Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blessed Emma

Note:  Not much is known about Saint Emma of Regensburg.  The following text tells more about her family than about her personally, but by reading it one gains an understanding of some the personal crosses she bore during her lifetime.

Saint Emma and her family

Ludwig II, also known as “The German” was born around 805.  In as early as 817 he was designated King of Bavaria.  In 825 he took office in Regensburg.  With pride and preference he referred to himself as King of Bavaria, which he loved and favored as he considered Bavaria to be his homeland.  He celebrated all high feasts almost exclusively in Regensburg, where he had a chapel built in honor of Our Lady, known today as “Alte Kapelle” [Old Chapel].

He was consistent in his consideration of the mighty deeds of the old princes.  In God’s house, he was focused and attentive. Not only did he listen to the holy songs, he also heeded them in his faithful temperament.  In Frankfurt he had the destroyed churches rebuilt, expanded and adorned.  He was very generous toward the poor.  When he had several decaying churches in Regensburg and Frankfurt dismantled — in an effort to rebuild and expand them — treasures of gold were found.  He distributed these to the needy. From his royal treasury he sent money to support Christians in Africa and Asia, who had asked for his help. He was incredibly smart in matters of avoiding enemy attacks or of finding out about the intentions of the commanders.  He applied the law with great fervor.  He examined legal arguments very diligently.  He absolutely hated greed and bribery involving judges and he punished them severely. No man who cheated him, went away unpunished.  He placed in charge over the provinces only to those men who did not love money.  Nobody was able to gain his favor through false reverence or by means of gifts.  Only few men ever even dared to try to pursue a government or church position by improper means, money or lust for power.  He never again entrusted anyone again with a public office, who had been found guilty of gaining a position by improper means, whether through a hunger for power or through gifts, or pressure.  He used to say, “While the fox may change his coat, he will not change his mindset.  Such men would always be more aware of the danger than the mercy they had been shown and would never be true servants of their office.” He showed particular concern for suits of armor.  He preferred those to be made of iron rather than gold.  He forbade particularly his soldiers the wearing of gold and silk.  If he saw one of his solders clad in silk or gold, he would say to him:  “Listen, you fool of mortals! Isn’t it sufficient for you to find your own end?  Do you also wish to hand over your belongings to the enemies and enrich them, so that they can fight us even longer and can oppose us even more easily?”  He decreed that the wearing of foreign clothing be forbidden.  He was strict in handling the laws on expenditures.  His patriarchal frugality in regard to food and clothing was rivaled by his extreme thriftiness and temperance.  He generally did not consume meat or similar foods.

This man was the prince to whom Emma, daughter of the mighty Bavarian Count Welf and his wife Eigilwich, a noble Saxon woman gave her hand in marriage in 827.  Emma, like her sister, Judith who was the second wife of Ludwig “The Pious” was extremely beautiful and, what is worth even more, virtuous. The marriage was celebrated in Franconia, however, the exact city or imperial region is unknown.  The first fruit of this marriage was a daughter, Hildegard, born in 828.  Six more children followed: three sons and three daughters (Karlmann, Ludwig, Karl, Irmengard, Gisla and Berta).

Queen Emma raised her children “in great care in faith and virtue and, in particular, in the fear of the Lord.  They learned to respect men and women dedicated to God as trustworthy people and friends of God and they obeyed the bishops and all servants of Holy Mother Church as they would their father.”  In 833 her husband had exchanged the Obermünster (high cathedral) in Regensburg against the one at Mondsee with Bishop Baturich of Regensburg.  When he gave the cathedral into Emma’s care, she expanded it and enriched it with many gifts.  In addition, she herself would enjoy giving generous alms.  As a lasting remembrance of this faithful and charitable Queen, it is said that every year at the anniversary of the Queen’s death, the young maidens dedicated to God would distribute meat and bread in bare feet in the high cathedral, because even Queen Emma did this charitable service in her bare feet.  In late 874 she was afflicted with a nerve stroke and repented of the small mistakes in her faithful life on an extended sickbed. She died on January 31, 876 and was buried in Regensburg.  Today there are differing opinions whether her grave is found in the high cathedral or in Saint Emmeram Basilica.  King Ludwig, “the German,” survived his wife by a mere seven months, whose virtue was acclaimed by her own and successive generations.  On August 28 he died in Frankfurt am Main and was buried in the monastic church at Lorch in the Upper Rhine region, where Duke Tasssilo, the founder of the monastery at Frauenchiemsee, had also been laid to rest.

Hildegard, the oldest daughter of Ludwig The German and Queen Emma, initially served as Abbess of the small convent for nuns in Münsterschwarzach in the Würzburg region.  Her Aunt Theodorada, a daughter of Charlemagne and Queen Fastrada, had given this cloister to her for the duration of her life, so that the Church in Würzburg would become its owner after her death.  However, her father decided on a more splendid position for her.  He himself gifted this Court as well as the Uri land and Albis Forest to the small monastery dedicated to Saints Felix and Regula on the Zurich Maierhof.  This extravagant design would allow for the Foundation to become a suitable place for the daughters of the best families to congregate, who were dedicated to God.  He transferred this enriched foundation to his daughter, Hildegard, by means of an official Certificate.  For only a few years, Hildegard was the Abbess of this Zurich Monastery, which soon had more than twenty members.  She had asked and her father had granted to her convent the beautiful Court at Tham near Lake Zug.  She had begun construction of a beautiful church for her abbey, when she died on December 23, 856 at the youthful age of a mere 28 years.

The place of birth of any of the seven royal children is unknown.  Since however, the inscription on Irmengard’s grave names specifically “Francia” (the old Franconia), Bavaria (Bojoaria) can under no circumstances be given as the place of birth for the child favored by God.  But where exactly within the boundaries of the large Franconia her bassinette may have stood, whether in Frankfurt or in Aachen or somewhere in Aquitania, this is totally unknown.  Ludwig the German is said to have predestined his daughter to monastic life, in an effort to avoid that her hand be given as part of the ambitious plans of the great lords.  Dümmler even says he insisted she take this path.  We, however, absolutely do not believe that she was in need of any pressure to move toward a spiritual state of life, since the faithful education of the royal children by their mother most certainly consisted of a rich soil on which decisions toward a more fulfilled lifestyle could come to fruition.  At any rate, their lives in the monastery are plenty of proof that the daughters faithfully fulfilled the wishes of their father.  By the way, Ratpert of Saint Gallen saw fit to emphasize in the beautiful inscription on the grave of Abbess Hildegard that she offered her soul to God completely of her own accord:  Mentem sponte suam voverat illa Deo.

Source:  Blessed Irmengard of Chiemsee, Virgin of the Order of Saint Benedict, Chapter I, Family, Ludwig “The German” and his wife, Irmengard’s siblings.
According to sources researched by M. Walburga Baumann, O.S.B.
Munich, 1922. Publisher: J. Pfeiffer (D. Hafner)
Translated from the German by Margret Setcavage

Duties toward God ~ Sirach 2

Chapter 2

~ My child, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for testing.

~Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.

~Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great.

~Accept whatever befalls you, in times of humiliation be patient;

~For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.

~Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.

~You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy, do not stray or else you may fall.

~You who fear the LORD, trust him, and your reward will not be lost.

~You who fear the LORD, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.

~Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? 
Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?

~Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble.

~Woe to craven hearts and drooping hands, to the sinner who treads a double path!

~Woe to the faint of heart who trust not, who therefore will have no shelter!

~Woe to you who have lost hope! what will you do at the visitation of the LORD?

~Those who fear the LORD disobey not his words; those who love him keep his ways.

~Those who fear the LORD seek to please him, those who love him are filled with his law.

~Those who fear the LORD prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him.

~Let us fall into the hands of the LORD and not into the hands of men, For equal to his majesty is the mercy that he shows.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Worldly Possessions

From a homily on the Gospels by St. Gregory the Great, pope.(lib. 2 hom. 36, 11-13; PL 76, 1227-74)

  "I would urge you to forsake everything, but that I do not presume to do. Yet, if you cannot give up everything of this work. Whatever you possess must not possess you; whatever you own must be under the power of your soul; for if your soul is overpowered by the love of this world's goods, it will be totally at the mercy of its possessions.
  I other words, we must use make use of temporal things, but our hearts are set on what is eternal. Temporal goods help us on our way,. but our desire must be for those eternal realities which are our goal. We should give no more that a side glance at all that happens in the world, but the eyes of our soul are to be focused right ahead; for our whole attention must be fixed on those realities which constitute our goal.
....You see, my brothers, I dare not say to you, give up everything. Yet, if you will, you can give everything up even while keeping it, provided you handle temporal things in such a way that your whole mind is directed toward what is eternal. A man can use the world as if he were not using it, if he makes all external needs minister to the support of his life without allowing them to dominate his soul. They remain external to him and under his control, serving him without halting the souls's drive to higher things. For such men, everything in this world is there for their use, not to be desired. Nothing should interfere with your souls's longing; no created pleasure in the world should ensnare you."

Monday, January 28, 2013

St Thomas Aquinas

This morning due to the ice, we had a communion service. This is only the second time I can remember in 11 years, having a communion service instead of Mass. We were able to sing the English version of some of St. Thomas Aquinas's hymns. I also can't remember singing the English versions. The words just jumped out at me, so I thought that you might like a translation of one of his hymns. 

Pange, lingua, gloriosi 
Corporis mysterium 
Sanguinisque pretiosi, 
Quem in mundi pretium, 
Fructus ventris generosi, 
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus 
Ex intacta Virgine, 
Et in mundo conversatus, 
Sparso verbi semine 
Sui moras incolatus 
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte coenae 
Recumbens cum fratribus, 
Observata lege plene 
Cibis in legalibus, 
Cibum turbae duodenae 
Se dat suis manibus

Verbum caro panem verum 
Verbo carnem efficit; 
Fit sanguis Christi merum. 
Et si sensus deficit, 
Ad firmandum cor sincerum 
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo sacramentum 
Venereumur cernui. 
Et antiquum documentum 
Novo cedat ritui. 
Praestet fides supplementum 
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori genitoque 
Laus et jubilatio, 
Salus, honor, virtus quoque 
Sit et benedictio. 
Procedenti ab utroque 
Compar sit laudatio.



Acclaim, my tongue, this mystery 
Of glorious Body and precious Blood 
Which the King of nations shed for us 
A noble womb's sole fruitful bud. 

Given and born from a Virgin pure, 
Having made this world His dwelling place, 
When the seeds of His words were sown afar 
He ended His stay in wondrous grace. 

With brethren reclining at that last meal, 
He observes in full what the Law demands, 
Then gives Himself as food instead 
To apostles twelve with His own hands. 

The Word in Flesh makes true bread flesh, 
The Blood of Christ then comes from wine. 
Though senses fail to see this truth, 
Faith will make pure hearts incline.

So great a sacrament, therefore, 
Let us revere while kneeling down. 
Let old laws yield to this new rite. 
Let faith, not sense, conviction ground.

Praise and jubilation to the Father; 
Honor, virtue, blessing to the Son; 
And to the One Who proceeds from both 
In equal measure may praise be sung.


God bless! and stay warm....

Friday, January 25, 2013


Sister reading her Vows during her Monastic Profession

Today we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul. Conversion can come in different ways. 
Paul needed to be knocked off his high horse, what does God need to do to get us to convert and become closer to Him? 

We as Benedictine Nuns take a vow of conversion. This means that we vow to constantly change, so that we might be more like Christ. This isn't as easy as it sounds. There are days that we don't see how we are lacking in this virtue, so God reminds us in subtle ways, okay, some days not so subtle. I have to constantly ask my self God do you really want me to do or act in this way? I say a quick prayer and then do it. Sometimes the prayer is just HELP.... or really God.... and for the smaller things, an Hail Mary works just as well.

I often look back at my life and marvel at how God worked in the various area of my past so that I might be the Nun that I am today.

Take the time to stop and reflect on how God worked in your past that has made you who you are today.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

St. Francis de Sales

  Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own  vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what is is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.
  It is therefore an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans' shops, from the courts of princes, from family householdes, I acknowledge, my dear Philothea, that the type of devotion which is purely contemplative, monastic and religious can certainly not be exercised in these sorts of stations and occupations, but besides this threefold type of devotion, there are many others fit for perfecting those who live in the secular state.
  Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 the direction of God's will

   "Because discernment begins in faith, proceeds in faith and ends in faith, it remains always shrouded in darkness. We cannot "know" with scientific precision what the Lord desires.  
Thus, rather than say that such and such is the will of God, it seems more appropriate to affirm that a particular choice is in the direction of God's will. The divine will cannot be reduced to human categories, God's will infinitely transcends any thing we can conceive it to be. ...
   Since we can never possess empirical certitude in matters of faith, our discernment always retains an element of darkness and risk. Moreover, faith guides us through this night "more surely than the light of noonday" ( St John of the Cross)   Thus, the vocational imperative which moves us to lifelong commitment is produced by God in us, not precisely by our conviction of proceeding in the direction of God's will. 
   That conviction is rather the effect of the divine activity within us. In other words, instead of the signs guiding us, God moves us forward in our vocation; and, in the process, signs appear -- signs which confirm and affirm."

Called by God, Frances Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs. pgs. 14-15

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prayers for our Leaders

God our Father, 
You guide everything in wisdom and love.
Accept the prayers we offer for our nation.
In your goodness,
watch over those in authority
so that people everywhere
may enjoy freedom, security and peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time First Vespers

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 
First Vespers

The reading, intercessions are found in the
 Liturgy of the Hours Book Vol 3 pg 825, 

Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Prayers of Discernment

This weekend we are hosting the Pittsburgh seminarians. It is an honor to once again serve them, and provide a sacred place so that they might grow closer to God.

This is their prayer for  Discernment from their web site.

Prayers of Discernment

Gracious God, You have called me to life and gifted me in many ways. Through Baptism
You have sent me to continue the mission of Jesus by sharing my love with others.
Strengthen me to respond to Your call each day. Help me to become all You desire of me.
Inspire me to make a difference in others' lives. Lead me to choose the way of life You have
planned for me. Open the hearts of all to listen to Your call. Fill all with Your Holy Spirit that
we may have listening hearts and the courage to respond to You. Enkindle in my heart and
the hearts of others the desire to make the world a better place by serving as Lay Minister,
Sister, Priest, Brother or Deacon. Amen.

O Lord, help me know your will for me. Let your light shine in the depths of my heart that I
may know what you want me to do with my life. Help me believe that you have a special
plan for me. Lord, I know I pass through this life only once; help me decide how you want
me to make a difference. Like our Blessed Mother, give me the wisdom to hear your voice
and the courage to answer your call. Above all give me peace of mind and heart. I offer this
prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God bless

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pro Life Prayer Vigil 2013

Here are some of the photo's from yesterday's vigil for Pro Life.

It was an amazing day, The focus was on how to live and experience  a blessed life, not just a biological life. 
We are to see God in everyone, at every stage of life. 

Thank you Fr. Boniface Hicks OSB

Tuesday, January 15, 2013




On a certain day, as venerable Bennet was, in his cell, the foresaid young Placidus, the holy man's monk, went out to take up water at the lake, and putting down his pail carelessly, fell in himself after it, whom the water forthwith carried away from the land so far as one may shoot an arrow. The man of God, being in his cell, by and by knew this, and called in haste for Maurus, saying: "Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, that went to the lake to fetch water, is fallen in, and is carried a good way off."
A strange thing, and since the time of Peter the Apostle never heard of! Maurus, craving his father's blessing, and departing in all haste at his commandment, ran to that place upon the water, to which the young lad was carried by force thereof, thinking that he had all that while gone upon the land: and taking fast hold of him by the hair of his head, in all haste he returned back again: and so soon as he was at land, coming to himself he looked behind him, and then knew very well that he had before run upon the water: and that which before he durst not have presumed, being now done and past, he both marvelled, and was afraid at that which he had done.
Coming back to the father, and telling him what had happened, the venerable man did not attribute this to his own merits, but to the obedience of Maurus: but Maurus on the contrary, said that it was done only upon his commandment, and that he had nothing to do in that miracle, not knowing at that time what he did. But the friendly contention proceeding of mutual humility, the young youth himself that was saved from drowning did determine: for he said that he saw when he was drawn out of the water the Abbot's garment upon his head, affirming that it was he that had delivered him from that great danger.
PETER: Certainly they be wonderful things which you report, and such as may serve for the edification of many : for mine own part, the more that I hear of his miracles, the more do I still desire.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday mornings....

Every year the seminarians from St. Vincent Seminary come to our Retreat House for their retreat. We look forward to hosting them, they stay with us for a week.
It is an honor and a pleasure to serve the future priests. The Church is in their hands.

But.... we have all agreed that they might need a course in bed making ....





 They need our prayers and support.
 God Bless 
The Bed Making Nuns.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of the Lord ~ 2nd Vespers

We combine our traditional Monastic Office with the "newer" Roman Office.
We chant the Antiphons and Psalms using simplified Gregorian Chant melodies, and use a different arraignment of Psalms.

Second Vespers ~ Baptism of the Lord

1st Ant:

Psalm 109
~The Lord's revelation to my Master~

2nd Ant:

Psalm 110
~I will thank the Lord with all my heart~
3rd Ant:

Psalm 111
~Happy the man who fears the Lord~

4th Ant:
Psalm 112
~Praise, O servants of the Lord~

READING Acts 10:37-38

I take it you know what has been reported all over Judea about Jesus of Nazareth, beginning in Galilee with the baptism John preached and of the way God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil, and God was with him.

Sacred Silence (indicated by a bell) – a moment to reflect and receive in our hearts the full resonance of the voice of the Holy Spirit and to unite our personal prayer more closely with the word of God and public voice of the Church.



Luke 1:46-55
The soul rejoices in the Lord

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever. Amen.


Our Redeemer desired to be baptized in the Jordan by John; let us make our petition to him:
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Christ, Servant of God, the Father acknowledged you as his own Son with whom he was pleased,
send forth your Spirit upon us.
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Christ, Chosen One of God, you did not break the crushed reed or extinguish the wavering flame,
have mercy on all who are seeking you in good faith.
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Christ, Son of God, the Father called you to be a light to the nations in the new covenant,
open the eyes of the blind by the waters of baptism.
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Christ, Savior of mankind, the Father anointed you with the Holy Spirit for the ministry of salvation,
lead all to see you and to believe in you, that they may have eternal life.
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Christ, our hope, you lead those in darkness to the light of salvation,
receive our departed brothers and sisters into your kingdom.
– Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
                                               as we forgive those who trespass against us,
                                                      and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Concluding Prayer

Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.