Thursday, September 27, 2012

Contemplative Prioress Filled with Spirit

Sr. Moira Quinn, OSsR
On September 25 we had our monthly celebration of "Little Christmas" remembering in a special way the Incaration of Jesus our Redeemer. As is the custom we renewed our vows at Midday Prayer after our prioress had shared with the community some inspiring words.

Remember the Call

Music: Do You Remember the Call


It has been quite a year.  I don’t remember the last time I gave the prioress’ ferverino on the 25th!   Nevertheless, here we are in the early days of autumn renting space in Cabrini on the Hudson.  Soon the leaves will begin to change color and then leaves will float gently to the ground and decompose back into the earth to replenish the soil for new life to take root.
In remembering the Incarnation and remembering our call we harken back to
the ‘Gospel seeds’ that were planted in our hearts: seeds that took root and grew into tender green shoots that eventually became tall and strong over the years in the light of Christ.  And now, basking in the Son’s rays, we trust in the journey thus far and gather our collective wisdom and insight and mulch them into ground of our beings and water them with hope in preparation for whatever future God has in store for us.

We live our Redemptoristine life in hope that we will still flourish because ‘Hope is the power of Jesus Risen in us.’  (Constitution and Statutes  135)  What that will look like we don’t know.  New life is hiding.  Perhaps what we do, how we live our contemplative life now, will plant new gospel seeds somewhere else that will take root and grow. In order to flourish and generate new life for the Order new planting may be called for: new planting in the salvation history of the people of God, new planting in the culture and the times in which we live, new planting of the contemplative monastic structures by on-going formation, dialogue, conversion and adaption for the sake of a deeper renewal of the charism of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. 
Through the inspiration of our Incarnate Lord, generations of Redemptoristines before us have planted seeds in the world to ‘be a visible witness and a living memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Redemption in which the Father has accomplished His plan of love through Christ and in the spirit.’ (Constitution and Statutes #1)

In all our joys and sorrows, challenges and achievements, sisters young and sisters aged with wisdom have courageously lived in their lives the Paschal Mystery just like our foundress Ven. Maria Celeste.   

Jesus promised Celeste, therefore us, that when we ‘leave everything in his hands all things will fall into place for the best purpose!  (So) with faith, believe in him; with hope, keep your every good secure; and love only him, as the Lord of your heart and as the Life in which you live!’ (Florilegium 101)

We have offered to the Incarnate Lord, our Holy Redeemer, our life of praise and intercession by faith in the living Christ in response to the love God has bestowed on us through the Son.  May the ‘Consoling Spirit who gathers us together help us live in unity’ (Constitution and Statutes #3) and continue to grow into the fullness of Redemptoristine life in our changing times. 

Remembering our call and the seeds of Love planted within our hearts let us renew our vows.

Profession of Vows
Loving Lord and Father, you have called me to relive
in myself the Mystery of Jesus, your well-beloved Son
and to be a living memorial of it, and, under the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit to pour out on the world
the light of your love, shining on the face of your Christ,
the Savior of the world.
To perfect in myself the union with the mystery of the
death and resurrection of Christ, begun in Baptism, to
glorify your name and for the redemption of humanity,
I wish to confirm my first consecration by a new covenant.
For this reason, in communion with the whole Church, I
profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according
to the Constitutions and Statutes of the order of the Most
Holy Redeemer.
I trust in your mercy, O my god, with the maternal help of
Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother, to remain faithful
to my covenant.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Feast of Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen:
Abbess, Mystic, Prophet, Author, Musician (1098-1179)

Hildegard's feast has been set in the Roman Martryology for centuries but it is only now that she is being officially declared a saint AND Doctor of the Church. She will be the 35th individual declared Doctor of the Church and the fourth woman after St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. We were given hints that Pope Benedict XVI  might make some proclamation of Hildegard when he spoke of her frequently in his talks in 2010-11. The early effort to officially canonize her suffered from neglect but she was canonized by acclamation in Europe, especially in Germany. It seems that the Pope will present her name and about 20 others to the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome. Also on the list are two Americans, Kateri Tekakwitha and Sister Mary Ann Cope of Molikai.
Research for revision of material for my presentation at Holy Cross Monastery on October 10 has brought a great discovery. A doctoral student at the University of Tennessee, Allison Elledge has written a number of very significant papers on Hildegard. She has made great use of new translations and her own linguistic skills. Her great success is to view Hildegard in her time and place rather than through the lens of our experience. She down plays the feminist but emphasizes the freedom of the prophet and the calls to reform issued by Hildegard in her texts, letters and sermons. There are a number of papers so just Google.
For other words about Hildegard search this blog. Use the search box in the side bar to the right.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taken from the terrific


My friends over at occasionally recruit guest bloggers. When asked, I offered to supply a blog post on this special feast day for our community and Order the Exaltation of the Cross and also the anniversary of the death of our foundress, Maria Celeste Crostarosa 1696-1755. Do check out their website, live podcasts, daily blog posts and much more; a site especially designed for those women discerning a vocation to vowed religious life.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

by Guest Blogger on September 14, 2012
A Nun’s Life is delighted to be joined today by guest blogger Sister Hildegard Pleva, OSsR, of the Redemptoristine Nuns and the blog Contemplative Horizon.

The Feast of the Exultation of the Cross is one of a cycle of twelve great feasts celebrated in the liturgical cycle of the early Church. Legendary stories of the discovery of the true Cross in the 4th century and the patronage of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, are often told in relation to this feast. More important is the tribute offered here to the Cross as the instrument of our salvation. The entrance antiphon for Mass on the feast declares, “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, our life and resurrection, through which we are saved.”
This day is an important feast for Redemptoristines, my community of contemplative monastic women in the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. September 14 is also the anniversary of our foundress’ death in 1755. The Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa (1696-1755) made of “her will an echo of Christ’s will.” (Florilegium 64. Colloquies II, 7 (11)) She was united with him on the cross in many trials endured throughout her life. Therefore, it was apropos that she should die on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and be united with her Beloved in heaven as she was on earth.
Jesus invited his disciples, Celeste, and us as well with these words, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Celeste responded, “Oh with what love I embraced the cross, loved it, desired it and took pleasure in it — all for your love.” She continues, “Likewise those who love bind themselves to the cross … savor the true and solid sweetness of God and the true peace found therein.” (Florilegium 118. Rules. Love of the Cross, 9r-9v (188-189)
Cynthia S.S. Crysdale in her book Embracing Travail: Retriving the Cross Today (NY: Continuum, 1999) suggests that in order to unite ourselves with the cross of Christ and his suffering we must correctly identify the real suffering in our lives. This is not the suffering created by our ego needs but rather the suffering necessary for transformation, that transformation of the false-self which enables us to attain the promised freedom of the children of God.
For consideration in prayer:
  • Does my ego cling to a particular suffering? Is my clinging misplaced?
  • Is there another suffering being called for as I seek union with the Cross of Christ?
  • Is there an effort toward true transformation in Christ that I choose to ignore?
May the Holy Spirit guide us in this meditation of love, this exaltation of the Cross of Christ.

* * *
Join A Nun’s Life faith community for prayer tonight at 6 p.m. CT at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Current Situation of LCWR

Sr. Patricia Farrell - President LCWR
An Overview
by Professor Margaret Susan Thompson
Syracuse University
Peggy Thompson is a scholar of the history of women religious in the United States. She was asked to give a homily at her parish church offering an over view of a thorny situation in our Church and to plumb the depths of scripture for application to this process of discernment. Many are aware of the controversy but few understand what has happened. Peggy has done a great service by synthesizing what has happened and stating the current situation. It is worth reading. Reprinted here with permission.

            When  Father Jim asked me to speak this weekend, I was both excited and nervous. I was excited because it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken here, and nervous because he asked me to address some of the controversy that has erupted recently between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (or “LCWR”), a large organization that represents most of the Catholic sisters in the United States. The Syracuse Franciscans are part of LCWR; so are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet  and most of the other sisters who minister in Syracuse. I’m not nervous because I am afraid to talk about this subject—though some people are—but because it’s a subject so important to me, and something I feel so strongly about, that I was afraid I couldn’t do the topic justice.

 Briefly, let me try to explain what the controversy is all about.  In December 2008, two separate offices in the Vatican initiated investigations into women’s religious life in the US.  The first—and the one that originally seemed to arouse the most attention and suspicion, was called a Visitation, and—as the name suggests, involved visits to large numbers of sisters’ communities by delegates (mostly other sisters) who took special oaths of fidelity to the Vatican and then made secret reports about their findings.  It was the oaths and the secrecy that caused a lot of concern, but this investigation ended up (at least so far as we know now—but who knows?) kind of fizzling out.

 Meanwhile, the second one—conducted by the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (what used to be called the “Inquisition”)—didn’t get a lot of attention at all.  Its focus was not on rank-and-file sisters but, rather,  on the organization to which their leaders belonged, and which was suspected of theological radicalism, mainly because of what some speakers at its assemblies had said, or because of some “working papers” that had been published for the benefit of their members.

 For three years, not only did this investigation receive almost no attention but, according to LCWR’s officers (who met regularly with various Vatican officials, who assured them there was no need to be concerned), the sense was that it, like the Visitation, was not going to amount to much.  Then, last April, without any warning and very shortly after another apparently uneventful meeting between LCWR’s officers and the relevant Vatican prelates, an edict was issued.  Stated simply, LCWR was judged to reflect a number of theological irregularities, including too much emphasis on social justice, and not enough emphasis on matters such as opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.  Also, speakers at LCWR assemblies, and LCWR leaders themselves, were found guilty of harboring  so-called “radical feminist ideas”  (ideas which were never defined).  So three bishops were appointed to oversee the “reform” of LCWR.  As of now, it is unclear what will happen. LCWR had its annual meeting in August, at which time those present said they would continue to dialogue with the Vatican and the 3 bishops, but might reconsider their cooperation if they were asked to compromise anything essential to what they are all about.

 Whew!  This is a story that, as of now, does not have an end.  Some observers think the timing too neatly coincided with the 2012 US election (keep in mind that all of this applies only to sisters in the US), in part because LCWR—as well as other organizations wholly or largely led by sisters, such as the NETWORK social justice lobby and the Catholic Health Association—had supported the Affordable Care Act, while the US Bishops had not.  It’s not my intention here to go into more detail about this, except to say that while it is a mess that seems confined to sisters at the moment, in fact it affects all of us, and that is what I want to reflect on in the rest of my remarks today.

 First, most of us know and love and have benefitted from the friendship, example, and ministry of countless Catholic sisters. Whether it’s Sister Pat and Sister Eileen in our parish—and others, such as Sister Margaret when she was with us and the many sister-teachers at St. Lucy’s School, as well as thousands of other schools around the country including our own Diocese, not to mention those at St. Joseph’s Hospital going back to the soon-to-be-canonized Mother Marianne Cope—most of  us regard the sisters as OUR sisters, who dedicate their lives to prayer and ministry and radical representation and incarnation of Jesus’s Gospel.  Indeed, in the months since the April edict from Rome, literally tens of thousands of American Catholics have expressed their support for their sisters.  We have done so here through special prayer vigils, the signing of petitions, and welcoming our own diocesan “Nuns on the Bus” just a couple of weeks ago.   When Sister Simone Campbell, director of NETWORK, spoke the other night at the Democratic National Convention, her strong call for social justice and reconciliation was greeted with applause in the hall and almost universal praise and gratitude from those commenting in the media and among the general public. I think those who called for the investigation and those in charge of it have been astonished by the widespread enthusiasm that American Catholics—and not just Catholics—have expressed in so many ways.

 Second, many people wonder: why the sisters? After a decade in which the sexual abuse scandal has rocked the church not just in the US but in so many parts of the world, and during which financial mismanagement (and worse) by too many prelates has made repeated headlines, why is it the sisters who are threatened with discipline, external supervision, and censure?  This is not a question I can answer—but it’s certainly one that has been asked a lot.

 Third, we know from experience, and through the examples of so many of those whose pictures line the walls of this parish, that an attack on one of us is an attack on us all.  Today it is the Sisters; who will it be tomorrow? We have to stand in solidarity with those who are under attack, both because we want people to stand with us if WE are attacked but, more importantly, because—as many of us learned from both the formal lessons and the selfless examples of the sisters—it is the right thing to do. As Pastor Martin Niemuller famously said, when the Nazis overran his native Germany:

 First they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a          socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

          So often these days, we hear the phrase, “What would Jesus do?”  It seems particularly relevant under these circumstances.  Jesus stood firmly with those who were marginalized, abused, assaulted both verbally and physically, and those condemned by the contemporary powers-that-be.  If we read the Sermon on the Mount, we see not only what was at the core of Jesus’s life and ministry, but what is central to what the sisters are being condemned for doing—BY THE POWERS THAT BE IN THEIR OWN ARENA.  Indeed, two of the Beatitudes seem particularly important for us to remember today, and should give comfort to the sisters of LCWR: “Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs.”  And, even more powerfully: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.”

           A homily, of course, is supposed to reflect upon the Scriptures for today, and I haven’t really done that yet, have I?  So, if you’ll give me just a couple of more minutes, let me correct that—but in a somewhat indirect way.  Last week’s Gospel, from Chapter 7 of Mark, excited me, because I knew what came next in that chapter, and it seemed just PERFECT for what Father Jim asked me to discuss today. But then, when I looked at THIS week’s Gospel, I saw that the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman—known as the Canaanite woman when the same story is told in Matthew’s Gospel—was curiously (or not-so-curiously) skipped over.  Let me read the version from Matthew, and you’ll see what I mean:

 Jesus left the place where he was and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  It happened that a Canaanite woman living in that locality presented herself, crying out to him: “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is terribly troubled by a demon.”  He gave her no word of response.  His disciples came up and began to entreat him, “Get rid of her. She keeps shouting after us.”   “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Jesus replied.  She came forward then and did him homage with the plea, “Help me, Lord!”  But he answered, “It is not right to take the food of sons and daughters and throw it to the dogs.”  “Please, Lord,” she insisted, “even the dogs eat the leavings that fall from their masters’ tables.”  Jesus then said in reply, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your wish will come to pass.”  That very moment her daughter got better.

         The Syro-Phoenician or Canaanite woman—who, by rights, we should have celebrated in today’s Gospel reading—is  an alien and a woman: a marginalized, anonymous and seemingly powerless figure--and yet she dares to approach Jesus for help.  The disciples—institutional ancestors, we are told, of the hierarchy of today—beg Jesus to tell her to shut up and go away.  He ignores her, and then calls her a dog. And this beautiful woman, so marginal a figure that we are not even told her name, persists.  She pleads not for herself, but for her daughter.  And ultimately Jesus sees the light.  He calls her a "woman of great faith," and rids her daughter of the demon. The woman disappears; we never hear of her again.  But she remains the only person in scripture who does one extraordinary thing: she is the only one who changes Jesus' mind.

         This, it seems to me, is a revolutionary incident.  And, as for its omission from the Gospels we hear at Sunday Mass, who can blame the hierarchy from trying to keep us from hearing it? For if the bishops can see themselves in "apostolic succession" to the disciples, then maybe we should see the woman in this Gospel account as one of us—or, more specifically, as the “mother” of today’s religious Sisters—and OUR sisters!   Marked by faith, fearlessness in faith, persistence, and compassion, her determination changed not only Jesus's mind but salvation history.  She tells those of us with nothing that we have nothing to lose, so we may as well take risks and confront religious authority, even God.

 But she also holds out hope, not only for the sisters of LCWR, but for us all.  If even JESUS could change his mind, she holds out the possibility that truly radical change is both possible and legitimate.  Her prayer, after all, was answered; her daughter was healed.  And so the women of LCWR and we, also her daughters and sons, can pray TO her and WITH her—for persistence, for dialogue, for healing, and in anticipation of ongoing reconciliation, and transformation for us all.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Quilters Guild Celebrates

Wiltwyck Quilters Guild
35th Anniversary
Thirty-five years ago I participated in the founding of a guild of quilters. It was born out of the effort to produce a pictorial quilt honoring the history and culture of our county in honor of the bi-centennial celebration of our country. Yesterday the Wiltwyck Quilters Guild enjoyed an anniversary luncheon meeting. It was my privilege of offer the following remarks. Over 100 women attended and a wonderful time was had by all.
          In 1976, in late winter and in early spring, traditional quilting bee season, four to ten women at a time gathered around a large frame dominating the living room of the Kingston home of Ruth Culver. We marked, threaded needles, thimbled them through all three layers of the stretched quilt, buried our knots (if there were any) and we shared stories. I have been told that you would appreciate hearing the Guild story.  Much will be familiar to my peers here and I beg their forgiveness for any failure of my memory. That 1976 quilting bee, women working and creating, united in a mission to mark the bi-centennial of our country, is just part of the story.
It all began with Ruth Culver for whom quilting was not a resurrected historical craft but an art born of necessity, a skill bred in the bone and coaxed into day light by women who had gone before. Like women in the dust-filled Oklahoma mud soddies of the 19th and early 20th centuries, they made quilts so their families wouldn’t freeze and made them as beautiful as possible so they wouldn’t go mad. This sensibility was in Ruth’s Appalachian heritage DNA.
That heritage morphed into quilting courses at Ulster County Community College in the 1970s. With the coming of the nation’s bicentennial a dream was born – a county quilt presenting a pictorial history of the place and its culture. From the ranks of friends and students Ruth gathered 42 women ranging in age from 18 to 78 and invited them to an initial planning meeting on a windy February night in 1975. Each of us has our ‘how I got started with the Guild’ story. After taking a class with Ruth this meeting is where my story would begin.
After growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, I’d married and lived in Connecticut before moving to Kingston in 1974. Surrounded in childhood by garment workers, knitters and embroiderers, I’d always had a needle in my hand. But I ignored the thimble. Such a nuisance! My Aunt predicted that I would never be a real seamstress until I’d made friends with my thimble. That friendship was to be cemented by an introduction to quilting. Ruth Culver is the second person I met upon moving into our house in her uptown Kingston neighborhood The rest is history, thimble and all.
The organizational meeting that cold winter night was my first outing less than a month after a Cesarean delivery and with a nursing baby in tow. I nearly fainted after running across the windy parking lot and up the stairs of Vanderlyn hall. Collapsed in a chair and did some Lamaze breathing and was ready for business.

I do not remember precisely what was decided at that particular meeting. But I do know that we were fired up by Ruth’s enthusiasm and her ‘no obstacle too great’ attitude. We talked about eventual size, what blocks might depict, materials, timeline for production, work sessions were we would help each other solve design problems and swop fabric to get just the right tone and texture for the pictures we were going to paint with fabric. We dreamed too of mounting the quilt in a show incorporating other quilted pieces. All of this eventually came to pass. The nursing baby eventually played under the frame as we quilted in Ruth’s living room. There were non-stop bees composed of rotating quilters, one leaving and another taking her place before the seat had time to cool. There was not a single topic of interest to women that was not discussed around that quilting frame: children, husbands, discipline of both, parents, childhood memories, recipes, home remedies for illness, networking of every kind. Our youngest quilter, Kathy Baxter Krayewski, was only 18 and she got some education. We were teachers, artists, homemakers, nurses, business women, secretaries, waitresses, retirees, college students, young mothers and grandmothers from every ethnic, racial and religious background who became friends in the effort to create something beautiful, a tribute to our history and culture, emblematic of our pride in the bicentennial celebration of our country. The Guild has in slide form a photo of each block of the quilt. My father came with a tripod and his Rolleiflex to immortalize each block. Those slides have now been digitized. They were used in presentations made to 4th grade classes in schools throughout the country to augment local history studies during the period of the bi-centennial celebration. 
The dream of a show featuring the quilt came to pass in late spring of 1976 in the art gallery of the college. We were so pumped up after that show and wanted a place to put our energies, a way in which we could maintain the bonds formed between us. We also knew that working together spurred us in creativity.
Early in the spring of 1977, to express our gratitude, the 42 bicentennial quilters presented Ruth with an album quilt at a luncheon in her honor. We all knew that we did not want it to end and discussed at table how we would proceed to create a permanent group. We know of the Embroiderer’s Guild and thought we could promote and educate others while stimulating our own creativity and skill development. In conversation various names were tossed around.  Ulster County Quilters’ Guild, Kingston Quilters’ Guild were rejected In our research for the historical blocks of the bicentennial quilt we had learned that the early Dutch name for the area was Wiltwyck (wild wood) and I suggested we us this name. Wiltwyck Quilters’ Guild has a nice ring to it. In the summer of that year Ruth, Polly Briwa, myself and one other woman whose name eludes me, met a number of times to write the organization by-laws.  We began regular meetings at the college in the fall of 1977 and elected Ruth as our first president.
Aelittle side story his called for here. Polly Briwa was a larger than life personality, a sort of ‘Auntie Mame’ figure dedicated to her enthusiasms. She and her IMBer husband lived in a restored old stone Dutch house on Sawkill Road. She became a prolific quilter but she was also a chain smoker and died much too early. After moving to Glens Falls she became active in the guild there. Upon her death, her husband began sponsoring a cash award for the finest log cabin pattern quilt at every guild show in Glens Falls.
Looking back, it seems we worked at brake neck speed, but we were younger then. Most of us had families and/or other day jobs, were creating fabulous quilts at home, meeting regularly as a fledgling guild formalizing its structure AND mounting our first major show in June of 1978. This last could not have been accomplished without the visionary leadership of Ruth Culver and the considerable tech support of Ulster County Community College under President Donald Katt. The college provided the venue, insurance, printing and security for a show that ran for two weeks. Since many of you, I am sure, have been involved in show presentation there is no need to list the complications but for others I must. Themes, invitational quilts, raffle quilt, judges, prizes, staffing, vendors, demonstrations and workshops were all put into place. How pleased we were to present the profits earned to the college scholarship fund.
So much for history. I cannot close without speaking of how the Guild achieved its primary purpose which is to promote the art of quilting and continue skill development in its membership and become a sorority of quilters; women with purpose and creativity . At a time when the commercial sector had not yet responded to the bicentennial boom in quilting we were inventive. Before clear grid rulers we used metal and plexi-glass scraps purchased at places like what was then P&D Surplus on the Strand in Kingston. We had our husbands cut them into measured strips. Before rotary cutters we made pattern pieces with Shrinkydink plastic stolen from our kids (smooth on one side and matte finish on the other. Kids drew on it, cut out designs and baked them in the oven until shrunk. And for the hand quilters among us we do not fail to remember when Elaine Blyth, charter member from New Paltz, reported quilting her prize winning navy blue and white patchwork beauty entirely on a lap hoop. This was the equivalent at the time of moving from a Commodore 64 computer to and Apple PC or today stepping up from a simple one purpose cell phone to an I-Phone. We simply couldn’t believe it. “Are you sure you won’t have gaps and ripples?” we asked. Elaine reassured, “Just baste the hell out of it in a frame and quilt from the center out. She was right and we were liberated.”
          Thank you for the part each of you has played in allowing the Guild to continue to achieve its purpose and flourish. A mark of your success is the number of members who have been admitted to the Catskill Quilters Hall of Fame over the years. Other signs are the continuing string of workshop offerings and the presentation of bi-annual shows. You are to be congratulated.
On a personal note, although I withdrew from the Guild in 2000, the education in this art form and the influence of countless creative, generous and inspiring women stayed with me. I continue to quilt and have become more adventurous in my efforts. For that I am grateful. But most of all, I am grateful for the memories, the wisdom, camaraderie, listening ears, and creative example of women. Some things about quilting never change, except that now men are sharing the wealth.
In the mid-1980s when I was inducted into the Catskill Mountain Quilters Hall of Fame, I closed my words of gratitude with this citation from the Book of Psalms. With your kind permission I will use them here:
May the favor of God be upon us,
and prosper the work of our hands,
O prosper the work of our hands.
          Best wishes for your upcoming show. Thank you.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Triggers of Memory

Between the Sheets

           This morning I changed sheets; a mundane necessary task which for the sake of degenerating lumbar disks is frequently postponed. Yet I do relish the luscious sensation of slipping between sundried sheets reminding of fresh air and sunshine; 100% cotton percale, although muslin will do, preferably line-dried. Hanging the family wash on a pulley rope clothes line stretched between house and telephone pole is a science I learned at an early age; spacing and strategy required so no whites would be soiled by obstacles. Discerning neighbors noticed planned placement, a factor in rating urban household management skills.
            Today’s chore conjured memories beyond skill and function. The yellow sheet with woven decorative edging turned out of its folds and unfurled over the bed is well over fifty years old. Its survival attributed to the quality promised on its label “Dan River – 100% cotton percale” and having been stored in my mother’s linen closet, kept in reserve for guests.
            How can it be dated with a degree of certainty? It is one of the “good sheets” used when Dr. Epstein, our family physician, made house calls to diagnose and treat measles which kept a second grader out of school for two weeks. A call to Dr. Epstein was followed by an abbreviated bed bath, a clean pair of pajamas and a change of bed linens. The routine was enough to cure because Mom often said, "All I have to do is call the doctor and you get better."
            These sheets, their elegant textured borders never becoming wrinkled off grain in the wash, their crisp coolness relieving fevers, spoke the word “special”. These sheets had come from Gimbles Brothers after all. My aunt, the family’s arbiter of value, quality and good taste, benefitted from insider information. Her neighbor, Eddie Frankavilla, presided over the linen department in Manhattan’s historic department store just south of Herald Square. Fastidious bow-tied Eddie who knew his stock well and was a connoisseur of merchandise quality shared news of upcoming sales. After picking up the best 400 thread count percale sheets and plush towels ordinarily out of our price range now happily affordable, there would be an obligatory walk through the fabric department. My aunt and my mother ran materials through their sensitive fingers testing texture, heft and weave, occasionally pronouncing a bolt of cloth to be “nice goods”. Following down the aisle I would touch material worthy of their endorsement; lessons for life in fabric evaluation. Such a trip to Gimbles would disappointingly include only a glimpse of the department catering to coin and stamp collectors, my father’s lunch hour haunt.
            The beautifully trimmed high quality sheet placed on my be today lost its mate years ago and was passed along to me by my mother likely for use, she thought, on the beds of my sons. The sheet spoke “pretty and feminine” and was again kept in reserve. Resurrection came with my return to a single bed in monastic quarters. The sheet is not a mute relic. It has survived, continuing to speak to me of a former time, of a former world, and of dear ones long gone. Surely, ‘they don’t make them like that anymore’.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Community Update

Where Do We Find

Ourselves Now

Current Status of

Redemptoristine Nuns

     We are well and comfortably settled in here at West Park. But it is not our home. Scroll down to see recent photos and slide show. Regret to report that there is no future home on the horizon.
     The cast has been removed from Sr. Lydia's broken leg but she cannot put any weight on her leg for 3 more weeks. She wears a bulky protective boot. Sr. Mary Anne is fully recovered from her bout with shingles. Sr. Mary, our hard core prayer, is slowing down but is as loving as ever.
     We are winding up the heaviest portion of the cape production season. In July we produced 6 Redemptorists habits in two weeks. Quite a marathon.
     A great deal of positive feeling and encouragement came with Sr. Maria Linda's profession of solemn vows in August.
     With the arrival of Labor Day we decided to resume our ordinary schedule of daily prayer (Liturgy of the Hours). We had modified it so that we could recuperate from the work of the move and the ongoing task of adjusting to our new situation. Never the less through the summer we checked out at least 20 different prospective buildings, 8 in just the last 3 weeks. We look ahead now to further and very deep discernment of our future. Meetings are planned and then our 10 day community retreat in October. Please believe that we count on the support of your prayers. We are grateful to our many friends who offer assistance and relief when ever they can. We are also grateful to Fr. Thomas Travers and Fr. Thomas Deely, CSsR for celebrating Mass with us daily. As so many of you know, a bit of deprivation goes a long way and makes one so much more grateful for the blessings we receive daily. May we remain grateful and rest in joyful hope.