April 23, 2022

How the Sisters are Celebrating Easter

After the aridity of Lent, The lilies of Easter make the Chapel seem like a garden!

Blessed Easter, to all our family and friends!

Lent and the Sacred Triduum flew by, full of the Lord’s grace and a constant invitation to go deeper than ever before into these holy mysteries.

The Church continues to give us the joy of celebrating Easter, liturgically, for an entire octave. One day could not be sufficient to recognize the importance of what has just occurred! Liturgically speaking, each day of the Octave is Easter Day all over again. The Alleluia is constantly on our lips as we pray and sing, with continual reflections on the appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection, and the bold preaching of the Apostles.

That being the case, we must find innumerable ways to celebrate together! This Octave has been very full, thanks to lots of planning from various teams, hosting new fun each day.

On Easter Monday, we were blessed to make the trip out to Fort Payne, Alabama, where Sister Clare Marie’s brother, Fr. Rick, is pastor of Our Lady of the Valley. We were able to have Mass together, after which Father Rick and some of his staff members took us on a tour of Little River Canyon, which was beautiful.

On Tuesday, some Sisters worked to construct small shrines (to be given away), to honor Our Blessed Mother and create a place in the home for veneration, and writing prayer intentions. Wednesday brought an invitation to a wonderfully elegant evening Tea, organized by Sister Rita Marie.

The Novitiate has been providing entertainment each evening, with trivia from the book of the Lives of the Saints we read from each morning. Each correct answer counts for an egg in the basket (i.e. ticket in the raffle) on the eighth day of the Octave! What does the name Barnabas mean? (answer: Son of Encouragement)

This weekend we are hosting a retreat for young adults – please keep them in prayer during their retreat.

May the celebration of Our Lord’s triumph over sin and death continue to bring great light and joy to you all!

March 25, 2022

From the Mouths of Babes

Blessings on this great Feast of the Annunciation! This morning in the Divine Office, we chanted Iam Caeca Vis Mortalium, a 4th century hymn written as a poem by Prudentius. It is a beautiful reflection on the mystery of the Incarnation, in which the fifth and sixth verses read,

This is the day when life itself 

Leapt down to earth in secret guise, 

Becoming truly flesh and blood 

To rescue man, his love’s great price. 

What treasure, hidden and divine, 

Reposed in Mary’s virgin womb, 

The golden dawn of perfect day, 

New light dispelling sin and gloom.

In honor of Our Lord’s entrance into the world as a child, we thought we would share with you some of the many profound and humorous reflections we hear from the children we know.

From an eight-year old in a class that was having Q&A with visiting sisters,

Boy: “Sister, John the Baptist had his head cut off, right?”

Sister: “Yes, that’s right.”

Boy: ” So… is he in Heaven with his head, or without his head?”

From a kindergartener, learning that Jesus had both died and was Resurrected,

“Wait! That’s what Easter is all about, that Jesus came back to life?!”

From a non-Catholic 4th grader, receiving his first exposure to Eucharistic Theology by hearing a Eucharistic hymn,

Boy: “Wait, when you receive Holy Communion you receive God?!?”

Sister: “Yes, that’s right.”

Boy: “and when you receive Him, you become more like God?!?”

This boy has retained great attraction for the Catholic Faith, and even for the priesthood, ever since, though not yet a member of the Church.

From a 6 year-old, upon her Mother’s commenting that she’s not sure why she has a tradition of serving Lasagna on Palm Sunday,

“Mommy, I know why we have Lasagna! Because when Jesus came in the city, all the people yelled, ‘Lasagna! Lasagna!”

From a sixth grader, looking queasy on learning that King David had multiple wives,

“You mean… he married a lot of girls?”

From a kindergartner, during a lesson on Adam and Eve, Sister was teaching that in the Garden of Eden, the Devil told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed God, they would become like God. Eve listened to the Devil and disobeyed God.

Little Girl: “Then they became like God, right?”

Sister: “No, the Devil had lied to them.”

Little Girl: “Oh, that’s bad.”

And, a few photos to show what the Sisters have been doing lately:

March 9, 2022

Setting Out on the Way

Reflections by a Sister Servant

Greetings in Christ from the Sister Servants, wishing a holy and blessed Lent to each one of you!

The Church gives us this valuable season, guided by rich liturgies, as an opportunity to examine ourselves and our relationship with the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the season of Lent is an “intense [moment] of the Church’s penitential practice.” (CCC 1438) We have forty days, this desert time, during which we keep our gaze focused on Christ’s sacrificial suffering. It helps us prepare to enter deeply into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has traditionally taught that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are vehicles to help us keep proper focus throughout Lent.

Over the years, we’ve all given up many things, promised to add more prayers to our day, and maybe even put a little more in the collection plate at Mass. But this past Friday’s first reading at Mass from Isaiah is quite startling and struck me as my own guide for Lent this year. (It can be read in full, here.) “Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” (Is 58:5) My personal takeaway from Isaiah was that I must dive deeper into Lent this year, beyond my chosen discipline. Easter Sunday has to be more than congratulating ourselves for successfully keeping our fast, finally sticking to Bible in a Year (I confess, I started over, too), or fulfilling our extra tithing at Church.

Our personal relationship with God is the most important thing we can ever cultivate for ourselves in this life. We need to choose disciplines that will help us bare ourselves fully open to Him this Lent. As the prophet Isaiah says, God wants to be invited in to heal our wounds, be our rear guard, and answer our every cry (Is 58:8-9). I encourage us all, no matter what we have chosen to add to or eliminate from our lives this Lent, that they are means of making us more mindful every day of the God Who loves us so much that He gave us His own life for us. This is a Truth, a gift, that we need to open ourselves to receive as deeply as possible, come Holy Week.

God desires that we have life to the full. As His light grows within us, breaking forth like the dawn, may we be a light to others long after our Lenten season has passed.

We are walking with you during this holy season, and keep each one of you in our daily prayers.

January 28, 2022

Illuminating the Psalms

This past Fall, as part of a class on the Liturgy of the Hours, a few Sisters completed the assignment of making an illuminated manuscript. They each chose a favorite Psalm for the project.

As consecrated religious, we chant the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours) daily, thus joining Jesus Christ, our High Priest, in His canticle of divine praise (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 83).  Composed primarily of the Psalms (which, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, contain “all of theology”), the Scriptures punctuate our day in order to permeate our day.  The scheduled times of prayer give us an experience of sacred time that gradually teaches us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) during each moment of each day.

In imitation of (and inspired by) faith-filled Catholics throughout the ages, the Sisters poured their energies and creativity into a true labor of love, yielding a work that reflects the beauty and importance of the Word of God.  It also gave the Sisters an opportunity to contemplate the Psalm in a new way, for they were forced to slow down, writing each line very carefully as well as deciding on the appropriate colors and design.  Some of them even included small pictures reflecting the Christological meaning of the Psalm, laying bare some aspect of its New Testament fulfillment in Christ. 

The careful, contemplative, and unhurried way the Sisters approached the various elements of this project provided a very tactile way of experiencing the contemplative attitude we seek to cultivate as we pray the Psalms throughout the day, in order that the word of God may be always, not only in our mouth, but also in our hearts (cf. Rom. 10:8). 

Why not try copying down your favorite Scripture passages sometime? It doesn’t have to be a fancy illumination – even making a clean and simple copy is a prayerful and fruitful activity.  The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures may well inspire (or illuminate) you with new insights as you slow down and allow the Word of God to penetrate your being in a new way.

January 8, 2022

Joy to the World!

As we come to the close of the Christmas season, with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sister Madeline shares her experience of her first Christmas in the Convent – and what a Christmas it was!

We had the great fun of a snow day early in January

Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room. And Heaven and nature sing. And Heaven and nature sing. And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing!

This Christmas was my first Christmas in the convent, and my golly what a wonderful and blessed time it has been. I have never set up so many nativity scenes in my life.

Christmas Eve was filled with praying, cooking, and decorating as we awaited the celebration of Our Lord’s birth. The carols we sang before our “Midnight Mass” were beautiful and special because we sang them for Our Lord. Unfortunately, we were unable to invite anyone to come for Holy Mass because of sickness in the house. It was interesting to sing carols for half an hour before Holy Mass to prepare our own hearts and make room for Him to dwell.

Being the youngest in the community, I was given the blessing to lay the baby Jesus in the manger under the altar while the sisters sang “O Come All Ye Faithful.” That was a very beautiful moment because it was so real. Truly as I was kneeling to lay Him down in the manger, the words were echoing in my heart “O come let us adore Him!”

Afterwards, Mother Louise Marie gave me a gift to open, and I received my own baby Jesus and manger, made by Sister Ave Maria, for me to put in my cell. It was such a precious gift to receive.

The octave was filled with games, rest, and free time which is always much appreciated. This Christmas was definitely more centered on the birth of our Savior especially since I wasn’t surrounded by distractions of shopping deals, secular Christmas movies/songs, etc. What a joy it is to celebrate the birth of our King and meditate upon how much He loves us. I pray that this Christmas season has filled your heart with great joy and peace.