Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery, Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, U.S.A.
What was that? An airplane taking off in the courtyard?
No, guess again.
It was our shiny new grain mill grinding hard white wheat for homemade cinnamon buns!
Thanks to some very generous retreatants who are home-milling enthusiasts, our kitchen has welcomed an electric countertop grain mill, a new bread machine, and all the items we need to bake bread from freshly ground flour. The only way we could get more “from scratch” is to grow our own ingredients, but I suspect an opportunity for wheat farming is many years and a dozen Postulants into the future.
So far, we have just enjoyed the resulting simple loaves of bread for breakfast.
But one recent morning found Sr. Cecilia Maria hard at work rolling out some beautiful cinnamon buns for the upcoming Easter festivities.
Watching Sister making bread reminded me (Sister Blogger) of the ancient Eucharistic prayer recorded in the Didache:
“As this broken bread was scattered over the hills and then, when gathered, became one mass, so may Thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom.”
(Didache 9:4, trans. by James A. Kleist, S.J., Ph.D. in v. 6 of Ancient Christian Writers.)
Thanks be to God for the gift of home-baked bread, nourishing the body and made with love by the hands of our Sisters! And yet, how much greater must our gratitude be for the gift of the Church He has gathered and fed with the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
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
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!
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.
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).
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!”
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!
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!
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!
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.
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
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:
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
...our spiritual home is the “cloister” of Calvary, where we dwell in the shadow of His wings – the outstretched arms of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. There, in union with Our Sorrowful Mother, we keep Him company in His Passion, we offer our lives with His in a loving sacrifice to the Eternal Father, and we strive to become channels of His grace, life, and love into our world.
March 10 - 12, 2017
June 9 - 11, 2017
October 13 - 15, 2017
Click on our Vocation Retreats button at the top for more details.
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Venerable Mother Mary Crucified of Jesus
First Superior of the Passionist Nuns Ora pro nobis!
Servant of God Mother Leonarda
Died in 1953Ora pro nobis!
Servant of God Sister Addolorata
Died in 1954Ora pro nobis!
Venerable Mother Maria Magdalena
Foundress of Passionist Nuns in Madrid Spain
Died in 1960 Ora pro nobis!
Saint Gabriel of our Lady of Sorrows
Feastday: February 27th Ora pro nobis!
Saint Vincent Strambi
Feastday: September 24th Ora pro nobis!
Saint Charles of Mt. Argus
Gift of Healing
Feastday: January 5th Ora pro nobis!
Saint Innocencio Canoura
Martyred in Asturias in 1934 with a group of Christian Brothers
Feastday: October 9th
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Eugene Bossilkov
Bishop during the communist persecution in Bulgaria ~ Falsely accused, imprisoned, tortured and martyred in 1952
Feastday: November 13
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Grimoaldo Santamaria
Passionist student died of acute meningitis in 1902
Feastday: November 18
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God
Most known for receiving Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman into the Church
Feastday: August 26
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Lawrence Salvi
Great devotion to the Child Jesus & an outstanding preacher
Feastday: June 12th
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Nicephorus and 26 Companions
Martyred in Spain in 1936
Feastday: July 24 Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Isidore of St. Joseph
Passionist religious brother
Feastday: October 6 Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Pius Campidelli
Feastday: November 3
Ora pro nobis!
Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli
Feastday: December 9th Ora pro nobis!
Venerable Galileo Nicolini
Died in 1897Ora pro nobis!
Servant of God Fr. Theodore Foley
Died in 1974Ora pro nobis!
Servant of God Fr. Ignatius Spencer
Convert from Anglican Clergy
Famous preacher & Apostle of England
Distant relative of Princess Diana RIP
Died in 1864Ora pro nobis!
Saint Gemma Galgani
Passionist lay woman
Feastday: May 16 Ora pro nobis!
Saint Maria Goretti
Martyr for purity
Prepared for First Holy Communion by a Passionist. The Passionist Congregation promoted her cause to sainthood.
Feastday: July 6 Ora pro nobis!