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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sharing the Joy

Fr. Muir, Ruth, and Joe posing for a pic in the Chapel with Sr. Augustine and Sr. Fidelis
Whenever I see a rainbow, I must share it with someone!  It's just too beautiful to keep for myself.  The Sisters are accustomed to my proclamations: "Come outside, there's a rainbow."  "Come outside and see the sunset."  "Come outside and see the moon."  "You've gotta see how the fig tree is growing."  Come and see...it's a constant refrain for me!  Given it has a scriptural link, I can get away with dragging my sisters outside to see all the miracles of the desert sky and landscape.

This COME AND SEE attitude flows over to our desert oasis in Tonopah.  Taking friends out to see the chapel progress brings us great joy.  "Come and see what the Lord is accomplishing!"  Witnessing their eyes light up, hearing the exclamations of joy and wonder, feeling the excitement grow - it's all such a testament to the Providence of God at work in this deserted place.

Sr. John-Mark's reaction EACH TIME she goes to visit Tonopah is the best on record: immediately her eyes fill up with tears and she says: "I just can't believe this."   I think it's what each of us experiences - it just comes flowing - so freely - from the heart of our white-veiled Sister.  And it's good to see.

Sr. Jean Steffes seeing the Chapel progress for the first time! 
Witnessing the plans progress from one grace-laden YES, to a piece of graph paper and a lot of dreams (and opinions...with 6 strong-willed women, what do you expect?!?), to the architects blueprints, to the shell of a building, to a beautiful structure, to a HOUSE OF GOD...well, it's been quite a journey.

We look forward to when we can say to all of you: COME AND SEE.  That time is coming nearer - but is not here yet.  Many have been asking about when the Church will be open to the public and when the date for consecration will be set.  All of that is still up in the air - so we ask for your continued prayers.  There are still some interior appointments that will take some time to get finished.  Daily Mass will not be available until after the Church is consecrated.  Please keep an eye on the blog and website for further details - as they become available.  Thanks for your support, prayers, and encouraging comments.  Check out the dreams to reality blog for more pics!

With all the trips back and forth from the land, with the packing, and other assorted activities that go along with moving 6 nuns, 3 cats, and 2 dogs, we've had to get some extra help with day to day work.  Here is our newest employee, Sir Thomas Percy as he learns data entry from our Novice, Sr. John-Mark Maria!  :) 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Beautiful Holy Mother Clare Feast Day!

Our celebration of the solemnity of Our Holy Mother Clare was splendid.  To everyone who sent email greetings, cards, telephone calls, and visits : THANK YOU!  We praise God for the gift of our friends and extended spiritual family.  We prayed in a special way for all of our Franciscan family, especially all of our fellow Poor Clares.  

Our Canadian Connection of Priests have been rotating their summer holiday so as to care for our Sacramental needs for nearly the entire month of August for us.  Fr. Mike, Fr. Marco, Fr. Bob, and Fr. Steven are priests from Toronto whom we have prayed for since early on in their priesthood.  We are blessed by the friendship and kindness to us.  Fathers, we are so grateful for your sacrifice!  Our greetings go out to Fr. Jim Bussanich - part of the Canadian connection who was unable to get away from his parish for his annual visit!  We miss you, Father!

And, today, we continue the Saint celebrations with St. Jane Frances de Chantal (one of my personal favorite saints! Pic to the left) . Like St. Clare, she had a "Francis"  as well to guide her and journey with her along the path of sanctity.  She was the spiritual daughter of St. Francis de Sales. Here is a good sampling of St. Jane de Chantal's spiritual wisdom: 
 “Live joyously and courageously, my dear daughter, never doubting that Jesus Christ is entirely yours.”
Getting back to St. Clare: Fr. Marco's homily yesterday was wonderful.  (And our thanks to the Seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix who served the Mass). Below you will find a transcript of the homily. P.S.  When we asked Father for his notes to put online for all of you to enjoy, he gave us his hand-written homily - and what beautiful handwriting!  So I had to type out the homily.  As you may have noted from past blogs, I am not the most meticulous typer (I can just see my sophomore typing teacher cringe!) So bear with any typos :)  And enjoy this little spiritual gem!
 Homily by Fr. Marco Testa on August 11, 2010

Thus says the Lord: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. (Hosea 2:16)

These words of the Prophet Hosea speak in a very specific manner to you, Sisters, as you prepare to move to your new Monastery.  They are also words that Our Lord spoke to each one of you individually as He called you to walk in the footsteps of your Holy Mother St. Clare.  'Here, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father's house.  So shall the king desire your beauty.'

But Our Lord is also speaking to us today, to the Church as a whole; and in St. Clare, this quintessentially Franciscan saint we are all led to the very heart of the Gospel that the Church proclaims and by God's grace endeavors to live.  In the Litany that we prayed at Vespers yesterday, we asked for the grace to follow St. Clare in poverty, humility, and obedience.  These virtues, abundantly evident in the life of St. Clare and of her faithful daughters, are so thoroughly evangelical that they render both the holiness and the teaching of St. Clare relevant to the Universal Church.

All of us are familiar with the mandate given by Our Lord to St. Francis to go and to rebuild His Church.  St. Clare and her daughters, then and now, share in this work.  Each in their own way, St. Francis and St. Clare fulfilled this mandate principally, I believe, by giving form to the first beatitude: the poverty of spirit expressed in poverty - both material and spiritual - in humility and in obedience.  Poverty of spirit - this doctrine is the basic truth of the Gospel and the heart of this truth so clearly understood and taught by St. Clare is that nearness to God grows not out of fullness in righteousness but out of the receptive emptiness of our poverty.  Visually, I think this means that we all come before Our Lord with empty hands.  This is why the call to the desert is made to the Church and to each one of the disciples of Jesus.

By virtue of our Baptism all of us have been consecrated servants of the Gospel.  All of us are called to live this poverty of spirit.  And as we walk this path guided as we are by Our Lord Himself and the Saints we come to realize that the holiness for which we strive is the wholehearted openness to the love of God.  There is a correlation between poverty of spirit and holiness.  The greater our knowledge of our innate poverty, the greater our openness to the love of God so generously bestowed on us in Christ, Our Lord and our Brother.

Today we are rejoice in the memory of a woman whom you Sisters are privileged to call your Holy Mother.  In her daughters, In her daughters, beloved of God and loved also by us, St. Clare continues to teach us that we must embrace our poverty; effectively we must abandon ourselves to Divine Providence which is both concrete and immediate; and God will indeed take care of everything.

As we now prepare to encounter Our Lord in His Eucharistic poverty, may St. Clare obtain for us the grace to live Eucharistic lives.  It is with empty hands that we come before Him.  May she obtain for us the grace to recognize our own poverty in the Eucharist that we may truly be His disciples.  For poverty of spirit is no less simplicity of heart and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI long ago observed that the faith of those who are simple of heart is the most precious treasure of the Church.  To serve and to live this forth is the noblest vocation in the renewal of the Church.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clare - Bright Light...Shine On!

Our Holy Mother Clare, Pray for us!
Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Clare of Assisi (a Solemnity for Poor Clares).  This year the festivities will be heightened as we are celebrating her newly installed stained glass window in the Chapel of Our Lady of Solitude.  Above you can see a photo of a portion of the window.  So full of light.  So golden.  So CLARE!!  

Yes, the first 6 stained glass windows were installed on August 7th.  And, let me tell you, THEY ARE AWESOME.  Each one competes with the next to be our favorites!  Sr. Esther Marie, after much debate, finally chose St. Clare as her favorite.  It was a good choice!

I think Our Lady of Guadalupe is my favorite (to the right is the middle section prior to installation).  But then again, St. Francis is so beautiful.  Then there is St. Faustina - so noble.  And St. Anthony - so devotional and loving.  Oh yes, and we can't forget the awesome round window in the cloistered Mass Chapel of our Poor Clare genealogy - tracing our roots from St. Clare to Mother Marie de Ste Claire, to Mother Mary of the Cross, to Mother Agnes, to our own beloved Mother Angelica.  Below is a photo of Sr. Esther Marie giving thanks to God for the gift of this stunning window!

Please be sure to check out the video log of the windows installation http://medievaldreams2reality.blogspot.com/2010/08/stained-glass-installation.html

I can't finish this blog without reflecting for a moment more about St. Clare.   
“Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."

So many of St. Clare's quotes lead the soul to the contemplation of God, to prayer of the heart, to peace and to trust!  It was said of St. Clare that: "Her life was like an arrow which took flight from the bow of her single-minded, burning desire and sped upward into the very being of the Godhead."  Once she fell in love with the Lord, there was no stopping her.  She journeyed - with a daring heart - ever closer to the FIRE of HIS LOVE - her eyes fixed on her Goal...yet, as a true follower of St. Francis, she gratefully received the gift of the present moment. She found her Lord along the road.  She rejoiced in Him.  She led others to Him.  She reflected His Light.   

The Poor Clares in the Netherlands wrote the following about our Foundress and Mother: "Sheer transparency: that was Clare. The light of the Divine gleaming through this woman who had emptied herself through the total gift of her life blinded all who drew near her. Pauper or Pope, it didn't matter. Hidden within the walls of her monastery, the joy that consumed her penetrated every corner of the Church. The joy of living continually in Christ's presence. For which reason she is most often portrayed holding the Blessed Sacrament." 
May Our Holy Mother Clare obtain for you all the graces you most desire and need.