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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Saint's Corner: St. Bona of Pisa



Name: Bona of Pisa
Birth & Death: ca. 1156 - ca. 1207
Feast Day: 29 May
Country of Origin: Italy
History: Bona experienced visions from a young age, including visions of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin and James the Greater, who she had a profound devotion to in later life. She became an Augustinian Tertiary at the age of 10 and fasted regularly. At the age of 14 she travelled to the Holy Land to visit her father who was fighting in the Crusades and as she returned home she was captured and imprisoned by pirates, later being rescued by some of her countrymen. She later served as a guide to groups of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.


Remains of St. Bona - Source

Recommended:
Saints.SQPN.com

Way of St. James

Monday, 28 May 2012

Pro-Life

A nation that kills its children is a nation without hope. - Bl. Pope John Paul II
I was reading this article earlier and it made me decide to dedicate a post to pro-life issues, ministry and religious congregation dedicated to pro-life issues.

The Sanctity of Life in the Catholic Church
Before I get into the religious life aspect of this I wanted to provide a short primer on the teachings of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of life, which is the centre of our pro-life beliefs. References 'CCC' refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, see 'Links' at the bottom of the post to read the full document. Now I am no apologist so I apologise if this does not read very easily.


CCC 2258:
Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.
This is something that is truly at the centre of our faith as Catholics and as Christians, the simple fact that we are created by God and for God and life is in His hands, not ours. As the very author of life, He has rights over life and the taking of it that we do not.

CCC 2268:
The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. the murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.
The Church affirms as well that human life begins at the moment of conception. This is naturally where abortion issues come into the equation. The simple fact of the matter is that abortion is gravely immoral and completely contrary to moral law.

CCC 2270:
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.
From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
CCC 2271:
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. 
Although the term pro-life is usually used solely to refer to abortion issues, there are also other issues that are important in this area, including euthanasia. Euthanasia takes away the dignity of the human person and goes against our knowledge that only God has the right to give and take life.

CCC 2277:
Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
The very first section of the Catechism sums all this up perfectly: human life is sacred and God alone is the very author of life, as such giving Him the right to give or take human life. This is not a right we have as humans and the unjust taking of life is to always be condemned.


Videos
I have a playlist of pro-life videos on my YouTube, I add to it as I find new videos. These are just a few that I find particularly special.

This is an absolutely beautiful video by a young mother about her experience with her baby. As you watch the video you can see the emotion in her face as the story progresses but the joy and love she shows for her child is amazing and inspiring. I was moved to tears by this video.

This is a great commercial that really highlights the doublespeak used by pro-abortionists and how language is manipulated to hide what is really happening.

This is an absolutely stunning video. I was so moved by this. It talks so beautifully about what a true miracle human life is. 

Pro-Life Religious Communities 
NB: When I say this I mean communities specifically dedicated to pro-life issues. Of course any Catholic religious Community should be pro-life! 


Sisters of Life - pregnancy help, retreats, post-abortion healing services, pro-life evangelisation
Servants of the Gospel of Life
Priests For Life
Franciscan Brothers of Life
Franciscan Daughters of Mary - pro-life education, helping the homeless, assistance for mothers
Sisters in Jesus the Lord - work with pro-life groups, post-abortion healing, also seeking ways to incorporate working against euthanasia to their missions
Sisters of the Gospel of Life

Links
Catechism of the Catholic Church - links to the section dealing with sanctity of life issues
St. Gianna Beretta Molla - a mother who gave her own life for that of her child
End of Life Issues and the Catholic Church - a good article about the care of the sick and dying
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children - UK group fighting against abortion and euthanasia as well as promoting the life rights of the disabled
Amnesty for Babies - international petition
The Signal Hill - pregnancy support in Canada
LifeSiteNews - international news site with articles on pro-life issues
Life Issues Institute - international pro-life education mission
March For Life - does what it says on the tin!
Coalition for Life - ending abortion in the Brazos valley
Americans United for Life - defending human life through legislative, judicial, and educational efforts
40 Days for Life - prayer vigils
Human Life International - pro-life missionaries
Living the Gospel of Life - Bishop's letter on pro-life issues

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Saint's Corner: St. Bede the Venerable



Name: Bede the Venerable
Birth & Death: ca. 673 - 26 May 735
Feast Day: 26 May
Country of Origin: England
History: Priest and monk, Bede was sent to a monastery at age 7 to be educated and it is speculated that his parents always planned for him to enter the clergy. He was ordained a priest at the age of 30. Bede wrote extensively on a variety of subjects including scientific, historical and theological works. He was promoted to a Doctor of the Church in 1899.


Recommended:
Catholic Encyclopaedia

Saint.SQPN.com

Friday, 25 May 2012

Community Spotlight: Ware Carmel



Order: Carmelite
Gender: Female
Charism: Contemplative
Eligibility: Single, without dependent children
Formation: One year of postulancy, two year novitiate, thee years temporary vows
Vows: Poverty, chastity and obedience
Practices: Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina,
History: Ware Carmel was founded was a foundation from the Carmel in Notting Hill. It was the first Carmel to be founded after the canonisation of St. Therese and was placed under her patronage. The community moved twice, once in 1938 and again in 1958 when they settled in Ware.



Recommended:
FAQs

News
Visit of the Relics of St. Therese

Monday, 21 May 2012

Vocation Story: Sr Margaret Mary of the Sacred Heart CP

VOCATION STORY: IT WAS NOT YOU WHO CHOSE ME, IT WAS I WHO CHOSE YOU

A vocation story begins in the Heart of the Blessed Trinity and is revealed to each individual person at a certain point in that person’s life history. The call comes from the Triune God and is spoken in and through the Word made Flesh. Through the years as I have reflected more deeply on my call to Passionist life and shared my story with others, the words of Jesus have been always uppermost in my mind, “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you.” 

Now, in the year of the Golden Jubilee of my Passionist Profession (August 22, 2001), There is an ever greater conviction that my vocation is totally God’s call and gift. He chooses whom He wills. His call to me to share the Passionist charism was and is His plan for me–the specific way I am to live out my baptismal call in Christ before the foundation of the world.

Reflecting on childhood memories, I recall clearly that early in my life, there was a tiny but persistent thought deep within, “Someday, I will be a Sister.” Perhaps this was not an uncommon experience for a little Catholic girl growing up in the early and middle 1900s. For me, though, it was something that helped to mold my character, my attitudes, my childhood and young adult aspirations, and above all, my relationship to Jesus as a personal Friend. Now, it is clear to me that this persistent “thought” was the awakening in my heart of my vocation to be a Passionist nun.

It would take years for His call to take shape and eventually be followed. There was no expectation of something spectacular to happen that would let me know without a doubt that God was calling me to be a Sister. Anytime, however, that the topic of vocations came up, something stirred in my heart to give special attention to it.

My initial thoughts about possibly becoming a Sister were not shared with anyone early in my life. Our deeper thoughts and aspirations, though, influence our way of life and others close to us take notice. Family and friends dropped an occasional remark, alerting me that they shared my secret thoughts about possibly becoming a Sister someday. The Ursuline Sisters who taught me and even more, my pastor seemed to sense this possibility.

Usually, there was a non committal attitude on my part to such remarks or suggestions. It seemed too far away to give it immediate attention. Deep within, though, there was a kind of relief or gratitude that others singled me out as a future nun. If they had this sense of my being called to religious life, maybe this was one way God was clarifying for me my own thoughts and aspirations. Later, it was clear to me that the comments of those who knew and loved me and which reflected my own secret thoughts were actually revealing the eternal call of God to me. Others were helping me to read the signs of His call. He used their insights to help prepare me to receive His gift of a religious vocation and to say yes to it. Nothing extraordinary, but God’s ordinary way of using people and events to reveal His will to us.

The Ursuline Sisters who taught me encouraged me and the other students to pray to know and follow our vocation in life. They recommended frequent attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion and asking the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. From my early grade school years, until after entering the Monastery, I continued a practice the Sisters recommended, to pray daily the Hail Mary three times and an ejaculation to Mary.

In my late grade school days or early high school, I read the story of the life and revelations of St. Margaret Mary and was especially impressed by her personal love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in His agony and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani. This early acquaintance with St. Margaret Mary, plus other considerations, later led my Superior to give me Margaret Mary as my religious name.

In actual practice, though, even this attraction to the cloister was still quite vague. I didn’t know anything about cloistered communities and was hesitant to seem too eager to learn more about them. It was prayer that prevented my vocation from being choked by other attractions common to most or all young women who have the stirring of a vocation seed within their hearts. There was the attraction of having a family of my own or seeking a profession which especially appealed to me. In the last two years of high school, it was my pastor, Father Robert Whelan, more than any other single person, through whom God answered my prayers for guidance.

Near the beginning of my Junior year in high school, God “took over!” Through an unexpected turn of events flowing from His Divine Providence, He brought me and many others in the diocese “face to face” with living, cloistered nuns! In early October, 1946, one of the Sisters teaching us at the time, announced that five Passionist Nuns had come to Owensboro to begin a monastery of their Religious Order. She went on to explain that Bishop Cotton had given the new nuns permission to have open house of their residence on Benita Avenue on October 8. More good news–but news that could not surprise anyone who knew Father Whelan’s zeal for promoting vocations–was that Father was giving the high school students a half day off on October 8. This would give an opportunity to the students who wished, to visit the nuns and learn about cloistered, religious life. Father would provide a bus and any other transportation needed to get us to Owensboro. I am not sure how much we learned on that open house day about Passionist life in its deeper aspects, but we did learn that the nuns were very “human!” They answered our questions, laughed with us and seemed to understand when it was obvious that we did not “understand” most of their way of life .

The Sisters explained that they did not live in isolation from the world even though they did not teach or work in hospitals as other Sisters who were not cloistered. They described how they reached out to the whole world by prayer, and permitted women to come into the monastic area for weekend retreats. Doubtless, they also emphasized their devotion to the Sacred Passion of Jesus.

Four of our group who came for open house day were among the first candidates to enter the new monastery. We were the first four to persevere. A postulant, Mary Dunnigan, had entered the monastery in Scranton, with an understanding of the superiors, to be part of the new foundation. Sister Mary, an older and experienced candidate, was the first one to be vested and professed at St. Joseph’s Monastery in Owensboro. She was a great role- model to us who entered at a much younger age, as we adjusted to monastic life. When Sister Mary died in 1966 at the age of 65, she left a big vacancy in our hearts and monastic home.

After the visit on open house day, there were more serious thoughts about possibly being a Passionist Nun some day. The life appealed to me, but to make the break with my family seemed too much to consider at this time. Actually, I had almost two more years of high school ahead of me so the thought of the Passionist Nuns was pushed aside somewhat.

In my senior year, my pastor and I had more talks together. Admitting a possible call to the Passionists I also had to admit the inner struggles going on. Father was encouraging and gave practical advice to keep the possible vocation in mind but continue to wait and pray. He did not suggest restrictions on my social life, so I continued to have good times with other young people and dated as much as there was an attraction to do so. Of my own free will and choice, there were restrictions but from a sense of fidelity to Our Lord since His personal friendship was special to me.

After graduation from high school, I enrolled in Mt. St. Joseph Jr. College at the motherhouse of the Ursulines at Maple Mount, Kentucky and hoped this would be another step in the discernment of my vocation. Possibly God was calling me to this Order that was familiar to me and my family.

When my initial homesickness, wore off, I loved life at the Mount and treasured the enriching friendships made there. Observing the postulants and novices when there was the opportunity, I would ask myself, “Can I see myself as one of them?” By Christmas, there was a feeling that without undue difficulty, I could do so and be happy. After the Christmas holidays, we had our student retreat, but instead of making a decision to seek admission to the Ursuline community, I kept thinking of the Passionist monastery . So much so, that when speaking with the Jesuit retreat master, I admitted my serious thought of seeking entrance to a cloistered community of Passionist Nuns! Father was supportive which gave me good feelings about my “decision!” Another way of Jesus telling me, “You did not choose me, I chose you.”

My older sister, Doris, and I decided to make a weekend retreat at the new Passionist Monastery in the last week of April, 1949. Since our school retreat at Mount St. Joseph had been a few months earlier, it may have seemed strange to Doris that I was making another one. She didn’t ask, though, and probably suspected that a vocation discernment was going on. She would have respected my faith journey and didn’t probe. Doris had supported my desire to go to the Mount for school and helped me in many ways. May God bless and reward her!

One of the sisters, during our retreat, gave me a picture of St. Paul of the Cross, their founder, with a long prayer to him, which I began praying and later learned by memory. While praying the prayer, I sensed a connectedness with this saint who lived two centuries earlier (1694-1775) in another land and culture. The following words became especially meaningful during and after the retreat:

“O hero of sanctity, chosen by God to meditate day and night on the most bitter Passion of his only begotten Son, and to spread devotion to it throughout the world by your example, by your words and by means of your Institute.”

I wanted to be part of this Institute, and it seemed that St. Paul of the Cross also wanted it. At this time I experienced my first deeply FELT call to Passionist life. There was a sense of “being at home.”

On my returning to the Mount to complete the few weeks of the semester, there were still the tormenting questions: “Can I really leave home and family in the total way the cloistered life will require of me? Can I give up the opportunities the active Orders would offer me to help other people? Would it not be better to choose a less strict Order while still following Our Lord in religious life?” Finally at the close of the semester, the answer came suddenly and stopped all questioning. “For you the Passionist, cloistered life is the way to give Me everything. Others can do this in other ways, but this is to be your way.” These may not have been the exact words, but the message was unmistakable. There was never another question nor doubt before or after the Sisters accepted me into the Passionist community.

I now felt free even though there would be some difficult moments but never a doubt or question before I stepped into the cloister. On telling my mother of my decision, she simply said, “If that is what you want to do.” My dad, surprisingly, did not respond so favorably. He had been expecting that I would enter a convent but not this kind! He never spoke of it in the following weeks but was kind and obliging. After some time, Father Whelan took my dad for a “long ride,” and daddy returned completely won over to my vocation to cloistered life. He never “looked back” and remained my firm supporter until his death on GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 1988. Lord, Jesus, bless my dear parents and let them and the other deceased members of the family rest eternally in your embrace of love. Bless ALL the family who continue to support my vocation and respect its requirements. They are truly a vital part of my vocation story and its unfolding day by day. May God bless each one in this life and reward them in eternity.

Entrance into Monastery: August 14, 1949
Received the Passionist Habit.: August 21, 1950
First profession vows: August 22, 1951
Final profession of vows: August 22, 1954
Silver Jubilee of Profession: August 22, 1976
Golden Jubilee of Profession: August 22, 2001

Yes, Jesus Chose me!

His Mercies I will sing forever!

ALL PRAISE , GLORY AND HONOR TO THE MOST HOLY TRINITY!

Sister Margaret Mary of the Sacred Heart, C.P.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Guides: Finding an Active Community



So you feel called to religious life but what do you do next? How on earth do you go about finding a community? You start researching but there are so many and you don't know how on earth to go about finding the right one. Unless you already know a religious community that you're interested in then it can be a very daunting task. So I decided to write this guide as a helping hand to finding a community. Now of course it isn't going to be foolproof but it's a combination of my own experiences, the experiences of my friends and my fairly extensive research into vocation discernment. I recommend having a notebook, journal, etc. for keeping record lest you find an awesome community and forget what it was called and have to spend forever searching again. It can also be good to note down your feelings about different communities, spiritualities, etc. and this guide indicated places where I recommend writing stuff down. I've included examples (some from my own discernment) as I go along, they are in italics.

This guide is for finding a active community. If you feel called to contemplative/monastic religious life, click here for our guide to finding an contemplative community.

Sisters of Life - Source

Step 1: What

I've called this step 'what' because the first big thing in narrowing down religious communities is quite simply by what they do.

For active communities, the question is the apostolate that draws you - the kind of work you want to do. Do you feel drawn to work with the poor, to teach, to nursing work? If you do any kind of active ministry already and feel like you would like to continue it then that's always a great starting point. If not, try thinking about what you would ideally like to do if you could do anything. That sounds very self-centred but God has given us our gifts and talents and preferences for a reason: you may love working with the elderly because God has that very ministry in mind for you. And of course pray about it! Write down any apostolates that you feel drawn to in that journal, don't worry if there are several.

If you don't have a clue, think about the saints that inspire you. You could start with your patron/confirmation saint: even if you think your selection was random you never know, there could be some divine providence working there.

You can find our guide to discerning your spirituality here.

Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal - Source

Step 2:

So you've got your list of apostolates. Now I do not recommend writing big long lists of things you're looking for in a community because you'll just get caught up in creating this fantasy community and it doesn't exist because you made it up. However, you should still think a little bit about it. This step involved trusting your instincts a lot. If you are discerning seriously, keeping to regular prayer and receiving the Sacraments often and of course keeping open to God's will then it makes it a lot easier (of course!). For this step I recommend thinking of one or two things, absolutely no more than that, that you feel are important in a community. The reason I say trust your instincts is because if you are doing all those things I just talked about then God will guide you.

There are some things I suggest you consider. They may be very important for some but of no importance to others. I am by no means saying a community must do or must not do any other these things in order to be a good community but they are things that vary between communities. And of course keep them in prayer. These things may change over time as you discern and visit communities, you may find that some things are less important than you thought and that others are more important than you thought.
  • The form of the Mass available and how often it will be available to you.
  • Whether or not the community wears the traditional habit.
  • Whether members take on a new religious name.
  • The individual and communal prayer practices of the community
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia - Source

Step 3: You 

Time to think about you. This may seem counter-intuitive but since you're the one joining there are things you need to consider. Some are things you can deal with before entering or discerning with a specific community, others are things you would have to discuss with a community. At this point I recommend making a list of questions to ask a potential community because otherwise you'll probably forget them all the second you start speaking to them. 
  • Do you have any allergies or intolerances, food or otherwise? Ask the community how this would be handled if you were to enter. 
  • Do you have any personal debts? How can you work to eliminate these debts? How long would it take to eliminate these debts? If you are in the US and have student loans note down the name of the Laboure Society. If you are in the UK, remember that student loans are not a barrier. 
  • Think about your emotional and mental state. Are there problems you think need some resolution? It's okay if you think there are some things you need to work on, we are only human after all and there are things that sometimes take a little time to work through.
Franciscan Brothers Minor - Source


Step 4: Where

Now you've got a shortlist of apostolates and a couple of things you think are important but how on earth do you go about finding these places?

My first suggestion is to go to your diocesan website. There should be a directory of religious communities in your diocese, if it's not on the website then speak to your parish priest who should have a directory. If you're in the UK you can find your diocesan website through here. If you live close to the edge of a diocese, check the neighbouring diocese as well. The simple reason for this suggestion is that chances are they're not too far away from you. This then gives you a lot more room for visiting different communities and getting experience of a variety of ways of apostolic life.

If there isn't a community of any of the apostolates you are drawn to in your diocese then you have to look a little bit further afield. Some apostolates will have more communities than others. So depending on the apostolates you have chosen you may have more options to work with. The Vocation Operation has a directory of religious communities separated by country and spirituality. Just click on your country in the right sidebar to go to the page and communities are listed by spirituality.

However it is you've found your communities, you can now begin looking more at the specifics of them. Look at the community websites, read about their practices and their history to get a sense of the community. Remember that other list you made, those two or three things you felt drawn to in a community? Keep these in mind as you look at different communities. If you find a community you feel drawn to, add it to a new list of communities you are interested in.

These are things I suggest you should try to find out about a prospective community. Do not worry if you cannot find them all out immediately, you can always ask if you visit or correspond with them.
  • Eligibility: what are the eligibility requirements for entrance? Some communities may not have any general requirements but some do so be sure to check this. They're usually nothing too complicated, the most common one is age restrictions. There may, however be restrictions in the constitutions of a congregation, especially regarding newly converted Catholics, but there isn't anything in Canon Law - get in touch with Kim Lee if you want to know more about this! (email: vocationoperation@live.co.uk)
  • Formation: what are the formation processes and how long are the various stages of formation? 
  • Horarium: it is good to try and get a general sense of the daily life of the community. This will only be a guide but will give you a good sense of what basic life is like. Consider asking the community what differences there are in the horarium for Sundays and feast days. 
Dominican Friars - Source

Step 5: Contact


This is the scary part. Exciting, but at the same time for a lot of people mind-numbingly terrifying. The key here is to remember that the members of the community have all been through the exact same thing. This is also where distance starts to become a real factor. Try to prioritise that list of communities you feel drawn to. If you have multiple apostolates still, I recommend contacting at least one or two communities from each so you can try to experience and discern both. When prioritising consider your distance from the community, how their spiritual practices attract you, how their community life and spirit attracts you.

Missionaries of Charity - Source

If the community is close to you, I recommend going for a visit. Even if it's just for an afternoon it will give you the chance to speak to someone face-to-face. Try to attend Mass at the community if you can, even if it's just once. If the community is not close by, you may want to correspond with them before making a visit since any visit would probably take more than just an afternoon. In your first letter I recommend including:
  • Your name and age - age is important because it tells a community where you're at in life and helps them respond to you appropriately. 
  • If you are studying or if you are working - again it tells a community where you're at in life which can be very useful for them. 
  • A little about your faith - were you raised Catholic or are you a convert? If the latter, when were you received into the Church? 
  • A little about your discernment - you can include how long have you been discerning for, if you have been discerning privately or with a spiritual director, etc. 
And now is where this guide leaves you and the community will take over from here. If the first community you contact doesn't work out, don't worry. It's totally normal to look at several communities before finding the right one. Some communities will send you a form prior to your first visit - this may include things like why you want become a sister/brother etc. Just tell them what draws you to religious life and why you think you might be called. Remember, there is no set role profile for a Religious!

The most important thing is to trust in God and give yourself over to Him completely. Be open to what God is telling you and He will guide you to His will.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Saint's Corner: Simon Stock



Name: Simon Stock
Birth & Death: approx. 1165 - 16 May 1265
Feast Day: 16 May
Country of Origin: England
History: He was said to have lived as a hermit and travelled as a preacher before joining the Carmelite order soon after it arrived in England. He helped spread the order through England as well as founding houses across Europe and made revisions to their rule that made them mendicant friars as opposed to hermits. He is most noted for having a vision of the Blessed Virgin in which the brown scapular was given to him by Our Lady to be part of the Carmelite habit.


Recommended: 
Saints.SQPN.com - Saint Simon Stock
Catholic Encyclopaedia - Simon Stock
Catholic Encyclopaedia - Scapulars



Wanting to give

All I can think of is how much I want to give, how much I want to lead a life fulfilling the will of God. I have no idea where these thoughts of healthcare and nursing are leading me, but I know that there is this deep deep desire in my heart to follow it. I just know that although this is going to be challenging and daunting and to some extent, perhaps even a scary experience, but deep inside at the bottom of my heart I know that I will find great satisfaction in working with people to make a difference.

One of the hardest challeneges I face is my mother being so very against it, but in time, He will lead me to my vocation, and for some reason, I think that may be nursing. Only time will tell whether this is what he wants for me. I am taking one step at a time.

If you are interested in nursing, please see my blog: http://3Cnursing.blogspot.com and if you would like to contribute, please leave a message on the contact page and give us your email.

God Bless you all.

Order, Order: Little Sisters of the Poor


Founder: Jeanne Jugan


Date: 1839


Apostolate: Care for the elderly


History: The Little Sisters of the Poor were founded in France by St. Jeanne Jugan. In addition to the three vows of povery, chastity and obedience the Little Sisters take a fourth vow of hospitality. See Recommended below for sources of a more detailed history.

Notable Saints:
St. Jeanne Jugan


Recommended:
Catholic Encyclopedia - Little Sisters of the Poor

USA Province

Oceania Province
English Province

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Saint's Corner: Elizabeth Ann Seton



Name: Elizabeth Ann Seton
Birth & Death: 28 August 1774 - 4 January 1821
Feast Day: 4 January
Country of Origin: USA
Order: Founder of the Sisters of Charity
History: Born Elizabeth Ann Bayley, Elizabeth was raised Episcopalian. She married in 1794 to William Magee Seton and the couple had five children before his death in 1803. Before her husbands death the couple had moved to Italy and there Elizabeth was introduced to Roman Catholicism, being received into the Church in 1805 after returning to the United States. Inspired by the Daughters of Charity in Europe, she established the Sisters of Charity which was the first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States. She became Mother Seton and her daughter Catherine also joined the newly founded congregation. She dedicated the rest of her life to her congregation. She died in 1821 after contracting tuberculosis. In 1850 the Sisters of Charity merged with the Daughters of Charity, becoming their branch in the United States as Mother Seton had dreamed.



Recommended:
Saints.SQPN.com

Catholic Encyclopedia

Update: Kim

Just thought I would let you all know that while exploring the vocation of nursing, I am also writing a blog called: The 3Cs of Nursing.

Please see that for more details on nursing if you are interested.

God Bless you all.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Guides: Finding a Contemplative Community


So you feel called to religious life but what do you do next? How on earth do you go about finding a community? You start researching but there are so many and you don't know how on earth to go about finding the right one. Unless you already know a religious community that you're interested in then it can be a very daunting task. So I decided to write this guide as a helping hand to finding a community. Now of course it isn't going to be foolproof by any stretch of the imagination but it's a combination of my own experiences, the experiences of my friends and my fairly extensive research into vocation discernment. You may find it more helpful to mix up the steps, you can follow this as loosely or as strictly as you like.

I recommend having a notebook, journal, etc. for keeping record lest you find an awesome community and forget what it was called and have to spend forever searching again. It can also be good to note down your feelings about different communities, spiritualities, etc. and this guide indicated places where I recommend writing stuff down. I find this good practice for discernment in general, so if you don't already have a journal then I recommend you invest in one.

This guide is for finding a contemplative community. If you feel called to active religious life, click here for our guide to finding an active community.

Holy Spirit Adoration Sister - Source

Step 1: What

I've called this step 'what' because the first big thing in narrowing down religious communities is quite simply by what they do.  

The question for contemplative communities is what kind of spirituality draws you. The simple way to go about this is to read about the different spiritualities, do a little research. It's easier than you'd think. If you're still at a loss, think about your favourite saints. If you see a pattern there of Trappists or Passionists or whatever then take that into account. If a certain spirituality appeals to you, make a shortlist in your journal. It's pretty normal to feel drawn to more than one to start with so don't worry if there are a few there. You can include why you feel drawn to those spiritualities and what appeals to you about them.

Benedictine Monks - Source

If you don't have a clue, think about the saints that inspire you. You could start with your patron/confirmation saint: even if you think your selection was random you never know, there could be some divine providence working there. If your patron saint is St. Teresa of Ávila then look up the Carmelites, and etc.

This list is by no means exhaustive but gives some notable monastic families:
  • Benedictines, Cistercians & Trappists
  • Carthusians
  • Carmelites & Discalced Carmelites
  • Poor Clares & Poor Clare Colletines
  • Visitation Sisters
  • Passionists
  • Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters
You can find our guide to discerning your spirituality here.

Benedictine Nun - Source

Step 2: About

So you've got your list of spiritualities. Now I do not recommend writing big long lists of things you're looking for in a community because you'll just get caught up in creating this fantasy community and it doesn't exist because you made it up. However, you should still think a little bit about it. This step involved trusting your instincts a lot. If you are discerning seriously, keeping to regular prayer and receiving the Sacraments often and of course keeping open to God's will then it makes it a lot easier (of course!). The reason I say trust your instincts is because if you are doing all those things I just talked about then God will guide you. For this step I recommend thinking of one or two things, absolutely no more than that, that you feel are important in a community. And by important I mean not just a slight preference but something you feel 100% drawn to and that you discern is 100% part of your vocation.

There are some things I suggest you consider. They may be very important for some but of no importance to others. I am by no means saying a community must do or must not do any other these things in order to be a good community but they are things that vary between communities. And of course keep them in prayer. These things may change over time as you discern and visit communities, you may find that some things are less important than you thought and that others are more important than you thought.
  • The form of the Mass available at the community. 
  • Whether or not the community wears the traditional habit.
  • Whether members take on a new religious name.
  • The individual and communal prayer practices of the community.
Passionist Nun - Source

Step 3: You 

Time to think about you. This may seem counter-intuitive but since you're the one joining there are things you need to consider. Some are things you can deal with before entering or discerning with a specific community, others are things you would have to discuss with a community. At this point I recommend making a list of questions to ask a potential community because otherwise you'll probably forget them all the second you start speaking to them. 
  • Do you have any allergies or intolerances, food or otherwise? Ask the community how this would be handled if you were to enter. 
  • Do you have any personal debts? How can you work to eliminate these debts? How long would it take to eliminate these debts? If you are in the US and have student loans note down the name of the Laboure Society. If you are in the UK, remember that student loans are not a barrier. 
  • Think about your emotional and mental state. Are there problems you think need some resolution? Silence can bring up unresolved things so it is worth giving this some thought. It's okay if you think there are some things you need to work on, we are only human after all and there are things that sometimes take a little time to work through.
Carmelite Nuns - Source

Step 4: Where

Now you've got a shortlist of spiritualities and a couple of things you think are important but how on earth do you go about finding these places?

My first suggestion is to go to your diocesan website. There should be a directory of religious communities in your diocese, if it's not on the website then speak to your parish priest who should have a directory. If you're in the UK you can find your diocesan website through here. If you live close to the edge of a diocese, check the neighbouring diocese as well. The simple reason for this suggestion is that chances are they're not too far away from you. This then gives you a lot more room for visiting different communities and getting experience of a variety of ways of contemplative life.

If there isn't a community of any of the spiritualities you are drawn to in your diocese then you have to look a little bit further afield. Some spiritualities will have more communities than others. For example, in the United States there are over 30 Carmelite communities and 4 Passionist communities. So depending on the spiritualities you have chosen you may have more options to work with. The Vocation Operation has a directory of religious communities separated by country and spirituality. Just click on your country in the right sidebar to go to the page and communities are listed by spirituality.

Carmelite Monks - Source

However it is you've found your communities, you can now begin looking more at the specifics of them. Look at the community websites, read about their practices and their history to get a sense of the community. Remember that other list you made, those two or three things you felt drawn to in a community? Keep these in mind as you look at different communities. If you find a community you feel drawn to, add it to a new list of communities you are interested in.

These are things I suggest you should try to find out about a prospective community. Do not worry if you cannot find them all out immediately, you can always ask if you visit or correspond with them.
  • Eligibility: what are the eligibility requirements for entrance? Some communities may not have any general requirements but some do so be sure to check this. They're usually nothing too complicated, the most common one is age restrictions.
  • Formation: what are the formation processes and how long are the various stages of formation? 
  • Horarium: it is good to try and get a general sense of the daily life of the community. This will only be a guide but will give you a good sense of what basic life is like. Consider asking the community what differences there are in the horarium for Sundays and feast days. 

Benedictine Nun - Source

Step 5: Contact

This is the scary part. Exciting, but at the same time for a lot of people mind-numbingly terrifying. The key here is to remember that the members of the community have all been through the exact same thing. This is also where distance starts to become a real factor. Try to prioritise that list of communities you feel drawn to. If you have multiple spiritualities still, I recommend contacting at least one or two communities from each so you can try to experience and discern both. When prioritising consider your distance from the community, how their spiritual practices attract you, how their community life and spirit attracts you.

Trappist Monks - Source

If the community is close to you, I recommend going for a visit. Even if it's just for an afternoon it will give you the chance to speak to someone face-to-face. Try to attend Mass at the community if you can, even if it's just once. If the community is not close by, you may want to correspond with them before making a visit since any visit would probably take more than just an afternoon. In your first letter I recommend including:
  • Your name and age - age is important because it tells a community where you're at in life and helps them respond to you appropriately. 
  • If you are studying or if you are working - again it tells a community where you're at in life which can be very useful for them. 
  • A little about your faith - were you raised Catholic or are you a convert? If the latter, when were you received into the Church? 
  • A little about your discernment - you can include how long have you been discerning for, if you have been discerning privately or with a spiritual director, etc. 
Carthusian Monks - Source

And now is where this guide leaves you and the community will take over from here. If the first community you contact doesn't work out, don't worry. It's totally normal to look at several communities before finding the right one. 

The most important thing is to trust in God and give yourself over to Him completely. Be open to what God is telling you and He will guide you to His will. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Blog Update: New Features

We have two new features: Guides and Saint's Corner.

The Guides are designed to advise and help you through various processes of discernment and religious life. I'm currently working on a few Guides though none have been published yet.

The Saint's Corner tells the story of various Saints, most of these will have been priests of religious. We already have one Saint's Corner on St. John Bosco and more will come soon.

If you have anything you'd like to see in any of our features then please do contact us, either in comments section or if you click "Contact Us" in the right sidebar you can contact us via Twitter or email.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Vocation Story, Sr. Elizabeth, OSB


Well, if I change my mind, you'll have to force me! I must have been only about 8 years old at the time but I remember the scene vividly. I had just declared to my Mum my intention of becoming a nun when I grew up. She had been pleased to hear this news, as she had always striven to foster within the souls of her children a deep love of Christ, but my older sisters had, as she pointed out to me, said the same thing when they had been small. I remember stamping my foot in despair, "Please, please promise to force me if I change my mind. I don't want to change my mind!" But no amount of pleading and wailing would persuade her to agree. I remember feeling indignant about her lack of co-operation, but also inwardly distressed by the fact that one day I might stop desiring something which I wanted more than anything I could think of, that during that strange period of my life awaiting me in the distant future, which my Mum had termed "the terrible teens", I might begin to reject what I once loved and love what I had once rejected.

I don't know why I desired the religious life with the ardour I did. I was far too young to know what it meant to be a nun. But the call was there, and somehow I sensed it, without in any way being able to express it. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means to call. A vocation is a call from God, a call of love from His Heart to the heart of the one called. In my case the call came early on. Thank God it did, for I was still open and receptive enough to be able to hear it clearly. I feel that this early call was an act of mercy on the part of God and I am always edified when I hear stories of people discerning a call much later on in life and still being open enough to respond with generosity and enthusiasm.

Many years had to pass before I was able to answer the call of love. The terrible teens struck and although they didn't have the dramatic effect I had feared, my enthusiasm for the religious life was by no means as forceful as it had been. I think that this gradual waning of enthusiasm was a necessary part of the process of learning to respond fully to His call. If I had stuck to the resolution I had made at 8 years old and held to this ideal against all odds, there would have been the danger that my vocation was something I had chosen to do rather than a listening to and discerning the real call of God. The stubborn determination to do what I thought God wanted me to do had to change to a willing and loving acceptance of God's Will, simply because it is His Will and for no other reason.

I settled on nursing as a prospective career and as I had a year to spare at the end of my A levels, I worked as a nursing assistant in the JR hospital in Oxford while at the same time securing a place at University to study nursing the following year. Everything was set up and ready....but was I? Though I often pretended not to notice, the desires of my heart were pulling me in a different direction. During a family holiday to the Isle of Wight a couple of years earlier we had visited St Cecilia's Abbey in Ryde, and as I had prayed in the church with my Mum I had experienced an overwhelming sense that this was where God wanted me to be. During the months following the visit I had been longing to return. My enthusiasm for the religious life was at a height, though I mentioned nothing of it to my family. But again, as time passed, the memory of that strong sense of call faded and with it, the enthusiasm. It never completely disappeared but it seemed to become less and less urgent as I became more and more distracted by other things. The Lord didn't seem to be acting, so I got on with making my own plans for the future. I don't know quite how I had expected Him to act. I was too blind to see that He had already been very active in my life, not least in rather miraculously getting me to St Cecilia's Abbey at a time when I was planning the next stage in my life. He had done His part - I should have been ready to do mine. But I wasn't. The start date of my course was looming and I refused to speak out. So He had to intervene in a more painful way.

My Mum had for a long time been suffering from a rare medical condition. As a result of complications linked with this illness, she was rushed into hospital with internal bleeding in summer 2005. This had happened once before when I was 10 and she only survived by what my Dad referred to as "an absolute miracle". This experience had shaken me deeply and seeing it all happen again was like re-living my worst nightmare. We had been told that it would happen again. Every night I had pleaded with God that it might not happen this night. And now it had happened. After a failed intervention we were called in to say goodbye before she was taken to theatre for a high risk attempt to save her life. They were perhaps some of the most painful, heart-rending moments of my life, but it was in the midst of this great suffering that the Lord opened my heart to receive one of the greatest graces of my life - the grace to speak out. I don't know what made me say it - perhaps I feared that if I didn't, she would never know the secret in my heart on earth and I didn't want to keep anything from her at what seemed to be the end. "Mum, I want to be a nun". She turned to meet my eyes and gave me the most beautiful, heavenly smile, "Oh, Lizzie..." Before she was whisked away she told me that I must speak to a priest about it and I promised her I would. The Lord had intervened in the most mysterious way. I had kept my vocation to myself for so long that if I hadn't literally been forced to tell someone, I'm not sure I ever would have. But the Lord was having His way and now that I had spoken my desire aloud, I knew that there was no going back. By another against-all-odds miracle, Mum pulled through after long days and nights in Intensive Care. Not long after she came home she brought up the subject of my vocation and again urged me to speak to a priest. Only when I received a letter from the University asking for a definite confirmation of acceptance did I reluctantly make an appointment to see him. He strongly suggested that I write that afternoon, explaining my situation and asking about the possibility of a visit.

I was invited to visit for a week in early September. I loved my time at the Abbey. Everything about the life delighted me: the glorious liturgy, the warm and friendly community, the work in the large garden and altar bread department, and above all the powerful atmosphere of peace and recollection which seemed, literally, to breathe holiness. A few days inside the monastery was all the incentive I needed to send off the letter to the University with a tick in the box by the statement rejecting the place. This was a big weight off my mind and I felt very happy with the decision. I promised to return in November for a longer stay of 3 weeks inside the enclosure. Not long after I got home, however, I was faced with the turmoil of Mum's second hospitalisation, only three months after the previous emergency. No one thought she could possibly pull through this time, but pull through she did. The doctors, however, were far from reassuring. "It will happen again," they told us bluntly, "It's just a matter of time". And next time, they said, there would be no medical interventions. The last procedure had caused a lung to collapse and further attempts along these lines would be too risky.

Mum returned home in mid October and my three-week visit was due in November. I was anxious about leaving her for three weeks in case anything happened while I was away, and I was overcome with doubts as to how I could join the Community anyway when my Mum was so unwell. As my Dad and brother were at home to look after Mum, I kept to the planned dates. During my time at the Abbey I fixed a preliminary entry date, 25th March, as I felt I needed some kind of anchor when I returned to the world. But I was still unsure about whether I could actually go ahead. In the end it was Mum herself who decided the matter. She said that there was no way she was going to stand in the way of my vocation. She might live for a long time yet and she wouldn't have me sitting around waiting for her. These were brave, completely selfless words, as I know for myself just how much the sacrifice cost her. On a human level, I think she would have valued having me around to help her more than anything, but all that mattered to her was the will of God, and if He was calling me to the monastery, then go I must.

It often happens that when someone has made a decision to follow God's call and embrace the religious life, they experience what could be described as a counter-call, something that will make the response to God's call all the more radical. This could be anything, from an amazing job offer, the career opportunity of one's dreams, to a marriage proposal, but there is usually something to pull one's heart in the opposite direction and so enhance the value of the sacrifice in His eyes. In my case, that something was my Mum's illness. The months leading up to my entry were not easy ones. But I knew that to put off following His call would be to put my vocation at risk in a serious way. There is always something urgent and impelling about His call, which demands an immediate response on the part of the one called. When we read the accounts of Jesus calling his disciples in the Gospels, we see that His call invariably demands this total, immediate response: And immediately they left their nets and followed Him (Mk 1:18). Those who put forward even legitimate excuses meet with rebuke: No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Lk 9:62). Follow me - Jesus calls, and it is for the disciple to respond with all the alacrity and generosity of which he is capable. I also had to keep reminding myself that with the grace of a religious vocation comes the grace to respond to that vocation. If I am open to His grace, then His strength, made perfect in weakness, will be mine. Nothing is impossible for God.

On 25th March 2006, 6 months after my 19th birthday, I entered the monastery. The parting with my family was painful, but looking back, I do not think I would have wanted it in any other way. Like married life, the religious life is a life of self-giving love, and thus involves sacrifice, immolation. In Our Lord�s life, love and sacrifice go hand in hand: He loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal 2:20). It was love that drew me to the monastery, and if sacrifice is only love put into action, then that love found its expression in a desire to give my life to Him, who gave His life for me. And like David, I would not have wanted to offer to the Lord a sacrifice that cost me nothing (2 Sam 24:24).

The Lord is never outdone in generosity. The contemplative life, that hidden life of prayer and praise, of love and sacrifice, lived within the silence and tranquillity of the cloister, bestows upon the soul a peace and joy which the world doesn't know. "I have found my heaven on earth", exclaimed Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, "since Heaven is God, and God is in my soul." The liturgy with its beautiful Gregorian Chant, our prayer, reading and study, silence, life in community, all these things strive to deepen that union with God in the soul which makes our life here below already a foretaste of the life that awaits us in heaven. But if it is a law that love and sacrifice go hand in hand in this life, it follows that joy, the fruit of love, is also a partner with sacrifice. My Clothing Day was the happiest of my life thus far, but less than a month afterwards, my family broke the news to me that Mum's general condition had worsened. She was rushed into hospital on Palm Sunday and died on Good Friday, April 6th 2007. There are also the smaller sacrifices of each day. St Benedict in his Rule sums up the doctrine of religious asceticism in one sentence: the monk is "to deny himself in order to follow Christ". And did not Christ himself state quite clearly in the Gospel that the disciple who would come after Him must be prepared to deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Him (cf. Lk 9:23)? If we come to God by following in the footsteps of Christ, then cross-bearing and the avoidance of all that might hinder our progress along the path of life must form an essential part of our journey.

A religious vocation carries with it the grace to go all the way in love and thus all the way in sacrifice, love-in-action. When one loves, one wants to give oneself wholly to the object of one's love and to hold nothing back in the giving. On Profession day, this act of self-giving love is solemnly ratified by the Church. As I approach this great day, I find myself drawn more than ever to the contemplation of Christ Crucified. It is in this supreme act of self-giving love, made perpetually present in the Church through the daily sacrifice of the Mass, that our own sacrifices, great and small, find their meaning.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Vocation Story: Sr Juliana, O.Cist

Source

During my senior year in high school, I remember praying intensely to discover God’s will for my life. Would it be the married state? Single life in the world? Or the religious life? I didn’t really mind which one, so long as it was God’s holy will for me. Then, the summer after my freshman year at Thomas Aquinas College, I was looking over a book called Why I Entered the Convent. Many different orders were represented and a member of a different order wrote each chapter. I didn’t read the book from cover to cover, but was skimming the chapters that caught my eye. It annoyed me that there were only active sisters in there. Teachers, nurses, social workers, missionaries...there was not a single contemplative community represented! Then the thought occurred to me—“You be that contemplative” and “I need you to be a contemplative nun.” (“Need” meaning “want very much”!) Maybe it was not a perfectly logical syllogism, but it was at this point that I knew God really wanted me to be a nun. And at the same time, I discovered how much I really wanted to, also!

My next step was to visit a contemplative community and speak with the vocation directress. The monastery I was most familiar with was St. Benedict’s Center, which had both nuns and monks at that time. I spoke with Mother Mary Clare, who was very kind, and sensing my immaturity, suggested that I go for one more year of college. This I did, and consequently continued my education at Thomas Aquinas College, graduating in 1986.

My spiritual director, Father Vincent, helped me to further discern God’s call. It was during this time that I discovered a beautiful monastery overseas. It seemed right to me. I loved the way they sang the Divine Office, I loved the thought of being far away from home, hidden in a life totally dedicated to God. That was something very attractive to me. I felt so free and sure and glad about my vocation!

However, my experience at that monastery was complex. Cut off from family, God was literally all I had. I had never felt close to anyone outside my own family, and the community was definitely outside that circle. But I didn’t mind or care—I had God. I loved God. After my year as a postulant my superiors weren’t sure what to do. They had doubts about my vocation, I guess, because I still hadn’t “warmed up.” About that time, the elderly abbess retired from office and a younger one was elected. The new abbess asked me what I thought about the unexplained delay in my clothing ceremony. In my usual stoic way, with scant emotion, I replied with what was recently read at Mass: “In the Gospel, Christ says not to worry about your clothing or what you are to wear.” She was impressed with this answer and right then decided I was ready for the habit. I could sense that God was telling me to “stay there.” This was in the fall of 1987.

I could really relate to our new abbess. The thought entered my mind that even if she felt incompetent as a mother to all the older sisters, she could be a good mother to me! At last, I “had a place,” a role to play: her spiritual daughter! We had a really close friendship, a first for me. No matter how close we were, I still was extremely reliant on God, asking Him about everything I did before I did it, including everything with regard to the abbess.

A short while later, the abbess’ parents came to visit. We were all in the parlor and she announced, “Does anyone want to come up [to the grill] and meet my parents?” I did! I really wanted to meet the parents of my friend! Nobody made a move to come forward. But I stepped up toward the elderly couple and at the same time glanced in the direction of the abbess and saw that her face had a look of embarrassment! I was crushed! Later when I turned to God in prayer after this, it felt like He “let me down.” I was depressed, to say the least. But God was still saying to “stay there.” So I stuck it out.

After a year of postulancy and a two-year novitiate, the time for my first vows was approaching. The abbess asked me, “Do you feel at home here?” I definitely never felt “at home” in that foreign land. I answered, “No, Heaven is my home.” When I prayed, I still had a sense that God was saying “stay there,” but I was really unhappy.

Later I prayed, “Please, let me not have to be here!” One night, I went to the chapel to get things straight with God. When He said, “I want you to stay there.” I argued, “There? Stay there? If you call this place “there,” that means you’re not here! And I don’t want to be where you’re not!” I suddenly felt happy—I felt victorious! Sometimes God wants us to stand up to Him—like the Syro-Phoenician woman. And I felt something like her in this situation. After this conversation I knew I was free to leave.


I was really happy upon departing from there. I was also eager to do whatever God wanted. I ended up taking a schoolteacher position. Shortly thereafter I started getting really depressed, worse than at that monastery!

Returning to St. Benedict Center, I found Father Basil who really helped me. Together we discerned God’s calling for my life. He asked “Would you like to be married?” I answered, “I’d make a weird mother!” “Would you give anything to be a mother?” “No! But I would give anything to be a nun!” The words were out before I had a chance to stop them! I quickly added: “I mean, it would have to be God’s will...” But he was just smiling, and at that point we both knew my vocation was to the religious life! I was so happy again!

I took a vocation manual, which listed all the orders in the United States, and an open mind to the Lord saying, “Lord, whatever You decide—active or contemplative.” I started making a list of the orders that attracted me. When I finished, I read over the list. I found that they were all contemplative, not a single active one. So that decision was easy.

I began visiting various houses on the East coast. Yet Father Basil knew about Valley of Our Lady Cistercian Monastery, and so I wrote to them for information. I remember holding the letter I received from them when I went to see Father Basil. We talked about other topics and I hadn’t said a word about the Cistercians, and he suddenly said, “So, what’s the good news?” pointing to the letter in my hand. We both laughed. It must have been the happy way I held it! The good news was the answer to my question: Are you allowed to eat snacks between meals? “Yes, we have a time for a coffee break in the morning and in the afternoon.” This made me so glad, because at my previous monastery, they had only the three meals and my metabolism needs more frequent fuelling. But what convinced me that Valley of Our Lady was right for me, was that after two visits I had the conviction, “I could love these sisters.” My experience at the other monastery was more a solo project preventing me from seeing community life as it really is, a “foretaste of Heaven.”

Looking back now, I see that it was truly a beautiful and fervent community. I see that it probably could have been God’s arena to work on me, to prepare me. The problems were within me, not in my surroundings, and God graciously “took me where I was.”

What did God’s words “Stay there” mean? Perhaps it was revealing to me that my decision was “somebody else’s wish,” and what needed to take place was a decision coming from my own heart. But even a misunderstanding of God’s message can be a real part of God’s ways. Mistakes and even sins within the decision process don’t bother God. He blithely uses all sorts of materials for His divine purposes! I’m thinking of Jesus’ own genealogy. How many foreigners, prostitutes, illegitimate children, and sins are involved! So this should give us plenty of reason to hope in our own discernment process, that in the end, we’ll get it right, with God’s help.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Community Spotlight: Monastery of St Thomas, Apostle, New Zealand





Order: Discalced Carmelites
Gender: Women
Charism: Contemplative/cloistered
Eligibility: Generally between 20-35 years of age but will consider older or younger aspirants
Formation: 6-18 month postulancy, 2 years novitiate, 3-6 years temporary vows with renewal made each year
Vows: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience
Practices: Divine Office, daily examination of conscience,
History: The community was founded in 1937 by seven nuns from a community in Australia. They spent two months as guests of the Good Shepherd sisters before finding a suitable residence for themselves.


Recommended:

News

St. Therese
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
Remembering Our Sisters - this is a very sweet page dedicated to their sisters who have gone to the Lord.