29 June 2010

No Space Too Tight for God

The 1980's action show MacGyver featured a technical troubleshooter who was known for getting himself out of tight places with the most meager of supplies: usually just a Swiss Army knife and some household items. The angel in today's first reading could give Angus MacGyver a run for his money as he rescued Peter who was secured with double chains and imprisoned between two soldiers. The heavenly messenger instructed Peter to get up, get dressed and follow him out of prison. Peter, to his own surprise -- and that of his captors -- was set free and returned to the community of believers.

While the account in today's first reading would have made a great finale in a MacGyver episode, it teaches us a lesson at a deeper level: there is nothing we can get ourselves into that, with God's help, we cannot be led out to safety. This applies to more than prisons in Roman-occupied Judea. Perhaps we find that time and distance have created a tension in a treasured friendship and we do not know how to remedy the discomfort. Maybe we have a coworker with whom we find it more and more difficult to work each day. Sometimes we discover that we have offended a family member with whom we live and do not know how to reconcile our carelessness. There is no space too tight for God's grace. Like Peter, double-chained between two soldiers, we may feel trapped, but the Lord's grace -- if we are open to it -- can find a road out of even the tightest of places!

"So did Saint Peter vest himself in the prison, not at his own choice but at the angel's command. He puts on his girdle, then his sandals, and afterwards the rest of his garments. And the glorious S. Paul, stripped in a moment of all affections: Lord, said he, what wilt thou have me do? that is, what is it thy pleasure for me to love, now that throwing me to the ground thou hast made my own will to die? Ah! Lord, plant thy good-pleasure in the place of it, and, teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God."

St. Francis de Sales

25 June 2010

Way to Grow!

Just under two months ago, Sister Philomena shared some biology factoids with us as our tomato seeds were germinating and sprouting. It seemed a good time to check in and see how those seedlings have progressed. Above, Sister poses with one of the 23 tomato transplants which were among our "nursery school graduates" this year. Several other graduates were placed with loving families among friends of our community.

Several of the plants have begun to set fruit already and flowers, on all plants, seem plentiful and hearty. We have a great deal for which to be thankful!

The tomato plants, however, are not the only things growing on our campus. Gabriel, the new "watch-dog-in-training" is also growing rapidly. He may not be covered in flowers like the tomato plants, but he has grown lots in the last few months. Above, he shares a happy moment (and a tennis ball) with Nicholas, his noble -- and very patient -- mentor.

21 June 2010

A Wooden Beam with Red Flags

Several years ago we were coming home from Home Depot with some long pieces of wood to make our "compost corner" into a respectable two-bin system. The planks of wood were SO LONG that before we pulled out of the parking lot the nice man who worked in the lumber section had to staple some red baggies to the back of the wood which was sticking out of the pick-up truck. The planks were huge and -- just to make them more visible, they were now flapping red baggies like flags in the wind. This image paints a colorful comparison to the splinter -- also mentioned in today's Gospel -- which can often be so small most of us need a sterilized pin or tweezers to extract it.

How embarrassing to imagine our own faults as obvious and glaring as 8-foot 4x4's with bright red flags! Yet what a compelling call to examine our own imperfections and shortcomings before we look upon -- and dare to judge -- the actions of others. St. Francis de Sales had a great deal of counsel about why we should never judge a person's actions based solely upon what we see; he often reminded his correspondents that although we may observe an action with clarity, we bystanders lack the perspective provided by the mind and heart of the person carrying out the action -- for some things are known to God alone.

"If your affections are warm and tender, your judgment will not be harsh; if they are loving, your judgment will be the same ... And so ought we always to judge our neighbor as charitably as we can; and if his actions are many-sided, we should accept the best."
St. Francis de Sales

17 June 2010

Adoration and Movie Night

All-night adoration will continue on the third Friday of each month through the summer, but this will be our last "movie night" until September. The feature presentation will be "Miracle at Moreaux" a 1985 film that takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. The one-hour story is based upon the novel "Twenty and Ten" by Claire Hutchet Bishop. Locals can RSVP by Friday morning (please ... so we know how much pizza to have) by email or they may visit our Facebook page and RSVP to this event.

13 June 2010

...one week later

One week ago today we marked the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary and as we celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we marked the occasion with a procession down 35th Street and a blessing of the Monastery, Chapel and School buildings. Come, walk with us for a few minutes.

"The Savior instituted the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, really containing His Body and His Blood, in order that they who eat it might live for ever. And therefore whosoever receives it frequently and devoutly, so strengthens the health and life of his soul, that it is hardly possible for him to be poisoned by any evil desires. We cannot be fed by that Living Flesh and hold to the affections of death; and just as our first parents could not die in Paradise, because of the Tree of Life which God had placed therein, so this Sacrament of Life makes spiritual death impossible."
St. Francis de Sales

09 June 2010

Commencement 2010

On a day when the weather seemed custom-ordered and every detail was painstakingly prepared ... from golf-cart rides for grandparents to a stellar and smooth-running sound sound system ... the two hundred and eleventh commencement exercises began at 11.00am. The address to the graduating class was delivered by former chief international correspondent and the anchor or ABC's "News This Week," Christiane Amanpour. She shared with the class her experience of being an "accidental journalist" who, as a child, had aspired to be either a rock star or a Wimbledon champion. A stellar student address was delivered by Abaigeal Doherty in which she considered the pursuit of greatness as proposed by Shakespeare. She masterfully traced the class of 2010's four years, through her own experiences, and concluded with an imperative used by Our Lord and the repeated often to young people by the late Pope John Paul II: "Be not afraid!"

The day was splendid, the graduates were elegant and the well-wishing family and friends were as joyful as they were plentiful. We here on 35th Street have a great deal for which to be grateful! Enjoy a six-minute recap of the event here or on You Tube.

05 June 2010

Countdown to 400

At the conclusion of our First Friday adoration yesterday, we had a prayer service in union with all our other Monasteries around the world. The program for the prayer service was sent to us from Annecy, where over 70 Superiors are gathered for an assembly to commemoration our 400th anniversary of foundation. Part of this prayer service included an act of consecration to the Sacred Heart. Here we share the English translation of this moving part of the ceremony:

Act of Consecration of the Order of the Visitation to the Sacred Heart
Lord Jesus, the God of all Goodness, your Father and our Father, has given us all things in and through you. Y our heart reveals his heart. Your heart joins with our heart. For your heart is y our everyday human life, your passion, your death and your resurrection.

Today, we consecrate to you the Order of the Visitation into your merciful heart we place its past, present and future. Into your meek and humble heart we confide each community and each sister, for we belong to you.

Through your open heart, we open our own hearts to the visitation of the Holy Spirit. May our desires, our choices, our joys, our moments of fidelity, our weaknesses and failings, our times of trail and our questions all continue to be enlivened by your light and your truth.

Lord Jesus, the Spirit whispers your Father's name in our hearts. Your loving heart calls us to life in community. May we become women of blessing for our sisters, through your heart which welcomes without judging. Teach us how to touch the hearts of the men, women and children of our time. May they discover their own dignity as children of God. Through your heart, turned ever toward the Father help us to pray without ceasing.

We ask this of you, who live with the Father and the Spirit forever and ever. AMEN.

01 June 2010

Diving for Treasure

Our Sister Scavengers were at it again this week ... but only one things was different: when they came home, instead of finding Sister Helpful Henrietta, they found Sister Mary Videocamera waiting for them. The only regret is that the enormous flowered couch that is now sitting under our porch (destined for a friend of our community who cannot afford to furnish her apartment) arrived while Sister was fetching the video camera! This two minute video shows our tag-team treasure hunters unloading their bounty. Viewers can rest assured that the larger-than-life mirror will not take up permanent residence in the monastery. Oscar the Grouch's 1969 classic "I love Trash" was too nifty to pass up as a theme song for this little window into an "ordinary" evening at the monastery.