buried in a sarcophagus (pictured above surrounded by Latin students and their teacher) -- which is inscribed in Latin and littered with oddly-placed French accent marks -- is the Rev. Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoëlan de Clorivière, called the second founder of our monastery on account of his success in erecting buildings and his expertise in educational leadership. He can also be called a "terrorist." Prior to coming to this country and studying for the priesthood, Father Clorivière was responsible for the death of over 50 innocent bystanders as part of a failed-attempt to assassinate Napoleon on Christmas Eve 1800.
On this side of eternity, we will never know what happened between Clorivière's involvement with Royalists, the fateful night which caused him to go into hiding for several months before escaping to the United States and his ordination as a priest. One, however, can only surmise that some profound conversion and transformation of life took place. This history does not ease the pain of 9/11 but it does instill a renewed sense of wonderment at the mysterious ways of the Lord. For we can never predict what will become of someone who opens himself fully to the Lord's will. Having a "terrorist" as our second founder and the namesake of one of our three monastery bells (a story for another post) makes it difficult to condemn those who commit acts of violence; it is not ours to condemn, it is only ours to commit them to the Lord's justice and mercy -- in prayer and in deed.

08 September 2008

Hellooooooo Hannah !

If we were counting the "never a dull moment in the monastery" posts, we'd be up to five or six by now. Yesterday, we were visited by Hurricane Hannah who arrived around 8.30am and left in the late afternoon. When she departed she took our electricity with her. We share some pictures from our adventures in the dark.

Above, Sister Leonie Therese washes supper dishes with the help of a flashlight. We had a few large flashlights around the refectory to help light our supper since our refectory windows are under the second floor porch and receive little afternoon light. Our choir was too dark for Evening Prayer so we prayed in our Assembly room where northerly windows provided ample light to sing the office. Below, Sister Jacqueline uses her flashlight to read the newspaper to Sister Raphael in the St. Joseph workroom.

Sister Philomena adjusts the impromptu-chandelier (mounted area light) so that Sister Rose can see well enough to sign a thank-you note to one of our generous benefactors.

04 September 2008

Shameless Promotion

Many folks have been heard to wonder: “What do the nuns do all day?” We thought we'd put an end to some of the wondering and invite people to pray with us and have supper while we share a bit about the life of our community. The evening will include Vespers, supper and a short program. Attendees will have an opportunity to “picture themselves” as a sister of the Visitation and will receive a souvenir Monastery stadium cup. Locals who would like more information or to sign up can email us at GVMonastery (at) gmail.com. Non-locals can email for a copy of our Monastery DVD; we can't package up the spaghetti and meatballs (and nuns) but we can send along the "window into our life" part of the evening.