Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Friday, January 28, 2011

St. Thomas Aquinas

What can we say about St. Thomas Aquinas? He's only a towering giant of a theologian and a great mystic; a Dominican who valued friendship and community even while he spent most of his time in prayer, study and writing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let's offer a sampling of images to give an idea of this great man. 

This image of St. Thomas shows him teaching while the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove next to his ear) gives him inspiration.

This one depicts St. Thomas' mystical encounter with God, who said, "You have written well of Me, Thomas. What do you ask?" Thomas, being a saint, replied, "Nothing but Yourself, O Lord." As you can see there's a Dominican friar watching all this in the background. This seems to be normal for Dominicans--they secretly watched St. Dominic at prayer, too! On a positive note, it means we have eyewitness accounts of experiences the saints might have been to humble to reveal...

 This image of St. Thomas shows his essential kindness and joyfulness.

Yes, a sample of St. Thomas' handwriting! 

St. Thomas' grave in Toulouse, France.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Conversion of St. Paul

This picture seem especially appropriate for today's feast because in most depictions we see St. Paul lying on the ground with a horse rearing up beside him, as if Paul had just been thrown off...but there's no mention of a horse in Scripture! Here are some thoughts to ponder from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (similar to something C.S. Lewis once wrote, which is probably a coincidence. But who knows?):
     "We cannot well forget the manner of [Paul's] conversion. He was journeying to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to seize the Christians, and bring them to Jerusalem. He had sided with the persecuting party from their first act of violence, the martyrdom of Saint Stephen; and he continued foremost in a bad cause, with blind rage endeavoring to defeat what really was the work of divine power and wisdom. In the midst of his fury he was struck down by a miracle, and converted to the faith he persecuted...It was a triumph over the enemies of Christ, but it was also an expressive emblem of the nature of God's general dealings with the race of man. What are we all but rebels against God and enemies of the truth? Who then could so appropriately fulfill the purpose of him who came to call sinners to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least of the apostles...When Almighty God in his infinite mercy purposed to form a people to himself out of the heathen, as vessels for his glory, first he chose the instrument of this his purpose as a brand from the burning, to be a type of the rest." 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

St. Margaret of Hungary

Margaret of Hungary, princess, Dominican nun, saint. Her story is unique: King Bela IV of Hungary and his wife promised to dedicate their unborn child to God if He would spare their country from the invading barbarian tribes. So at the age of 3, Margaret was given to the Dominican nuns of Vesprem. A few years after this, Margaret confirmed her parents' decision of her own free will. Several suitors sought her hand in marriage, but Margaret always refused, saying she had promised fidelity to her Lord Jesus Christ. No one in the monastery excelled her in humility and charity. She was obedient to the Holy Spirit in all things, and had an ardent love for the Eucharist. She died at the age of 28. Margaret is the patroness of peace between nations, an appropriate saint to invoke during these days of strife and conflict and war in our world! And yes, St. Elizabeth of Hungary was her cousin!

 Another view of St. Margaret:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Epiphany Celebration

January 6--the traditional date for Epiphany--was the day we celebrated Epiphany as a community! It was a day filled with joy, fun and games, and of course reflections on the Christmas season.

We began with a new take on the old three-legged race! The two sisters on each team had to wrap three packages--using only one hand each!

It wasn't as easy as it may sound!

The winners! 

We also played a Epiphany-themed version of "hot potato", where instead of a potato we passed gifts in a circle while Christmas music played. When the music stopped, whoever was caught with a gift had to leave the circle!

In the evening, some of the sisters delighted us with a puppet show based on the story, "The Fourth Wise Man". Excellent job!

The sisters with some of their puppets.

Community days like this are a way to relax, enjoy each other's company and grow in family spirit. We always keep up our prayers, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and necessary work (such as cooking!) on these days as well. It makes for a busy but delightful time. The Christmas season will officially end soon, so we are now taking down decorations and generally cleaning up. But we suspect there will be other opportunities for celebration before Lent begins in March!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany certainly does come fast this year! We're celebrating on two days--January 2, the official date, and January 6, the traditional date. For today, here are some thoughts from Pope John Paul II to meditate on:
"Those who have already reached the faith and those who are on the path to finding it share alike in this feast. They participate, giving thanks for the gift of faith, as did the Kings who, filled with gratitude, knelt before the Child. The Church, more aware each year of the vastness of her mission, participates in the feast. How many people there still are who have to be brought to the faith! How many have to be brought back to the faith they have lost! This at times is more difficult than the first conversion to the faith. The Church, however, aware of the great gift of the Incarnation of God, cannot pause, can never stop. She has to seek continually the way to Bethlehem for all men and for all times. The Epiphany is the feast of God's challenge." --Homily, January 6, 1979

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God--it's the world day of prayer for peace--it's New Year's Day, January 1, 2011. We celebrated Mary at the Divine Office and Mass, we prayed for peace as we do every day. and this morning we had the traditional drawing of the patrons for 2011.

Sr. Mary John gave an inspiring talk in the chapter hall. 

Then it was time to draw our patrons! Sr. Mary Giuse holds out the cards 
so Sr. Mary Therese can pick one...

...while on the other side of the room Teresa offers a choice of cards to Sr. Mary Christine.

Each sister received a card with a lovely picture on one side and on the other, a title of Jesus or Mary (such as Jesus Crucified or Our Lady of Good Counsel) to meditate on, as well as a patron for the year (selected from the Dominican saints with some extras like St. Paul and the Archangels), a thought to ponder (this year all the quotes came from a book by Raniero Cantalamessa, very good!), and an intention to pray over during the next year. After we all shared who and what we received for the coming year, we exchanged our traditional New Year greetings. 

 It's a lovely way to greet the New Year--a hug for each sister! All the Dominican nuns here in Lufkin, TX wish you a happy and holy New Year 2011, and remember we are praying for you!