Today we celebrated the
Gradually the memory sharing moved to the families left behind, how difficult it was to know that you would never be going home again and the sacrifices made by family members to come to the monastery to see their much-loved daughters and sisters. Sr. Peg spoke of her mother who visited her here in Esopus every year traveling by train from Toronto and staying overnight in Albany to wait for a suitable time of arrival according to the monastic schedule. In the end grandsons came along to carry the luggage of their 80-year old grandmother.
Sr. Lydia spoke of leaving mother and father and seven brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and how one brother visiting a year after her entrance tried to persuade her to quit it all and come home with him. She just laughed.
All of these sisters agreed that the reforms of religious life which followed the Second Vatican Council allowing them to leave the cloister upon the death of a parent, to assist in caring for a sick family member or to be present to families now expanding with nieces and nephews was a sound, compassionate and grace-giving change. Each visit was an occasion to consider again the nature of ones commitment, the needs of those in other demanding vocations, the realities of life 'in the world', and the necessity of prayer. Such trips away from the monastery are also opportunities for a loving exercise of generosity on the part of the contemplative monastic community whose memebers make it possible for a sister to be present to her family in times of joy and in times of sorrow.
Today were are exceedingly grateful for the perseverance of Sr. Paula and the other senior memebers of our community. And we are blessed to be given the gift of their sharing of memories. We are blessed also and encouraged by their model of faithfulness, charity and love for their Spouse, Jesus Christ.