28 April 2009

Senior Service Day

For the second year in a row, our Fathers' club and senior class teamed up to plan an amazingly successful campus clean-up day. Pictured above, Sister Mary de Sales visits with seniors who are scraping and preparing to paint the railings that run from St. Joseph's Hall down to the athletic center. Pictured below, Sister Mary Roberta takes a moment to chat with a student who is busy transplanting items in the monastery garden.
While we are delighted that the service day was as successful (and enjoyable) as last year, some among our number are sorry to report that for the second year in a row, the white team out-gobbled the gold team in a twinkee-eating contest. We won't report the number of twinkees which were consumed but we'll observe that Salesian moderation was *gently* placed aside for the event!

"All things in moderation, including moderation."
Sister Anne Marie of happy memory

24 April 2009

Crab-Free Clergy

With World Day of Prayer for Vocations approaching quickly, it seemed fitting to share this stellar interview with the new Archbishop of New York, His Excellency Timothy M. Dolan. If you have not already heard or seen Raymond Arroyo's interview on The World Over click the link to hear the MP3 file. Archbishop Dolan has an enthusiasm for his new assignment which is both infectious and encouraging. When asked about how he hopes to increase the number of seminarians during his tenure, he spoke of how happiness is contagious; he regrets that sometimes the administrative pressures of running a parish can cause some clergy to appear to be "crabs." By supporting his clergy and providing skill sets to help them manage both pastoral and temporal affairs, he hopes to eliminate the unfortunate (hopefully infrequent) experience of some clergy as "crabby." Do take a moment to listen to this engaging interview. Also, of interest, as we approach the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Holy Father, earlier this year, released his message to the faithful.

20 April 2009

Easter Video

As promised, we've got a few sights and sounds of Easter to share with our readers. It's a bit shorter than our Triduum video but it concludes with an unusual finale. It seems that two of our sisters found a creative way out of washing dishes one evening ... and yet a third sister had a camera on hand. Please note, however, that dancing with Easter items on one's head is not a Visitandine tradition (although, given the number of sisters who enjoyed their impromptu performance, it holds great promise!) Do enjoy a three-minute visit to our home for Easter!

16 April 2009

The Octave of Easter

In today's Gospel we hear about one of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to his disciples. As he converses with them -- and comforts them -- he reminds them of the quotation about how the Christ must suffer first and then rise from the dead on the third day. This reality is represented by many examples -- both in nature and in the spiritual life.

In his book, "Jesus of Nazareth" our Holy Father talks about how the grape must suffer the process of pressing before it can be made into wine. So too, we can see how the grain of wheat must be milled before it can be baked into the bread. Just as Our Lord suffered death before his resurrection, in our own spiritual lives we too must undergo a death -- a daily choosing to follow Christ in all the little challenges that come our way: being compassionate to a co-worker who can be irritating, unjamming the xerox machine (even when we didn't jam it ourselves), reaching out to someone who has treated us unkindly, etc. These small deeds are ways in which we "die" to the often-easier choice of doing what is more comfortable.

When we allow ourselves to be suffer some small inconvenience without counting the cost, we follow closely in the way of the Lord's cross. For these daily acts of virtue, when practiced often, will quickly be pressed into wine worthy of sacrifice. And these small sacrifices are not in vain since we know that the Lord's cross was the gateway to his triumph over sin and death. As we sing our Easter Alleluias, let us sing them from a place where we can still cast our eyes on Mount Calvary, the birthplace of our salvation.

"The death and passion of Our Lord is the sweetest and most constraining motive that can animate our hearts in this mortal life."
St. Francis de Sales

12 April 2009


Happy Easter to all our readers! We have a few highlights to share from our Sacred Triduum these past few days. We had record crowds for all celebrations with standing room only on Thursday evening for the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Our celebrant for the Triduum was Fr. Donald Heet, OSFS. Concelebrating on Thursday was Visitation's own Fr. Franco Soma, FSCCB and on Saturday, our venerable neighbor, Fr. James Schall, SJ. Master of Ceremonies (and master-decorator) for all services is our dear friend, Mr. David Gardiner.

Among the highlights we share in the video are the Lamentations which are sung on Good Friday and Holy Saturday morning at Office of Readings and the "crossing" of Sister Rose's hot buns for supper on Good Friday. We take our crosses seriously around here -- especially if there is icing involved! The candles next to the crucifix aren't a fashion faux pas -- orange and red on the same table -- but their color is such because they are made of unbleached beeswax, as suggested for use on Good Friday. We've included a few shots from the Vigil Mass and the "post-Mass" decorations, but we hope to have a few more sights and sounds of Easter later in the week in a follow-up video. It seemed prudent to edit this movie down to 5 minutes, lest it be too long to call it a "highlight video."

06 April 2009

Harvest Time!

It might seem funny to be talking about "harvest time" in a season where we should be planting and sowing seeds. This isn't a misplaced fall post, it's time for a "spiritual harvest!" St. Francis de Sales referred to Lent as yearly autumn for our spiritual lives. In a culture where we can buy fresh fruit in the grocery store -- at almost any time of year -- the notion of "harvest time" doesn't mean as much to us as it might have meant to someone in the 17th century. Autumn was the season when families would gather the fruits of their spring and summer plantings. They would try to secure provisions which would last them through until the first fruits of the next planting season were ready. Root cellars dug into hillsides would provide room to store unblemished vegetables for use in the winter months.

And so Lent is a time to gather spiritual fruits, the products of a grace-filled season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These fruits, St. Francis de Sales suggests, should nourish us throughout the coming year until Ash Wednesday heralds another season of spiritual harvest for us.

Whatever our spiritual discipline has been during these past five weeks, let us find a way to preserve its value in our lives. If we have been counting the days until we can once again indulge in chocolate or caffeine then, perhaps, our efforts to bend our will not to partake of something we enjoy may bear the fruit of helping us see the Lord's hand at work in situations which do not go our way. When we have practiced the work of choosing to deny our will -- be it to forgo a cup of coffee or to refrain from voicing a cherished opinion -- we are better equipped to respond graciously when we are faced with a situation over which we have no control. Perhaps our Lenten practice was an increased amount of prayer time. This fruit, if protected well, could serve to nourish us in ways beyond what we can imagine.

Let us strive to protect the spiritual fruit which we have gathered during this sacred season of Lent. May our spiritual "root cellars" be well tended and well guarded places where our Lenten harvest may be kept alive for months to come and may the harvest be abundant!

A blessed Holy Week to all our readers!

02 April 2009


As we approach Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week, we thought we'd publish our Triduum schedule for the benefit of our locals who may be planning to celebrate with us this year.

Palm Sunday Mass will be at 9.00am in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart. The procession will begin in the ante choir, so locals may want to arrive a few minutes early. The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's supper on Holy Thursday. Please feel free to join us for any of the Liturgies of the Hours as well as the usual Masses/celebrations. Underlined events take place in the chapel and all others in the Monastery choir, just down the ramp from the chapel. Do plan to arrive a few minutes early for the Liturgy of the Hours since we do not ring bells after Holy Thursday Mass. We look forward to seeing some of our locals (and their families) during the sacred days to come!

Holy Thursday

5:00pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper

8.00pm Night Prayer

Adoration until Midnight

Good Friday

7.30am Office of Readings

8.45am Morning Prayer

11.00am Daytime Prayer

3.00 Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion

7.00pm Night Prayer

Holy Saturday

7.30am Office of Readings

8.45am Morning Prayer

11.30am Daytime Prayer

5.05pm Evening Prayer

8.00pm Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection

In the Holy Night of Easter