Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poor Clare Snow Fun

As everyone in Virginia knows, it SNOWED last week!  True to our Franciscan heritage, Mother Abbess gave us all permission to go outside and enjoy God’s gift.  Our Father St. Francis rejoiced with exuberant joy over all the wonderful works of the Creator especially the beauties of nature and the loveliness of each person.  Here is a collage of our snow fun together.  Mother Abbess leads the way in her yellow jacket.  She is our champion sledder. Postulants made snow angels as well.  Our Indian Sisters took to the snow like pros.  One of our elders (70+ Sister Joseph) came back for more in the afternoon.  That's the Poor Clare spirit!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Behold the Lamb of God

Our life is full of mysteries, unanswered questions, unfathomed realities.  For anyone desiring to have control over life, this situation can be very anxiety provoking!  But for those willing to take the risk of letting life unfold according to God’s inscrutable design, the experience can be exhilarating and wonder-filled.  The contemplative, whose special call is to gaze on God in the dark and sometimes painful mirror of faith, must make friends with mystery.  The more we gaze, and the more we see, the more we perceive that there is more to see.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist bids us to see:  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.  Yet John also says that he did not know Him although he had seen “the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him”.  It was said of Socrates that he was the wisest man in the world because he alone knew that he did not know.  The Baptist could also claim this wisdom.  The person of Jesus infinitely transcends all of our paltry attempts to understand Him.  Not that we shouldn’t try to know Him as best we can!  No, this is our joy, both in this life and in the next, to continually seek to know Him so as to love him more.  But we must never think that we have succeeded in grasping Him completely.  We cannot fit Him into the little box of our minds.  Only the Father knows Him in the absolute sense, as well as the Spirit who remains on Him.  We, on the other hand, can look forward with anticipation and perhaps some trepidation, to a lifetime of surprises in our relationship with Him.  We need not be afraid, although we often are, especially when we take our gaze from Him and start looking too much at ourselves.  That is just part of the adventure of it all.  Life with the Lord is not a walk in the park.  It is more like climbing Mount Everest, or Calvary.  One thing we do know:  everything is under control, even when it seems least so—His control, not ours.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baptism of the Lord


Water washed he stands in Jordan's flood
And heaven tears before the Father's face.
When washed again in sacrificial blood,
The veil is rent before the Holy Place.

Water-washed I stand in flowing tide,
And see the heavens spear-rent open wide.
Blood-bathed, I with nothing left to hide,
Let the veil of fear be cast aside.

Blessed First Sunday of Ordinary Time, otherwise known as the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!  Christmas is a wonderful season,  but we always look forward to the ordinary time that is always far from "ordinary" in a Poor Clare monastery.  Now we prepare for the entrance of our Aspirant Phoenix next month.  I am also deep into garden catalogs, planning for spring planting.  Other good things promise to happen in this new year of 2014!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Blessed New Year!

Our Sanctuary resplendent in poinsettias donated by our benefactors

Blessed New Year to all from Bethlehem Monastery!  I share here a poem by one of our Sisters, looking forward to Sunday's feast of Epiphany:

Gifts for the Magi

His Only Begotten given
In marriage to mankind
The Eternal Father looks afar to find
Men of faith on earth
That He might kindle fire in their hearts
To celebrate this humble birth.

From Orient He calls His guests,
Come, come to the wedding feast.

The firmament He sets ablaze,
Speaks within of mysteries
Hidden from the wise;
A new star their sacrament
In the skies.

            Toward Israel—
            O quick to believe—
            Seek the young Emmanuel.

What prize blest
Yours who leave each familiar thing
On mad search for a poor Jew King?
The awful, fled Face of every man’s quest,
Waiting, small on His Mother’s breast,
            And brighter than your star!
O drink the wine of Mary’s liquid lullaby.

Her Son adore,
            Breathless telling pour
Into wondering heart for store
            Only briefest rest.

            Then across the sands’
            Back to your oblivion,
For escort—indelible vision,
Remembered feel of God in hands,
Soft pulsing through swaddling bands;
A woman’s song to buoy the years;
Taste of His Name
            Under salt of tears
In homelands
            Never quite the same.