Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh, and...I nearly forgot!!!!

Merry Christmas!

Flambee or Flambe?


Over the past couple months, Sr. Caprice has been trying to teach me how to cook. I thought I mastered the art of microwaving, however I quickly discovered that God did not present me with the passion for the preparation of processing provisions. As Sr. Caprice explained, I was the cause of the catastrophe.

It all started a couple months ago after everyone came back from their day out (and my free-day in the Monastery - are we EVER going to give this place a name?). Sr. Caprice freaked out because of a bug that was found in the hallway. She grabbed a can of Raid in one of the closets and nearly asphyxiated us by spraying nearly the entire can on one small harmless ant. She thought it was empty and mindlessly left it on the kitchen counter during one of our cooking sessions. The next day I was going through one of her cookbooks and saw a really cool recipe for Carmelized Bananas (also called flambe - I pronounced it like flum-bee, like a bumble bee). I wasn't sure what a 'flambe' was, but caramelized bananas sounded like a great treat on ice cream for a hot summer day.

So when she and Mother Frangelico went out to do the gardening, I was in charge of making lunch. Normally for lunch we have sandwiches or leftovers, which I heat up in the microwave - no problem, right? Wrong!

The Recipe:

4 bananas
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cognac
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Tia Maria
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 oranges
Rind of 1 lemon, sliced
Whipped cream
Place bananas, brown sugar, cognac and lemon juice. Marinate 15 minutes. Heat butter and sugar, cook until caramelized. When golden brown pour in orange juice; mix well. Cook 2 or 3 minutes. Stir constantly. Add banana mix to orange mix; add lemon rind and cook 1 minute. Pour in Tia Maria and flambe. Cook 1 minute on high. Add whipped cream and cinnamon.

Doesn't that sound just scrumptious? I found all the ingredients except for the Tia Maria. I had never heard of 'cognac' so I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I found a nearly full bottle hidden in one of the cupboards, way behind the good bowls on the very top shelf in the kitchen. I combined the bananas, brown sugar, cognac, and lemon juice. Since I am not able to use the stove or oven yet, I heated everything in the microwave. When I took them out, it looked a bit runny, so I added more of the cognac stuff and put it back in the microwave. It turned a light shade of brown, which I figured was carmelized. I added the brown sugar & orange juice and put it back into the microwave for 2 minutes.

As the flambe was cooking, I started setting the table. I found a drawer full of candles & holders and thought it would be a nice touch for a quiet lunch. However, I went to check on the flambee and looked - it was still cooking. I thought that was odd, but quickly dismissed the thought and continued to set the table and get the rest of lunch ready.

After I had the plates & silver set, I lit the candles. I heard some sputtering in the kitchen so I went back to see how the bananas were doing. I placed the candles on the counter, pulled the mixture out of the microwave and put it on the counter. When all of a sudden the entire thing exploded! It looked like a fireworks show. The kitchen quickly went up into flames!

I quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher on the counter & started spraying the mixture and anything else that was flaming. The fire billowed from the can - it looked like a fire-breathing dragon! It set the drapes and towels on fire. I looked at the canister I was holding - it was the can of Raid!

I couldn't reach the water from the sink because of the fire so I pulled one of the fire extinguishers off of the far wall, pulled the fire lever on the wall next to it, and hoisted the extinguisher on my hip. But by this time, the entire kitchen was engulfed in flames and the little fire extinguisher did nothing, not to mention I couldn't see & could barely breathe! I ran out of the kitchen into the hallway to get a breath of air - smoke & fire billowed from the kitchen.

I conceded trying to fight the flames and ran out of the Monastery. Mother Frangelico and Father ran over to see if I was okay. The fire trucks and ambulance came in about 2 minutes, but by that time, the entire first floor of the Monastery was in flames and it was heading up to the 2nd story. We all looked in horror at the sight.

After explaining all of this to Mother Frangelico & Father, my days of 'preparing' any meals is over. I have been completely banned from the kitchen, with the exception of peeling potatoes, which I will be doing for the rest of my LIFE!

(And, please pray for Sr. Perpetua! I can not imagine the horror she must be feeling to be in a strange country, not understand the language, and not understand why you are being detained. AND I am seriously praying that a firing squad is NOT issued! We need angelic protection and we need it fast!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

About. Sr. Perpetua

Um...I left this out of the other post, but Mother Frangelico and Father both said I should deliver the news.

Sr. Perpetua is not with us.

We still don't have all the facts,'s in prison in Mexico. It had something to do with the Federales on the bus that they robbed, and we're not sure what she did or said, or if she did or said anything. We're really not at all certain of what has happened to her.

Mother Frangelico has spoken with our Bishop here, and the Bishop there, and they are working together to get her out. They think she might have been mistaken for a Marxist femmie leader, or maybe a drug dealer. If that's the case, it'll be tricky getting her out.

And keeping her away from the firing squad.

Oh...actually, Sr. Maxine reminded me that Sr. Perpetua is actually in San Salvador. Her "arrest" happened when we passed through, but we were on seperate buses.

Anyway, it's all the same, the language and jungle are the same, as far as this is concerned.

So please keep Sr. Perpetua in your prayers. The Firing Squad is a real possiblity and she didn't do anything!

We'll let you know what happens.

I think even the Benedictines are praying for her, because we told them, too. They're going to take action and send a squad of Protesters to the prison in San Salvador and to the School of the Americas in North Carolina (or wherever that is).

We're Baaaaaaaaaak!

Greetings, everyone!

Even though we just got in the door, Mother Frangelico said I should jump on the computer and give an explanation for our absence for so long. It was a surprise to all of us.

First, it happened that we had a fire in the kitchen when Sr. Maxine was trying to cook up a surprise. She did her best, but things got out of control, and instead of grabbing the fire extinguisher, she grabbed a can of RAID I'd left nearby. Well, she sprayed the stove, and, well...let's just say it didn't end well.

She can tell the rest of that story, for she did quickly realize her mistake, even in her panic, and did take immediate action.

We all evacuated the monastery, and once the flames were put out, we went in to salvage what we could. There are restoration companies that can do a lot, and as far as personal belongings, we didn't have a lot, so no huge personal loss.

It DOES make our heart go out to those who have suffered house fires, though.

We were all taken in; Father just went to a nearby rectory (priests have it so easy..what's up with that?). We were taken into a local Benedictine monastery, and the guys...Brother Brit and Brother Gus...there was room for the at the rectory, too. So as it was, it worked out.

They had a good place, but, well, can I be honest? When we got the invite to stay with the Benedictines, we hesitated. Because, well, they have a "labyrinth", they practice "centering prayer" and "reiki" and have all sorts of New Age "devotions". Sr. Perpetua was especially freaked out by that, and didn't want to go at all.

But Mother Frangelico was stalwart, and as aways, practical. She chastized us and said that the offer of hospitality was both sincere and a part of the original Benedictine charism, and that we couldn't even consider not accepting. She also pointed out that even if those Sisters had left behind orthodoxy, they weren't without hope of conversion, and in fact, they were our Sisters, too. We needed to embrace them as they were embracing us, and they well knew what we were about, too and extended the invitation anyway.

So we realized she was right, and we were happy to meet the Benedictines.

They were kind and gracious. This particular community doesn't wear habits...stopped wearing them sometime in the 60's, so it really was like living with a bunch of spinster Aunts in a big mansion. But they were really nice and aunt-like, and we all got along really well as long as we didn't discuss theology.

That was kinda weird. But they showed us a lot of Benedictine customes, and they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, too, but in the Benedictine tradition, which they showed us (they have a Benedctine Di-urinal. I thought only guys had those, but I guess the word had to come from somewhere. How derogatory, though!)

And the Sisters didn't expect us to walk the labyrinth or anything. In fact, although they invited us to different things they were doing, they didn't expect us to really follow, they just wanted to make sure we knew what they were doing.

Mother Frangelico went around a lot with pursed lips, but she was very gracious to them and very thankful, and as it was, our own community was able to live quite peacefully with the Sisters we had otherwise thought were insane.

As it turns out, they were normal women with really stupid ideas about God and who He is. (They keep calling Him "Mother"). I don't think they represent all Benedictines, though.

Anyway, these women were really into "social justice", and suddenly, Mother Frangelico got an idea; while we waited for our moastery to be rebuilt and remodeled, we could do our own social justice work!

She and Father looked into several options, and we ended up finding a group that needed a long-term committment. So we went down to Mexico to work in the barrios, and helped to give shots, offer food, sew clothing, raise funds...all sorts of stuff.

It was sad leaving the Benedictines, but they seemed more relieved than anything, but at least our parting was very friendly. I think we have a new understanding with them, which is nice.

But, if I can be honest...although they're like a bunch of Aunts, I guess I can see why no one is choosing to give up sex in order to be a New Age old maid. Personally, I think I could manage celibacy and be a spinster better without a bunch of other spinsters harping on me to do this or that all the time.

Oh...I have to go help Mother Frangelico bring in the groceries. The monastery looks great and has a new paint smell, and I love it.

More on what we did and where we were sent later. Sister Maxine might have a few things to offer, maybe even her side of the story.

See you later!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Freedom to run...amok!

Shhhh!!!! I'm huntin' wabbit! haaaahaaaaahaaaaahaaaaahaaaaaa

Everyone is gone! Gone I tell you. Yeah! (Snoopy dance)
I have the entire monastery to myself!!!!
Oh, the freedom!

What shall I do first?

You know...I have ALWAYS wanted to do the slide that Tom Cruise does in 'Risky Business.'
I rolled up the rug in the hallway, dusted the floor (SOMEONE put all of the dirt UNDER the rug rather than picking it up with the dustpan), and then I played the air guitar. It was hysterical! I had so much fun! (of course, I was REALLY glad no one else was here to see me play the air guitar...or the slide).

Then I found LOTS of rubber bands. I shot them up into the rafters of the family area - I was trying to get them into all of the vases and urns that were up on the shelves. A couple times I completely missed and hit the light instead - but there were a few times when I made a 'slam dunk'! (and the crowd cheered!)

Mom F. asked me to mop the kitchen floor. Well, I've ALWAYS wanted to put the scrub brushes on my feet and I did! A couple times I almost fell completely on my bottom - but I caught myself on the island. Of course, I had to hike up my habit to my knees - but it was so much fun! I had suds EVERYWHERE! It reminded me of that episode of Brady Bunch where Peter cleans his own suit & puts the entire box of detergent in the washing machine. Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere!
The cleanup was also a big hit - I put towels down & slid them across the floor. Mop floor - DONE!

Now that I've played for hours inside - Time to play....OUTSIDE!!!

I have not been 'bug hunting' for quite some time. I miss going out on excursions with my Uncle Max. So, I went on an excursion with God - we went huntin'. We found some really cool spiders just outside the monastery doors.

You know, Walt Whitman wrote about spiders.

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

It is so much fun watching a spider spin its web - the care and the preciseness of the job. Way cool!

I heard the katydids, I saw some hummingbirds (Sr. Caprice put up feeders for them a couple months ago), I even saw a deer. I tried to get close to it, but as I was inching along, I accidentally stepped on a twig, it broke under my foot, and the deer ran. What a graceful creature!

I spent the rest of the day outside, enjoying the sunshine, the beauty of God's earth and creatures. What a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Wandered and I Wondered...

Sr. Perpetua caught me daydreaming in Church today. It has been raining all night, actually it stormed all night, and raining all this morning. I turned toward the window during Holy Hour and let my mind wander. Before I knew it, Holy Hour was over and Mass was beginning. Sr. Perpetua elbowed me to stand for the Procession.

When we sat back down for the readings, I decided to take a brief look and I saw a glimpse of the sun. A butterfly landed on the windowsill, slowly flapping its wings. It was so beautiful to watch. The gold, brown, green, and blue colors on the wings shone like a rainbow in the sunshine. He seemed to want, no yearn, to be in with us during this Holy Sacrifice.

The clouds seemed to part, letting in the rays of sunshine like Heaven was just beckoning to be seen. I could just imagine the Saints and Angels flying about, celebrating with us. I wondered what it would be like to be that butterfly - to be free - a freedom we can only grasp at.

Then Sr. Perpetua elbowed me again for the Gospel reading. My side is getting really sore!

We sat down for the homily and all I remember was Father saying something about the wind and my eyes went back outside. My mind wandering on everything that has happened this year. My removal from all kitchen duties, and I started to laugh when I thought about Sr. Perpetua and I in the flour fight. Apparently I was snickering a little too loudly because Sr. Perpetua elbowed me AGAIN! I looked up and Father was staring directly at me. I tried to look innocent, but I don't think it worked.

He continued his homily. He was retelling the story of the Apostles in the boat and how Peter asked Jesus to save him when he started drowning in the water. Water....rain....outside.... Before I knew it, my eyes were back outside. This time, reliving the experience of the fireworks and how Brother Gus was burned. How helpless we all felt. If I could trade places with him, I would have. There were times when I begged God to let me have the pain, just to ease that of Brother Gus. But God must not have heard my prayer.

Yow! *oops* Sr. Perpetua elbowed me again. I was having a very difficult time concentrating. It seemed like everything was begging for my attention ... when I knew that Jesus' Sacrifice desired my attention, my undivided attention. Father was looking at me again, this time, I think Mother Frangelico heard it too. Man she elbows hard!

Concentrate on the Mass...I had to keep telling myself this. We knelt for the epiclesis & Consecration. I really wish Father had the Sanctus Bells to ring. It would certainly help to keep my mind focused on the events in front of me. But the window and the outside world keeps beckoning for my attention. Now there's a dove on the sill. I can hear it cooing through the pane.

Then my mind goes to Noah and how he sent the dove out to find land. Or when the dove was above Jesus' head when he was Baptized by St. John. How God loves the dove. The dove, a sign of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit....oh my! I missed the Consecration! *sigh* Forgive me, God. Help me to keep my mind on the task at hand.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's Like Breaking Up!

It's been really quiet around here, so sorry for that, from all of us, but we've all been away taking advantage of a "down time", visiting communities and stuff. And because some of what we do is s personal and private, it's just not something we write on the blog. Sometimes it's hard to keep the real "hard core" stuff to ourselves instead of blabbing it to the world.

But it's been a couple weeks now, and Mother Frangenico told me to write my experience, and I think I can do it without revealing the deepest things that stay between her and I.

Anyway...she finally said I was ready to visit a community for a "come and see" weekend, and it was one that the Sisters did publicly. Some of them are just for specific discerners, maybe on this or that weekend, but often they have them for "whoever" and that's what I attended. The more "private" ones tend to be for those who are discerning to that particular community...and the community agrees.

Well, it's one I was really interested in, had everything I wanted, was absolutely amazing, so I was SO EXCITED to be there! When I got there, it was just in time for Vespers and the Rosary, and I loved the silence over dinner while we listened to Spiritual Readings. And I got along GREAT with the Sisters! It was so homey to me!

Well, I left that weekend, but went back a couple weeks later, which was just a week ago. And it was just as wonderful, without all the others around. And we all got on great, and I was thinking this was finally "Home" for me! I loved Mother Mary Paul, and Sister Therese Frassati, and Sister Maria Caritas! We had such a blast, and all seemed to be going so well!

But I met with Mother, and...they don't feel I am called to their Community. She was really nice about it, and gave me kleenexes and stuff, but said that they think my "charisms" are not suited to their community, and that I would be happier and fulfill God's will somewhere else...and gave me a few suggestions.

And I couldn't stop crying. I only cried a little there, but mostly after I got back to the Monastery here. It's like I broke up with a fiance! His family doesn't like me!

* sniffle *

I can't believe they don't want me! I mean, we got along so well, we had a great time, prayer was wonderful...! Why don't they want me???????

If anyone is looking for me, I'll either be in my cell or in the chapel. I'm not hungry so don't look for me at dinner.

* sniffle *

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Monastery Bell Tower

Summer is a busy season, and we've all been running ragged doing all sorts of different things. So this weekend, happy to have a break, we all had a cookout on the patio in back. Brother Gus is doing much better, the skin graft went well, and he is no longer afraid of losing his hand. And apparently he's not afraid of losing his head, either!

I'll explain.

It was a nice evening, and we were a bit drowsy from the good food and the couple beers we consumed during the cookout. Brother Brit was home visiting his family, Father had to leave to go to the hospital, and Mother Frangelico was visiting the Hawthorne Dominicans' Cancer Home.

Suddenly Brother Gus shot straight out of his chair and said, "Let's explore!"

We all looked at him like he was nuts (which he is a lot of the time...that's what makes him so much fun!) He looked around as if to be sure no one would hear, and then came over to where Sr. Caprice and I were sitting, motioning for Sr. Maxine to come over, too.

He and I had spoken before of our "previous lives" and urban exploration...that's where you go around the city and "explore" old buildings and stuff. Lots of times we had permission, but we did a lot of this without permission, too, and that's really where it gets dangerous. was what it was. And we don't do it anymore. But still, once you're bitten by that particular bug, it never really goes away! So he and I were talking about the bell tower, because that ol' bell has been silent for quite awhile.

We'd asked Father about it, but he said that he was told the old rope had long rotted away, although the bell is still there. He would also like to restore it, but was told by the previous caretaker that the door into the tower was rusted shut or they lost the key or something. He didn't consider it a prime issue so hasn't pursued it, and wouldn't tell us where the entrance is.

Well, Brother Gus served Mass this week, and had to walk around a hallway behind the sanctuary on some errand for Father. There was a closet there and as he rustled around looking for whatever Father needed, he backed into an old ladder. When he found the light switch, he saw that the ladder went through a hatch to the roof, so he climbed it and pushed the hatch open...onto a landing on top of the chapel! And there he saw the entrance, about 20 feet away, to the bell tower.

Just then he heard Father coming so he quickly closed the hatch and found what was needed, didn't say a word to Father about it.

So, this is predictable, so I'll just say it...he wanted us to all go and explore the tower. We brought a can of WD-40 with us, because he could see that the door was rusty, and he had a crow-bar, too. Sister Maxine was all for it, had a couple jars for "specimens" of her favorite crawlie-things, but Sister Caprice tried to talk us out of it.

We got to the tower and actually didn't have a problem opening the door. In fact, as soon as we pulled on it, the hinges fell off! So...well, we KNEW we'd be in trouble but figured that we might as well hang for going as far as we could!

Brother Gus went in first, and as Sr. Maxine was about to follow, we heard a yell. We looked over and THERE WAS BROTHER BRIT! He'd just gotten back and saw us on the roof from the side driveway...and wanted to warn us. But as soon as he saw we were about to go up, he climbed up too, and wanted to go. We were all pretty blown away by that...he's as straight as an arrow, but I'll say this; he's a stand-up guy and has an adventurous side, too!

The tower is pretty big, but the old lighting still worked, so we had no problem seeing. Sister Maxine was a little disappointed; although there were cobwebs, there weren't a ton of spiders around althouh she hoped to find some further up. Sister Caprice was terrified and, as Mother Frangelico would say, "Her eyes were big as saucers!"

DANG that girl is WHITE! She was all eyes and pale!

Anyway, she hung around the bottom for awhile, but Brother Brit talked her into climbing to the next level, and I helped her step over to the floor. The tower was about 7 stories or so, each a little narrower, but we all made it up. You should SEE the view! And we did find the old was rotten, what was left, but the bell seemed fine.

Then Brother Gus, in true fashion, pushed the bell and it rang SO LOUD we all thought we were going to be blasted over the side! I think my ears are STILL ringing!

Well, it was starting to get dark out so we climbed down, and we KNOW that we're going to pay for this. Even if they DIDN'T discover we were up there, our neighbors now know and we are SO going to hear about this!

We tried to put the old rusty door back on, but it wouldn't even stay. So...we're just hoping that by the time Father and Mother Frangelico find out about our urban explorations, well, they'll be too busy to be angry.

What are the odds of that, d'ya think?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sorry, We're Closed!

An abortion clinic opened up across the street from the Monestary about a month ago. When they first opened, we thought it was a group doctor's office - private practice. They seemed so nice. It only took us about 3 days to figure out WHAT was actually happening in the offices.

Mother Frangelico and Father had an emergency group meeting. Although we are still small, people-wise, we HAD to do something. We all decided to pray...pray often...pray hard. We also created an Adoration Chapel open 24x7. We went out into the neighborhood churches and asked for volunteers to schedule a Holy Hour. The hours that were open, the Sisters and Brothers filled, which is why you haven't heard from us in awhile. We have been working during the day and fill the open hours in the Chapel in between. We have been working, eating, sleeping, and praying constantly. Sr. Caprice and Sr. Perpetua managed the days/times. Brother Gus put his entire heart and soul into praying in the Chapel. One day I went into the Chapel and Brother Gus had his eyes fixated on the Eucharist. He was silently praying the Rosary as tears streamed down his face. I have never seen him so worked up - his entire body was praying.

The response we had from the neighborhood was phenomenal! Churches even brought Cenacle meetings to pray in the Chapel rather than their own Churches. Youth Groups came to pray for an hour! We even had many Priests and Religious come and say a Novena. God does provide!

Satan was defeated here! Just yesterday, we noticed that a sign was placed on the door. From what neighbors had said, the doctors received an eviction notice on Monday to vacate the premises by Friday. Wednesday, they were gone!
We will continue to pray for the aborted babies. Those poor souls!
We are also continuing to pray for the doctors, nurses, parents, grandparents, and any others who helped in any way with the abortions. They need our prayers the most.
Keep praying. They all need your prayers. Pray that they will experience God's great and wonderful mercy while they have a chance. We will continue the Novena to Our Lady and ask that she hold these precious little ones in her arms since they were not able to experience that love here on earth.

Monday, July 14, 2008


It's been almost a week since we've updated, and this afternoon, Mother Frangelico said to me, "For goodness' sake, at least go write SOMETHING!"

I think the summer heat and humidity is getting to all of us. Although the monastery is still pretty cool, there is no air conditioning or central air so on hot nights, we suffer. Thank goodness it's been a cool summer for the most part so far! But it's only mid-July, and it can get bad in a hurry up here!

Yes, for you southerners...we get your heat. Although even though we also get your humidity, we're close enough to Canada that the northern air often pushes the stream back down your way!

Anyway, I'd meant to tell you what happened on the Fourth! We all actually had invites to different places, and some of the same, so Mother Frangelico and Father told us to go ahead and accept our invites, although if we were going to all go to separate places at separate times, we'd have to arrange for rides. That wasn't a problem for any of us.

I went to spend time with friends at the parish we go to for Sunday Mass most frequently. They always have a family gathering and invite other friends, cook out, and it's just a good time. I knew some of the kids as they'd been at VBS, and some of the women had new babies so I got to hold them, and was happy to! They were so sweet!

But it made me sad, sort of. Because I was thinking that I'd always wanted to be a mother, and there I was holding a baby that would never be mine. They even emailed me some pictures of me holding their babies, and I look so happy with them. In one, she's grabbing my hair, in another, I'm holding the pacifier and the little boy is reaching for it....

I know that in choosing religious life I'm giving something up, and I'm giving up motherhood. I wonder if maybe I made the wrong decision? But then again, I haven't made any decisions.

I still like guys! I do!

But maybe I'll write about that later. Something happened that's a LOT more important and explaines some of our silence.

That night, we all actually met back at the monastery because we could watch the fireworks in the town from our "backyard", and it was wonderful...but for the mosquitos! For the rest of the weekend and week we were busy, so I'm skipping ahead to the latest news.

This weekend:

On Saturday, we had work to do, but in the evening we cooked out, and I actually had Sister Maxine prepare the vegetables. Because then all she had to do was cut them up and I had set out measuring cups and spoons and stuff for the olive oil to be used, and the quantities of things like garlic and chopped onion. She did a really good job!

Brother Brit actually handled the grill, we ladies just did the prep work. Brother Gus "took orders" and helped Brother Brit at the grill. We all really had a good time, and it is clear we all feel like we are all really a family!

Anyway, when dark fell, we had some firecrackers, several boxes. Brother Gus was in charge of those. He did mess around with them a bit, and used the light of the campfire to read some of the labels. Father told him NOT to do that, but he said he'd be fine, he just wanted to read the label. But just after he said that, as he was walking towards the fire with a box in his hands, he tripped and fell, almost landing in the fire himself!

The ENTIRE BOX hit the campfire, and what we didn't know was that it was stuff his family in Wisconsin had given him...stuff you can't get in Minnesota! Brother Gus's head was almost in the fire, and actually, when he landed, he DID touch a hot log and burned his hand TERRIBLY!

But it was like Father anticipated the entire thing. No sooner had Brother fallen then Father was there, and then Brother Brit jumped up, and they both DRAGGED Brother Gus away from the fire JUST BEFORE THE BOX EXPLODED!

Stuff went everywhere, and some coals landed on the OTHER boxes about 20 feet away! We ran away from the fire, Brother Gus was screaming...I won't tell you what his hand and arm looked like!

The city ordinance demands that a hoseline be near a campfire, and Sister Perpetua had grabbed it and started trying to put the fire out while I was running to get the first aid kit and Sister Maxine went to get ice. Mother Frangelico had a bucket of water also nearby, but things were SO out of control that she feared the monastery was in danger...the roof COULD catch fire, the trees could catch, the's been dry lately. She and Sister Perpetua had to leave the area...a hose wasn't enough against exploding things!

Mother Frangelico called 911, then ran to make sure they could come through the gate. And she asked for an ambulance for Brother Gus.

You would NOT believe the racket! Things exploding EVERYWHERE!

I was inside, in the livingroom with Brother Gus. I've been trained as an EMT and when I saw his hand, I was TERRIFIED because I could barely remember anything I ever learned, but Mother Frangelico was very calm and helped me remember just because she was calm and logical. Sister Maxine was trying to be helpful and brought butter and was about to put it on the burn but I really fast slapped her hand away and shouted at her not to do it.

(I'm sorry Sister Maxine...I was just excited, not angry, and I overrreacted!)

Anyway, Brother Gus was in TERRIBLE pain, and he was really scared, so Father was trying to keep him calm while Mother Frangelico and I took care of the burn. We had some saline solution and some gauze, so we wrapped it up and poured the saline over it, using a foot pan (the kind made for soaking feet) to catch any runoff. I saw that Brother Gus's hair was singed a little, but he was OK.

Mother sent Sister Maxine to let the Medics in and Brother Brit brought the firefighters back to the fire, which he'd been watching with Sister Perpetua. By then it was actually out, but poor Brother Gus!

The medics were really nice (and REALLY cute!), and one of them was about my age. (I actually think he was in my class back then...I can't remember his name...)

But they took Brother Gus to a local burn unit, and Father left, too, following in the car. We all told Brother Gus we'd be praying for him, and went to the chapel once the Fire Department had gone.

We are near to another church, and Father had called his friend there, and he came to pick us up and take us to the hosital to be with Brother Gus.

He is terribly burned and needed a skin graft, but won't lose any fingers. We are so thankful! What's so ironic is that he wasn't being goofy, he was being really careful and just was clumsy! I feel so bad for him!

But he'll be fine and everyone is helping him. Father spent a long time with him, and was home late, but I couldn't sleep so I was in the chapel. He came in, too, and I got up and sat next to him because I needed to tell him what Brother Gus had said to me. I thought maybe he talked to Father, too, but I wasn't sure.

So I told Father that Brother Gus was afraid, if he lost his hand, that he wouldn't be able to be a priest. And when he said that, I didn't know what to say because I didn't know! And I'd never thought of that a priest, his hands are REALLY IMPORTANT! And I was suddenly so terrified for Brother Gus, to be eliminated from the priesthood because he was clumsy.

Father said he'd talk to Brother Gus, and that it might not even be an issue, and he told me not to worry about it. But I do!

Brother Gus is home now, came home today, and they have him on a lot of drugs so he's mostly just hanging out in the livingroom. We are all trying to keep him company. He's so used to just running around and doing stuff and it's so hard for him to have everything done for him.

Brother Gus might be a joker, but he's not lazy and so he feels really bad.

I hope he gets better soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Little Miracle

It's only Tuesday and already we have had our first little miracle at VBS! Let me tell you about the day...

It all started early this morning when I listened to the radio weather report. Rain! Ugh! With all of the flooding we have had lately, we really did not need any more water...our chitlins were all ready soaked! And my class wanted to go for a picnic lunch on the grounds by the cemetary. Our lesson plan was about God's mercy and love and I thought it would be a great idea to pray for those who had died. And since Sr. Caprice worked our little fingers off getting the cemetery cleaned up, we needed to visit. There was a beautiful spot, right underneath the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to place our blanket.

The children came to VBS all heavy hearted, especially since they helped make the picnic lunches. The children brought in sandwiches, chips, vegetables, fruit, and other delectables. They knew how bad I was in the kitchen (I tried to make peanutbutter cookies for the class but no one would eat them since they were burnt - I told them they were fit for a king - burnt offerings. They did not like that joke!). *sigh*

The children were looking forward to our picnic but the rain continued. Then one of the students asked a wonderful question that made everything turn around...'why can't we pray about it?' Wow! What faith this youngster has! I can learn a lot from these children. Jesus did say that our hearts & faith need to be like those of children.

So, we prayed. Mother Frangelico brought in a statue that someone donated last week - a statue of the Infant of Prague. The children prayed to the Child Jesus to turn the grey sky, blue. It reminded me of the song 'You are my sunshine' however, I was thinking more of 'You are my Sonshine!'

Wouldn't you know it, God heard their prayers. About 11:30am, the clouds disappered and the sky was a bright shade of blue, the bluest I have ever seen. The sun was shining brightly as if to becon us outside. We took a plastic tarp, laid it on the ground then laid our blanket of that. It made the talk about God's mercy even better! It even seemed as if Jesus' Sacred Heart was beating happily with our discussion.

You ARE my Sonshine!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Faith, Hope, Love...the Greatest of these is Love

I finally have a few moments to sit down during my second round of VBS. As I reflected upon Mother Frangelico's chiding of my last VBS teaching, I thought how would I improve my next session, keeping with the program yet adding some of my 'love of life', so not to confuse the children. I really enjoyed reading their stories, and I know everyone here laughed because of the simplicity of the children, however, I would really feel bad if Father asked them about Noah and they told him that Noah's wife was Joan of Ark. Granted, Joan of Ark is a fantastic Saint and showed us how to fight for God and God's Laws, and Noah showed us how to be obedient to God's will, they did not live at the same time.

So the next VBS teaching was on love - the greatest gift of God. How was I going to teach about love? Did the children really know what love was? I prayed about this for a week. I decided to go out on a limb again (this limb may be getting a bit thin) and decided to ask the children what they knew about love before I started the lesson. I thought this would be a great way for me to understand where they were coming from and help them understand God's love.

What happened was quite unexpected! Not only did my children participate, but also children from other classes. All the teachers compiled the answers for your review.

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." `- Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." - Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." - Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." - Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." - Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." - Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" - Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." - Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." - Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." - Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." - Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." - Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." - Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." - Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." - Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." - Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image) - Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." - Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." - Jessica - age 8

I think we can learn a lot from some of these children! Their wisdom is beyond their years! What would happen if we took this wisdom to our work places? I think it would be a much happier world. What are your thoughts?

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Bible and the 4th of July!

So, like I started to comment in the post below, I've been reading Sr. Maxine's post over and over again this week, and I don't really see what the kids did that was so wrong? I thought Sister Maxine did a wonderful job. I mean, the kids learned about Jesus and Mary and the Magna Carta...what's wrong with that? The Magna Carta was a REALLY important document, although I didn't realize that Blessed Mother Mary said it before it was signed in the Medieval Age.

(I wonder if she knew Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot? And King Arthur? I know Mary fled from the Dragon but I can't find the Knights in there another word for "knight" in biblical terms?)

But of course, anyway, we'll all be obedient to what you say, Mother Frangelico. I guess maybe I'll also do what Father told me and read over the scriptures again. Earlier this week I went to talk to him because I know he's taught scripture, so I asked him about where to find the knights in Revelation, thinking maybe the Magna Carta was there.

I STILL don't understand why, when I ask questions, people start coughing and wiping their eyes! When I asked Father about these things this week, he started coughing and turned REALLY REALLY red and I handed him a kleenex when he started wiping his eyes. I was really worried about him and almost went to get Mother Frangelico because I thought maybe he was dying or something. I don't think Father was ever a smoker, but he sure was coughing like my Grandma used to, and she had Tuberculosis. Except that Father wasn't spitting up blood.

And Father is SO polite when he coughs, he always turns away; Grandma never did that, so we always wore HEPA masks when we were in her hospital room. I asked Father if I should go get Mother Frangelico, and he managed to say he was fine and it wasn't necessary, and just asked me to wait a minute. So I did, and when he finished coughing, his eyes were still watering but he told me that I should go over the scriptures Sister Maxine covered during VBS and read them for myself, and then maybe I'd see where the kids were wrong. But I'm just not SEEING it!

But maybe it's just that we've been so busy and every time I've had the chance to read, we've been interrupted by different things. Everyone is fine, Brother Brit has been in contact with the Dominicans (I think he's going to be a Dominican, and I'm so relieved that he doesn't have to leave the country. I think that he's going to be a really good priest, and a really good Spiritual Director. He already has his degree in Theology, so I think he only has like 4 years before he'll be a priest. Or maybe 3 years? I don't know how the Dominicans do it. Maybe it's longer because they aren't diocesan. And he's so nice!

And Sister Maxine has been looking at another VBS program, is gonig to help the Missionaries of Charity because they're running a program this next week. I'm going to help decorate and I'm in charge of the skit team, am practicing with them tomorrow. I used to love theatre.

Anyway, although there are communities Sr. Maxine wanted to visit this summer, some of them are on retreat or unavailable, and there are different reason's she's here, but it's cool because we're all in contact with local Sisters and even Brothers. I really like the Missionaries of Charity, but I'm taller than most of them. Which is strange, because I'm not very tall.

Sister Perpetua has been busy, too, doing the same things. Her hair is starting to grow out, and we can start to see her natural color. Mother Frangelico is refusing to let her color it. As it turns out, she's a redhead! It's a beautiful color! But no wonder she's so pale...her complexion is really natural but looks so much better with her red hair than with black!

Today we've been relaxing, and we had a barbeque in our courtyard area. Later we're going to watch the fireworks from a nearby park. Right now I'm SO stuffed! It's been a great day, and everyone is "home" and we're hoping others join our little community. There's all sorts of retreats and things planned over the summer, and we're helping to plan them and staff them. Brother Brit is speaking at a few of them, and he's run a lot of TEC retreats and stuff, so he's taught us a lot.

So, anyway, hopefully we'll be more active in the coming days, it's just been so crazy lately! Summer is a really busy time of year. Even though everything else is shut down, the Church is still really active!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

the 'New' Bible?

As Mother Frangelico explained, we have been working very hard with Vacation Bible School and the children. It has been exhilarating as well as exhausting!

One of my duties was teaching some of the Bible Stories to the 5-6 year old children. I asked the children to write down their favorite Bible stories and then give a presentation to the rest of the children and teachers on Friday. What happened was quite interesting. Here are a few of the more memorable snippits:

In the beginning:
  • "In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off."
  • "Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree."
  • "Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark."
  • "Noah built an ark, which the animals come on to in pears."
The Old Testament:
  • 'Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.'
  • 'The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.'
  • 'Samson was a strongman who let himself is led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah.'
  • 'Samson spayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.'
  • 'Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.'
  • 'The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the 10 amendments.'
  • 'The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.'
  • 'The seventh commandment is thou shall not admit adultery.'
  • 'Moses died before he ever reached Canada.'
  • 'Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Genital.'
  • 'The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.'
  • 'David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.'
  • 'Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.'
The New Testament:
  • 'When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.'
  • 'When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.'
  • 'Jesus was born because Man had an immaculate contraption.'
  • 'St John, the blacksmith, dumped water on his head.'
  • 'Jesus said the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you.'
  • 'He also explained, "A man doth not live by sweat alone."'
  • 'It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.'
  • 'The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels.'
  • 'The epistles were the wives of the apostles.'
  • 'One of the opossums was St Matthew who was also a taxi man.'
  • 'St Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.'
  • 'A Christian should have only one spouse. This is called monotony'

The Brothers, Sisters, Mother and Father were all trying to control their laughter...I could hear snickers and coughing coming from the back of the room. I tried to tell the kids that they were doing a good job, but all I could hear was the laughter. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this. *sigh*

Regarding the mixup with God's grace, I'm still contemplating what Father explained to me. I'll post about that soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Clearing up Misconceptions

You may wonder where we've been all week as there hasn't been anything posted, not even responses to the two dear confused sisters!

Summer is a very busy time for us. It is Vacation Bible School season and our "services" are much in demand as the various parishes are trying to fill required quotas of adult-to-child ratios, fill volunteer positions, and assist will all the business of getting such programs running! It's a big job, but our Brothers and Sisters have greatly risen to the occasion and they are a BIG HIT with all the children and volunteers alike!

And as it turns out, Sister Caprice's flair for the dramatic CAN be harnessed for good, Sister Perpetua's penchant for the mysterious has been put to work in creating imaginative and fun atmospheres, and Sister Maxine's love for fun has brought many elements of these programs to life! As for the Brothers, Brother Brit had some wonderful ideas in the Faith and Bible story stations, Brother Gus got to clown around on stage with Sister Caprice and has been helping with music, and even Father stopped in to help plan the Mass for tomorrow!

Before we went, though, Sister Caprice and I had a talk about the Dominicans. She now understands that the Dominican Order has no connection to the Dominican Republic and so she does not need to change her citizenship, nor will she need to go there unless the Lord Himself sends her there. And she definitely does not need to align with ANY political party!

As for Sister Maxine....Grace is a gift of God, not a person, and DEFINITELY not a person of the Trinity! She spoke with Father about grace, though, and perhaps he'll say more of their conversation. Or she can recap it herself, which might be a good thing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grace...Have you seen her?

Since my Come-and-See week with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Mother Frangelico has been asking what I want. Honestly, I don't know. I know I'm being called...I can feel God's urging but I am unsure into which direction He is pointing me. Mother said that urge is Grace.

Sister Caprice was telling me about the Dominicans and how you have to not only leave your family, you have to leave the country. I'm not sure I buy it, but she's the one that has access to the internet. I am so computer illiterate it's not funny. Sister Caprice told me once that the mouse on the computer didn't work. I was expecting to see a small creature with beady-red eyes but it was some small apparatus attached to the computer.

Anyway, I told Mother that I did not want to move out of the country and I wanted an Order near my family. I also told her that I recently I would think about praying the Rosary and I had to go to Chapel to pray. Sometimes I would have to pray 3 or 4 Rosaries before the feeling would go away. She told me again that this is Grace.

Who is Grace? I want to talk to her. Have you seen her?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This afternoon I was talking to Brother Brit about his latest visit to the Dominicans. He was explaining their habit, and was telling me about the Dominican sisters he's met and how great they are.

I told Brother Brit that I don't think I'm smart enough to be Dominican because I can't explain a bunch of things even though I believe them, but he said that maybe I still have the charism that so maybe I should look into them?

And I do like the Dominican habit. Do you know that their habit hasn't changed since their beginning? So I guess that means that they do the same things now that they always did. And habits are hard to break.

So I went online and did a search for "Dominican" and found a bunch of stuff about the Dominican Republic. I didn't realize I'd have to change nationalities in order to be Dominican. And all the pictures of the people on beaches and stuff, well it didn't look really religious.

I'm going to have to talk to Brother Brit. I don't think he should have to change nationalities in order to be Dominican, or that he was going to far to visit them! He's my friend and I want him to be happy, but he's American, darn it! He doesn't HAVE to become an Islander and drink things with pink umbrellas in them! I don't think he likes pina coladas, anyway! So why would he go to the Dominican Republic?

Besides, I thought Brother Brit liked the changing seasons, and in the Dominican Republic it's like, all tropical and stuff.

I always thought he'd be a good priest, but now it just looks like he's trying to find a place to go party. I wonder if Mother Frangelico and Father know about that? I don't want to tell them...but they have to know so they can help Brother Brit!

I just don't know what to DO!

Monday, June 16, 2008


So, I've prayed many, many times for God to make me humble. Last week, I prayed that God would humiliate me. Boy, was that a mistake!

First off, to explain my extended silence, I've been running over to the diocesan chancellery to try to clarify our canonical status as a community. Since we are not a community in the traditional sense, (although we tend to be traditional in our devotions), we have to work out how the governance of the community will work, as well as our continued relationship with the diocese. It is all very convoluted, and puts me to sleep!

Anyway, with all that weighing on my mind, I just did not get a good jump on the Sunday readings this past week. The readings were excellent for discerners, and the great commission that Jesus gives to all the disciples to 'pray that the Master of the Harvest send more laborers into his fields.' Did you know that this is one of the few things that Jesus specifically tells us to pray for?

Great stuff, but let me fill you in on my day yesterday:

In addition to my duties here at the monastery, I also have to assist at parishes in the immediate area. There is a slight need to help the pastors, and I am glad to assist as they also help out here. Well, things took a bit long here at the monastery and Sr. Caprice needed to chat right after Mass for a few minutes, plus Sr. Maxine was filling in all the details of her wanderings, plus Brother Brit's continued, ummm....., activities; all added up to me leaving the monastery way late and getting to the parish with about five minutes to go before Mass. Not enough time!

Wouldn't you know it, there were a few extra things for Father's Day going on, too; plus something about their upcoming festival; my mind was about the consistency of scrambled eggs by the time I started Mass.

Well, the homilies I give at the monastery are usually pretty focused on things there, so I often have a different theme for the parish Masses; and I thought I had something worked out; but didn't get the time to actually write out my thoughts. No problem, I thought, I've been at this for long enough a time that I can wing it.

Well, with all the mass confusion at the monastery, traffice to the parish, and the hullabaloo at the parish, I finished the Gospel and my mind was a vast wasteland of ideas. I am talking Sahara Desert: vast and dry.

I turned, looked at the assembled crowds, and humbly admitted: "I have no idea what I was going to say."

I stumbled on for a bit of time, when it dawned on me from my seminary days: 'The best way to end a homily, if you've got nothing else: "Stand for the Creed."'

Most of the people were laughing after Mass, and I have feeling that this might live on in infamy long after I am gone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day, Papa! Happy Father's Day, Father! Happy Brother's Day, Brother Gus & Brother Brit!

It's Father's Day! We all wanted to do something extra-special for Father...especially since he has MANY children, although they are not his own...and WE are kinda like his children (I think we give him enough headaches like his own kids would if he had kids). Soon Brother Gus & Brother Brit will have their own kids (kinda) when they become Priests!

Sr. Caprice, Sr. Perpetua, and I got up extra early today! We snuck down the secret hallway to the men's side to leave Father a card & present at his door, and we put a card in front of Brother Gus' and Brother Brit's doors so when they woke up they would see them right away. Then we took the other secret hallway down to the kitchen. I think this was the first time Sr. Caprice has been through there.

Sr. Caprice showed Sr. Perpetua and I where all of the ingredients were for the special breakfast for Father. Our menu was:
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Sausage (Microwavable)
  • Toast
  • Jam & Butter for the toast
  • Hashbrown casserole

Father, Brother Gus & Brother Brit are going to be so surprised!

Sr. Caprice showed Sr. Perpetua how to crack an egg with only one hand! By the third egg, she really got the hang of it! I think Sr. Perpetua is going to be the next Julia Childs! (without the accent, of course!) Sr. Caprice should definitely go on the Iron Chef show! She's just like my mom - could whip up anything in a flash.

Since I do not have as much experience in the kitchen, I was given the task of microwaving the sausages. They used 3 of the sausages to put in the hashbrown casserole & I was to bake the rest in the microwave. Sounds easy enough.

Sr. Perpetua helped Sr. Caprice with the hashbrown casserole - the eggs, cheese, sausage, and hashbrowns were all mixed together & put in the oven. They then started on the scrambled eggs. They used an old-fashioned egg beater, you know the kind that has two, well, uhm, you know the things that turn. Sr. Perpetua was beating them silly! They turned a soft shade of yellow and were really fluffy!

Sr. Caprice told me I should start on the sausages. I read the them on a microwavable plate, evenly spaced. What do you know! There was a microwavable plate already in the microwave. So I put them on the plate, tried to space them as evenly as possible. It was kinda hard since the plate was round. It said to microwave them on high for 8 minutes, turn them over and microwave another 4. So, I closed the door and set the timer for 800. That was easy! The plate even turned in the microwave. wow!

Sr. Caprice then started the toast...rye bread! yummy! Sr. Perpetua buttered each of the slices as it popped up. I started setting the table. I even put a special plate & cup at Father's, Brother Brit's and Brother Gus' places. This was going to be wonderful!

The hasbrown casserole was done, the table set, eggs and sausages cooked (I actually did something right in the kitchen!), and toast placed on a special plate. Sr. Caprice started the coffee - we even found hazelnut, Father's favorite!

Within minutes everyone came down...they all smelled the wonderful cuisine that Sr. Caprice & Sr. Perpetua prepared and the awesome aroma of coffee in the morning. We decided to eat first and then pray LOH, just for today.

Happy Father's Day!

The Cloister

I finally got some time to talk about what happened last week with my discernment and on the silent retreat.

You already know about my conversation with Fr. T., but I haven't spoken about my conversation with Mother Frangelico and Father. We three actually sat down the evening I came back and I explained what had been going through my mind.

Since I wrote about that, I'll only talk about the main points; I thought God was calling me to enter a cloistered community, and that would mean that I'd never get to speak to anyone ever again, or hug anyone ever again, or even eat enjoyable foods. I thought that I'd have to give up everything fun I've ever done. And so I put myself to the test to see if I could even do it, because if not, then I'd need a LOT of grace! Because I chatter all the time, and I'm an affectionate person...I just love nearly everyone I meet! And I love to cook and I love to eat, and all that. To spend the rest of my life in silence was just an awful thought, but I figured maybe it was a form of "white martyrdom" and that if God was calling me to it, well, I had to be obedient.

That's why I was so sad last week. That, and I was trying mightily to be so somber and reverent and quiet.

Well, Mother Frangelico (who used to be a cloistered nun) and Father explained that my idea of cloister life was WAY off base! They said that the women and men called to live set apart like that aren't silent 24/7, except maybe the Trappists, and even they can speak when they really need to. And I wouldn't have to live on bread and water, and most of the cloistered communities don't even forbid hugs...although I wouldn't be able to go around hugging my Sisters constantly, nor would I want to!

I was so relieved! But still, I wasn't sure if I could live in a cloister. Father and Mother looked at each other and then told me that maybe it's not quite time for me to consider that route just yet. And they said that the people who are called to it aren't terrified...they're joyful and filled with peace. And if I'm terrified, it's a sign that God is not calling me to that life. Maybe he will someday, but not now.

Mother gave me a movie to watch this afternoon, and actually, we all watched it. "Into Great Silence". It was amazing, about Carthusian monks. But half-way through, I heard snoring, and I looked over and Brother Gus was sawing logs, and Father was asleep in the easy chair. I thoght it was FASCINATING! I couldn't tear my eyes away from all that was happening!

It was very prayerful and very moving, and I feel a lot better about the whole cloister thing now. Although maybe they're right and I'm not called to it, but it's not as scary-looking as I thought. I supposed that if someone is called to live that kind of life, God does provide the grace to do it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Grits & Giggles

Although I'm from the South & Southerners have a propensity toward rich & delicious cooking, I never received that gift. You know when people can't dance, they say they have 'two left feet'? Well, I have two left arms, hands, brains, etc. in the kitchen. When I was young I would try to help my mom bake. It would take about 10 minutes before she would order me out of the kitchen due to extreme exasperation! I just did not have the knack for the kitchen. (Put me in nature, and that's a horse of a different color!)

I was very excited when I heard that Sr. Caprice was coming home! In fact, everyone was excited! I had never seen so much jubilation in the Monastery. Mother was back to singing, Sr. Perpetua was actually grinning (although I have a feeling it was her thinking about our catastophe in the kitchen & how she would get me back for drowning her with the ice-cold water). I even heard Father play his Ukelele! Who has a Ukelele anymore? Was he stationed in Hawaii at one time? (you know, I think he was even humming 'Tiny Bubbles').

However, Mother Frangelico gave me strict orders not to go near the kitchen unless Sr. Caprice was with me and she didn't care that Cook was here. THEN, if my previous antics were not enough, she tells me that Sr. Caprice and I are COOKING BREAKFAST....FOR EVERYONE! (Am I in Purgatory or punished for something???).

Sr. Caprice and I got up VERY early so that we could make breakfast. She asked what I usually had for breakfast, actually, I don't eat breakfast. I'm trying to get out of bed, washed, dressed, and down to Chapel. I don't want to be late and it takes me a long time to get ready. Actually, it's taken all of my sisters a long time to get father used to yell at us in the morning. I don't think he ever got 2 minutes in the bathroom before someone would hollar. Then Sr. Caprice asked what I usually had for breakfast as a child.

Oh, I remember those days! Grits, eggs, bacon, and warm rolls, just out of the oven! My mom was a fabulous cook! She could take anything, anything at all, and make a cuisine for a King. One Christmas we were having a very difficult time making ends meet and my mom knew that she could buy us presents or dinner. We could not have both. Well, my father came back from hunting on Christmas Eve with a muskrat. On Christmas Day, I've never had such an incredible meal before!

Well, Cook had already talked with Mother Frangelico about Sr. Caprice teaching me to cook/bake and she left late last night to spend the evening and morning with her brother and his family. I think she was afraid of what the kitchen would look like when we were finished. Cook had bought some of my childhood favorites for breakfast....including GRITS!

Sr. Caprice was so patient with me! So much more so than my mom. I think she could wait out a snail running the 10-meter dash! She showed me how to measure the water and butter. She turned the burner on, put the pan on the burner, and told me to keep stirring and let her know when it starts to boil. (boil? what's that?) She then put the bacon in another pan & put that on the stove as well. She told me to watch it & turn the bacon over when it is crisp. (turn the bacon over what?) She said she would start the eggs. She thought omelets would be a nice change of pace (especially since she does not like easy-over eggs with all the runny, yummy yolk).

Well, it wasn't 5 minutes later when the water for the grits was jumping & splashing. She told me to put the measuring cup of grits in the water & keep stirring. I did. She was at the counter chopping the green onions, celery, tomatoes, and peppers when she accidentally cut herself. She told me to keep doing what I'm doing and she would be right back once she stopped the bleeding & got a bandaid.

I thought I would help her out a bit. I put the eggs that she mixed in a large pan and put all of the vegetables that she chopped on top of the eggs. I knew I could do this. The grits started jumping, the bacon started smoking, and now the eggs were getting large bubbles in them. I stirred the grits, turned the bacon, and watched the eggs. Stir the grits, turn the bacon, watch the eggs. Stir the grits, turn the bacon, watch the eggs. I was getting the hang of this...I was a bit proud of myself!

Turn the grits, watch the bacon, stir the eggs.

All of a sudden all hell broke loose in the kitchen! The grits turned 10 shades of grey, the bacon was black, and the eggs, well, the eggs were a bit orange and rubbery. When Sr. Caprice came back (she was only gone 10 minutes!) she took one look at me. I was sobbing! I tried so hard to do something right in the kitchen and all I made was another mess! At least this time I didn't have the smoke alarm go off. TOO LATE!!! It was BLARING!

Sr. Caprice turned off the stove, took everything off the burners, and handed me bowls, spoons, and cereal.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I was going to wait because Sister Maxine posted, and then Sister Perpetua (and she NEVER speaks!) and then Mother Frangelico..TWICE! But maybe I owe an explanation, so here it is.

I'm sorry I've seemed so rude over the last several days. I was just confused again. And Mother Frangelico and Father, I'm sorry I didn't come to you first.

Here's what happened: I was praying in the chapel, and I've had a few friends enter cloistered communities. I received a letter from one of them this week. It was a wonderful letter and sounds like a great life. She's very happy. And I thought that I haven't really considered the cloister, so I prayed about it. And over a few days, the more I prayed, the more I thought God was calling me to really consider the cloistered communities.

I didn't want to go to Mother Frangelico or Father about this, well, because I was so unsure, and things around here were crazy. So I wanted to get away. And the more I prayed, the more I thought about what a big deal it was. To die to the world, leave EVERYTHING behind. I don't mind leaving my family behind so much...I already talked about that. But everyone here has really become a family to me, and I'd really miss ALL of them, but they're not my real family so I'd have no one to write to. Because in a cloister you're really limited to write to people even though you can receive letters. But I decided that that was an attachment and so I should be willing to let my new "family" go.

And then I realized that maybe God was calling me to lay down my life for my real family. Because, if I gave my life to God, maybe they could be saved. And that's a big weight to carry and I started to think that if I said "no" to God, my real family might go to Hell...and it would be my fault.

And that really scared me, and so I wanted to take time to think about it away from everything here.

And...well...I didn't think anyone here would take me seriously. So I thought maybe I should be more serious. Because if I was Trappist or Carthusian it would be so hard and I'd have to be quiet all the time. It was so HARD to be quiet all the time! You have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to be silent!

So I went on retreat and it was easier to be quiet with no one around, but it was still really hard because, well, I sing all the time and imitate the birds when I'm in the woods (stop lauging, Sr. Maxine!), and I even talk to myself all the time! And it was a horrible strain! But I decided I could do it for Jesus if that's what he was asking. I'd have to shut up for LIFE, not just having "grand silence" after 11 like we do. I really did plan to talk to Mother Frangelico when I got back, because she was in a cloister.

And then Father T. came up to talk to me because he recognized me and it was SO HARD not to talk to him! I actually wanted to give him a big hug, because, well, he's a large guy and any hug with him is big, but also because he was wonderful at my parish and I haven't seen him in so long! So it was so hard to be quiet and cloister-like! Because I knew I'd never be able to hug anyone ever again, either! And I'd probably never see him again! But he told me I HAD to come in and speak with him, and I knew I had to be obedient, so I agreed.

I don't know why, but every time I'm so deadly serious about something and I tell them, they start coughing and wiping their eyes. I must make people allergic or something.

Anyway, finally I told Fr. T. what I was thinking about, he thought it was wonderful I was discerning but said I should talk to Mother Frangelico and Father about it because that's the whole reason I'm here. And he realized my goal was not to speak to him (Fr. T.) but to them, but he said that they were worried. So I did talk to him because I'm sorry I worried everyone! He suggested I call Mother Frangelico myself, so I did.

And she didn't laugh at me, although she coughed a little (I'm worried about MOTHER! She coughes reallly hard almost EVERY TIME I talk to her!), and told me to speak to them when I get back. So I did, and they cleared a few things up. Maybe I should write about that later.

It's nice to be home, and I feel a lot better now. And it was nice to see Fr. T. again.

And appaently I'm supposed to help Sister Maxine learn to cook, so I'm going to sleep early as we have to get up to prepare breakfast. And she doesn't know ANYTHING!

Is that ALL IT WAS?

Yes, I was laughing. I'm actually somewhat ashamed, but I was so relieved that Sister Caprice is all right!

This afternoon I received a phone call from Father T. at the retreat house. He sounded quite amused himself, and said that Sister Caprice had come to his office that morning and that he had asked to call myself and Father on her behalf, although she was going to tell us the real news herself.

While on retreat, he also had seen how quiet Sister Caprice was, and as it turns out, he was once an Associate Pastor at her parish and so was quite familiar with her personality. Thank God for this small world! And she seemed so desolate that he also grew concerned and approached her after Mass yesterday. As she had with us, he asked her if she was all right, said he was happy to see her and would love to have a chat the next day if she'd be willing. She tried to explain that she was on retreat so he exercised a little authority and said that he was placing her under obedience to appear in his office at a particular time. She agreed.

When she arrived, he indeed brought up her normally-cheery personality and asked her if all was well here at the monastery, what had brought her on a silent retreat, and all those things. She kept saying that all was well. He of course brought the conversation 'round to her discernment and what she was learning, and the poor girl burst into tears!

He didn't expect that and eventually she was able to tell him her news. Father T. assured me that her news was really quite wonderful, although clearly she didn't understand what "discernment" was and that it really required a bit more than a silent retreat. So he suggested to her that as she was living at the monastery, she should be talking to Father and I about what was going on so that we could help her discern properly. She had admitted that she hadn't spoken with us and was apparently planning to do so after her retreat. That child was in absolute AGONY and she so could have saved herself all of THAT! Of course, at that point I still had no idea what was going on so Father T. said he'd have Sister Caprice call, and he was sending her home this evening.

Sure enough, the phone rang again, and it was our dear Sister Caprice. She haltingly explained that she would tell us more when she got home, but she'd been so quiet because, while praying in the chapel, she felt that the Lord was calling her to a cloistered community! So she was trying hard to live out what she thought that meant, and she was truly terrified and didn't think she could do it, but wanted to go and "enjoy nature" before she, well, quote/unquote "died".

That girl will be the DEATH of me, I tell you! I told her I looked forward to seeing her smiling face again and that I wanted to hear all about what she was thinking about so we could help her...prepare...for whatever she and Jesus were planning.

And I must say, she sounded a LOT more like the Sister Caprice we all know! Remind me to send a Thank You card to Father T.!

And of course, when I told Father he just ROARED and can't WAIT to hear the rest of this story!

Sister Perpetua, Sister Maxine and Brother Gus...don't you DARE tease her about this! This is ONE thing that is COMPLETELY off limits and I MEAN it!

Mother Frangelico LAUGHING?

So this afternoon I was walking down the hallway when I heard a strange noise. I'd never heard this noise before, and it was coming from Mother Frangelico's office. I thought for a moment that maybe she was ill, so I went to peek in the doorway. Then I heard her speaking and realized she was on the phone, so I just walked past her. But I glanced inside just as she hung up the phone, and she was LAUGHING!

I've barely even seen her crack a smile! Sure, she's kind and all, but she's pretty low-key all the time.

I went back and asked her if everything was all right, and she was wiping her eyes, still laughing. She said all was fine and Sister Caprice was coming home this evening, and that I should go out back and ask Father to come in. So I went outside where Father and Sister Maxine were working on re-planting the garden behind the monastery. I didn't know what it was about and just told them Mother was laughing and Sister Caprice was coming home.

Sister Max and I finished planting a few bulbs and went inside to wash up. As we came down the hallway, this time we heard FATHER laughing!

We don't know what's going on but it'll be nice to have Sister Caprice around again. Besides...we need her to teach Sister Maxine how to cook. Mother Frangelico operates too much like "Hell's Kitchen!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joy and Sorrow..back to Joy?

As Sister Maxine said, we had several meetings today. This place is in utter chaos! We took a drastic turn from silent and strange to loud and catastrophic!

I'm just glad that Sister Caprice was not here to deal with it. I don't know what's going on with that girl, but last evening she came to Father and I and asked to go on a silent retreat for a couple days. She had done her research and had booked her reservation at a local hermitage in order to hold a spot. She was pale and seemed a bit...shaken...for some reason. We don't know why. We both tried to speak with her separately. Truth be told, both Father and I are quite concerned, ESPECIALLY considering she won't say a word! But she assured us she's fine, just wants to get away and think and talk with God all alone for awhile.

We both can respect that, and now that she's hobbling around without crutches, well, she'll be fine in that regard. She won't get much hiking done on that beautiful land, but perhaps that's for the best. Father made a call to Fr. T., the Spiritual Director at the retreat center and relayed some of his concerns, so they are keeping a close eye on her. Hopefully she will find what she needs, but we sure are praying mightily for whatever black cloud she's in to lift, and I sure do hope she speaks with SOMEONE about whatever is going on! Fr. T. promised to call us if there was any apprarent need for our further concern. She'll only be there a couple days, may be back as early as tomorrow.

In the meantime, as Sr. Maxine has described, yes, she and Sr. Perpetua have destroyed the kitchen. I was not aware that Sr. Maxine did not know how to cook or bake...she will be receiving many lessons to come! Although I didn't say much about the disaster, for at least they were LAUGHING! For a moment I didn't know what that sound WAS! And to think that Sr. Perpetua has such a nice smile and a joyful laugh...who would have thought so?

Even amidst all our trials, somehow, joy arises. God is so faithful!

Now that the kitchen is cleaned, maybe things will get back to normal. Brother Brit is due back any day now, and Father will have some business to report when he gets a chance. And hopefully when Sr. Caprice returns she'll be back to being her sunny self. We can only pray.

I do think, though, that the prankster around here doesn't actually realize who wrote the book on pranks...and he (or she!) is about to be in for a BIG SURPRISE!

Oh, yes, my brothers and sisters....Mother Frangelico isn't as dense as you thought!

Chaos in the Kitchen

Mother Frangelico and Father sat us all down for a 'family meeting'. *sigh* Another one! This is the third, today! First one - okay - yes, we deserved it. We were all in a stink of a mood! Who would blame us with Sr. Caprice on crutches and needing constant assistance. Brother Brit who left us for an eternity! Okay, it just SEEMS that way. Sr. Perpetua who I can't figure out quite yet. One minute there is a hint of a grin, the next her mind is in the Andromeda Galaxy. Brother Gus who is visiting another Order. And me, just call me Mick. (If only I could sing like him, but alas, I sound like a sick cow in heat!) But did the first 'family meeting' have to be at 4:30AM??? We still had 45 minutes left to sleep!

The second meeting was because someone exchanged the cereal in the boxes. Mother Frangelico thought she was putting 'Cheerios' in her bowl. Instead, she got 'Fruit Loops'. I wonder who could have done that. *cough* *cough*

The third meeting was after I wanted to bake a cake to lighten the mood. How was I to know that the stove cooked 25 degrees hotter than normal! I really don't bake much, but I thought Sr. Caprice & Sr. Perpetua might like a nice double layer cake...chocolate of course with fudgy icing. I followed the recipe to the 't'. But we ran out of flour. When I went to the cupboard, I saw some self-rising flour. It said 'flour' so I used it. Then I couldn't find any baking soda, but there was baking powder in the cupboard, so I substituted it for the soda...they both said 'baking'. Then, we ran out of granulated sugar, so I used powdered sugar.

I found a plastic bag with what I thought was cocoa, but after I put it in the batter, I discovered it was cinnamon! Someone switched the cinnamon & the cocoa! So instead of a chocolate cake, we had a very, very spicy cinnamony cake. Change of plans...change the icing to cream cheese. It'll work. It had to work.

I put the 2 layers in the oven, set the timer, and went out onto the porch to do read the LOH (Liturgy of the Hours). Well, it would have been okay had I not fallen asleep! I woke up with smoke in my eyes...smoke was everywhere! I opened the door to the kitchen...smoke billowed out. I quickly ran to the sink, grabbed the sink spray and turned the water on high. Pointed the spray to the stove and a trickle came out. arrrrggghh! So I grabbed what I could find - a large metal mixing bowl.

I filled it with water. I turned around to throw it on the oven, but when I threw the water, Sr. Perpetua was in front of the oven. She had taken the charred cakes out and was about to close the door when the water splashed all over her, the floor and the stove. She was soaked! There was water everywhere!

She turned toward me with a startled look on her face. She slowly moved toward me with a shiver and a very stern look. I moved backwards, trying to feel for the door so I could run, but all I found was the counter. She was deliberate in her steps. Slowly moving, one step at a time. She stepped on a puddle of water. Her feet slid out from under her, she tried to grab onto anything she could. I ran toward her to catch her before she fell on the floor. I tripped over my scapular and managed to grab her arm, she grabbed the tray on the counter. We both fell. The tray went up in the air. The bag of flour that was on the tray burst open when it hit the floor. Now there was a white coating over the entire kitchen!

We were white as ghosts! We took one look at each other and burst into laughter. This was the first time I heard Sr. Perpetua laugh - it was great! Mother Frangelico heard the smoke alarm & ran into the kitchen to see this white layer of flour over everything and small pieces of sooty cake on the stove. Somehow she knew we were okay. She shook her head, rolled her eyes, and told us to clean up the mess when we were done. (When we were done?) *grin*

We decided that we were already a mess, so we helped ourselves to a flour fight!

(the reason for our third 'family meeting' - no more baking without the cook in the Monastery!).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What is this...a Mausoleum?

I don't know WHAT is going ON around here!

The weather is beautiful, we have what is SUPPOSED to be a happy home, and just last week everyone was getting along swimmingly...even Father has been whistling! Sure, we had a certain number of disasters, and we all know these things happen in clusters...but even with all that, our little group of discerners remained happy.

At Mass, everyone's responses have been lackluster at best, at prayer, Father and I have literally had to repeat ourselves, and I've often looked around thinking I was the only person in the chapel!

Sister Maxine is much better now that she has an epi pen, and yes, I forbade her to go outside...for a time. We could not risk another sting without a supply of Benadryl on hand...a large supply! And Sister Caprice is even better. She's off her crutches, still limping around but healing nicely. Brother Gus...I never thought I'd say this, but I MISS his pranks!

Sister Perpetua...well...she's pretty much the same as always. Maybe a little more snide, but in reaction to the others, well, I'm willing to let it go.

What I'm NOT willing to let go, however, is the fact that something is CLEARLY wrong, especially with Sister Caprice. She's the happy-go-lucky one, and if she's got a long face, figure it out. I sure can't!

I've asked her directly, she won't speak a word to me, I asked her if she wants to speak to Father again and she just shook her head and wouldn't say a word. I'll see if Father will see if he can get her to talk...he's got a gift for that. I do think that man could talk a fox out of a chicken! (Which is quite'd never think so if you'd just met him).

Father...what do we need to do to get some spirit back into this place?