28 November 2008

Belated Halloween Video

We are a little belated in sharing these highlights with our readers, but we trust that they are still as amusing as they were almost a month ago. Our dear Sister Raphael shares her birthday with the celebration of All Hallows ... and she enjoys every minute of it. This year, our Sister Mada-anne -- in a creative monologue -- appeared to Sister Raphael in a one-nun-skit as a talking lighthouse. (Sister Raphael is very fond of lighthouses!) Later in the skit, the rest of the community donned masks of Sister Raphael. Amid the frivolity and eutrepalia Sister Raphael was heard to exclaim, "I'm being faced with myself!" Do enjoy a two-minute visit to Sister's birthday party!

24 November 2008

Renewal of Vows

On Friday, as we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, we observed our custom of renewing our vows during Mass and signing our vow book during the day. Pictured above is the 1816 vow book as it waits for the next sister to approach it to rewrite and sign her vows.

Having the book out of its glass case for a day is a real treat. One stumbles upon many fascinating pages as she follows the handwritten numbers in the top-right corner of the pages to locate her own page. The very beginning of the book bears the traditional inscription of every Visitation vow book which is taken from the original manuscript in Annecy, written by St. Francis de Sales in 1611. Below is an excerpt from one of our Holy Father's aspirations for Our Order:

"O true God, who will grant me grace for the Almighty to hear my desire that He Himself should write this book, so that I may carry it on my shoulders and put it about me as a crown? . . . Yes, Lord Jesus, hear the cry of my heart for your servants: may you yourself write in this book, and may no Sister ever write her name in it except by your inspiration and in response to your call . . . . In all my soul's aspirations to you I shall call out all the names written in it, and this roll-call will be a hymn of joy and praise to offer up to your Divine Providence as a bouquet of sweet fragrance."
St. Francis de Sales

20 November 2008

Shhhhhh .... Sisters at Prayer

"Every year, on November twenty-first, Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, after three days of recollection, all the sisters publicly renew their religious vows, although simply as an act of devotion."
Constitutions of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, chapter XXXII

It may be "simply as an act of devotion" but is, indeed, an important day in the life of our monastery. The 1816 vow book, in which the founding sisters of our monastery wrote their vows, comes out of its glass case and is placed on a table in front of the altar. During Mass we all recite a short renewal formula and then, all during the day, the sisters have a chance to sign their page in the vow book. We even have a visitor's page for sisters who are away from their monastery on this feast and renew their vows with us.

It is fitting -- and particularly meaningful for us -- that November 21st has also been named a day "pro orantibus" -- for those who pray and, in particular, the Church prays for cloistered religious. We leave off here with a prayer from St. Francis de Sales' instructions as he founded our Order:

"Grant, O Jesus, holy and sweet love of our souls, that the year in which each Sister shall inscribe her oblation in this book may be a year of sanctification for her; the day, a day of salvation, the hour an hour of lasting benediction."

16 November 2008

AU: Amazing University Students

Just yesterday we were privileged to have 12 AU (that now stands for "Amazing" university students) join us for a day-long discernment retreat. In the morning the group looked at the three vocations of marriage, religious life and a committed single life and in the afternoon they filled their tool bags with some "tools for discernment."

Among the first things that these young women learned (and it wasn't even on the outline for their retreat day) was that there is never a dull moment at the monastery. Yesterday was also our annual Gold-White intramural field hockey game where students battle for "team points" in a hockey game after a rousing pep rally and dance contest. The AU retreatants were informed that they were to be rooting for the gold team; it was a natural choice since the sisters who spent the day with them are all members of the (winning) gold team. We were a bit sad to learn that one of our amazing students was strong-armed into being a white-team supporter.

Please note the large blue area at the bottom of the group picture. It might amuse our faithful readers to know that there were two cameras on self-timer set to photograph the group; one camera was on a 5 pound box of Twizzlers, atop a tin of popcorn and the camera that caught this picture was resting upon a 5 gallon water-cooler jug, balanced on its narrow end. Can readers guess which two subjects in the picture below were the two who came running (er, diving in one instance) into the picture with seconds to spare?

12 November 2008

A Peek at the Bazaar

We should probably have titled this post, "A Peek at the sisters at the Bazaar" for we share here some "action" shots of our "Salesnuns" at work. We are sorry not to have pictures of the sisters on the moonbounce but the "take of your shoes and your glasses" sign scared some of us away. Maybe next year!

Mother Mary Berchmans talks to an alumna about the Visitation history book she is selling.

Sister Leonie Therese makes friends and sales. (The camera just missed her modeling one of her brightly-colored scarves!)

Sister Anne Francis minds the "Vocation Visibility Booth" and offers free copies of our ten-minute vocational DVD as well as "Prayer Warrior" magnets.

Sister Maureen assists a customer at her table. So many cards to choose from ... so hard to decide which ones to buy!

A sincere thanks to all our Visi moms (and dads) and volunteers who helped to make Esprit de Noel 2008 such a success!

08 November 2008

Bazaar Weekend

Don't worry, we haven't adopted green habits or striped stockings; this is the Esprit de Noel Elf who can be found on just about every signpost on campus. She directs shoppers and volunteers to food, vendors, the (very popular) used book sale and other features of our annual Christmas Bazaar, one of our school's first fund-raisers of the year.

Among countless vendors, one can find the sisters selling their own creations. Sister Leonie Therese is raffling off a hand-painted night table and peddling her embroidery work; Sister Rosemarie is raising money for the Mercy Project, which helps families in her native village of Lare in Kenya; Sister Maureen has added a host of new items to her stationery creations and Mother Mary Berchmans can be found selling copies of the Visitation history book, recently updated and republished in 2004. Stay tuned for pictures of the sisters at work at the bazaar!

04 November 2008


Thanks to the diocese of Wilmington, Bishop Malooley, and his predecessor, Bishop Saltarelli, for issuing (and re-issuing) this prayer. Pray! (and vote!)

If you haven't already seen it (or heard it), EWTN hosted a 13-part series on St. Thomas More. Although it was only available through 31 October, Jay Anderson has the files available here.

Litany of St. Thomas More,
Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers

V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ, have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ hear us
R. Christ, graciously hear us

V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr,
R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Spare us O Lord
V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Graciously hear us O Lord
V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Have mercy on us

Let us pray:

O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life - the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.