Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Questions Answered: August Edition

In this occasional series, we answer questions that come up. If you have a question you'd like to ask, feel free!

Q: I notice you added a contact form to the blog. Why is that?
A: For people to make contact! If you would like us to pray for you, or if you are discerning a vocation and would like to speak to our vocation directress, you can leave a message either on the blog, or on our website here. We added the form to the blog so there are more options available. We try to respond to everyone who contacts us.

Q: Did some of the sisters change jobs? I noticed some changes on the website community page.
A: Yes! As readers of this blog probably know, we elected a new prioress, Sr. Maria Guadalupe, in July and when a prioress is elected (or re-elected) all the other jobs are subject to change as well. We have a new novice directress, Sr. Mary Rose, and a new vocation directress, Sr. Mary Jeremiah, in addition to many other changes. We will have some more on this in the next issue of our newsletter, "Monastery Bells", which is available either by snail mail or on our website.

You can leave a question for us in the comments box, or use either contact form (website or blog), or just email us. Our email address is on our website.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saint Monica

St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine. While Augustine was involved with the Manichees and making a general mess of his life, Monica prayed for him day and night, weeping copiously, so that the bishop of her home town reportedly told her, "The son of so many tears will never be lost!" Remember that no one who knew Augustine as a young man would ever have expected him to do such a dramatic 360 turn, ending up as bishop of Hippo, a saint, and a doctor of the Church. The prayers of a mother are certainly powerful! Let us never give up on those we love, but continue praying for them with confidence. Let us ask St. Monica to intercede today for all our friends, relatives, and people we love who have turned away from God and the faith. She is sure to help them--and us, too!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir..." (Psalm 45)

Today we celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The title "Queen" is given to her for at least two reasons: first, she is the mother of our King, Jesus Christ, and second, she is Queen by virtue of the dignity given to her by her Son. This memorial was celebrated for many years "unofficially" and was given official recognition in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. It ties in beautifully with the solemnity last week, when we celebrated Mary's Assumption into Heaven, body and soul. Having been assumed into Heaven, she is crowned Queen. This is recalled in the fifth glorious mystery of the Rosary. Mary is Queen of everything, in a sense: in the Litany of Loreto, she is extolled as "Queen of angels, Queen of patriarchs...Queen of martyrs, Queen of confessors," and so on. Those of us who live in countries without royalty may find the concept of Mary as Queen a difficult one to grasp--you can't call Mary the "First Lady" to Christ's "President"! But if we follow the promptings of grace, we will be drawn to understand this concept, and we will acclaim Mary as our heavenly Queen, a sure refuge, a help for all Christians.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Last Look at MTS Program, 2013

This year brought us to the conclusion of a four-year trial of the Monastic Theological Studies Program. We are so happy to say the trial was a success and the program will be repeated starting next year with a new group of nun-students! Stay tuned to find out when and where!

And now, a few last images from this year's program!

As if bananas weren't enough...some of the intrepid students used a rare bit of free time to shell kidney beans that Sr. Marie Augustine grew in her garden! They listened to some fun African music while they worked...a true "bean party"!

Sr. Joseph Maria (Summit), Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit) and Sr. Mary Francis (Farmington Hills) relaxing and checking out the blog! 

Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit) caught a lizard in the Gate Parlor (where we had classes)! She released him alive after this picture!

One night we called Summit monastery using Skype--a technology never used before in Lufkin. The computer was still connected to the projector so we had quite a view of the sisters in Summit's community room.

Each MTS sister received a small diploma and other neat items from Sr. Mary Jeremiah (Lufkin), the coordinator of the program, and Sr. Mary of Jesus (Elmira), who graciously served as a tutor for the students two years running. 

And the students had a little surprise for Sr. Mary Jeremiah, too!

Sister received many cute gifts, including a beautiful candle from Summit (they make them at the monastery in addition to their awesome soap line), a Texas potholder, a rosary, and other good things. She is holding the card from all the students, which everyone signed. We are so grateful to Sr. Mary Jeremiah and the Association Formation Committee for making this a wonderful program these past four years! Thank you for everything!

MTS Moral Theology Presentations

It's been busy around here, but we wanted to bring you the MTS presentations! Each sister discussed a controversial moral topic, presenting it in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa theologiae.

Sr. Mary Rose (Lufkin) considers the morality of birth control vs. natural family planning

 Sr. Mary Francis (Farmington Hills) spoke on whether abortion can be morally acceptable

Sr. Mary Thomas (Lufkin) discussed whether same-sex marriages can be recognized by the Church

 Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit) gave an eye-opening presentation on gender identity disorder, with a great PowerPoint presentation.

Sr. Mary Gabriel (Lufkin) was happy to finish her presentation on the morality of the death penalty

Sr. Mary Dominic (Lufkin) talked about assisted suicide and euthanasia

And Sr. Mary Giuse (Lufkin) ended on a positive note by discussing the possibility of friendship with God.

We had some of the best discussions we've ever had in our years of the MTS program on these topics, and it was a beneficial learning experience for all the sisters.  We have all grown so much in our communication skills as we tried to present the fruits of our study over these past four years. Wea re deeply grateful for all these opportunities, and we know the next edition of MTS will be just as good--if not even better!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Group Photo Op, Week 2

Here we are with the amazing Rossi sisters, Margherita and Teodora! We certainly hope to meet you again some day for more classes! You are fantastic!

Thanks also for your wonderful PowerPoint slides (featured in our earlier post)!

By the way...we had to work on Sunday to accommodate a tight schedule for the Rossi sisters. We don't usually work that hard or have classes on a Sunday! (Although we do study pretty hard the rest of the week, especially during MTS Program!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

MTS 2013: A Modern Day Disputatio

The two teams debated the morality of head to body transplantation. (What a question!) We began our discussions in preparation for the disputatio on Sunday morning...

Comparing sources with the Rossis

Formulating objections

Everyone hard at work!

And on Monday morning, the fun began!

Whether it is moral to perform a head-body transplantation? It's actually an open question in the Church today, and the possibility of such a transplant is increasing. So our disputation was on a  current, if somewhat futuristic, topic!

 The objections came first. This team was appointed the task of defending the morality of a head-body transplantation. They had fifteen reasons why it should be moral (that is, fifteen objections):

Ready to present their objections in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Summa theologiae.

 Sr. Mary Francis (Farmington Hills) presents one of her objection

And then the sed contra  and respondeo: why head-body transplantation should be considered immoral.

Sr. Mary Thomas (Lufkin) gave the respondeo which was written by the entire team.  This work included sources ranging from theology and philosophy to medicine, law, psychology, anthropology, Christian morality, and plain old common sense. They devoted a whole day to research in order to be fully prepared to defend their position.

Next, they had only 20 minutes to respond to the objections given by the opposing team. 

Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit) provided the responses (formulated with the help of her team) to the objections given by the opposing team at the beginning.

The masters listen intently. Sr. Clara Marie (Farmington Hills) represents the Church in her gold stole, and Sr. Mary Jeremiah (Lufkin), Dr. Teodora, and Dr. Margherita represent the academic world in red.

Sr. Mary Jeremiah makes a point to the teams while Drs. Teodora and Margherita listen.

What was the outcome of this disputation? Well, there was no "winner" in the usual sense of the word, since the object of a disputation is the search for truth. The academic and theological "masters" who supervised our dispute agreed that both teams did a wonderful job presenting the two sides--there was no clear disparity between the two presentations, they were equally good--however, in the end, everyone agreed that a head-body transplant should not be morally acceptable!

We had a lot of fun and worked VERY hard putting this together, and learned more about the medieval disputation than we could ever learn simply from reading or hearing about it! Did you know that St. Thomas Aquinas never turned down an opportunity to engage in this kind of disputation? It gives us a greater appreciation for the amazing gifts God gave him--he was truly a genius!

Monday, August 5, 2013

MTS 2013: The Second Week

We actually started on Saturday, due to our professors' schedule, so it's been a very intense weekend! We'll be bringing you updates from our classes and other adventures over the next few days, as well as our presentations.

Our professors for this second week of classes were Teodora and Margherita Rossi, who teach at the Angelicum in Rome. Teodora teaches moral theology and Margherita specializes in St. Thomas Aquinas. This was perfect for us as we decided to have a disputatio, just as they did in the middle ages!
Dr. Teodora explaining why we need disputed questions and the disputatio

 Dr. Margherita details the disputed question in the middle ages. Interestingly, for her presentation she used PowerPoint, while Teodora (discussing the modern era) used the old-fashioned chalk and board!

Dr. Teodora lectures while the students take notes

The ten students were assigned to two teams by a simple method: we all wrote our names down, and Sr. Mary Jeremiah drew them at random! After we were assigned to the teams, Sister drew to see which side would take the "pro" position and which would take the "con". We also drew to see which team would present the determinatio

Drawing to see who will take which side in the disputed question

As always, we had a lot of fun doing it!

More to come! Keep watching this blog!

Friday, August 2, 2013

End of the First Week of MTS, 2013

We've made it to the end of our first week of the Monastic Theological Studies Program for 2013! We are sorry to say goodbye to Fr. John Vidmar, OP, but we hope he will return to our monastery for some other presentation some time! He gave us an excellent overview of Church History that leaves us wanting to study more. 

Fr. Vidmar with the students in our traditional pose. Note Sr. Mary of Jesus (Elmira) at the far right, who acted as coordinator for our seminar again this year and did such a wonderful job! 

And these are the remaining presentations: 

Sr. Mary Francis (Farmington Hills) was all smiles as she presented her paper on St. Jerome

Sr. Mary Dominic (Lufkin) presented her paper on St. Leo the Great

Sr. Marie Augustine (Lufkin)  chose--who else but St. Augustine? She did a wonderful job!

And Sr. Mary Rose (Lufkin) concluded this week's presentations with her paper on St. John of Damascus.

Many thanks to all the sisters who did such hard work this past year for presenting their papers and bravely receiving the questions and comments of their fellow sisters! We look forward to next week, when the sisters will present papers on controversial topics in moral theology, and it seems we will have classes this weekend on a different topic as well...keep watching for more news!

Extracurricular MTS Activities

People may be wondering, do the nuns just attend classes and study while participating in the MTS progam? Well, mostly that's what we do--because the classes are intense and the seminar sessions (where we present our papers) are, too. We are grateful that our community in Lufkin is willing and able to fill in for some of our duties. But yesterday, we received 18 cases of bananas (yes, 18--about 20 bunches of bananas per case) and many of the MTS sisters helped to peel and slice bananas for drying! It was a lot of work but fun, too!

 Sr. Mary Thomas (Lufkin), Sr. Mary Jeremiah (Lufkin), Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit)

Sr. Mary Francis (Farmington Hills) and Sr. Mary Amata (Summit)

Sr. Maria Teresa (Summit) and Sr. Mary Giuse (Lufkin)

Sr. Clara Marie (Farmington Hills) and Sr. Mary Gabriel (Lufkin)

Almost the whole group was peeling and slicing! It was late in the day and we got a little wound up! But it was lots of fun and we did a tremendous amount of work! 

We are so grateful to all our benefactors who provide for us so generously--and for all who help us to process these marvelous gifts! Thank you so much! More MTS news to come soon...