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

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. From this opening line, perhaps you can guess what has been the big event of the past several months: yes, the visit of our Holy Father Pope Benedict to these United States of America this past April. What a grace for our country, and one that will be commented on and pondered upon for quite some time to come, at least for his Poor Clare daughters, and we are sure for the rest of you as well. Judging from the welcome given him by our President, and the enthusiasm of the various people he encountered along his way as well as that of the groups he addressed during those historic days, we were not the only ones who saw in our Holy Father’s arrival some little glimpse of the coming of the Lord in His glory. In the light of our Holy Father’s visit, it could only have been God’s Providence that Easter came so early this year. Who but He could have so arranged things so that his days with us should fall almost exactly in the middle of the Paschal season? It was such a perfect time for him to come, those days when, in the beauty of the lilies Christ rose up in victory over sin and death with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. It was quite evident to all who saw him that our Holy Father is one who has gazed upon that glory and been transfigured in such a way as to become similarly radiant himself. Thus he spoke to us all, not just in his words, but with the light of his face, when he declared to the young people in New York: “Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. it is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. in seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately Truth is a Person: Jesus Christ. “That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others... “Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship ... Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of His creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.” Now, of course, for such an event, there had to be enormous preparations. and these we followed with interest through the various periodicals we receive. Then, in early March, a letter arrived from our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, which he had sent to all the contemplative communities in these United States. In it, he requested our special collaboration in the spiritual preparation for our Holy Father’s visit by making each of his various venues “the object of your adoration, of your prayers, of your consecration, of your suffering and self-offering. Invoke the wind of a new Pentecost on the Church in the USA; the joy of belonging to Christ and His Church ... the pastoral creativity needed to bring Jesus Christ to all those who are thirsting for Him ... I am deeply convinced that my request is fundamental to the real success of the pastoral journey of the Pope...” With this request. we became directly involved, not only in the preparations for his coming, but also in the necessary follow up for while, as every good gardener knows, the preparation of the soil to receive the seed is important. nothing will happen unless that seed is properly watered and tended. That is our work now. It was with that follow-up work in mind that we greeted yet another “first” in our monastic history: the nocturnal lightning strike, and it happened not even an hour after our Holy Father took off for Rome aboard the Alitalia Shepherd I. It began as most other storms with wind and rain and thunder and lightning and since it occurred after our 8:45 retiring time, might have passed mostly ignored, just like any other thunderstorm. Then came two great cracks of thunder — sharp and close. Noticed, but not given much significance until one of us got up a few minutes later and tried to draw some water. Nothing happened. After some thought, she remembered the lightning and began to wonder... Sure enough, upon investigation, she found that the breakers controlling the pump for our well had been blown and refused to reset. What to do? Thanks be to God, we were able to contact our electrician at that (to us) rather late hour but which (to him) was likely still relatively reasonable and make arrangements for him to come out first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, Mother Abbess and Sister were able to draw enough water from the basement storage tanks to provide for various of our needs at least through the rest of that night. We are so grateful to our friends who came to our aid with quantities of bottled water through the next day. For it took most of that day and the skill of two different technicians to get everything going again. And when Sister Water finally spurted full force from faucets on the second floor late in the afternoon, some very grateful Poor Clares blessed the Lord for His goodness to us through so many of you. (As a little P.S.: the lightning did not actually strike either our well or the electric panel controlling it. We later discovered it had struck the ground between our tall privacy fence and one of our outdoor street lights, then traveled along the underground wire to blow the panels. Several sections of the fence will need to be replaced as will a sensor in our large fire prevention water tank, which was also damaged by the strike.) Actually, our Sister Rain has been mostly a blessing throughout this past spring season. Her abundance has encouraged our gardens to come to quite some fullness, so that the vision of our landscaping friends and helpers seems to be at last coming into reality. In other areas also, the generosity of our faithful Knights of Columbus is bringing completion to other projects around the house. Handcrafted Stations of the Cross were erected in our small adoration choir; drywall and acoustical ceilings were installed in several rooms in our basement that had to be left unfinished at construction time, and sanctuary seating brought from Newport News was refinished to match the rest of the appointments. Another friend has been working on finishing the priedieux and benches that will complete the furnishings in the adoration choir. So many, many things — each in its own way proclaiming the glory of the Lord. Yes, our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. In the visit of our Holy Father, in the generosity of our friends, in the splendor of shared sisterhood in the presence among us of Sister Mary Rose of St. Louis and Sister Mary Annuntiata and Sister Maria of Los Altos Hills who each came for a few months to help out when we found ourselves a bit shorthanded. As we move forward into the month of August and the feast of our Mother Saint Clare, that loyal daughter of the Church, who saw the visit of Pope Innocent IV to her dying bed as one of the great graces of her last days, we gather all your intentions into our prayer in our Solemn Novena beginning August 2. That brings us to a very important announcement. This year the Novena will be at 7:00 p.m. each evening from August 2 through August 10, when we will have the traditional blessing of Clare Breads. If you live nearby, we invite you to join us in our chapel for prayer, led by our faithful chaplain, Father Francis Simeone; if you live at some distance, we invite you to send in your petitions to be included in the intercessions each evening. Be sure each one will be entrusted to our Holy Mother to be lifted up to the Father of Mercies, the Giver of all good gifts. Then, on August 11, our Mother St. Clare’s feastday, we will have two Masses in her honor, one at 8:00 in the morning and the other at 7:00 in the evening — yet another “first” for us here on Mount St. Francis! “Daughters,” our Mother St. Clare cried a few hours before she died, “do you see the King of Glory as I do?” May her prayers, along with the words of our beloved Pope Benedict in America, enable us to so do.