Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lenten Companions: St. Mary of Egypt

St. Mary of Egypt is commemorated in the Eastern church, where she has an entire Sunday in Lent dedicated to her memory. But the Western church may profit from learning more about her! She was a notorious harlot in Alexandria who one day joined a group of pilgrims going to Jerusalem--just for the sake of a "good" time, not because of any pious yearning! Once she arrived, she continued plying her trade until the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, when out of curiosity she approached the church and tried to go inside and see the relic of the true Cross. To her surprise, she was unable to enter the church. It was as if some invisible force was preventing her from going inside. She made several attempts to enter, without success. It was at this moment that repentance overtook her. She realized the gravity of her many sins and began weeping for them. Filled with the desire to give herself to God as she had formerly given herself to sin, she fled to the desert beyond the Jordan, where she lived alone. She told her story to a monk named Zossima who happened to encounter her, 47 years later. Soon after that, he brought her the Eucharist. When he tried to make another visit, he found she had died, and so he buried her. The story was recounted by several, including Sophronius of Jerusalem whose version was translated into Latin and became popular in both east and west.
What makes Mary of Egypt an excellent Lenten companion is her sincere and wholehearted repentance. Her basic personality did not change--she became as wildly devoted to God as she had once been to harlotry. But she did change the direction she was going, realizing in a burst of cleansing tears that she was desperately unhappy and needed to find the way to true joy. She realized her salvation depended on the mercy of God, and she trusted completely in that mercy. Wherever we are, we can change the direction of our lives simply by asking for God's help and mercy. Mary reminds us that His mercy has no limits, but we must be willing to acknowledge our need.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tet 2015

On Sunday night we had our annual celebration of the Lunar New Year, or Tet as our Vietnamese sisters call it! For the Vietnamese people this is the year of the goat (in other countries it's the year of the sheep). Our celebration was actually postponed from the 15th due to an event we hope to post later. But this gave us more time to prepare our dance, performed by some of the younger sisters and choreographed as always by Sr. Mary Christine.

For more pictures of our dance, please check out our website gallery, here. There are 7 pictures in all!

We also played games and had delicious Vietnamese treats and lucky money provided by a generous benefactor. We thank everyone who made our celebration possible!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lenten Companions: St. Polycarp

"O Father of The beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ...I bless Thee for counting me worthy of this day and hour, that in the number of martyrs I may partake of Christ's cup, to the resurrection of eternal life of both soul and body in the imperishablility that is the gift of the Holy Ghost."
--St. Polycarp

St. Polycarp is the first of our Lenten companions. He was a martyr who died about 155 and he is one of the "Apostolic Fathers", meaning that he received his teaching directly from one of the first disciples or apostles. In fact, he is supposed to have been a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. Polycarp was a contemporary and friend to many other well-known Fathers of the Church, including St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus of Lyons. He was captured and martyred during a persecution of Christians in Smyrna, where he was bishop. His final prayer, quoted above, shows a strong Trinitarian theology, and ends with a doxology. Polycarp is an excellent Lenten companion for us because he remained true to his faith in the face of persecution and martyrdom (and this is becoming sadly more common for Christians today), and he followed faithfully in the footsteps of Christ, which all Christians are called to do, regardless of their state of life or the way their lives end. May Polycarp inspire us today to be faithful and unafraid to follow Christ to Calvary and beyond!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent 2015

Lent is here again! We've heard a lot of Dominicans telling us recently, "Instead of giving something up, why not do something extra for Lent?" This doesn't necessarily mean extra church services, extra prayers, or extra volunteer time (although all those things are good practices!). It can also mean strengthening the virtues, building up those that are weak within us. You could try putting Paul's reminder about Christians being ambassadors for Christ into practice (as another friar told us). And hopefully, by practicing a new virtue for the six weeks of Lent, it will become a new good habit that will carry you through the months and years to come! So this Lent consider striving to be more grateful, more loving, more patient...or whatever you most need to work on. If you are faithful to your practice it will bear fruit in your life at Easter--or even before!

With this in mind, we're going to bring you some "Lenten companions" to help you as we proceed through Lent. We did this for Advent, and it seemed to be helpful for many, so we will try again for this season! We hope to have at least one Lenten companion each week, so please check to find out who's being featured. And we will also be posting monastery news and other things!

Have a blessed and holy Lent! We'll be meeting you on the way!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Association Council Meeting

The Council of the Association of Monasteries of Nuns of the Order of Preachers in the United States (that's a mouthful, isn't it?) met at our monastery last week. They kept very busy with their meetings, so we didn't see a lot of them, but we enjoyed having them with us! We did have one recreation where we could all talk to each other!

From left to right: Sr. Denise Marie (Summit), Sr. Mary Thomas (Farmington Hills), Sr. Mary Rose (Lufkin), Sr. Mary Catharine (Summit), Sr. Maria Christine (Menlo Park), Fr. Walter Wagner, OP (priest consultant), and Sr. Anna Marie (Springfield). 

We are so grateful for all their hard work getting ready for the 2016 Assembly and other projects!