30 September 2009

All About Focus

In today's Gospel we hear Our Lord speak some very challenging words. Typically, as Catholics, we are not wont to read Sacred Scripture only at its literal level, allowing room for the Holy Spirit to move our hearts closer to what the inspired texts are intended to teach us. It is hard to hear our Lord say to the man who wanted to bury his father, "Let the dead bury the dead" and to suggest to the man who wanted to go home to say farewell to his family, that he is not fit for the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes we associate this Gospel passage -- and those who are represented in it -- with people who have made a dramatic change in their lives in order to follow Our Lord more closely. Those of us who have left our families to enter a religious community or, perhaps, those who have left behind a way of living which was incommensurate with the Gospel -- we might be among those who could be pictured in dialogue with Jesus in today's Gospel. This text, however, speaks to all of us who have chosen to follow Jesus. It is not about forsaking family and foregoing the corporal acts of mercy such as burying the dead. Rather, it is about our focus: do we do all things in Christ, with our eyes cast upon Him or do we do them for other motives.

When we leave our families in order to enter religious life -- in the case of our community -- we do go home and say good-bye and we even visit periodically after we have entered. This reading is about how we do the things we do. Whether we do corporal acts of mercy such as burying the dead or feeding the hungry we must examine our motives and keep our eyes on the Lord. "Setting our hand to the plow and looking back" is about looking away from Christ and losing focus. Let us pray for the grace to keep our hands on the plow and our eyes on the Lord.

Perhaps a quotation from our constitutions will shed light on how we strive to live this particular passage of the Gospel:

"If the sisters leave relatives sand friends and all that they have loved in the world, it is not in order to cease loving them but to prefer Jesus Christ, and in Him to love them with a stronger love."
Constitutions Chapter XII, no. 53

26 September 2009

All-Night Adoration

Chapel of the Sacred Heart. 1.00am Saturday morning:

St. Francis de Sales on the Divine Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament:

"Love perceives the presence of the Beloved by the fact that he spreads his attractions throughout the heart and then gathers and carries the whole soul to its Beloved by means of a most agreeable inclination, a most sweet turning and bending of all its faculties towards the Beloved. He attracts them to himself by the gentle power whereby he ties and draws hearts as bodies are drawn by material cords and bands."

22 September 2009

Shameless Promotion ... yet again!

Last year's meatball supper was such a success that we thought we'd have another one this year. Worry not, that's not spaghetti sauce on the advertisement; it was supposed to be "fireworks" but it does appear to look more like someone dipped the flier in the sauce pot!

All are welcome for Vespers, supper, and our short program. Last year's program included a pericope about how we "dance" in the monastery (metaphorically, not liturgically); it was so well received that we might have to have an encore ... or maybe we'll conclude with a tour of our crypt. Program details to be determined!

Locals who wish to attend may do so by emailing us by September 27th.

18 September 2009

Safe Arrival

After homeroom yesterday morning, the Visi "vocationmobile" began its journey and arrived at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in time for the 4.45pm Mass on Thursday afternoon. After Mass, some sisters ventured down to the chapel of the Portiuncula. Just behind the small stone statue is an outdoor path through the Stations of the Cross. Sister Anne Francis and Sister Mary Roberta demonstrate their preparedness for this spiritual exercise by showing off their shoes. (Good thing we're not the "discalced" Vistandines!)

St. Francis de Sales did not say too much about wearing shoes, but he did have a very interesting metaphor about the feet of our souls (not the soles of our feet!):

"Your affections are the feet of your soul. If your affections are warm and tender, your judgment will not be harsh; if they are loving, your judgment will be the same."

14 September 2009

Steubenville Bound!

It's that time of year again. This Thursday we'll be loading up the school van and heading to The Franciscan University of Steubenville. The above picture is not 100% accurate: we'll have some luggage with us (and the tires of the school van will be checked for proper pressure - and shape - before we leave!) and sisters don't usually look so happy and relaxed when Sister Anne E is driving ... but other than that, the image is close to reality.

If you are attending the fair, be sure to drop by and visit our table. Don't miss the opportunity to "picture yourself" with us.

New readers might be interested in our 2006 visit, our post and video from 2007 and our pre-post and video from 2008.

11 September 2009

The Family is Growing

We welcome yet another sister to Facebook. This week Sister Mary Roberta joined FB under the pseudonym, "Hermana Roberta" since FB does not allow new members to use religious titles as part of their names. Imagine that!?!

We know that Sister -- er Hermana, that is -- will be a FAN of our monastery's page -- if she isn't already and she'll probably find herself collecting some new friends, too! Fans of the monastery page -- and friends of "Hermana Roberta" -- will enjoy Sister's gentle words and delightful sense of humor in their comment boxes.

Hermana Roberta joins Sister Anne E, known as Hermana Anna and a host of monastery friends and Visitation alumnae.

Stay tuned on the monastery's FB page for upcoming events this fall ... including a special event on the Feast of St. Margaret Mary!

07 September 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that the engineer who supervised the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge is an alumna of our school?

Emily Roebling was the wife of Washington Roebling, son of John Augustus Roebling. The elder Roebling was the engineer whose design to build a suspension bridge of the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, was a response to the bill passed by the New York state legislature in 1866, which sought to address the recent population growth in Brooklyn.

John Roebling died of tetanus in 1869, after injuring his foot in an accident on the Brooklyn Ferry (where was OSHA back then??!!) Washington Roebling was named chief engineer after his father's death. In 1872, eleven years before the bridge was open for traffic, Washington Roebling was stricken with caisson disease, a common affliction of those who work in highly-pressurized environments. For the remainder of the project Emily Warren Roebling met daily with the workers and delivered messages from her ailing husband. She had a keen understanding of the work which was taking place and became well-respected among engineers and laborers alike. When it was suggested that her husband, due to his illness, be removed as chief engineer, Emily addressed the American Association of Civil Engineers on behalf of her husband and won their support for his continued leadership. On opening day, Emily Roebling rode across the bridge with President Chester Arthur. One must wonder if they were charged the 1 cent toll?!

In a recent trip to New York, attending the Catholic Thrive conference, Sister Mary Snapshot was lucky enough to stay with our Sisters in Brooklyn and to be one of the 140,000 cars that cross the 14,000 ton bridge each day. If you've never been across this architectural masterpiece, do enjoy a one-minute trip in the below video. While there are no nuns featured in the video, there is an awfully cute bird who was very unafraid of bipeds. Sister Mary Snapshot found him on a detour through Hyde Park.

It might interest readers to know that in 1984 a bike lane was added and that over 1,000 bikers and close to 2,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily.

03 September 2009

Duc in Altum

It's hard to read today's Gospel and to resist the temptation to write a dialogue for St. Peter. Here is Peter, tired - and probably frustrated - after a night of unsuccessful fishing and he's washing his nets when Our Lord tells him to cast his nets once more. Most of us, tired after hours of unsuccessful work, might not respond so readily to a suggestion to return to our task. We might be tempted to respond, "Are you kidding? I've had no luck all night! What makes you think that things will be different if I cast my nets now?" This is a natural (and rather logical) response.

Today's Gospel has served as a fertile metaphor for evangelization as well as for vocation ministry. And men and women involved in these fields find rich meaning in today's Gospel text. For the rest of us Christians, however, who might not be actively engaged in either of these good works, it seems that the key to today's Gospel is how Peter's fate changes when he casts his net at Our Lord's command. We may not always find our ships sinking with an abundance of fish but if we commend all our work to the Lord, we cannot be far from His grace. Sometimes we are asked to return to something which was unfruitful -- like Peter's fishing. At times, it may seem pointless to return to a project, a relationship or a task which seemed, to us, to be hopeless. When, however, it is clear that the Lord is inviting us to revisit a fruitless venture, we can trust that He will bless our willingness, as He blessed Peter's alacrity in today's Gospel. Our fidelity may not always be rewarded as visibly as Peter's catch of fish, but we trust that it is our faithful response for which we are responsible, not the outcome of the fishing trip!

"For we are commanded to have great care in what appertains to God's glory and to our charge, but we are not bound to, or responsible for, the [outcome of the] event, because it is not in our power."
St. Francis de Sales