31 August 2009

Unwelcome Words

Have you ever walked into a room -- perhaps at work or at school -- and felt uncomfortable because the conversation seemed to stop at your arrival? It's even more uncomfortable when this happens in our own family! How our Lord, in today's Gospel, must have felt when the angry crowd, murmuring about his parentage, drove him out of the town.

We cannot avoid the humiliations that come our way in daily life. Sometimes we may be tempted to say to ourselves, "If only I hadn't said that" or "I wish I hadn't done this" but most of the time we cannot control the circumstances which befall us. If we were in Jesus' sandals in today's Gospel, we might be tempted to say, "Gee, if only I hadn't read from the book of Isaiah!" To say this is to miss the point of the Gospel. When we try earnestly to align our lives with the will of God for us, rejection and temptation are bound to find us. Jesus, in fulfilling the Father's will, incurred the anger, the jealousy and the resentment of many. We will not be able to escape similar experiences when we walk in his footsteps, but we can be consoled that every emotion we will experience has already passed through the Divine Heart of our Lord.

"There are many people who say to Our Lord: 'I give myself wholly to You without reserve.'; but there are very few who actually practice this self-abandonment, which is nothing else but the acceptance . . . of all the events which may befall us just as they arrive by the order of God's Providence; affliction equally with consolation, sickness as health, poverty as riches, contempt as honor, shame as glory."
St. Francis de Sales

26 August 2009

All's Quiet on the Blogging Front

With 27 visiting sisters from five of our other monasteries, we've been a bit busy here in Georgetown. We have delighted in the opportunity to see so many friends -- old and new -- but it hasn't left us much time for push-button publishing. Above, sisters gather to make sandwiches for supper on Sunday night.
At the sandwich making party, our own Mother Mary Berchmans and Sister Margaret Mary of our monastery in St. Louis taste the cranberry-cream cheese spread which the sandwich makers put on the turkey sandwiches. ... and the verdict?


It is always exciting, when we have guests ... but this time we had some extra excitement. On Monday night, just after most of the sisters went to bed, we had a (false) fire alarm. A late-night fire drill with firemen arriving from several different companies provided an unplanned pajama party as we tried to spread the word that it was a false alarm. As much as we love excitement, we pray that the rest of the time with our guests is exciting in a more "peaceful" way.

20 August 2009

Our Lady and St. Bernard

We couldn't have chosen a better day to erect the new statue of Our Lady of the Eucharist in our monastery garden. Last year the brick path (which ends at the statue) was put in and we had to wait until we were able to find (and ultimately build) a pedestal large enough for this beautiful statue.

St. Bernard had a great devotion to Our Lady. So well known was this devotion that Dante had St. Bernard act as his guide in canto 31 of his "Paradiso" as he shows the glory of the Blessed Mother. In addition to his many sermons and letters, St. Bernard also penned a beautiful commentary on the first two chapters of The Song of Songs. In his work, "On the Love of God" (De amore Dei), he asks how, as creatures, we can possibly love God as well as He loves us. He punctuates the discussion with this thought: "Nothing is lacking where everything is given." Perhaps that is the 12th century way of saying "Do the best you can!"

St. Francis de Sales on St. Bernard:

"For as the glorious St. Bernard says: 'It is written in particular of man that he never continueth in the same state; he necessarily either goes forward or returns backward. All run indeed but one obtains the prize, so run that you may obtain. Who is the prize but Jesus Christ? And how can you take hold on him if you follow him not? But if you follow him you will march and run continually, for he never stayed, but continued his course of love and obedience until death and the death of the cross.' Go then, says St. Bernard; go, I say with him; go and admit no other bounds than those of life, and as long as it remains run after this Savior. But run ardently and swiftly: for what better will you be for following him, if you be not so happy as to take hold of him!"

16 August 2009

Charlie's Hearty Tomatoes!

This summer's vegetable garden has an overachieving variety which stands head and shoulders above its neighbors -- literally and figuratively. In addition to our usual Red Brandywine beefsteak tomatoes, we tried the Mortgage Lifter, a well-known name in heirloom tomatoes. This fruit has an interesting history: Mr. Marshall Byles of Logan, WV who was known as "Radiator Charlie" because he was an automobile mechanic, cross-bred the biggest and best-tasting tomatoes he could find. Gradually, after hand pollinating generations of plants and selecting the characteristics most desirable to him, Radiator Charlie ended up with a large red beefsteak tomato that grows in groups of three on a vigorous plant. In the 1940's these sought-after seedlings were sold for $1 a plant. Over several summers, Radiator Charlie sold enough plants to pay off his mortgage, hence the moniker of this summer delight. In 1985, Mr. Byles sold his seeds to the Southern Seed Saver's Exchange, from whom they can be purchased today. To hear an explanation of this plant's history as well as clips from an audio interview between Radiator Charlie and his grandson, Ed Martin click here.

Unlike some heirloom varieties, the Mortgage Lifter shows no signs of catfacing or blossom end rot, and it appears to be very disease resistant. Our monastery might just have found a new favorite tomato!

12 August 2009

New Date, New Book!

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of our Holy Mother, Saint Jane de Chantal. For the first time, we are celebrating on this date. For more information on the "movement" of the feast, click here. This post is a bit of a shameless promotion for our new 400th Anniversary book. Both our Mother Mary Berchmans and Sister Mada-anne contributed to the book. Readers should feel free to order a copy of this book since we have a sufficient number of copies on hand.

All kidding aside about our "new book," our "new feast" date is a welcome opportunity to celebrate a woman whose life as a wife, widow, mother, religious foundress and sister was marked by a deep faith in the loving providence of Our Lord. If you haven't read a great deal about St. Jane, one of the best biographies was just recently republished; Written by Elisabeth Stopp, a British Salesisan scholar, it is an engaging read which is both realistic and inspiring.

Today's celebration will include a 9am Mass, a festive meal (read: ice cream for dessert) and, very likely, some extra recreation and merry-making!

"Have great courage and you will see the glory of God increasing like the glow of a beautiful dawn!"
Antiphon for the Feast
First Vespers

07 August 2009

Annecy Video

In late June we welcomed Mother Mary Berchmans back from our school's pilgrimage to Annecy. Here we share a few minutes of the pictures she took during the trip. Among the different places that the group visited were our monastery in Marclaz (where they enjoyed some ice cream!) and our Monastery of Annecy as well as the Gallery House, site of the first Visitation community and the de Sales castle at Thorens. Do enjoy a "virtual pilgrimage" with 30 of our faculty and staff ... and Mother's deft hand at capturing the highlights!

03 August 2009

Upcoming Event!

This is an upcoming event that is not just for locals! Our school's Nolan Performing Arts Center is one of seven locations around the country which will be hosting the 27th annual Salesian Conference. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of St. Francis de Sales' "Introduction to the Devout Life." The day begins at 9am with a light breakfast and concludes with Mass. The program includes three presentations on Salesian spirituality and affords opportunity for discussion and fellowship. The presentations will be live in Wilmington, DE and will be simulcast in the following locations: Washington DC, Wilmington, NC, Sylvania, OH, St. Louis, MO, St. Paul, MN and Ft. Myer's, FL (registration closed in FL). If you live near one of these locations and would like more information, visit the DeSales Resource Center homepage for more information.