Sunday, June 29, 2008

the 'New' Bible?

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Clearing up Misconceptions

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grace...Have you seen her?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just don't know what to DO!

Monday, June 16, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Father's Day!

The Cloister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 13, 2008

Grits & Giggles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 12, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that ALL IT WAS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Frangelico LAUGHING?

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joy and Sorrow..back to Joy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos in the Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What is this...a Mausoleum?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sr. Maxine's Come-and-See Week

Now that I am somewhat back to normal (although I still kinda look like a mix between Mick Jaggar and Cousin It). Mother Frangelico called the doctor as soon as I got back & bought the epi-pen. Now I have to carry it with me everywhere! Little did I know those little red & white bumps were hives. I thought I was allergic to the dog or the Spiders out there (they’re hairy!). I never did feel the bee sting. But, Sr. Caprice – you talked about Father being ‘cute’, you should see the Chippewa Indians! I called them eye-candy from God.

* sigh * Sorry.

But now that I am back, I have been busy helping Mother Frangelico around the Monastery. We found some armor-like clothing that had an insignia with ‘MI’ on the front. Next to the clothing were old books with ten inches of dust on top (okay, maybe not ten inches, but it was a lot!). There was also a portrait of this man with glasses and a book. He must have been in jail because his clothes were black & white striped. Why would anyone paint a portrait of a jail-bird? Anyway, it had M.Kolbe on the front of the portrait. I was going to ask Mother Frangelico who M.Kolbe was but she ran out the door calling for Father.

I commented to Mother, just before she ran out, that there was enough dust around this side of the Monastery to gag a maggot. When she had returned she was out of breath, but she had no problems handing me a damp dust rag & said to start cleaning. *sigh* Leave it to me to open my big mouth! Mother does not want me outside at all anymore and it has been so beautiful lately. I have been asking God to use this as Reparation for the sins of abortion.

Shhhh! What she doesn’t know is that I found another secret door when she was gone. I’ll tell Sr. Perpetua & Sr. Caprice – maybe we can sneak back here after dark & see where it goes.

My trip – the Come-and-See Week with the Sisters of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT)

Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is a mission order. They are located in many countries including Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Italy, and Belize. In the United States they are located in Kansas City (MO), Robstown (TX), Corpus Christi (TX), Holman/Bosque (NM), Seattle (WA), Belcourt/Dunseith (ND), and migrant work in Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming. I was at Belcourt, ND for my Come-and-See Week.

The SOLT Order is both a contemplative and active community. Their charism is ecclesial or family teams, serving with the SOLT Priests and SOLT Laity, thereby witnessing how the Trinity lives, three persons in one God, they live as three vocations in one family.

“The Society of Our Lady began serving the native people of Northern North America in 1995 when Bishop James Sullivan of the diocese of Fargo, North Dakota asked the community to shepherd the people of St. Ann's Parish in Belcourt, the only town on the Turtle Mountain Indian reservation [located in north central ND, with Canada bordering to the north]. The ten thousand people on the reservation are predominantly Catholic because the Chippewa Indians intermarried with French fur traders over one hundred and fifty years ago. Today the Society of Our Lady is also responsible for St. Anthony Catholic Church and St. Louis Church with its mission, the Immaculate Heart of Mary in nearby Dunseith. In the summer of 2003, the Society was also given the parish of St. John and its mission, St. Benedict. In nearby Dunseith, is situated a convent where the Sisters have a house of formation for the initial stage of religious life. They help to serve in the parish, school, and have a visitation ministry.”

Sr. Mary Emmanuel is the Director of Vocations in the United States. We talked quite a bit about the SOLT Order, their Charism, and Apostasy. She also asked me many questions on how I knew I was being called, what I was looking for, where I see myself in 5 years, my background, and my family & the Church. We mainly stayed in Dunseith, just outside of the Reservation. But she also gave me a tour around the Reservation and showed me around St. Ann’s Mission, the elementary school located on the Reservation, which enrolls about 325 Chippewa Indian children. We then went to the local Nursing Home and visited some of the home-bound. Most of their work is in the 3 Parishes off the Reservation, visiting the elderly, home-bound, and sick. They also serve with many of the Parish’s ministries, and of course, teach at St. Ann’s.

We had to get up at 5:30 am to get ready for morning prayer at 6:00am! The sun wasn’t even up yet! Then we did some spiritual exercises, although it seemed a bit quirky to me. Mid-day we had prayer, again, and the Rosary, then spent a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I think I fell asleep a couple times (I hope I didn’t snore!). Holy Mass was around 4:00pm and then we ate dinner. Evening Prayer was at 6:00pm, Night Prayer & Liturgy Preparation was at 8:00pm. By 9:00, I was ready for bed! Every day, the same routine! It is so different there than it is at the Monastery.

I also helped them get ready for their 50th year Anniversary (July)! The main event will be held in Corpus Christi, TX, but because all of the Sisters, Priests, Brothers, and Laity can not attend, they were going to have a celebration in North Dakota. They even have a blog! They showed me pictures (posted on the blog) of their visit to NYC, when they attended Mass, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, at Yankee Stadium. You can see their excitement in their faces! How awesome!

The Reservation has decreased greatly in size due to allotments of land being sold in the 1930’s. Many Chippewa Indians live just outside of the Reservation and throughout northern North Dakota and into Montana. There are about 70 families who live on Turtle Mountain Reservation that make a living through farming (6,000 acres is dedicated to farming). There are a large number of families who are unable to make a living from the land, who follow seasonal employment, mainly migrant workers. Each year, however, there is less demand for the seasonal employees and unemployment continues to rise. Some work on railroads, some in the Turtle Mountain Jewelry Plant, others are working at the North Dakota State Tuberculosis Sanitarium (in San Haven) and others have found employment in Rolla and surrounding areas.

Because of the increase in unemployment and declining visitors to the Reservation, alcoholism has increased, as well as trying to find ‘healing’ in other places other than God. Thus, the need for the SOLT Sisters, Brothers, and Laity. They have their hands full…but God increases the strength in their hands.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sorry so silent!

Well, I feel better knowing that Sr. Max is alive and well and still among us. And she just looked awful with that bee sting! She has to carry an "Epi pen" with her now, otherwise, if she gets stung, she might DIE! I feel so bad hobbling around on crutches, knowing that I really am fine but Sr. Max could DIE if we're working outside and she gets stung!

Today Father spoke a lot about the Gospel, and being called. And he really emphasized what it means to be called, and that we all are, in some way. He went into great detail about how Jesus called people, and Father even named us, and other people he knows.

We didn't have Mass here at the Monastery...on Sundays we actually go to a local parish, and Father aways has one of the Masses. He was really enthused, and, well, I don't know if it's just me, but Father seems a lot happier now than he did even a month ago. He seemed a little disgruntled before, but he's been smiling more and has just seemed more...content. (Is that a word?)

Anyway, just an observation. Maybe its just the season, all the ordinations and stuff, and the good weather. But he's been full of good advice lately and he hasn't even been cross with me when I've screamed about the spiders or the ghost, and even said he'd come over and bless our wing if the ghost promised not to come back. I don't know why he was looking at Brother Gus when he said that, though.

Well, it's been quiet around here with so many of us "down" and Sr. Perpetua is off brooding as usual. It's nearly impossible to get her to talk. Mother Frangelico and Father have been really busy, and Brother Brit has been working on his application for the Dominicans. He's promised to tell me more about them.

We will be back to posting soon, about our vocation stories and life here at the monastery...and our name! We will be choosing a name!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Don't Worry - Bee Happy

Mo'ber Frangelico let me cobe hobe early. Norb Dakota was okay - not what I exbected. Albough the Sisters and Brubbers were really nice and God was truly working wib bebm, it just wasn't the blace for me. And since I was stung by a bubmble bee and bmy libs are the size of two tennis courts, Mober Frangelico brought me hobe early. I'be been in bed for the last two days.

I tried going to Mass yesterday, but after singing the entrance songb and seeingb myselb drooling, I decided the best plabe for me was in bed. Sister Berbetua was gracious to bring the Holy Eucharist to me the last coubble days. Fbabber and Brubber Gus eben came in abter bey cabe hobe late to see how I wasb.

Albough, I'bm not quite sure about Sister Cabrice. Wheb I webnt to be babroom last night, we saw each ubber in the hallway and she was as white as a ghost! I wobnder what wab going brew her mind? She just kinda stobbed dead in her tracks anbd stared at me like I was brum Mars.

Whob kbnowbs? I'bm just bery glad I'bm hobe. I'll tell ebryobne about the trib later. Ribt bnow I just want to go to bed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Ghost is BACK!

Oh, dear, the ghost is back again, and this time I think he's getting MAD!

This morning I woke up, and I'm still hobbling around on crutches, and it's hard to open doors and the like. And I'm just NOT a "morning person"!

Well, I was fumbling with the door to my cell and as I opened it, right there, before my eyes, stood a life-sized priest! For a moment I thought it was Father, because this guy was wearing a dress...I Father does. And he was just STANDING there, looking down, wearing shades, and I was CERTAIN I was in trouble for something!

And I couldn't help but let out a scream because I was so surprised!

Then I realized it was the large cardboard cutout of that poster, but with just the priest in it, and it had been placed right in front of my door! It's actually a good thing that I'm on crutches because I would have run right into it had I left my cell as I normally do!

And the pictures in the hallway were all gathered around my doorway, and on the opposite side of the hall.

But what I want to know is...why is that cutout, of all things, in front of my door? I know that Father and Mother Frangelico were brining it and some other vocations things in last night for a fair or something they're preparing for, but I saw that cutout go into the guys wing where they have a storage room for such things. It MUST be the ghost that did it! I mean, ghosts can get through walls, maybe they can bring solid objects through walls, too!

During morning prayer, Brother Gus and Sister Maxine kept glancing at me, and both of them were coughing. Sister Perpetua kept rubbing her mouth and nose for some reason, as if she was suppressing a sneeze. I asked her once during Mass if she needed a tissue. And she shook her head and then started coughing really hard.

Oh, dear, I hope everyone isn't getting sick!

Maybe the ghost is making them ill!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

All Walks of LIfe

I've remained a bit quiet of late, hoping the Sisters and Brothers would tell their stories. But alas, it's been busy around here of late and the end of the day brings exhaustion - for ALL of us!

Had I known what Father and I were getting into, believe you me I would not have begun this project! We are but a fledgling community and already Sister Caprice has tripped and fallen into a grave, is walking on crutches, we've an ex-witch among us (albeit reformed!), Sr. Maxine has left for North Dakota (likely to come back pale as Sr. Perpetua and shivering from hypothermia, no doubt), Brother Gus do you solve a problem like Brother Gus? And Brother Brit...the apple of my eye!

But the Lord is faithful and all we have to do is trust. Right, Father?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Shadows and Goth

Mother Frangelico and Father and everyone else have been after me to write down my story. Most of them have. I think it's boring. Usually, I just write free-verse poetry, and I used to go to poetry slams where I lived before, but I guess I don't get to do that now. And that's fine. They're just a bunch of posers, anyway.

I'm a Goth, and I don't remember when I started being Goth. It's nothing scary, and there are different degrees of goth, ranging from a style of dress to getting into vampire stuff (the human kind, stuff I'd rather not discuss here), and other things. It's not all occult, but there's a lot of occult with it, and I'm willing to admit I got into the occult thing.

Mostly for me, though, it was about the clothing. I usually wore all black, but otherwise I liked big dramatic colors. My hair is actually naturally very dark but I've been dying it ebony black for years now, sometimes have tipped it in neon-like red. And I am naturally very pale. I'm actually almost allergic to the sun so I've always had to cover my skin or I burn on the spot.

Anyway, my family was pretty normal but my parents just worked all the time so I found stuff to get involved in. I liked theatre, but preferred to do stuff in the background. And I got into costuming especially, and makeup. I was considering that as a career, and even did a stint in New York on Broadway as an internship through Juliard. Yeah..I went to Juliard. So what?

Well, I said my family was "normal" but that was outside of their "careers". Mom was a fortune-teller in the Dells in Wisconsin during the summer. The rest of the year she worked in the library at a school, but in the summer we all packed off and lived in a Queen Anne bed-and-breakfast in the Dells. Dad ran the business. Mom did her own thing in a parlour down the street. She was a Christian lady, though, and gave the people who came to her a lot of "Jesus-talk".

When I got older, I got into her business, too, and did palm readings, I read auras and did aural photography, and on Hallowe'en we always did seances and stuff. I also got into Tarot cards, although Mom wasn't thrilled with that, said they were tools of the devil, and she was right.

I got really addicted to the got so I'd use them every day to tell me what to do for the day, and they were really accurate about things. And that's the danger. That's why she wanted me to stay away from them, but she didn't even know I had them. I actually drew my own cards, and she didn't know it.

Around that time I got into Wicca, and Mom wouldn't have approved of that either, but I kept going to Church with her. She was Catholic, but in her own past had exposure to Voodoo and Santaria and some other weird religions, and some Sisters she knew actually taught her Reiki and the like, so that was her birth into the occult. Some of the Sisters even came to her for readings, and I did some of the readings of Mom was busy and the entire "convent" was there and she needed help. That was my first exposure to religious life.

I used to talk to the Sisters about Wicca, and they were already turned on to it, actually directed me to a coven locally. They weren't involved in the coven themselves, but some of the coven came to the Sister's retreats and stuff, and were speakers. Starhawk was a big speaker there, talked about the Sacred Feminine and Gaia and stuff, and it was fascinating to me. The Sisters had me visit them a couple times and I wandered through their labryrinth so I could discover myself and my own inner diety, and the spark of the divine that we all were supposed to have.

Well, even the Sisters warned me away from tarot and they didn't know I was already doing it. After that, I started using a ouija board, and really weird things started happening. I used it in our house, and in a nearby old cemetary, with the people I knew. Some of the women in my coven knew we were playing with ouija and they warned us away, but we kept up. And that lead into some dabbling in voodoo and the like. We found a Voodoo priestess once on a trip to Louisiana and she gave us some tips and even guided us in a seance using the board.

I'd rather not talk too much about the weird things, but I started getting really angry and I started cutting on myself. It wasn't because I wanted was because I was completely compelled to do it. Against my will. And sometimes slashes would appear even if I didn't do it myself.

They put me in a psych hospital at first, thinking I was suicidal, but really I wasn't. I was terrified, but I didn't know how to tell everyone what was happening. It was a great irony; here we were, an occult family, but no one would believe me that I saw demons. They thought I was mentally ill. Mom thought that what she was doing wasn't real and that it was just entertainment. And I thought the same thing until I learned otherwise.

Well, they decided I was "sane" and let me out, but then finally an aunt suggested my Mom take me to a priest. She didn't want to go, but the aunt persisted and drove us. to the church, maybe an hour away. I don't remember most of the trip...for some reason I blacked out completely.

I do remember candles and the priest talking to me, and a sensation that my skin was burning, and I remember saying some really awful things that I never wanted to say to ANYONE. I can't remember a lot of it. But I do remember being really sweaty and tired, and waking up and everyone looked sweaty and tired, and the priest was really pale himself. But there was a strange feeling of freedom. And they asked me to go to Confession, so I spoke to the priest for awhile. There wasn't really any prep..he just kinda talked me through it, and asked about all the occult activities and such. I was afraid to speak about some of it, because Mom had really gotten me into it but then Father had told me that he'd already spoken with my Mom, and that no matter what I said he wouldn't be able to say anything to her and he wouldn't judge her, either because this was about the life I was living. So I told him what I remembered and what I'd done and how it happened. I think we talked for over an hour.

He told me to get a Spiritual Director, and referred me to someone who specialized in this sort of thing, because he said it was like an addict; I had to be accountable or I'd be back on his doorstep. I wasn't really understanding whta he was saying and he knew it and told me I'd understand more later. And that I could call him or come see him if I had any other questions. And he made sure Mom had his number, too.

That's all I'll say for now. I'm still Goth, but I'm not into all that stuff. Maybe I'll talk about it more later, but not now.