Sunday, October 19, 2014

Organ-izing Postulants and a Nun Run

Ever since our Postulant Sarah became novice Sister Veronica Mary, Phoenix has been our one and only postulant.  That is until last Wednesday on the feast of the great contemplative St. Teresa of Avila, Cecilia graduated from the aspirancy and received the black postulant veil.  It is very nice indeed to have a matching set of postulants.  Phoenix and Cecilia also share a great love for the piano and they are both learning to transfer their piano skills into a flowing legato touch destined for organ playing at our liturgies.  Here they are pictured beside our novitiate keyboard.  Each has her own unique style of playing.  Phoenix sits sedately on the bench playing mostly from her photographic memory so that I am often accompanied in my computer work by a medley of musical pieces both classical and modern.  Cecilia, on the other hand sits hunched in an attitude of attack, absorbed in the musical score before her.

At the investiture of Sister Veronica, the whole novitiate participated in the celebrations.  While Sister Angelique and Sister Miriam Rose decorated the common room, Phoenix and Cecilia decorated Sister Veronica’s cell door.

This warning sign was posted on the novitiate library door which was the scene of remote preparations.  When the bell rang for our midnight prayers, Cecilia taped the prepared decorations to Sister’s door so that they would greet her upon her rising in the morning.

These consisted of some appropriate pictures, especially meaningful quotations from Sacred Scripture along with a poem by her favorite poet, Gerald Manley Hopkins.

 There was also a floral display at the cell entrance.  Contrary to popular belief, talents are put to good and constant use in the cloister!

Over the weekend we hosted a “nun run”, girls and young women from the Virginia Beach area discerning their vocations to religious life.  They first visited the Nashville Dominicans who have a mission in Hampton and then came up to spend a day and night with us.  Pray for these earnest young people that they may have the grace and courage to discover and follow the Lord’s leading in their lives.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More Pictures of New Novice Sister Veronica

It is wonderful seeing another white veiled novice running around barefoot in our monastery!  She is doing quite well learning the ins and outs of wearing the Holy Habit.  Here are a few more pictures of Sister Veronica's Investiture Day:

Postulant Sarah receiving the olive branch
 in honor of our Mother St. Clare
 who was invested with the Franciscan Habit on Palm Sunday

Receiving the Habit and Franciscan Cord

Cutting of the Hair

Receiving the Veil

Receiving the Book of the Liturgy of the Hours

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dear Sarah, in the future you will be called....

Sister Veronica Mary of the Wounds of Christ! 

Our new novice's patroness is a Capuchin Poor Clare who was greatly devoted to the Passion of Christ and who herself bore His wounds by a mystical grace.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sarah on Retreat

Blessed Feast of our  Father St. Francis!  It is a beautifully sunny autumn day in Virginia, a truly wonderful day to sing the praises of God for His creation in the spirit of our Seraphic Father.  Another reason for joy is that this year our celebration includes the anticipation of the Investiture of our Postulant Sarah.  That blessed day is not far off.  Sarah is now on retreat to prepare for her transformation to take place on Tuesday, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.    We join her in prayer.  Visit us again on Tuesday or Wednesday to find out her new name and perhaps see a few pictures!  Here she is today:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

St. Francis' Love of Neighbor

On October 4th we will celebrate the Solemnity of our Holy Father St. Francis.  In order to prepare for this great celebration, during these next few weeks I have been sharing a series of reflections on his life, written by one of our novitiate Sisters. The purpose of this study is to introduce the reader to our Poor Clare Spirituality through the lens of the edifying life of our holy founder, Saint Francis of Assisi. 

Part Two:
First Fruits of Conversion

Love of Neighbor
    Eager to serve God and to please Him in every way, Francis soon found that his principle means of doing so was through love of his fellow men.  Moved by the Holy Spirit to overcome his natural repugnance and fear of lepers, he walked among them and showed them mercy, even embracing and kissing them.  Thus he came to see all men as precious in God’s eyes.
    God created every human being and loves each one infinitely.  He desires to unite Himself to every soul and bring all to perfect love and joy in His Heart.  There is not a single person who does not belong in the Sacred Halls of Heaven.  Therefore a lover of God is necessarily a lover of all mankind. 
    A Poor Clare expresses her love in a unique way by combining the spirit of Saint Francis with the Mystery of Enclosure.  Like Francis she wishes to give herself fully for everyone in complete unselfishness.  She longs for universal salvation and wishes to sing the message of Christ so that it may be heard in every heart.  Her great desire is to see her Lord united with all His beloved children without exception.

   Her love is so expansive that she cannot be restricted to only a small circle of people.  God has raised her to royal dignity as mother and she must serve all her children with dedication and selfless love.  Her life is consecrated to the sublime mission of rendering praise and petition to our Creator and King.

    Although she is in solitude, her solitude is in the Bosom of Christ where all souls are united.  Her silence and separation from people intensifies her love and spirit of sacrifice.  The free gift of faith in the power of her Beloved assures her that He is using her entire life as a vessel and channel of graces.

   This mystical purpose which has become clear and concrete to one with a Poor Clare vocation also has outward manifestations.  Saint Francis utilized physical contact to give the full expression of his love.  His daughters in the enclosure are not detached from the physical world and must express their love outwardly at every moment.  They do this by earnest dedication to the life of penance and the pursuit of holiness, by abundant generosity and charity to their sisters within the community, and by providing a living witness to the Gospel for those outside the enclosure with whom they come in contact.  No opportunity to render love, service, and sacrifice escapes them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Perfect Joy of St. Francis

On October 4th we will celebrate the Solemnity of our Holy Father St. Francis.  In order to prepare for this great celebration, during these next few weeks I would like to share a series of reflections on his life, written by one of our novitiate Sisters. The purpose of this study is to introduce the reader to our Poor Clare Spirituality through the lens of the edifying life of our holy founder, Saint Francis of Assisi. 

Perfect Joy
    Finding himself stripped and naked before God, Francis burst forth in joyful song.  He went about through the wilderness singing in French the praises of God.  Now his vision was clearer and the entire world was transformed before his eyes.  He found that in imitation of the Poverty and Humility of His Lord Jesus Christ he had discovered the true nature of His Royalty.  Liberating trials and corresponding graces followed one another in quick succession.  He had become a son and heir of the Kingdom.  The more he overcame his lower inclinations, the more he realized that perfect joy is the life of pure truth and security in surrender.
    The liberating joy of the habitual conquering of oneself is at first only a mystic pleasure, but later it matures and caresses the created world.  The Cross would be a dismal thing indeed if Christ had not died upon it.  All suffering is grave and mournful until Christ is seen living in it.  Once one realizes that all the vague insecurities connected with some sacrifice are a mere deception of the mind, she can move forward with a confidence that was unavailable to her before.  Then the very matter of the sacrifice is returned to her as a free gift, unshackled by the taxes of futility.

    This is the experience of the Beatitudes.  One has the sensation of leaping from a cliff to, by all appearances, a certain death below, and then finding that she can tread air.  Once the desires for what we do not have cease to be needs, and the satisfaction in what we do have has been taken away, then we have the potential to enjoy everything in its original purpose and capacity.

   Saint Francis once described perfect joy as the disposition which can receive insult and injury without indignation.  He was not proposing that we should experience elation in pain and ridicule.  Rather he was pointing out that if we are poor and humble enough not to fabricate demands and expectations we can be secure in the reality of God’s loving care for us.  We already have all that we need, the eternal inheritance, and if we can only set aside our fear and take the risk we will realize perfection.

   A Poor Clare embarks on this journey in the footsteps of her Father Saint Francis.  She surrenders herself to God’s will in every passing trial and thus begins to understand what it means to be loved by Him.  Her confidence increases as she lets go of more and more of her defenses.  She is nearing the gate of Poverty.