Thursday, May 31, 2012

My soul proclaims the greatness of God...

Divine love so penetrated and filled the soul of Mary
that no part of her was left untouched,
so that she loved with her whole heart,
with her whole mind,
and her whole strength,
and was full of grace.

~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Entering Jesus' Heart

Never stop placing yourself in the Holy of Holies, which is the most pure Heart of Jesus.  Love him with the love of his own Heart.  Let yourself be penetrated by a lively sorrow for the outrages that are done to him in Eucharistic celebration.  Make reparation by your own humility, affection, gratitude, praise, etc.

~ St. Paul of the Cross

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Surrendering to Love

In this year's message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Benedict XVI used the theme:  Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.   He wrote:
The profound truth of our existence is thus contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God’s thought and an act of his love, a love that is boundless, faithful and everlasting (cf. Jer 31:3). The discovery of this reality is what truly and profoundly changes our lives. In a famous page of the Confessions, Saint Augustine expresses with great force his discovery of God, supreme beauty and supreme love, a God who was always close to him, and to whom he at last opened his mind and heart to be transformed:  “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” (X, 27.38).  With these images, the Saint of Hippo seeks to describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that transforms all of life.
We read in the first letter of John:  We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him (1 John 4:16-17).  St. John, like St. Augustine after him, understood that God draws us to himself in love.

Vocation is a call to love.  It is a call to lay aside marriage and family -- good and holy though are -- to love God alone with single-hearted devotion.  It is the pearl of great price and the treasure buried in the field. 

A vocation to the consecrated life doesn't take the dailiness out of our lives, but it sanctifies and blesses our efforts, even when we fall and need to begin again (and again).  It is the love in our hearts that makes this possible, and that love increases every time we grow in virtue and avoid vice.  It's a life-long process of surrendering to Love, who is God.  Laying aside self will and allowing God's will to have ever greater access to our hearts and lives.

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Today we remember the numerous men and women who have given their life in defense of our country and the freedom that we enjoy.  Regardless of whether or not we personally feel we should be engaged in conflicts around the globe, the men and women of our armed forces but themselves in harm's way to preserve our freedoms and to fight for the lives, dignity and freedoms for other as well.  Let us remember them in grateful prayer...

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of Liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim's pride!
From ev'ry mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom's song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
the sound prolong.

Our fathers' God, to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King! 

by Samuel Francis Smith

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Veni, creator Spiritus...

During the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, we sing the Veni, creator Spiritus, alternating between the Latin and English text, as the hymn at Vespers as an informal novena to the Holy Spirit.  We thought you, too, would appreciate the opportunity to mediate on the text today as part of your prayer on this solemnity of Pentecost...

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Listening to the Silence

The absence of noise --
and so much more. 
A value, not a vow. 
Not a rejection of speech,
but of being attentive
and learning to listen.
Listen, not be silent;
a subtle,
but significant difference.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dear Jesus...

Dear Jesus...
make me perfect in fearing you.
Make me pleasing to you
in humility of spirit,
in sisterly charity,
in chaste simplicity,
in humble modesty,
in purity of heart,
in the guarding of my senses,
in holiness of life,
in ready obedience,
in gentle patience,
in spiritual discipline,
in freely chosen poverty,
in holy leniency,
in maturity of conduct,
in cheerfulness of spirit, and
in all thrugh,
in good conscience,
in steadfast faith,
in holy perseverance,
in strenght of hope,
in fulness of charity, and
in the blessed consummation of your cherishing-love:
so that the thornbush of my heart may be converted
into a paradise of all virtues and a red berry bust of total perfection,
as if it were a field blessed by the Lord,
full of all peace, holiness, and devotion.

St. Gertrude the Great
Spiritual Exercises
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts on Stability, Part V

The soldier's stabilitas consists in 'standing" (stare) in spite of the enemy who attempts to cut him down, and in 'holding his ground' instead of running away.  This warlike vocabulary, which Saint Cyprian makes abundant use of in his exhortations to martyrs, reappears whenever Benedict depicts his novice face to face with the demands of the Rule and 'still standing firm'.  Thse successive decisions to 'stand firm' prefigure and prepare the great commitment to standing firm one's whole life long which will be made at profession.

from Reading Saint Benedict, Reflections on the Rule
by Adalbert de Vogüé

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thoughts on Stability, Part IV

In the end I am brought back, of course, to Christ himself and to his example, the willingness to endure faithfully and with patience, patientia, to remind me that this means both waiting and suffering.  What makes this possible?  The faithfulness of God.  God is faithful to the covenant, and I know I can rely on him...  My stability is possible in the end because of the certain, guaranteed, steadfastness of God.

Esther de Wall
A Life-Giving Way
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughts on Stability, Part III

[To people outside of a monastic community, the three Benedictine vows of stability, obedience, and conversion of life appear to be] three promises that together form one whole process.  They ask me to enter into a dynamic commitment that simultaneously holds me still (stability) and moves me forward (continual conversion) with all the time God, and not my own self, as the point of reference (obedience, listening intently).

Esther de Waal
A Life-Giving Way
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thoughts on Stability, Part II

When you are feeling strong, do not be complacent, but call to God with the prophet and say:  "When my strength fails me, do not abandom me" (Ps. 70:9).  And in time of temptation be consoled and say with the bride:  "Draw me after you, and we shall run in the odor of your ointments" (Ps. 33:2).  Thus you will not lose hope in bad times, nor will foresight disert you in good times, and amid both the prosperity and adversity of changing times you will retian  a certain image of eternity -- that is, this inviolable and unshakable constancy of a stable soul -- blessing the Lord at every moment.  In this way you claim for yourself, even amid the doubtful events and inevitable deficiencies of ths changing world, a certain status of lasting unchangeability while you being to renew and reform yourself according to the ancient pattern of likeness to the eternal God, "in whom there is neither alteration nor the shadow of change" (Jas 1:17).

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
On the Song of Songs
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts on Stability, Part I

By digging deeply they alertly examne their consciences so that nothing sordid may lie hidden within them.  They carefully probe all the depths of their hearts for the hiding places of empty thoughts and draw them out with the hand of conscientious discretion so that they can prepare a firm and restful throne within themselves for that strong rock, who is Christ.  And through his presence they persevere amid the fearful adversities of this world amid the allurements as well.

St. Bede
Homiles on the Gosepls
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Ascension of the Lord

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for "the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

When they had gathered together they asked him,
"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, "Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."
(Acts 1:1-11)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jesus is All...

If you are nothing,
do not forget that Jesus is all.
Hence, lose your nothingness
in His infinite all
and thank only of that all,
who alone is loveable.

~St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chant Nunning

O God, come to my assistance.  With these words we begin our times of prayer during The Liturgy of the Hours.  While our liturgy is in English, we have maintained the format of antiphons, psalms, hymns, and melodies found in the Antiphonale Monasticum, simplifying some of the complex melodies of the antiphons and updating the challenging chant modes to the simplified eight modes by Dom Gregory Murray, OSB (of Downside Abbey). 

These antiphons and hymns, proper to each season enrich our prayer, transport us through the liturgical year both forming and transforming us as we seek an ever deeper union with God. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Confession: An Act of Honesty and Courage

Confession is an act of honesty and courage;
an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin,
to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. 
It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father
and is welcomed by him with the kiss of peace.

Blessed John Paul II
Homily, San Antonio, 1987
in Pope John Paul II, His Essential Wisdom

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Path to God

...the path to God passes through our own reality, through observation of our thoughts, through proper dealing with the passions, and through an ascetical practice that will train us for openness to God.  It is a spirituality from below that the monks teach us, a spirituality that has the courage to look upon everything that is in us and offer it to God.  They invite us to take the path of humility, on which we ascend to God by climbing down into our own reality.  The model is Jesus himself, who came down from heaen to carry us up to God as his brothers and sisters.  For Paul too this is our way:  only those people who have first gone down can ascend to God (see Eph. 4:9-10).

We will come to God only on a path that goes through sincere self-encounter, through listening to our thoughts and feelings, to our dreams, to our body, our concrete lives, and our relationships with other people.  And God will transform everything that we hold out to him, until the image of Jesus Christ shines out in us too, the image that God has pictured to himself of every single one of us and that can irradicate the world only in and through us.  All the pains that the monks have taken in their asceticism have no other aim but to make this unique image of God appear in this world without distortion.

The monks wish to pass on to us today their optimism, their confidence that we can work on ourselves, that we are not incurably abandoned to our predispositions or our education or the current social situation, but that it's worthwhile to form ourselves through asceticism until the image of God shines out undeimmed from us, and until the unique word that God speaks through every oe of us rings out clearly in our world.

The dignity of every individual who was formed by God in a unique way and in each of whom God speaks a different word, peculiar to you and me, is the reason why the monks invite us to the ascetical life.  We should and can work on ourselves.  We can find our true self -- and we will find God, who in prayer and contemplation heals our deepest wounds and silences the longing of our hearts.

from Heaven Begins Within You:  Wisdom from the Desert Fathers
by Anselm Gruen, OSB

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect

Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater
vester caelestis perfectus est

("Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect")
Jesus Christ
(Matthew 5:48)

The heavenly Father is God.  He can't be better.

You and I can be better all the time -- so much so that  we can grow in goodness until we die.

The very word "perfect" comes from two Latin words -- per ("through") and facere ("to make").  Perfect, then, means we're made all the way through towhat we're supposed to be. 

We're not there yet.  The journey requires constancy and fortitude.

The perfection demanded of us by Christ is only possible with His help.  It becomes our constant goal to be united with Christ.  St. Paul, who as a Pharisee had longed to master perfection found that in Christ alone he could be made perfect.

This is our goal too, so that in the end, we are able to say with Paul, "It is no longer I who lives, but it's Christ who lives in me" (Galations 2:20).

When that Father who is pefect can see Christ made in and through us, then perfection will be ours.  And on the day of days, we hope to hear Him say:  "Come in; I see my son in you."

from Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth
by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB

Friday, May 11, 2012

I have called you friends...

I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father...
(from John 15:12-17)

I have called you friends.  Wow!  These words of Jesus are not only for his apostles and disciples, they are for us.  In taking on our humanity, Jesus showed how much we are loved by God.  And it's a personal relationship God desires with us. 

How is your relationship with God?  How far has it gone form duty, i.e. going to Mass on Sunday and saying morning and night prayers because that's what I'm supposed to do, to a vibrant relationship?  Jesus wants to enter our lives.  We just need to open the door of our hearts and let Him in. 

Have you opened your door to Him?  How do you spend time with Jesus?  Do you attend daily Mass when it's possible, have special devotions that are part of your day (i.e. Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross), offer up short prayers through out the day, spend time in Eucharistic adoration, read and pray with the Scriptures, take time for spiritual reading? 

Take stock of your spiritual life today and see if Jesus has a special place or do you just "squeeze" Him in.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do not be afraid!

Do not be afraid!
Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure. 
He alone can give full meaning to life,
he alone is the center of history. 
Live by him!

~ Blessed John Paul II
Speech to Youth
Czech Republic

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God: The Only Thing That Satisfies

Our hunger for possession is never satisfied if we direct it only to earthly things.  However many things we own, this cannot quench our deepest longing for rest and contentment, for harmony with ourselves.  Hence the New Testament transforms this desire by pointing us to an inner possession:  to the pearl of great price, to the treasure buried in the field.  We can find immearuable riches in ourselves, in our soul, when we find God and all the possibilities God has given us.  And when we turn toward this inner wealth, our striving for external possessions will not become immoderate.

from Heaven Begins Within You:  Wisdom from the Desert Fathers
by Anselm Gruen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pentecost Immersion Experience

Our Pentecost Immersion Experience, May 25-28, allows women ages 16-38, an opportunity to experience our day-to-day monastic life from the inside out.  Following our full round of prayer and work, you have the opportunity to “try-on” our vocation. 

Participants join us for The Liturgy of the Hours, meals with table reading, assist with some of the aspects of day-to-day work (or, as we like to refer to it, as our love made manifest), times of recreation with the community, have time for spiritual reading and personal prayer, attend talks on the monastic life as well as the opportunity to visit privately with the prioress and vocation director. 

For more information and/or to sign up, email Sr. Mary Clare at or call 724-610-7586.  We look forward to having you with us!

Note:  Please see side bar for other upcoming Immersion Experiences!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Divine Office

The liturgy accompanies the Holy Mass with the recitation of the Divine Office which, as Mediator Dei teaches “is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Christ, addressed to God in the name of all Christians and for their benefit, by priests, other ministers of the Church, and religious, who are assigned this task.”  The great dignity of the Divine Office lies in the fact that it is not a
private prayer, but the official public prayer of the Mystical Body of Christ, whose members do not pray alone, but with Christ their Head.  “When the Word of God assumed human nature, He intoned in His earthly exile the hymn which is sung in heaven through all eternity.  He joined to Himself the whole human community and united it with Himself in the chanting of this hymn of praise” (ibid.).  In the Divine Office, “Jesus prays with us as our Priest; prays in us as our Head…   Let us recognize then,” says St. Augustine, “our voice in His and His voice in us.”  What a wonderful gift! Jesus, the Son of God, associates our poor, miserable prayers with His great precious Prayer.

Although the Divine Office is of obligation only for priests and religious who are charged with it by the whole Church, it can be said that it is the prayer of the whole Christian people, in the sense that it is addressed to God “in their name and for their benefit.”  It is therefore highly praiseworthy for the laity to try to participate in it in some way...  Furthermore, they can offer to God at
every hour of the day and night the great Prayer of the Church, for their own special intentions and individual needs.  In this way they can make up for the deficiencies and the brevity of their own personal prayers.  Even in the midst of daily occupations, each one can unite himself from time to time by pious aspirations with the “perpetual praise” which the Church sends up to God in
the name of all Christians.

The Divine Office is made up, for the most part, of inspired texts taken from Holy Scripture.  This is why we cannot find vocal prayers that are more beautiful and more suitable for praising the Divine Majesty; in the inspired word, the Holy Spirit Himself “asketh for us with unspeakable groanings” (Rom. 8:26)  Then, too, these prayers are so rich in doctrine and unction that they help greatly to nourish our personal piety.  All these reasons make us understand that “the Divine Intimacy interior devotion of our soul must correspond to the lofty dignity of this prayer” (Mediator Dei), in
such a way that “our soul is in tune with our voice,” as St. Augustine says. Because the Divine Office is the prayer which the Church, together with Jesus, her Head, sends up to God, and because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it has great value in itself; but it will have no value for us, so as to increase our union with God and to draw divine blessings down upon us, if it does
not become our prayer, if we do not accompany it with our own personal devotion.  In the society of the faithful, the Church prays with the heart of her children, with our heart; and the more fervent and full of love this heart is, the more our prayer, the Prayer of the Church, will be pleasing to God. 

Even if the obligation of reciting the Divine Office is not involved, and a few brief prayers only are taken from the Breviary, it is well for all interior souls to try to grasp the spirit of this liturgical prayer and to make it their own.  It is a spirit of praise and adoration which desires to render to God perpetual worship in union with Christ and in the name of the whole Church, a spirit of
solidarity with Jesus, our Head, and with all the faithful, our brethren; it is a universal spirit which embraces the needs of the entire world, and prays in the name of all Christianity.  How the horizons broaden now with the intentions of our prayers!  We no longer feel alone in prayer; we have become little orantes beside Jesus, the Orante!
from Divine Intimacy
by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We Have Been Told

We Have Been Told by David Haas is a simple, yet powerful way to ponder some of the depths of today's Gospel reading.  Take a few minutes to pray over the text, and see what God may be speaking to your heart...

We have been told.
We've seen his face
and heard his voice alive in our hearts.
"Live in my love with all your heart.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.

I am the vine; you are the branches,
and all who live in me will bear great fruit.

You are my friends, if you keep my commands,
no longer slaves; I call you friends.

No greater love is there than this:
to lay down one's life for a friend.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Those who walked closest to Christ...

We always find that those who walked closest to Christ
were those who had to bear the greatest trials.
~ St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thoughts on Obedience, Part V

Obedience depends on listening so totally and openly to the other that through them we discern the face, the voice of Christ himself.  This is the root of that obedience that we show to one another.

Esther de Waal, A Life-giving Way
in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thoughts on Obedience, Part IV

Christ's obedience was obedience unto death.  This gives me the perspective.  I am being asked to let go of something in me that must die before the new can be born.  Two things help to make this possible:  that the motive force is love;
that I do it in imitation of Christ.

Esther de Waal, A Life-Giving Way
found in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thoughts on Obedience, Part III

Mere outward compliance will not do.  Obedience should come cheerfully, freely, and gladly.  It is only when I remind myself that obedience is ob-audiens, listening intently to God rather than listening to my own self, that what Benedict is telling me -- even though it may still seem difficult -- is not impossible, for it is a response of love to love.

Esther de Waal, A Life-Giving Way
found in Essential Monastic Wisdom

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thoughts on Obedience, Part II

Monastic obedience exists not to make yes-men and efficient bureaucrats who can be used in institutional politeics, but to liberate the hearts and minds into the lucid and terrible darkness of contemplation that no tongue can explain and no rationalization can account for.

~ Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action
in Essential Monastic Wisdom