Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Fine Art of Personal Discernment - a "HOW TO"

The Mystery of Choice

One of those great Beatles songs had the lyric, "I get by with a little help from my friends." I'll skip over what they might have considered "help". I know what I consider help in my life. One of them has been the friendship and professional spiritual guidance of Brother Don Bisson, FMS.  The Marist Brothers have a mission just a few miles from us. They maintain a camp, retreat house, house of prayer community, and offer spiritual direction. The Brothers frequently join us for Mass in our monastery. Our communities benefit from mutual support of our vocations.

Brother Don is a spiritual director, trainer and supervisor of directors. He is widely respected as a commentator and workshop leader on the interrelationship of spirituality and psychology. He has graduate degrees in liturgy, spirituality, and transpersonal psychology. His D.Min. was earned at the Pacific School of Religion in the area of Spiritual Direction and Jungian Psychology.

In my position as Vocation Director for this community, I am in constant contact with women considering a vocation to religious life. Most are just beginning the process of discernment. Some have not yet realized that there is a process of discernment to be carried out. But the work of personal discernment is not confind to the question of religious vocation. It is a necessary response to any call or inspiration or guidance we receive by the grace of our loving God.

Brother Don will be offering two Saturday workshops at Mt. St. Alphonsus Retreat Center that will speak to just this issue.

How Do I Discern the "Call" of God?
Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vocation is a soul invitation to live in alignment with God's will. This is living in the spirit of discernment and listening to a Voice coming from a place much deeper than the ego. This workshop will examine the art of deep listening and courage necessary to incarnate the invitation.

What Does It Mean to Choose to Be Awakened?
Saturday, May 15, 2010

We are called to wake up from our sleep, our illusions, and our unconscious selves. Jung's psychology and Christian spirituality comment on the nature of authentic life. This workshop will look as the mystery of becoming fulle alive by embracing limits and dying.

Cost for each workshop day is $60 and includes lunch.
Time: 9:30am - 3:30pm.
Reservation and $10 deposit required.
Call Mt. St. Alphonsus - 845-384-8000 or register on-line.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

With Gratitude.....

Jubilate Deo

Celebrating the 60th Jubilee
of Religious Vows
Sr. Mary Anne Reed, OSsR

Today our community rejoices with the Lord and with our Sister Mary Anne who is marking 60 years of profession in the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. Tomorrow is the exact anniversary of her first profession of vows in 1950. Even though an American citizen she entered the Order in Toronto, Canada because there was no other Redemptoristine monastery in North America at the time. She entered in 1948 at the age of 21 when the norms of life for contemplative nuns did not allow her to ever visit her family and the country of her birth ever again. But since the Spirit works in its own way, she would find herself back in the United States less than ten years later. I marvel when I think of Sr. Mary Anne's personal history - child of the Great Depression, forward on her high school basketball team, employed in a military tank factory during World War II, entered a contemplative community in a foreign country, among a group of six making a new foundation of her Order, member of a community of contemplative nuns discerning the movement of the Spirit after the Second Vatican Council, and entering with them into 21st century - always faithful and always generous. Today, at the age of 83, she continues to enhance our liturgies with her musicianship at the organ and sees to a myriad of 'little things' that must always be seen to in an orderly household. After many years of sewing habits for Redemptorists priests and and brothers, she patiently taught me some of the intricacies of the work. Her determination and indomitable spirit inject life into our community. It is that life of faith and service which we celebrate today and for which we are grateful to God.

The following is a brief reflection written by Sr. Mary Anne for her page on our website . Sister is second from the right in this photo of the six founding sisters after their arrival in Esopus, New York on December 8, 1957.

In reflecting on my call to be a Redemptoristine and God’s gift to me of more then 50 years of perseverance, I am convinced of God’s special undeserved care and love for each of us – and by the way THAT is our Redemptoristines call - to become, for the world, a Living Memorial of Gods love for each of us. It is a work of a life time.

We usually do not understand all of the sign posts that God puts along our way. God asks our trust in his love and guidance. For me the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, its atmosphere and the people I met there were such sign posts and though some things seemed impossible or made little sense for me at the time, a young American still green behind the ears so to speak – I listened and I trusted.

I have had the privilege of seeing many changes in the church and in our contemplative religious life. It hasn’t always been easy but it has always been enriching. Perhaps my one claim to fame is to have become our best (and only) organist – I am praying for a substitute! The celebration of the Liturgy and the daily offices have always been important and so the talents I have been asked to develop is a special grace.

If you feel a call to do something special for God, listen and trust! Remember our Lord said “I am with you always – “.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti - Redemptorists Accepting Donations

The Already Suffering

If we may use it as metaphor, Haiti can be described as the 'suffering heart of Jesus' in the world. In the past I have spoken of Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. It is about Paul Farmer's incredible medical mission in the Republic of Haiti. It was my introduction to the dire poverty of the country.

Today the country has spiraled into an even deeper state of need for humanitarian assistance. I have just sent an e-mail message to our monastery in Cap-Haitien, about 70 miles north of Port-au-Prince. We hope that they will be able to respond. These contemplative nuns have always tried to be as responsive as possible to the endless need of those around them. In turn, we have tried to help them as we could.

The Redemptorist Baltimore Province has a long history of reaching out to the Redemptorists headquartered in Port-au-Prince. At this time they are receiving monetary contributions which will be funneled directly to Hait via their website where an on-line donation form is available. The Redemptorists eagerly await news of their confreres in the capital city and also of the family of one of their seminarians who is from Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

British Columbia, Canada

Where Winter is the Real Thing

A good friend who lives in Prince George, British Columbia - way out on the west coast of Canada - sent me some breath-taking photographs taken by Jim Callanan. Jim lives way north of Prince George which is itself 400 miles north of Vancouver. When I asked about putting his photos on the blog he kindly sent more. 

I visited this area two years ago in the middle of the summer. Prince George had the feel of a western pioneer town and that is exactly what it had been until about 25-30 years ago when wanderlust hit and people from all over the world began to trickle in drawn by the promise of work in the lumber industry and the paper mills. Now, all that has been developed is quickly disappearing due to the destructive work of the pine beetle. Normal winter temperatures that go to 30-40 degrees below zero F have kept this pest at bay for centuries. But now global warming has made those low temperature too rare to kill the beetles year after year. In some of these photos the mountians will look a strange color under their coating of snow. Usually the dark green of the pines would underlay the pure white snow. Today that snow sits on trees bereft of all green. First the needles turn brown. Then they drop and there is nothing left. Whole forests have been completely cleared in an effort to stop the spread of the pine beetle. All efforts have proved useless.

But the mountains are still there and the cold too. This is what Jim caught with his camera and what he agreed to share with you.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

National Vocation Awareness Week - January 10-16

As We Enter
the New Year

The holiday whirlwind has subsided. The last of the cookies are being consumed. Decorations will slowly start to make their way back to storage on Monday. But the liturgical season of Christmastide will not end in our monastery until Night Prayer (Compline) tomorrow evening, the official end of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Since Christmas, the Church has led us through a series of 'epiphanies', manifestations of the incarnate divinity of Jesus. The revelation of Messiah to the shepherds and the Magi, his baptism in the Jordan by John, and the miracle of the wedding feast at Cana come into play during these in-between days, links between Christmas and the return to Ordinary Time. Each of these epiphanies is experienced as on-going in our time to underscore the wondrous mystery of the Incarnation. In case we did not get it, the Church provides liturgies that place these manifestations front and center. From this we move ahead to Ordinary Time and the accounts of Jesus' ministry. None of that will matter unless we know who He was and who He is in our time.

Other News

* As a community of Redemptoristine contemplative nuns, we have made a new effort to let people know who we are. Pictured above is a newly designed small flyer featuring a photo of Sr. Maria Linda Magbiro in front of a chapel window depicting our foundress Maria Celeste Crostarosa. This flyer provides the background for a Lucite stand holding our vocation brochures in a pocket on the right. These stands have been sent to a number of large Redemptorist parishes and retreat houses of the northeast. We are grateful for the support of  our Redemptorist brothers in this effort. All of this just in time for National Vocation Awareness Week, Jan. 10-16. We also delivered a packet containing copies of VISION Vocation Magazine, vocation posters and our brochures to two local Catholic high schools.

* The Redemptorist Congregation is absorbing and adjusting to changes in leadership brought about at the General Chapter in Rome last fall. The newly elected Father General is Michael Brehl, a Canadian well-known to us. Among his elected board of consultors is Brother Jeffrey Rolle. Brother Jeffrey is from the Caribbean islands and is a member of the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists, the province which supports us in so many ways. We congratulate and pray for our two friends as they assume great responsiblity in challenging times. We also pray for the new effort that came out of the Chapter to respond to the need for greater partnership and coordination among Redemptorists across the globe via 'conference' organizations that will cross national and provincial borders.

* Our own Order is beginning to make plans in anticipation of a General Assembly of our autonomous monasteries in the year 2011. As an order we do not have a general government with a leadership structure holding the whole body together. This factor can make our effort to respond to the same challenges effecting the Redemptorists a bit more difficult. But we hope to surmount those difficulties by our union of prayer and mutual commitment to the Redemptoristine charism.

* These days a few of us also are kept busy translating Christmas letters received from our monasteries around the world. At least we can translate those that come in French, Spanish or Italian. We depend on others for the German. These letters are read at our noon meals and are the chief means by which we keep in touch with monasteries as far flung as Haiti, Japan, Italy, and Quebec, just to name a few.

And Finally...

Our very best wishes to you for a happy, healthy and blessed New Year in 2010.