31 January 2012

There went the comments, poof!

With one accidental, sleepy keystroke, 50 lovely comments from blog readers were accidentally deleted. Happily, the internet has various search engines that crawl the web and archive pages. One of those services archived livejesus.blogspot.com a few days ago, and we now have a copy of that cache, but alas, no clear way to restore it here. If anyone understand blogger and can help restore the html, please send a note!

27 January 2012

A visit from former First Lady Barbara Bush

Georgetown Visitation was privileged to have a special visitor this morning, former First Lady, Mrs. Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush was greeted by Head of School Dan Kerns, President Emerita Sr. Mary Berchmans and Board Chair Kerry McDonnell Mudd, and then enjoyed coffee and refreshments with Mother Jacqueline and several other Sisters as well as a few members of the school's administration. The former First Lady then visited a math and a history class and enjoyed a visit with student government leaders. At each point she complimented the students and spoke to them about how fortunate they were to be at Visitation and reminded them to value the education they are receiving. It was a memorable visit with a very gracious and special guest.

26 January 2012

March for Life

Visitation students participating in the annual March for Life on Monday, January 23. These pictures were taken by Elise Italiano, one of our religion teachers, who was one of the chaperones with the group. According to Elise, "It was a rainy but beautiful day.  Our girls were very prayerful and joyful!"

January 24 and St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, January 24, was the Feastday of St. Francis de Sales, our Holy Founder.


From the archives, Margaret Louisa Beall, Part II


Margaret’s superiors all agreed that they had never met a more docile, sincere, or candid person. She charitably spoke well of all, and when she could say nothing in favor of someone she remained silent. Her meekness gained her the love and affection of almost everyone, and her holy virtue of patience enabled her to withstand trials and “pains of mind.” Even though she was really debilitated, some in the monastery thought her constitution was robust and that she could bear a great deal. She never complained in the least, however, and she said that she did not even harbor an uncharitable thought against those who caused her to suffer. She did admit that she was sometimes tempted to speak up, however, her charity caused her to believe that the sisters actually took too much care of her.

As Margaret’s Novitiate ended her infirmities increased, especially a swelling of her feet which made her fear she wouldn’t be able to perform the ceremonies of her holy profession. As the date grew nearer (this was around the time of the annual retreats), she got better and undertook the spiritual exercises to prepare for her profession. This made her happier, since her desire to consecrate herself entirely to God was almost complete. About three months later, at the beginning of Lent, her sickness became serious. She received the holy Viaticum and extreme unction. She had not, however, yet received the sacraments of Confirmation, as Rev. Dubourg, Bishop of Louisiana, was here on a visit, he conferred this strengthening sacrament on her. (Editor’s note: Bishop Dubourg, whose life is well documented, also served as one of the first presidents of Georgetown University, and he later founded St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.) Everyone expected that Margaret would soon breathe out her last, and Father Clorivière said the prayers of the agonizing and gave her all the indulgences of the Church and their holy order, but she suffered for three more weeks. The sisters believed this was to purify her more perfectly and fit her for a more speedy union with him after death, and to edify the community by her patience, solid virtue, and perfect resignation to the will of God. One day someone asked her in jest if she was planning to disappoint everyone and get well again. She replied with her usual meekness and affability that disappointment or no, she had resigned herself entirely into the hands of God for life or death, and therefore whatever he pleased would be equally welcome and also would not surprise her. She was also asked if she wanted to see her natural sisters, or at least have them informed of her illness, and she replied that if it were up to her she would not have them come, but she’d leave it up to the will of her superior. The superior did think it proper for her sisters to visit, so they came on Palm Sunday and bid their last farewells to their dying sister.

Margaret’s illness had increased rapidly during Holy Week. Father Clorivière had stopped attending to her earlier when she had gotten better, but now he began again, and he gave her the holy Viaticum again at 10 o’clock on Good Friday morning. By noon she told the community that she was going, so they called Father Clorivière again, and the entire community gathered around her, remaining with her in prayer until she died. “This amiable sister preserved her presence of mind until her last gasp, and it was edifying and moving to see what efforts she made to pronounce the holy names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” She died between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, “during the hours in which Christ himself had agonized on the cross for our sake.” The community believed that, as she died with him, she either went straight to heaven, or at least rose gloriously with him at his resurrection. “God grant to us to imitate her virtues.”

22 January 2012

By His hand we are knit together!

For these photos of sisters knitting, we offer some knitting verses from scripture:

1 Samuel 18:1, "When he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."

"...that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ..." (Colossians 2:2)

Proverbs 27:26: "...the lambs will provide your clothing..."

These knitting scriptures came from a page titled "Knitting and the Bible," http://eastburnadventures.com/2007/01/09/knitting-the-bible/

19 January 2012

From the archives, Margaret Louisa Beall, Part I

Margaret Louisa Beall was born in Anne Arundel County on May 20, 1800, to wealthy Presbyterian parents. She was only six years old when she lost her mother, so her father put her under the care of one of her older sisters, who had become Catholic. This sister taught Margaret her prayers and gave her Catholic instruction appropriate for her age, but thought it prudent not to let her go to the Catholic church, lest their father, who was an inveterate anti-Catholic, would disinherit them both. However, she did often warn Margaret against falling back into Presbyterian ways when she returned to her father at age 13 or 14 (the reason she was supposed to return to him was so she wouldn’t become Catholic). Margaret was certain she would never act as a Presbyterian, but as soon as she went home she began to omit the observances she had begun with her Catholic sister. When she returned to visit that sister, she was first asked to make the sign of the cross, and then asked if she had forgotten her prayers, etc. She just smiled.

She continued in this dual world until age 18, when she was engaged to be married. She had absorbed anti-Catholic sentiments from her Presbyterian friends over the years, until at last she really couldn’t bear to be with Catholics at all. However, just two years after her marriage her husband died, leaving her with two children. Then she began to have second thoughts about the Catholic faith, and she wondered if she had made a mistake. She began to change her mind, but at first she didn’t tell anyone, not even her Catholic sister. Instead, she secretly asked a virtuous servant woman of her sister’s for religious instruction. When in company with Catholics she would ask questions, seek their opinions, and generally gather information. Finally she sought instruction from a Priest, and she was conditionally baptized, a ceremony that was done in those days if one had already been baptized Protestant, as she had. It was only then that she finally told her sister, and she also had her two children baptized, sometime after which they sadly both died while still infants.

Shortly after the death of her children she petitioned to be admitted to this Visitation monastery, but as soon as her brothers, sisters, and relations found out about it, they violently opposed it. She had sufficient courage and resolution to overcome all those seemingly great obstacles and embrace religious life, which she did in 1821, when she was 21 years old. Three days after her entrance as a postulant she cut her own hair, to show her determination never more to return to the world. She divested herself of all attachments and said she wished to consecrate herself entirely to God and make her sacrifice complete.

Before she entered religious life she had been attacked with some sort of liver disease. This produced other disorders and often put her life in danger, and her physicians said they could not help her. She came to this house, she said, not to live but to die in religion. Consequently she was quite fervent during her Novitiate, but this energy was more than her health could bear. She was told to spare herself a little, but she would reply that she always suspected her feelings, so instead she asked her superiors to tell her when they thought she needed relief or refreshment so that she could do it out of obedience.

12 January 2012

Epiphany Queen

On the eve of Epiphany (January 6), as a long-standing tradition, the sisters choose a Bean Queen or Epiphany Queen. Whichever sister finds the bean/medal in her piece of cake after supper is Queen-for-a-Year and can request special things (especially free evenings and free days) for her fellow sisters. This year Sr. Mary Philomena Tisinger, a former Mother Superior, received the crown.

Opening Christmas Gifts

Sisters enjoying the thoughtful generosity of our kind benefactors during Christmastide.

05 January 2012

From the archives, Mary Bernardina McNantz, Part II

Eventually (and strangely), her cough and all her consumptive symptoms and fever did leave.  Bernardina’s countenance became bright, her conversation sparkled, she laughed heartily, and she did not seem to become tired, but she then entered into a nine-day period of crisis. During that time, everything she said and did was spiritual, sometimes even mysterious, and she only reluctantly ate food at the sisters’ urging, after nearly fasting for three days. While resisting food she’d reply that nourishing the body was beneath her, and that she wanted to quit this earth and earthly things. She wanted to divest of all her possessions, even her clothes, so that she could ascend with Christ into heaven. Once she called herself Nabuchodonosor (a common earlier transliteration today often rendered as Nebuchadnezzar), and said that like him she would eat grass as an ox and dwell with cattle for seven years. Another time she called herself Abraham, and then again Isaac, with the latter character seeming to please her most because he was ready to be sacrificed. She recited long and complicated passages of scripture with great ease, as though she had always been perfectly acquainted with every part of them. She sometimes composed songs based on spiritual texts with advice for those present, often alluding to certain passages of the holy writings in a way that astonished everyone. Our dear Father Clorivière asked her where and how she had learned all these things. She laughed and said she had read them in the Holy Court, a large book owned by the community which she had been free to peruse, although she lamented that she often read too much of it. She sometimes related past events, and even those from the lives of others. She foretold a circumstance that came to pass within two months. During this period she remained fully sensible of everything she said and did, remembering every detail, and she sometimes wondered aloud why she had such a strange affectation.

After her nine-day crisis passed, Bernardina’s cough returned even worse than before, and as it turned out she had only three more months to live. Although she had always feared death, all dread left her a few weeks before she died. She said that if she only had to consider her actions by themselves and have confidence in them alone then she would have great cause to tremble at her last moments. However, when she reflected on the merits of Christ, she felt encouraged to meet her last hour with joy, and “thus did she animate and encourage herself to follow the will and good pleasure of her God in this dangerous passage from time to eternity.” This dear sister begged pardon of the whole community in general, and of each one in particular whom she believed she had offended in the least, with sentiments of the most profound humility and her own deficiencies. She also proved her resignation to the will of God, for when Fr. Clorivière was injured and confined to his room during the time when she was to receive the last sacrament, she had to receive it from Fr. Carey, with whom she was unacquainted, and she didn’t offer the slightest sign of uneasiness. Happily, however, her passing was delayed by two days, and Fr. Clorivière was able to come to the infirmary on crutches to comfort her and pray by her bed when “she finally closed her eyes to this mortal world.” She preserved her perfect presence of mind to the last; about a quarter of an hour before her death she said her feet were cold, and Fr. Clorivière directed that a warm brick be placed by them. The infirmarians didn’t hear his order, however, and concluded that her cold was that of impending death, so they asked her again what she wanted, and she said firmly, “Do what the Father has told you.” Then, after a short agony, she happily slept in our Lord.

It seems worthy to notice that all these three McNantz sisters, Bernardina, Isidora, and Mary Leonard, died on great Sundays, this one being the first Sunday of Lent. Isidora died on Easter Sunday, and amiable little Mary Leonard went on the first Sunday of Advent. In these three sisters may we have--as we may justly hope--three advocates in heaven where we all expect to meet one day, never more to part.