Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas at the Monastery

We had a beautiful and grace-filled Christmas--hope you did, too! We have many more pictures of our Christmas decorations on our website, which can be reached here. They are on our Photos page. 
We are praying for a blessed New Year 2011 for everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." 
(Luke 2:10-14)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 7: O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, 
king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, 
Savior of all people, 
come and set us free, O Lord our God.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 6: O Rex Gentium

O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart; 
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, 
come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 5: O Oriens

O Radiant Dawn, 
splendor of eternal light, 
sun of justice:
come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 4: O Clavis David

O Key of David, 
O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: 
come, break down the prison walls of death 
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; 
and lead your captive people into freedom.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 3: O Radix Jesse

O Flower of Jesse's stem, 
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; 
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

...Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her..." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 
(Matthew 1:20, 24)

St. Joseph was determined to divorce Mary quietly when he had the first of several dreams recorded in St. Matthew's Gospel. Like his Old Testament counterpart, Joseph is a dreamer! The main point is that Joseph took the dream seriously as a message from God. He changed his mind completely and accepted Mary (and her unborn Son) into his home and into his heart. Joseph is the first person to welcome Jesus and Mary into his life. May we all do the same this Christmas season and every day of our lives!

The Matachines Visit Our Monastery

Last night, we were treated to a delightful performance by the matachines from St. Patrick's Church here in Lufkin, TX. Only a video would really do them justice, but we did get a few pictures: 

Matachines are Mexican religious dancers who perform their lively steps in honor of God. They also have a deep devotion to a particular saint or to our Lady (especially our Lady of Guadalupe, as you can see here.) Their instruments and costumes are blessed by a priest.  Although they perform throughout the year, they are especially called upon during Advent, and no celebration of the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe is complete without the matachines! They dance to the accompaniment of the drum and maracas, as well as a percussion instrument shaped like a bow and arrow. As you can see in the pictures, they performed for us in our chapel, and it called to mind David dancing before the Lord! Thank you so much for enriching our Advent in this way!

O Antiphons, Day 2: O Adonai

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, 
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: 
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Antiphons, Day 1: O Sapientia

O Wisdom, 
O holy Word of God, 
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care, 
Come and show your people the way to salvation. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

"The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God." 
(Isaiah 35:1-6a)

The Third Sunday of Advent is often called "Gaudete Sunday" because the first word of the entrance antiphon for this Mass is "Rejoice" ("Gaudete" in Latin). It would be the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe if it were not a Sunday in Advent, so there are multiple reasons for rejoicing today. It is also a day in which the Mass readings speak to us of patience. Isaiah's beautiful vision given above is a future event, not a commentary on the present time. The passage from the letter of James is even more specific, giving particular directions on how to wait in patience for the coming of the Lord.  Although we are halfway through Advent, it is hard to wait in patience for Christmas.  Still, we rejoice today, knowing that Jesus has come into our world as our Savior, knowing that He will come again in glory on the last day. Until that great day, we wait patiently!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary--not the conception of Jesus, but of Mary herself, conceived just as we all are but without original sin.  
"The feast of our Lady's Immaculate Conception is the promise and the earnest of Christmas Day; our salvation is already in the bud. As the first green shoot heralds the approach of spring, in a world that is frost-bound and seems dead, so in a world of great sinfulness and of utter despair that spotless conception heralds the restoration of man's innocence. As the shoot gives unfailing promise of the flower which is to spring from it, the Immaculate Conception gives unfailing promise of the Virgin Birth." --Msgr. Ronald A. Knox

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:1)

This second Sunday of Advent begins a focus on St. John the Baptist as the Forerunner. His purpose is to call people to repentance before the coming of Jesus Christ. That's his complete responsibility! Simply to point out the way to Christ and call people's attention to the fact that He is coming. It's the people's responsibility to hear his word and act on it, changing their lives for the better through repentance.  John is a great model of the humility we all need as we continue our journey through this Advent season. For--who knows?--God may be calling you to point the way of the Lord to someone, to many people, perhaps without even realizing it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Letter Time!

It's time for our annual Christmas letter to go out! Our Christmas letter--like all our mailings--is still done "in house" (except for the printing). It is designed and then readied for mailing entirely by nuns. As usual, the entire community pitched in to get the work done quickly. Many hands DO make light work!

We tried a new method of sealing this year, using stickers instead of envelopes. 

Working hard...

...and enjoying each other's company!

If you are not currently receiving our mailings, including our newsletter, "Monastery Bells",  please consider doing so! It's free!  Just send us an email with your "snail mail" address, and we will put you on our list. Our next mailing will probably be in February!
(NOTE: we do not give out the names and addresses of people on our mailing list to anyone. This information is used only for mailing our newsletters.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

The Advent wreath in our chapel
Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed...(Romans 13:11)
Advent is here! In less than a month we will celebrate Jesus' coming into the world. This Advent finds us in a world filled with war and rumors of war. Let us make peace in our world a major theme of our prayers this Advent season as we wait in joyful hope and expectation for the coming of our Lord, the Prince of Peace.
Because of my brothers and friends, I will say, "Peace be within you!" 
Because of the house of the Lord, our God, I will pray for your good.
(Psalm 122)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King and Pro Orantibus Day

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King...

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
(Lk 23:39-43)

...and also Pro Orantibus Day, a day of prayer for the cloistered religious life.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel

Pro Orantibus day (a day for "those who pray"--cloistered religious) is celebrated on the memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the temple, November 21--a day that recalls Mary's dedication to God.

St. Ambrose commented on the passage above from Luke, saying, "The Lord always grants us more than what we ask for. The thief merely asked to be remembered, but the Lord said: 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' The essence of life is to live with Jesus Christ. And where Jesus Christ is, there is his Reign to be found." This seems to sum up the happy coincidence of the solemnity of Christ the King and the day designated by the Pope as "Pro Orantibus" both falling on November 21 this year. If the essence of life is to live with Jesus Christ, our King, how fortunate are we cloistered religious who spend our whole lives in Christ's service, praying, interceding, and praising him day and night in his churches and chapels throughout the world! And we are fortunate--and happy! It is absolutely true that Christ gives everything, even more than what we ask for, and takes nothing away. He is the King of all Kings, the One to whom we have pledged our lives.

We invite all young women to consider their vocation to the cloistered life--and maybe to our monastery! Please go to our website for more information about our vocation and our joy-filled life at the heart of the Church and the Order of Preachers.

"It is worthwhile living for his kingdom--and dying for it." --Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn, O.P.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Thanks-Giving

We have a tradition of giving baked goods to our local friends and benefactors--usually at Christmas--but this year we thought we'd try a different season and thank them, appropriately enough, at Thanksgiving time! The fall season lends itself to pumpkin bread, so that's what we decided to make. Several enthusiastic sisters teamed up in the kitchen to produce many loaves of pumpkin bread!
Sister Marie Tersidis stirs up the batter...

Sister Mary Giuse and Teresa pour it into pans...

Sister Mary Gabriel admires the finished bread...

Sister Mary Rose packs it for delivery...

Most of the crew poses with some of their work!

We are so grateful to all our friends and benefactors who help make our life of prayer possible. Thank you, thank you so much! We are praying for you always!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Visit from the Provincial!

We recently welcomed the provincial of the Southern Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres (USA), Fr. Chris Eggleton, O.P.  and his socius (assistant) Fr. David Caron, O.P. for a brief but memorable visit.

Fr. Chris (on the left) and Fr. David (on the right)

Fr. Chris and Fr. David prayed Vespers with us on Monday evening, and celebrated Mass for us on Tuesday morning. They were able to stay for lunch before hitting the road to return to New Orleans. We enjoyed a lot of fraternal visiting, learning about happenings in our province and telling them more about us. It was a wonderful Dominican encounter which culminated in the bestowing of Texas "citizenship" on our two guests. 

This honor was conferred on them by Sr. Mary John, our prioress, and as you can see they were very pleased to receive it! Thank you so much for your visit, Fr. Chris and Fr. David, and--as we say in Texas--y'all come back now, y'hear!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Glimpse of Dominican Life in Kenya

Fr. Martin Martiny, O.P., the vicar provincial of the Dominican vicariate of East Africa, came to our monastery for a visit recently. He gave us a fascinating power point presentation on the Dominican presence in Kisumu, Kenya, describing the young men in formation to become Dominican friars in Africa; Our Lady of Grace School, which the Dominicans fathers help to run, and their other varied ministries.

 Fr. Martiny, O.P. discusses his work with us after the presentation

Father also talked about the work of the Hawthorne Dominican sisters in Kenya, whose compound is "next door" to the Dominican Fathers. We should not fail to mention that there are Dominican nuns in Kenya, near Nairobi!

Fr. Martiny and Sr. Mary John, our prioress

Thank you for a wonderful fraternal visit, Father, and know that we are keeping you and all the Dominicans and all your ministries in our prayers!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pictures at an Exhibition

Our retreat ended this morning--all good things must come to an end--but we will long remember Fr. R.B. Williams and his exposition of Dominican life, aptly called "Pictures at an Exhibition" (not to be confused with the piano composition by Mussorgsky!).

Fr. R.B. began with the four pillars of Dominican life (prayer, study, community and ministry) and then continued his series of "pictures" with some of the mottoes and phrases commonly found in Dominican life, such as "Veritas" and "Contemplata Aliis Tradere". We were both challenged and inspired! Although we must leave the "desert" of our retreat, we take with us a wealth of new thoughts, prayers, and inspirations to guide us as we return to our "normal" contemplative life. 

Above you can see another sample of Father's "pictures from an exhibition". Thank you so much, Fr. R.B., for a great retreat and for your friendship to our community over the years!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres was a Dominican cooperator brother in Lima, Peru. The son of a Spanish officer and a freed slave woman, his options seemed limited, but he chose to train as a barber and surgeon. These skills proved very useful in his vocation as a Dominican, although even more important was his boundless love of God and neighbor!  Martin was known for his compassion and charity toward both humans and animals...even mice! Today let us pray to St. Martin de Porres for our needs and intentions, confident that he will present them to our Lord.

Happy and blessed feast day greetings to all the Dominicans of the Province of St. Martin de Porres throughout the world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day

Our cemetery in the spring

We are blessed to have our cemetery on our monastery property, so we can go and "visit" our deceased sisters very easily. November is the month especially dedicated to prayers for the dead,  so we'll be saying a lot of extra prayers for our departed friends, relatives, and benefactors--basically for all the faithful departed! Do you have someone you would like us to include in our prayers? Please, e-mail their name(s) to us here. We'd be happy to remember them in our prayers by name.
 Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord 
And let perpetual light shine upon them. 
May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Solemnity of All Saints

"This life of the saints, in its superabundant and inexhaustible fruitfulness, is at the same time a life of the richest variety and fullness. The one Spirit of Jesus, their head and mediator, is manifested in his saints in all the rich variety of their individual lives, and according to the various measure in which every single soul, with its own special gifts and its own special call, has received and employed the grace of God. The one conception of the saint, of the servant of Christ, is embodied in an infinite variety of forms. The litany of the saints takes us rapidly through this 'celestial hierarchy'. And while every name denotes a special gift, a special character, a special life, yet all are united in one only love and in one gospel of joy and gladness." 
--from The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Into the Desert...

We will be making our annual community retreat from the evening of October 26 to the morning of November 4. Please be assured of our prayers for you and we hope you will be praying for us, too! Our retreat master will be Fr. R.B. Williams, OP, a longtime friend of our community. Please keep him in your prayers as well so that the retreat will be a grace-filled time for all of us. Thank you!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

The rosary is a prayer cherished by Dominican nuns. We pray the rosary every day for all the intentions recommended to us, and even for those we don't know personally--we pray for the whole world and all its needs.

You are welcome to join us in praying the rosary, either by coming to our chapel or by uniting your prayers with ours wherever you are. We pray the rosary as a community in chapel Monday through Saturday  about 2:40 PM (Sundays we all pray the rosary privately). We pray a third part of the rosary (five decades) together, but many sisters pray additional decades throughout the day.

Joyful Mysteries: Monday and Saturday
Sorrowful Mysteries: Tuesday and Friday
Luminous Mysteries: Thursday
Glorious Mysteries: Wednesday and Sunday

Let us be united in prayer under the patronage of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Bird Watching...

 Recently we have been visited by a heron--a great white egret. Normally it flies over our property and stalks around our small lake, hunting for fish and frogs.

But one day it decided to explore the monastery grounds! If you look carefully, you can see it walking alongside our main building:

 It came up to the window and peered in at the delighted nuns (who were enjoying a bit of noon recreation), and then began to explore further:

Finally it returned to the pond, where it took off for its next destination...

We are blessed to live in a place where nature comes so close to us and we can see God's marvelous creation without ever having to leave the enclosure. May God be praised for all the wonders He has accomplished in this world!

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Francis and St. Dominic

incontro-DOM-FRA-(Berlin)[1] Did they ever really meet? Chances are, they didn’t…but if they did, it must have been an interesting conversation! We greet all our Franciscan cousins on this feast day of their founder and keep them in our prayers as we sing the Antiphon to St. Francis and St. Dominic, as we do every year on the feasts of both St. Francis (October 4) and St. Dominic (August 8):
Our apostolic father Dominic, and our seraphic father Francis, have taught us your law, O Lord!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

archangels[1]“God defends his chosen ones in the Church, in troubled times he is himself their shield, and through the watchful care of angels he protects them. He presents the angels to his own as servants and messengers, to further their salvation, to report their needs, and to carry their prayers. Even though he himself sees and understands the situation of each person, he still wishes to be told of it by his angels, in order to make known and show more clearly his love and consideration for humankind by his use of such worthy and beloved messengers.”  
-- From a commentary on the Song of Songs by Richard of St. Victor

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sr. Mary Agnes

Sr. Mary Agnes recently had her 88th birthday, which we celebrated with a rare treat of ice cream and cake in the refectory (dining room).
Sr. Mary Agnes admires her delicious cake (made from scratch!) 

Sr. Mary Margaret lights some unusual candles, and--

Wow! What a display! 

We don't usually celebrate birthdays in the monastery--we're more inclined to celebrate a sister's feast day instead--but when a sister reaches a "certain age" it does seem that she is entitled to a little extra celebration. Sr. Mary Agnes, we wish you many more Happy Birthdays in the years to come!