Holy Week 2017 – Easter Sunday

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day!
Whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.

Lo! Our earth is in her spring; bearing thus her witness that,
with her Lord, she has all her gifts restored. 

For now the woods with their leaves and the meadows with their flowers,
pay homage to Jesus’ triumph over the gloomy tomb. 

Light, firmament, fields and sea, give justly praise
to the God that defeats the laws of death, and rises above the stars. 

The crucified God now reigns over all things;
and every creature to its Creator tells a prayer.

-From an ancient Easter hymn, Salve, festa dies by Venantius Fortunatus

Dogwood blossoms from our woods

Around the monastery, all creation seems to have put on its finest garments to celebrate the glory of Easter, and we gladly join the festivities with our hymn of praise.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Holy Week 2017 – Holy Saturday

Our community has a special hymn which we use only on Holy Saturday. It begins:

Silence and stillness reign on Earth today,

The King is asleep, exhausted from the fray.

After the bitter struggle we commemorate on Good Friday, Holy Saturday is imbued with an altogether different flavor. There is a particular sweetness to this day in its sense of peace, of rest, of waiting. While the Lord’s disciples did not understand His words foretelling the Resurrection, we have already received the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and know His glory, a glory which tinges this day like the first glow of dawn.

And of course, as we eagerly await the celebration of Christ’s victorious Resurrection, we set to work with all sorts of preparations. The Sacristy is filled to bursting with lilies, candles, and incense. The kitchen has every oven and burner fired up to ready the meal for the Easter Solemnity. Nary a Nun is idle this day, although the King may be resting! Like Mary Magdalen who could not wait for the sun to rise to visit the tomb, we can hardly contain our anticipation of the glory Sunday will reveal.

Holy Week 2017 – Good Friday

Instruments of the Passion with a relic of the True Cross

Today as we listen to the account of the Passion from the Gospel of John, we stand with the holy apostle at the foot of Our Lord’s Cross. There, we see the piercing of the dead Christ’s side with a lance, and the flow of water with His Most Precious Blood. John recalls for us the words of a prophecy which are fulfilled in this total outpouring of the Savior’s life for us: They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

As we commemorate the Lord’s Passion today, we do look upon Him who was pierced for us, but we do not stop with a simple gaze. The flow of water and Blood has long been seen as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, likewise poured out upon the Church through the Paschal Mystery of her Lord. It is the Spirit which the prophet Zechariah speaks of if we read the wider context of the prophecy John cited:

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born (Zechariah 12:10)

Each of us has received this same Spirit of God, and as in today’s liturgy we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we are indeed led to petition. After the Gospel is read, we offer up ten solemn intercessions for our world. With these words, it is as though we are begging the Father that Christ’s Blood not be shed in vain. Filled with the grace won for us by His death, we make bold to ask for conversions, for unity, for all the needs of the people of our times, believers and non-believers alike.

With renewed faith in the power of Christ’s Blood, let us confidently approach the throne of grace – that is, the Cross of Christ – to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help, for our own salvation and that of the whole world (Hebrews 4:16).

Holy Week 2017 – Holy Thursday

If Palm Sunday has set us on the path of following Christ, Holy Thursday realizes this in a very literal way as we process after Mass with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to the “Altar of Repose.”

During the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, each Sister keeps prayerful vigil with Our Lord for at least one hour, chosen by lots. It is a chance to console His agonizing heart in the Garden of Gethsemani, in the betrayal by Judas, in the arrest and secret trial held the Jewish authorities, and in all the many other sufferings which He endured, recorded or unrecorded.

The time of the Lord’s Passion has arrived, and with all our hearts we respond to the call of His Heart: “Watch and pray!”

Holy Week 2017 – Palm Sunday

As our observance of Lent draws to a close, Palm Sunday sets us upon the threshold of Holy Week, these most sacred days in which we follow Our Lord through His bitter Passion and death to the glory of the Resurrection. Today’s liturgy is so rich, giving us a glimpse of Christ’s triumphant glory before turning our eyes to His unfathomable humility in redeeming mankind.

In some ways, the shift from the joyful songs of the procession with palm branches to the solemn tone of St. John’s Passion narrative is a shocking one. How do we turn so quickly from shouts of “Hosanna” to the jeering crowd beneath the Cross? Yet, there is a unity here, brought out beautifully in the opening prayers used for the Procession and the Mass.

Before blessing the palm branches to be carried by the faithful, the priest invites us to join in commemorating

“the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation,
following in his footsteps,
so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.”

Then, once we have entered the church, he begins the Mass with these words:

“Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection”

Yes, we are beginning again this beautiful journey of following Christ through the Paschal Mystery, as He is praised and as He is mocked, as He is heeded by His disciples and dismissed by Pilate. And as the liturgy is so keen to remind us, by following with faith and devotion these holy days, we receive graces to help us follow Him and carry our crosses with Him each day.

May this Holy Week be a true opportunity for each of us to follow more closely Christ Our Crucified Lord!

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