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.

 

Monastery Christmas Greetings!

Blessed Christmas!

Hello friends!  It’s been so long since I posted I almost forgot how to do it!  I do apologize for my absence. Two days ago was the six month anniversary of my election as superior. The past 3 months have been a whirlwind.

We’ve had many good things happening around here…

In August Sr. Mary Magdalen celebrated her Golden Jubilee. She had a small public celebration and then a few months later we had our monastic community celebration.

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Sr. Mary Magdalen has a great love for Pope Saint John Paul II. Here she is in his pope-mobile with his former secretary Cardinal Dziwisz. If you look closely you can see Pope John Paul looking down from the Father’s House.

On that day we played a game of finding the lost sheep (like an egg-hunt) and then Pin the Sheep in Jesus' arms.

On that day we played a game of finding the lost sheep (like an egg-hunt) and then Pin the Sheep in Jesus’ arms.

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Later in the day some of the nuns played “monkey in the middle”.

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Towards the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy we consecrated our community to Divine Mercy and I surprised the sisters with a life-size image of the Vilnius Divine Mercy Image…a gift from the family of one of our sisters.

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In October a group of students and FOCUS missionaries from Murray State University made a retreat here. It was a joy to see them in chapel and have them join us for our liturgies.

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We worked on a major vocation promotion initiative. We had vocation posters and brochures printed and mailed/delivered over 150 vocation packages – special thanks to Oblates – especially Kerry Ledington, and also Larena Lawson and Fr. Julio Barrera. We also had a Vocation banner created that can be set up at Youth 2000 retreats, parishes, and school classrooms. We hope this will draw more young women to consider a Passionist vocation.

thanks to Fr. Josh McCarty and Lolek Productions for this unique photo

thanks to Fr. Josh McCarty and Lolek Productions for this unique photo

Our two aspirants finished their aspirancy program. We thank them for the openness they had to the process of discernment.  Olivia discerned that God has another plan for her – we miss you Olivia!  Ruth entered the monastery on December 8th – blessed be God! Please pray for Ruth and join us in thanking God for the early Christmas gift of her entering the monastery!

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(Ruth’s photo as a postulant is on its way in a future blog post. I don’t have access to hose photos tonight and I want to get this posted before Christmas Midnight Mass!)

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Mother Fernanda our Delegate General

The end of November brought us our Vatican Visitation. The preparation was quite time consuming as you can imagine. Our General Delegate has been visiting all our Passionist monasteries. A recent apostolic constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere, calls for all unfederated cloistered monasteries (like our own) to unite in forming some kind of structure of communion. So we have embarked on forging a structure of communion amongst all our monasteries throughout the world (there are five in the States). It will be called a “Monastic Congregation” similar in some ways to what Benedictine and Trappistine Nuns have. Quite a huge project but one we are very happy about. Would you please pray for this huge endeavor? A lot has to take place before the structure is set in place.

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Fr. Giuseppe Barbieri, CP was Mother Fernanda’s assistant and translator as she visited the five USA monasteries.

At the same time we were having the Visitation – the three days before Thanksgiving – a retreatant-friend (Kate Mims) and her sons from Houston, came and built a lovely, large wooden bridge crossing the creek down behind the retreat house. This connects to some trails back there, one of which leads to the top of the hill – Angel’s Peak. Kate and sons built a small shrine there to St. Michael the Archangel in honor of their deceased husband/father Michael.

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Thanks Kate and Friends!

Thanks Kate and Friends!

A few weeks ago we had our annual visit with the Fathers of Mercy who are information, along with their formators, superior and a few others…always a joy.

Here they are doing a spoof of a scene from The Princess Bride

Here they are doing a spoof of a scene from The Princess Bride

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Last, but not least…we are happily looking forward to the first profession of vows of our novice, Sr. Lucia Marie (from Lakeland, FL) on January 5th.

Well…these are some of the highlights of the past months. There are only so many hours in a day…I am hoping that in 2016 a new nun can take over as Sponsa Christi and keep the blog posts more regular.

Family and Friends – may you have a most joyous and grace-filled Christmas ever.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you…especially those of you who are particularly suffering at this time. May the Peace of the Christ-Child fill your hearts and homes.

Passionist Nuns in the News

A couple months ago, our friend Kristen Krog of Denmark, a Passionist Oblate, interviewed our Sr. Cecilia Maria for the Katolsk Orientering – a Catholic newspaper in Denmark. In the interview Sr. Cecilia Maria shares with us about her journey to Catholicism, the monastery and what it means to her to be a spiritual mother.

And…just in case you don’t speak Danish – here is the English original!

Can you tell a little bit about your Danish background?

My mother’s parents both immigrated to the United States from Denmark, and they met in the Danish Lutheran Church in Los Angeles, CA, where they were married. My mother was born in America, but she grew up surrounded by the Danish language and culture. Most of her relatives still live in Denmark, and I have visited them three times in the little town of Vorning, Jylland, where our family has owned and operated the store for 100 years, since 1916! My baptismal name, Ane Kirstine, is after my great-grandmother, Ane Kirstine “Købmand” Nielsen, who ran the store for many years after her husband Anton died.

My mother taught us many of the Danish customs she knew and loved. Since entering the monastery, I have taught the nuns some of our traditions, too. Now we all look forward to discovering who wins the almond hidden in the Christmas risalamand, and we all enjoy an occasional meal of frikadeller and brune kartoffler! (more…)

Evenings of Prayer for National Elections

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This Monday will be our second evening of Eucharistic Prayer for our national elections. We had a great turn out in September.  Please join us in October. Mark your calendar for this Monday, October 3 at 6:30 p.m. here at the monastery. Invite your friends and family to this evening of Eucharistic adoration, prayer, scripture, homily by Fr. Lou Caporiccio, C.P.M. and benediction.

The third and final evening will be Monday, November 7th – the eve of our national elections.

Let us pray for our Nation!

Steve Hermann Photos of Passionist Monastery

“Can I take photos of the inside of your chapel?”, the eager man requested of Sr. Catherine Marie the afternoon of Sr. Mary Magdalen’s Golden Jubilee on August 13.  He could hardly contain his excitement.

We escorted him down to chapel and within 15 minutes he was on his way promising to send us the finished results. These photos are phenomenal and I know you will be as amazed as we were.

You can see more of his work at Steve Hermann Inspirational Photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Alas…Forgotten Blog Post

Hello dear friends, I put this post together some weeks ago but forgot to publish it…alas…losing my memory…the woes of running a monastery. 🙂

Enjoy the post…

A couple weeks ago we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. This feast was very important to our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross. We prepared for this feast with a Solemn Community Novena. We make 5 of these solemn novenas a year. To help us prepare for the celebration we reflected upon Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII. The morning of the Feast we were free from unnecessary work and spent the morning hours in Eucharistic adoration.

After lunch we gathered to take a walk down memory lane. We divided up into 3 teams had acted out memorable events from the history of our monastic community.

By the way, Theresa was with us for her third visit. Please pray for her and all women who are discerning a vocation to our monastery!

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here one team talks about what they will act out.

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Sr. Lucia Marie and Theresa enjoy the skit of another team

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This scene is portraying the flood we had in the late 1990’s when water was pouring in through every nook and cranny in our basement walls. Since then the drainage problem has been “fixed”!

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Sr. Marie Michael enacts the time she almost cut of 3 fingers with an electric hedge trimmer!

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Theresa plays some lovely hymns and song for “After Meal Entertainment”

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Silence is usually kept at meals while listening/watching spiritual video/Catholic news…On special occasions we turn the tables and speak at meal time.

 

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Please keep Theresa and all our discerning friends in your prayers!

 

Finally – Photo of Aspirants

Sunday, August 28 Ruth and Olivia received their small Passion sign pin and officially entered the 3-month aspirancy program. They received their pin during Vespers of that Sunday.

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The following was the reading for Vespers that evening – how appropriate!

READING      2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
We are bound to thank God for you always, beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, because you are the first fruits of those whom God has chosen for salvation, in holiness of spirit and fidelity to truth. He called you through our preaching of the good news so that you might achieve the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

and the  RESPONSORY
Our Lord is great, mighty is his power.
– Our Lord is great, mighty is his power.
His wisdom is beyond compare,
– mighty is his power.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
– Our Lord is great, mighty is his power.

Indeed His wisdom is beyond compare!

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Please keep Ruth and Olivia in your prayers as they and we continue to discern God’s plan if it is indeed his will for them to be future Passionist Nuns.

This post is dedicated to the “aspirant moms”!