Summer Newsletter, 2007
Lord, for the wonder of Your snow and the wonder of Your ways, we thank You.
Our dear friends,
Perhaps you are thinking this is a rather peculiar way to begin our summer newsletter? Well, yes, but it was also somewhat peculiar for us in southern Virginia to awaken on Holy Saturday , April 7, to discover that our Eternal Father had indeed clothed our world in a reflection of the whiteness of the Lamb , the Splendor of His glory, in preparation for the great Paschal feast about to begin. True, most of this, our one and only real snowstorm of the 2006-07 season, had melted by the afternoon, but the flakes were still falling enough through the hours of the morning to delight us and the air was still chilly enough towards evening to warrant having our very first indoor blessing of the new Easter fire that night. Yes, we opened our Paschal vigil in the center of our high-ceilinged refectory, setting the makings of the new fire in the place where, a few months before, we had placed our community Advent wreath, each a sign and symbol in its own way of that Life which is the Light of men. That Light shines on in the darkness, a darkness even now in process of being overcome by the Victor of the Cross.
And transformation, both spiritual and material, seems to be the business we have been about these past few months. On the physical level, our gardeners have been hard at it transforming the areas nearest our house into lovely gardens for walking , hiking, and just plain admiring. This spring, they were greatly aided by the unexpected gift of several truckloads of trees, shrubs, and various flowering bushes left over from a landscaping project of the contractor who laid our new roadways and who has become our good friend, Mr. Isaac Forrest. Surely Our Lord has been showing His good pleasure in all their labors by Himself transforming our hillside flower beds into spectacular displays of iris, lilies, daisies, roses, peonies and hydrangeas, much to the delight of our Sister sacristan who carries in as many as possible to grace the sanctuary of our monastic church.
The transforming power of concrete has also been one of our discoveries recently. We saw the need for a solid path in a couple of areas and so, as a sidewalk to our Father Simeone’s new house was being arranged, Mother asked if the workmen could lay a couple of the same for us as well. Thus we now have a long, gracefully curving walkway extending from the bottom of the stairs of the infirmary porch out to the asphalt drive and another, much shorter walk leading from the asphalt drive to the base of the large outdoor crucifix in what will one day be our new cloister cemetery. And this brings us to the greatest transformation of our landscape of all: the blessing of said new cemetery area on the solemnity of Corpus Christi.
But why are we about moving our cemetery? In our original site plan, we noticed two possible areas on which to place our new monastery building and decided to use the one nearest the entrance of our driveway as the last resting place of our departed sisters and the one farther back for living space for ourselves. However, after the busyness of building had subsided and we were settled into our new home, the site of the cemetery proved to be a rather formidable piece of hiking, making visits to the gravesites difficult or almost impossible for some of us. And so, with our newly paved roadway opening up new areas behind our monastery, we decided to move our sisters to a place on the hill just behind us. To this place we processed after Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi singing Psalm 118 with the antiphon “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” When we arrived, Father Simeone remarked how appropriate it was to have chosen this day for the blessing, because it is the Blessed Sacrament that is our food for the journey of each day of our lives and especially for this last of all our journeys as we set out for the new and eternal Jerusalem.
We took a journey of another sort during our annual retreat in mid- June, as Father Mark Gruber, O.S.B., a monk from the Abbey of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, led us back 4,000 years into the world of Abraham, our Father in faith. His knowledge of biblical anthropology and the cultural milieu of that era made each of the characters come alive and transformed our appreciation of the Scriptures as the Word of God at work within our daily experience of the world around us. In our own day, as in that of Abraham, there are many threats in the world, but, as our Holy Father remarked on his journey to Brazil: “… faith gives us the assurance that God is always stronger and remains present in history. With this awareness , we can,” he said, proclaim that “life is beautiful… it is always a gift and even in difficult conditions, life is always a gift.”
Very soon now, we ourselves will be proclaiming that very special gift, as we celebrate with our Mother Rosaria the wonder of His ways through all the 80 years of her life. Poor Clares usually do not observe birthdays – at least not publicly- but when one has attained to that particular milestone, then, along with our Holy Father, who celebrated his own 80th in April, we indeed come together and with her give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Shortly thereafter, preparations will begin in all earnestness for the days of Jubilee for the 50 years of Poor Clare living of our dear Sister Mary Agnes. Yes, our August days will once again ring with golden bells of thanksgiving as we invite one and all to “come and hear, all you who fear God; I will tell what He has done for me!” (Psalm66) Please cf. the enclosures for dates and details.
In between occurs the celebration of her whom we call Mother: St. Clare of Assisi, who so greatly appreciated both the gift of life and the grace of vocation. We will be remembering each of you and your many intentions during our solemn novena of August 2 – 10, and especially on her feastday, August 11. Like her, may we cry out:
Father, for the wonder of Your love and the marvels of Your ways, we thank You , forever and ever. Amen.
Visit our Public Chapel: 6:30 AM --6:30 PM
Daily Mass: usually at 8 AM (call ahead to be sure)
Benediction Holy Hour: every Sunday at 3:40 PM