"Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of
Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."
"From such a life 'poured out' without reserve there spreads a fragrance which fills
the whole house. The house of God, the Church, today no less than in the past, is
adorned and enriched by the presence of the consecrated life....
"'If any of God's children were to know and taste divine love, the uncreated God,
the incarnate God, the God who endured suffering, the God who is the supreme good,
they would give themselves completely to him, they would withdraw not only from other creatures but even from their very selves, and with all their being would love this God
of love to the point of being completely transformed into the God-man, who is the
supreme Beloved'." ~ Vita Consecrata 104
Now and Then
"I have trodden the winepress alone: and of the people there was none with me..." ~ Isaiah 63:3
"In all religious houses...some part should be reserved to the members alone. This form of separation from the world...is part of the public witness which religious give to Christ and to the Church. It is also needed for the silence and recollection which foster prayer."
~ Essential Elements 11
Moving to a different location has presented the community with the opportunity of setting up a new house where Jesus Christ can be loved above all else. The convent, as the Church tells us above, is not just a place where like-minded people congregate together to do good things for God. It is rather a part and an expression of our consecrated lives. As such, the way the convent is configured and the objects present in it affect and reflect our vowed life. Recently, we have been able to erect a few things of particular significance for the community: the convent bell, the Stations of the Cross, and the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
The evangelical counsel of obedience, lived in faith, is a loving following of Christ
who was obedient unto death." ~ Essential Elements 22
The convent bell, which Father is seen blessing above, is the voice of Christ sounding on the convent grounds. The Sister responds to the sound of the bell as to the voice of her Bridegroom. It calls her to prayer, to study, to meals and community life. The Sister's loving response to all that the daily order requires allows her to enter into the mystery of Christ's own mortification in both her interior life and the use of her exterior senses.
"If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me..."
"Oh Jesus, it is for love of Thee and in reparation for the offenses committed
against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and for the conversion of poor sinners."
As a community, we take Our Lady as our model in living our life of consecration to God. As such, it is no surprise that depictions of her are found all around the convent while we endeavor to cultivate her spirit of joy, peace, and loving sacrifice. Her images serve to remind us to ask her to share with us something of her strength of mind and courageous will as we strive to spread the reign of Christ Jesus in the world. The little shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, whose message inspires our apostolates, is a new favorite place for the Sisters to pause for a moment of recollection and for the community to gather in prayer. We are very grateful to a team of dedicated friends who made it possible to erect this beautiful (and heavy!) marble statue!
A bell, Stations, a statue - each of these are good in and of themselves, but as part of the convent they take on extra significance. They help us to remember who we are as women consecrated to Christ, seeking to find Him in all things while maintaining a certain separation from all that is not Him. They also serve to help others to see the sacredness of the convent space. They are visible reminders that these grounds are not a common space but are given to Christ along with the people who live on them. It is this set apartness of the convent that fosters the intimate conversations with Christ that are at the heart of consecrated life, conversations from which the Sister is strengthened to go forth in service of God and His people.
Our Lady, Queen and Model of the Religious Life,
intercede for us, enable us to make this convent a place where Christ is loved above all else!
Farewell to the Alleluia
For centuries it has been customary to observe a period of preparation for the rigors of Lent. Called the season of Septuagesima from the Sunday that marks its beginning (three Sundays before Ash Wednesday), these three 'weeks' leading up to Ash Wednesday are characterized by a certain somberness in the extraordinary form - the vestments are changed to violet, the Mass texts turn our attention to the reality of original sin and its consequences, and, perhaps most striking of all, the Alleluia is omitted, not to be heard again until the Easter Vigil.
For the first time in our community history, we observed this delightful custom. The Alleluia rang out one last time at the conclusion of Vespers followed by a solemn procession escorting the Alleluia from its honorary place on the altar to its Lenten grave, where it will remain until after the Easter Vigil. Its absence is notable, reminding us of the solemn season rapidly approaching and prompting us to ask for the graces attached to this liturgical season.
Our vocation is an open ended "Yes" to God and His holy will. With the basis of our life as consecrated women being this broad invitation, there is a never ending variety to what He asks from His brides. Beyond the ordinary daily duties - teacher, catechist, sacristan, etc. - which are the source of our sanctification, this winter has included a number of special apostolic activities.
One of the elements of an authentic apostolate is the ability to communicate the Word of God to each soul encountered in a manner that that soul can receive and understand. This sometimes takes on surprising forms - the younger Sisters visited the dance classes at Cardinal Newman high school to demonstrate the integration of art and faith through sacred music and classical dance. After a brief catechesis on Gregorian chant, the Sisters chanted the ancient Tota Pulcra Est while Sister Ballerian gracefully expressed its message in classic ballet style.
One of the greatest privileges of having received a vocation to the consecrated life is the opportunity to share this joy with others. The younger Sisters were blessed to be able to speak to the student body of St. Eugene's Cathedral School about the different vocations and to witness to the joy of consecrated life by their presence in the school. The Sisters invited a few students to help them with their presentation by representing members of the various religious families that the Sisters spoke about.
To support the students of Cardinal Newman high school (where our Mother Superior teaches Advanced Theology), and to provide the invaluable witness of consecrated life on campus, the Sisters attended a varsity girl's basketball game - where our Sister Flutist performed the National Anthem - and a varsity boy's game - where the whole community sang the National Anthem. Both games were marked by an admirable display of christian discipline and sportsmanship.
Video courtesy of Mr. Rich Hextrum
"The remembrance of the most holy Passion of Jesus Christ is the door through which
the soul enters into intimate union with God, interior recollection and most sublime contemplation..."
~ St. Paul of the Cross
Oh, if all men could have contemplated Thee in the condition in which on that day Thou
wast a spectacle of sorrow and reproach to all Jerusalem, who would not have been seized by
love of Thee ? Lord, I love Thee, and give myself wholly to Thee. Behold, my blood, my life,
all I offer Thee. Behold me ready to suffer and die as it pleaseth Thee. And what can I deny to
Thee who hast not denied to me Thy blood and life? Deign to accept the sacrifice which a
miserable sinner makes of himself,who now loves Thee with all his heart."
~ From St. Alphonsus Liguori's Meditation on the Ecce Homo
"...give the light of thy heavenly benediction to these candles, which we thy servants desire to carry in honor of thy Name: that by offering them to thee, our Lord God, we may be inflamed by the fire of thy sweet love, and made worthy to be presented in the holy temple of thy glory..."
~ From the blessing of Candles on Candlemas
"Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death till
he beheld the Christ of His Lord." ~ Communion antiphon