"Young Religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus" - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar for Rome

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Merry Christmas from the Poor Clares

This is our first attempt at a web-cam! We hope our Christmas message comes to you loud and clear. We'll keep working at trying to 'perfect' it! A complete 'blog entry' will be coming soon!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

'Be comforted, be comforted my people, thy Salvation cometh quickly'

Dear Friends, Praised be Jesus and Mary!

Being few in number has its perks... especially around our birthday's. Being smaller we're able to 'personalize' our birthday's more than we can in a larger community. As you can see from the photos, it has been birthday central around Our Lady of Solitude lately! To the right, we have Sr Marie St Paul (Pirate Paul) whose birthday was Nov 19th. And flanking the left we have Princess Augustine(long story) whose birthday was Nov 25th. Pirate Paul is pictured with her birthday ship(named 'The Pearl of Great Price'), a delicious ship-cake made special by our cake diva Sr Mary Fidelis. We laugh because all our birthdays are together...Sept., Nov., Sr Fidelis' is Dec. 23rd and Sr M Andre's Jan. 16th. Thank you Jesus for the gift of life and for the beautiful reflection of You we see in each other!!!

Speaking of Birthdays...Come little Lord Jesus, come and make no delay!!! Holy Church puts those words on her children's lips and in their hearts this Sunday as we begin the Advent journey; going forward with contrite and loving hearts to greet the All-Powerful Babe in Bethlehem. Let us go together, accompanying one another with our prayer and devotion, that at the end of this 4- week preparation we can be more and more like Our Holy Mother and the virgin-father St Joseph, they welcomed Jesus and His Kingdom with their whole lives and being. We must welcome Christ not only in our sentiments on Christmas night when it is so easy to be caught up in the beauty of the moment, but ALWAYS; in the nitty-gritty of our daily lives. Christ came to share, sanctify and redeem EVERY aspect of our lives, even the messy parts. So let us go to meet Him, carrying with us all our love, our hopes, disappointments, our pain-but most especially our GRATITUDE, that we can gaze upon the lovely face of God, and that we can KNOW His faithfulness in Jesus, the tiny Redeemer of the World.

The Christmas edition of the Stella Clarae Newsletter has just been sent to the printers...I'm not going to spoil the surprise and tell you what it is about. All I can say is that we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together...we'll just say it was a family affair! Be looking for it in the next couple weeks.

Although Thanksgiving has passed, we thought we could share with you this 'Kitchen Clip' of Sr Marie Andre with our prize turkey. She is all afright because for the first time in her monastery kitchen career(and she's had a long one) she was going to grill the bird to free up the oven. But due to complications (not the grill, it was us) it went from being swathed in honey, then to the grill, back in the house, then to the oven for it's final roasting. Though its beginnings were shaky, it ended up being absolutely delicious! We hope everyone's Thanksgiving was equally as peaceful and delicious!!!

The title of this blog is taken from a old chant for Advent called 'Rorate Caeli Desuper'. It is based on the book of Isaiah and is an exceptionally poignant hymn. It asks God to 'rain down the Just One, the Lamb, the Ruler of the Earth'. This season for some is a lonely and isolating time, for those who have lost loved ones or who experiencing great trials- pain is felt more keenly during this time of year. I so much want to remind everyone that you are a part of a heavenly family, that you are eternally loved and awaited by Jesus...never lose hope and do not fear-the Lord is coming. For all who are unaware, Pope Benedict just released on Nov. 30th a new encyclical called 'Spe Salvi', which means 'in hope we were saved'. I encourage everyone to read it, it is written to you from a Father who loves you and wants to share with you the grace and wisdom of God. You can download the letter from http://www.ewtn.com/

Time to wrap it up! Our love to you and your families! We remain united in anticipation of the Birth of the Lord

Sr Mary Blogger

Thursday, November 8, 2007

To Niggle or Not To Niggle, That is the Question!

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Hello all! We have lots of news to share with you. Just in case you haven't checked out the website as of late, make sure you do. We had our Groundbreaking ceremony on October 30th...and what a blessed day it was! Bishop Olmsted, our faithful shepherd led us in asking Our Lord to bless the beginning of this holy endeavor. That He in His Power might see it to completion, and that all who work in its construction might be guided by His wisdom and protected from all moral and physical harm. Then with the Bishop and our architect, Terry Worcester to lead us, we walked the outline of the monastery and chapel while our friar, Br Bernadine chanted the Litany of the Saints. How happy we were to share with so many of our faithful friends this new beginning, and how encouraged we felt by Bishop Olmsted's exhortation as he spoke so beautifully about the contemplative life and it's necessity to the Diocese here in Phoenix, and the world over.

(as you see above, the new cloister tabernacle and public side tabernacle have arrived from Spain! We are re-packaging them back up in their crates, until the new Monastery is completed)

Okay everyone, here is your word for the week...niggle. It means to [1]criticize, constantly or repeatedly in a peevish or petty way. [2] [my personal favorite] to spend too much time and effort on inconsequential details. The reason I am sharing with you this word is we have formed a book club amongst the five of us...'The Nigglings'. We dubbed our selves so, first for our tendancy to niggle(something we all excel at!!) and secondly in happy memory of 'The Inklings'. (informal literary club started in Oxford of which Tolkien and Lewis were members) We have many things in common among us, one thing being our universal love of books and literature. So, Srs. St Paul and Augustine were inspired to start our niggle club. The first work we have chosen to read together and discuss is Dante's Divine Comedy. We are working our way through the Inferno, we'll keep you posted on how things progress on our journey to Paradiso!! This is a wonderful way to grow in knowledge and 'get through' somewhat lengthy works that are hard to persevere with on one's own. What a great way to share amongst friends and loved ones, and keep alive these PHENOMENAL works. Our other future reads include Thomas More's 'Utopia', Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' and Walker Percy's original and imaginative 'Lost in the Cosmos'. We're open to suggestions from any of you bookworms out there.

Lastly, we appreciate everyone's concern with our former novice, Sr Jeanette Marie. After a period of prayer and reflection Mary has returned home to her family for further discernment.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Your faithfulness is inspiring and a real shot in the arm!!! Please know we remember you and your intentions before Our Eucharistic Lord.!!

Always united in the Heart of Jesus and Mary- Sr Mary Blogger

Monday, October 8, 2007

Let the Little Children Come to Me

Dear Friends, Praised be Jesus Christ!
Long time no talk! Sr Mary Blogger is back in the saddle, although kudos go to Sr Blogger Marie for her excellent pinch-blogging! We are in the glorious month of October, and Fall is upon us.(Yes, we have Fall even in the desert!) With the temps an almost 40*cooler, we are all finding our selves coming out of our summer hibernation...thank you Jesus!

There is an ancient proverb that goes something like this...'A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer'. How true it is that we, in all our worldly wisdom can be utterly stupefied by the brilliant simplicity of a young child. As you've probably seen on our website, we had our good friends, the Domincan Sisters of Mary visit for the Transitus of St Francis this past Oct 3rd. And one of the sisters had her third grade class submit some questions to us. I thought I would take this time to answer a couple of their questions, and some others that you have asked.

~What do you do all day besides praying?
Great question, one that even big people wonder! In the Monastic life we follow a daily schedule called the HORORIUM, a fancy word for schedule. The wake-up bell rings at 5:30am, and we start our day in chapel at 6:10am, with communal prayers, the Angelus, the Fatima prayer of Reparation and a prayer to Our Guardian Angel. Next we pray the Divine Office, which is called the Prayer of the Church. Priests and religious are obligated to pray it, and it is recommended to the laity as well. It is a 4-volume set of books that goes through the whole liturgical year...Advent, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time...it is composed of Psalms and readings from scripture and from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. This prayer forms part of the Liturgical Prayer of the Church, and is closely united to the Holy Mass. As a religious, it is one of the highest honors to pray the Divine Office and unite my voice with that of the whole Church in praise to the Trinity. We have daily Mass at 7am, with rosary following after a brief 15 minute silent thanksgiving. After breakfast, we all go to our daily chores/work in the monastery. For some it is cooking, cleaning the church, greeting visitors, opening and answering mail. The rest of the day is centered around our communal prayer in chapel, and our own Adoration Hour which is assigned to us daily. So even if we are not in chapel, our hearts are directed to God in all that we do, whether we are eating, or playing sports during recreation time, or we have to do something we don't feel like doing(like taking the garbage out, or changing the kitty litter)...we try to give Him thanks in all things. And so, I guess you can say we try to pray always.

~Is there a special catalog for sisters where you get you habits and veils?
I'm sure our Sister seamstress, Sr M St Paul would be happy if there was such a catalog. Instead she makes all our habits, head wear, and veils with the love of her heart and by her own hands. Each soul is precious and unrepeatable, and no sister comes in any one shape or size, so each habit and veil is custom made!
~Do you help people?
Our contemplative Eucharistic life is our 'particular' way of carrying out the Church's vocation of praise, thanksgiving and love. In Eucharisitc Adoration, in praying for all those who ask for our prayers and for those who are in most need of prayer we find a most effective means of growing in holiness, and of contributing to the salvation of the world. Our vocation gives witness to the primacy of God, His nearness, and His Love. It reminds people that as great as this world is, this is not our lasting city. Our real home is in Heaven, where God will be all in all.

~Why do some sisters have St. in their name? (ie. Sr M St Paul)
In our monastery in Hanceville, we have a St John, St Clare, St Anne, and here in Arizona we have a St Paul. This is not a tradition to our order in particular, nor is it to show that one saint is more prominent than another, it is just the name chosen for them. It can be compared to the names that are given using the French (ie. Andre for Andrew) or Spanish(Juanita for John)spelling. It's the Providence of Our Lord, and the choice of the Superior.

Well, we have a couple more questions, but they'll have to wait. Please check out the Medival Dreams to Monastic Reality page, and click on Architectural Plans- Sr Fidelis just put up new renderings of the inside of the chapel.
As most of you all know October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Let us renew our devotion to Our Lady by praying the rosary with childlike simplicity, for peace in our world and for a renewed respect for human life from conception to natural death. Yesterday was Respect Life Sunday, and I happened to come across a beautiful quote about the sacredness and dignity of each human life, 'When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is and respect for what he is to become."
Every blessing to you! All my love and prayers-Sr Mary Blogger

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cats and Mice, Franciscan Friends? :-)

Hi Everyone! This is Sr. Blogger Marie :-) I am "pinch-blogging" this week. Things have been really busy here at OLS. But we didn't forget about you all. We have just been temporarily detained from our computers lately. Unfortunately our cats haven't been chasing the right mice. As you can see from the picture here our cat Fatty is more enthralled with Sr. Fidelis' computer mouse than the ones we found leaving their "trail" in our house. Yes, we have had to do a bunch of house cleaning this week. We aren't sure exactly what is suddenly bringing the little rodents inside. Perhaps it's the crisp Fall weather we have begun experiencing. (Phew, what a relief the cooler weather has been. I am talking Arizona cool - mid 80's) Or, as most people have told us, the mice are just part of desert living.

Regardless of why they are coming in, we are so grateful to our dutiful friar brothers, Fr. Dominic and Br. Pio, who worked diligently to seal off any openings or pathways the critters could be using to get access to our little abode. Fr. Dominic and Br. Pio came out for a week from Alabama to visit us and they were happy to help out wherever needed. We appreciated their help, but even more we enjoyed their fellowship. They brought an extra dose of Franciscan joy to us. Thank you Fr. Dominic and Br. Pio for everything! Can't wait till your next trip West.

Speaking of Franciscan joy, on the 25th we began the novena to Our Holy Father Francis in preparation for his feastday on the 4th. Actually we will begin, in Franciscan fashion, by celebrating on the eve of the 3rd with the Transitus, which is the commemoration of the death of St. Francis. We are remembering in a special way the intentions of those who submitted prayers to us for the novena.

I just remembered something. This is totally off the subject and really a random "factoid" but our garden is still producing. A couple ears of corn were finally ready for picking the other day. They were (literally) about 4 inches long, but we boiled them up and they were tender and yummy. These little fruits of the earth continue to show us God's providence toward His children. I think St. Francis would be pleased.

It was so fun being with you! But I have to get going. Being about the "Father's business" is always eventful and exciting. :-) Sr. Mary Blogger will be back again next week. I am sure she will have lots to share.

As always, you remain in our prayers before Jesus. Thanks for all your love and support. May Our Holy Father St. Francis intercede for you and your intentions. -Sr. Blogger Marie

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Friends and Family and following Our Lord

Praised be Jesus Christ! Boy, how time has flown since we were last in touch! Sr M Blogger says a major mea culpa for her tardiness!
I have to say there are so many fabulous things about religious life. We hear so many negative things and see so many 'less then desirable'(and often exaggerated)images portrayed by the secular media about the religious life. And I think one of the most misconstrued ideas is that when you join religious life, or enter the seminary you leave your heart out of it, that you're only part of a person. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can attest to that first hand. For of all the blessings of being a Spouse of the Lord, the best, aside from 'living in His House and dwelling in His courts', is the GREAT love I have received and tried in my own poor way to return to all the wonderful people Our Lord has placed in my path. How enriched my own poor heart has been from the many variety of people I have encountered, most especially my other sisters and Friars, to all their families, to the many priest's and seminarians that I can honestly call FAMILY. Truly, he has broadened these little boundries of my own heart and filled it beyond capacity.May He be praised! Above you can meet two members of our 'extended family' on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon(I've been there several times and it always leaves me speechless!!!). Sr Esther Marie, Dcn. Mark, of the diocese of Washington DC, Sr Augustine, Fr Robert Reddy, a diocesan priest and great and faithful friend from Toronto, Canada and filling out the line is our own Sr Jeanette. Dcn. and Father's visit overlapped and neither of them had seen the Canyon...so it was time for a road trip. Please keep Dcn. mark in your prayers as he will be ordained to the holy priesthood this June 2008.
Yes, here they are! Busy and using all their talents for the glory of God. Come and have a sneak peak into one of the architect meetings at Our Lady of Solitude. Sr St Paul is pictured with Carlos and Fatima, both from SSPW Architects. Today we all walked through the chapel(via the computer of course. It's so beautiful!) Things are moving swiftly, and we are looking to have our groundbreaking in October, with construction starting in Jan or Feb '08. Sr Fidelis is busy working on the update for the 'Dreams to Reality' page on the website, so please keep posted. There's just SO much to show you all. We thank our friends at SSPW and the Longo's for their hard work and love. And we thank you too, our family, for your faithful support and prayers. Be assured of our prayers for you and your loved ones before Our Eucharistic Lord.
Until next time, may Jesus be all your joy. In the Heart of Mary, Sr M Blogger

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Special feasts, superiors and a sneak peak!

Praised be Jesus Christ! Grace and peace to ALL!

'Lady thou art so great and powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee; would have his desire fly without wings.' Those beautiful words come from the pen of Dante, and are a beautiful lead-in to the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is August 15th, but officially starts with First vespers, Tuesday evening August 14th(it is such a FANTASTIC feast it can't all be contained in one day!!!). This feast has been celebrated in the Eastern church since the 6th century, and in the Roman church since the 7th century. In the year 1950, Pope Pius XII (of happy memory) declared the Assumption a Dogma and defined it as the belief whereby the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the end of her earthly pilgrimage was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven. The Lord, Who preserved Mary from all sin and created her Immaculate at her conception would not let her body know the slightest bit of corruption. This feast instills in all of us, her children by faith, the great hope we have in her powerful and loving intercession as we seek our sanctification and that of others in the midst of our daily duties. It fills us with courage to keep on the path of virtue and holiness as we face life's daily trials; for we have an everlasting home in Heaven.

Shhhh. This is a 'sneak-peak' of the upcoming, updated Dreams to Reality
page,which should be up and running sometime this month. The crucifix you see is one of the items that has been commissioned and hand-carved for our new monastery by our Italian wood-carver friend, Alexander. Our precious Lord will be hung in the main sanctuary on the public side. The corpus is life-sized, and VERY beautiful. The first time we gazed upon Him, it was through tear-filled eyes, for He is SO lovely. We know that it will be a source of grace and meditation for all who gaze upon Him.

We received a great question this past week, it was concerning why none of the sisters here at Our Lady of Solitude are addressed as Mother.
The reason being as we are still in what is officially called a period of foundation. Being still under the auspices of Our Lady of the Angels in Hanceville, Al., Rev Mother M Angelica is still considered our Abbess. Before we left on this foundation Mother Angelica appointed Sr Marie Andre to be the acting superior (house superior). So she fulfills, with tremendous love and wisdom I must add, all the practical duties an acting superior would perform...from keeping us in line to accepting new vocations, as well as the practical and daily needs that arise.Once we have established our new monastery, and are papally enclosed Sr Marie Andre(see her photo above with our new novice Sr Jeanette Marie)will be installed by the Bishop as Abbess and will assume the title of Mother, or Rev. Mother.

Thanks for tuning in again. Sr M Blogger apologizes for being so tardy this week. All the sisters send their love and prayers to those who have left such loving and heartfelt comments; and to those who are tuning in for the first time a hearty Franciscan WELCOME! Pax et Bonum!
In Jesus, mary and Joseph- Sr Mary Blogger

Sunday, August 5, 2007

To the God of Heaven give thanks!

In the name of the Lord who loves us, peace.

That beautiful greeting is taken from a Letter attributed to St Barnabas from this morning's Office of Readings. Indeed He loves us, and that love is the source of our peace. Not peace without struggle and warfare, but PEACE always and in all circumstances because of His Love. We pray this has been a blessed week for all of you and we are so grateful for the hundreds of people who have visited the blog, and given us their support and comments. We have received a lot of great questions and we will try to address one or two of them at the end of each blog. So make sure you persevere to the end!!!

The Solemnity of Our Holy Mother St Clare is almost upon us (August 11th), and we are now in the midst of her Novena. I hope you are all joining us for these 9-days of prayer asking for her intercession in the Church, our world and in our daily lives. (see our website http://www.desertnuns.com/ )

On to NUN NEWS : We have officially entered into the Monsoon season here in Arizona having a storm almost every night this week. Yes, it really does rain in the desert. For those who have never experienced one, you're missing out. It's similar to watching a thunderstorm over the ocean, except we watch them come over the mountains. The sky becomes very dark, and everything is still.Then come the winds, and boy do they blow. Sometimes you have all the fanfare, but no rain. However, that has not been the case this week. Our leaky roof can attest. (no worries, it's the leak that won't be fixed; we have successfully confounded many roofers.)

This past Monday, we had our first slithery visitor of the year. Besides being the largest snake we have ever seen on our property, it is also the first of the summer (although Sr. Fidelis thinks she may have heard another one when she was in the garden picking cantaloupes). We performed our usual routine, which we have down to an art. Someone is posted to stand guard and watch the reptile, while another sister calls our heroes at the Black Canyon Fire Dept. to come and relocate the critter. Everyone else not engaged in any of the duties listed above stands around saying 'Ick" or 'EWWWWW" until the snake is taken away, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. However, this week our sigh of relief did not last to long as Fatty, one of our big cats (he's actually the skinniest) was bit by a rattlesnake sometime Monday night, or Tuesday day. He is in the clear, but is being quarantined with our two kittens (which might end up throwing him over the edge) and can't go outside until he is finished with his medicine. We're very grateful and happy he is on the mend. You can see his photo above.

Finally, on to some of your questions. *Someone asked if when a girl joins our community here in Arizona, will she spend some of her formation time in Hanceville, AL? The answer is no. The girls that join here, will stay here. Each community of the PCPA'S are what is called autonomous. Which means simply that although all our houses follow the same Rule, each house is independent of the others and has it's own major superior and internal governance. We do not go from house to house. A nun will usually remain in the house she joins unless, like in our circumstance, a new foundation is started.

*We were asked what exactly happens when people email their prayer requests. We have a sister who handles all the prayer emails, and she reads them as she prints them out. After entrusting them to the sisters prayers, they are placed in a special drawer in the altar and are remembered at the sisters' adoration hours and communal prayer times. They remain in the altar for at least six months. Because the heart of a contemplative is open to all the needs of the world, each intention is dear to us.

All the sisters are well. We're still going full steam ahead on the building project. So much of building is waiting, which none of us really excel at, but with God's grace we're growing in patience. Everything has it's time, and patience obtaineth ALL things.

I think it's time to wrap it up for this week. As you keep up with us through these weekly blogs, please be assured of our accompanying each one of you through your week by our prayers and union in and with Christ's Mystical Body.

In the Heart of Jesus and Mary,

Sr Mary Blogger

Hope you like our new "blogspot" - thanks for the great feedback

Hello everyone. It's the 'webmistress' here. As you can see we have been busy getting this up and running. We hope to have an updated post up soon. With this new blogspot, you can send comments that can be posted, view archived blogs, email posts to your friends, and sign yourself up to be notified when the blog changes (see the "Subscribe to Posts" link at the bottom of the blog).

Our first week of blogging was a great success with over 1000 visitors to the blog. These visitors provided some great comments that led us to set up this current blogspot. So many thanks for your great suggestions! "Sister Mary Blogger" hopes to get an update posted either today or tomorrow. So check back soon.

In JMJ, The PCPA WebMistress

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Our First Blog

July 28, 2007
Welcome Ladies and Gents, to the first of many blogs concerning the happenings of the Poor Clares here in fair Arizona.

Being the spiritual daughters of our Rev Mother Angelica, we want to use all that our modern media makes available for the glory of God, and the furthering of His Eucharistic Kingdom.Through these weekly blogs, sometimes bi-weekly, we'll be able to communicate to you in a more informal and personal way all the news on the building project and special feast days or events in our lives that we want to share with all our friends and supporters. So let's get down to business.

As you all know, we have been working on the plans for the new monastery. It has gone through many changes in thought and on paper, and what has evolved is a beautiful, medieval monastery. The drafters are working on the blue-prints as we speak and we look forward to showing them to you. But before that, Sr Fidelis hopes to have the 'Dreams to Reality' page all updated by mid-August with beautiful new pictures of some the new renderings of the chapel and (this is what we are most excited to share with you all) the BEAUTIFUL hand-carved altar and life-sized sanctuary crucifix that has been recently finished by Alexander our good friend, who also happens to be a phenomenal Italian wood carver.

OK, I don't want to make this to long, (too late, right?) but I can't sign off with out reminding you of the big Franciscan feast day that is coming up. August 2nd is the feast of Our Lady of the Angels or Portiuncula ('little portion') as some call it. This chapel was the dearest place to our Holy Father Francis, it was the birth place of all three orders, and it is also the place that Francis breathed forth his soul to God. It still continues to be a place of pilgrimage today, being literally inside the larger church of Our Lady of the Angels which was built on top of it.

This feast has a gift for everyone, whether you're Franciscan or not. It is called the Portiuncula Indulgence, and St. Francis, in the year 1216 obtained this privilege directly from the Pope himself. On August 2nd, all who piously visit any Catholic church (in the past it had to be a Franciscan church, but was made more accessible in recent times. It can be your parish church, or one that is close to you) and fulfill the requirements listed below can receive a plenary indulgence. A blessed and happy feast day to all.

Make a pious visit to a Catholic Church on August 2nd
Sacramental Confession (during the eight days before or after);
Participation in the Holy Mass and Holy Communion;
A prayer for the Pope's intention, (usually an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be are said) in order to reaffirm one's membership in the Church, of which the Roman Pontiff is the foundation and sign of visible unity.

Last but not least...the feast of Our Lady of the Angels on August 2nd also begins the 9-day novena to Our Holy Mother St Clare whose Feast day is August 11th. Please see the home page for details on the novena and how to email us your prayer intentions to be remembered during the novena. The prayer is listed, so feel free to print it out and join us in thanking God for this great saint.

Thank you all for your prayers in the past, please know how grateful we are for your enthusiastic support and love. We return that love through the Heart of Our Eucharistic Lord. May He bless your through Our Lady's hands.

Talk to you soon...Sr. Mary Blogger