Dominus Illuminatio Mea

"...the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the FULL manifestantion of His boundless love." Ecclesia de Eucharistia

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!! I received a beautiful (4 page!) letter from a Benedictine Sister in Vermont. I think I'll share a little of it because she had so many wonderful things to say about contemplative life...

The Church likes to say that her cloistered nuns are inserted in the very heart of the Church. It is there, silently, that we can be and are a presence of intercession for all, a presence of love, adoration, and praise. When we pray the Divine Office we do so praying in the name of ALL our brothers and sisters in the world--for all of them and their needs...

You could call contemplatives "spiritual missionaries." Seeing the intentions and needs of the world--though I will think about them and offer them to God--I think the most important thing for me is to EMBRACE those needs and difficulties very intensely and bring them deep within my heart and soul so that in a sense they are always there before the face of God whether I explicitly think of them or not. Does that make sense? We are all God's so He can use all that we are and do according to His Good pleasure. Is it not that our continually moving toward union with Him, our continual striving for peace in our own hearts will draw--in a mysterious way, no doubt--all the world along with us? This was the great light of your confirmation patroness St. Therese. The Church is a body and that body has a heart. SHe likened her position as a contemplative as being in the heart of the Church, being love so that the missionaries can do what they need to do, the martyrs have courage to face what they must face, etc...Like Mary conceived Christ first in her heart (the Church Fathers like to say) before she became His Mother in the flesh, consecrated women are mothers in the spirit, spiritual mothers...
Perhaps I could add a reflection on our enclosure? Papal enclosure is a demanding yet privileged way to live our unique search for God. It is our desert, as the ancient fathers had theirs...only no sand here! The prophets of the Old Testament constantly come back on the theme of the privilege relationship of Israel and her God that was part of their experience of the desert (they recall this expecially when there has been infidelity on the part of the people). The prophets clearly set this in terms of bridal imagery; the covenant that binds God to his people is an alliance full of tender loving mercy, and forgiveness. All of this is very speaking for us who live an enclosed life. You remember Jesus too went apart to pray and bid his disciples to do the same.."And he said unto them, Come yourselves apart into the desert place, and rest awhile." This "rest" might be linked to the contemplative search for God. What the Church teaches, following tradition, is that this hidden life has a mysterious fecundity for each one, but also for the whole world as mentioned above. By drawing closer to the heart of God's Love we draw all along with us. Like the Master our lives are poured out for other through our service of praise and intercession, through daily conversion that is (hopefully!!) configuring and TRANSforming us into the Beloved; it is the (spiritual) union in love that is fruitful. It is God who calls and He is the One who sustains one could claim that strength for himself! This vocation to contemplative is so truly a gratuitous gift of God: we can only respond with the greatest humility but also the total gift of self with no regreats and no look backward, no compromises.

Wow! Thank you, Sister!! It may appear that this whole post has nothing at all to do with Lent, but for me it does! The evangelical counsels bind one to Christ crucified in His Love that is beyond expression.

Ok. That's all the blogging I have to do tonight. I watched the little nephew today and it is amazing how fast some one so small can wear you out! Have a blessed rest of the Lenten season at the foot of the cross.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sorry, avert your eyes unless you want to read an entirely vocation related post.

First, I received the very exciting news that Sr. Marie Cecile will be making her first Profession in May! She is a novice with the Byzantine Carmelites and a very beatiful soul. When I stayed up there during the summer, Mother Superior sent me to do some garden work with her one afternoon. We talked and talked, and she taught me so much about consecrated life just by her demeanor. Hard to explain. Like all the Sisters at Sugarloaf, she had an amazing sense of humor too! I had to go a few steps into the cloister garden while we were working, and she fixed me with a dead serious look and said, "Elizabeth, now according to canon law you're a chosen soul!" then winked. Anyway, please keep her in your prayers!

Other news in the vocation world...One of the brothers at St. Vincent told me a little about the Passionist Nuns who live quite near us. He gave me the phone number for the Superior there, but as of yet, I haven't had the nerve to call her! Lent is generally a time of deeper silence for cloistered Sisters anyway, so maybe I'll wait until we celebrate Christ's Resurrection to give her a call.

St. Joseph's Monastery and Holy Annuciation continue to be very much on my mind. I'm looking forward to talking to Mother Dolores in the next few weeks.

And last, but definitely not least, my brother in Christ recently got his application papers and will be (God willing) entering in October. PRAY for him!!!!! What a beautiful vocation!
Peace is the gift of Christ, which he obtained for us with the sacrifice of the Cross. To achieve it effectively it is necessary to climb with the divine Teacher up to Calvary. And who can guide us better in this ascent than Mary who, as she stood at the foot of the Cross, was given to us as our mother through the faithful apostle, St John? To help the young discover this marvellous spiritual reality, I chose as the theme of my Message for World Youth Day this year the words of the dying Christ: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19: 27). Accepting this testament of love, John opened his home to Mary (cf. Jn 19: 27), that is, he welcomed her into his life, sharing with her a completely new spiritual closeness. The intimate bond with the Mother of the Lord will lead the "beloved disciple" to become the apostle of that Love that he drew from the Heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

"Behold, your mother!" Jesus addresses these words to each of you, dear friends. He also asks you to take Mary as your mother "into your home", to welcome her "as one of yours", because "she will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mould you until Christ is fully formed in you" (Message for WYD, n. 3; ORE, 19 March 2003, p. 6). May Mary make it so that you respond generously to the Lord's call, and persevere with joy and fidelity in the Christian mission!

-Homily for Palm Sunday(2003), Pope John Paul II