"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, December 27, 2011

What can I bring Him?

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man, I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart?

(From Christina Rossetti's In the Bleak Midwinter)
St. Francis, we know, was a great lover of Christmas!
We know he was interceding for us - obtaining many Christmas graces.
When I think of that first Christmas, I am struck by the littleness of the greatest event of history. In the town of Bethlehem, in a stable, surrounded by farm animals (living near a dairy farm, we have an inkling what this entails!), Our Savior was born of the Virgin Mary.  Good St. Joseph begged for lodging but there was no room at the inn. The swaddling clothes, the star, the angels' Gloria, the announcement to the humble shepherds...each detail blows my mind! 

I am struck as well by all that must have been passing through Our Lady's heart. I wonder if she thought of the angel's gentle invitation and her own response of love..."YES, Be It Done As You Have Said..." And the Word was made flesh. 

The Christmas Gospel is proclaimed during Matins
This was our first Christmas in the new Chapel. Our very dear friend and spiritual father, Fr. Fred Adamson, celebrated the Mass at Night. Knowing that the winding, dark, rough dirt roads leading to our remote desert dwelling pose some travel inconvenience, we did not expect more than a handful of people at the Christmas Eve Night Mass. As we prayed Matins before Mass, I kept hearing the chapel doors open...again and again. Shortly before Mass began, I snuck a peak behind me...and was quite floored to see a beautiful crowd of people. This was witnessed again as Mass began and we sang Adeste Fideles...and a CHORUS of voices joined in on the refrain: Venite adoremus, O Come, Let Us Adore Him... 

With our Chapel filled with people, I cannot help but believe that Our Lady allowed me to share a bit of her own surprise when the shepherds appeared at the entrance of the little cave that housed the Redeemer of the world.  They had come to adore her Newborn Son.
My Lord and My God

For some reason memories of the past 7 years flooded my mind on that beautiful night.  I thought of when we received, from the Lord, that gentle invitation to begin a new foundation of PCPAs in Phoenix, AZ.  I thought of our questions and of our eventual response of love.  I also thought of how easy it would have been to NOT say "YES".  I thought of how easy it would have been to turn back at any given point in the journey.  The uncertainty, the struggles, the colossal planning, and bills, and our own poverty - yes, there were times that beginning this foundation seemed next to impossible.  There were times that building Our Lady of Solitude seemed way too big...with us being way too small. 

And yet, here we are - Christmas 2011 - with a beautiful new Chapel filled with people...welcoming into our midst the Babe of Bethlehem.  On Christmas Eve, Tonopah felt like another Bethlehem, the lights on the dome of our Chapel like the Star that settled above the crib, and our congregation like the shepherds that came to adore.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is the classic Jimmy Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life.  I believe it was the message of this movie that I experienced this Christmas Eve.  It's a message that we all need to take to heart, whether we are beginning a new Foundation, or a new family, or just living out our little life in a little way.  Our YES makes a difference.  Our YES echoes the great YES of Our Lady at the Annunciation.  Our YES to God brings Him anew to the Bethlehem of our souls through grace.  

The Sisters and I wish you all a very Merry and Wonderful Christmas...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sr. John-Mark's 1st Profession of Vows

Yesterday, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sr. John-Mark Maria of St. Peter the Apostle became a professed Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration.  

It was a simply splendid Mass - such JOY, just pure joy.  Fr. Don Kline (Sr. John-Mark's cousin) celebrated the Mass, with Fr. John Lankeit preaching the homily.  Other concelebrants included Fr. Eugene Florea, Fr. Matt Henry, Fr. John Muir, Fr. Paul Sullivan, and Fr. Theilo Ramirez.  Karen Williams and Roberta Klodt provided help with the music.  The Ladies of Solitude prepared a delicious reception for everyone.  

Sr. John-Mark's parents, 2 aunts, and friend Bonnie flew in from OH for the occasion.  The Church was nearly filled to capacity with friends from near and far.  A large group from St. Henry's in Buckeye was present, along with a great show of students and friends from ASU.  Old friends and new joined us as Sister publicly professed her Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience as an Extern Sister.  

Below is a video of some of the highlights that we captured on film.  More pics will follow.  Our good friend and photographer, Rita Lee, had camera in hand - so be sure to check back soon to see her shots.

The only 'glitch' of the day was the weather.  It was an uncharacteristic cold, rainy, windy winter day in AZ.  However, despite the fact that the tables and chairs for our outdoor reception were blown all over the place as Mass went on, the glitch really wasn't a glitch at all.  You see, it's a long standing tradition that the Lord upholds that when one of the PCPAs is professed or invested, it rains.  Mother often said that it was a sign of all the graces being poured down upon the Church and the world.  If that is the case, then let me tell you...Yesterday was a truly GRACE-LADEN day.  As I watched the rain come pouring down, I could only say to the Lord: "Yep, it's Your Tradition!"  I felt a bit like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof as he sang: TRADITION...TRADITION!  

The sun kept trying to peak out of the clouds, but only succeeded to do so as Sister John-Mark professed her Vows.  We didn't see this from the Mass Choir, but what we heard from 'the people in the pews' is that as Sister said the words of her Profession formula, a ray of sunlight came bursting in through the stained glass windows.  Yes, the Son was shining!  

Our congrats to Sr. John-Mark Maria!  - to a radiant, committed, zealous bride of Christ...congratulations!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

All she has, all she is, all she could be...

Today begins the Novena in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe...and the First Profession of Holy Vows of Sr. John-Mark Maria.  Please join our community in praying this beautiful Novena, adapted from a prayer by Bl. John Paul II.

I wish you could see my desk...actually, I'm really glad you can't see my desk!  It is cluttered with sheet music, rite books, our Constitutions, the new Missal, the ceremonial for the profession, and the beginnings of the worship aid for the public, materials to make Sister's Vow Card...and her Profession Cake, and so on and so forth.  Today is hopefully the day when I will be able to finish some of these preparations and begin others!

It is very exciting to witness Sister's joy in the face of this commitment and deeper dedication to Christ!  And all that it entails.  The richness of the Rite of Profession is evident in the beautiful verbiage of all prayers.   I wanted to share with you the Preface of the Mass of Profession from the new translation of the Missal:

"...He is the unblemished flower, Who sprang from the root of the Virgin and declared the pure of heart blessed, teaching by His way of life the surpassing worth of chastity.  He chose always to hold fast to what is pleasing to You and, becoming obedient for our sake even until death, He willingly offered Himself to You as a perfect and a fragrant sacrifice.  He consecrated to a fuller service of Your majesty those who for love of You leave all earthly things and promised they would find treasure in Heaven..."
 This sums it all up so beautifully, does it not?

The collect of the Mass is as follows: 
"O Lord, Who has inspired this our sister with the resolve to follow Christ more closely, grant her, we pray, a blessed end to the journey she now begins, so that she may be found worthy to offer You a perfect gift of loving service..."

What will Sister do on Decemeber 12th?  She will vow to God all she has (poverty), all she is (chastity), and all she could be (obedience).

Just recently, Sister admitted to a few butterflies fluttering around :) - right along side a growing excitement.  Let us keep her in our prayers as the big day approaches, and especially as she enters into her retreat of final preparation before Profession of Vows. 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Translation of the Roman Missal

It's hard to believe that today is the Solemnity of Christ the King - the last Sunday of Ordinary time!  This feast always brings to mind one of my favorite polyphony pieces we used to sing at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery (we don't dare try it here with so few voices!): JESU REX ADMIRABILIS. The words of the hymn are attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux:
Jesu rex admirabilis (Jesus, King most wonderful,)
Et triumphator nobillis (Thou Conqueror renowned)
Dulcedo ineffabilis (Thou Sweetness most ineffable)
Totus desiderabilis (In whom all joys are found)
Today also marks the last Sunday that the 2nd edition of the Roman Missal will be used at Mass.  Next Sunday begins the implementation of the new translation.  Hooray!  It's a much anticipated day!  I wanted to provide some good resources to those who are wanting to learn more about the translation.  Below is a video that offers a wonderful explanation (kudos to Fr. John Muir and LifeTeen who put this video together).  Below are also some links that you may find helpful as well.

Chant Cafe
Roman Missal Resource

EWTN is offering a special (THY WORD) to highlight some wonderful presentations on the New Translation of the Roman Missal by Cardinal Burke and others.  Don't miss it on Tues, Nov 22 at 11 p.m. ET, and again on Sun., November 27th at 6 p.m. ET

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Desire for Something More

"Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said: "Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you." The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his imprint." - Pope Benedict XVI

On Friday, November 11th, ASU Students came to Our Lady of Solitude to make a day of prayer, led by Fr. John Muir and Fr. Paul Sullivan.  The day consisted of Mass, the recitation of Divine Office, times of personal prayer, opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation, brief spiritual talks, and fellowship over a shared meal. The day concluded with a Eucharistic Holy Hour/Healing Service with Benediction.  Outside of lunch, the day was wrapped in silence and stillness.  

For my part, I felt like a bit of a Martha - running around here and there, getting everything ready, making lunch, doing this and that and the other thing!  What struck me, while in the throes of my own Martha-like frenzy, was the silence and reflection and contemplative attitude of a large group of college students.  Some students walked the grounds, in silence.  Others plopped down here or there to read or pray, in silence.  Many found their place in the chapel, adoring the Lord,...in silence.

And, accompanying the silence, there was a tangible sense of hope.
This brings to mind a quote from Josef Pieper, one of my favorite philosphers: 
"A particular form of nonsilence has always been regarded as a kin of despair: talkativeness, babble, the unquenchable frenzy of idle talk.  When, however, talk of this kind, which one encounters truly everywhere in the workplace and the marketplace as a constant temptation, when such deafening talk, literally bent on thwarting listening, appears to be connected to HOPELESSNESS - it is to be asked, then, should there not be in silence, in listening silence, necessarily a drop of HOPE?"

Pieper further asserts that in keeping the silence, we are exercising hope.
Sadly, in our day, we sometimes find - among the young and the not so young - many subtle forms of despair.  And accompanying despair, we find deafening, maddening, consistent noise.  But on Friday, in the faraway desert solitude of Tonopah AZ, there was a lot of silence...and a lot of hope.  

Being with young people, especially the kind of young people we encountered here on Friday, brings a wave of hope to the heart.  At the conclusion of the Holy Hour/Healing Service, Fr. Muir brought the Blessed Sacrament to each person.  Each of us had his/her moment with the Lord.  Seeing the young people approach the Lord, FILLED WITH HOPE, was a sight for sore eyes.  It was proof that the words of Pope Benedict are 100% correct: "Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater." 

Perhaps these college students were indeed exercising their hope by this day of silence.  And, by the power of their witness, the Lord was exercising my hope as well.  

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
 "The world reveals itself to the silent listener and only to him; the more silently he listens, the more purely he is able to perceive reality." - Pieper

"Just as he once encountered the young Paul, Jesus also wants to encounter each one of you, my dear young people. Indeed, even before we desire it, such an encounter is ardently desired by Jesus Christ." - Pope Benedict XVI


"Following in the footsteps of the people of hope - composed of prophets and saints of every age - we continue to advance toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom, and on this spiritual path we are accompanied by the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope."
- Pope Benedict XVI
ASU Students at the conclusion of their Day of Prayer at Our Lady of Solitude

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All You Saints of God, Pray for Us!

We were blessed to have a visit from the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
The Solemnity of All Saints - what an awesome day!  The Sisters and I just finished our Feast Day dinner and festivities.  It's our tradition, on this day, to choose a Saint to be our patron for the year.  With only five of us here, we've gotten in the habit of choosing SEVERAL Saints each year to make it interesting! 

This year, we each chose 6 different Saints from different historical eras.  Beginning with Apostolic times, then Church Fathers, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and finally Modern times.  It was a bit like bingo!  Each sister chose a number corresponding to a page number for each era.  Then I read a description of the Saint from a Lives of the Saints book to see if we could guess who he/she was.  It was a lot of fun and the end result is that we have 6 new patrons for the upcoming year.  It was interesting to read the different descriptions of the Saints and try to figure out why they chose that particular Sister to pray for.  Yes, that's right: why THEY chose!!!  We don't choose the Saints, THEY CHOOSE US!  In my devotion to the Saints, I am more and more convinced of this truth. 

As the day winds down, and we inch closer to All Souls Day, let us remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory - the Church Suffering!  Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord, and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them.  May They Rest In Peace.  Amen.

Each year we enter the St. Henry's Chili Cook-Off.  This year our chili name was: Lord of the Harvest - a butternut squash and chicken sausage chili.  We won 'Most Unusual Chili' - not sure if that was a good thing or not! :) 
We were blessed, AT LONG LAST, to have a visit form our good friend Fr. Blake, from Louisiana.  It's been several years since we last saw him - but it is amazing that between friends it is as if no time has passed!
A great big thank you to all of our Phoenix Priests who make HEROIC sacrifices to be sure that our Sacramental needs are cared for.  Our dear Priests make many early morning treks to our far-away little slice of heaven in Tonopah to offer Mass for our Community.  Their generosity will not go unrewarded!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Fall Foto Blog

There has been so much going on here at OLS that I've decided to tell all the stories via photos!

Unfortunately one event when totally unphotographed by the nuns.  Yes, much to my chagrin, I didn't take one single photo at the beautiful Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop James Wall on September 24th.  To be honest, I was so excited that I forgot the camera!  So for those who attended, if you have any good shots, email them to us at vocations@desertnuns.com  It was wonderful to have Bishop Wall here - celebrating all the good things the Lord has accomplished here in Tonopah.  I fondly remember the first time he came to see the property back in 2006 - when it was first given to us.  Just a barren piece of desert...  Look what the Lord has done! - through the generosity of so many of His children.  It truly was a Mass of THANKSGIVING!!!!

At other some of our other events, though, I had camera in hand!  To begin: October 1st was our first ever Solitude and Service Day - part volunteer day, part day of prayer.  Providentially, this day fell on the Feast of St. Therese.  Surely she was interceding for all our participants...and helping them to find God's peace in the vocational/discernment journey!  It was a great success and lots of fun.  Below are lots of photos to enjoy:
Solitude and Service Day kicking off in the parlor

Work time!  The girls got Nun Run postcards and mailings ready to go!

While others helped Sr. Mary Fidelis plant some flowers

Angela planting a bougainvillea

Tara and Brianna planting Arizona Yellowbells

Lunch time in the Karol Kottage

Another view of Lunch time in the Karol Kottage

On to our next series of festivities which surrounded the celebration of the solemnity of Our Holy Father Francis.  On October 3rd, the vigil of the Feast, we remembered the death of St. Francis - reading an account of his passing, enjoyed a wonderful homily by Fr. Imbarrato (on retreat from NM), prayed first Vespers, and concluded with the veneration of the relic of St. Francis.

Phyllis and Cory venerating the Relic of St. Francis at the conclusion of the Transitus

The next day we were blessed to have three Priests at Mass for the celebration of St. Francis. Fr. Imbarrato celebrated as Fr. Jesus (from Phoenix) and Fr. Gordon (working in DC at the Apostolic Nunciature).  It was truly a glorious Mass!

Finally the glorious day ended with the St. Francis animal blessing!  What fun!!!!  Our two terriers are not very well behaved, so they had to get a separate blessing!  And boy did they need it - as anyone who has met them will agree ;) 
Our neighbor: Genie!

Fenrir the Corgy and Shea the Shar-pei

Rocky and Twinkers!

Sr. John-Mark Maria ECSTATIC that guinea pigs - her favorite animals - were present for the blessing!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is everything sad going to come untrue?

Tonight at dinner, the Sisters were talking and enjoying each other's company.  We weren't talking about anything of great import.  Nor were we solving the world's problems.  We were just enjoying each other.  And laughing.

Sr. Marie Andre was sharing Winston Churchill's famous quote (which sums up her whole being): "Keep calm and carry on."  Sr. Marie St. Paul broke in with a twist on the saying which she recently saw when reading up on her newest hobby...knitting: "Keep calm and carry yarn."  And the Sisters laughed - myself included (especially as a novice-Crocheter).  And the laughter seemed so beautiful to me.  I wanted to bottle it up!  

I was reminded of an excerpt from Tolkien's The Return of the King (It's particularly appropriate that I quote this as Frodo and Bilbo's birthday is on September 22nd).  Sam awakes after the horrors of Mt. Doom and sees Gandalf, after thinking him dead.  I'll let Tolkien take it from here:
But Sam lay back, and started with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last has gasped: 'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?'

'A great shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

'How do I feel?' he cried. 'Well I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel' – he waved his arms in the air – 'I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!'
I don't know about you, but whenever I read this passage, I can't just read it once.  I want to go back and read it again, letting it soak in.  And again, letting it penetrate any sadness that may be clinging to my heart.  And again, for the pure joy of it all!

As I type this blog, Fergus (one of our westies) is glued to Sr. Esther Marie's lap (not literally, of course) - he is hoping that she will never want to get up.  Sometimes I think if Ferg could talk, he would say: "Just pet me, love me, feed me those yummy treats and never leave me...and I promise to be good!"

Like Ferg, when we experience joy, there is an undeniable yearning to hold on to it, to never want it to end.  More and more, I am convinced that this desire is borne from above - but it is not merely the desire for a passing joy, but for the joys that do not pass...it is a desire for the eternal, a desire for God.  It is the desire for the unending joy of Heaven, when there will be no more tears, or weeping, or separations, or suffering.  Tolkien's dear friend, C.S. Lewis, takes this thought a step further saying: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” 

At the risk of 'over-quoting', I want to conclude this blog with an excerpt from "Poem of Hope" by Marietta Martin.  When I read these words, my thoughts turn to the 'Grey Havens', to Heaven, to Jesus and the fulfillment of all desire:
One day there will be no more unexpressed words of love,
There will be no more stifled desires,
There will be no more silent presences: all the voices will be heard,
The veil which the music lifts will never more be lowered,
There will be no more inaccessible space, and the spool of time will unwind in the present,
All the sister particles of souls will join together. 
The sunsets will be explained,
Beauty will lose its anguish,
Creation will be the clear word of divinity,
One day, like a beautiful voyage toward the beloved dead.

Our friend, Brittany Allen, snapped this awesome photo in July.  Isn't it stunning!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Unique and Unrepeatable

Since moving to Tonopah last year, and now having a Chapel open to the public, each day seems to bring new friends into our life.  Seeing the broad span of visitors that come to see this little 'slice of heaven' makes me realize how each human person is unique, unrepeatable, and infinitely LOVED by our good God.  

Just this morning, I was walking out of the Chapel after making a Holy Hour and a mini-van pulled up.  It was a beautiful family from India, who now live in Surprise, AZ.  The mother of the family was all smiles and greeted me with great excitement.  They finally made it to Our Lady of Solitude...after being lost for 2 hours.  My heavens, I reflected later, don't know if I would have been still smiling!!  I was so happy to be able to bring them into the Chapel where the Lord was waiting for them, ready to greet the weary travelers...and give them many graces I'm sure.

Yesterday, after our mid-day prayer, one of the Sisters saw 2 trucks pull in.  As the Chapel was locked up, I went over to let our visitors in.  They were 4 rough and tumble hunters, who came to see the marvels of the Lord here in this out of the way place.  Even in their camo, the Lord could spot them right away and...again...bestowed on them many graces.  

One of my favorite visitors was a man who drove a truck that towed some construction equipment.  When I went out to sign for it, the man started talking to me about the Lord.  He explained that he was not Catholic, but loved the Word of God.  He went on to share a bit about his experiences of God's Divine Providence, the power of His Word, and the goodness of His Love.  I went back into the house with a renewed sense of wonder!  

Just this week, we were blessed with another visitor: Fr. Sean from Ireland...now living in France.  Father is a newly ordained priest with the Missionaries of the Holy Eucharist.  He was in town doing a mission at St. Joan of Arc in Phoenix and decided to recharge his spiritual battery here in this desert solitude and Eucharistic haven.  We were blessed to receive Father's first blessing and also hear sermons that highlighted the heart of our life as Eucharistic Adorers.

And finally, another visitor came...and she's decided to stay!!  Yes, as you see to the left, the newest Chapel appointment arrived in all her glory.  This beautiful and unique statue of St. Therese was donated to us by Mrs. Vitale.  The Little Flower will now find a home in the back of the Chapel where people can pray and implore the intercession of this powerful saint. 

St. Therese is a favorite saint of many of the nuns.  Her unique and unrepeatable love for the Lord inspires us to seek to love Him in the full totality of our being, with our own unique and unrepeatable love.

And her great devotion to praying for priests is something we try to imitate as well.  So let us pray with her:

 O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the Cross; priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.

May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards Thy children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for Thy beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.’

Saturday, August 27, 2011


"I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."

Rom 12:1-2

World Youth Day has come and gone.  All the pilgrims have returned to their homes.  For us here in the monastery, our days have returned to normal - the TV is off and it's back to business!  Yet, I am surprised (and grateful) that the thrill of those days of pilgrimage (or virtual pilgrimage) remain.  So many images that we saw flash on EWTN (Our Holy Father's delight as he drove in the Pope-mobile through the crowds, the young people cheering, chanting, dancing, and celebrating life!, and those same young people kneeling on the wet and muddy ground in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament) are embedded in my memory, as are the words of our Holy Father.  The underlining current of his words can be summed up by quoting St. Paul - in his letter to the Romans: DO NOT CONFORM YOURSELVES TO THIS AGE, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWAL OF YOUR MIND!
Keep that thought in mind as your read Pope Benedict's words to French pilgrims: 
You have brought with you profound questions, and you are seeking answers.  It is always a good thing to keep seeking. Above all, seek the Truth, which is not an idea or an ideology or a slogan, but a person: Christ, God himself, who has come into our midst! You rightly wish to plant your faith in him, to ground your life in Christ. He has always loved you and he knows you better than anyone else. May these days so rich in prayer, teaching and encounters help you to rediscover this, so that you may love him all the more.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/wyd2011/speeches/welcomeCibelesYouth0818.asp#ixzz1WGlDOae1
And again at the Prayer Vigil, Our Holy Father reiterates:
If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.
Nowadays, although the dominant culture of relativism all around us has given up on the search for truth, even if it is the highest aspiration of the human spirit, we need to speak with courage and humility of the universal significance of Christ as the Saviour of humanity and the source of hope for our lives. He who took upon himself our afflictions, is well acquainted with the mystery of human suffering and manifests his loving presence in those who suffer. They in their turn, united to the passion of Christ, share closely in his work of redemption. Furthermore, our disinterested attention towards the sick and the forgotten will always be a humble and warm testimony of God's compassionate regard.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/wyd2011/speeches/prayerVigil0820.asp#ixzz1WGnSEQOi
Through the graces of this past World Youth Day, and the graces of each moment we spend united to Christ in prayer, may He continue to transform us by the renewal of our mind...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI, We Love You!

The relic of Our Holy Mother Clare which was venerated at the Transitus Celebration on Aug. 10th.
"Gospel radicalism finds expression in the mission God has chosen to entrust to us: from the contemplative life, which welcomes into its cloisters the Word of God in eloquent silence and adores His beauty in the solitude which he alone fills, to the different paths of the apostolic life, in whose furrows the seed of the Gospel bears fruit in the education of children and young people, the care of the sick and elderly, the pastoral care of families, commitment to respect for life, witness to the truth and the proclamation of peace and charity, mission work and the new evangelization, and so many other sectors of the Church’s apostolate." - From Pope Benedict's address to Women Religious, Aug 19, 2011

Sr. John-Mark Maria reading the account of the death of Our Holy Mother Clare
I don't know about you but the Sisters and I are enjoying TO THE FULL the festivities of World Youth Day - living it in union with Our Holy Father and all the young pilgrims from across the globe.  In a particular way, we are praying for the young people from the Diocese of Phoenix who are there in Madrid...and supporting their journey with our prayers and sacrifices. 

The Holy Father is not mincing any words! He is speaking directly to the heart of the youth...directly to all of our hearts.  From the strength of his words, I'd venture to say that he sees a nobility in the heart of the young pilgrims and is engaging them in the pursuit of holiness.  These are his words from the welcome address:  
"Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us?"
Our Holy Mother Clare is often referred to as a Shining Light...her light was shining upon us as we celebrated her Feast Day!
Pope Benedict's words to the Women Religious carried particular import for us here at Our Lady of Solitude...being the young religious that we are (getting older by the minute...but still young at heart! Smile, Smile).  The one phrase he spoke sums up our life here in Tonopah, Arizona: adores His beauty in the solitude which He alone fills... 

Sr. Esther Marie with our two new friends: Addison and David
To conclude, the Sisters and I thank you for your prayers for our communal retreat earlier this month.  It was a truly blessed 8 days of joy, peace, prayer, and spiritual nourishment.  Our special gratitude to Fr. Marco Testa who came all the way from Toronto Canada to lead the retreat.  Having known Father for many years now, our friendship with him was deepened as we now received anew the benefits of his teaching and wisdom about the spiritual life...all with such joy!  His anecdotes kept us smiling (and sometimes downright laughing)...and his devotion was a great witness to the 'hundred-fold' of fidelity and love.

Our farewell to our retreat master, Fr. Marco, as he heads back to Canada...very early in the morning!  Thank you, Father, for a glorious retreat!!
As World Youth Day continues, let us keep our prayers coming for all those in attendance - for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!  The B-16 Generation is ALIVE and WELL!!!