Sponsa Christi April 30th, 2009
I have been waiting for May 1st – the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker – to share with you this little reflection by Sr. Mary Andrea.
I come from a family of carpenters who have always highly valued working together. In building houses each person in the construction crew had his own responsibility, everything from being foreman to measuring and cutting, to picking up trash. When it came to our families’ homes, even we women and children had our own parts to play – cooking meals, sweeping up sawdust, and keeping the smallest children safe. At times, it could seem as though we were not doing much worthwhile for the completion of the house, but each part needed to be done.
Coming to live in St. Joseph’s Monastery (the patron saint of carpenters) with this background, the image of “building the kingdom of God” has come to mean so much to me. It is when my duties do not seem that important that I most need to remember that it is the Kingdom of God (not my kingdom) that I have come to “build”. I do not need to know how or why my duties are needed, but only to know that they are needed because the ‘Foreman’ (Who is also my Spouse), Jesus Christ, chooses to need them done by me.
Sister with her parents on the day of her First Profession in October 2007. Special thanks to Dave and Carol for taking their day off to come and clear our Stations of the Cross trail. Up until a few days ago it was still quite devastated from the ice storm damage.
May the Lord reward you abundantly!
Sponsa Christi April 25th, 2009
The Crucified One has risen that we might have new life!
The past couple of weeks have been full of duties as we sought to catch up on work we had set aside while we kept a sacred vigil with our dying Sister during the 2 weeks preceding Easter. May she rest in His undying Love!
Now…from yesterday (Friday) through next Friday one half of the Sisters are in retreat. They are the praying Marys and the rest of us are the working Marthas. Although, prayer is very much work too…a work of love.
We make our annual 8-day monastic retreat each spring. These retreats are either solitude or directed. The “Marys” are freed up as much as possible from her daily duties so that she is free to spend privileged time in prayer, Eucharistic adoration, Scripture reading and other spiritual reading, etc. She may also do yard work, go hiking, sit by the lake or in the woods, etc. It is a real time for renewal, rest and being with the Beloved. Please keep us all in prayer at this time and know we are praying for you and our nation and world in a special way during these days.
Shortly before our retreat we had a Gaudeamus day in honor of Mother Catherine Marie’s feast day. She is pictured here with various gifts she received from the Sisters. Yes, the Holy Infant of Prague got a new outfit. And the granny afghan from the novitiate wasn’t quite finished! – Perhaps by Mother’s Day?
Sponsa Christi April 18th, 2009
Along with many of you we have been preparing our hearts to celebrate the great Feast of Divine Mercy tomorrow, the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Recently we blessed a new oratory in our monastery cell wing called the Divine Mercy Chapel. Yes, our Lord Jesus’ Eucharistic Presence is now just a couple doors down from our cells! How much He loves us that He makes Himself so present to us. May we all grow in our Eucharistic fervor through this new chapel.
One morning after Mass we had a Eucharistic procession to our new oratory where our Chaplain, Fr. Ray Clark brought our Lord Jesus to reside in His new home.
A note of inspiration…our Sister Rita Marie was called home to the Lord on Holy Saturday…the 2nd day of the Divine Mercy Novena…the day dedicated to praying for priests and religious.
A note of gratitude…we were scheduled to host a Nun Run here this past Tuesday and Wednesday from the Rockford diocese but seeing that this would conflict with the visitation and funeral of Sr. Rita Marie our Carmelite Sisters came to our rescue and took them in. Low and behold, they showed up for the Prayer Service and we had a short visit with them afterwards. What a delight it was to meet them…hmm…perhaps some Passionist and Carmelite vocations are in their midst???
Lastly…I have been wanting to let you know that our most recent newsletter featuring the life of our dear Sr. Mary Bernadette of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is now available to be read on our website. If you are interested in receiving a paper copy of future newsletters in your mailbox just send your name and address and we’ll add you to our newsletter database. *Due to Bulk Mailing this applies only to persons living in the U.S.A.
Don’t forget the ABC’s of the Divine Mercy Devotion
- Ask for mercy
- Be merciful
- Completely trust in Jesus
God love you!
Sponsa Christi April 16th, 2009
Happy Easter Octave to all of you!
And we extend our deep gratitude to all of you who prayed for and with us these last weeks of Sr. Rita Marie’s life “in time and space”. She left her earthly body and was led into eternal glory at 4:22 p.m. on Holy Saturday. God certainly lavished his love and mercy upon her in providing so many graced moments during her last week and a half. One or more of us Sisters were able to be with her almost all the time…keeping vigil along with some of her family, friends and the Carmelite Sisters there at the Carmel Home.
It has been a sacred experience for our community…to be able to walk with one of our own the journey of death to new life during the same time when we were re-living the events of our Lord’s passion and death. About 6 of us were with her Good Friday afternoon after our 3 p.m. service. Walking into her room was like being a Mary at the Foot of the Cross…watching Sister’s every breath…certainly we were touching Jesus Crucified in a special way. We stood and sat in silence and quiet prayer with her…she seemed to know we were present with her up to her last moment on Holy Saturday afternoon.
The Sisters greet the body of our dear Sister in our monastery parlor before the public viewing began.
After her sacred remains arrived at the monastery on Tuesday morning we spent much time in prayer with her until her funeral on Wednesday afternoon.
What a sweet grace it was to celebrate her visitation on Easter Tuesday and her Mass of Resurrection on Easter Wednesday…so united with the Church’s Liturgy during this Easter Octave of our Lord’s victory over death, hell and sin!
Sister had made many sacred vestments for the priests of our diocese over the years and of the 12 priests present for her funeral many were wearing something hand-sewn with love and prayer by our Sister.
Again, thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for her…if any time does remain for purification, that this may be accomplished quickly. Of course, we already have her very busy interceding on our behalf…especially for the young women God is calling to join us in Passionist life…perhaps she is praying for one of you!
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord…and let perpetual light shine upon her. Amen.
Sponsa Christi April 9th, 2009
The sacred services of Holy Week should be celebrated in a special manner by the Daughters of the Most Holy Passion of our Redeemer and with the greatest recollection, compunction and devotion.
~ The Regulations of 1790
A Sister in prayer before the altar of repose during
solemn adoration on Holy Thursday evening.
During the Holy Week Triduum, we maintain a spirit of special silence and solitude. All of Holy Thursday is free for prayer. During the evening, we keep watch before the Blessed Sacrament, at least two at a time. The hours are drawn by lot. Solemn adoration ends at midnight, but the watches continue until the signal for rising on Good Friday.
On Good Friday, the noon recreation is dispensed in order that we may have freedom to spend the sacred hours from twelve to three o’clock with Jesus in His agony on the cross. In the evening, we spend a half hour in prayer in union with our Sorrowful Mother in her loneliness after the death and burial of Jesus.
~The Regulations of 2000
Sponsa Christi April 8th, 2009
Please keep our Sr. Rita Marie in your prayers. Last Tuesday we found out she has generalized cancer and it is only a matter of days/hours before the “Divine Thief” will come to take his treasured bride to be at his side in heaven. Sister is at a nearby Catholic nursing home run by the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. We love these Sisters!
We are taking turns staying with her as she journeys her final Passover from death to true life. The Lord is blessing her in so many ways…most recently with an Apostolic Blessing from Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM. This blessing remits all temporal punishment for sins! and can be given at the hour of death.
Sister is very peaceful and generously offering all her suffering in union with Jesus crucified. Please do pray for her, us and for her family whom she loves so dearly.
Sponsa Christi April 5th, 2009
I know it has been so long since I posted. I could give you a list of excuses but neither you nor I have time for that!
We have a beautiful little custom in our community of setting a place for our Lord on the evening of Palm Sunday. Scripture says he went to Bethany that evening and so we too meet him there. A lovely platter of dried fruits, candy, nuts and cookies is placed before our Lord and each of us take our turn selecting some lovely “sweet gifts” from our Lord and share a meal with him.
Today, on Passion Sunday (also known as Palm Sunday) we just entered the Great Door opening on to the Holiest Week of the year. We can participate in Holy Week as if we had been present when the events first happened! How? through the special and sacred Liturgies that will take place Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Masses of either the Vigil or Easter Sunday.
To see more on this see the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1085. See also the introduction and first chapter of Ecclesia de Eucharistia – very mystical!