Saturday, March 28, 2015

Questions Answered: Lenten Edition

Q: So what happened to Lenten Companions?
A:  Well... a lot of things happened here at the Monastery and basically things got too busy to keep it up. Hopefully we can do better next Lent! We've had a lot going on. We had a visit from three sisters from the contemplative branch of the Community of St. John (unfortunately no pictures...another long story) who were passing through. And we now have not one, but two postulants! This also keeps things busy. In due time we will post more about them, but you may have seen one of them in our Tet pictures, if you were looking carefully. Also we organized a mailing of our newsletter, "Monastery Bells".
Q: I live in the Lufkin area. What is your Triduum schedule?
A: We'll be posting it soon, possibly later today. We can tell you right now that Passion (Palm) Sunday Mass will be at 7:00 AM as usual for Sundays, and palms will be distributed. 
Q: When will "Monastery Bells" be sent out?
A: We are mailing it April 1, no fooling. We will also post the online version that day. So check back to see a link to our latest newsletter!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lenten Companions: Blessed Fra Angelico, OP

 Blessed Fra Angelico, OP was born Guido da Vicchio near Florence, Italy in 1386 or 1387. At a young age he entered the Dominicans at their priory in Fiesole with his brother, Benedetto. Little is known about his personal life or priestly ministry. He is known instead for his remarkable frescoes and altarpieces. It is said that St. Antoninus, OP, said of Fra Angelico's work, "No one could paint like that without first having been to heaven." 

Blessed Fra Angelico is an excellent Lenten companion because of his masterful works depicting the sufferings and triumph of Christ. His images of the crucifixion include images of Dominican saints standing by or even embracing the Cross. This is an invitation for the viewer to insert himself or herself into the scene, experiencing the moment in a manner that brings us closer to Christ and His Mother and the saints. Many of his finest works can still be seen today in the convent of San Marco (now a museum) and in Fiesole.

It is said that Fra Angelico did not use human models for his art, but painted instead with the eye of a theologian. His motto was, "To paint Christ, one must live Christ." So may we too live the passion and ultimate resurrection of Christ, in order to bring Him closer to our brothers and sisters in every state of life.

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!