Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The 3rd Week of Advent

The 3rd Sunday of Advent is nicknamed “Gaudete … Rejoice!”, from the first word of the first chant, the Introit. Today we relax slightly our penitential focus during Advent. Some say Advent is not a penitential time, even though it has always been considered such in centuries past. ... We fast before our feasts. Our vestments are violet or purple, as in Lent, though some like to use a bluish rather than reddish purple to differentiate Advent as less somber, somewhat less focused on the penitential aspect.

In the 1st week of Advent we begged God for the grace of a proper approach and a strong will for our journey. In the 2nd week, we asked God for help and protection in facing the obstacles we encounter in the world. Today we glimpse the joy that will soon be ours at Christmas.  Liturgically this has been symbolized, though the use–just today–of the rose-colored (rosacea) vestments. Gaudete is the counterpart of “Laetare … Rejoice! Sunday during Lent. [It's easy to remember by the fact that both words start with an "L" = Laetare, Lent.]

Our Collect, [or Prayer, Collect, [meaning "gathering" all our prayers, thoughts], is ... as pristine as the 5th century (probably earlier).

O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.

Let us give a strong & joyful “Amen” when we hear this Collect pronounced or sung in our churches.
In the Collects of the last 2 Sundays we have been “rushing” and doing good works, striving and being careful not to get tangled in worldly things. This Sunday we have an image of unrestrained joy, an almost childlike dash towards a long-desired thing. Our heavenly Father watches over us as we run down the path toward our Savior even as we make sure our paths are straight. Have earthly fathers not watched this scene on Christmas mornings?  Do children go to their gifts by zigzags or by running out of the house & away from them?  They always go straight at them. Parents watch over their little ones so that, in their intensity, they don’t hurt themselves.
Our heavenly Father leaves us free, but His protecting and guiding hand and eye is upon us. We should feel an eager joy for the Lord’s Coming under the gaze and guidance of our generous and loving God. He’s is our Father and He has a plan for us.
We have to make the path straight for the Lord. He is coming. When he comes, he will come by the straightest path, straightening them Himself if we have not straightened them first. That straightening will not be so easy for us if we are twisty. The eschatological/end times content of the message of Advent truly is “good news”. God hasn’t left us in doubt about how to treat our neighbor. That is “good news”. That helps us to be more responsible about our souls and those of our neighbor.
God hasn’t left us in doubt that he will come as Judge. He has not left us in doubt that rewards come to His friends and “unquenchable fire” of separation comes to those who are not His friends.  Dire sounding?  No. If we are Christians that is “good news”. It prompts us to be responsible about our souls and leaves us comforted with the knowledge that we can in fact attain the Kingdom Christ helps us to by His grace. We cannot save ourselves. We depend on grace.  We even depend on God to help us help ourselves.  But our salvation is worked out through grace and elbow-grease. We are responsible for our souls. We can choose to accept or to reject the Lord, in Himself and in our neighbor. We can refuse to straighten out.
Make straight the path … NOW. If you have something to straighten out with yourself and your God, with yourself and your neighbor… straighten it out NOW.


H/T: Fr. Z

Monday, December 10, 2018

The 2nd Week of Advent

We are now in the Second Week of Advent and it is becoming something very palpable. The Scripture Readings, the music and the advent wreath, all pull us deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation. Scripture, music, wreath and candles speak to us in a different language than words. Even though the Scriptures are composed of words, there is something more profound - divine - that comes through and touches our soul. Scripture is the Very Word of God in written form! Scripture, music, wreath and candles speak to our hearts in symbols beyond words. Let them touch you and change you this Advent.

This year when we entered the Chapel last Saturday evening to begin our Advent journey we were confronted with a very different kind of Advent Wreath. Our creative Sister-Sacristan was inspired by a classic passage from Isaiah 11:1--
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

Our wreath images this new shoot. The stump that has grown up represents the hand of God. The wreath is on the thumb, while the other four fingers become flames of fire as the weeks progress.

Sister spent many hours walking through our woods to find the exact tree to represent this unique sprout from the lineage of Jesse. It is one of our many crepe myrtle trees. In Trinidad, people call this tree, "the Queen of trees". It loves hot weather, and in our Texas summers it is one of the few plants that puts forth blossoms.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Our Current Chaplain Substitute

Our current visiting priest at the Monastery for the weekend is Father Carmen Mele, OP, of our Southern Province. The last and only other time he came to visit was about 20 years ago. So it's really wonderful to have him with us.

Father is originally from Chicago IL and met the Dominicans when he went to study at Providence College in Providence RI. After graduating, he joined the Eastern Province of Dominicans. When our Southern Province in 1979 was founded he took the plunge and joined us. He has ministered in Texas for many years, and is currently teaching Moral Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis MO.

Thank you Father Carmen for volunteering to be with us.
We love your homilies.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Feast Day of St. Andrew the Apostle

Just a reminder that the St. Andrew Christmas Novena begins today on his feast day. It is a beautiful way for families to bring in the Peace and Joy of Christmas and the great Hope it offers throughout the Season of Advent.

It is piously believed that whoever recites the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer 15 times each day from the feast of St. Andrew (November 30) until Christmas Eve will obtain the favor requested.

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which
the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God,
to grant my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

St. Andrew's Gala

Our Master Cake Baker-Nun has outdone herself this time!  She was asked to contribute one of her cakes to St. Andrew Parish here in Lufkin. November 30 is their Patronal Feast Day and they will be having a special Gala in the evening to raise money for the Church.

Texas Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Her cake will be raffled off tomorrow-- November 30, Friday night. So you might want to get over there for some Texas fun.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thank You Bishop Strickland

Our Bishop of Tyler, Joseph Strickland, has been in the news the past few months. During the difficult situation of our Catholic Church in the United States, Bishop Strickland has shown himself to be a faithful, teaching Bishop.

Someone made a video and our Bishop is included in it. You can listen to his contribution at the General Assembly of the US Bishops held  in Baltimore this month. That's Bishop Strickland in the middle of the picture! His remarks begin at 4:00 on this video below:

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

We are preparing for Thanksgiving
and turkeys seem to be popping up everywhere!!

Sister Maria Augustine is preparing a small one here in the photo below. She drying him /her off after a good bath.

A friend of ours in Groves, TX down by the Gulf, sent us two large "Bread" Turkeys. Very clever, beautiful and so soft and yummy ...

We would like to share some lovely thoughts with you on this special day of gratitude for God's gifts.

Thanksgiving Day comes once each year
Our president proclaims it far and near.
Thankful for the bounty of our land,
The harvest that makes this nation grand,
Bestowed us from above,
God bless this land,
This precious land we love.
                                                                  by Jeff Jacoby, columnist for the Boston Globe, 11/19/18

                        Oh, Heavenly Father,
                        We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
                        We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
                        We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
                        We thank Thee for freedom and remember the                                              enslaved.
                        May these remembrances stir us to service.
                        That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.
from "Dear Abby" in the Lufkin Daily News, 11/21/18

We pray everyone has a pleasant, peaceful, warm and cheery Thanksgiving with Family and Friends. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pro Orantibus 2018

Today is Pro Orantibus Day in the Church. The phrase Pro Orantibus means "for the pray-ers" or "for those who pray". This special day was inaugurated by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1997 to encourage everyone to take at least one day to pray for the contemplative men and women throughout the world who dedicate their lives to praying for YOU.

It is a special day to thank those in the cloistered and monastic life for serving as “a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world.” It is also intended to remind others of the need to provide spiritual and material support “for those who pray.” 

The Nuns Secretariat in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, organized again this year a celebration in the Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome. The day opened with the celebration of the Eucharist led by the Prefect, Card. João Braz de Aviz..That was followed by an address by the Secretary, Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo and Fr. Ciro Bova, OP, on the relevance today of the contemplative life. Archbishop Carballo highlighted two “temptations” and ten challenges. The Dominican Nuns, Sr. Sr. Maria Pia Fragni, OP, of the monastery of Pratovecchio, and Sr. Maria Felicita Amigoni, OP, of the monastery of Bergamo, offered two personal accounts regarding the importance of uniting contemplation and visibility, even through an apostolate exercised in silence.

Prayer in Support of the Cloistered Life
Eternal Father,
We praise and thank you for those sisters and brothers who have embraced the gift of the cloistered and monastic life. Their prayerful presence is indispensable to the Church’s life and mission, and is the foundation of the New Evangelization.
As we celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, let us honor the holiness and glory of the Blessed Virgin. May she, who was presented in the Temple, intercede so that many young people might dedicate themselves entirely to Your divine service by hidden lives of contemplative prayer and selfless sacrifice.
May all of us be mindful of the spiritual and material needs of those who commit their lives to
seeking God by fixing their gaze on those things which are eternal.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Oración en Apoyo a la Vida de Clausura
Padre Eterno,
Te alabamos y te agradecemos por las hermanas y los hermanos que han abrazado el don de la vida
claustral y monástica. Su presencia en oración es indispensable para la vida y misión de la Iglesia, y
es el fundación de la Nueva Evangelización.
Al celebrar el Día Mundial de la vida de clausura, honremos la santidad y la gloria de la Santísima Virgen. Que ella, quien fue presentada en el templo, interceda para que muchos jóvenes puedan dedicarse enteramente a Tu servicio divino con vidas ocultas de oración contemplativa y sacrificio desinteresado.
Que todos nosotros estemos atentos a las necesidades espirituales y materiales de los que comprometen su vida a la búsqueda de Dios, fijando la mirada en las cosas eternas.
Te lo pedimos por Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Tu Hijo, que vive y reina contigo y el Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios, por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Breakfast Bonus!!

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of St. John Lateran in Rome. It is the Cathedral Church of the diocese. The importance of this feast is to remind each of us that when we are baptized and in the state of grace, the Most Holy Trinity dwells within us!!!

BUT, for us nuns here at the Monastery, today is also the day we celebrate the dedication of our foundation, 73 years ago, today! On a day like today, we have special treats in store. And they begin with a beautiful uplifting Mass and breakfast afterwards. Today in East Texas it's a "normal" Fall-wintery day, meaning cold and rainy.

While the nuns were having breakfast they had an extra surprise treat! 8-12 mourning doves were sitting on the sidewalk across from the Refectory (dining room). They looked like they were waiting for breakfast, too. They were very still, puffed up to keep warm, and very patient.

One of the nuns had pity on them and filled the bird feeder hanging outside the refectory window. She also put a lot of seeds on the ground for the doves who are too large to sit on the bird feeder. We wonder if some of these doves are those born in our car-port. In the past 5 years, we had a dozen doves born each year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

October Surprise

Well, we had our "October Surprise" on October 15, the feast of St. Teresa of Avila. During the Mass, shortly before Holy Communion, our Chaplain, Fr. John Lydon, OP, had a heart attack. He was not able to continue the Mass, and our Sacristan distributed Communion.

Father John when he first arrived just a year ago.
He was rushed to the hospital and the doctors found he had "multiple blockages". The Dominican Provincial decided it would be best to go to Houston for surgery. There are a number of Dominican Friars there and he is assigned to Holy Rosary Priory there. It was difficult to get him stabilized but he was eventually transported to a hospital in Houston where he had triple-bypass surgery yesterday.

This emergency has left us without a chaplain. It also occurs at a straining point in our diocese. Our Pastor celebrated Mass for us a number of times. But he has been transferred to the Cathedral in Tyler and is no longer in Lufkin. Fortunately, we had the joy of "meeting" him and visiting for an hour before he left. Father Hank Lanik has only been in Lufkin for 8 months; but the Bishop needs him elsewhere, so we are all trying to cooperate. Father Hank is originally from San Antonio and has lived all over the state of Texas. The people are very sad to see him go. He has truly endeared himself to everyone. He promises his replacement will be here in a week.

                                    We trust in you, Jesus!

The Dominican provincial has also been trying to find a replacement for our chaplain. Every day we never know who will be in chapel to say Mass for us, or what time the Mass will be.

One of the volunteers the provincial found to help us with Mass was Fr. John Restrepo, OP, the Pastor of St. Dominic in New Orleans. The Church is very large and was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Father John has shown himself a true brother!!! He drove from New Orleans to Houston to see our chaplain, Fr. Lydon, then drove up to Lufkin to celebrate the Liturgy with us, before making the return trip. About an hour after Mass were able to visit in the Parlor with Fr. John and it was delightful. He confessed that he "loved to talk and tell stories". Our prioress assured him, "we loved to listen"!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Our Lady of the Rosary

Although today is celebrated as the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, it is also (though not celebrated this year) the feast Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

Our Lady of the Rosary giving the rosary to St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena
in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Santa Sabina.

It is also the travel day for Sister Mary Rose to return home from Italy and the important meetings she attended. We share with you a few concluding photos of this important event.

A group picture of those attending the International meeting of Dominican Nuns.

The English-language group at the Macro-Meeting.

Sister Mary Rose "officiating" at the organ for the Liturgy.
Spiritual Power-House -- Dominican Nuns take to the streets!

A peek into a courtyard at Santa Sabina (Dominican Headquarters).
According to tradition, St. Dominic brought the orange tree  to Rome from Spain.
Many places throughout the world now have cuttings from "St. Dominic's Orange Tree"... including ourselves.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dominican Nuns' Meeting in Rome Conclusion

The International Meeting of Dominican Nuns concluded on October 2 with a tour of Santa Sabina, the headquarters of the Dominican Order, which included the Church, St. Dominic's cell, and other areas.

Then they joined the Community of Friars there for Mass and Vespers, followed by refreshments in the cloister.

Here is a photo of (right to left) Sr. Maria Christine, Sr. Mary Catharine, and Sister Augustine from the Dominican Monastery in Bocaue, (Bulacan) Philippines, touring Santa Sabina.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dominican Nuns' Meeting in Rome Part 3

We have received some photos of our Sisters at the special meeting in Rome, which will soon be over.

Our Master General, Fr. Bruno Cadore, OP

The Promoter General of the Dominican Nuns, Fr. Cesar Bajo Valero, OP

President of the Association of North American Dominican Monasteries, Sister Maria Christine, OP

Lufkin Sister Mary Rose speaking with Fr. Cesar.

Sister Mary Rose of Lufkin speaking to the Assembly of Nuns.

Sister Paola of Italy, a member of a new monastery near Turin.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dominican Nuns Meeting in Rome part 2

We received a video of the meeting room for our Dominican nuns in Rome. It opens with a shot of Fr. Cesar Valero Bajo, OP. He is Spanish and the Promoter General for the Nuns in the world. Then the camera moves to the right. There is later a nice shot of our American Nuns. Sister Mary Rose has a laptop open taking notes, to our right is Sister Mary Catharine and Sister Maria Christine. From 0:52-48 is Fr. Bruno Cadore, the Master of the Order of Preachers. He is French. You can see our three American nuns here--- 0:09-:07, also Sister Mary Rose is at 0:39-37.

There are 31 Dominican nuns from throughout the world meeting in Rome to discuss in depth the new Vatican document on enclosure, Cors Orans. In addition to the plenary meeting there are language group meeting: 1 English, 1 French, 3 Spanish.

Stay tuned for more news!

Annual Retreat 2018

One of the nuns has a private conference with Father.

Last week we had our annual retreat preached by Fr. Marty Iott, OP. He is currently the Prior of Holy Rosary Priory in Houston, TX. He graciously drives up to our monastery once a month to hear confessions of any Sisters who wish to take the opportunity.

The theme of the retreat was the Beatitudes. It was very insightful. We love retreats. They give us space to set aside our work and focus more time on prayer and reading to nourish our spiritual lives.

Each year we have an 8-day retreat, once a month we set aside the First Sunday as a retreat day, and also each month each Sister may have a day of personal retreat. Each Sister has a 3-day private retreat for the anniversary of her Religious Profession.

These special times are not only important for us, but for everyone. In our frantic world everyone needs to stop and step back in God's presence for a period of time and take stock of how one's life is unfolding.

Try it, you'll like it!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Dominican Nuns in Rome

Dominican Nuns from all over the world have been called to Rome for a special meeting concerning the new Vatican rules about the Enclosure.

From the United States, we are represented by the President of the North American Association of Dominican monasteries, Sr. Maria Christine, OP of Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, CA (on the left); the representative to the International Commission of Nuns, our own Sr. Mary Rose of our Monastery of the Infant Jesus in Lufkin TX (on the right); and, Sr. Mary Catharine, Vice President of our Association from the Monastery of the Holy Rosary in Summit NJ (in the middle).

We received news today that they visited the Angelicum yesterday... and we have some photos! The Angelicum is the nickname for the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, that is the Dominican university in Rome. It was originally built in the 16th century by Saint Pope Pius V to house the Dominican Nuns moving from their original buildings where St. Dominic (+1221) set them up.
The nuns in front of St. Albert the Great, OP, one of the patrons of the university.

The nuns in front of the university.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Religious of the Diocese Pray and Share Together

On the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary most of the religious of the diocese gathered at our monastery for an afternoon of prayer and sharing. Above is the front of the program for the day. We also received a holy card of the picture of St. Maria Goretti with a prayer on the back with which we concluded our prayer service.

We had heard rumors for about a week, but didn’t know for sure what was going to happen and if we needed to do anything. But, our Sisters who care for our Guests went into action, making small sandwiches and tea for refreshments, and setting up chairs for visiting, etc.

The special day arrived shortly after the news of the sex abuse crisis in the USA Church, so that became the theme of our prayer time. The afternoon began with Fr. Gavin Vaverek giving a half hour talk, followed by an hour of quiet prayer. Confession was available during that time.

Our visitors went to the Guest Dining Room for refreshments, then to the Gate Parlor to visit with the nuns. Not all the Sisters were able to stay for the visit, we do hope to be able to see them another time, and thank them for making the trip to pray with us. In the parlor, we were able to catch up on what the different groups were doing in ministry.

It was a wonderful afternoon being with the other Religious Women of the Diocese.

Loving God, many people are affected by the evil of abuse.
Grant courage to adults that they might step in
and help suffering children.
Grant courage to survivors of abuse
that they might reach out for help as they long for healing.
As Maria Goretti found the strength in Your love
to pray for the conversion of her abuser,
may we never excuse an abuser but beseech their conversion.
Please help me be an instrument of Your love and mercy
to those I meet who carry a wound from abuse.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

St. Rose of Lima

Today is the Feast of St. Rose of Lima - the first person canonized in the New World.

Unfortunately, none of our rose bushes are blooming right now because of the heat. But, we do have a special and unique rose.....

...our very own Sr. Mary Rose. Happy Feast Day!

She is standing next to what some of us thought was a cosmos, but it is just a weed. As you notice from the above photo is it very tall. In fact, it's about 8 inches beyond Sister's fingertips.   Can anyone tell us about this plant???

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Queenship of Mary

A great sign appeared in the heavens:
a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
Revelation 12

Today we celebrate the Queenship of Mary, for she is the Queen-Mother of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. It is also the Feast Day of our sister, Sister Mary Regina.

It was two weeks ago today on the Feast of our founder, St. Dominic. It was on that day that we held our annual raffle. Since its inception we had been holding our raffle on Easter Sunday. However, that is always a very busy time in the monastery so we thought to move the event to the summer and thus chose the Assumption of our Lady. We would like to announce the winners of our homemade prizes and the Sisters who drew the winning ticket …

  1st prize →→

                        Hubert Y in Nacogdoches

   2nd prize →→

             AJP in TX

 3rd prize →→

           Karen M in CA

    4th prize →→ 

         Karen P in CA

 5th prize →→

             Mari Lou in OH

  6th prize →→

 Susan L in Lufkin

Extra surprises →→       
  Sharon H. in Lufkin          Margie G in WV         Christine K in Dallas