and now... "The Rest of the Story"
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
This is certainly the praise to God that continues to flow from Sr. Rose Marie's and my heart after our pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and EWTN in Alabama. Yes, this is Sr. John Mary writing and I am finally getting around to giving you all (or "y'all" as they say in Alabama) some of the "inside scoop" of our experience September 1 - 4, 2009.
Thanks again to all of you who spread the word about our show and who prayed for us, for without your prayers, including our family and friends and Mother Catherine Marie and our Sisters here it certainly would not have been so anointed.
Talking about prayer, the eve before Sister and I left all the Sisters extended their hands in prayer over us and Mother led us in a wonderful prayer with various Sisters chiming in. I prayed that this appearance on "Life on the Rock" would not only bring vocations and potential benefactors to our community but also to our other 4 monasteries here in the States - do you know we have heard from our other monasteries that they are getting vocation inquiries?! That's fantastic.
Mother anointed the van with exorcised oil before we took off
Sister and I left mid-morning on Tuesday, September 1st. Spending the time in prayer, listening to talks by Fr. Corapi and eating and sharing among ourselves we had a wonderful drive to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL (an hour north of EWTN). This is the monastery where Mother and Angelica and the community now reside.
As we drove into the monastery grounds and drove past the long white picket fence that first evening I felt overwhelmed at the magnitude of what one woman’s "yes" to God has accomplished. And this grand work is infinitesimal compared to Mary's "yes"! Wow. This is truly holy ground. Of course, that is what everyone says when they enter our property. Truly, all over our nation, there are spaces set apart for the praise of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and monastery grounds are one such place.
Does anyone know the story behind this cross? It is just in the middle of the fields as one is driving in. It is lit up at night.
Hardly anyone was at the Shrine that evening and the next morning. We had lots of time to just sit inside the beautiful "Temple" in prayer. The Lord drew us into His Presence here and prepared us for the show which would take place two nights later.
Wednesday, September 2, began the day with Holy Mass at the Shrine. I was blessed to meet and speak briefly with Sr. Isabella Marie - one of the extern nuns. That was a delight! After more time spent in prayer Sister and I drove on into Birmingham. We timed it so as to arrive in time for the 2:45 p.m. EWTN studio tour. We also met Brother Pio Mary, MFVA for the first time. He is from our diocese and his parents are benefactors of our community. He seems to be a wonderful friar, very friendly and happy as are all the friars. They are the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word and were founded by Mother Angelica. We have made a new friend!
We then met the wonderful producer of "Life on the Rock" - Jill Sanders - she had been setting our minds at ease for the last 2 months with her words of encouragement and overall helpfulness. God reward you Jill! After this we set off to get settled in our house before supper...or so we thought!
We drove around back of the studio and arrived at our guest house, which we were told would be "Immaculata House". We were through the front door with suitcases in our hands, up the stairs and ready to put our things in our rooms when I noticed that the name signs on the doors were all names of men - "Brother Simon Mary", "Fr. Daniel Mary". Then we noticed the sound of a man's voice behind one of the doors. After standing for a moment in surprise and confusion Sr. Rose Marie gave the profound statement of the day: Perhaps we should go back outside and think about this. (meaning, lets get out of here and quick!) Once we were back outside someone drove up and help us figure out we had been switched to "Madonna House" next door.
About 20 minutes later we were eating our supper when in walked two Carmelite monks. They introduced themselves as Brother Simon Mary and Fr. Daniel Mary - oops! We all had a good laugh about what happened. This certainly "broke the ice" and, after we were joined by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, provided for light banter and serious sharing the rest of the meal. These two monks of the new Carmelite monastery in Wyoming were to be the guests on Fr. Mitch's "EWTN Live" show that evening. The three of them encouraged Sr. Rose Marie and I to attend the show and be contemplative support to these contemplative monks. I also asked a question on the live show about contemplative life in the world today. It seemed to go over well - a little practice for the show the next evening.
Sister’s family and friends arrived at EWTN in the afternoon of Thursday, September 3 and it was a delight to greet them a couple hours before the show. We also met with Fr. Mark Mary, MFVA and Doug Barry. We all hit it off well which helped Sr. Rose Marie and I to feel at ease. Due to the grace and mercy of God I did not feel real nervous, especially after about 5 minutes of the show. Sr. Rose Marie did a great job answering their questions. She was certainly more nervous. Her mind had gone completely blank...this is when one has to totally rely on the Holy Spirit! If you are interested you can listen to the show here: Life on the Rock #626.
On stage after the show with hosts Fr. Mark Mary and Doug Barry. Thanks Fr. Mark for giving so generously of your time that day!
New friends Brother Pio Mary and Brother Tarcisius. Brother Tarcisius is from Argentina and knows the Passionist Nuns there.
The brothers with their "big sister"!
It was great meeting Sr. Rose Marie's "Aggie" friends Kimmy and Charlotte who drove in from Houston
The next day we were blessed to attend Mass at EWTN again and Sr. Rose Marie’s family and friends joined us. After that we all drove to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and were able to spend a bit more time on these blessed grounds.
One of the main inspirations for building this great Temple in the South happened through an inspiration from the Divino Nino Jesus to Mother Angelica.
Sister Rose Marie and I left the Shrine around 11:30 a.m. and got home by 6:45 p.m. that evening. We were practically crawling through Nashville as it was Friday of Labor Day weekend and everyone was getting on or off of I-65!
Sr. John Mary and Sr. Rose Marie (sort of) with Mother Angelica
It was such a wonderful and holy experience. First of all, to proclaim and make known our Passionist life and charism - making Jesus Crucified more known and loved! Secondly, it was truly an experience of "Holy Friendship" with other persons totally consecrated to God's glory and the redemption of the world through the proclamation, re-presentation and living of the Paschal Mystery.
Thank you so much for your prayers and continued interest in Passionist life. If you would like to obtain a copy of the show we will soon be offering the DVD from our on-line gift shop.
Whew! This was one loooong story...making up for no blog post last week!
Special thanks to Mark Schoppe and Charlotte McNabb for sharing their photos...some of which are used in this post.