31 March 2008

Yes!

As we celebrate Mary's "Yes" in today's (transferred) Solemnity of the Annunciation, we share some profession photos from Sister Anne Francis' solemn profession earlier this month. The "Yes" theme speaks for itself!

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"Our Holy Father, Saint Francis de Sales, wished that by her profession of vows, a sister should consider herself throughout her whole life as established on Mount Calvary for the service of Jesus Christ Crucified."
St. Jane de Chantal

27 March 2008

When We Least Expect It

Like the disciples in today's Gospel, we can sometimes be surprised by the Lord's presence at moments when we least expect it. Excited and enthusiastic about their experience at Emmaus, they were describing it to the rest of the disciples when the Lord appeared in their midst. We can sometimes become so engaged with our work or our responsibilities -- happiness or sadness, busyness or boredom that we can be startled by a sudden awareness of the Lord's presence to us. Sometimes it is easy to forget that His abiding presence is always with us, even when we are too preoccupied to notice.
We have a custom in our community where at the end of our recreation period, one sister who is assigned to be the "Presence of God" for the week claps her hands and reminds the community of the Lord's presence by sharing a sentence she learned in her daily spiritual reading. It may seem odd to be reminding the community of the Lord's presence at the conclusion of a period of recreation, talking, and often laughter. It is, however, appropriate to punctuate a period of "re-creation" a time in which we renew ourselves by spending time in each other's company -- with a reminder of the presence of Him who created us. Sometimes we are so engaged in what we are doing -- recounting a story, talking about our day, telling a joke, etc., that we -- like the early disciples -- can be "surprised" by the presence of God, when sister claps her hands to remind us.
"Recreations are indispensable not only to ensure wholesome relaxation by also to foster a true family spirit. The participation of everyone is essential. Recreation is a communal exercise in which the human gifts and virtues of each one are shared."
Constitutions of the Order of the Visitation

23 March 2008

Christus Surrexit!

We are blessed to have had a deeply prayerful Triduum, concluding with our Vigil Mass last evening. Below is a two-minute window into the Easter Vigil, featuring mostly the Service of Light, the procession into the Chapel, and the lighting of the Sanctuary lamp. At our reception in the parlor, following Mass, we could not help but to recognize one of our faithful (and faith-filled) Sunday patrons as the "best dressed" for the occasion. (And the pink cup of monastery-punch just about made the picture!) We wish our readers a Happy and Holy Easter!

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"Let us be consumed on the cross that the Lord has given us and accomplish all he wills, so that at the end will will receive the grace to entrust our spirit into His hands. He will receive it as He did that of His dear and only Son, to make it rejoice in Heaven, where we will bless Him eternally for the glory that He won for us by His Death and Passion."

St. Francis de Sales

20 March 2008

Sacred Triduum 2008

For our locals who would like to join us for the liturgies during this Sacred Triduum, the schedule is as follows:

Holy Thursday:
Mass of the Lord's Supper 5.00pm (Chapel of the Sacred Heart)
Night Prayer 8.00pm
The Blessed Sacrament will be reposed until Midnight in the Ante-Choir.

Good Friday:
Office of Readings 7.30am
Morning Prayer 9.00am
Midday Prayer 12.00
Commemoration of the Lord's Passion 3.00 (Chapel of the Sacred Heart)
Night Prayer 7.15pm

Holy Saturday:
Office of Readings 7.30am
Morning Prayer 9.00am
Midday Prayer 11.40am
Evening Prayer 5.00pm
Vigil Mass in the Holy Night of Easter 8.00pm

19 March 2008

Waters of New Birth

On the eve of the Sacred Triduum in which we commemorate the death and resurrection of Our Lord, we took our dear Sister Mary Stanislaus to her place of rest.
We share here a beautiful reflection written by one of our friends. Since it was such a rainy afternoon, most of us were too busy concentrating on staying dry while being a pall bearer or carrying a sacred object (or simply balancing an umbrella and negotiating a muddy hike) to take in the larger picture. Grateful for this beautiful reflection, we share it with our readers:

"In the lovely Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Stanislaus at Georgetown Visitation Monastery today, I was again reminded how St. Francis de Sales emphasized beauty as absolutely integral to the liturgy and the design of churches and chapels for his order. Perhaps even more profoundly afterward. In wind and in pouring rain a bishop and a prior, habited nuns with cross and lantern -- and their sister's body -- family and friends all climbed a hill, chanting the Good Thief's plea to Jesus. They lay Sister's body in an earthen grave. Holy water sprinkled, prayers upon prayers, a chant to Our Lady, and the coffin lowered by ropes. The whole celebration was gutsy and important -- made so by hallowed gestures, signs and symbols. De Sales understood the importance of beauty and its impact on prayer."


(Locals who wish to attend the Triduum, check back Thursday for our schedule.)

16 March 2008

Requiescat in Pace

As we commemorate the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem on this Passion Sunday, we pray that He is escorting our Sister Mary Stanislaus into the Heavenly Jerusalem. At 3.00am this morning, the Lord came for our dear Sister, who died peacefully in our Monastery infirmary.
Born in Eunice Louisiana on 9 July 1925, baptized Madeleine Therese Andrews, Sister Stanisalus -- known affectionately as "Sister Stannie" -- came to our community on 9 April 1947. She was brought to us by the Medical Mission Sisters who determined that her health was too delicate to be a missionary. Surely the Lord's ways are not our ways because anyone who knew Sister Stannie, until very recently, could not possibly describe her physical constitution as anything less than robust.
Sister received her RN training from the Santa Rosa School of Nursing. During her 61 years in our community she served as Monastery infirmarian for close to 50 years. Anyone who visited the infirmary knew that it was the cleanest and most well-organized place in the entire monastery. Sister took very seriously the maxim: "Cleanliness is next to Godliness!" Sister Stannie, over the years, served our community in a variety of other capacities: School Infirmarian, Refectorian, Aide to Woolen Wardrobe, Book Binder, and Assistant to the Superior.
In addition to her faithful service to our school and community, Sister was eminently faithful to prayer. One could set her watch by Sister's appearance in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament for her morning and afternoon meditations. In fact, one could surmise that something was amiss in the infirmary if Sister was not in chapel at her "usual time." Please join us in prayer for our our beloved Sister Stanislaus.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Wednesday in our Monastery Chapel. Locals who wish to join us, please call or check the blog later today for details. We will update it as we finalize the arrangements: Mass of Christian Burial: Wednesday 2pm Chapel of the Sacred Heart. Viewing/wake: Tuesday 3-5pm and Wednesday 1-2pm Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
Click here and here for other posts about Sister Stanislaus.

14 March 2008

Under God's Watchful Eye

Both Jesus and the prophet Jeremiah, in today's readings, stand before the tensions of an angry crowd. For Jesus it is the Jewish authorities who seek his arrest and for Jeremiah it is his former friends, turned-foes, who "are on the watch for any misstep."

At times we may feel as though our actions are being watched carefully and our mistakes counted. It can be both irritating and anxiety-provoking if we feel that our every move is noted. There is a tangible difference between being observed or supervised and being watched and scrutinized. For those who have ever been made to feel like the prisoner of another's expectations, it can take a long time to recover a sense of freedom -- in action, word and deed.

To know that the Lord sees our every action can be helpful; to remember that the Lord knows our deepest intentions and motivations can be freeing. Let us seek always to be aware of the Lord's presence to us in all of our actions. Let us seek His approval, His guidance, His will. For in choosing to seek only His desires, we will move closer to being free from concern about any other eyes which may be upon us.
"Happy is the soul that seeks only God. For she will find Him everywhere and everywhere seek what she has found!"
St. Jane de Chantal

10 March 2008

Waiting in Joyful Hope

The fifth week of Lent begins on an unusually joy-filled note for us as we anticipate today's Solemn profession of our Sister Anne Francis. Sister is posing next to the "gift table" in our refectory.
We will have to muffle our A*******s but we will surely ring out a Gloria in celebration of this glorious occasion. Between today's celebration and Saturday's transferred Solemnity, the end of Lent this year is marked with moments of joy and hope! Stay tuned for pictures from Sister's profession.

06 March 2008

Lenten Reminder

"How can you believe, when you accept praise that comes from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?" Today's Gospel reading reminds us that at the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, we were warned not to perform acts of piety or charity so that others might see them and praise us. We are again reminded that the Lord sees our deeds -- and our motives -- even if others do not.
Sometimes this challenge comes to us as a temptation to do the "wrong thing" in a given situation; other times, however, it comes as a proclivity to leave undone something that, likely, will go unnoticed. Occasionally, it can be difficult to "do the right thing" when there may not be any immediate consequences if we do not. Perhaps we need a fork or a spoon and the flatware drawer is empty; we discover a full dishwasher, waiting for a good soul to empty it and put away the dishes. It can be tempting to remove the fork or spoon and close (and even re-lock!) the dishwasher, leaving it for some other good soul to empty. Emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, bringing in the recycling bins, refilling the copier with paper, etc.: none of these are extraordinary heroic tasks that require a supernatural amount of courage. They are very ordinary (and sometimes very boring) acts which test our fidelity and reinforce our character. The next time we feel tempted to leave a good act undone, let us call to mind the presence of the Lord who sees all our deeds and our motives.
"The soul that is absolutely abandoned to Divine Providence is unshaken in all kinds of events, she wishes God alone, she sees God alone, she attaches herself to God alone, in fine, she belongs to God alone."
St. Jane de Chantal

02 March 2008

Profession Approaching!

Yesterday evening, our Sister Anne Francis entered retreat for her Solemn Profession. Sister will be professed on March 10th in our Chapel of the Sacred Heart. Please join our community in praying that her retreat is a grace-filled time for her (and for her retreat master!)
We know well what a gem we have in Sister Anne Francis, but just in case we forget, it is taking several sisters to fill her shoes in the infirmary. In fact, Mother had to give the community an obedience not to get sick for the next 10 days.
For locals who wish to attend, Sister's Profession will take place during Mass at 11.00am in our monastery Chapel.
"The way of the sisters of the Visitation is their Rule and Constitutions, in which they are to walk from virtue to virtue, until they see their Eternal Spouse in Sion; and let them walk therein wisely and carefully, without straying to the right or to the left."
St. Francis de Sales