Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saint Cecilia

The ancients and medievals believed that everything in the cosmos made music, sending sound waves eternally into space as planets and stars and galaxies and everything gave off a song of praise to their Maker as they whirled in an endless dance. It seems in some ways they may have been right, as musical sounds have been picked up coming from comets! This suggests a deep-seated joy in the heart of all that is, for we sing to express happiness that cannot be contained. Who ever sang when they were angry or frustrated? (Operatic arias are one exception that proves this rule.) Today we celebrate the feast of St. Cecilia, who, according to legend, "sang to God in her heart". She is often pictured with an organ, although there is no evidence she played any instruments. We honor her as a martyr who faced a terrible fate but continued to sing to God in her heart, overcome by a joy that the world does not understand. We remember her as the patroness of musicians, and we remember also today that according to another saint (Hildegard of Bingen) all creation sings, except for one particular group: the devil and his minions. Let us be among those who sing with joy to God in our hearts and voices!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sr. Mary John's Golden Jubilee Celebration

Sr. Mary John's Golden Jubilee Mass will be held on November 23, but we had the community celebration last Saturday! It was fantastic!

We started off with the jubilee song, a fun Nigerian song with new lyrics to suit the occasion. Sr. Marie Augustine played the drum. 

 Our general theme for the day was Texas--appropriate for a jubilarian who has spent all her life here in this great state! Sr. Mary Thomas provided sound effects for a funny Texas skit using the keyboard and her own natural abilities.

Sr. Mary Jeremiah sang the theme song from the movie "Giant" (which takes place in Texas)

Sr. Mary Gabriel acted the part of Mooch in a delightful skit based on Patrick McDonnell's book "The Gift of Nothing", featuring characters from the cartoon strip "Mutts". (OK, this has nothing to do with Texas as such, but it was really enjoyable!)

There were many more skits, acts, and displays of talent in the morning, but we must move on!

In the afternoon, we watched Sister Mary John open her many gifts. 

How cute...handmade stuffed animals created by one of our sisters! It's a bunny rabbit and a Piglet!

After all that celebrating, Sr. Mary John was literally doing a dance! Sr. Marie Augustine helped the festive mood by showing Sister a few African moves. 

From our hearts we thank God for Sr. Mary John's faithfulness to Him all these years, and for the many ways she has served God, our community, and our Dominican Order during this time. God grant you many more years, Sr. Mary John!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Some Images of the New Novitiate

The renovations we began some time ago in the novitiate are finally done! All the furniture has been moved in, and sisters are living there again. Here's a look at some of the major improvements which have been completed: 

 Just for comparison...This is the old floor!

 The beautiful new floor! It's basically white with flecks of brown. This floor is found throughout the novitiate now (instead of the eclectic mixture of original and patched tiles) A tremendous improvement!

Earlier this year (during Lent, to be precise), the novitiate sisters embarked on a project: make some new Stations of the Cross for our novitiate oratory. Our former set of Stations was getting a little faded and needed some updating. So all during Lent the novitiate sisters sanded, varnished and glued together crosses made of cedar wood (using wood left over from another project--and our workmen cut the pieces out for us using a saw), and finally attached the pictures for the Stations. They finished up right before Easter, which was most appropriate! We are bringing you the completed project now because the wall where the Stations hang was recently repainted and new lighting fixtures were installed.

If you are a young woman interested in a religious vocation, you might want to contact us and find out more about Dominican contemplative life! You might one day see the new floor--and pray the Stations in our oratory!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Visiting Friars: Fr. Thomas Crean, OP

We had the special joy of visiting with Fr. Thomas Crean, OP in the parlor last night! Fr. Thomas is a Dominican friar of the English Province who has been visiting Lufkin in order to celebrate the wedding Mass of the sister of one of our nuns here at the Monastery. This is his first visit to the United States and while he hasn't done much sight-seeing he has sampled many of the local delicacies (barbeque, anyone?). Fr. Thomas is currently studying at the International Theological Institute in Austria. He also holds a degree from Oxford and has also spent time at Cambridge, where some of us were delighted to learn he met (and actually had lunch with) the philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe! Fr. Thomas is also a published author, and at least two of his books--God Is No Delusion, an answer to Richard Dawkins, and The Mass and the Saints are available in America from Ignatius Press. We had a lovely visit with Fr. Thomas and while it seems unlikely he will ever find his way to Lufkin again, one never knows what the future may hold! (And by the way, his patron is St. Thomas Aquinas!)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dominican Rite Mass in Lufkin

We had the rare privilege of a Dominican Rite Mass celebrated in our monastery today! The celebrant was Fr. Thomas Crean, OP, a Dominican friar from England (we hope to bring you more on him soon). It was a low Mass, but we did sing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, as well as a communion hymn and a closing hymn--this last because of course we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass each day until about 8 PM when we have Benediction. A friend of Fr. Thomas from England was the very capable server and (fortunately for us) said all the responses. For those who don't know, the Dominican Rite Mass is always in Latin because it was suppressed after the changes of Vatican II and never adapted into the vernacular.  However, after the Tridentine Mass was allowed again, so too were other Latin Rite Masses, including this one. Until the late 1960s we had the Dominican Rite Mass in our monastery, so there were some sisters who remembered when to kneel, when to stand, etc., and were able to give the rest of us a little prompting when needed! Our altar is situated in the center of our sanctuary, so it was easy for Father to celebrate Mass facing east. If you are interested in the Dominican Rite, we urge you to check out the Dominican Liturgy blog here. There are also videos and other resources you can explore! We don't know when or if we will have Mass in Latin again here, but it was certainly a wonderful event--and a pleasure to experience the traditional Dominican Rite Mass which many of us here have heard about but never actually attended. Deo gratias!