"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.