Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Friday, February 24, 2017

Winter Guests

This winter have you had any hidden guests staying with you? We have... and they are Ladybugs!

We first began to notice one or two in the various rooms of the monastery. Then, one morning our two wood carvers went out to the wood carving shop after an extended absence. One of the Sisters happened to look up as she walked through the door and noticed something unusual. It turned out to be dozens of ladybugs snuggled next to each other trying to keep warm.

After checking with the local county extension office, we discovered why there have been so many "ladybug sightings" in the area.

The Asian Ladybug (pictured above) is orange or other colors instead of the traditional red. Thousands of them were imported into our country in the 20th century, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. They are very beneficial bugs, as gardeners know so well. They loved to eat aphids which are a plague to roses.
"Lady bugs are also referred to as “lady beetles” or “lady bird beetles.”Lady beetles are insects that are considered beneficial and are not invading your home to cause problems, only to stay warm. You should know the lady beetle are not interested in eating your walls, furniture, carpet, or human food, and they do not lay eggs in homes.While they cause no harm, their overwintering inside people’s homes causes them to be somewhat of a nuisance.
No “control” of these beneficial insects is warranted. The lady beetle is an effective and natural control for harmful plant pests such as aphids, scale, and other soft-bodied arthropods. One adult lady beetle may eat over 5,000 aphids during its lifetime.
So, if you notice any of these sweet creatures just pick them up and put them on a plant!☺☺☺

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Farewell, Trinidad---

The numberless tropical flowers and fruits truly make Trinidad a paradise island ... and paradise monastery. We ate fresh fruit every day right off the trees. "Star fruit", or "five-finger fruit" as the Trinis call it, comes in sweet or sour. The nuns have 1 sweet tree and 3 sour trees.

They have 4 cocoa trees, but they need to be cultivated a little. There are pineapples,

and mangoes,

and many banana trees of various kinds,

 as well as, papaya

and coconut trees.

The flowers range from hibiscus to roses in the main courtyard
 then to orchids
and birds of paradise  --- on the larger grounds.

One of the Sisters was so delighted that she felt like she was in her native Vietnam. Yet, the day came when they were scheduled to return to our monastery in Texas, their hearts and minds filled with wonderful memories of their new Sisters.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Celebrating Tet

Sunday evening we had our traditional Tet celebration here in Lufkin. Although the actual date was January 28. Our organizer for the event, Sr. Mary Christine, was in Trinidad, so we had to wait until her return.

First, of course, is to get our Vietnamese treats and "Lucky Envelope"--which contains gift money. In the end, it all goes to our Bursar/Treasurer.

Second, the nuns huddle around the gift table to see what is available to "buy" with the tickets they receive for winning the New Year games.

We usually have 3 games. The first two pertain to the animal character being celebrated during the coming year--2017 is the Year of the Rooster, so you can see our games were appropriate. Then, we always end with a traditional Vietnamese game of tossing a very large die with animal figures on it.

Using chopsticks, which some of the nuns have never done before, the sister must peck in the sand to find the worm. For each worm found, one receives a ticket. The worms were pieces of nylon cord we use to make rosaries. A few sisters pecked 3, 4 and even 5 worms within the allotted 1 minute.

In the second game, the sister must hold two large pieces of cardboard resembling the rooster's beak. With the beak she must pick up 5 plastic loops and carry them to a post.

The Sisters thoroughly enjoyed the games this year. Usually they are so difficult very few can win, but these were a bit easier and lots of fun.

We learned that our sisters also celebrated Tet at the Monastery in Trinidad, teaching the nuns of its cultural importance. Of course, the nuns in Trinidad knew of Chinese/Asian New Year, because for years they have been hearing the music from the "Chinese Association" which is next door to them. Sister Mary Christine and Postulant Jasette made the treats, especially the delicious young colored coconut.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mutual Enrichment

During the stay of our nuns in Trinidad, there were many experiences of mutual learning among the Sisters. Each sharing her gifts, knowledge and talents. One evening, our Sister Mary Jeremiah gave a lecture on St. Catherine of Siena to members of the Dominican Family who had been meeting every first Monday of the 800th Jubilee Year celebrating the founding o the Dominican Order. All the entities of the Family-friars, nuns, active sisters, laity and youth-exist and collaborate on the Island.

On several days, our Sister Mary Christine taught their sacristan, Sister Elizabeth, how to arrange flowers for the chapel. There is no shortage of flowers or greenery on the monastery grounds for fine arrangements. The Sisters often put 5 different arrangements in the chapel: beside and in front of the tabernacle, in front of the altar, by the statue of our Lady and one by a statue.St. Martin de Porres.

Sister Mary Christine and Sister Mary Jeremiah both taught the sisters in formation how to make cord rosaries without the use of a tool. The postulant, Jasette, was particularly eager to perfect this skill and she practiced every evening at recreation.

Naturally, our Sisters learned a great deal about Trinidadian culture, food and the healing properties of some of the countless plants. They saw the expansive "savannah", or large park area, not far from the monastery where much of Carnival takes place. People are already gearing up for that festivity which takes place the two days before Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent. Trinidad and Tobago are the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is the only musical instrument created in the 20th century.

The Sisters also learned about "sorrel" a red flower that grows on a bush and is made into a drink. We even used its red juice to dye some coconut to celebrate Vietnamese New Year. We were able to bring some home and our Mexican Sisters were thrilled because in Mexico they call it "Jamaica" and make a similar drink. In fact, they have already used half of the package for a delicious and refreshing drink containing chopped apples and pecans.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sojourn in Trinidad


Two of our Sisters returned yesterday from Trinidad, the most southern of the Caribbean islands, just east of Venezuela. They were gone for three weeks to help the Dominican Nuns at Rosary Monastery in the capital, Port-of-Spain.

Their superior, Sister Ann, had been invited to speak at the closing Congress for Mission for the 800th Jubilee of the founding of the Dominican Order.  Sister Ann spoke about how cloistered nuns are preachers in the Dominican Family. She spoke on the last day with other representatives of the Dominican Family: a layman, an apostolic sister and a cooperator brother.
Here are our two sisters: (l. to r.) Sister Mary Christine and Sister Mary Jeremiah. They spent many days harvesting and shelling pigeon peas, a popular local legume.
Our Sisters had hoped to share on the blog while out of the country, but the internet security prevented them from accessing our blog. We will share some of their photographs over the course of the next few days.