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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Witnesses of Faith

Last night I was reading through my Zenit email and came across this story about a woman named Chiara. Upon reading it I was deeply moved by her faith and trust in God's Providence.  Chiara Petrillo - 28 years old.  As I read the brief account of her life, I couldn't help but think of Our Lady.  Mary, who accepted the Plan of God, bore the Son of God, and allowed the sword of sorrow to pierce her heart.  Mary who stood at the Foot of the Cross.  Mary, Jesus' Mother and our Mother.  Mary, Cause of Our Joy.

Chiara, like Mary, accepted the Plan of God and allowed the sword of sorrow to pierce her own heart.  She was a mother three times over.  Each time, though, the sword of sorrow pierced her heart.  Her first 2 children died shortly after they were born.  And her last child, Francesco, is - PRAISE GOD - now a healthy one year old, but in the course of this pregnancy, she found out she had cancer.  

Yet, as I read the article, there was a marked sense of joy in her words and in the words of the Franciscan who spoke of her faith.  There was joy even in the deep grief.  Reading the article, I witnessed the power of hope.  Charles Peguy once described hope as a little girl.  A little girl who pulls forward her two older sisters (faith and love), who skips and dares to laugh.  

It appears from reading this article that Chiara had hope...and a lot of it!  She fought the 'dragon' with hope.  And though it first seems that she lost the battle, her own words betray this notion:  “Perhaps deep down I don’t want healing; a happy husband and a peaceful child without his mother are a greater witness than a woman who has overcome an illness. A testimony that could save so many persons …"

WOW.  What a statement!  We can read all the spiritual books about how to surrender and abandon ourselves to God's Will (and that is good and helpful) - but in that statement, we see someone actually doing it in a very simple and direct way.  I am struck, as well, by her desire to be a witness.  I am reminded of what the word martyr literally means: WITNESS.  

Her surrender was filled with hope.  She could go to meet the Bridegroom, adorned in her wedding garment, in peace.  The same God Who was calling her home would care for the child and husband she was leaving behind.  This is the faith.  This is motherhood.  

A Franciscan brother who was very close to the family said the following: “I don’t know what God prepared for us through this woman, but it is certainly something we cannot lose; hence we gather this legacy that reminds us to give the just value to every small and large daily gesture."

St. Gianna, Pray For Us
I was happy to see that our own beloved St. Francis and St. Clare had a part to play in this, as described by Br. Vito: "Chiara came to this faith little by little, following the rule learned at Assisi from the Franciscans she so loved: small, possible steps.” Brother goes on to say that this was "a way to face the fear of the past and of the future in face of great events, and which teaches to begin from small things. We cannot transform water into wine, but we can begin to refill the jars. Chiara believed this and this helped her to live a good life and, hence, a good death, step after step.” 

In my own desire to truly live my call to spiritual motherhood, I am encouraged and strengthened by Chiara's witness.  I feel certain that her witness inspires natural mothers as well - to truly live this noble vocation which often calls for extraordinary holiness and virtue...and trust.  I feel certain that her witness in an inspiration for all people, whatever our state in life or our situation.

As we look toward October 2012 and the beginning of the Year of Faith, as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, we give thanks for the many witnesses of faith - those that have gone before us and those that are in our midst!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Corpus Christi 2012

Yesterday was the glorious Feast of Corpus Christi!  As part of the tradition of our Order, this is one of the Feasts that we celebrate with special solemnity.

This year was our first Procession here at Our Lady of Solitude Chapel. We want to share  a video of our little Procession. It was such a GREAT joy - every last minute of the it! Enjoy the photos and our thanks to Fr. Kline, John, Zach, and all who participated in the Procession!

In Pope Benedict's homily for the Solemnity, he offered the following words:

Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together. To really communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to hear him and to look at him with love. True love and true friendship always live of the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal not a superficial way. And, unfortunately, if this dimension is lacking, even sacramental communion itself can become, on our part, a superficial gesture.

I love this thought of linking communion with contemplation.  There is a common misconception that 'contemplation' is an empty void.  But we know that this is not the case at all!  True contemplation is communion.  Granted, this communion is not noisy or 'crowded'.  But, nor is it emptiness!  True contemplation is union with the God Who loves us first and best.  The Holy Father is inviting us to break through the facades and enter into the true reality of deep communion with Our Lord - and what better way to do so than by Eucharistic Adoration!

"A RECIPROCITY of looks, of intense eloquent silences full of respect and veneration"   
YES, that's it!!  

Godhead here in hiding, Whom I do adore.  Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more.  See Lord at Thy service, low lies here a heart...lost all lost in wonder at the God Thou art. (from the Adoro Te Devote, St. Thomas Aquinas)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Receiving with Thanks

Growing up in the 'country', sharing garden vegetables was as much a part of summer as swimming, picnics, and road trips!  Whatever our garden produced, we shared with neighbors and cousins.  And it was a two way street! Zucchini, tomatoes, peas, green onions, berries - whatever anyone's garden produced, the whole neighborhood enjoyed it.  Such was the way of it, growing up as I did amongst the noble hobbit folk of Western Pennsylvania!

Since moving to Tonopah nearly 2 years ago, the Sisters and I have been delighted and humbled to receive the fruits of the earth from so many kind folk.  We are given many wonderful gifts from the 'locals'... from fresh eggs, to garden fresh vegetables, from pickled eggplant to zucchini blossoms (yum!). 

I was so excited when I looked in the fridge this afternoon to find a super-abundance of goodness from some of our new and old friends.  Zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, cucumbers, peppers, canned pears, homemade jelly, and the list goes on!

I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of so many people.  It calls to mind a beautiful quote from Pope Benedict XVI: 
The gaze of Jesus, what 'his eyes' teach us, leads to human closeness, solidarity, giving time, sharing our gifts and even our material goods.
We are asked quite often: "How can we help you?  Do you have any needs?"  Of course there are the big needs which entail building a monastery and all that goes into that.  But there are certainly more 'rudimentary' needs as well. 

Currently we are working toward beginning a garden - both a vegetable and a flower garden.  We are looking to plant roses and other flowers that are good as cut flowers, so as to use them on the altar.  We also are looking to make the grounds of Our Lady of Solitude more conducive for retreats - by providing picnic tables and places to sit, so that pilgrims and priest retreatants (and the Sisters!) can have places to sit and enjoy the solitude and silence that 'our little piece of the world' can provide. 

Percy and Fergus were VERY interested in all the smells from the fresh veggies!!
So these are a few of the things that we are praying will be accomplished this summer.  Here is a link to a wish list we've begun to compile of some of these items.  

Again, thank you to all of you who care for our needs in truly magnanimous ways!  We are so thankful!