19 January 2013

Self-Giving Always Brings Joy. Sr. Anne Francis

Joy is always what we want for ourselves and for those we love. It is ultimately God’s Will for us.

Sometimes, though, we look for it in the wrong places. If we try to find joy merely in the material things, it eludes us.

If we look for it in self-forgetting love, then joy finds us.

Jesus’ commandments are all about loving God for himself and loving others in ways that we ourselves would want to be loved. Does this really bring Joy?

Maybe the best answer can come from our own self reflection.

In my life, all my self-centered moments eventually caused me regret. But all the moments of gratitude and caring brought a wonderful sense of joy. This is what Jesus wants us to experience in our everyday life.

"Dear Lord, you came to show us how our lives could be meaningful and joyful. May your spirit guide us so that our live may be in harmony with you. Amen."

Sr. Anne Francis

17 January 2013

Revering "Our ancient Father in faith." Sr. Anne Francis

The next time you find yourself in a place where you feel as though your only companion is fear, change Abraham's name to your name, and receive this promise as part of your spiritual inheritance. 

You are always held in the hands of God’s promises. Remember, He is your shield.

Your name is constantly being called as He invites you to a deeper faith.

Faith is the guardian angel overshadowing you at all times.

It is not always easy to believe that there is a rich future awaiting us.

So let always live in the present moment,
and when tomorrow comes it shall be the present moment for us.

Sr. Anne Francis

15 January 2013

God’s glory is self-giving love, Sr. Anne Francis

The very essence of the Father is to be self-giving love, a love that keeps nothing back.

In order to reach our fulfillment in this mystery we must walk in ways we know not.
we must allow ourselves to die to our own selfish, limited, earthly ideas . . .

This is what we must long for. The selfless love of Jesus.

Jesus crucified is the dark night into which we must allow ourselves to be drawn into.

This way we shall allow Jesus walk again in this world through our lives.

We must renounce all clear perceptions and rest on faith alone. Faith alone unites us with God.

 Sr. Anne Francis, V.H.M.

10 January 2013

Night four from the "bean queen"

All week long we have published photos from the night Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M., found the Epiphany bean in the fruit cake and became the queen for 2013. The original post is here. This is the last day of the photos. Happy New Year!

09 January 2013

An amusing poem

Mrs. Job

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job;
And he was essentially a blameless dude, and unarrogant,
And he was blessed with seven sons, and three daughters,
Which is a lot of children, and where, I ask politely, is the
Part of the Book of Job where we talk about Job's spouse,
Who is conspicuously not discussed in the back and forth
With his buddies and then suddenly the Big Guy Himself
Answering out of the whirlwind and commanding old Job
To gird up his loins, which loins were undeniably vigorous
Previous to the Lord interrupting Job, and after the Maker
Finishes one of the greatest eloquent scoldings of all time,
He grants old Job another seven sons and three daughters,
Again without the slightest thanks for the astounding Mrs.
Job who suddenly has twenty count them twenty children
with no mention of her humor, or the vast hills of diapers,
Or her wit which survived kids throwing up and the sheep
Wandering off, and plagues of locusts and things like that.
A good editor, I feel, would have asked for just a glancing
Nod to the wry hero of the tale, at least acknowledgment;
Something like a new last line after So Job died, being old
and full of days, which might read, And also passed a most
Amazing woman, of whom nothing other than the blessing
Was ever said, her heart being a gift beyond calculation by
Man, her mind sharp, her tongue gentle, her hands a mercy,
And her very presence full reason to kneel in prayer at that
Which the Lord in His mercy has made and granted briefly.
A line like that would only hint at her, but it's a start, right?

by Brian Doyle

Sr. Mary Roberta adds, "One of my favorite writers, based at the University of Portland." (His bio is here.)

08 January 2013

Night three from the "bean queen"

All week long we'll publish photos from the night Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M., found the Epiphany bean in the fruit cake and became the queen for 2013. The original post is here.

Thoughts on Ray Bradbury from Sr. Mary Roberta

I heard that Ray Bradbury, a favorite science-fiction writer, died this last year. I especially like his short story entitled, "A Sound of Thunder," about men returning to the age of dinosaurs from the year 2055. His premise (that accidentally changing any tiny detail in the past can make enormous changes to a future time) makes me reflect on how aborting so many babies in our past 30 years+ since Roe vs Wade has inevitably changed our future for the worse: fewer workers and tax payers, not too mention fewer geniuses, lovers, and saints!

In Bradbury's short story the main character/hunter Eckels is told NOT to step off the suspended path over the prehistoric age he's been taken to by the Time Machine and its guides because he might "kill an important animal, (even a mouse) thus destroying an important link in a growing species."

"So what?" says Eckels.

"So what?...Well, what about the foxes that'll need those mice to survive? For want of ten mice, a fox dies. For want of ten foxes, a lion starves. For want of a lion, all manner of insects, vultures, infinite billions of life forms are thrown into chaos and destruction. Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen in the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves. And the caveman, please note, is not just any expendable man, no! He is an entire future nation. From his loins would have sprung ten sons. From their loins one hundred sons, and thus onward to a civilization. Destroy this one man, and you destroy a race, a people, an entire history of life. It is comparable to slaying some of Adam's grandchildren."

And that's exactly what we've done and continue to do, Mr. Bradbury. Requiescat in pace! And may God have mercy on us all!

Sr. Mary Roberta Viano, V.H.M.

07 January 2013

Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord, reflecting one day after

From yesterday's mass readings in Magnificat: "The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star" (Pope Benedict XVI). Our response to the Father's offer of salvation is that of the Magi: "To offer gold is to proclaim Christ's kingship, to offer incense is to adore his Godhead, and to offer myrrh is to acknowledge his mortality" (Saint Odilo of Cluny). Creation responds as well: "When the king of heaven was born, the heavens knew that he was God because they immediately sent forth a star; the sea knew him because it allowed him to walk upon it; the earth knew him because it trembled when he died; the sun knew him because it hid the rays of its light" (Saint Gregory the Great). The manifestation of the Son of God to the world begs belief from us by which we will be led home by another way.

Post from Sr. Mary Roberta Viano, V.H.M, and from Mother Jacqueline Burke, V.H.M.

Night two of photos from the "bean queen"

All week long we'll publish photos from the night Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M., found the Epiphany bean in the fruit cake and became the queen for 2013. The original post is here.

06 January 2013

A blushing new "bean queen"

Last night the Epiphany Queen (Bean Queen) came to light:  Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M., one of our sisters from the closed monastery in West Virginia, was the recipient.  She got the slice of fruit cake with the bean in it and is, therefore, the designated Queen for 2013. It will be her privilege to decide on special trips and treats for the sisters throughout the year. We'll post photos all week long!

Epiphany post from Sr. Mary Roberta

Bethlehem Star
light years in wait,
releases good news
with celestial gait:
The Word that stirred Heaven
before time began,
is lauded by angels:
the Heart of God's plan.
The power of paradise,
traveling time,
alights on a stable
in silence sublime
that wise men may seek
ageless knowledge foreknown:
The star is the sign,
New Being
the goal.

[by Rita A Simmonds]

Sr. Mary Roberta Viano, V.H.M.

05 January 2013

Feast of St. John Neumann, post from Sr. Joanne Gonter

In the United States, the feast of Saint John Neumann (1811-1860) is celebrated on January 5th. In the present day Czech republic where he was born, it is March 5th.

Because the bishop in his diocese had determined not to ordain priests because there were more than were needed at that time, John, having learned English while working in a factory, wrote to American bishops to request ordination. Bishop John Dubois, S.S., whose diocese included all of New York and New Jersey, ordained him in New York City in 1836. John spent most of his time traveling from village to village, visiting the sick, staying in garrets and taverns to teach, and celebrating Mass at kitchen tables. In 1840 he received permission from the bishop to join the Redemptorist Fathers, entering their novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1852 he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia. As the first United States bishop to organize a Catholic school system, he increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from two to 100. As part of that effort, he invited many communities of teaching sisters and the Christian Brothers into the diocese, founded a congregation called the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia, and intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a congregation of African-American women, from dissolution.

Already fluent in German and English, he also learned Spanish, French, Italian and Dutch in order to hear confessions in the languages of his people. When Irish immigration began, he learned Gaelic so well that one Irish woman remarked, "Isn't it grand that we have an Irish bishop!"

On January 5, 1860, when he was only 48 years old, he died suddenly on a city street due to a stroke. Declared venerable by Benedict XV in 1921, Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1963 and canonized him in 1977. After his canonization, the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann was constructed at the parish of Saint Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia.

Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M.

04 January 2013

The first U.S. saint, Elizabeth Seton

On January 4th, we celebrate the feast of the first canonized saint born in the United States, Elizabeth Ann Bailey Seton (1774-1821). Born in New York City, she was a devout Episcopalian. Married in 1794 to William Magee Seton, Elizabeth and his sister Rebecca became known as the "Protestant Sisters of Charity" because of their missions of mercy.

William's poor health led to a doctor's suggestion that a warmer climate might be beneficial. William, Elizabeth and their eldest daughter sailed in 1803 to Italy where business friends named Filicchi resided. After William's death in December 1803, Elizabeth and her daughter remained with their friends until June 1804 when Antonio Filicchi accompanied them on their return to New York.

The story of Elizabeth's reception into the Catholic Church in 1805 includes attempts by family and friends to dissuade her from doing so, but she cited three basic points that led to her conversion: belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ.

Elizabeth opened a school in the Baltimore area with women who eventually joined her in establishing a religious community, Sisters of Charity, in 1809. To her sisters, she gave this advice: "The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will."

To learn more about the life of this remarkable woman, I suggest visiting the website below:


Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M.

03 January 2013

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

January 3rd we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. This feast originated toward the end of the 15th century. Two promoters of this feast were Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) and his disciple Saint John Capistrano (1386-1456). Bernardine, a Franciscan, placed great emphasis on the Holy Name of Jesus and associated it with the IHS Christogram. He used the devotion as a way of overcoming bitter struggles and family rivalries in Italian city-states. Franciscan, Dominican, and, beginning in the 16th century, Jesuit preachers spread the devotion.

In the book SAINT OF THE DAY edited by Leonard Foley, OFM, and revised by Pat McCloskey, OFM, the following story is related:

"At Bologna, Bernardine preached mightily against the evils of gambling. As was the custom, a huge bonfire was made in the public square, to be a holocaust consuming all the instruments of the vice - playing cards, dice and the like. A manufacturer of playing cards complained that Bernardine was taking away his livelihood. The saint told him to start making the symbol IHS and he made more money than ever before."

Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M.

01 January 2013

New Year's Day post from Sr. Joanne Gonter

On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. This is the oldest feast of Mary celebrated by the Catholic Church. The title, Theotokos, Mother of God, was popular in Christian piety as early as the 3rd century A.D. and was officially given to Mary at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. By 1914 the feast was being celebrated in some countries on October 11th, and it became a universal feast in 1931.

After the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI changed what had been the feast on January 1st, Jesus' Circumcision, to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. He wrote: "In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season, we should all turn with one mind to the restored solemnity of the Mother of God. This feast was entered into the calendar in the liturgy of the city of Rome for the first day of January. The purpose of the celebration is to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to 'the Holy Mother...through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life.'

This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year's Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace."

Sharing the above has brought to mind a personal recollection, the challenge to world leaders by Pope Paul VI when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York in October, 1965: "No more war, war never again." 47 years later, that challenge remains, to leaders and their people and to each individual who earnestly prays for peace.

Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M.