Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Redemptoristine Invitation

Opportunity for
Vocation Discernment
Spiritual Enrichment

The Redemptorist Office for Mission Advancement (ROMA) published this ad for us in the current issue of their new quarterly publication entitled "Plentiful Redemption". We are delighted with it. Thanks to all at ROMA. If you would like to received this publication go to their website

Our contemplative monastic cloistered community extends an invitation to women between the ages of 18 and 50 for a Monastic Experience Weekend, October 16-18, 2009. We will share our life within the monastery enclosure as an effort to promote religious vocations and also as a means of fulfilling our role in the Church as a school of prayer for the faithful. For more information call (845) 384-6533 or e-mail Do check out our website

Memorial of Redemptorist

Blessed Kaspar
Stanggassinger, CSsR

Teacher of

Today the Redemptorist/Redemptoristine family honors the memory of a faithful priest who died too young. He is quoted as saying, " The saints have a special intuition. For me, who am not a saint, what is important are the simple truths; the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Holy Eucharist." Kaspar Stanggassinger was proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1988. Follow the link to the international Redemptorist website. Go to MENU and click on Beatified Redemptorists and go to Stanggassinger. A more direct link to his page did not do the job so you have to work a bit. The website is very well constructed and informative for those with the time and interest to prowl around. Perhaps you will be inspired to pray for the intention of the Redemptorists' upcoming international General Chapter. They would be grateful for your support.


Almighty and eternal God, who gave Blessed Kaspar the grace to announce the faith with joy and to dedicate himself to the formation of candidates for the priesthood, grant, through his intercession that we may follow his example and become cooperators of the divine Redeemer in word and deed. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vassar Students on the Spiritual Path

What a privilege it was to offer spiritual direction to students of the Catholic Community of Vassar College! Was I ever impressed by them and their advisor, campus minister Linda Tuttle. Just two weeks into the fall semester freshmen to seniors, male and female, from so many different countries and cultures that I lost count, committed themselves to a three-day "busy person's" retreat. This was an opportunity to discuss family, faith, life, meaning, and vocational commitment with two contemplative nuns, one sister from an active congregation and two diocesan priests assigned to a variety of campus and seminary ministries. From the gathering of campus faith organizations (called a "bounce" because students and guests can go from table to table - bounce around - checking out each group, the faith it represents and what they have to offer to students) Friday evening to Mass on Sunday afternoon celebrated with the young people by Fr. Richard Lamorte, students consistently expressed their conscious journey with God - a journey maintained in spite of busy schedules, impressive academic programs and goals as well as study and travel abroad.

Vassar College Chapel

Linda Tuttle and Alyssa Pabalan

Katrina (senior and president of Vassar Catholic Community)and friends preparing scripture readings for Mass

Fortunately our monastery is less than a half hour away from the beautiful Vassar campus in Poughkeepsie. The nature of the retreat made it possible for me to spend just a few hours a day at the school from Friday to Sunday. Over and over again the invitation was issued for students and staff to come to our monastery to share prayer, to get input on some spiritual topic or just to experience the monastic way. Since we have four fine colleges within easy commute of our monastery we have been working on developing relationships with students and professors. We hope that we see some Vassar students at our door in the near future.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Triumph of the Cross

Though in the form of God,
Christ Jesus did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross.
Because of this,
God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him
the name that is above every name,
that the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11 - Triumph of the Cross

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
"Whoever wishes to come after me
must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life
for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.
Mark 8: 35-35 - Sunday 24th Week of Ordinary Time (B)

Another day hardly noticed by most Catholics - an ancient feast honoring the mystery of the Cross of Christ rooted in the discovery of a relic of the true cross by St. Helena in the 3rd century.

But for many Christians, particularly for those in the Order and Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, this is a great feast of the liturgical year.

And for us Redemptoristines its significance is doubled as it is the anniversary of the death of our foundress, Maria Celeste Crostarosa, in 1755. In her colloquies with Jesus she heard these words,

"Just as I never followed my own will but only the Divine Will
and just as I espoused myself to the cross on Calvary,
so too all my chosen souls,
by embracing my cross and denying their own will,
bind themselves to the Divine Will
and unite themselves to my own Divine Delight...
Oh, with what love I embraced the cross,
loved it, desired it, and took pleasure in it - all for your love.
Likewise, those who love me
bind themselves to the cross and rest thereon,
like a spouse who rests on the nuptial bed."

Spiritual writers have spoken of the "folly of the Cross." We look upon the crucifix, that image of extreme bodily suffering, an image so gruesome that we would not likely approve of similarly horrible representations for our ordinary environment - we look upon it and cannot fathom how the Son of God, third person of the Blessed Trinity, in human flesh came to submit himself to this excruciating suffering. This is the great mystery of our redemption.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said that Jesus humbled himself by becoming human, like one of us. This movement, the Incarnation of Jesus in human flesh, was the beginning of his suffering, a suffering which culminated in the extreme, in his crucifixion. To be human is to suffer. This is not a 'poor me" statement. It is not the lament of a "half empty" approach to life. To be human is to experience both great ecstasy and great suffering. This is the mix with which we were gifted when we were brought to this life.

Our culture and society seem to be bent on creating endless avoidance of this reality. When Jesus told his disciples of his destiny to suffer, Peter could not accept it. Jesus not only rejected Peter's take on things but then informed him that he would not be the only one to suffer; anyone who wished to be a companion and follower of Jesus would have to do likewise. Suffering is a certainty in the human condition. Jesus is pointing to the way in which he and his followers must deal with the reality of such experiences. It is interesting within this context to consider that Jungian psychology declares that neurosis is the avoidance of legitimate suffering.

When we hear Jesus's words in the Gospel of Mark, "...Whoever loves his life will lose it" or those to Maria Celeste which direct the binding of self to the cross as a spouse is bound to the nuptial bed we cringe a bit. Is our Lord asking us to embrace suffering in a sadistic way? No. Jesus, our brother who shared our human experience in every way, asks us to embrace the reality of our human condition, to accept the suffering that is sure to come and allow it to unite us all in the human condition. To reject suffering inevitably leads us to those behaviors and choices which negate the needs of others, that bring us to seek power, to assert our superiority. And as Jung reminds, rejection of legitimate suffering, creates dis-ease and even disease in the self. Jesus calls for a healthy embrace of all that is a natural part of human experience. How wonderful to have such a brother in our human reality - the divine lover - who became one of us and taught us by his ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Lay Associates Renew Their Commitment

Each September, our Lay Associates renew their commitment to the charism and spirituality of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer and to their association with our contemplative monastic community. We are grateful for their collaboration and friendship. They meet here in the monastery on the second Sunday of each month in the afternoon to catch up with each other, to receive input from one of the sisters or a fellow associate, to pray the Office of Vespers with the community and to enjoy 'tea and conversation.' Our associates are a blessing to us. That blessing is reflected in the remarks offered at the end of the Mass by our associate Jeannie Snyder.

The Riches of Being an Associate

How good it is to share and participate in this renewal celebration of our lay associate commitment to follow the way of Jesus by making the redeeming love of God present in our daily living.

At last month's associate meeting, in my absence, I was elected to extend a few thoughts today on the "Riches of Being an Associate." Sr. Moira [coordinator of the associate program] chose this title as she gently chided me, "This is what happens when you miss a meeting!" Let this be a lesson to all of you!

After reflecting on my years as an associate and those times of just being present to the movements and charism of the Redemptoristines, I would like to mention what has caught my attention, captured my imagination, and deepened my spirituality, namely, what it means to be a contemplative living in community and what it is to make conscious contact with God.

Contemplatives are truly in love with God and live that love with each other. Contemplatives gently strive for silence of the heart - which, I believe, is a study in humility - that "perpetual stillness of the heart"...that cannot be "vexed or sore." Contemplatives believe in Living Simply, Listening Intently, and Loving Freely, so you don't need much or desire to receive much. But contemplatives do need nourishment - silence, solitude, prayer, the Eucharist. Contemplatives seek times and places to pray, to "re-quiet" even in the midst of a workaday world. Contemplatives are not afraid of the dark night; they know that in stillness they are protected by a deep, abiding love. Contemplatives know that it is o.k. not to know. Contemplatives are called to carry out God's loving will in community - as associates, not just in here, but out there too.

We are all part of various communities - yes, we are. Take a minute to think of all the communities you are part of - family, work, school, parish, volunteer, Internet, social clubs, friendship. Here we are more than a number. Being "part of" is being witness to that which is greater than ourselves; losing the "I" for the "We." We enter willingly and lovingly, doing our part. We are called to help the other. Life has become and is richer in community - in connection and relation to Christ in each of us. And in our community as Associates we are called to be a Living Witness, a Memorial of this Living Christ. Father Joseph Oppitz in his biography of Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa wrote, "the... community is really the locus of the loving Intent of the Father to form a community of love through the life of His Son. Community means the carrying out of this loving Will... It is an irradiating 'presence of redemption.'"Celeste herself wrote in her Rule, "... But we must go forward united together and transformed by the actions of his most holy life, with which we identify, in a way that enables us to say, as the glorious apostle of the gentiles said: 'I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.'" This directive from our Foundress can only, it seems to me, be accomplished through conscious contact with God.

As Associates, our conscious contact has been deepened by our connection to this contemplative community. We are partners in the apostolate of prayer. Because of this conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation, we can awaken to the Living God in ourselves and in our communities. We've learned to discipline ourselves in order to create a mindful habit of prayer... "Pray always," we are told. How are we doing in love and service? We are apt to check in with Jesus, Mary and our loving Father throughout the day - praying for His will only? If we are making conscious contact, we are likely to catch our self-will running riot and turn it over to God taking ourselves out of the center of everything and putting God there instead. If we are in conscious contact with God, we engage in a nightly examen before closing our eyes. We try to see where we can be or do something different tomorrow so we don't fall short as we did today. Conscious contact asks us to make 'alone time' with God in retreat or in moments carved out of our busy days and weeks. Be still and know that I am God...Be still and know that I Am...Be still and know...Be sill. Discipline to habit only through conscious contact.

To close, I am grateful - we are grateful - for the riches of a community of contemplative consciousness. May all of the Sisters, Brothers and Fathers of the Order and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and their Lay Associates continue to be abundantly blessed with peace and all good, and may they continue to inspire those on the journey to God.