Visitors Near and Far

We have been blessed by the presence of a number of visitors and retreatants in February and March, some local folks, some from other states, and yes, even one from across the Atlantic Ocean!

Kate Mims, a retreatant from Texas with a Passionist spirit; she built our lovely new bridge and the shrine to St. Michael with her sons last fall.

 

Three local homeschooling families came to learn more about cloistered contemplative life and joined us for Midafternoon Prayer.

 

A group of seminarians from St. Meinrad’s in Indiana visited us on a class trip to learn about our life and Passionist spirituality.

 

Jessica came all the way from Holland to make an extended solitude retreat at a Passionist monastery. Mother arranged for us to visit with Jessica on her last night at St. Joseph’s, when she shared with us about the Catholic Church in The Netherlands and some stories from her family during World War II.

 

Gifts for Mother Superior

Hello folks!  Some of our younger Sisters are writing the blog posts now and I hope you enjoy them. Unfortunately, Mother John Mary hasn’t had time to show them how to work the dashboard and upload them yet. That is why this blog post is old!

Gaudeamus Gifts

When we celebrated the Superior’s feast day Gaudeamus in January, Mother John Mary was the recipient of several handicrafts in various stages of completion. She graciously “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” over our work, then handed the boxes back for us to put the finishing touches…with such a busy Christmas season this year, the “nun-elves” simply hadn’t had time to finish their stitching! But at long last, we have pictures for you of the finished products – quilted rosary pouches made by the Sisters in formation and various vocation visitors, a lovely frame of the Lord’s Prayer cross-stitched by Sr. Cecilia Maria, and a granny square afghan by Sr. Lucia Marie.

 

Monastery Update

My dear blog friends, I want to share with you the following monastery news:

Official church documents on religious formation emphasize the need for a lengthy and adequate discernment before a candidate is admitted to perpetual vows. The Church gives 9 – 12 years for this discernment before perpetual vows.  The discernment is always done with much prayer and guidance.

Several weeks ago we said goodbye to Sr. Rose Marie as she returned to lay life. The fruits of the Holy Spirit were very evident as God’s plan for her life came into clearer focus. We all miss her and her wonderful family so much. Please keep her in prayer as she continues to follow God’s will seeking to implement all she received here and to be a nurturing presence of God in the world.

May we all seek to find, follow and fulfill his loving plan with such courage as she is now doing.  We love you dear sister in Christ Crucified!

Mother John Mary

 

 

3 Days Left to Register for Vocation Retreat!

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Ever wonder what it’s like to be a nun?  Want to learn more about discerning your vocation?  Looking for an opportunity to grow in love for the Lord Jesus?

Join us for a Vocation Discernment Retreat here at St. Joseph Passionist Monastery!

Some highlights of this 3-day retreat:

  • Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours with the Passionist Nuns
  • Opportunity for the Sacrament of Confession
  • Meet some of the Sisters
  • Connect with other discerners
  • Hear talks on prayer, discernment, Passionist spirituality
  • Walk the trails – it’s a gorgeous Kentucky spring this year!

Intrigued?  We hope you’ll prayerfully consider attending.  Here’s how: 

When: March 10 – 12, 2017

Who:  Single, Catholic women ages 17 – 30

*Must be of good physical and psychological health and also a US citizen.

How: Register HERE by filling out the form.

Registration Deadline is in THREE days! Register by Sunday, March 5

Feast Day Party – A Trip to a Very Catholic Restaurant

This year Sr. Mary Veronica’s feast day celebration was not just any celebration. No, this year (initially unbeknownst to her) she had special reservations at St. Gabriel’s Bistro, a fancy restaurant which was open for a total of only a couple hours, just for the occasion! Yes, St. Gabriel’s Bistro existed at 272 Novitiate Corridor, St. Joseph Monastery on Thursday, January 12, 2017 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm, in honor of Sr. Mary Veronica’s feast day. There are truly few who can say that they’ve had a restaurant open for them alone.

The hostess' desk upon entering St. Gabriel's Bistro

The hostess’ desk upon entering St. Gabriel’s Bistro

As our long-time blog readers probably know, and so that I don’t completely confuse any new readers we may have, our novitiate hosts a celebration every year on or around the novice directress’ feast day, in appreciation for all that she does. This year our novitiate – made up of Postulant Ruth and Novices Sr. Frances Marie and Sr. Maria Faustina – decided to transform the novitiate recreation room into a fancy bistro named after the novitiate’s patron, St. Gabriel Possenti of the Sorrowful Virgin (for more information on St. Gabriel, check out his information page on our website: http://www.passionistnuns.org/Saints/GabrielCP/index.htm).

A display honoring St. Gabriel

A display honoring St. Gabriel

That Thursday Mother John Mary accompanied her to the Bistro and they were seated at their table by one of the three eager “waitresses,” who looked strangely like Ruth, Sr. Frances Marie, and Sr. Maria Faustina, and only appeared in their absence! Light instrumental background music was playing throughout the bistro as the guests dined.

The 3 "waitresses" pose with their aprons and name tags

The 3 “waitresses” pose with their aprons and name tags

Drinks, which included an array of hot beverages such as Christmas tea, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider, were served first. The guests were able to snack on orange slices and assorted nuts as they looked over the menu. The soup of the day, which happened to be Creamy Tomato, was served as well. Options for the main course included Ham & Cheese, Grilled Cheese, and Grilled PB & J finger sandwiches.

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The menu!

Once the food was served, the three novitiate members came back from… well, wherever they were all this time… and were happily able to join Sr. Mary Veronica and Mother John Mary at the table for a light afternoon meal, before which Mother John Mary led all in a prayer.

Sr. Frances Marie enjoys her hot beverage

Sr. Frances Marie enjoys her hot beverage

Postulant Ruth eagerly awaits the main course after finishing her Creamy Tomato soup.

Postulant Ruth eagerly awaits the main course after finishing her Creamy Tomato soup.

Sr. Maria Faustina caught in the middle of enjoying some orange slices. The finger sandwiches can be seen in the foreground

Sr. Maria Faustina caught in the middle of enjoying some orange slices. The finger sandwiches can be seen in the foreground

After the main course, the novitiate asked to be excused and it was just a few minutes later that the three waitresses came back to serve dessert, which was an assortment of walnut balls and baklava. The waitresses departed and thankfully the novitiate was able to make it back to the table before all the dessert was gone. But the excitement wasn’t over yet…

It was just then that Postulant Ruth, Sr. Frances Marie, and Sr. Marie Faustina announced that they had prepared something special for entertainment… Irish dancing! Postulant Ruth, who has done Irish dancing for many years, had taught Sr. Frances Marie and Sr. Maria Faustina an Irish dance which they performed to music for Sr. Mary Veronica and Mother John Mary.

Beginning the dance (Irish music playing in background).

Beginning the dance (Irish music playing in background).

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The rest of the afternoon was spent thanking Sr. Mary Veronica for her generous and loving service as novice directress and enjoying one another’s company. St. Gabriel’s Bistro may have been open only a couple hours, but it was a great success. At one point Mother John Mary remarked on how many candles and statues and pictures of saints there were (so unusual for a bistro) to which one of the “waitresses” simply responded, “It’s a very Catholic restaurant!”

Postulant Ruth, Sr. Maria Faustina, Sr. Mary Veronica, and Sr. Frances Marie at the end of a joyful afternoon.

Postulant Ruth, Sr. Maria Faustina, Sr. Mary Veronica, and Sr. Frances Marie at the end of a joyful afternoon.

Additional photos of the Bistro

 

Something to Celebrate: Mother John Mary’s Feast Day Gaudeamus

Saint Anthony the Abbot once wisely taught that just as a bow cannot be kept always taut or it will snap, so to for the well-being of monks (or nuns!) it is necessary to have times of relaxation. On January 17, the holy abbot’s feast day, we gladly followed his advice and celebrated (a little belatedly) a Gaudeamus day in honor of Mother John Mary’s feast day. “Gaudeamus” is Latin for “let us rejoice,” and these days are times for extra recreation and sisterly companionship, usually in celebration of a special occasion, like the superior’s feast day, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July.

Since it was Mother John Mary’s first feast day as superior, we couldn’t help making a bit of extra fuss. The festivities started the night before, when Mother was respectfully exiled from the refectory so we could decorate with all manner of sparkly blue ribbons, flowers, tablecloths, and bows. Even Mother’s dish of apple slices got a makeover – no more melamine bowls for them, no, these fancy apple slices got to live in a regular penthouse for the day, a glass bowl trimmed with festive curly ribbons.

Sr Catherine Marie shows off Mother John Mary’s apple dish

Sr Catherine Marie shows off Mother John Mary’s apple dish

The next morning after Holy Mass, we officially inaugurated the Gaudeamus by singing a little song in Mother John Mary’s honor, based on a Danish birthday song from Sr. Cecilia Maria’s family.

“Mother’s Gaudeamus Day, so we celebrate for it is today, Mother’s Gaudeamus Day, so we celebrate today! To honor her, come join us as we all will sing, to honor her, a melody we’ll sing – Tra la-la-la-la-la-la-la…” etc

At Mother John Mary’s request, we spent part of the day watching a new film on St. Joan of Arc. The young actress playing Joan captured the courage and faith of the “Maid of Orleans,” and the film sparked lots of conversations comparing the movie account with the facts of her life – over all, it was a remarkably accurate account!

After supper, Mother opened her feast day gifts. Sister Catherine Marie added a fun twist to the unwrapping, and blindfolded Mother John Mary! Then, Mother held up each of the items and we gave her clues about them until she was able to guess what she was holding.

No peeking, Mother!

No peeking, Mother!

We rounded out the day with a skit performed by the Juniorate and Novitiate. Entitled “Mother John Mary’s Identity Crisis,” the script was based on the numerous occasions of name-confusion that followed Mother’s election as superior. We’ll end with a slide show of some highlights for your enjoyment!

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Another Passionist Bride of Christ

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Hello folks from around the world!  As many of you know, Sr. Lucia Marie of the Mystical Body of Christ, made her First Profession of vows Thursday, January 5.  It was a glorious day with a touch of snow adding to the mystic. Although, unfortunately, some had to cancel their attendance because the forecast was dire in some places. But a small remnant, a number of whom were from Florida, were very graced by the day, and absolutely delighted with the snow!

Our dear friend, Fr. Andy Garner (Very Reverend D. Andrew Canon Garner to be exact!) was the Presider, joined by our chaplain, Fr. Lou Caporiccio, C.P.M. and our friend, Fr. Julio Barrera. Fr. Lou gave a wonderful homily which I have already posted for you. We were blessed by seminarian, Corey Bruns, as master of ceremonies, and our faithful server, Dwayne Roby was also present.

Long-time friends Mel Howard and Larena Lawson, were videographer and photographer – Grazie mille!

Thanks for all your prayers for new candidates to Passionist life. Please continue to pray that he send holy and healthy candidates to all our Passionist monasteries throughout the world.

Just click on a photo to see larger images and read the full text.

This first set of photos are prior and during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

This second set of photos are after the Mass of Religious Profession

 

Homily from Sr. Lucia Marie’s Mass of Religious Profession

The bride in prayer before Mass begins

The bride-to-be in prayer before Mass begins. Soon you will see in her a black veil… 🙂

I have been busily crafting a nice loooong blog post with lots of photos of Sr. Lucia Marie’s First Profession of Vows. It is almost ready…but to whet your appetite I thought I’d post the homily from that Mass of Religious Profession given by our chaplain, Fr. Lou Caporiccio, C.P.M.

Fr. Lou giving his homily.

Fr. Lou giving his homily.

Sr. Lucia Marie of the Mystical Body of Christ, CP
First Profession of Vows

January 5, 2017

Readings: Is. 44:1-5; Ps. 115 (116); Col. 3:1-4; Jn. 12:24-26

 

Finding the Face of the Beloved

The Catholic English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote a letter to his future wife Frances Blogg in which he set forth his proposal of marriage. In the course of this letter he said many things leading up to the actual proposal. For example, when answering the question about why Frances’ mother was uneasy or concerned about his impending marriage to her daughter, he noted that it was because he would be taking her daughter from her. He stated that he felt “like the Angel of Death” for doing this to her mother and that he “felt like a thief.”[1] At the very end of the letter he proposed which I will summarize as follows: All my prior loves have been a preparation for loving you. Now my former life comes to an end because it has led me to you. Take my life for my search for love has brought me to you.[2]

This is the experience of every bride and bridegroom because every man and woman seeks to love and to be loved. As the Catechism of the Catholic teaches so beautifully: “God who created man out of love also calls him to love— the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.”[3] In other words, God creates us for no other reason than He loves us and seeks our good. At the same time, because we are created in His image, we are programmed, wired and designed for the purpose of loving as God loves. This means that our task in this life is to seek the face of the beloved so that we can love and be loved. As St. Augustine, that great 4th century bishop from North Africa, who knew the ways of the heart intimately, wrote speaking to God: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.”[4]

A married woman has found the face of God in her husband and she gives herself to God in love indirectly by giving herself to her husband. This gift of herself was made when she professed her wedding vows. A consecrated religious has also found the face of her beloved and gives herself as gift to God in love directly without an intermediary as it will be for all of us in heaven. A religious makes the gift of herself in love to God when she professes her religious vows. Sr. Lucia Marie will receive a ring as a sign of her vows.

Both sets of vows, marriage and religious, deepen and extend our baptismal vows by which we entered into a covenant relationship with God, by which we entered into union with God the Bridegroom of our soul. When we profess our vows, whether marriage vows or religious vows, we are saying: “I have found the face of my beloved whom I have been seeking and my life as it previously was comes to an end and I begin a new life with my beloved.” “Therefore” says the Book of Genesis, “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Just because we have found our beloved it does not mean that we stop seeking our beloved. Maybe some of you have seen the movie “Fireproof.” If you have not, it is worthy watching. It shows what marital love is not and what it should be according to God’s plan. During the movie a book is introduced entitled The Love Dare. This book literally dares us to do little acts of love for our spouse over the course of 40 days. It is meant to do two things. First, it teaches us to love as God loves but second, in the course of loving one’s spouse it teaches us to discover ever more deeply the mystery of our beloved every day. Let’s face it; you cannot love someone if you do not know him. Can we ever fully, completely or absolutely discover everything about God? We cannot because He is infinite. In a similar way, can never discover the entire riches of a human spouse precisely because he or she is created in the image of the infinite God. St. Augustine expresses this truth so beautifully when addressing God he cries out: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!”[5] This will not be an easy undertaking for you Sr. Lucia just as it not an easy task for a husband and wife. The crucifix, the crown of thorns and the sign of the Passion that you will receive will be a constant reminder that discovering the depths of your beloved spouse and loving Him will cost you.

All our loves in this world are but a preparation for the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven Whose bride is the Church, that is, Whose bride is each and every one of us. By professing your religious vows, Sr. Lucia Mare is saying in effect “I have found my Beloved and I cannot wait for heaven so I will commit myself here and now on this earth to Him.

I would like to end with the words of Pope Francis, which I will slightly alter so it addresses Sr. Lucia Marie personally. Dear Sr. Lucia Marie of the Mystical Body of Christ your religious “life . . . takes on a specific form that is prophecy and sign, one that ‘can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation’ (LG, 44c).” Sister, your contemplative religious life does “not propose a more perfect fulfillment of the Gospel. Rather, by living out the demands of Baptism,” your life constitutes “an instance of discernment and a summons to the service of the whole Church,” the Mystical Body of Christ. “Indeed,” you “are a signpost pointing to a journey and quest, a reminder to the entire People of God of the primary and ultimate meaning of the Christian life.”[6]

May the Passion of Jesus Christ, the greatest act of love this world has ever seen or will ever see, be ever in our hearts!

[1] https://www.chesterton.org/chesterton-marriage-proposal/ Accessed January 3, 2017.

[2] https://www.chesterton.org/chesterton-marriage-proposal/ Accessed January 3, 2017.

[3] CCC, 1604. http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html#419/z Accessed January 3, 2017.

[4] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book I, chapter 1.

[5] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book X, chapter 27.

[6] Pope Francis, Vultum Dei Quaerere, June 29, 2016, 4. http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_constitutions/documents/papa-francesco_costituzione-ap_20160629_vultum-dei-quaerere_en.pdf Accessed January 3, 2017.

We Have a Passionist Postulant!

In my Christmas post I shared with you about our early Christmas present – the monastery entrance of Ruth! Here are a few photos, and also Mother’s exhortation given during II Vespers of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, the day Ruth entered the monastery.

Ruth receives the postulant crucifix from Mother John Mary

Ruth receives the postulant crucifix from Mother John Mary

Our Lady – Holy and Immaculate Guide – Companion on the Journey, pray for us. It is the Advent Season and we ponder our Lady, the Immaculate One, who left her family, and all she knew and cherished, to follow Joseph for the census in Bethlehem, the City of David.

Ruth, you too have left all that is familiar…your rocks and mountains for the Mystic Rock, your ocean deeps for the Living Water, your martial arts for the Mighty Warrior.

Our Lady has called you to join her in the wilderness journey with Joseph to Joseph’s Monastery. Our Lady will not lead you astray. Ruth, we your Sisters say to you today, do whatever she tells you. Follow her as Ruth followed Naomi to Bethlehem.

Dearest Ruth, your journey to Kentucky was along one, oh yes…it was a long night on 3 different planes, with hours sitting in airports seeking…watching…mourning…texting…waiting…rejoicing…thanking…But this journey, an inner journey with the Passionists, began over 5 years ago on July 26, 2011 when you first contacted us.

Since that time the Lord has brought you to a deeper level of intimacy so you could hear His will and a higher degree of trust and self-sacrifice so you would have the courage to follow it; but the journey is not over. Now you begin a new journey…a journey of following Mary Immaculate in Passionist life.

Ruth, we your sisters, have prayed for you and we rejoice with you and, as your sisters, we pray you stay near our Lady as Ruth clung to Naomi and followed her to a strange land and a new God. You have come to a strange land where it is normal to rise at 4:30 a.m.  🙂 You have come to a new God who gives back everything you sacrifice for him.

With you, we pray to Our Lady of Advent, our guide on the Journey, the words Ruth said to Naomi… “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.”

In Chapter 2 of the Book of Ruth, Boaz said to Ruth, “You have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth and have come to a people whom you did not know. May the Lord reward what you have done! May you receive a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Ruth…we can attest to you…you will receive a full reward from the Lord, you will receive back your mother, your father and the land of your birth – 1000-fold! And as Ruth became the grandmother of King David, so may you become the Spiritual Mother of a multitude of royal children of God.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel! For today, after five years, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Ruth Thompson officially enters St. Joseph’s Monastery. Let us repeat these words – Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!

Ruth, your postulant crucifix has lain here before the Tabernacle of the Lord throughout this holy day. Please come forward now to receive it and then to be greeted by each of your sisters…and Welcome, to St. Joseph’s Monastery.

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Please pray for Ruth and all young men and women who are discerning a call of complete consecrated to God.

See Last Passionist Newsletter of 2016

Hello friends and Happy New Year!

I just realized that I never posted the Thanksgiving Newsletter of 2016. I know a lot has happened since then but I think you’ll still enjoy reading the newsletter and seeing all the photos. Here are some highlights

  • Sr. Mary Magdalen of the Good Shepherd celebrated 50 years of vowed Passionist life
  • 70th anniversary of our foundation in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Vocation animation update, photos of aspirants (one of whom is now a postulant!), and our efforts to fundraise for our growing novitiate
  • Retreat House improvements
  • Guests, Volunteers and More…

In an upcoming blog post you will meet our postulant Ruth Thompson AND…drumroll please…you will see photos of Sr. Lucia Marie’s First Profession of Vows! This took place January 5 – Feast of Passionist – St. Charles of Mt. Argus.