Nothing has ever wounded the Heart of Jesus more than ingratitude. 

Fr. Bonaventure Heurlautlare (Father Founder, Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration)

November Morning

paverflowerEarly one brisk November morning, the surprising sight of this hearty little flower was more help to overcome sleepiness than the chill in the air. Waking up to the fact that this tiny zinnia was doing something unusual brought into focus over a dozen counterparts in full bloom across a stretch of pavers. This flower’s flourishing in a seeming wasteland was quite a contrast to the inevitable between-paver inhabitants of weeds and moss. The analogy that hit home was parable-like. Most likely planted by wind or bird, and germinating in a rather unfavorable setting, the full life of the flower had not been squelched. This little plant in some way reflects just what the Spirit of the Lord does as He blows where He wills (cf Jn 3:8). Buried as we are with Christ in baptism, the seed of Divine Life given us begins to blossom of its own accord. And if we do not smother this supernatural growth, if we abide in Him, we can exclaim with St. Paul: Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Suds and Sanctity

dishes

Here at the monastery above the large kitchen sink - where piles of pots, measuring cups, serving spoons, & sometimes-burnt pans are washed day after day - is perched a little holy card of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Maybe you’ve seen this photo of her, bending over the wash pool in Carmel, next to her sister Celine. The caption is a saying of the Saint: “To ecstasy, I prefer the monotony of sacrifice.” Sounds rather heroic. And yet, it is a prime characteristic of what distinguishes her in all her extraordinary ‘humanness.’ Her Little Way is a sure path to holiness and is accessible to all who desire the sanctity of the beatitudes. It is a road for those despoiled (or rather being despoiled!) of self-sufficiency and growing in an ever-deepening experience of the Lord's words: "without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). Therese didn’t rely on her own gumption when facing hours in a stuffy laundry with Sisters possessing a spectrum of personalities, but she continually sought wisdom and assistance from above. Next to her exceptional poverty of spirit, her ‘mourning’ for the sins and failings of herself and others often took the form of self-sacrifice. Desiring to console Jesus by quenching his thirst for souls, she embarked on the path of self-denial. By curbing petty curiosity or offering to help a demanding Sister, she entered into the joy that is a fruit of the Cross. Although these are thoughts on just two of the beatitudes, meekness, mercy, purity of heart and genuine peacemaking were all Christian attributes St. Therese pursued with a courageous boldness. She has paved this Little Way to such an extraordinary degree, that we really have no excuses, no reasons why we can’t start, or start again, or continue on our way to complete and eternal Beatitude – all with grace from above!

Remembering Sister Mary Vincentia

SMV 485x551Sister Mary Vincentia Wszolek of the Holy Trinity, PCPA died on August 24th, a day after celebrating her 100th birthday. A member of Our Lady of the Angels monastery, Sister Vincentia was in residence at the Mohun Health Care Center in Ohio, having lived at the Portsmouth OH, St. Joseph Adoration Monastery since her entrance in the PCPA Order.

Born Marie Theresa Wszolek on Aug. 23, 1917, in Chicago to Anthony and Anna (Florek) Wszolek, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago at the young age of 16 on Oct. 4, 1933, made her first profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1936 and her perpetual profession on Aug. 12, 1942.

She was an able apartment supervisor at Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, for nine years and received a bachelor of science degree in medical technology in 1951 from Creighton University in Omaha. She also served as a laboratory supervisor for 23 years at St. John Hospital in Huron, South Dakota, before following her call to the contemplative life with the Poor Clares. She professed her final vows as a PCPA on May 10, 1974.

Sister Vincentia loved her vocation with all her Polish intensity and fervor. She had deep love for our Lord and the Blessed Mother had a special devotion to our Lady of Sorrows. Sister was always very mindful of the sufferings of Our Lady and would often say: “Oh she suffered so much for us.” Sister Vincentia never allowed old age to hinder her when it came to community living. Sister faithfully made her way to the Chapel with her walker for community prayer, Mass and for her daily holy hour. She never missed being part of community dishes and she took care of the laundry until she couldn’t manage the work anymore. She gave her sisters a shining and a profound example of a bride of Christ who embraced Him in all things. We will never forget her great laugh at community recreation and her tender love for each one of her Sisters in community. Sr. Vincentia would say to the young Sisters after their ceremonies: “Holy perseverance.” Her favorite prayer “Jesus, Mary and Joseph I love you; save souls” was constantly in her heart and mind. As faithful intercessor for all in need during her time here on earth, we pray that she be admitted to the company of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints.

Where Senses Fail

tabernacle smallWith the great Solemnity of Corpus Christi upon us, the celebration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Saints lead the way in contemplation of this fathomless mystery…

Put aside all care and preoccupation and receive with joy the most holy Body and the most holy Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in holy remembrance of Him.”  - St Francis of Assisi

The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood. We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. In this way, adoration becomes union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in Him. – Pope Benedict XVI

To make room in our life for the Eucharistic Lord, so that He can change our life into His is that asking too much?  - St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Corpus Christi: the day of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, worship, joy and silent wonder par excellence. In all these aspects of prayer we meet God; ‘God with us’ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The same Jesus Christ who was born of Mary, lived in Nazareth, called the apostles, healed the blind, raised the dead, forgave sinners, was crucified on Calvary and is eternally risen and truly alive – this is the Lord and humble Savior we receive. In awe of His Presence, the book of Sirach says it best: “Though we speak much we cannot reach the end, and the sum of our words is: "He is the all." (Sir 43:27) May you have a blessed Feast with Our Eucharistic Lord!

The Hymn: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence translated by Gerard Moultrie

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
Comes the powers of hell to vanquish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Requiem aeternam dona ea, Domine

MothersNameOne year ago on March 27th, 2016, Mother Angelica passed on to eternal life. It was Easter Sunday, just before evening when she went home to God. In the Scriptures which Mother loved so much, that was the time (close to Easter evening) when the two disciples going to Emmaus, distraught and discouraged, met the Risen Lord. What He said of Himself is also reflected in the members of Christ’s body and Mother herself: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (Lk 24:26). Filled with gratitude for Mother’s life, we continue to give thanks for her who is among those that as the Roman Missal says, “have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.”  We give thanks for her love for Our Lord and the Church, her zeal for souls, her vocation, her passion for evangelization, her humor, her silent suffering; all these gifts that have born fruit. And we are grateful to you too who supported Mother and her endeavors for the Faith over the years. May God continue to fulfill the good works that He began through her innumerable “yeses” and keep us faithful until the end!

 A Quip from Mother herself: “We worry about the past, we worry about the future, and we worry about the present. I mean, what worry-warts we are! We worry instead of saying, “He’s watching me. He sees me and He loves me.” That’s why He says, “Courage. It is I, do not be afraid.”

Lent to Glory

Francis and ClareWith Lent well under way, lest with the Israelites in the desert our “patience [wears] out with the journey” (Num 21:4), let us look heaven-ward for the encouragement we need. One of those interceding for us in eternity who lived an almost entirely “Lenten life” we could say, offers us solid advice for our struggles and a glimpse of “the joy that lay before [us].” (Heb 12:2) Like Christ, tried in His fast in the desert, Saint Clare knew the dangers of the subtle temptation to choose an apparent good (the “why not….?”) and the fury of an all-out battle with the powers of darkness. She exhorts us in the face of “false delights of a deceptive world” to “close [our] ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts.” The Saint assures us that God Himself will “be [our] help and best comforter for He is our Redeemer and our eternal reward.”

Throughout these forty days, we hear Jesus speak of His immanent passion and death. Throughout her life, rather than retreat from the Cross, our Holy Mother hastened to share in Christ’s suffering, His surrender to the Father. From the dramatic ‘exodus’ she undertook from the security of all wealth, inherited status and home, to her prolonged illness at the close of her life, she sought to mirror the One who gave His life for us. She expresses her response to His love in this way: “Look upon Him Who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him.” His sorrow, His pain became her own. As she writes to St. Agnes of Prague “That Mirror, suspended on the wood of the Cross urged those who pass by to consider saying: ‘All you who pass by the way, look and see if there is any suffering like My suffering!’ (Lam 1:12). Let us answer Him with one voice and spirit…”

In the midst of her identification with the Suffering Servant, the paradox of the Gospel in her life reaches completion. As the Church beholds our Savior transfigured in glory on the second Sunday of Lent, we see too Clare’s life of self-offering to her Spouse in turn shot through with the light of His splendor in her prayer and ‘being-with’ Him.  She lived continually “[Placing her] mind before the mirror of eternity! [Placing her] soul in the brilliance of glory…[tasting] the hidden sweetness which God Himself has reserved… for those who love Him.” Even in the midst of Lent with Easter weeks away, this foretaste of Heaven is offered to us too. We can entreat with St. Clare, “Draw me after You!...I will run and not tire…”

 

 Many Poor Clares around the world commemorate Saint Clare’s consecration and the founding of the Second Order on March 18th – the night she left home in secret and was received by Saint Francis at the Portiuncula. More than 800 years later, the light of our Holy Mother’s love for Christ continues to illuminate the world!

Hidden Treasure

shrine-snow blogIt happened not too long ago, while taking the trash out in the darkness of a winter evening. Upon glancing up at the sky before hurrying back into the kitchen, a bright  ‘star’ streaked through the blackness, seeming to spark and sputter into flaring pieces before it vanished. It was breathtaking. Astonishing. Being ignorant as to whether or not a heavy meteor shower was due, such a startling sight provoked questions among us. What did it mean?? Reflecting on the Lord’s Epiphany yesterday, it was all the more striking in the light of this recent event that the Magi in turn knew exactly what the Star of Bethlehem meant. Thus knowing, they sought (not without cost!). And being led in their seeking they found Him, the One in whom all things find their meaning.  The Magi can give us too the enduring treasure they hold, the wisdom born of that humility that falls down in adoration of the Christ, ‘the maker of the starry skies.’

            As this beautiful Christmas season draws to a close today with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, here is an excerpt from a Christmas reflection by our Sr. Mary Gabriel: “God’s Will ought to be like a treasure hunt. His Will is our treasure. Sometimes the treasure doesn’t look too good; it isn’t always bright and shiny, because it is sometimes hidden by dirt. When God’s Will includes trials and difficulties, we can look at the situation as a ‘dusty treasure’… but a treasure nonetheless. Every great adventurer and treasure-hunter can see through the dirt, can see through the dust and dirt in order to find a true treasure. And the greatest Adventurer and the greatest Treasure-hunter is Jesus Christ! So we have to see through the ‘dust’ as Jesus does. We have to see God in everything, as Our Lady did, totally surrendered to God’s Providence in the present moment, going on the donkey to the cave. There she recognized the ‘dusty’ situation truly was a treasure, never to be forgotten down the ages. She accepted with love the poverty and hardship, and she atoned by her love for what the world did not give to our Lord. We also have to make atonement for all the coldness and indifference the world gives to our Lord. Atonement is a treasure to the Lord… a bright and shiny treasure.” 

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