Friday, September 30, 2011

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you:
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

- Aurthor Unknown

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prayers to the Archangels

 Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection
against the malice and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan
and all evil spirits who wander through the world
for the ruin of souls.

Blessed Saint Gabriel, Archangel
We beseech you to intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy:
As you announced the mystery of the Incarnation to Mary,
so through your prayers
may we receive strength of faith and courage of spirit,
and thus find favor with God
and redemption through Christ Our Lord.
May we sing the praise of God our Savior
with the angels and saints in heaven
forever and ever.

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael,
great prince of the heavenly court,
you are illustrious
for your gifts of wisdom and grace.
You are a guide
of those who journey by land or sea or air,
consoler of the afflicted,
and refuge of sinners.
I beg you,
assist me in all my needs
and in all the sufferings of this life,
as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels.
Because you are the "medicine of God"
I humbly pray you
to heal the many infirmities of my soul
and the ills that afflict my body.
I especially ask of you the favor
(here mention your special intention),
and the great grace of purity
to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sewing Nunning

If you didn't already know, you may have guessed from photos on this blog and our website ( that our habits are not something "off the rack!"  Our traditional black, floor-length habits and scapulars follow simple patterns and lines yet are customized to each nun.  The greatest joy for all of us is when a habit is being made to clothe a new novice. 

While not everyone in the monastery knows how to sew, those who do it well provide a very much needed ministry to the rest of the community. 

Our habit provides the outward sign of our inward desire to follow Christ more closely and to remind us to imitate Him more and more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Formation Process - Part V

Solemn Vows

At the end of her Triennial Profession, the Sister having fully discerned her vocation and completing her formation period, makes Solemn (or life time) Profession. 

This fully incorporates her into the monastic community.  During the profession ceremony, she receives the double veil (black veil with white liner), ring and profession wreath, breviary and candle. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Formation Process - Part IV

Triennial Vows (vows for three years)

With the profession of Triennial Vows, the newly professed Sister receives the black veil and her religious name. 

During this time she continues to attend classes and grows deeper both in her vocation and in our community life.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Formation Process - Part III


At the beginning of the Novitiate, the new novice is presented with the habit and white veil.  At this time we begin addressing her with the title Sister along with her Baptismal name.

During this two year period (the first year being required by canon law, the second year by our community's Constitutions), the novice continues to attend classes that to further her understanding and appreciation of our monastic life.  It is a time of deepening one’s prayer life and trying one’s monastic vocation.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Formation Process - Part II


Becoming a postulant is the first step in the formation process.  Postulants in our community wear a white long sleeved white shirt and black jumper for the daily celebration of the Eucharist and The Liturgy of the Hours.  During work time they may wear denium or black skirts.  Already beginning to dress differently is a sign of their desire to enter into our monastic life.

Postulants participate in The Liturgy of the Hours and the daily celebration of the Eucharist.  They assist in the various tasks needed to maintain the monastery and retreat facilities as well join in community recreation time. 
During the this time, they also attend classes that introduce them to the Rule of St. Benedict and monastic life, The Liturgy of the Hours, lectio divina, and scripture.  Postulancy last approximately one year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cookie Nunning

Our local historical society has an annual historical house tour each fall and this year, our Robertshaw Country House Bed and Breakfast was chosen to be part of the tour. 

So one evening this week during recreation we headed to the kitchen to bake cookie bars that we will serve during the tour.  We certainly got into a production line with measuring, mixing and spreading the dough in the pans.  It was great fun and a wonderful community building experience -- and yes, we even had a few laughs at what couldn't happen but did!

We pray that somehow the lives of those who come here as part of the historic house tour will be touched with an experience of God's peace in their hearts.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Formation Process - Part I

3 Month Live-in

After a woman has been in contact with us, visited, and both she and we feel that she may have a vocation to our monastic life she is invited to come for a 3 month live-in period. 

During this time, candidates fully participate in our daily schedule of prayer, work and recreational times with the community.  They also attend classes with the Novitiate to begin to better understand the Rule of St. Benedict and monastic life. 

After that time, if both she and community discern that God is indeed calling her to pursue our monastic vocation, she is received as a postulant. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coming to Visit

The next step after the initial contact has been made is coming to visit.  We invite single Catholic women, between the ages 16-38, to join us at various times throughout the year to experience our Benedictine monastic life for themselves.

We host three “formal” live-in experiences each year:  over the Triduum/Easter, in July and during Advent.  Our next scheduled live-in experience is December 9-11.  Additionally, individuals are welcome to come at other times as their schedules permit.

During these visits, vocation guests have the opportunity to explore the possibility that Jesus Christ might be inviting them to follow Him more closely through a monastic vocation with our community.

Participants take part in our daily schedule of prayer – the daily Eucharist and The Liturgy of the Hours – and in our work in the monastery, in caring for guests and in our gift and book shop.  Recreational time together belongs also to the monastic day.
Time is also provided to spend in silence, reading and reflecting.  Talks with Mother Prioress and the vocation director also offered.  The Live-in Experiences normally begins with arrival in the afternoon on the opening day and closes after lunch on the closing day.  For those desiring a longer time, arrangements can be made.

Please contact Sr. Mary Clare at 724-834-3060 or email for additional information or to register or an upcoming Live-in Experience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting to know you...

From time to time, questions are asked about what qualities, education, etc., our community is looking for in candidates for our community. 

In candidates we look for those who love God, are practicing Catholics, are able to live and work with others, have the physical and psychological strength to live in community and to participate in the daily work — and perhaps most importantly, have a good sense of humor.

We accept candidates for entrance between ages 20-40 who have completed high school education and who have either worked or furthered their education. 

We invite women, ages 14-38, to begin getting to know us to visit either for one of our formal "come and see" experiences or to visit at a time that best works for their schedules.  To learn more about us, please contact our vocation director, Sr. Mary Clare at 724-834-3060 or email

We look forward to getting to know you and sharing with you about our particular monastic vocation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Distractions at Prayer

I have many distractions,
but as soon as I am aware of them,
I pray for those people
the thought of whom is diverting my attention.
In this way,
they reap the benefit of my distraction.

- St. Therese of Lisieux

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011


What is your kind of giving?

There are three kinds of giving:  grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving.  Grudge givings says:  "I hate to," duty giving says "I ought to," thanksgiving says, "I want to."  The first comes from constraint, the second from a sense of obligation, the third from a full heart.  Nothing much is conveyed in grudge giving since "the gift without the giver is bare."  Something more happens in duty giving but there is no song in it.  Thanksgiving is an open gate into the love of God.
From Thanks be to God
by Robert N. Rodenmayer

Friday, September 16, 2011

Care Nunning

Caring for each other goes beyond the bonds of friendship, it's learning to be compassionate (to suffer with) one another as we strive to grow daily in our relationship with God and with each other.  In times of illness or limitations experienced because of age or declining health, this caring takes on a more physical expression.  And it brings amazing growth both to the one helped as well as the one helping -- as long as one is open to the grace. 

I remember a time first as a postulant and then as a novice when I helped one of our Sisters as she began facing the reality of declining health.  She was 92, nearly blind and only came up to my shoulder, yet she showed me the example of a giant.  How?  Her humility which I don't know if I'll ever be able to imitate.  Here I was, the youngest member of the community and yet she would say to me, "whatever you think is best...  I promised obedience." 

Yes, caring for another person's needs can be demanding, but it's also a gift.  A gift that is given as well as received.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,  Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,  Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,  Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,  Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,  Pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified,  Pray for us.
Sorrowful Mother, Pray for us.
Mournful Mother, Pray for us.
Sighing Mother, Pray for us.
Afflicted Mother, Pray for us.
Foresaken Mother, Pray for us.
Desolate Mother, Pray for us.
Mother most sad Pray for us.
Mother set around with anguish, Pray for us.
Mother overwhelmed by grief, Pray for us.
Mother transfixed by a sword, Pray for us.
Mother crucified in thy heart, Pray for us.
Mother bereaved of thy Son, Pray for us.
Sighing Dove, Pray for us.
Mother of Dolors, Pray for us.
Fount of tears, Pray for us.
Sea of bitterness, Pray for us.
Field of tribulation, Pray for us.
Mass of suffering, Pray for us.
Mirror of patience, Pray for us.
Rock of constancy, Pray for us.
Remedy in perplexity, Pray for us.
Joy of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Ark of the desolate, Pray for us.
Refuge of the abandoned, Pray for us.
Shield of the oppressed, Pray for us.
Conqueror of the incredulous, Pray for us.
Solace of the wretched, Pray for us.
Medicine of the sick, Pray for us.
Help of the faint, Pray for us.
Strength of the weak, Pray for us.
Protectress of those who fight, Pray for us.
Haven of the shipwrecked, Pray for us.
Calmer of tempests, Pray for us.
Companion of the sorrowful, Pray for us.
Retreat of those who groan, Pray for us.
Terror of the treacherous, Pray for us.
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, Pray for us.
Treasure of the Faithful, Pray for us. Servants, Pray for us.
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled
Light of Confessors, Pray for us.
Pearl of Virgins, Pray for us.
Comfort of Widows, Pray for us.
Joy of all Saints, Pray for us.
Queen of thy , Pray for us.
Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.

O God, in whose Passion,
According to the prophecy of Simeon,
A sword of grief pierced through
The most sweet soul
Of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary:
Grant that we, who celebrate
The memory of her Seven Sorrows,
May obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion,
Who lives and reigns world without end.

by Pope Pius VII

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is Jesus just checking in today

Our new project The Lord's Table located in our back field
A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day, decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray.

Just then the back door opened, a man came down the aisle.

The minister frowned as he saw the man hadn't shaved in a while.

His shirt was kinda shabby and his coat was worn and frayed.

The man knelt, he bowed his head, then rose and walked away.

In the days that followed, each noon time came this chap,

Each time he knelt just for a moment, a lunch pail in his lap.

Well, the minister's suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear,

He decided to stop the man and ask him, "What are you doing here?"

The old man said, he worked down the road. Lunch was half an hour.

Lunchtime was his prayer time, for finding strength and power.

"I stay only moments, see, because the factory is so far away;

As I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kinda what I say:

"I just came again to tell You, Lord, how happy I've been, since we found each other's friendship and You took away my sin.  Don't know much of how to pray, but I think about You every day.  So, Jesus, this is Jim checking in today."

The minister feeling foolish, told Jim, that was fine.

He told the man he was welcome to come and pray just anytime.

Time to go, Jim smiled, said "Thanks." He hurried to the door.

The minister knelt at the altar, he'd never done it before.

His cold heart melted, warmed with love, and met with Jesus there.

As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim's prayer:

"I just came again to tell you, Lord, how happy I've been, since we found each other's friendship and you took away my sin.  I don't know much of how to pray, but I think about You every day. So, Jesus, this is me checking in today."

Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn't come.

As more days passed without Jim, he began to worry some.

At the factory, he asked about him, learning he was ill.

The hospital staff was worried, but he'd given them a thrill.

The week that Jim was with them, brought changes in the ward.

His smiles, a joy contagious. Changed people, were his reward.

The head nurse couldn't understand why Jim was so glad, when no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor he had.

The minister stayed by his bed, he voiced the nurse's concern:

No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn.

Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile; "the nurse is wrong, she couldn't know, that in here all the while everyday at noon He's here, a dear friend of mine, you see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:

"I just came again to tell you, Jim, how happy I have been, since we found this friendship, and I took away your sin.  Always love to hear you pray, I think about you each day, and so Jim, this is Jesus checking in today."

- Author Unknown

Monday, September 12, 2011


Young men and women on "mission" to St. Emma to help us .
Several years ago I started to have a theme for  my daily Mass and prayer intentions for each day of the week.  Mondays were for the Missions.  Easy to remember Monday Missions:  M&M.  Also this seems to be the hardest day back at work and so I pray for the people who are are under persecution for spreading the Gospel.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let us Pray

Our "Twin Towers" that were under construction when the others fell. 
Let us pray for:
all of those lives have been and forever will be changed by 9-11
all of those souls who now stand at the feet of God because of 9-11
all of those hearts who need to be healed by the hand of God due to 9-11
all of those workers who helped to find and save those trapped in the fall of 9-11
all of those who thought that America deserved 9-11
all of us to never forget that we need most out of life a love for and trust in God.

God Bless America

Questions to ponder

Where is God taking my heart today? 
And am I allowing Him to take control?
God grants us the grace to help us follow Him,
even if it seems that it come at the last minute,
 and Mary is helping you at all times.

Friday, September 9, 2011

St Peter Claver

From a letter by Saint Peter Claver
Yesterday, May 30, 1627, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, numerous blacks, brought from the rivers of Africa, disembarked from a large ship. Carrying two baskets of oranges, lemons, sweet biscuits, and I know not what else, we hurried toward them. We had to force our way through the crowd until we reached the sick. Large numbers of the sick were lying on the wet ground or rather in puddles of mud. To prevent excessive dampness, someone had through of building up a mound with a mixture of times and broken pieces of bricks. This, then, was their couch, a very uncomfortable one not only for that reason, but especially because they were naked, without any clothing to protect them.
We laid aside our cloaks, therefore, and brought from a warehouse whatever was handy to build a platform. In that way we covered a space to which we at last transferred the sick, by forcing a passage through bands of slaves. Then we divided the sick into two groups: one group my companion approached with an interpreter, which I addressed the other group. There were two blacks, nearer death than life, already cold, whose pulse could scarcely be detected. With the help of a tile we pulled some live coals together and placed them in the middle near the dying men. Into this fire we tossed aromatics. Then, using our own cloaks, for they had nothing of the sort, and to ask the owners for others would have been a waste of words, we provided for them a smoke treatment, by which they seemed to recover their warmth, and the breath of life. The joy in their eyes as they looked at us was something to see.
This was how we spoke to them, not with words but with our hands and our actions. And in fact, convinced as they were that they had been brought here to be eaten, any other language would have proved utterly useless. Then we sat, or rather knelt, beside them and bathed their faces and bodies with wine. We made every effort to encourage them with friendly gestures and displayed in their presence the emotions which somehow naturally tend to hearten the sick.
After this we began an elementary instruction about baptism, that is, the wonderful effects of the sacrament on body and soul. When by their answers to our questions they showed they had sufficiently understood this, we went on to a more extensive instruction, namely, about the one God, who rewards and punishes each one according to his merit, and the rest. Finally, when they appeared sufficiently prepared, we told them the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Passion. Showing them Christ fastened to the cross, as he is depicted on the baptismal font on which streams of blood flow down from his wounds, we led them in reciting an act of contrition in their own language.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Mary

May we always look to Mary
as our helper and guide to her Son Jesus Christ.
We wish you a very happy Birthday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Beware of desparing about yourself;
you are commanded to put your trust in God,
and not in yourself.

- St. Augustine

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Prayer for Workers

O glorious Joseph!
Who concealed your incomparable
and regal dignity
of custodian of Jesus
and of the Virgin Mary
under the humble appearance of a craftsman
and provided for them with your work,
protect with loving power your sons,
especially entrusted to you.

You know their anxieties and sufferings,
because you yourself experienced them
at the side of Jesus and of His Mother.
Do not allow them,
oppressed by so many worries,
to forget the purpose
for which they were created by God.
Do not allow the seeds of distrust
to take hold of their immortal souls.
Remind all the workers that in the fields,
in factories, in mines,
and in scientific laboratories,
they are not working, rejoicing,
or suffering alone,
but at their side is Jesus, with Mary,
His Mother and ours,
to sustain them,
to dry the sweat of their brow,
giving value to their toil.
Teach them to turn work
into a very high instrument of sanctification
as you did.
- by Blessed John Paul II

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

-Theodore Isaac Rubin

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Balloon Nunning

The superior's name day and birthday always provide us with opportunities for a celebration.  This year before Mother's birthday in April, a friend shared with us what some of her co-workers had done to celebrate a fellow employee's birthday:  they filled his small office with balloons.  Needless to say, it sparked an idea -- and our friend provided us with a generous supply of balloons; all we needed to do was provide the lung-power to fill them up.

So, the evening before several of us gathered secretly and began "Project Balloon."  After inflating the balloons, we transported them to Mother's office and filled the area surrounding her computer with bright red balloons (her favorite color!). 

The hardest part was getting her to her office that day so that she could find our surprise!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sr. Gaudentia still hanging in there

Two weeks ago, we all believed the end was much closer than it was.  For now, Sr. Gaudentia is stablized and has had some good days where she entertains us with her singing and gives us one of her wonderful smiles. 

We treasure these days.  Who knows, maybe this is just another time she will beat the odds (she's been "kicked off" hospice twice before) and be around for some time. 

Whatever the length of time the Lord gives us with her, we are grateful.  And we are grateful to all of you who have been holding her and us in your prayers.  God bless you!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI's Intentions for September

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat München

September's Intentions:

Teachers:  That all teachers may know how to communicate the love of truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values.

Church in Asia:  That the Christian community of Asia may proclaim the Gospel with fervor, witnessing to its beauty with joy of faith.

For more information about the Apostleship of Prayer, visit: