27 February 2010

Lenten Challenge

Today's Gospel calls us to a uniquely Christian challenge: to love our enemies. It is easy for us to take a cursory check of our acquaintance list and declare ourselves enemy-free. Most of us associate "enemy" with a hostile situation or a person with whom we are "at war." This is neither uncommon nor incorrect; it's just a bit too narrow. If we were to revisit today's Gospel and to consider prayerfully that anyone who disturbs our peace is an 'enemy' we might find that we have a Lenten challenge.

It's easy to dismiss the concept of 'enemy' as someone far away who, in theory, we have to love, but in reality someone with whom we may never have to associate. When we consider the many ways in which we may be irritated by the actions or word of another our list of enemies, in this sense, can grow quickly. Let us not be discouraged when we realize this, let us rejoice that we have an opportunity -- and one not to be missed -- to grow into and to live out this great commandment of the Lord!

"In meditating on Our Dear Lord’s first word from the Cross, you will no doubt be roused to the desire of imitating Him in forgiving and loving your enemies. But that is not enough, unless you bring it to some practical resolution, such as, 'I will not be angered any more by the annoying things said of me by such or such a neighbor, nor by the slights offered me by such an one; but rather I will do such and such things in order to soften and conciliate them.' In this way, my daughter, you will soon correct your faults, whereas mere general resolutions would take but a slow and uncertain effect."
St. Francis de Sales

23 February 2010

Motown at the Monastery

The rumors are true ... it's Motown at the Monastery. The eleventh annual dollars-for-scholars gala is here and all proceeds go to our scholarship fund! This year, it's easier than ever to participate in the gala. Those who would like to help purchase needed items may go to amazon.com and just type "Georgetown Visitation" in the search box and you can click on a purchase of your choice. Your contribution will be shipped directly to the SUPREME and wonderful chairs of this year's gala who wait for the mail each day, singing "PLEASE MR POSTMAN bring us some gifts from amazon!" If you are interested in bidding on items in the on-line auction, the bidding begins on 1 March and if you click here, you can SHOP AROUND until you drop (on-line bids accepted only through 10 March)! Visi parents: don't miss the opportunity to purchase a "tuition" raffle ticket. Imagine a year without tuition bills!

We are so grateful for the countless parents, alumnae and friends who have given their time to help us GET IT TOGETHER!

22 February 2010

Puppy Pictures

At some point in our monastic life most of us have had the following words addressed to us: "In the world you were called ... and from now on you shall be called by a new name: Sister ...." Today we had a first: Our new puppy arrived and he heard those words, too ... well, almost those words.

When he was born on 26 December 2009, the puppy was named Nicholas as all of his litter mates received seasonal names (he has brothers named Forrest and Rudy and a sister named Peppermint Candy). Since our faithful guard dog of seven years already has claim to that moniker, we had to tell puppy that his new name is "Gabriel." He didn't get a habit and veil with his new name but he got 20 new sisters and a canine brother.

18 February 2010

Flying Franciscan

As many might know, St. Joseph of Cupertino was known to levitate when he prayed. As amazing a gift as the grace of levitation is, St. Joseph of Cupertino is a model of perseverance and charity for all of us today. We may not find ourselves brushing the ceiling when we pray, but we do find ourselves in situations where we struggle to be charitable in the face of injustice or unkindness; in this, we find a sterling example in the "flying Franciscan."

February's "movie and pizza" preceding our monthly all-night adoration will be "Reluctant Saint: St. Joseph of Cupertino." Locals may RSVP on FB or by sending an email. The movie will start at 7.15 in our school's "Little Odeon" on the 3rd floor.

15 February 2010

A Rich Harvest for the Heart

As we approach this sacred season of Lent, we are reminded of the way in which St. Francis de Sales invites us to traverse the 40 days which lead us to the Lord's Passion. For many of us, Lent may seem like a season of privation -- a dry, dusty road which begins with ashes and ends on Calvary. To St. Francis de Sales, Lent was a "spiritual autumn" -- a time in which we are invited to gather a rich and bountiful harvest so that it will serve to nourish our souls for the rest of the year until the next Lent begins. Those of us who do not stock root cellars with a winter's worth of squash and beets may have a hard time finding this image "fruitful" but perhaps a suggestion might help.

There are many ways to observe the season of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the primary means suggested to us by the Church. They are all good and fruitful for our souls. It seems, however, that most often we hear people speak of "giving up" something for Lent. When done in the correct spirit, foregoing something to which we have a right is a very good way to fast. In many cases, this fast -- say for example giving up chocolate or some other delectable food -- kept for the season of Lent, usually finds a happy reward when Easter Sunday provides a banquet of pastel-colored M&Ms and other traditional candy. In addition to fasting from something to which we are entitled, we might want to consider refraining from something that we do not want to resume on Easter Sunday. In this case, it might be more appropriate to call it a discipline rather than a fast (since a "fast" usually implies foregoing something which is good for us or pleasing to us from which we deliberately refrain.) Perhaps we find ourselves speaking uncharitably about someone with whom we work. If this is a habit we would like to uproot from our lives, making it a Lenten discipline means that we are training ourselves to continue this practice when the season of Lent is over. If, by the grace of God, we are able to practice a discipline during Lent which helps us to grow in virtue then we have begun to stock the "root cellar" of our hearts with a sort of fruit which will nourish our us -- and those around us -- for a long time to come.

Let us, this Lent, seek to fill our hearts with spiritual fruit which will transform our lives and help us to see the Lord in all those around us. "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God" ... everywhere!

"His heart is the King of hearts and he keeps his eyes fixed on our hearts."
St. Francis de Sales

11 February 2010

Snow Nun Video

Someone once attributed this to Mother Teresa: "What you spend years building can be destroyed overnight. Build anyway." We'd have to agree here at the corner of 35th and P Streets ... it may only have taken a few hours to build Sister Mary Snowden but the effort -- despite the destruction -- was worth the camaraderie with countless pedestrians (and even a few drive-by conversations!)

We've finally collected some footage of the building -- and rebuilding -- of the Sisters Mary Snowden. Not to be missed is the acrobatic move of one of our neighbors at the 1.00 minute mark. He bounced back very dexterously and even managed to take a couple of pictures before continuing along his way.

Among the delightful neighbors we met during our time creating Sister Mary Snowden, were some who came by to help us rebuild after the first snow nun was demolished. We were greeted with suggestions from passers-by about how to get the "new snow" to stick to the "old snow" and we chatted with neighbors who posed with Sister Mary Snowden for a picture. Despite the frustration of seeing sister leveled twice over, we enjoyed meeting neighbors and seeing local families and students.

07 February 2010

Nuns Stopping Traffic, again!

Back in June we stopped traffic when we unloaded 5,000 copies of our Jubilee-year book. Yesterday's record snowfall inspired some creativity. Above, Sister Anne E and Stephanie "recycle" some of the snow they shoveled in the morning.

The pile of "recycled snow" grew and Sister Mary Roberta made a "head" for the top. Little by little, our "Sister Mary Snowden" took shape.
A close up of the snow-sister's head and torso (which were knocked down by a loud and drunken bunch of young men at 10.30pm.)

Sister and Stephanie stand next to the finished snow-nun. Why "Sister Mary Snowden"? Of all the 300+ names of sisters who have lived and died in our monastery, we thought our Sister Anne Marie Snowden had the best name for the larger-than-life replica. Sister Anne Marie Snowden entered our community in 1847, made her profession in 1849 and lived here until she died of breast cancer in 1900.

03 February 2010

Jubilee Year Event!

As part of our Jubilee year celebrations, we are having a special event on First Fridays: "Doughnuts with DeSales!" We are welcoming guests to Morning Prayer followed by light refreshments and a short talk on Salesian Spirituality. This coming Friday will be our first presentation.

Morning Prayer begins at 8.00am in the monastery chapel. After Morning Prayer, guests can then follow the sisters who will lead them to "Doughnuts with DeSales" -- sustenance for the inner and outer man (and woman!)

Those interested in attending may RSVP in one of three ways: become a fan of our Facebook page and "click" on the event; email us by clicking here; or call and leave a message at (202) 337-3350 ext. 2283.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will take place in our chapel from 9am-3pm. Those who wish may return to the chapel for quiet prayer time following "Doughnuts with DeSales!"

02 February 2010

Feature Presentation

In many different places our Jubilee year has been promoted through multi-media, including videos and press releases about upcoming events. After viewing several inspiring video-announcements of our Jubilee year (in French) from some of our monasteries in Europe, our Federation President, Mother Susan Marie has put forth a message of her own, inviting viewers to consider the spiritual riches of the mystery of the Rosary which inspired our Order.

"O my dear Sisters, you who claim this Virgin for your Mother . . . what zeal you should have in imitating her, especially her charity and humility, which were the chief virtues which urged her to make this visitation. . . . be most careful to model your lives on hers. Be meek, humble, charitable and kind, and magnify the Lord with her during this life. And if you do so humbly and faithfully in this world, you will undoubtedly sing the Magnificat in heaven."
St. Francis de Sales