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

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Beginnings

YES...It's finally happened!  We've moved...or are in the very concrete process of moving.  Suffice it to say that as of November 1st, we officially will be Tonopah residents.  (Insert cheering, screams of excitement, joyful hoorays)

Please make note of our new address:

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Our Lady of Solitude Monastery
P.O. Box 639
Tonopah, AZ 85354

(note: our website and email info remains the same)

More to come soon!  Once we get settled, we will be sure to post lots of photos, news-bits and the like!  Thanks for your prayers as we make this transition!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

St. Therese and the Priesthood Reflections, Part IV

Final Reflection on St. Therese and the Priesthood.

Love Is Poor
In the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord exclaimed: “Blessed are the Poor In Spirit…theirs is the Kingdom of God.” As St. Therese made spiritual childhood her own, so she made her own poverty of spirit. She aspires to be nothing more than "a poor little child" who looks to her Father for everything and who obtains everything from Him because of this same poverty. She cultivates this poverty and wants to keep nothing for herself, not even her merits and her good works.

"There is only one way to force the good God not to judge at all, and that is to present one's self to Him with empty hands.” I am a firm believer that there are times in all of our lives when Our Lord gives us a taste of the clay of which we are made.  We experience our littleness and our poverty.  Truly, Without Him We Are Nothing.  Easy to say – but the actual experience of this can be painful. 

I have learned from Priests this very Theresian truth: LOVE IS POOR.  Currently we don’t have a permanent chaplain.  So the diocesan priests of Phoenix make many sacrifices to care for our Sacramental needs – traveling great distances to offer Mass for the Sisters.  Recently one of our newly ordained priests gave a homily that drove home this point: LOVE IS POOR.  He was preaching on Elijah and to the widow in Zarephath.  We all know the story.  Elijah asks for something to eat.  She says that she does not have enough flour.  Elijah responds: Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'  In Father’s homily he spoke about how when we feel ‘empty’, like we don’t have enough…we need to give the VERY LITTLE that we do have to God.  We can’t keep anything back for us.  In this condition of poverty, emptiness, vulnerability, need: we see the power of God at work. 

This newly ordained priest touched on a lesson that is so needed in our day: LOVE IS POOR. In this state of poverty there is no mistaking the work of God.  Weakness is not an impediment to intimacy with God; it is a stepping-stone.  Littleness is the very condition necessary for God to show His greatness.  Priests experience this so often – as the Lord uses the little they have (so to speak) in mighty ways.

In the life of St Therese we learn of the following story which drives this point home:
“Sister Marie of the Eucharist wanted to light candles for a procession.  She had no matches; however, seeing a little lamp that was burning in front of the relics.  Alas, it was half out; there remained only a feeble glimmer on its blackened wick.  She succeeded in lighting her candle from it, and with this candle, she lit those of the whole community.  It was therefore the half-extinguished little lamp which produced all those beautiful flames…nevertheless, it would always be the little lamp which would be first cause of all this light.  How could the beautiful flames boast of having produced this fire, when they themselves were lighted with such a small spark?”  Love is Poor…

Love Remains
In this final portion of this reflection: I want to focus in on the 5th Luminous Mystery of the Rosary – The Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood.  JESUS CHRIST TAUGHT US THAT LOVE REMAINS…

So who is a priest?  Pope Benedict XVI said: “I reaffirm with conviction and deep spiritual joy that the priest is above all a man of the Eucharist.”  Both the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood teach us that the Love of Jesus Christ is Present, Truly Present right here, right now.  Both teach us that LOVE REMAINS.

Saint Therese has a very Eucharstic soul.  She is a Eucharistic Saint.  We see in her a desire to remain close to us, just as Jesus desires to remain close to us.  LOVE REMAINS.  Her love for God is so great that it overflows in torrents upon souls.  She promised not only to look down upon us from Heaven, but to COME DOWN.  In a way, she promised to REMAIN with us….and over 100 years later, we see that she kept her promise.  She is truly a Eucharistic Soul.

My life is centered around adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  My desire is to remain with Him always.  He is my dearest friend, my faithful spouse, my mighty redeemer.  Therese too wished to remain with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  When she was 14 years old, she sent her gold bracelet to the chaplains of Montmartre so it could be melted into part of a great monstrance - a gesture that clearly expressed Therese’s desire to keep watch day and night close to Jesus in the Eucharist.  As an aside, the monstrance was built and placed in Le Sacre Coeur in Paris where Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is adored perpetually - day and night - to this day.  LOVE DOES SUCH THINGS…because LOVE REMAINS close to the BELOVED. 

In a letter to her sister Celine, Therese said: “Celine, I feel that Jesus is asking us to slake His thirst by giving Him souls, souls of priests above all…We are so small a matter yet Jesus wills that the salvation of souls should depend on our sacrifices, our love.  He is a beggar begging us for souls.”   This thought was woven throughout her entire life, right up until the moment of her death.  She kept nothing for herself.  She understood that her vocation was to pray for priests.  She went so far as to offer up her last Communion for an ex-priest, Fr. Hyacinthe Loyson, a Carmelite. She never kept anything for herself.  ‘Everything I have, everything I merit, is for the good of the Church and for souls.’

Let us ask St. Therese to intercede for us, to teach us how to become intercessors for Priests.  Let us ask her to teach us to pray.  She did not take Jesus by the hand.  She took Him by the heart.  Perhaps this is the lesson she wants to teach us today.


Monday, October 18, 2010

St. Therese and the Priesthood Reflections, Part III

St. Therese and the Priesthood Reflections, Part III

The Nuns with Br. Francis, our spiritual brother, and Barbara Campbell, mother of Sr. Andre and Sr. St. Paul
Love Unites
Love unites souls.  Revisiting St. Therese’s definition of Love: “Love is uniting my will to God’s Will.” we realize why we are so united to those who share our faith journey.  There is also a unique spiritual union present between those for whom we intercede.  As women, who are "pre-programmed" for motherhood, I believe this bond is similar to the bond a natural mother experiences for her children.  When we pray for someone – whoever they may be – we take them into our maternal heart.  Love unites souls.

When speaking of the genius of spiritual motherhood and intercession, I want to hearken back to the simplicity of St. Therese. Sometimes we can make things very complicated: prayer included.  Toward the end of her short life, her superior entrusted Therese with 2 spiritual brothers to pray for.  She wondered how she could properly care for their spiritual needs in prayer.  Indeed, when we are called to be a spiritual mother, we experience the joys, responsibilities, and burdens of motherhood.  Therese says that she wanted to ask for both of these souls and the souls of all her spiritual children what they needed.  But then, if she went into detail about it, the days would not be long enough…and she adds so candidly: “and I fear I would forget something important.” So in true Theresian fashion, she says: This is too complicated!  She turns to Jesus and He shows her a better way. 

What is the better way, the simpler way, the more effective way?  As with all things, she turned her eyes from self toward JESUS.  And she sought the answer in Him:

Sr. John-Mark Maria with Fr. Paul Sullivan and Phoenix Seminarians
She says: “He made me understand these words of the Song of Songs: “Draw me, WE shall run after you in the odor of your ointments.” O Jesus it is not even necessary to say: “When drawing me, draw the souls whom I love!” This simple statement, ‘Draw me” suffices; I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of Your ointments, she cannot run alone, all the souls whom she loves follows in her train; this is done without constraint, without effort, it is a natural consequence of her attraction for You.  Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses.  Lord, You know it, I have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased You to unite to mine; it is You who have entrusted these treasures to me, and so I dare to borrow the words which You addressed to the heavenly Father at the Last Supper: “Father I will that where I am, these also whom you have given me may be with me.” 

Love unites.  She uses the words of Our Lord at the Last Supper to express her own love for the souls entrusted to her care: “Lord, let those you have given me be with me where I am.”  Love unites.  As our union with God grows, so will the effectiveness of our intercession for souls.  If we truly wish to be champion intercessors for Priests – and so win salvation for many, then we must first allow the Lord to be the champion of our hearts. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Love Empowers, Love Understands

St. Therese and the Priesthood Reflections, Part II
Fr. Joseph Mary, Br. Paul, and Br. Justin helping Sr. Esther celebrate her birthday on Sept. 19th

Love Empowers:
There is an amazing phenomenon amongst priests.  I am sure it has been the case for quite a while, but its something that just struck me recently: Priests LOVE St. Therese.  So many of my priest friends turn to her as to a sister and friend in all their needs.  There was a time when St. Therese was looked upon by some as ‘saccharine’, ‘overly sentimental’, and 'childish'.  WHAT A MISUNDERSTANDING of this strong and amazing and REAL saint - who knew and embraced reality!  With the help of some  wonderful authors and devotees, the true spirit of Therese is being seen in all its splendor!  So many priests and faithful turn to Therese as a powerful intercessor, a tough guide, and a spiritual warrior. 

Why are the priests of the 3rd millennium so devoted to St. Therese?  Why is she termed the greatest saint in modern times?  I believe a key to unlock the Therese trend is to realize that LOVE EMPOWERS.  Many priests (and many faithful for that matter) know – through her words and through the experience of her intercession – that Therese LOVES them.  And this LOVE EMPOWERS them to incorporate her doctrine of spiritual childhood into their own lives. 

On her deathbed, Therese said: “ I believe my mission is about to begin, my mission of making souls love God as I love Him, my mission of teaching the little way to souls.  If my desires are fulfilled,” she says, “I shall spend my heaven in doing good upon earth.  She continued later, “I will send down a shower of roses.” A Sister asked her: “Will you look down?” “No.” Therese answered, “I will come down.”  Continuing in the same vein she said to her sister Marie: “I will begin my mission.  I will come down to aid missionaries and to obtain the baptism of pagan children before they die.”  Her sister Pauline told her they would put a palm branch in her hand after her death.  Therese responded: “Yes, but I will have to let it slip from my hands b/c I will use them to shower graces.” 

She has made good her promises. How many priests have experienced this love?  How many priests have been transformed by this love?  Therese’s mission is caught up with the mission of priests. 

To know the love of a saint is to get a glimpse of the love of God.  To know the love of this saint is to grow in a desire to make her Spouse known and loved.  It is a LOVE that EMPOWERS.  Therese says so plainly: “How great is the power of prayer.  Like a queen who has free access at all times to the king, and can obtain all she asks.”  Yes, Therese understood so well that LOVE EMPOWERS!

Love Understands
St. Therese understood both the dignity and the humanity of priests.  Throughout her entire life, St. Therese fostered a deep love for the Priesthood.  In 1887, when she was 15 years old, she went on month long pilgrimage with a group of people including her father, sister Celine and several priests.  In Story of a Soul she says the following: “I understood my vocation in Italy…I lived in the company of many saintly priests for a month and I learned that, though their dignity raises them above the angels, they are nevertheless weak and fragile men.  If holy priests, whom Jesus in His Gospel calls ‘salt of the earth’, show in their conduct their extreme need for prayers, what is to be said of those who are tepid? Didn’t Jesus say too: ‘If the salt loses its savor wherewith will it be salted?’  How beautiful is the vocation which has as its aim the preservation of the salt destined for souls!…To be apostles to the apostles.  We are to pray for them while they are preaching to souls through their words and especially their example.”

If we want to follow in the footsteps of our beloved saint, then we must imitate the realism of Therese.  She teaches us that we must respect the dignity of the Priest, to love the Priest, to intercede for priests.  To be an aqua duct of grace for priests is to affect more souls than just the priests.  There is a great multiplication factor when we pray for priests.  We support and strengthen just one priest through our prayers, then he in turn is a powerful instrument for many, many souls.  Then it goes on from there...these 'converted souls' touch the lives and hearts of others...and on and on!  If we love souls, then we will be drawn to pray for priests.  

 G.K. Chesterton once said of St. Francis of Assisi: “He was a lover of God and he was really and truly a lover of men, possibly a much rarer and mystical gift.”  The same can be said of St. Therese.  She loved souls.  She lived for souls.  Why?  Because she loved Jesus and wished to imitate His own love for souls: The Word becoming Flesh, living in poverty, laboring, experiencing fatigue and hunger, being betrayed and denied by those who were closest to him, dying to save us, remaining with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament...  St. Therese understood the Heart of Christ.  She understood the heart of men.  Love understands. 

Such a love inspired the following words to her spiritual brother, Fr. Maurice Belliere: “When I shall have arrived at port, I will teach you how to travel, dear little brother of my soul, on the stormy sea of the world: with the surrender and the love a child who knows his Father loves him and cannot leave him alone in the hour of danger…The way of simple love and confidence is really made for you.”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sancte Pater Francisce

Written by Sr. Marie Andre on October 3, 2010

Our Lady of Solitude Chapel's encaustic tile of St. Francis' encounter with Our Lord: "Go and Rebuild My Church"

One of the many things I admire in our holy father Francis is his ability to be himself.  He could be who he was:  simple and humble and perhaps even be looked upon as being outlandish, especially at the beginning of the founding of the Friars Minor!  And yet, that did not matter because he truly was in love with Jesus.  He saw and met the Lord in his neighbors, in nature, in the words he preached, but most importantly in the Eucharistic Presence.

He realized his life in Christ was the end.  And our holy father Francis did not preach just by words but by his life.  He made his life to be the imitatio Christi, the re-presenting of Christ, the re-living of Christ in the most literal sense.  Just as he had been the model of action earlier in his life, our holy father Francis became the perfect example of contemplation on Mount Alverna when he received the stigmata.  In the words of St. Bonaventure: “Francis tasted the hidden manna, and with Christ rested in the tomb, dead, as it were, to the outside world.”

It seems impossible to achieve the heights of holiness that St. Francis achieved, and yet he did so through his littleness and humility and the grace of God.  Just ask St. Therese of Lisieux!  She and the Poor Man of Assisi will tell you it is a relief for we weak and sinful children of God to discover that we are loved unconditionally by Jesus, just the way we are.  Dr. Conrad Baars says that Jesus always adjusts His perfect love to our imperfect state.  Let’s keep it simple:  if we have grateful and enthusiastic hearts, we can turn away from ourselves and turn toward the One who is our Way, our Truth and our Life.  And St. Francis will be there with us, encouraging and praying for us along the way...