Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday, 2014

The message of God's merciful love is at the very heart of the Scriptures and shines clearly throughout. It is also the message contained in the writings of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a humble religious sister who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a personal and moving account of the messages she received about God's mercy and its urgency for our times. 

God revealed his mercy from the beginning to the people whom he established as his own--the people of Israel--and he became their God. His infinite love and mercy is further revealed by Christ on the cross. Jesus accepted the cross and died on it because he loved us and took all sin upon himself. Now we can freely approach God because of what Jesus did for us. We enter into a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Believing the words of Christ means trusting the mercy of God, for Christ is unique as God's Son, yet he is fully God. He is able to reveal the divine revelation and imparts life-giving knowledge to us clearly and accurately. 

The Risen Lord revealed this image to St. Faustina and wanted this signature at the bottom of the image: "Jesus, I trust in You". This phrase reminds us of the message of Christ's divine mercy and serves as a modern wake-up call for everyone. May we too come to know the divine mercy of God in Christ as we spread this message of mercy by word, deed and prayer for the poor in the everyday world we live in.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Snap To It!, or, How You Bean?

We always welcome donations--of food or whatever--but we were a little overwhelmed yesterday when Sr. Maria Guadalupe, our prioress, announced at the end of a meeting that we had received 28 cases of fresh green beans! (That's a LOT of green beans!) However, we quickly rearranged our plans and set today aside for cleaning and freezing the green beans. The only sound you could hear as we worked was the distinctive "snap!" as the stems of the green beans were separated from the rest of the bean. Oh, and maybe a few giggles...

A typical case of green beans (some have been taken out!)

Sr. Mary John and Sr. Mary Lucy "snapping" away at the beans

Sr. Mary Gabriel and Sr. Mary Margaret

Sr. Bernadette Marie, Sr. Irma, Sr. Mary Rose all hard at work 

We are so grateful to all our many benefactors who have given us so much already this Easter season. May God bless you and reward you a hundredfold for all your kindness to us! And yes, we had some of the green beans for dinner and they were delicious! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Eggs

We love birds! Since we have no pets to bother them, many birds have come to live in the forest around our Monastery. We really enjoy watching them and listening to their beautiful songs (except when they keep us up at night!). We put out bird seed and hummingbird nectar at the appropriate seasons. However, sometimes they can be a little troublesome...especially to our Sister Sacristan, who has been cultivating some flowers in pots for the Easter chapel decorations. Some birds think these flower pots would make fine places for a nest! So she has been carefully removing the nests (they didn't have eggs yet) as a gentle suggestion to the birds to build nests elsewhere. Some of the birds took her advice to heart! One day, when Sister went into the garage to get the watering can, she found a surprise...

Was it just a random collection of pine needles and branches? No, it was a nest!! 

And there are (as you see) several eggs in it! Our own monastic version of an egg hunt (only we didn't take anything but a picture!). 

We showed Sister several pictures of birds that frequent the Monastery...when she saw the House Wren, she exclaimed, "Yes, those are the birds!"  

We couldn't help but wonder at the ingenuity of the little birds...and their persistence. Isn't it true that sometimes we arrange our own little "nests" in what seems to be a perfect spot, only to have God come along and clear it out? Instead of sitting around bemoaning their lost nest, the birds simply went looking for another place to build. In the same way, perhaps we should listen to God when he encourages us to "build a nest" somewhere else. The most unexpected place may be the best location for new life! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Raffle Drawing 2014

Easter Sunday was the day we held our raffle drawing! This year the weather was fine and so we all headed over to the laundry building to put all the tickets (literally thousands of them) in the big dryer so they would be really mixed up!

Sister set the dryer going...

Sr. Maria Guadalupe, our prioress, draws a ticket! Notice she's not looking--we try to play fair!

Sr. Mary Christine reading a name...

Sr. Mary Dominic identifies another lucky winner... does Sr. Irma...

...and Sr. Mary Rose!

You might think Sr. Mary Thomas knows the person on the ticket she just drew, but actually she's just happy because it's Easter! 

All the sisters were pleased with the results of the raffle...the response, the winners (some well known to us, some we hope to know better in the future), the drawing, everything. Some of you who entered may be receiving a call soon! We are so grateful for all the love and support we have received from our raffle. May God bless you all abundantly and give you all the graces you need and desire! And of course we are grateful for everyone who supports our life in any way. May the blessing of the Risen Christ be upon you all! Alleluia!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Triduum Schedule 2014

Our schedule for weekday Masses will be the same as usual (7:20 AM) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be no morning Mass on Thursday--just the evening Mass. We will be in retreat Thursday-Saturday so we hope this will help anyone who is interested: 

Holy Thursday Mass: 7:15 PM 

Good Friday Liturgy: 3:00 PM

Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil: 9:00 PM

Easter Sunday Mass: 10:15 AM

If you're in the Lufkin area, we invite you to join us as we celebrate this sacred time of the year. If you're not, we hope you will attend services at a church in your area! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday, 2014

Knowing that his hour had come, when he would make the solemn sacrifice of his life for us, Jesus asked for a donkey on which to ride into the city of Jerusalem. 

In ancient times donkeys were used in battle, but later, when the horse took over this function, the donkey was used only in peaceful pursuits; hence, the symbolism of a king mounted on a donkey as a prince of peace. The rich possessed herds of donkeys, but every Israelite farmer was presumed to have at least one (cf. Ex. 20:17). 

Many of the crowd that greeted Jesus had witnessed the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead after being in the tomb four days: "Only a man of God could do such a thing!" Songs of joy rang out as the people sang: "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"--the King of Israel, the Messiah King!

Recognizing Jesus as King means accepting him as the one sent from God who shows us the way; the one in whom we can trust and follow. It means accepting him day after day as a valid criterion for living life, the one to whom we could submit because his authority is one of truth. 

The procession of the palms is primarily an expression of joy. Today, as in the time of Jesus, it gives us an opportunity to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Messiah King and to say "Yes" to him who invites us to follow him. Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus. It will mean taking up our cross each day and laying down our life for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor--that is, forgetting myself, that I might give of myself in love. I can do this because he has first loved me. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Signs of Spring...and other things

If you come to visit the monastery in the near future, you will see this lovely sight (or maybe it will be even prettier as the bluebonnets continue to bloom): 

Front yard: Mary with bluebonnets

Also in the front yard. Need we say more? 

The fig trees are beginning to produce those early figs that actually never amount to anything. They fall off before they ripen. St. Bernard of Clairvaux discusses this phenomenon in one of his homilies on the Song of Songs so possibly they have fig trees in France. (Or he just read about them somewhere?) The real crop of figs comes later, in the summer!

And just for fun--Sr. Bernadette Marie made us some delicious corn tortillas recently--from scratch. You can see her working here with the tortilla press in the foreground. In the interest of cultural diversity we should state that we also sometimes eat homemade egg rolls and other treats! (We'll try to get a picture sometime...)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

5th Sunday of Lent, 2014

Today's Mass readings are all about life and resurrection--a preparation for the celebration of Easter which is coming so quickly. It is a comforting theme in the midst of Lent, but Jesus' words and actions in the first part of the Gospel are unsettling. When Jesus hears of Lazarus' illness, he doesn't immediately go to him; he doesn't tell the messenger, "He will live", as he had done on previous occasions; he simply says, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." And Lazarus did die, and was in the grave four days before Jesus came to see what was happening.

Often, we are in situations similar to that of Lazarus, where everything seems lost--spiritually dead--and we ask ourselves, "Where is God when I need him? He helped other people, why doesn't he help me?" This was the question Martha and Mary asked, indirectly, saying, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." It seems that Jesus is doing several things here. First, he is leading us to a deeper faith. It is one thing to heal a blind man or multiply bread and fish for the multitude; raising the dead is the clincher, so to speak. When the Jews saw this miracle, many more believed in him. Second, he is reminding us that God does not necessarily give the answer we are hoping for in our prayers. God knows better than we do what we need and when we need it, and what will give him the greater glory. This is a hard concept to accept! Finally, the raising of Lazarus is a sign of what Jesus himself will do in a short time--but it is only a shadow of the reality. While Lazarus eventually died again, Jesus rises from the dead in order to live forever.

When we have seen our cherished plans, our hopes and dreams buried in the tomb, Jesus stands with us and shares our sorrow. But at the same time he reminds us that there must be a painful death in order to bring forth a new and resurrected life. It won't be the same as the old life--it will be different, and perhaps hard to get used to. But in the end we will be able to give God the glory, and say with Martha, "I have come to believe that you are the Christ." As the Lord tells us in the book of Revelation, "Behold, I make all things new."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dogwood Days

You know spring has come to Lufkin when the dogwood trees bloom! It's also a reminder that Easter isn't far away. The beautiful weather and the loveliness of the scenery drew many sisters out into the woods--for a photo op!

The dogwood tree in all its solitary splendor

Sr. Mary Giuse, Sr. Mary Gabriel, Sr. Mary Jeremiah, and Sr. Irma

Sr. Mary Margaret, Sr. Mary Gabriel, Sr. Mary Jeremiah and Sr. Mary Giuse

You may have noticed--on our website Community page or elsewhere in this blog--that we have two new faces here at the Monastery! 

 ...our postulant Mary Catherine...

...and Sr. Irma, who comes to us from a Dominican monastery in Puebla, Mexico. We are so happy to have them both with us!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring 2014 Issue of Monastery Bells

No fooling! The Spring issue of "Monastery Bells" is now online and will soon be in your mailbox (if you receive it by snail mail). Check it out here!

As always, if you are interested in getting "Monastery Bells" by snail mail, just let us know and we'll be happy to add you to our mailing list. It's free! Sorry, we can't send it to foreign addresses because of the postage costs.