30 May 2011

Too Cute Not to Share

On Wednesday our day care center invited the sisters to watch their annual Trike-a-Thon. Above, Sister Maginel helps a competitor get started. Below, the sisters and bikers pose for an after-race photo. Visitation's day care is one of the best kept secrets on campus and surely one of the cutest!

26 May 2011

Enlargement of the Heart

We have a little saying around the monastery which is said mostly in jest -- but sincerely nonetheless -- that we use when someone performs an act of charity which is small in nature and (usually) visible to others. For example, if a sister is getting dessert at a meal and there is only one cookie left, one sister might offer it to the another. The beneficiary of the cookie might smile gratefully and say, "Oh sister, thank you! Be careful: you might die of an enlarged heart!" It is a sweet way of acknowledging the kind deed but it points to something bigger: we should all strive to die of an enlarged heart!

There is a plaque in the catacombs of St. Sebastian which commemorates the place where, in 1544, St. Philip Neri did, in fact, experience an enlargement of his heart. The saint we commemorate today is known for his ardent love of God and outstanding love of the faithful whom he served. The physical expansion of St. Philip Neri's heart is a visible manifestation of the spiritual growth that took place in his life.

We may not experience a physical enlargement of our hearts, as did St. Philip, but we can strive to achieve a spiritual growth which will enlarge our hearts' ability to love our neighbors. Perhaps the next time we have an opportunity to perform a small act of charity, we will allow the Lord to stretch our hearts to seek and find Him in our neighbors ever more diligently.

"The Blessed St. Philip Neri, at fourscore years of age, had such an inflammation of heart through divine love, that the heat making the ribs give way to it, greatly enlarged them, and broke the fourth and fifth, that the heart might receive air and be refreshed."
St. Francis de Sales

22 May 2011

Game Night at the Monastery

Many people ask us what we do for recreation on "game nights" in the monastery. That all depends upon what games we're playing and who is play which game! Below, Sister Philomena and Sister Mary de Sales take on Sister Rosemarie in a 2 on 1 game of ping pong.

Other sisters enjoy a relaxing board game. Above, Sister Jacqueline, Sister Maginel, Sister Raphael and our retreatant play Parcheesi. Click here to see more pictures (including some ACTION SHOTS) from a recent game night.

18 May 2011

Last Movie Night

It's our last pizza and movie night -- but it's not our last Adoration. All-night Adoration will continue on third Fridays throughout the summer ... but the movies will begin again September. This Friday we'll be showing "Nine Days that Changed the World." It is an account of the nine day trip to Poland in June of 1979 that played a significant role in the defeat of communism. To learn more about this 90-minute film, visit its website here. Locals may RSVP on Facebook or email us -- or just drop in to visit the Lord.

14 May 2011

Basil the Great

It may be the Feast of St. Matthias but around here, it's Basil the Great who's getting lots of attention. Well, not St. Basil, but the aromatic little seedlings which make the "nursery school" smell delicious. Sister Philomena inspects one of the baby basil plants which have been living next to the tomato and pepper seedlings. This year's seedlings were "born" in room 212 on a carefully covered desk, where they poked their cotyledons up through the soil in late April. They are all getting ready to move outside to the garden soon. This year, we are pleased to report that there was no need for Sister Mary Marple to visit the nursery, as all transplants appear, thus far, to be safe from harmful visitors. Stay tuned for photos from nursery school graduation when the seedlings move outside!

10 May 2011

Tapestry of Trust

Do we really believe that we will want for nothing if we receive the Lord into our body when we receive communion and if we receive Him into our hearts when we listen to His word? We should.

It is probably accurate for most of us to say that we believe this but perhaps we do not always live it with confidence. Unanswered prayers, broken dreams and lost friendships are just a few of the circumstances which might cause us to wonder whether or not the Lord is with us in moments of difficulty. Like the disciples in Sunday's Gospel, it might well be the case that He is even closer to us than we realize in moments such as these. The Lord know our needs before we speak them and he knows our needs better than we know them. How many of our earnest prayers of petition were, in the long run, better left unanswered -- or answered in a way that we did not expect (or accept!) at the time. How many times has that broken dream led us to an open door we would not otherwise have found?

As one who observes a tapestry from the underside might be tempted to dismiss it as a mess, we do not share God's vantage point. He sees all the threads coming together in a way which is at once both beautiful and ordered to his good purposes. If we believe that the Lord is the sustenance of our life, the food that will satisfy us and never leave us hungry then we must trust that he is with us and is caring for us even when we do not understand why certain circumstances unfold as they do.

"The measure of the Lord's providence over us is the measure of our confidence in Him."
St. Jane de Chantal

06 May 2011

The Last of Rigden

This is the last in our mini-series about Sister Ann Catherine Rigden. We hope our readers have enjoyed these accounts. Stay tuned for more historical accounts from the archives.

Fr. Clorivière visited her every day, and his presence cheered and revived her. He had a particular gift for speaking to her in the most consoling terms. In those days one received Holy Communion only with the permission of the spiritual director, and the communicant was required to refrain from all food and water after midnight. Ann Catherine would not drink during the night even when it troubled her, for she cared more for her soul. Five days before her death, Fr. Clorivière decided she should be given the Viaticum; two days after giving her the sacrament, he administered extreme unction. Each time the whole community surrounded her bedside, and since she could not speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone, she asked Fr. Clorivière to express her sentiments to them, including again asking pardon, and assuring them all of her affection. She often recommended the love of God above all things, and now in a better fashion than she had ever done previously, even from the most profound humility. The sisters concluded she must have been most agreeable to God, since she seemed to have been assisted in a supernatural manner. Although the sisters observed many examples of this supernatural gift, they hesitated to write all of them down out of fear of not being believed. Instead, they asked Fr. Clorivière to tell the story in his own words, one that would show how much they were indebted to Ann Catherine for building the church that was begun six months before her death, and that would tell of her dedication and tender devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A gentleman called on her during the last weeks of her life. The sisters told him she was sick, but he asked for permission to see her before either her death or his. She was too ill and unable to grant his request. Everyone wondered who he was. It was only then that she told father Clorivière the circumstances that she had kept secret until then except from Leonard Neale himself. This was the man to whom she had once been engaged (see part two). Although her family long ago feared he had committed suicide, it happily was not the case.

After having endured nearly 14 months of sickness, her strength failed, and she came to the end surrounded by the community. She entreated Fr. Clorivière not to leave her during these last moments, and she cried out to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, to the Sacred Heart, and the Sacred Wounds as long as she could speak. She took her last breath at 11:00 on the morning of December 21, 1820. She was buried the next day under the church, in Tomb 3, after the sisters adorned her body with the finest flowers.

Her two natural sisters were present at her interment, for they had recently converted to Catholicism. They sobbed at the sight of her countenance that was still so sweet. The church was not yet finished, so they stood on a scaffolding above the basement and viewed her through the tiles of the floor. Her mother, who had also lately been converted thanks probably to Ann Catherine’s intercession and prayers, expressed full expectation that God who had been so generous to her during her mortal life would not fail to give her a reward for her virtues, which the community endeavored to imitate.

02 May 2011

Man of the Night

No, it's not the Phantom of the Opera, it's a Pharisee named Nicodemus. We learn in John's Gospel that Nicodemus visited Jesus at night -- quite likely because, as a leader of the Jews, he might have been afraid of what other Pharisees might think. Have we ever acted from a similar motivation? Perhaps in our hearts we feel strongly about something but we are unable to act in a way which is commensurate with our feelings. Maybe we are out at a restaurant sharing a meal with a friend and we want to say grace before eating but instead of asking our friend to join us in praying, we pray quietly to ourselves and carry on with the meal. Or perhaps we are driving with a family member and a homeless person approaches our car and we hesitate to give him money or talk to him, as we might do if we were alone.

It may not seem to matter whether we say grace by ourselves or with our dining companion but what we will never know (at least not on this side of eternity) is how it affected the people around us. There might have been a lonely soul, eating alone, whose heart was warmed by seeing us bless ourselves and pray. We can never know the far-reaching effects of our small deeds of fidelity. Nothing, is small in the eyes of God. Nothing at all. Not a smile, a good deed, a warm greeting or even just a good intention. Nothing is small to the loving eyes of our heavenly Father.

"Great works lie not always in our way, but every moment we may do little ones with excellence, that is, with a great love. Behold that Saint, I beg you, who bestows a cup of cold water on the thirsty traveler; he does but a small matter in outward show, but the intention, the sweetness, the love, with which he animates his work is so excellent, that it turns this simple water into water of life, and of eternal life."
St. Francis de Sales