Sunday, October 14, 2018

Construction Update


So far, this little flag is the only outward sign that we are about to construct a new novitiate dormitory.  It was placed there to mark the location where a sample of our ground was to be taken to determine how deep to put the posts that will hold up said dorm.  We are happy to report that the posts do not have to go too deep!

On our library table is the other evidence of our intent:  the newly drawn up construction plans!  Here is a pertinent picture:


Then, our insurance company wants to know the exact location of the construction.  So here is a modified excerpt from our old plans:


The Sister in charge of our finances informs me that we have so far raised enough money to pay for our new construction drawings.  Hurrah for us and all of our good benefactors!  But we are going to need more funds for things like bricks, mortar, windows, doors...So if you can help us out, please give what you can by using our little donate button at the top of the page.  All donations are tax deductible and more importantly, will be rewarded by our good God who is never outdone in generosity.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Our Newest Novice


As promised, we have for you the best of our pictures of our newest novice, invested with the Holy Habit yesterday, feast of St. Faustina and nameday of her twin Sister!  It was a wonderful day for us all.









Sunday, September 30, 2018

Pictures of Novitiate and Garden for September






Before these pictures are out of date, I had better get them on-line!  Here it our crew of postulants who are soon to lose one member to the novitiate.






Postulant Phoenix will be clothed in the Holy Habit of our Mother St. Clare this Friday!  Stay tuned for pictures of that blessed event to come!










And here is our current novice crew, soon to gain one member, but due on November 21st, feast of the Presentation of Mary, to lose another to the juniorate....








our Sister Laetitia!


Meanwhile, out in the garden, an amazing thing!  I was about to pull up this winter squash vine since it is September and that is what you usually do at this time of year.  But all of a sudden it took on new life.  Now it is taking over the grass that in its turn has taken over the empty spots of the veggie field.  Large fruits have been spotted last week, so...Where there is life there is hope!  May it be so for the seemingly dead and dying areas of the Church!  May we witness a new springtime, even in the approaching winter.  It is our job to pray and sacrifice to that end.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The More Things Change...


 When young Francis de Pietro de Bernadone was discerning his vocation, he felt inspired to enter the dilapidated old Church of San Damiano to pray.  While kneeling before the Byzantine crucifix hanging there, it suddenly came alive for him and spoke, “Francis, go repair my house which as you see, is falling into ruin.”  As he was a simple man, Francis sold some merchandise from his father’s fabric shop and offered the money to the resident priest for the repair of the church. 
But fearing he was being mocked, the priest refused.  



Then Francis became a construction contractor, and stone mason although he knew nothing about these trades. 
Where there is a will, there is a way—especially for Francis of Assisi.  But after he had repaired three old churches around the countryside and had also attracted followers in his new style of life, he came to realize that Christ’s words to him had a deeper meaning.  He was called to repair not physical churches, but THE Church which through the corruption of wealth and the abuse of power, was threatening to collapse.  The reigning Pope also had a dream in which he saw St. John Lateran basilica toppling over and a small man rushing forward to prop it up with his shoulder.  When Francis arrived at the Vatican to get approval for his newly founder Order, the Pope recognized him as the man of his dream.

The first church Francis repaired, San Damiano, became the first monastery of his “Poor Ladies” who are now known as the Poor Clares.  While Francis’ brothers, the Friars Minor, uphold the Church through their imitation of the life of Christ, we his sisters, do our part as Mary did, by a maternal and prayerful presence.  The Church of the 21st century is much like that of Francis’ 13th century.  Then, as now, there were immoral priests, negligent and power hungry bishops, scandalized laity.  Christ is crucified again in the victims of abuse and we stand at the foot of His cross with Mary, compassionating Him, comforting the suffering laity gathered there and supporting those priests who, like St. John, remain faithful.


During this last week I have often wondered if we should be building an ark rather than a dormitory!  But then I was reminded that in ancient days, monasteries were built according to the dimensions given by God to Noah in Genesis.  The idea was that monasteries were indeed arks in which the life of prayer and penance offered a safe haven from the floods of chaos in the world.  So, as we build our dormitory to shelter young women seeking to live that very life of prayer and penance which offers salvation to the world through Christ, we actually are building an ark as well!  Let us continue to hope for God’s mercy, even as we anticipate his coming judgement upon us.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We have a problem...

Look about and see;
             they are all gathering
                         and coming to you...
         "This place is too narrow for me,
                          make room for me to live in." Is.18-20


Yes, indeed, we have a problem!  

But it is a nice problem to have
When we moved from Newport News to Barhamsville in 2004, it never occurred to our modest community of twelve to be concerned that our new monastery had a maximum capacity of thirty.  But here we are in 2018 numbering twenty-seven sisters, with more than three young women asking to share our Poor Clare life. 
The problem?  No more room!

 Our novitiate dormitory, containing 6 monastic “cells,” is filled to overflowing.  With your help, we hope to build a new novitiate addition comprising six more cells, two storage rooms and a bathroom.  We also plan to expand the novitiate “common room,” a multi-purpose area for work, study, and recreation, that is presently too small for our growing family.

Every vocation is a unique and unrepeatable mystery of God’s call and a young woman’s response.  Join us in thanking God for the gift of each of these ardent young vocations, and help us to make room for them in the heart of the Church.  Every donor to our novitiate building fund will be gratefully remembered in the prayers of our newest Poor Clares and in those of us “old timers” as well!

Donations can be made by check payable to:

Bethlehem Poor Clare Monastery and sent to:
5500 Holly Fork Rd, Barhamsville VA. 23011
or through PayPal (see the donate button above on the right!)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

August Gardening


I have heard it said that missionaries have a hard time explaining the concept of divine forgiveness to indigenous people who are nature worshipers because in their experience, “Mother Nature” does not forgive!  Our gardening experience confirms it.  This year we got did not get the compost into the squash row before planting and we got behind in the weeding.  The result? Not much squash. Never mind the excuses of not having time, etc.  Tell it to the birds.  They won’t listen either!  But then, sometimes Nature smiles like the sun on a clear day, and for some reason  things go marvelously well.  We had some volunteer pumpkins that ended up being the success story of this year’s garden.  Here is pictured our Sister Prabha holding our prize winner weighing a hefty 35 lbs!
We thank God for the pumpkins, the few squash we did get, the abundant cucumbers and tomatoes still being harvested.  But most of all we thank Him for His love that DOES FORGIVE US when we fail, even if we have to bear the consequences of our negligences.  That is what is called “the temporal punishment due to sin”.




We are now in the midst of our novena to our Mother St. Clare in preparation for the celebration of her feast on Saturday, August 11.  May she bless all of you with the gift of her intercession!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

More photos of Sister Francesca

As promised, here are more pictures of Sister Mary Francesca's investiture:

Sister Mary Francesca




Sister Francesca's Hair Offered in Sacrifice 
Cutting the Cake

Sister Francesca has long since removed her festive crown of flowers and is happily learning how to manage her activities barefooted and clothed in the Holy Habit.  She reports it is easier than in postulant garb!  She is also moving out of her cell in the novitiate dormitory in order to make room for our newest member, Aspirant Amanda who comes to us next Sunday!  We have only 2 more cells left, so it is getting time to build another dormitory.  Stay tuned for further developments!