Sunday, February 25, 2018

“By the labor of your hands you shall eat... will be happy and prosper.”  So does the psalmist describe a life of blessedness.  Genesis also reveals that God gave the care of the earth to Adam and Eve, and it was only after the fall that their work became a matter of penitence and sweaty labor:  “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…”.  It seems then, that the gardener has one foot in paradise and one that tramples the thorns and thistles! 

We at Bethlehem Monastery do our best to eat by the work of our hands and it has been great fun as well as muscle toning penance to be able to work up a bit of perspiration this first week of Lent tilling our vegetable field in a surprise day of 80 degree weather. 

 The novitiate garden crew has been busy during the cold and rainy days of February doing the first steps of shoveling rows of raised beds.  

Cardboard boxes, flattened and piled for mulch and pine needles to cover them at last are being put in their proper place on the paths between the rows.  Our trusty Troy built tiller churned up 4 rows so that the soil can start composting the spring weeds.  Soon these beds will be ready for planting peas, beets and mustard greens!  

Although we do our best, we cannot possibly grow enough to meet the needs of our big family.  But that is lovely too, as it makes us dependent on the goodness of our kind benefactors whom God inspires to support our way of life, not only by monetary donations, but by gifts of food as well.  Soon we shall be adding a page on our website that will inform visitors of our immediate needs so that if anyone is dropping by, and feels the breath of the Spirit upon them, they may know where to direct their love!  Some of our friends now use Amazon to order their gifts on-line.

We do landscaping work as well.  Here is a picture of some pre-spring beautifying activities in the cloister courtyard.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Novitiate Photo

It is good to be back on-line and to receive such encouragement!  This is our most recent photo of our current novitiate group and it is already outdated!  One postulant has become a novice since this was taken and the aspirant in the front now sports a black veil with her postulant companions.  But everyone is here (for the moment, that is--2 more are on the way)
So, from left to right, starting at the back row:
Junior Professed Sister Veronica Mary and Sister Angelique, Novices Sister Chiara Marie and Sister Laetitia.
Middle row:  Postulants Mary Elizabeth, Phoenix, Mary, Cheyenne (now Sister Faustina) and Casey.
Front and center:  Aspirant Jean, now a full fledged Postulant

Pray for all these earnest young people and for us elders who work to feed, clothe, house and educate them in the way of holiness taught us by St. Francis and St. Clare!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We are back! Feast of St. Colette

St. Colette  with St. Francis and St. Clare
decoration for our Chapter Room altar

Yes, we are back after nearly a year of rest from blogging!  A lot has happened at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, so I will be spending the next few posts bringing you all up to date.  But first a word about today’s feast.  We celebrate on this day the feast of St. Colette whom we call our “2nd Mother” because she was responsible for revitalizing the Order of Poor Clares that had fallen on hard times in the 15th century.  Since I have been appointed Franciscan History teacher for our growing novitiate, I decided to summarize for my students the state of the Church during the lifetime of St. Colette.  After reviewing this time period in our church history book, the only thing I could say was, “Oh my God, this is awful!” :Two antipopes (at the same time!) warring with each other and the real pope, politics, intrigue, scandal, monasteries and convents emptied by the Black Plague, general despair and violence.  And we think we have problems!  Well, we do, but it is useful and instructive to see our own woes in the perspective of history. 
St. Colette was called to do her bit to be part of the solution to the problems of her day by living and teaching a way of holiness.  Now it is our turn to play our role in bringing about a new springtime of faith in the winter of our present afflicted world.

Since you last heard from us, we have had two investitures and a number of new arrivals, bringing our novitiate crew to a record 10 members!  Pictures will be coming in due course as I find them and/or take them.  Home improvement projects have been completed and new ones planned.  Our increased numbers means decreased space.  The monastery we built 14 years ago and that seemed so huge at the time feels much smaller and tighter today.  We count our blessings!  Twenty five Sisters is high on the list!