Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cemetary Cleanup

Well, I, for one, am THRILLED that Sr. Maxine isn't going to be around for a week! She's been teasing me mercilessly about going to Hell for thinking priests are cute.

And for the record, I don't think ALL priests are cute, just SOME of them! And that's all I'll say for now!

So...anyway...on with what we REALLY did today...

Around our unnamed Monastery, we do a lot of work outside on Saturdays, and our biggest project is the cemetary. We've whacked all the weeds, and today, Brother Brit, Brother Gus, and Father went to work on cutting down small trees that have grown around the gravestones and they used the weed-wacker to get rid of a lot of the weeds that hide the snakes. Some of the graves are really sunken in, so we have to be really careful about walking around. And in all our chopping, we found an even OLDER section that's barely marked! And that area is really treacherous so Father told us not to go in there at all for now, and we'll all tackle it as a group. And he has some concerns about some other things, but I saw he and Sister Perpetua exchange a "look" so I think something is up.

Well, we are working on re-setting stones, and we're going to work on some landscaping and try to find out who's really buried there so we can pray for them and maybe even contact their families, if it's possible. It's such an old cemetary that we think there's a good chance that there are descendents out there who may be interested in our work here on behalf of those people who went before them. And maybe we'll open the cemetary to the public; right now it's cut off from the public because it's part of the monastery grounds but we might be able to construct a fence or something.

Later in the day, Father left for some other obligations, and Mother Frangelico had to return some phone calls so it was me, Sr. Max, Br. Brit, and Br. Gus in the cemetary. We were really hot, really tired, and all of us really dirty from all the hard work. Well, Sr. Max and Br. Gus were working on one project, and the next thing I knew, something came sailing through the air and landed on my shoulder...a really HUGE spider!

I completely freaked out, started screaming, and ran away into the part of the cemetary that we were told not to go into. I didn't really realize I was going there, and as I ran, Br. Brit actually tried to stop me, and he did brush the big spider off. He was yelling something, but I couldn't tell what he said, and Sister Max and Brother Gus were laughing.

Then I remember stepping down and the ground sorta "crumbled" and I fell and there was this terrible pain! I fell so hard that for a minute I didn't realize what happened. I was all by myself in the woods, and I saw the spider was gone, but I was in a bunch of weeds and brush, and buckthorn! I'd stopped just short of the buckthorn, but it scratched me up pretty good, anyway.

I tried to get up but the ground was still crumbling, and my ankle hurt terribly and couldn't put any weight on it. I didn't want to yell anymore, becuase I figured they would just think I was screaming about bugs again, so I should just get myself out. But I COULDN'T! I couldn't walk and the only thing around me to grab was the buckthorn! And I didn't want to scoot across the crumbling grave...the idea of falling into it with sunset approaching was just awful. And there weer storms coming, too!

But then I heard Sister Maxine yelling for me, and she wasn't laughing, but I didn't trust her, so I didn't say anything. (Well, I did say something under my breath but that's between me and my confessor!)

And then I heard Brother Brit, and he's never laughed at me, so I did answer him, and both he and Sister Maxine were pushing through the brush. I was really embarassed and explained that I couldn't get up, and Sister Maxine went as white as Sister Perpetua. She and Brother Brit helped me up and when we came out of the woods, Brother Gus, seeing that I couldn't put any weight on my foot, told me that he would help Brother Brit carry me inside but I refused. I preferred to hop as well as I could, and told them that it was fine, I just needed some ice and it would be fine by morning. I don't think anyone believed me, though.

Sister Maxine was very sorry, the spider was fake, and she had no idea I'd go running into the thicket. Brother Brit had seen right away that the spider was fake, but I was too fast as I ran past him.

Well, we hopped into the Monastery, and even Brother Gus and Sister Perpetua followed. Mother was busy, so Brother Gus went and grabbed the ice, and Sister Maxine put a pillow under my foot. It was really painful, and my whole ankle was all bruised-looking and swollen and just moving it almost made me cry, but I didn't want to cry so I didn't.

Brother Brit told me that he thought we should get Mother Frangelico because he thought I should go to the hospital for X-rays. But I didn't want to go. But everyone else agreed. And Sister Maxine and Brother Gus were REALLY REALLY sorry, and said it was their fault, and they would drive me if Mother Frangelico said it was OK to take the car.

Just then, Mother Frangelico came out, thinking to go outside to tell us to come in because of a severe thunderstorm warning (it was a little late...it was already hailing by then, glad we were inside!), and saw the whole situation.

And she said that as soon as the storm let up, we were going to the hospital, and that was the end of the story. So, we went, and it's just a bad sprain but now I'm on crutches! I was going to go on a Nun Run this week (the kind where you visit convents, not where you run miles and miles), but now I can't go until this heals up.

We ran into Father at the hospital..that was one of his obligations. He visits the hospital on Saturday evenings, and nursing homes and stuff, and just happened to walk into the ER just after we got there.

That's a different story. They gave me some medication for pain so now I'm really tired and I'm going to go to sleep now.

Sister-Sister Week

Mother Frangelico has been hounding me on finding some Order that I like. None of them have what I want - I want God's family - the Most Holy Trinity. Some Orders have a part of the Trinity, some have Mary, and some I'm not quite sure what they have.

Anyway - I've been searching and searching and searching on the internet (Mother Frangelico let me get on a couple times - but she's right beside me so I can't go to any cool sites *sigh*). I've been getting letters & emails from sisters asking me to come (some I'm not sure if they are sisters because they don't have any religious garb on at all nor any cross or medal). Mother Frangelico said I HAVE to go visit at least one of them. *sigh*

Mother gave me a link to a Convent she thought I might be interested in - Society for our Lady and the Most Holy Trinity. She said not only do they have the Most Holy Trinity, like I want, but they also have Our Holy Mother. I've contacted them and I'm going to visit them. I have to travel all the way to Texas (I think) - at least that's where the Mother House is located. Mother Frangelico is making the plans for me.

Now I have to pack. What do I take? Golf Clubs! I could take my golf clubs - there is a lot of open range in Texas - I bet I could hit those balls really hard! Maybe even hit a snake or two. Do you think I would kill the snake if I hit it with the golf ball? Would I have to go to confession for that - for killing a snake? Even though I really don't like them?

I know - I'll take my bathing suit! There's lots of ocean (well, Gulf, really) by Texas - I think they are located near Houston (??). I could go swimming! Much different than all of this dry, flat land here! Oh to be in the water again....it would feel so good. But what if boys look at me? Do I HAVE to tell them that I am going to be a nun? What if I don't tell them. awww....do I have to go to confession for THAT TOO???

Being a nun is NO FUN! No golfing! No bathing suits! What CAN we do????

Friday, May 30, 2008

I don't know what to do!

Some of this comes from a comment I made to Mother Frangelico about priests, and some of this is advice I got from other people. I'm so sorry about the jumble, but I have so many questions I don't even know where to go first!

ADVICE FROM THE LETTERS:

So, anyway, I got a bunch of letters this week from friends, and people from my church. And they have all sorts of advice. My friends tell me about the habits and they sent me emails with links to different communities, and I know and love those habits. And so they've told me I should make sure I like the habit because I'll be spending my life wearing it! And so I've been looking around for habits I like, and found a few...the Sisters of Life, and the Dominicans - the ones who wear habits, that is. I like habits and won't really consider a community that doesn't have them. Because most of them just look like my grandmother and I don't want to look like my grandmother yet. (I think those "habit-less communities DO have a habit, though...pantssuits. And I think their understanding of God follows their lack of fashion sense!)

So then another friend told me to look at other things, like what they do, or don't do. And so I've been looking at all the apostolates, and I'm so confused because I want to do all of it and maybe have in some senses! But there's so much!

And everyone is back to telling me different things, and one friend says to look at the spiritualities and the charisms, and others say the same thing, but they all say different things all at the same time! One says I'm Benedictine, another says I'm Franciscan, others like the Dominicans, others like the Augustinians...and it just goes on! And one friend things I should quash it all and become a RABBI!

I don't want to be a Rabbi! And someone else said I should start an Ashram and build a labyrinth and be a yoga guru. I don't want to do ANY of those things! But some of the religious communities out there DO want to do those things! (I don't think they're Catholic even though they say they are...)

Anyway, it's so confusing! So where do I start?

THINKING PRIESTS ARE CUTE AND WHERE IT LEADS

And then...well, I'm worried about thinking priests are cute. Because let's face it, some of them are really cute! So...is it a sin to think a priest is cute? Do I have to go to confession if I think a priest is cute, if I have no intention of taking that further than realizing that God does good work and the view is good at Mass?

Oh, dear, don't misconstrue that!

This is just getting worse and worse and worse! It MUST be a sin, because I'm now saying things I didn't intend to say!

So...do I have to go to Confession for thinking a priest is cute? If I do, what if the priest I go to is the one I thought was cute? Because sometimes they have their names on the confessional, but it's someone else, or it just says "visitor" and it's a different parish but that cute priest is the visiting one? Even if I go behind a screen and realize that's the priest, how can I confess that I think he's cute? He would take it wrong and it would sound like I was hitting on him in Confession!

I would NEVER do that! Oh my goodness, I would DIE if he thought I was doing that! And it would be awfullly hard for him, too, because then he'd feel very awkward, and the Sacrament is very serious, and then he'd be embarassed. And I'd be embarassed. And if he knew it was me, I'd never be able to talk to him ever again because I just couldn't get over that!

And even if the cute priest I was worried about was not the same one I was confession to, but THAT priest was really cute, wouldn't it be like the same thing?

Oh, dear, I wish priests weren't cute! Or good-looking in any way. Now I have to go to Confession and I'd rather confess to murder.

Hey! That's an idea! Mother Frangelico and Father, if I confess to murder, even though I haven't killed anyone, would God give me credit for that confession even though he would realize that I only thought a priest was cute. Or is robbing the priesthood worse than murder, because isn't thinking a priest is cute a slippery slope that can lead to robbing the priesthood, leading to him leaving his vows for me and then depriving people of the sacraments?

Oh, dear, I'm going to HELL!

Secular Priest vs. Dominican

Well, I've finally made it back to the monastery. (Hey, we really should get together this weekend and come up with a name for this place, it seems like a ship without a rudder without it!)

I've spent the last few days in prayer and retreat with the Dominican community, and one of the things that Fr. Basil there wanted me to do was to write out why I feel called to the OP's versus the Diocesan priesthood.

I've spent the last few days thinking about this, but the silence has been fruitful on my part and I've come to a deeper understanding of things. It centers around a few different aspects of life in each ministry.

First, I felt a great desire to live in a community. I grew up in a small family and have always wanted to have a larger group around me. I have always felt better when I was in a group, whether leading or just following along. It certainly is not that I am scared of being alone, after all I lived on my own for four years while I was working and in earlier stages of discernment. I just feel more comfortable in a community, with all of its faults and failings, that we can support each other in our weaknesses and rejoice together in our successes. (Plus, it's hard to play cards on your own. Yahoo! Euchre is only good for a while.)

Secondly, the charism of the order appeals to me. I love studying, reading, arguing through the minute details that don't bother others. With the Dominicans academic backgrond, I have found enough to be challenged to grow in this area, but yet their spiritual heritage also feeds that side of my soul. I briefly toyed with the CFR's in New York, but their radical embrace of poverty was not something that I felt necessarily drawn to. I don't live extravegence, but I at least need a bed! (bad back)

The wider appeal of the province than just a diocese was something else. We moved around a great deal when I was younger, and my family is scattered to the four winds, so the idea of being 'stuck' in one place was rather boring. I like the possibility of moving between states. It is interesting to see the different ways that Catholicism is practiced, yet it is still universal. Fascinating!

I am glad that Fr. Basil had me do this exercise as it helped narrow down my focus on what I was looking for in the priesthood. I had a great love for the priesthood and wanted to give my life, but I didn't know where that was going. By focusing on the aspects of community, academics, and broader based ministry, I was able to narrow down my search and find how God was leading me into the priesthood.

For anyone who is feeling that call to the priesthood or religious, this might be very helpful. Write down your non-negotiables. What are the ways that God is calling you to follow His invitation. For me, these were important, for you, there might be something else.

Ordination of a Priest

As a priest, there are a few highlights of throughout the year. Obviously, the big feast days of Christmas and Easter are tremendously important, as they celebrate the key moments of our salvation wrought by Christ. The Easter Vigil, and really all of Holy Week, are particularly poignant, as well, with bringing new members into the Church. Because of the love that we have for Christ, we should want to spread that joy with others and invite them into the same mystery. Beautiful!

However, as a priest, a further highlight is the ordination of a new priest. It brings back a great flood of memories of when I was ordained and is a reminder of what we are about as priests: serving Christ and leading the people of God. As a priest, I am called to give my life as a ransom for others, and so much of the symbolism of the ordination of a priest brings out this imagery.

Let's walk through the ordination, first, shall we?

First, Mass begins as normal, with the ordinands processing in and usually sitting in the sanctuary (depending on room), as opposed to when they were ordained a deacon and were sitting in the congregation with their family.

After the Gospel, the deacon calls the candidates forth: "Let those to be ordained priest please come forward." He calls them by their full baptismal name, and they respond 'present' and stand before the bishop. It is important to know that it is as if Jesus were calling this man to be His Disciple, as He uniquely called the Twelve to follow after Him in a special way.

The candidates are presented to the bishop by the Vocation Director, or someone from the seminary. The Bishop's response always gets me: "Do you know them to be worthy?" Priest: "After inquiry among the people of Christ, and upon recommendation of those concerned with their training, I testify that they have been found worthy." Bishop: "We rely on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and we choose these men, our brothers, for priesthood in the presbyteral order." (Action alert! This is one of the few areas that I know of that the missal actually states 'the people show their approval by an acclamation or round of applause. Every time I go to an ordination, this seems like the best round of applause I ever hear!)

Only after the men have been called, questioned, and then reseated is the homily given.

After the homily, the ordinands are questioned by the bishop about working with the bishop, celebrating the mysteries that Christ has handed down to us, preaching, and being united with Christ the High Priest. This last is responded by: "I am, with the help of God!" The promise of obedience is repeated by kneeling before the bishop.

Alert: Something Missing! In the Rite of Ordination of a Priest, there is no commitment to celibacy, that was already done at his deacon ordination!

Finally, one of the most powerful symbols and the thing that always seems to strike the first time visitor at an ordination: the praying of the Litany of Saints while the candidates lay prostrate on the floor, stretched out before the Altar. It is a sign of tremendous humilty that the candidate lays down his life for the sake of the Gospel, for Christ. He calls upon his guardian angels and saints to guide him to be the best priest possible, he submits all that he has to the Will of Christ. When he rises, he is no longer just 'Tim,' he is 'Father' and a living icon of Christ. What respect, what power, what an awesome moment.

At the end of the Litany, the candidate goes before the bishop who lays his hands on his head in silence, and is then followed by all the other priests in attendance who do the same. Each priest passes along, hands down the gift that he has in his priesthood to these new priests. The chain is unbroken from the present day all the way back to Christ.

The prayer of Consecration recalls the events of salvation history, exhorting the new men to be faithful workers in the Lord's vineyards.

The priests are now vested with the vesture of their office for the first time: the stole and chasuble, and his hands are anointed to offer sacrifice to God.

Finally, the people bring forth the gifts which are then presented to the newly ordained with these words: Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to Him. Know what you are doing, imitate the mystery you celebrate; model your life on the mystery of the Lord's Cross.

The presiding bishop and other priests welcome the new members into the rank of the presbyterate and Mass continues.

Aaahhhhhhhh........ I can still smell the Chrism on my hands even these many years later.

The Sanctification of Priests

As this is a house of discernment, we cannot let the day go by without addressing this very important fact: TODAY is the World Day of Prayer for the sanctification of priests! Father is likely very busy today, but if he has time, he may pop in and have his own wisdom to share.

But just in case he can't, I just want to say a few words about this. We need priests. Pure and simple. And as everyone knows, there have been a series of crises in the priesthood, ranging from priests losing faith, "going over the wall", abuse...all sorts of things. The reality is this; priests are men, but they have been called by God to fulfill a particular purpose for the salvation for all of us. They are our Fathers, they are our brothers, and they carry quite a cross every single day.

If a priest isn't holy, the flock he leads can't be holy, for he is the example and he is the one who stands in for Christ. We've already faced the crisis here with regard to the idea of women in the priesthood. It's impossible, and it's not necessary!

In our day and age all sorts of people, especially feminists, are crying out for an end of priestly celibacy and the admission of women to the priesthood! How ridiculous! We only need to look to the denominations of Christianity that have tried that experiment to see that it doesn't work! They're struggling to find true spiritual leaders, too, and they're all fracturing even further!

People, pray for priests! And ladies...remember your manners and your boundaries! Priests ARE spoken for, they ARE married...to the Church! So pray for them, for there are women out there who don't see Holy Orders as an "obstacle". In college I knew young ladies whose entire goal in life was to rob the seminary...such that other groups of devout young men and women found it necessary to do all they could to protect the young discerning men from such vultures! DON'T BE A VULTURE!

Pray for priests! Offer your rosaries, your Divine Mercies, pray Stations of the Cross, "adopt" a priest especially to pray for, encourage men to consider the priesthood, and do all you can to ensure that it doesn't end today; this is a devotion that should carry on perpetually!

Today we thank God for the great gift of the priesthood...and we pray for many more to be called from our parishes and homes and families.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cemetary Life and the Priesthood

We had a long day in the cemetary today, and I think that Sister Maxine and Sister Perpetua and I all became a lot closer. It was hard work and the gnats are out and so are the flies and mosquitos, but getting rid of all the weeds will really help!

And you know what...I found out that Sister Maxine is afraid of SNAKES! So when she saw one and screamed, I ran over and saw what had startled her. It was a big black and yellow snake, not sure what it was but we chased it away. I think was harmless and really just wanted to get away so we didn't do anything but help it on its way. But I think she and I now have an understanding...I won't bring her snakes, she won't bring me bugs.

I'm not a fan of snakes, mind you, but they are a fact of life and we have to deal with them. As long as they don't have 8 legs, well, I'm fine!

As usual, Sister Perpetua was completely stoic. Does she react to ANYTHING?

Anyway, when we came inside we really had to clean up and then we had some free time. So I hit the computer and started to do some research, and found out that tomorrow, May 30, is the World Day of Prayer for Priests!

Well, we have Father to pray for, and we have Brother Brit and Brother Gus, so we decided that tomorrow, all of us are going to pray for them especially as, well, Father IS a priest, and Bros. Brit and Gus and possible priests. So we're going to spend extra time in prayer and offer up all the things that happen tomorrow on their behalf.

We're not sure about Brother Gus, though, but no prayers are wasted!

The Cemetary

I've wrote of, and now Father has, of the cemetary we've been cleaning up. Sr. Perpetua has been helping me this week, but I think we'll have to get Father and maybe the Brothers out to help with some other stuff. There's some downed trees that have to be cut up and I'm wondering if we can re-set some of the headstones? Some are quite beautiful but really toppled.

And this morning, Sr. Maxine agreed to join us. There ARE some really cool epitaphs, and I found one that is actually readable, looks like St. Augustine's quote, "Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee." But I can't read the name of the person buried there. Could this be a Catholic cemetary?

The only thing that worries me is that Sr. Perpetua was mumbling something about "the dead" and some stuff about Voodoo. I was afraid to ask, but I suppose she'll talk about it when she's ready. That seems to be going around.

And you know...don't tell Sr. Perpetua, but after this week in the sun she's gotten some color!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ENOUGH!

That's IT! Sister Caprice, Sister Maxine, Sister Perpetua, and Brother Gus....it's over! And I know Father's here now, but this has been LONG overdue! There's something to be said for allowing you, as ADULTS to just settle your own arguments but you have ALL gone too far! Between the sick pranks and the snotty jabs, I have HAD IT! And you should be glad Father isn't around this week or you'd all be out on your ears!

In fact, I've still half-a mind to send you off packing to visit the Brothers and Sisters of St. John in FRANCE and let THEM deal with you!

The question came up...why are you here? Well, let me tell you why you're here...to grow in charity. And every single ONE of you is failing miserably in that department! You've all had opportunity after opportunity to take the high road and instead, you've all tried to sink lower than the last guy!

I will NOT tolerate this behavior in the monastery or anywhere else!

Settle this issue among you NOW or pack your bags! And I'll not hear of it again!

And Father...welcome back. I'm glad you had such a wonderful weekend, and really glad you haven't been around here the past few days!

WHO LET HER IN??!?!!??

WHAT'S THAT BUG LADY DOING IN HERE?!?!?!

I hate bugs! And I think Sister Maxine has already gotten the clue when I went screaming out of the common room the other night. DID YOU SEE THAT SPIDER!!!! Father, I'm serious, it had like 40 some legs and was all twitchy and eeky and ugh!

Can't we do something about that woman?


Oh, Father, why didn't you take us to the Ordination of priests? I mean, I think I want to be a priest and all!

What hath we wrought?

What a wonderful and crazy weekend, and the week has started off with a bang.

First the weekend. I was out on Saturday for an ordination of a priest whom I got to know even before he went to the seminary. I like to think that I helped him in his discernment a little bit way back when. I'll fill in more details later this week.

Then Sunday. The high of seeing a new priest ordained was quickly disturbed by Sister Maxine. (Brother Gus, please refrain from name calling of your sisters!) I wondered what got her going, so.

What got me going, you ask? Well, there is such a great connection between the priesthood and the Eucharist, that to celebrate an ordination on this weekend kinda got me juiced up. Mother Frangelico ribbed me pretty hard about 25 minutes, but I just got on a role and all the homilies I've ever given on the topic just came back to me in a moment of inspiration.

Like Sister Caprice mentioned, we do have a cemetary in dire need of repair. It seemed like a good progect for the girl to work on, so she's been spending time out there cleaning and pulling weeds and stuff. A little manual labor never hurt a discerner; makes one appreciate the value of work and those who do sweat for a living.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Allelujia Chorus it Wasn't

Father's sermon was tremendous! The Body of Christ, the Eucharist and the Church, Jesus our Savior, the Most Holy Trinity - I got so carried away that I made a verocious 'Allelujia' right smack dab in the middle of his homily! He was getting so excited that it made me excited and it just came out! I startled everyone, including myself! I definitely woke Brother Gus & Brother Brit out of their trance-like state.

I think Mother Frangelico may put duct tape on my mouth during Mass from now on. .Hey - I'm used to shouting a big 'Amen' or 'Allelujia' in the South! Just because you northerners can't take it...

Now their calling me 'mouthy Maxine'.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quiet Weekend

It's been really quiet this weekend. Brother Brit is visitng the Dominicans for an extended retreat, and in spite of the fact we have two newbies, well, they've been sent elsewhere, too.

I'm the only one they haven't sent out yet, although Mother Frangelico had said she wants me to go on a Nun Run or to a Vocations Conference. Neither has come up, but I get the idea that they don't want me to go yet. I did ask Mother about it, and she suggested, considering my most recent talk with Father, that it might be best if I get settled into a routine first and just learn to "live in the present." So she reinstated me as sacristan, and put me in charge of the web page, and just do stuff around the monastery. And it's peaceful, and I admit I like it. But sometimes I get the feeling they're walking on eggshells around me, like I might break or something if there's a loud noise.

Now I wonder if I said too much? For goodness' sake, I'm not going to fall apart if someone raises their voice here and there!

Anyway, I've changed the font color again in honor of Memorial Day and all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and all those who have served our country. We had a special Mass today and we did visit a nearby cemetary, and decorated graves that appeared to be somewhat neglected.

On the Monastery grounds, there is an old cemetary, doesn't appear to be connected to a religious community, but is maybe an old family or town cemetary. We've decided to clean it up and adopt those souls, so they are people we pray for every day. Mother Frangelico is busy looking up some old town records as most of the gravestones are unreadable now. I wonder if Sister Pepetua would come with me to do gravestone rubbings? I think we could pick up some names to help Mother Frangelico in her research!

And {{shudder}} maybe Sister Maxine can study interesting bugs out there. I don't know if she's artistic or wants to do grave rubbings, but she can do that, too, if she wants.

Anyway, the oddest thing happened...I think we live in Bermua Monastery. Because the other evening I was walking behind Sister Maxine and Sister Perpetua (although she's hard to see in the evening because with all that black she blends in and kinda looks like a disembodied face in the dark), and they just DISAPPEARED!

I was right behind them, our cells were further down the hallway and I looked back towards the cloister door when I heard a "click" like the door was opening. Only it didn't come from the door, so I was confused. When I turned around, they were both GONE!

For awhile I thought they'd been taken by the ghost, so I ran up and down the hallyway, looking for them. And then suddenly, POOF! they were there again! And I asked them where they'd been, and Sister Perpetua told me in her completely flat way (she must be from the midwest...she doesn't even have an accent) that they'd been there the whole time and wanted to know why I was running around like a fool looking for them.

I was completely chastized, and then Sister Max started coughing and wiping her eyes. Maybe my running around stirred up dust. I bet she's allergic to dust. I apologized and said I'd dust our wing in the morning so that she wouldn't suffer more than necessary.

Sister Perpetua and I seem to be the only ones not affected by allergies in this place.

All Creatures Small & Smaller

Since I introduced these wonderful worms and spiders to Sr. Caprice, Mother Frangelico requested me to go on a silent weekend. Apparently, Sr. Caprice just doesn't appreciate these tiny creatures like I do. Mother Frangelico gave me 'Opening to God' so I can learn how to pray. Apparently the 'Amens' and 'Allelujias' that I shout out during morning Mass just isn't the way they pray here in these parts.

Sr. Caprice, however, has seen the need to summon me every time she sees a spider or bug in this large Monestary. (When Mother Frangelico & Father are going to decide on a name is beyond me). I had a jarful of spiders that I kept by the window. When Mother Frangelico saw it, she demanded me to let these dear creatures go outside (my words not hers). So obediently, I went out, in the pouring rain, and let them out by a large pine tree.

When I came back in, I met Sr. Perpetua. She seemed a bit interested in what I was doing outside in the rain. When I told her that I love bugs, especially spiders, she kinda smiled (I think - it was difficult to see behind the black lipstick). We decided after dinner, during our free time, we would sneak around the convent looking in all of the nooks & crannies to find some great looking spiders. We found some jumping spiders and daddy long-legs and some creatures that I had never seen before. Unfortunately, I left my entomology books back with my parents in Willacoochie.

However, that's not all we found. We found a secret hallway from the linen closet in the 3rd floor all the way down to the kitchen pantry. We also found another secret doorway into a small hall that led to the boys side. I have a feeling Sr. Perpetua and I found where the so-called ghost came from. (that gives me an idea! I wonder if Sr. Perpetua would help).

Uh-Oh...I hear footsteps. gotta go.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oh, Dear!

Our happy little home is getting bigger by the day! And we still have a brother yet to join us!

As if Sister Caprice all by herself wasn't enough, we now have Sister Max with her love of bugs, Brother Gus with his pranks, and now, Sister Perpetua, our newest addition, with all her....baggage.

Yet Father and I realized, when we began, the population we'd be serving and seeking to guide...and sure enough, the Lord keeps answering! Father is gone so much so much of the burden falls on me, but given all we have going on I'm going to have to ask him to be more invested here!

Sister Perpetua...there's a story!

You'll get to know her as time goes on, and I pray the others will draw her out. She wears nothing but black, even her nails are painted black and I'm going to have to confiscate her black lipstick and eye shadow! Only the Lord knows what color her hair REALLY is...He's the only one ever to have seen it! That black dye simply makes her look like a corpse, so I suspect she's really an Irish redhead! Even she doesn't know!

I've never met anyone quite like her. Pierced, tattooed, gothic...?

Really, we wouldn't have taken her but a dear friend of mine called me and asked me to offer her a space and a place to go. She gave me some history, all the communities she's visited, all the places she's been. This young lady needs a home, and she needs guidance. She's not a criminal, exactly, so they can't just send her to the county. I agreed...and I sense Father is going to have a HUGE problem with this! But we can't turn the poor soul away...

Pray for us!

Here We Go Again

Hi. I'm Sister Perpetua.

Not much to say. I got here today, Mother Frangelico told me to just write an introduction so this is it. Hi.

I've been everywhere. I've done everything. It's all boring.

I tried being a Benedictine, but the shade of black they wore wasn't my color. So I went to live with the Carmelites, but they ate too much. So I left. And I visited the Dominicans, but they wanted me to preach and I just don't see the point. The Sisters of Divine Providence kicked me out of the convent.

I don't see the point in any of this.

I see there's a ghost here. That's cool. If it's a ghost or if it's not I'll get to the bottom of it. I used to be into Voodoo and stuff, investigated all kinds of "hauntings". They're usually not ghosts.

I don't even know why I'm here.

That's all.

The Ghost!

I woke up this morning, and once again, all the pictures are up-side down in the hallway! And while the statues haven't moved, the pictures DID! They didn't just turn upside down, they switched places!

We should see if Father will let Brother Gus come and watch our hallway at night because he scared the ghost away last time. Or maybe Father would prefer to stay up and keep watch himself, as he wouldn't want to go back on what he said and allow Brother Gus over here at night.

But if Father will just come over and bless our wing again, maybe the ghost will go away! I mentioned it to Sister Max, and she started coughing.

Both her and Brother Gus seem to have the same malady! She was really tired this morning at Mass, too (but at least she didn't drool when she fell asleep!) And I offered to go to the infirmary to get her some claritin or something but she refused, said she doesn't have allergies, but when she finished coughing she was wiping her eyes. So I KNOW she's got allergies, because that's a telltale sign!

And Mother Frangelico and Father spoke with both Brother Gus and Sister Max yesterday and said that their interest in bugs is fascinating, but they aren't allowed to bring them into the monastery. And Mother said that we can't get beekeeper uniforms, although Sister Max liked the idea, too. I'm not sure why she was on board with that, because I thought she liked bugs, but it's nice to have a little solidarity.

You know, I can't figure out why, when I ask these questions Mother Frangelico and Father both just shake their heads and walk away. And they start coughing sometimes, too, and wiping their eyes.

Am I the only one in this place that doesn't have allergies?

Friday, May 23, 2008

A What?

I'm completely flummoxed, I tell you! Sister Caprice comes running into my office, asking about whether they can wear "habits." And her eyes were just as big as saucers and she nearly dropped a HUGE stack of books she was carrying...and then she DID when her shoe caught on the rug and it all went flying all over the office!

And she was so apologetic I didn't even scold her for dragging her feet again. And I completely forgot to ask WHY IN THE WORLD she was carrying that huge stack anyway? I thought those were the ones from the living area she'd put out for spiritual reading this week?

Anyway, as we picked them all up she asked if we could wear habits, maybe along the lines of a...will you believe THIS...a beekeeper's outfit, with the mesh and the hat and gloves and whole bit!

I asked why, and she mumbled something about bugs and spiders and if it can keep out bees it must be good to keep spiders away, too. And she's also asking for mosquito netting for her room!
Then before I could answer she took off again with that huge stack of books.

What has gotten INTO that girl? A beekeeper's uniform? Mosquito netting? Why, it's not even above 60 degrees yet!

Sister Max gets Started

Howdie Y'All!
Yes, that is a Southern accent you hear. I'm from Willacoochie, Georgia, a small town just north of Valdosta. My parents work in Valdosta at the local hospital - both are doctors. My dad is a Proctologist and my mom is in Biomed, with Nutrition specialty. I tease them that they see food coming & going! (I have their sense of humor)

Why am I here? Well, you see, my parents are more into science than they are into God. It was my uncle, Uncle Max, short for Maximillian, that gave me the yearn to learn more about God. I am named after my Uncle Max. In fact, we were both born on the same day - August 14th, which is also the feast day of St. Maximillian Kolbe (although he wasn't a Saint when my uncle was born).

Anyway, I used to go to Uncle Max's for vacation during the summers. We would take long walks in the woods and he would show me the insects, bugs, and other 'creepy crawly' things (he's an Entomologist). During our walks he would also tell me about God and his faith. Now, you see, my parents never taught me about any religion or God, they believed that we needed to be earth-friendly and respect all life but that was all. But Uncle Max, knew there was more to life than just earth, sky, creatures, he knew there was a Savior who became like us to save us. He would also tell me all about the Bible Stories and the Popes. My favorite stories are about Daniel, Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego.

Uncle Max is my dad's brother. He was the black sheep of the family because he became Catholic. However, my dad and Uncle Max are twins so we could never keep them separated, even though my grandfather tried.

So, during college I converted to Catholicism; my Uncle Max said he would be my God Father when I was Baptized & Confirmed. My parents came, but they were not too happy, although they understood, I think. We don't talk about it much - especially since I decided I wanted to become a Nun.

I am also an Entomologist and love bugs and other creepy crawly things! You can see God's sense of humor when He created bugs...especially worms! Did you know that you can cut a worm in half and both halves would live? They will also regrow the parts that were cut. Cool beans! Sr. Caprice - isn't it just wonderful??? Just look at how it squirms in your hand. Want to hold it?

My love of God filled my soul 'til I could just feel like burstin'. I had to do something, so I decided to talk with one of the Sisters at the Church near the University. It was through her and Uncle Max that I decided I had to give my life to God, fully. So, here I am.

Brother Gus - want to go lookin' for spiders in the woods when we get done?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I might as well start packing!

Father is seriously MAD at me! Whew, I haven't heard anyone yell like that since we ran Steve H. up the flagpole by his underwear in high school! My ears are still ringing!

Something about we just moved in, statues are worth alot of money, respect the property, being on the girl's side of the dorm.

Whatever, dude, I was just trying to have a little fun on my first night here. So what that I slept through Mass! It's not like we aren't having one tomorrow. I tried listening to the readings this morning, but I can't understand mother's accent!

That was morning prayer that I slept through? That was so confusing, if Sister Caprice wasn't there I would've been totally lost, as it was I was still only partially lost. Geesh, who came up with that thing anyway? And I'm supposed to get FOUR of those books! I can't make it through one!

Good thing I only half unpacked last night, because I think Father was about this close to kicking my little backside out this morning.

Oh, he made me say: "I promise I will stay out of the women's quarters."

So, sorry Sister Maxine, I'm not allowed to help you move in.

Mysterious Happenings

Last night I kept hearing noises in the hall, but I was tired and thought I was dreaming. Then this morning when we got up, I saw that all the artwork in the hallway was turned up-side down! Even the statues were turned backwards, facing the wall, and I'm not going to tell you how a couple of them had been arranged!

At first Mother started to blame me, but I swore I didn't do it, and she saw that I wasn't strong enough to move the statues at all, so she figured out then that I really was telling the truth.

And at Mass and morning prayer, I had to sit next to Brother Gus, to help him learn how to pray Liturgy of the Hours (he had to look off of my book) but he kept falling asleep, so I had to keep nudging him to keep him from Mother's notice.

But once he SNORED so I quickly started coughing to cover that up. Mother looked at me strangely from the other side of the aisle, but didn't say anything, and Father didn't seem to notice.

I'm still wondering how the pictures and statues had their positions changed. Do we maybe have a ghost?

Before breakfast, I asked Brother Gus if the noises last night had kept him awake...did he hear noises in his hallway, too? He just looked at me strangely and kind of made a choking noise but turned away and started coughing (I guess my cough is catching!), so didn't answer right away. When he did he said, no, he hadn't heard anything at all. So I told him about the pictures and statues in our hallway, and was afraid maybe we had a ghost.

He started coughing again, so I told him maybe he was so tired because he maybe had allergies, so told him I'd go to the infirmary to get him some cough syrup or claritin or something. He told me he was fine, but I do think he has allergies because that time he was wiping his eyes when he stopped coughing. I'll mention Brother Gus's allergies to Mother Frangelico and Father so they can make sure he is able to sleep at night.

And maybe Father will come and bless our wing again so that the ghost will go away.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This place is HUGE!

Wow! You need to check this place out! It is amazing, there's little rooms all over the place, and the yard inside the walls is fantastic, we can play frisbee, have a barbeque, maybe a little football, even soccer if that's your thing.

OH, wait, me? I'm Brother Gus, and just moved in. Well, the Gus is short for Augustine, but you know that takes too long to type out and there's more important things to do, anyway. Besides, 'Augustine' sounds too stuffy, 'Gus' is much more relaxed and stuff.

Anyway, I'm hear to discern the priesthood and am not sure where I'm going. I just got out of college, and still need a job. I met once with the vocation director, he said 'I had issues.' whatever that means, jeesh, stuffy old guy!

Well, I got to get unpacking and Father said I had to be at the early Mass. What time was that again???!!! Man, I hope I can take a nap afterwards!

Overwhelming Week!

I have to greatly apologize to Sister Caprice for the last few days. I've been terribly busy with some obligations outside the monastery and haven't had a chance to check in on her. She probably thinks I'm avoiding her, definitely not the case!

Anyway, Sister, I want to reiterate what I said in our meeting, and give some of the direction for follow up.

First off, many many folks who have gone through even a small amount of what you told me Monday have lasting scars. It affects relationships all over the place, even (and especially) our relationship with God! When we've been formed to be hated, how could God love us, when no one else does?

However, when we look to Jesus' ministry as He walked this earth, whom did He especially seek out? Those who were on the margins of society, those who were shunned and hated by everyone else. In that way, He still reaches to those who are in need to offer them healing, to offer them forgiveness, to call them back into relationship with God. Sometimes the bigger struggle is accepting the Love that is the free gift from God.

Sister, it comes over time, slowly wake up to this possibility; then your vocational discernment will start to take on a new direction and vitality.

The stations that LM published are excellent, and as someone deals with a situation such as this, meditating on the stations of the Cross are an excellent way to deal with our own sufferings, to unite them with the Cross of Christ and with Him to over come.

Anyway, it is getting late and the new brother is waiting to use the computer. Please be kind, he seems to be a bit on the wild side. (We're expecting a few more to join up in a few days as well.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Brother!

I forgot to mention, before going to Vespers..we have a new "postulant" joining our community! Brother will introduce himself once he gets settled. Please make him feel welcomed!

Also, just a reminder, we'll be voting on our Monastery name soon, and once we have it Sister and I will work on creating a sign to put out front.

Broken Homes and Vocations

There's an epidemic in this country, and throughout the world, and it is this that many of us believe is the cause of the "Vocations crisis." God is indeed calling souls to serve Him in all capacities, but part of knowing how to hear that call comes from the relationships built within a healthy family.

I still remember a priest once giving a homily on this very problem. He was speaking about another priest who was telling a little boy all about the love of the Father, and about who the Father is and what he does, and on and on. And finally, that little boy, in tears, bursts out, "NO! My father beats me!"

How can that poor child possibly understand the love of the Father, the REAL love of the Father when the only example he's had has been one of arbitrary harm? And how can a woman learn to see Mary as her Mother when her earthly mother didn't do anything to reveal the divine love that was supposed to be manifest through her to her child? There's a serious disconnect.

And it's not a problem just in abusive families like dear Sister Caprice's. It's a problem found in divorced families, remarried families, and the like. It's not that God isn't calling; it's just that there is no context to provide for the children to hear that call.

I did not know Sister Caprice's story or how serious it was for her. And I see now how God has brought her here to be with us so we can give her an experience of family. It's no wonder she is so confused! What is a wonder is her sweet temperment! How does a girl grow up like that and still grow in charity? Divine Grace, that's what. And she's been sent to myself and to Father.

And she may sometimes be a thorn in our sides, but Glory Be, that's going to sanctify us, too!

We will have more discussion on this widespread problem as time goes on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meeting with Father

So, like the title says, I had a meeting with Father today. And gardening yesterday didn't help, and I couldn't even hide the fact that I was shaking! It wasn't like Confession, where I could just go behind a screen, and in this case, it wouldn't have helped, anyway. We were actually in the living area, which was nice. I guess if we had other people here, we couldn't have talked in that room because they would have been around. And Father's got a really nice office and even has kind of a "sitting area" there, too, but it's still an office. I guess you just can't take the office out of the office!

Oh, OK, sorry, I'm delaying. And I'm sorry, this is going to be really long because if I don't write the whole thing I'll get scared and never bring it up again.

So I talked to Father today, and he saw right away that I was shaking so started talking about other things, I guess to put me at ease. It helped a little bit, and he even told me a few stories about growing up - it seems he was really...well you should let him tell you about the helicopter and the tree! And so I told him about the time in high school when we were TP'ing a friend's house at Homecoming, but they let their dog out (a really BIG one!) and we ran to the end of the yard, climbed the fence, and as I fell down the other side, a nail caught my pantleg and split it almost to my hip! And I got cut, too, but didn't care because it really wasn't bad and it gave me an excuse to turn my jeans into shorts! So that's kind of how our conversation went, just trading a few stories about growing up.

It kinda made me feel like I knew Father a lot better, too, more like a friend. (But he's still "Father"!).

So by then I had quit shaking and didn't feel like I was going to cry. I'm not sure how he did it or what he asked me, but suddenly I was telling him about Mom and about my Dad and Step-Dad. I know it was about some good things, like what we did on holidays and stuff like that, family vacations, school events...normal things. And their things I haven't thought about in a long time. But after a little while, he asked me something and I started to freeze up because it made me think of some things that happened when I was little, I try not to think about it.

And he told me that it was OK, nothing I said was going to be upsetting or shocking to him. And for a little while I couldn't speak, so he handed me a kleenex and asked me if I wanted to talk to him a different day? I shook my head because I figured maybe it was time to tell someone, and I had a sense that maybe he'd actually understand. I think he and Mother Frangelico are the first people I've ever met who even CARED! And maybe it was that, more than anything else that made me cry.

So finally I explained that ever since I was really little, I'd been abused. Mom wasn't physical, but she always told me I was dumb, every chance she got. She used to tell people, right in front of me, how long it took me to learn to walk or to be potty-trained, and it was like she did everything she could to make me look like an idiot, even when I was just little and couldn't have known any better! I knew other adults who laughed and kinda teased me, but they weren't mean about it...Mom was always mean. That never changed, just got worse when I got older.

I didn't write this as part of my discernment story, but when I told Mom what I was thinking, I said that she cried and thought I'd just go knock on the convent door and be admitted, but that's not what happned. She ACTUALLY said that even if I went there, they probably wouldn't let me in because I'm too stupid to be a nun, she never wanted me, and so God would never want me, either.

So...um...I lied in my discernment story about what Mom said. She didn't cry, either. She just laughed at me. I was the one crying.

And Father actually DID seem shocked by that! And he told me that God DOES love me, and that He would never reject me, because he sent Jesus to die for me, and that no one would say I was "too stupid" to be a nun! He actually complimented me and said he does think I'm actually pretty smart, Mother had told him the same thing before I even met him. And he actually seemed sincere!

No one has ever told me they thought I was smart. Maybe a smart-aleck but that's it! And so there I was, crying again, because he was being so nice to me!

And then Father asked me about Dad...the first one. I don't remember a lot, only that he and Mom were always fighting, she was always throwing things at him, I remember he used to hit her, and sometimes the stuff she threw hit me and no one noticed. I got hit on the head once with a flowerpot. I think it just "glanced" my head, but it really hurt, and I remember waking up in the hospital, and a nurse was there, but Mom and Dad weren't. The nurse told me to be more careful when helping Mom with the plants so a ficus tree wouldn't fall on me again.

And when Mom and Dad brought me home, they told me that I should go to my room when they were arguing. They made me feel like getting hit with a flowerpot was my fault!

I can't remember much else about that. Dad wasn't around much. I think he hated me, but he never hit me, on purpose, that I can remember. He used to yank and drag me around and he was impatient, but he didn't call me names like Mom did, not that I could hear. And I think he's the one who took me to the hospital when Mom threw the flowerpot at him, the one that hit me instead. But other than that, other than him yelling at Mom and hitting her, I can't remember much.

They got divorced, because he met "someone else", and I didn't know what that meant, but whatever it was, it made Mom angrier than ever, but I was just little so I couldn't stay away from her. And my older brother was little too.

So then after awhile Mom got remarried. By then I was older...by several years. He was just like her. He was big, and rough, and drank a lot. They both did, Mom really got into that after they met. And he made fun of me right along with Mom. They picked on my brother, too. He also had a couple kids, but they lived with their mother and I got to know them here and there, they were fine, but we all kinda knew we couldn't help each other. Their Mom was a lot like ours, although not quite so mean. I wished I could go live with them.

And he didn't hit Mom...he hit me. If I did anything, like if I spilled milk, he'd pick up what was left and throw it in my face. If there wasn't much left in the carton he'd pour it on my head and make me take what money I had out of my allowance, give it to him for "milk".

And I never knew when he was about to get angry. I learned to avoid him when he was drinking, but he was mean when he was sober, too. After awhile, he started hitting Mom, too. He'd hit anyone who came near him.

So I was telling all of this to Father, and he just listened, and finally I got to a point where I didn't want to say anymore. Not today. And he understood, and suggested we pick up our conversation later on.

But he first said that he understood why I lied in my discernment story, and no, he wasn't angry with me, and no one would fault me for it. And he suggested I go back and edit my story. But I told him no, since I was writing this it's kind of a retraction and maybe it would be more honest in the long run if I'm willing to show my faults, too. And he understood that, too.

And he asked me what I thought when I heard the term, "Father" or "God the Father." And I had to think about that. I don't have an answer. I love Jesus, but I don't think of Jesus as "Father". Even though I believe in the Trinity. Fathers kinda scare me. Or don't matter. One or the other. Nothing in between. Father himself is nice, but I kinda think of him as just a title. And I told him that, although after today I think of him more as a person now, not just, like, an employer, a boss.

And he asked me what I thought of the word "Mother" and what that means. I didn't really know at all.

So he asked me to think about it, and he thanked me for talking to him, and thought maybe I'd had enough for today. I was pretty much crying the whole time. He suggested maybe I pray Stations of the Cross, for my family especially, and that maybe since I love Jesus, see if I can imagine being in the place of Jesus and my family, the people described in the prayer book he gave me. And he suggested I look for an image of Mary that is most comforting to me.

He said that we can't choose our family on earth, but we have already been chosen by our family in Heaven..God, our Father, and the Mother of God. And he said that God is my Father and Mary is my Mother and I have to get to know them.

There's more to the story, and I feel better after talking to Father. He was so nice! And I told him that if it's helpful to other people, he can share what I told him today, too. We didn't talk about everything, and he knows there's more so we'll meet later this week or next week, when there's time.

Blessed Trinity!


I apologize that I did not get this written yesterday. Somehow, the day just got away from me!

You may wonder why I used the image of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan to represent the Trinity; what many people don't realize that this is a beautiful expression of the trinity! We have the voice of the Father, we have the Son, and of course, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son "as a dove".

It's a beautiful passage for all of us to meditate upon as we consider the love of the Father, who have His only Son that we may have eternal life. That means that Jesus, as the second person of the Holy Trinity, thus God Himself, descended into the waters of the Jordan.

Why did Jesus, who was without sin, need to be baptized? Because entering the water, descending into the water, represents descending to the netherworld; it represents His acceptance of death. (If you look at icons of Jesus' baptism and compare them to icons of the resurrection, you will see striking similarities!)

At that moment, salvation history continued as Jesus gave His OWN Fiat, taking the sins of the world upon His shoulders, for he descended into the Jordan not for his own sins...but carrying ours. And when He emerged, and the Father's voice boomed across the heavens, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, what did He do? He went off into the desert to pray. To ponder these things in His divine, loving heart, and to be tempted.

Jesus gives us an example here; when we believe God is calling us, although the heavens won't open and doves won't descend upon our heads (we hope!), we should recognize that we are at least being called to pray. We have to withdraw, to go "into the desert" to pray, so that we can listen clearly to God. It's the wrong thing to do to immediately jump out and start acting upon what we think we've heard. We may even need help in discerning what we are perceiving.

So, for those who are discerning their Vocations to married life, consecrated life, or the priesthood, it's imperative that they take time out to pray, and if they can, find a good spiritual director to help them sort out their thoughts and even prayers, and help direct them along the path where they will find God's will.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nervous

On Monday, I have to go talk to Father. I asked to do so, and I think he kinda has an inkling as to what it's about, but every time I think of talking about it, I just start shaking. It's kinda like how it was when I hadn't been to Confession in a really long time, but, this is worse.

I talked to Mother about it a little, and she was very understanding, but recommended I keep my meeting with Father; she thinks it's important that I do, and she told me to be open and honest, too.

But it's stuff I've never talked about, and even Mother Frangelico doesn't know all of it. And maybe it's not a big deal and I'm just building it up and scaring myself. Or maybe not. But one thing Mother said is that I have to talk about it to them, when I think I'm ready, because I have to learn to trust them.

And that's it, right there! I have a hard time trusting people. But already in starting to talk to Mother Frangelico, when I couldn't say anymore or just couldn't, she just told me it was OK and I didn't have to continue. And she said Father will be the same way and won't force me to say more than I'm comfortable in saying. But she said they're there to help.

And I know that's true. But just the idea of bringing this up makes me want to leave the monastery so that I don't have to talk about it. But I know that would be wrong and I'm safer here than I've ever been anywhere else.

You'd think an adult woman wouldn't agonize over something that probably happens to a lot of people (because no one comes from perfect families!). So I'm really scared to go talk to Father but maybe I really do have to, and maybe it won't be so bad as I think.

He's gone this weekend, and so is Brother Brit, so I've just been thinking about things and trying to calm myself down. It helps that the weather is nice and so Mother Frangelico and I spent the afternoon outside doing some yard work and weeding and stuff like that.

I should go..it's time for night prayer and I'm late! Good night!

I'm so Embarassed!

Well, Mother Frangelico explained to me that a "Nun Run" is not a type of marathon. Well, not the kind you run in anyway. So the good news is that I don't have to go into serious training for it.

Basically, a Nun Run can be anything from a day-long visit to several communities, or it could be maybe a week long or so, visiting different communities, maybe one per day, especially if there's a lot of travel between them. Sometimes they stay overnight at one place and then another. So it's all in how it's set up.

I'm kinda sad I won't be getting my running shoes out again, though. But happy my rosary will stay active!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Re: NUN RUN!


NUN RUN!

Mother Frangelico suggested a couple posts ago that I go on a Nun Run. I hadn't previously mentioned to her that I used to be in track, and she didn't know that I really LOVE running. I've gotten so out of shape, though. :-(

But someone told us about this one, coming up in October:


Nun Run" on Saturday, October 27th - Visit four women's religious
communities! Join the "Nun Run" on Saturday, October 27th and visit four women's religious communities in the Cleveland Diocese (Sisters of the Holy Spirit,
Ursulines, Carmelites, Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity). From 10:00AM - 4:00PM
you will have the opportunity for prayer, tour, discussion and food.

For more info or to register contact Sr. Lenore Thomas, IHM at
lthomas@dioceseofcleveland.org Must register by Monday, October 22nd.



That really sounds terrific! To go running with so many wonderful Nuns, but I'm not in shape to be able to run for so many hours. They must all be a long ways apart. It seems to be a sort of race, maybe they all start at the same point, and each convent or monastery or house or whatever is a place to get water and snacks so we can keep running to the next one.

In other cultures around the world, there were people who ran, would race from one village to the next, and whoever got everyone there first won! (I'm not sure how they figured out who won, though.) I imagine this Nun Run must be similar to that.

I'm quite excited, and so happy I have some time until October to train for this! It seems like a big goal, but people run marathons all the time, so I'll just go and look up how they train for it and put myself on a regimen.

Thanks for suggesting this, Mother, and thanks to Anonymous (what an ODD name!) for telling us about that one!

Nuns in Cleveland must do a lot of running. Don't they have transportation there? Oh, well. Maybe it's healthier for them to have to go everywhere on foot.

Reminder: Monastery Name

Please don't forget that we're still seeking a name for our Monastery. So far we've received the following suggestions:

* St. Perpetua
* Our Mother of Perpetual Hope
* Our Lady of Perpetual Help
* St. Jude
* St. Raphael
* Divine Mercy
* Monastery of the Saints of the Wildflowers (* sigh * What are we to DO with you, Sister? )
* Monastery of the Saints of the Dandelions (My goodness, we have GOT to get out and do some yard work!)

Keep them coming, people! We're going to make a decision on names next week!

How Discernment Got Worse

Mother Frangelico and Father have been after me to finish my discernment story, and I promise, I'm almost done! I took a break considering I thought I wasn't going to be here anymore, so why waste the time? But they have been good to me, and I'm starting to actually trust them. That's new.

Anyway, in my last discerment post, I'd said that things were getting worse.

And they were. First it was people "shouting" at me from all directions. And then one day a few of them began asking me which communities (especially those that they favored) I'd gone to visit. NONE!

First, because the ones they favored weren't interesting to me. And of those that were, I couldn't afford to go. I either had to fly or drive a long ways, or something! But I couldn't get a ride to the airport, or a sub for work, or someone to feed my cats and my bird! NOTHING!

EVERYONE who had said they would help disappeared when I explained what I needed. I was completely abandoned. (Not that that was new to me.)

But when I said that I hadn't gone anywhere yet, those same people started yelling at me and telling me what I should be doing and when and where!

But I knew, in my heart, that the timing was wrong, and I shouldn't go...yet. It was a combination of things; it didn't "feel right", I couldn't pay for it, and no one was willing to help me where I needed help. I knew that God was not asking me to starve my pets. He was asking me to be patient.

But "everyone else" knew better, apparently, and they wouldn't leave me alone. They wouldn't stop telling me what I should be doing and when, according to THEIR schedule. And who to ask for money, and when. And it just wasn't right. I can't explain it...it just wasn't right. It wasn't time.

It wasn't that I was unwilling to go..it was that I couldn't listen to God for all the yelling around me, and in my soul I knew it wasn't time to go to this or that place and I was trying desperately to listen to GOD and not everyone else. But they wouldn't stop, so finally I just dug in my heels.

I think I stopped listening to God, too. And I don't know how to start listening to him again.

But there was something else. When I started looking at communities, I went about it as if I was looking for a career. It was a lot like my career searches in high school and college. Lists of things, tests, what I could get out of this or that order or community. It wasn't about God. It was about me. I was looking at it as I'd look at a career. And my friends, the ones "shouting" at me were a lot like that. The same thing had happened back when I was choosing a career. And I went down all the wrong roads just trying to get away from them.

I didn't want to do that with God, so I just quit. I stopped discerning. Because I didn't know where to go or what to do, and the people I had to help me weren't helpful. So I just stopped, and I told God that if he had a plan for me, he had to tell me or send me to someone because I couldn't figure it out on my own...or with others.

So it's been a few years, I've been totally lost, and finally Mother came along and took time to TALK to me. And she asked me about it, and she brought me to Father to talk about it one day, too. And they both decided I was perfect for the Monastery. So here I am. I'm still not sure what to do or how to do it, so I'm just discerning whether I should be discerning anything.

Or maybe I'm called to nothing at all.

* sigh *

I just don't know yet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Father's Discernment Story

Since is seems everyone else is writing these things, I've got to weigh in too. :(

You may be wondering how a boy from the Northeast ends up running a Monastery in Minnessota. I can tell you, it wasn't a straight shot.

I was born and raised outside of Boston, and luckily my family attended a nice little parish there by the name of St. Mary's. Vatican II happened during my formative years, but the pastor there thought this whole idea would blow over, so he did rush any changes through. As I began my journeys through the Church in my discernment path, I was very thankful for the leadership Fr. Brookhaven gave in those tumultuous years after the Council.)

College in New England just wasn't going to do it for me, so I headed south to find warmth and new opportunities. That's right, Florida, baby! I found a small liberal arts college near the beach and packed my bags and headed down there with all the snow birds.

It turns out that Fr. Brookhaven was a better influence than I thought and I started to feel a call to seminary and to the priesthood. Seeing as how Florida was still mostly a mission territory, I joined up with one of the dioceses down there and was sent to seminary in the area. It was a great time of prayer, of learning about the faith, although the solid faith that I was taught as a youngster was starting to be eroded by craziness in the seminary. A small band of us were able to hold together and help each other through the seminary.

The greatest day of my life, tho, was the day I was ordained and was able to celebrate my First Mass. Wow, to be able bring Our Lord to the altar and give Him to His people, unbelievable!! Saying Mass is still the highlight of my day, everyday.

Well, sadly, things went downhill shortly thereafter. My first pastor was a real tyrant and we just did not get along. A new bishop came in and starting attacking us 'conservative' priests. I really just wanted to serve Our Lord, I didn't hardly even know what 'conservative' vs. 'liberal' really meant.

I had some real struggles at that point, and began questioning my faith in a new way, in a way that I had never had before. I had to get out of that place, evil things were happening.

Throughout the 80's, I slowly made my way up the mid-west, I joined a few dioceses while still officially connected with Florida. I felt truly like a Roaming Catholic Priest, helping out where I could and stopping at monasteries in and around the deep south and midwest.

By the 90's, I got associated with a Benedictan community, and even though it was a great place, it just didn't feel like home. I had had a few contacts from the home diocese, but just couldn't bring myself to go back there. Every message I got in prayer was that it was wrong, even though I had the promise of obedience. The new bishop was much nicer than the tyrant, as I came to know him over my years of diaspora.

By the turn of the century, I got to know Mother Frangelico over a period of years and we started to discuss the idea of forming a community that could help those who were spinning wheels as we were. After looking around for a number of years, we finally found the place that we now call home. It feels good to have a purpose again, to have a family again. So often duing those years, I felt like an orphaned father.

I really do love working with Sister Caprice and Brother Brit, as they have that sincere desire to follow Jesus (even if that gets misplaced at times!) I see in them alot of similarities to what I went through in my many wanderings. I am glad to offer them the assistance that I can, while also holding down a few other odd jobs here and there in the Church. I am sure they will come to light eventually.

Well, that's the highlights of my journey of discernment. I hope you enjoyed, and now you understand why I snapped so hard at Sister the other day. It brought up so many demons from my past, and I've brought them to confession already and ask for Sister's forgiveness and understanding as well.

God Bless!

Dominicans can pray!

Since Father and Mother have both been hounding me to give the report on my excursion to the Dominicans earlier this week, I better finally get around to it!

Wow! What a parish! There are tons of young families there, each with it seemed like 4-8 children; all well behaved and attentive at the evening Mass that I happened upon. (I went after work, as it seemed a good crowd did too.) It was as near to paradise as I've been in a long time.

The Church is set up in an old English Monastery style, (before Henry VIII went all nutso and destroyed everything!), with a choir section for the friars, a beautiful wood and ivory communion rail, and carvings of saints at every corner. As you walked in, there was just tremendous soaring of spirit, and prayer erupted from the heart.

Imagine my surprise when after Mass the crowds stayed, and didn't immediately run off. They had adoration for about an hour while some of the friars heard confessions, and one of the brothers there came out and led us in devotions. After the deacon gave Benediction, and put Jesus away, the same brother came back out and gave a wonderful talk on discernment (I so wish that Sister Caprice could've been there!)

The highlights were as follows:
- prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is vital to hearing where God is leading you.
- as you are drawn to a community, read about the founder (or foundress) and see how God led him or her to address a specific need in the life of the Church.
- take small steps to explore life with the particular community, including making contact with the Vocation Director.

As I sat there and heard snippets of Brother Jerome's testimony, my heart was burning within me and I just felt completely drawn to the community.

I am not sure where this is going to lead, but whenever I think of life as a Dominican, my heart starts to race. Father, could this be a sign?

Oh, I forgot to answer the question that I was sent there to address in the first place! Why is Eucharistic Adoration so important in the discernment of a vocation? I asked Brother Jerome this question after his reflection. Simply put, he said, it is in Eucharistic Adoration that we come face to face with Our Lord, truly present. As we gaze upon Him in the Monstrance, He stares back into the depth of our souls and calls us to die to the self and live for Him. Besides when we receive Him in the Eucharist at Holy Mass, we are never closer to Him than when we pray before Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

This all made so much sense to me. I am hoping that we can start more periods of Adoration here at our monastery, whatever we'll call it, in the near future. After all, once we get rid of those horrible felt banners, our chapel could be almost as nice as the Dominican's!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Housekeeping

As I am Mother Superior (I'm not sure what Father's formal title would be in this case...Prior?), it falls on me to be in charge of certain "housekeeping" issues.

Firstly, although we are the Brothers and Sisters of Perpetual Discernment, we cannot call our Monastery by the same name. It's boring and inane...and long. We need to name our Monastery.

And so, Father, Sister Caprice, and Brother Brit, I am calling upon you to submit Monastery titles to me. And we can ask our public to do so as well. What do you think defines our way of life here? What are our goals? What spiritual things do we so admire? What type of Monastery name compliments our mission and our discernment?

So...please submit your entries below. We will vote of them as a community.

Secondly, our goal here is DISCERNMENT. Meaning we are discerning SOMETHING. Brother Brit is well on his way and still has to write of his experience with the Dominicans, and I think Sister Caprice can learn from him. But I think we need to be a bit pushier. I realize with all the recent drama she's a bit shell shocked, and quite indecisive, so we're going to aid her in making some sort of choice.

I'm sending her on either a Nun Run or to a Vocations Fair so that she can get some contact with different communities and different Sisters and different ways of life. Father, I know that you've been attending many Vocations fairs and conferences and the like...please take Sister with you on the next one. I'll work on finding a Nun Run for her.

That's all for now. I think small defined steps are more important than many big ones that go nowhere.

Back to Discernment

Father and I formed this little community in order to aid our young adults in discerning their vocations. And with all the drama lately, we've gotten off track. Certainly, life can seem to "get in the way", but in doing so, it often reveals maybe a stumbling block; a reason why some people can't seem to take the next step.

Our dear Sister Caprice has many many stumbling blocks, but we know that somewhere, she is serious about wanting to recognize where the Lord is calling her. And we know that because she agreed to come here and live in the monastery, which really can be quite an alien way of life. However, we aren't strict monastics; we have structure that seems to work more like that of a structured family as opposed to a religious community, perhaps because we are so small.

I've been a bit irritated with what seems to be so casual a life, but then I consider new discerners, or perpetual discerners...and I realize that they aren't ready for the rigorous schedule of hardened monastics. We are but a way station, and maybe for some, a haven that will allow them to hear God speak.

God arranges things according to the needs of the souls that come to Him, and, of course, to us, and WE, also, need to discern how the Lord is calling us to serve these in our charge.

I believe it is written into the Rule of St. Benedict that those who are new to the monastic life be given much leeway as a period of adjustment; if they must live rigorously and sacrifice too much too quickly, they may become discouraged and fail. They are used to a life of comfort; to live in a monastery is a sort of culture-shock. And so, slowly, each new person must be given the chance to adjust and slowly learn the proper sacrifices of this life.

And so, we here at our Monastery must do the same.

It seems that this is as much a learning experience for Father and I as it is for Sister Caprice and Brother Brit.

Improving

This morning after prayer, Mother and I had a long conversation while preparing breakfast, and she explained a few more things, and gave me a book to read. It's not very long, and I've already started it: "The Privilege of Being a Woman" by Alice von Hildebrand. She said the book will help me understand who I am as a woman.

Then she explained that Father doesn't hate me, and she'd spoken with him, and that he wanted me to come to his office after breakfast. So I went, and my heart was in my throat. I was so certain he was going to kick me out! But Father said right away that he'd seen the comment that I'd made and that I should know first of all that he most certainly doesn't hate me, and secondly, that being confused isn't grounds for dismissal. Then he quizzed me on what Brother Brit had said, and made sure I understood why women can't become priests. And I DO understand now, and I'm OK with that.

And we even joked around a little bit about the women who think they're priests are are going around wearing colored garbage bags.

But then he got serious again, and he apologized for shouting and for being so angry. And he said that he didn't want me to leave the monastery, especially because of him and his temper.

After that, he kinda tried to get me to talk more about my family, growing up, and stuff. But I almost started crying and couldn't speak at all so I just shook my head and refused to talk about it. And he said he understood and that maybe he shouldn't have asked, especially considering that he has a lot to make up for right now. But he said (real nicely) that his door is always open and I can come talk to him any time. And that before I make announcements maybe it would be better to make sure he and Mother Frangelico know about what I'm thinking before I do anything, including writing about it. And I agreed. The whole thing could have been avoided if I were just a bit more prudent.

But I feel a whole lot better now, and the monastery seems like it's peaceful again.

OK! I'm going to go to the chapel and tell Jesus that we're all friends again!

Monastary Living

Whenever one lives in community, it's like a family, and it becomes one quickly. We formed our little community somewhat haphazardly, yet realizing that this was what God was calling us to do. As you can see, it's not all perfection and holiness and sweetness!

Please allow me to explain our surroundings and some of our lifestyle!

Firstly, Father and I have known each other for years, and he can tell that story. I've spoken enough of myself. Father can explain how our monastery came into being because, it really happened at his behest.

About the monastery; the Archdiocese happened to be "sitting" on an old convent on a plot of land somewhat near the chancery. It's a building that is listed on the Minnesota Historical Registry, so they were trying to figure out what to do with it. It's consecrated, it's in decent shape, and the sisters that used to inhabit it actually discerned themselves into paganism and out of existance. The last Sisters left for the nursing home maybe a year ago. It's a beautiful facility, if a bit old. We have a main entrance and a sitting room for receiving guests, and then our common area.

We have a common area for all of us; Brothers, Sisters, Father and I, things to share such as the refrectory where we take our meals together. And of course, we have one chapel. Currently, we do not have the Blessed Sacrament exposed at all times simply because the four of us cannot cover 24 daily hours of Adoration. But Jesus is present and currently, Sister Caprice is our assigned sacristan (although I'm removing her from that duty for the time being and Brother Brit will be handling that along with his altar service duties.)

It's a beautiful chapel, but in unfortunate need of more decoration. Proper decoration!

Each day we rise at 5:00 am for morning prayer and Mass, and then both Brother and Sister are off to their jobs. As this is a monastery for perpetual discerners, they are working in regular secular employment. When they return at the end of their work day, we have Vespers and then share in the responsibility of cooking dinner. (Father is a FABULOUS cook, although he's too humble to say so. Brother Brit has a few things to learn about Cooking 101. Sister Caprice learned from her Grandmother, and I...well...I'm a Mother. What do YOU think?)

After cleanup, we have recreation, spiritual reading, study, etc and while we don't have 'Grand Silence" we do enforce a certain curfew after Night Prayer.

Our Monastery has two separate "cloisters", branching from the community room. Father and Brother Brit share one wing, and Sister Caprice and I share another. So although both men and women share space, we maintain strict separation, including separate community rooms in the event that it's necessary. Truly, this is a beautiful space.

And it has the most wonderful architectural design as the entire Monastery has at its center the chapel reserving the Blessed Sacrament!

Yet it's not idyllic. We all have personalities, we all have our struggles and our histories, and as you see, we often clash. It's sometimes a difficult life, but one that, if we do it right, can prepare a soul for their true Vocation.

One of these days I'll explain part of my vision for this Monastery. It has to do with the necessity of some to experience family life. Too many of our young people don't recognize the call because they don't understand the love of the Father.

But that's for another day.

We are looking for "postulants" for our community. Please email I or Sister for an interview and formal invitation!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Uncertain Future

Well, ever since my "announcement", the world has been in an uproar. I spent most of last night and today in the chapel, praying.

No, really, I was crying most of the time...I couldn't even pray!

Father was shouting, Mother was shouting, and I had nowhere to go! So I went to Jesus, but it was so much like how I grew up, and I just kept waiting for something to come flying through the air to hit me.

Oh, I know that Mother Frangelico and Father would never do that, but, well...I just don't want to talk about it. I've never spoken of it. I don't want to start now. But maybe that's why Father always scares me. I'm just always waiting for someone's hand to fly up...

Um, I don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, I fell asleep in the Chapel last night, and woke up with an imprint of my rosary on my cheek. It was so embarassing! So as soon as I cleaned up, I just went back to the Chapel, because I couldn't bear even the thought of Mother Frangelico's comments or Father's baleful stare.

And it was their silence, more than anything, that scared me. NO ONE was saying ANYTHING! And that's worse than the arguing, and I knew that I was at fault for all of this.

But then Brother Brit came home from his retreat, and I couldn't even LOOK at him when he came into the Chapel. And he didn't say anything, at first, but his silence wasn't like Mother's silence or Father's silence. It was different. He didn't even know what was going on. And he didn't avoid me. He actually came and knelt down beside me, and still didn't say anything.

And then he took out his rosary and even though I still couldn't even look at him, I understood that he was asking if I wanted to pray it with him, so I did..I was still holding mine. And we prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries, and then a Divine Mercy. And a couple other prayers.

Then he finally asked me what happened, because I think he realized I wasn't going to say anything. And I couldn't. And even with his question I almost still couldn't. But finally I explained that I wanted to be a priest and how everything had blown up.

He was actually really nice about it, and didn't really react at all, just asked me why I thought I wanted to become a priest. So I told him, and he asked a few other questions. And I kept waiting for him to get upset, but he didn't.

So then Brother Brit explained the reasons why I can't become a priest - and he already told you what he said. And tonight, when doing dishes, he explained more and told me where I can go and read some more about it. What he said makes sense, and I wouldn't argue with even a word of what he told me!

But I think it might be too late. I think that I'm going to get kicked out of the Monastery, and I think that's why Mother Frangelico and Father haven't been speaking.

I don't know what I'd do if I got kicked out. I don't have anywhere to go. And I think Father hates me.

What happened?

I've been away for two days, and upon my return I see Father storming out of the place, Mother seems fit to be tied, and Sister Caprice is in the Chapel crying?!?!?

As an update, I've been over visiting the Dominicans as Father instructed me. It turns out that they are a wonderful order, very prayerful, young, dynamic and in love with the Eucharist.

I'll fill that in later, as Father seems to need a refresher on Adoration and Eucharistic Exposition. What seminary did he go to, anyway?

Anyway, the most immediate response seems to be to call Sister Caprice down. We entered the community at about the same time and have had many late night talks in the community room. She really is a very devout woman, deeply in love with Jesus. I can understand her desire to be a priest; as handling the Sacred Species and being able to celebrate the Sacraments is such a unique thing in our world. Trust me, this is a misguided love.

I talked to Sister for about an hour today, and I think we're going to reconnect after dinner as we both drew dish duty.

So far I've explained to her the importance of the priest acting in persona Christi; that is, he stands in the place of Christ who was (and is!) inescapably male. Certainly the care and compassion that tends to be embodied in women is also a reflection of the Divine Love, but as a person, a man is better able to represent Christ, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments.

She seemed to understand this, so far.

Tonight, we're going to discuss that because Christ only called men to be His closest followers, the Twelve, whom we see as the first priests and the predecessors of the Apostles; that the male priesthood is a divinely inspired mandate, ie: something we cannot change, even if we wanted to.

Like I said earlier, I am convinced that this was just a moment of misguided religious fervor from our dear Sister. I will talk to Father and Mother later, as they seemed to have disappeared right now, to calm them down and explain that Sister Caprice really isn't a heretic; just misguided youthful exuberance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Damage Control

Tonight, Sister Caprice is spending extra time in the Chapel.

Formally, we here at the Monastery of Perpetual Discernment, do not recognize priestesses or a female priesthood. All that we do and all for which we strive is faithful to the Magisterium and to the Apostolic Tradtion, and to Holy Scripture, wherin there is NO EVIDENCE that there has EVER been a Sacrament of Holy Orders for women. Including a Deaconate.

For further information, please check out the book by Sister Sarah Butler, available at Amazon.com, and likely your local library. It's not like the truth is a secret. The only reason people dissent against the truth is because they are idiots who have been taught to "think" by idiots who consider themselves "enlightened." Don't be an idiot.

Read the truth for yourself. And help us educate Sister Caprice. She means well...she just isn't very well...uh... *ahem * ... educated.

A Fresh Idea

The other day I came across an article about a bunch of “womenpriests” . I didn’t really read the article, just looked at the pictures, and I don’t think they’re really priests. Because they just look ticked off all the time, and I don’t think they’re Catholic, either. Because from what I did read of the article, NOTHING they believe matches up with what I know to be true.

Besides…they have TERRIBLE taste in vestments. All the priests I know have good taste. Or at least have people around them with good taste so that they don’t go around celebrating Mass wearing shower curtains or drapes or used paint tarps or something like those women do.

But I was thinking. Father gets to do some really cool things, like walk around on movie sets, and hear confessions (and absolve people!), and of course, to celebrate Mass! And that’s awesome…really! And people really admire priests for lots of good reasons. So, I was thinking, maybe I’m called to the priesthood? I mean, I have better taste than those women and I know what the Church really teaches about a lot of stuff.

Father, can I be a priest, too? I have good taste, I’ll even learn the Latin Mass and have a bunch of really well trained altar servers, and I won’t go around criticizing the Pope and the Bishops, and I won’t be angry all the time. I’m not generally an angry person. So, what do you think? Can you help me discern my call to the priesthood?


I think that's where God is calling me. Not to religious life, but to be a priest...and you know, I'm really EXCITED about this idea!

Ordinary Time

Ho Hum, is anyone with me that this is just a blah day in the Church's year?

We've celebrated the Spirit for 50 days, basking in the glory of Easter and the culmination of the great Feast of Pentecost.

Now what? Ordinary Time? What's that?!?!

Nothing particular to celebrate, nothing great to anticipate, just the ho-hum rythum of daily life. 'Nothing to see here, move along!'

I guess we toil away until the Lord comes again.