FAQ: Why the cloister?

During Lent, we are sharing some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life.  Read some of the other FAQs here, here, here, & here. We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!

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Question #5: Why is it necessary that you live a hidden cloistered life?

It is necessary for us to live a hidden cloistered life because God has called us personally to this kind of life, and it is in following our vocation that we become all that we are meant to be. The cloistered life is very important in the world, even today, because cloistered nuns are meant to be signs pointing to the life of the world to come, to remind humanity that this present world is passing away and we are all meant to be journeying to the Heavenly Jerusalem. As cloistered nuns, and particularly as Passionist nuns, we devote ourselves to a life of prayer and penance. God calls all Christians to participate in His redemptive love and His redemptive work for mankind. All Christians are called to participate in this redemptive work.  The Church, made up of Christian souls, is Christ’s Bride. Every Baptized soul is espoused to Christ. Human marriage is a sign pointing to the reality of the mystical marriage of Christ and the Church. As nuns, we forego the sign of human marriage and live directly, intensely the reality of mystical marriage with Christ. God calls some to live this here on earth in order to remind others of this reality.

An image that you may find helpful, again referring to the Mystical Body, is the cloistered nun as the heart hidden but essential, pumping the life blood throughout the body.

Come Pray With Us! Holy Week Services 2018

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Palm Sunday – 8 a.m.

Holy Mass Mon – Wed – 7 a.m.

Holy Thurs – 7 p.m. followed by Night Prayer and Adoration

Good Friday – 3 p.m.

Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil – 8 p.m.

Easter Sunday – 10 a.m.

A Barn-Raising Battlefield

The Lenten season of spiritual warfare fought with the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, is almost at an end.  But one recent afternoon, while surveying the site destined to house a new barn for the monastery’s garden and lawn tools, some of our nuns were reminded of a very different sort of war…

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“The life of man upon earth is a warfare” -Job 7:1

Anyone recognize the iconic photo they sought to replicate here?

FAQ: Why fast?

During Lent, we are sharing some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life.  Read some of the other FAQs here, here, & here. We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!

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Photo courtesy of Abram Wenke

Question #4: Why is it necessary to fast?

It is good to fast for several reasons. When we deny ourselves food or foods that we like, we are strengthening our wills so that we don’t just give into every craving of our bodies. The will ultimately should have mastery. When we fast we are also acknowledging the primacy of the spiritual dimension. Life is not just about food and material pleasures. “Man does not live on bread alone.” Fasting ultimately is meant to raise our minds and hearts above earthly cares and turn them to God.

National Catholic Sisters Week

March 8-14 is celebrated in the United States as National Catholic Sisters Week, and our diocesan newspaper, The Western Kentucky Catholic, featured women religious from around the diocese in its March issue.  Sr. Cecilia Maria and Sr. Maria Faustina were interviewed, and the news team got some delightful photos of our nuns enjoying a snowy walk.

For more photos and to read the article, visit page 5 in the March 2018 issue of the Western Kentucky Catholic!

FAQ: Why take up our crosses?

During Lent, we are sharing some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life.  Read the first two FAQs here & here. We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!

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photo courtesy of Larena Lawson

Question #3: If Jesus has saved us by His Passion, death, and Resurrection, why is it necessary for us to take up our Crosses?

Paragraph 1521 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.” So, suffering in and of itself is not a good thing. Jesus asks us to take up our crosses and follow Him, but not simply to bring suffering upon us.  Jesus revealed the self-giving love of the Trinity in His Passion and Death. We can say that Jesus Crucified is the doorway or the portal to the Trinity. Suffering in our own lives can operate in the same way if we receive it in the right way. Suffering often causes a person to turn to God, but the person can also turn away. If we embrace the sufferings that God allows to come into our lives for love of Him, with trust that He always wills what is best for us, and in obedience to His will (just as Jesus did all of these things), then God will work in our souls in a transformative way and we become better prepared to share in the life of the Trinity, this life of self-giving love.

Lenten Message from Passionist Father General

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“The whole life of Jesus was a cross. The whole life of one who serves God, then, should be to remain on the cross with Jesus.” – St. Paul of the Cross

As we journey into this Lenten season which culminates the the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Mystery in the Triduum – a real high-point of the liturgical year for everyone but especially for us as Passionists – we would like to share with you a letter from Fr. Joachim Rego, CP, Superior General, to the worldwide Passionist Family.

Here’s an excerpt:

“As we enter into the liturgical season of Lent, we recall that Lent is a time and an opportunity for renewal – both personal and communal. It is a joyful season lived with great hope.”

Click here to read the rest of the message

FAQ: Can we participate in the work of salvation?

During Lent, we are sharing some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life.  Read the first FAQ here. We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!

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Question #2: If Jesus has died for the salvation of mankind, can we sinful people do anything for our own salvation or that of other souls?

Yes, Jesus did die for the salvation of mankind. He redeemed us by His Blood. That was something only He could do since, being God, His Blood had infinite value. By the Fall we had sinned against an infinite God and therefore we owed God an infinite debt which we could never pay back. God alone, Who is infinite, could pay back the debt and redeem us. Jesus, God Incarnate, did this, and won for all of us the opportunity to go to Heaven. I say “opportunity” because being made in the image and likeness of God, we have all been given free will. Though we are inclined to sin, through the Sacraments God gives us the grace to live as His beloved children in a state of sanctifying grace already here on earth. As sons and daughters of God we have such immense dignity!

God calls us to the most intimate relationship with Himself even here on earth. So, we should strive to live the beatitudes and virtues, do all things with love – love for God first and love for neighbor. We can and should offer prayers and sacrifices for others: for Christians that they may continue to grow in sanctity, for fallen-away Catholics so that they may come back to the Church, and for non-Christians because they too are called to be sons and daughters of God. This past year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. She, as our loving Mother, asked us to pray the Rosary, and to offer prayers and sacrifices for the world and for souls. We can make of everything a sacrifice, if we do it out of love in imitation of Jesus Crucified. Look at how He loved us on the Cross and see how you can return that love to Him and imitate that love for others. Love is what gives value to everything.

FAQ: Why the Passion?

Over the next few weeks, we would like to share with you some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life.  We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!

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Icon of the Holy Trinity

Question #1: If God, the Holy Trinity, is love, why was the suffering of Jesus in His Passion and death on the Cross necessary for the salvation of mankind?  God could have “snapped His fingers” and saved us.  Did the Father will that Christ suffer instead?

With the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we can affirm that God is love.  Paragraph 221 states: “God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange.” Keep in mind that last part: “He has destined us to share in that exchange.”

It is also true that God could have just snapped His fingers and decided to save us, and in fact, even one drop of Christ’s Precious Blood would have been enough to redeem the whole world. God could have chosen to save us in any way possible. God chose, in a sense, to make the Passion and Death necessary for the redemption of the world.

First, let’s look again at the Holy Trinity, the communion of Divine Persons Who existed from all eternity. In the life of the Trinity, each of the Divine Persons gives Himself completely to the other in an eternal exchange of love. The Persons of the Trinity are completely happy in this eternal exchange of self-emptying love.

Now recall that in the Book of Genesis, God made man in His image and likeness. We, too, are called to this self-emptying love for God and for one another. This complete self-giving love should have been easy and even enjoyable for us if it were not for original sin and the Fall of mankind. After the fall, man became turned in on himself. He became distrustful of God and tension entered into his human relationships. In this fallen and sinful world, on this side of eternity, self-emptying love becomes a sacrificial love, a suffering love.

Jesus Christ came, emptying Himself completely. St. Paul describes this so beautifully in his letter to the Philippians: “Though He was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that He humbled Himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8). So, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity becomes incarnate and He doesn’t just prick His finger and shed a drop of His Blood, but He completely gives everything that He has to the last drop of His Blood. He was pouring Himself out in love from all eternity in the Trinity, and now this is what Jesus Christ does in His human nature.

This kind of love was unprecedented in human history until Jesus Christ came. We would not have known about this kind of love if Jesus had not given Himself completely for us. Yet, this is what the Trinity is: a communion of Persons in an eternal exchange of complete self-giving love! Jesus while He was redeeming mankind was also revealing the mystery of the Trinity to us and the inner life of God, and since we are all called to partake in this life of the Trinity for all eternity and we could not know to love in this way on our own, it was necessary that Jesus Christ not only redeem us but also teach us how to live the life of love that exists in the Trinity.

God the Father had a redeeming love for us. He did not want any of us to be lost for all eternity. God the Son was of course always perfectly united to the Father, and knowing the Father’s will, He offered Himself to redeem us (see paragraph 606 & 607 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). The will of the three Divine Persons is perfectly aligned and so while we speak of the Father’s redeeming love, we can also say that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit willed this – since ultimately we are speaking of one God.

Rise & Shine & Give God the Glory

January 25th brought us the annual celebration of a Gaudeamus Day in honor of our superior, Mother John Mary.  Gaudeamus Days are always full of laughter and extra time for sisterly companionship, and this one was no exception.

From the big breakfast of homemade scones and fancy fruit salad, through the community viewing of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, to the grand finale of the day with square-dancing and pizza, there was plenty of joy and hilarity to be had.  And well there should be: gaudeamus is, after all, Latin for “let us rejoice!”

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Sr. Cecilia Maria and aspirant Theresa with the breakfast scones, made with home-milled Kamut flour – thanks to Leslie M. for the grain!

We thought you would especially enjoy a peek at our after-meal entertainment, pulled together by the younger sisters under Sr. Catherine Marie’s guidance and inspiration.  They started with a quodlibet in which each of the five parts, sung simultaneously, mimic the sounds of orchestral instruments.

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The four Junior Professed nuns and aspirant, Theresa singing the quodlibet

The orchestra is a beautiful image of community life, with each of the unique instruments contributing to the music, just as each Sister brings her own experiences, ideas, and gifts to her community.

Then, the same Sisters performed a new version of the song, rewritten so that each part reflects one of the various (and hilarious) responses people may have to the rising bell, the voice of God calling us to awake and begin the new day.  This slideshow tells the story, and the words of each part are below.

 

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Sr. Somnia Maria:

(sung first time only)

At half past four in the morn,

I’m sleeping soundly,

My pillow’s so soft and warm,

And sweet are my dreams.

(sung each subsequent time)

My bed is so cozy,

And dreamland is rosy,

My bed is so cozy,

Roll over again.

Sr. Mary Sunshine:

Good morning, sun!

The day’s begun,

And so much joy & fun

Is yet to come.

The bell will ring,

We’re off to sing

The praises of

Our God and King.

Sr. Observata of the Holy Rule:

The rising bell’s ringing

Ta ta ta ta-ta ta ta, ta, ta-ta ta!

It’s time to get up now

Ta ta ta ta-ta ta ta ta!

Sr. Talitha Koum:

I can’t believe

I have to get up.

I can’t, I can’t,

Where’s my coffee cup?

The Voice of the Holy Spirit:

Good morning, dear Sisters,

It’s time to wake up now.

Get up!  Get up!

Get up, up, up, now!