"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, October 16, 2012

A Brand New Website AND BLOG

Yes - we've moved!  The website address is the same: www.desertnuns.com
BUT OUR BLOG HAS MOVED: http://desertnuns.com/blog/nun-news-blog

Be sure to check it out and to subscribe via our WordPress blog!

many thanks,
the nuns

Monday, August 20, 2012

August Graces

Sr. Marie St. Paul receiving Holy Communion on the Solemnity of Our Holy Mother Clare

Pilgrims who came for the St. Clare Mass and Indulgence
Reception after Mass by Ladies of Solitude (THANK YOU!)

Friends and Family of our candidate Tara came out to celebrate St. Clare with us.
Sr. Marie Andre spending some time with one of our oldest AZ friends - Rob!
August rushes by with incredible speed - and yet not without abundant opportunities for graces!  August is replete with wonderful feast days.  Among these feasts stands the Solemnity of Our Holy Mother Clare which was celebrated with much joy and many guests.  We hope you enjoy the photos from this beautiful day!

Sr. John-Mark enjoying some quiet time with the Lord in our new Choir Stalls
In the recent publication from the Institute on Religious Life, there was an article from Cardinal George on St. Clare.  The Sisters and I have been ruminating on it during our lesson time...and receiving so much grace.  The Cardinal makes several striking points, but there is one that we are currently discussing with such delight!  It is the idea that the contemplative enclosed life is to be a permanent sabbath.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word Sabbath?  For me, it is rest.  And yet, Cardinal George asserts that above all the Sabbath is not just about rest but about listening to God.  Doesn't this put a twist on things?  I love it!  To spend our Sunday - our Sabbath - listening, resting, delighting in God.  Listening necessitates a degree of silence.  Yet not the type of silence that a 6 year old demonstrates when she doesn't get her own way.  Rather, it's the type of silence that is full of expectation and activity.  It's not a gloomy state, really! Silence allows us to hear not only with our ears but with the deepest level of our hearts.

According to Cardinal George, the enclosed contemplative life is a permanent Sabbath.  Therefore contemplatives begin now to live what all the blessed souls in Heaven live for all eternity.  Granted, we don't live that perfectly.  Rather in our earthly bodies - with all of our faults and foibles - we STRIVE to live that blessed eternal Sabbath, that endless day of adoration.  Our life becomes, in the words of the great Carmelite Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a Praise of Glory.

Now, although, the majority of mankind is not called to the contemplative life nor to this permanent Sabbath on earth, each of us - regardless of our state in life - is called to celebrate the Sabbath each Sunday.  For just one day a week, to really enjoy the Lord, delight in Him, listen to Him, rejoice in Him, spend time with Him and be renewed by Him.  The witness of the contemplative is to stir in the hearts of all the faithful a desire to 'taste and see the goodness of the Lord', to stir in them a desire to live the Sabbath.

On a side note: We are living in a day when we find our religious freedom at risk by a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to truth and beauty and good...and God.  Here's an interesting move in the the right direction:  Pope Benedict XVI recently was quoted saying that 'by defending Sunday we defend man's freedom.'

We are all grasping to find ways to preserve our RIGHT to religious freedom - AS WE SHOULD.  Well here's an idea, let's start defending Sunday (living the Sabbath) as a means of maintaining our freedom, our freedom as children of God.  From this will flow the strength and courage to defend the right of religious freedom in all facets of life.  Being renewed each Sunday both from within (in our relationship with God) and from without (in our relationship with family and loved ones), our week will unfold then in the light of God, imbued with the hope of hearing Him say "I love you" in a million different ways.
The choir stalls in the Mass Choir were recently installed.  Awesome!!
And the choir stalls for the Cloistered Adoration Choir were installed as well.  Doubly Awesome!
We have had our fair share of Monsoon rains this year!  Here you see the retention basins doing their duty!  Kudos to Sr. John-Mark, our creative photographer, who caught the reflection of the chapel in the water :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July in the Desert

4th of July Picnic with Brittany and Tara
It's been way too long since I sat down to write a blog.  Each day has been very full, very full indeed!  But, at long last, I am able to steal a few moments to fill you all in on the goings on here at Our Lady of Solitude.

There is SO much going on!  On July 1st we had two young ladies begin a time of discernment with our community (called candidacy).  Please keep them in your prayers as they continue to discern God's Will for their life.  
Last week the seating for the Nuns' Mass Choir and the Nuns' Adoration Choir was being installed.  It looks so beautiful and complete (photos to follow soon).

It is monsoon season in the desert of Arizona.  And every year I am amazed by this season.  I remember when we first moved here, the locals would say how they loved monsoon season.  I thought it was strange as, in addition to high heat, there is the added 'bonus' of humidity.  Coming from Alabama, I really do appreciate the dry heat.  But I must say, despite the humidity, monsoon season continues to wiggle its way into my affection!  There is something very beautiful and mysterious about a desert storm - the yellow skies, the violent winds, the smell of a desert rain, and the arid ground rejoicing in the needed moisture.  

We have had our fair share of monsoon storms here in Tonopah so far this summer - and thankfully we've gotten some rain along with the blowing dust and thunder!  We've even had a rainbow or two!

Last week we had a particularly treacherous looking dust storm blow through.  They always come from the East it seems, blowing in from the Valley of the Sun.  And these storms arrive with little warning.  The sky turns a mysterious yellowish brown color in the distance...within minutes the thick cloud is bearing down upon us.  The clear blue desert sky is replaced by a thick brown cloud that is hard to describe. Below are some photos for our blog followers who have not experienced a dust storm in the desert.  There's a certain helplessness that comes upon us as we watch these storms roll in.  All we can do is brace ourselves and whisper a little prayer (that the power won't go out...because that's no fun when it is 110 degrees)...and let it blow over.  And remember that there are blue skies above the dust.  

It's much like life, I guess.  Especially in moments of helplessness in the midst of the storm.  It gives me great comfort to remember the book of Job - and how the Lord spoke to Job from the MIDST OF THE STORM: "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm....Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? "  (Job 38)  

There are times in life when we get a little glimpse of reality and know how little and vulnerable and helpless we are.  But such moments, if we are attentive, are always accompanied by a clearer glimpse of the greater reality of the power and strength and protecting love of Our Father.

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!