Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Poor Clare Style

All Hallow’s Eve, better known as Halloween, is kept by us Poor Clares as a penance vigil day in preparation for the great Solemnity of All Saints.  But a few days ago, Mother Abbess and the novitiate took advantage of a donation of large pumpkins to carve jack o-lanterns.  These greeted us, each in its own uniquely bright and silent way as we processed into our refectory to partake of our pre-dawn repast of bread and coffee.

Our Indian Sisters especially enjoyed this American custom.

Another Poor Clare tradition for All Saints Day is to display as many saint holy cards as we can, trying to somehow image the crowds of the heavenly city of Jerusalem that no one can count.  May we all be among them some day!

Our Chapter Room Altar
where our patron Saints are displayed

Each  Chapter Room window sill is covered!

The Novitiate Altar

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Poor Clare Fall Garden Update

Autumn comes slowly to our neck of Virginia, so while some areas in the north or the mountainous west are ablaze with end of season color, we are careful to note our individual trees beginning to show off their red, orange and yellow foliage.  Southern flying birds come here for the winter (it took this Connecticut Yankee a long while to figure this out!), so flocks of Canadian geese, and black birds are often seen and heard in our skies.

Pak Choi in the foreground
Kale and swiss chard in the back
Shrine of Our Lady in the background
Temperatures remain for the most part above 50 degrees, creating good conditions for extended vegetable gardening.  We have a second planting of green beans, and beets, plus a new planting of Pak Choi, while the Swiss chard, kale and eggplant are still going strong.  Of course, the tomatoes and asparagus have definitely seen better days.  Yesterday I planted clover in the open spaces to act as a winter cover crop.

Inside the monastery we have our sites set on the celebration of All Saints and the beginning of our monastic Advent.  As the garden slowly dies to prepare the way for winter and then for spring, our thoughts turn to the last things and beyond them to eternity, “life on high with Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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: