Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday of Holy Week, 2015

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly spent my strength, 
Yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God...
And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, 
and my God is now my strength! 
--Isaiah 49:4, 5b

In the Liturgy today we continue hearing the Servant Songs from Isaiah, those mysterious passages relating to a suffering servant who trusts in the Lord and becomes great in spite of--or because of--his suffering. As Christians, we usually relate these passages to Christ, who suffered and died for our salvation and was glorified by God, who raised Him on the third day. As cloistered nuns, we are reminded that this suffering, humiliated man is our Bridegroom--and in fact He is the Bridegroom of the Church. He seems to prefer coming to us in this way, hidden, obscure, suffering, poor. Sr. Mary Laurence, O.P., a cloistered Dominican nun from England who wrote several books about the cloistered life in the mid-20th century, once commented that no bride of Christ wants to follow her Bridegroom up to Calvary carrying a bouquet of flowers! Instead she follows the same path her Lord followed, and it is not an easy one. But she continues to follow Him, because she loves Him. In the same way today let us try to follow Christ as He makes His way to crucifixion and death on a cross. We will not perhaps always be faithful all the time. But we can always keep turning back to the path, to follow Christ, in good times and in bad times.

Triduum Schedule, 2015

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

We will have our scheduled hours of prayer at various times during the day as well so feel free to come by and pray with us!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday of Holy Week, 2015

In today's Gospel, Jesus is again having dinner with his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany. To express her love, Mary anoints Jesus' feet with "a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard" and dries them with her hair. Judas Iscariot is scandalized. Why was this expensive oil not sold and the money given to the poor? But Jesus gently reprimands His soon-to-be betrayer: "Leave her alone...You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
There is a connection between Mary's loving gesture and the contemplative religious life. People sometimes wonder, "Why are you in a cloistered monastery? You all have so many talents and abilities that could be put to such good use in the world!" But there is no worldly logic to explain the choice we have made. It is simply the desire to offer ourselves completely, like fragrant ointment, to the Lord, to pour out our lives in service to Him. If the Lord calls us to serve Him in a way that gets noticed (for example by writing a book), that is His business. If He calls us to live our daily lives in complete obscurity, that is His prerogative. We have given up everything to follow Him, to be completely at His disposal. And it is for us a great joy, a greater joy than most people realize. So too Mary must have felt joy as she anointed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. There are many, many people who exude the good odor of Christ through their lives in the world, and thank God for them. But it is also necessary to have a few who just want to "waste" their lives on Jesus. "The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil". So too is the Church.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday, 2015

One word that keeps surfacing here at the Monastery during this Lent is "obedience". Obedience is an especially important concept for us as Dominicans; it's the only vow we take. The vows of poverty and chastity are considered to be included in this one vow. Most of the time we are obedient because it somehow benefits us; how often do we obey simply because it's the right thing to do, because it pleases God? We hear in the epistle of today's Mass that Christ became obedient for us, even unto death on a cross. He did not die for His own sake, but for our sake. Let's examine our motives today as we move in Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum, trying to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who obeyed not for the sake of the glory God gave Him later, but because he wanted to do the Father's will in all things.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Questions Answered: Lenten Edition

Q: So what happened to Lenten Companions?
A:  Well... a lot of things happened here at the Monastery and basically things got too busy to keep it up. Hopefully we can do better next Lent! We've had a lot going on. We had a visit from three sisters from the contemplative branch of the Community of St. John (unfortunately no pictures...another long story) who were passing through. And we now have not one, but two postulants! This also keeps things busy. In due time we will post more about them, but you may have seen one of them in our Tet pictures, if you were looking carefully. Also we organized a mailing of our newsletter, "Monastery Bells".
Q: I live in the Lufkin area. What is your Triduum schedule?
A: We'll be posting it soon, possibly later today. We can tell you right now that Passion (Palm) Sunday Mass will be at 7:00 AM as usual for Sundays, and palms will be distributed. 
Q: When will "Monastery Bells" be sent out?
A: We are mailing it April 1, no fooling. We will also post the online version that day. So check back to see a link to our latest newsletter!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lenten Companions: Blessed Fra Angelico, OP

 Blessed Fra Angelico, OP was born Guido da Vicchio near Florence, Italy in 1386 or 1387. At a young age he entered the Dominicans at their priory in Fiesole with his brother, Benedetto. Little is known about his personal life or priestly ministry. He is known instead for his remarkable frescoes and altarpieces. It is said that St. Antoninus, OP, said of Fra Angelico's work, "No one could paint like that without first having been to heaven." 

Blessed Fra Angelico is an excellent Lenten companion because of his masterful works depicting the sufferings and triumph of Christ. His images of the crucifixion include images of Dominican saints standing by or even embracing the Cross. This is an invitation for the viewer to insert himself or herself into the scene, experiencing the moment in a manner that brings us closer to Christ and His Mother and the saints. Many of his finest works can still be seen today in the convent of San Marco (now a museum) and in Fiesole.

It is said that Fra Angelico did not use human models for his art, but painted instead with the eye of a theologian. His motto was, "To paint Christ, one must live Christ." So may we too live the passion and ultimate resurrection of Christ, in order to bring Him closer to our brothers and sisters in every state of life.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lenten Companions: St. Mary of Egypt

St. Mary of Egypt is commemorated in the Eastern church, where she has an entire Sunday in Lent dedicated to her memory. But the Western church may profit from learning more about her! She was a notorious harlot in Alexandria who one day joined a group of pilgrims going to Jerusalem--just for the sake of a "good" time, not because of any pious yearning! Once she arrived, she continued plying her trade until the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, when out of curiosity she approached the church and tried to go inside and see the relic of the true Cross. To her surprise, she was unable to enter the church. It was as if some invisible force was preventing her from going inside. She made several attempts to enter, without success. It was at this moment that repentance overtook her. She realized the gravity of her many sins and began weeping for them. Filled with the desire to give herself to God as she had formerly given herself to sin, she fled to the desert beyond the Jordan, where she lived alone. She told her story to a monk named Zossima who happened to encounter her, 47 years later. Soon after that, he brought her the Eucharist. When he tried to make another visit, he found she had died, and so he buried her. The story was recounted by several, including Sophronius of Jerusalem whose version was translated into Latin and became popular in both east and west.
What makes Mary of Egypt an excellent Lenten companion is her sincere and wholehearted repentance. Her basic personality did not change--she became as wildly devoted to God as she had once been to harlotry. But she did change the direction she was going, realizing in a burst of cleansing tears that she was desperately unhappy and needed to find the way to true joy. She realized her salvation depended on the mercy of God, and she trusted completely in that mercy. Wherever we are, we can change the direction of our lives simply by asking for God's help and mercy. Mary reminds us that His mercy has no limits, but we must be willing to acknowledge our need.