29 April 2007

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Today is world day of prayer for vocations. We have long believed that the best advertisement for vocations are happy religious. Here, among other smiling faces, we share our three sisters who were professed this past year. Sister Mary Roberta stands with Mother Philomena and Sister Anne Elizabeth and Sister Maureen are pictured on the left. As we pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we pray for all those who are called that they may have the courage and generosity to respond, in freedom, to the Lord's sweet voice.

"Happy the soul that loves prayer and perseveres in it despite every difficulty!"

St. Jane de Chantal

24 April 2007

"C" is for Common Sense

It's time for our monthly spotlight on St. Francis de Sales. In keeping with this year's focus on our Holy Founder, our Sister Mary Berchmans shares a few pearls of wisdom. (For previous posts click here for March and here for February.) The video is only a minute and a half ... a micro dose of Salesian spirituality (and, perhaps as St. Francis de Sales would have it since he was well known for his short chapters!)

23 April 2007

Second To Nun

Yesterday afternoon our Visi Crew team dedicated a new shell and named it "Second to Nun" in honor of our dear Sister Anne Marie. One of our school chaplains, Father Stephano, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo was on hand to bless the boat. Representing the monastery at the blessing were Sister Jacqueline, Sister Mary de Sales, who spoke a few words about Sister Anne Marie and Sister Maureen de Chantal, the "photonun" who captured the moment!

When they are not out on the water, our crew team can be seen working out in the gym at 6.00 on school mornings. Those of us in the monastery know well what it is like when morning comes quickly after a day's work -- be it in school or in the monastery and we tip our caps -- our veils -- to the members of our award-winning crew team. Go Cubs!

19 April 2007

The Holy Spirit and the School Bus

One of our faithful chaplains loves to tell us the story of a school bus that a local high school uses to take their athletes to away games. One year it was dubious as to whether or not the legendary school bus would pass its annual inspection. The athletic director, not having extra money in his budget, spoke to the mechanic about how much it would cost to make the "bare minimum" number of repairs to get through inspection. When word got out that the school bus was in danger of not passing inspection, a very generous parent (of an athlete) offered to pay to repair the school bus. On hearing the good news, the athletic director responded, "That would be wonderful. We need new brakes, a new exhaust system, the air conditioner hasn't worked in a few years and while we're at it. . . ." When it was no longer on his budget, the athletic director listed many things that he would like to have repaired on the school bus. And so it is with the Lord -- our chaplain reminds us -- it is He who gives his gifts to us. We learn in today's Gospel that the Lord "does not ration his gift of the Spirit." When we ask the Lord for graces that we need we should not ask as though it were up to us to "pay the bill" -- so to speak. We should ask freely for all the graces we need and we should trust that he who does not ration His gifts, He who cannot be outdone in generosity, will be lavish in His response. One example might look like this: "Lord, please help me to smile at so-and-so at work. I have such a hard time getting along with him, help me to smile today." That might be okay if we ourselves are "paying the bill" because a smile might be all we can muster if it were up to us. When we're riding on the Holy Spirit's bus ticket we can say, "Lord, I can't stand to look at so-and-so; please give me the grace to reach out to him in love...not just a smile but a kind word or even a kind gesture."
"Between meditation and contemplation there is the prayer of petition . . . . True prayers of petition are made by grace -- when we ask for something which is not due us at all, and when we ask it of someone who is far superior to us, as God is."
St. Francis de Sales

14 April 2007

Octave of Easter

Every year during the Octave of Easter, the Church replaces the usual responses to the readings during the Liturgy of the Hours with the antiphon, "This is the day" from Psalm 118. Here we share the polyphonic version that we use at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. (We use a simpler version at other hours.) Our first foray into the moving medium of video!

12 April 2007

All Eyes on Jesus

Jesus asks his disciples, in today's Gospel, "And why do questions arise in your hearts?" It is hard to imagine how the disciples must have felt. And we have no window into an answer since Luke does not give us any indication that they had a chance to reply. Jesus immediately shows them his wounds to reassure them that it is indeed he himself. A reminder to us all that a posture which keeps our eyes focused on the Lord is essential. Later in the Gospel we learn that "he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures." Only when we have fixed our gaze on the Lord can we be in a position to have our minds and hearts opened to his word.
When the rubber hits the proverbial road of life, this is a helpful practice. We might be tempted to become frustrated with an inconsiderate co-worker; we might struggle to maintain our patience with a family member whose memory is failing; perhaps a friend is feeling under the weather and is unusually ornery. Sometimes we are faced with a challenging decision and we are unsure about how we should act. St. Francis de Sales, in giving advice about how to make a decision in accord with God's will, recommends that once we have consulted a few trusted people, we make a firm decision and -- keeping our eyes on the Lord -- stand firm, not allowing questions to distract us.
". . . come to a decision in the name of God. After that we must not call our choice in doubt, but devoutly, peacefully, and firmly keep and sustain it . . . Once our resolution has been holily made, we must never doubt the holiness of its execution."

St. Francis de Sales

08 April 2007

Lux Mundi

We wish our readers a Happy and Holy Eastertide! And here we share a few photos from our Vigil Mass and a short reflection on the Easter Lily by St. Francis de Sales:

In the Vigil of the Lord's Resurrection in the Holy Night of Easter, our faithful server, David Gardiner assists Rev. Stephen Fields, SJ as he lights the incense from the fire. (It was a windy night and lighting the fire proved a challenge -- even to the best of boy scouts!)

Once inside, Father stops outside the chapel door to intone, "Christ our Light!" a second time.

Prior to the Vigil Mass, our Sister Leonie Therese -- faithful sacristan -- arranges a gift of lilies in our ante choir.

Few varieties of flowers get as much attention in religious art as the lily -- and not just any lily, day lily, water lily, tiger lily -- the Easter Lily. St. Francis de Sales, using the lily to illustrate the virtue of charity, had the following to say:

"Charity, therefore, includes the seven gifts. It resembles a splendid lily that has six petals whiter than snow, and in its center the beautiful little golden hammers of wisdom which drive into our hearts the loving taste and savor of the goodness of the Father, our Creator, of the mercy of the Son, our Redeemer, and of the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, our sanctifier."

05 April 2007

Sacred Triduum 2007

We welcome our locals to join us for these most holy days. (And we shall resume blogging after the Triduum.)

Our schedule for public liturgies during the Sacred Triduum is as follows:

Holy Thursday:
Mass of the Lord's Supper 5.00pm (Chapel of the Sacred Heart)
Night Prayer 8.00pm
The Blessed Sacrament will be reposed until Midnight in the Visitation Parlor.
Good Friday:
Office of Readings 7.30am
Morning Prayer 9.00am
Midday Prayer 12.00
Commemoration of the Lord's Passion 3.00 (Chapel of the Sacred Heart)
Night Prayer 7.15pm

Holy Saturday:
Office of Readings 7.30am
Morning Prayer 9.00am
Midday Prayer 11.40am
Evening Prayer 5.00pm
Vigil Mass in the Holy Night of Easter 8.00pm

"What was our Lord doing during those three hours on the cross? He was offering sacrifices of praise. . . . O God! How many loving tears He shed during those three hours . . . how many and what kinds of pains pierced through the Sacred Heart of my Savior!"
St. Francis de Sales - Sermon on Good Friday 1622

01 April 2007

Solemn Profession in Brooklyn

As we begin this most holy of weeks, we pause to share with our readers a few highlights from the profession of Sister Mary Cecilia Cho, VHM of our Monastery in Brooklyn. Sister is pictured above, standing outside the monastery choir, next to the statue of St. Margaret Mary. Three of us traveled, last Sunday, to be present for the occasion.

The Solemn Profession Liturgy was celebrated by one of their newly-consecrated auxiliaries, Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,DD who was ordained a bishop in August 2006 and given the titular see of Inis Cathaig. Concelebrants included three Redemptorists from their nearby community. The homilist was Reverend Joseph R. Gibino, STM, PhD, a diocesan priest who is serves as one of the chaplains to the monastery. Father Gibino, who is also Sister Mary Cecilia's spiritual director, delivered a beautiful homily on love as he reflected on the Gospel reading (John 8:1-11). Following the homily, Sister pronounced her vows into the hands of Mother Susan Marie, superior of the monastery and received the crucifix of profession and a candle, lit from the paschal candle.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano turned to the sisters' choir and, addressing Sister Mary Cecilia said, "Action that is not born in a spirit of prayer and receptivity to God's will is not going to accomplish much! Thank you for your response to God." And as we begin this most solemn of weeks, we reflect on how true those words really are. May all our actions be rooted in a spirit of prayer and devotion as we commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord.
A blessed holy week to all our readers (monastery schedule coming soon!!) To learn more about our monastery of Brooklyn, click here.