Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! It's great to be able to sing this
joyful phrase again. Our Divine Office & Liturgy resounds with it at every
opportunity, as though making up for 6 weeks of Lent!
We wish you & all your loved ones
many blessings this Easter-tide.
Today is the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Francis de Sales
tells us "Jesus comes to us - this beloved of our souls - &
finds our hearts all full of desires, affections & petty wishes.
This is not what he seeks, for He hopes to find them empty, that He
may make Himself their Master & Ruler."
We are in retreat for the whole of this week. Time for extra prayer,
& amid the hustle & bustle of all that's going on in our lives right
now, time to enter a still place & in gentleness & quiet to unite
ourselves & all the sufferings of our world with our suffering Lord.
As we watched the Holy Father's Inauguration Mass on the feast of St
Joseph, his words reminded me of the prophet Micah's words, giving
us the 3 qualities necessary to live a good life; simple words that
speak volumes, "To act justly,tolove tenderly & to walk humbly with
our God." As we approach this last week of Lent - Holy Week, perhaps
it is a good time to really digest the Pope Francis's words words.
He called us to take on the role of protectors "Today,
amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope. To be men &
women who bring hope to others, to protect creation, to protect
eveyone & look upon them with tenderness & love. To open up a
horizon of hope, to let a shaft of light break through the heavy
clouds." He stressed that we must not be afraid of goodness &
tenderness & must protect with love, all that God has given us. A
challenge for these very special days as we begin the journey of
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St Joseph & we have the
Inauguration of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis. What a wonderful
day of celebration for us all. How excited our sisters in Argentina
must be. We have a monastery in Pilar, near Buenos Aires, (our Holy
Father's recent Bishopric) & in Rio Cuarto.
Bat-ing-ham Palace is almost finished, the workmen ran out of
cladding, so once this is remedied, plus fitting the doors &
gutters, hopefully by mid-week, all will be ready. Click 'We're
Moving' then 'The Future' to see the progress.
Our grounds are full of snowdrops, they are the first flowers to
make an appearance at this time of the year, & a welcome sight after
the winter barreness. They even make an appearance through the snow,
the fragile white bells blooming from the cold earth, ringing to
waken nature from it's winter sleep. Their latin name 'Galanthus'
comes from 'gala', milk, & 'anthus', flower. I found 3 small legends
about them. Firstly when Adam & Eve were expelled from paradise it
was during a heavy snowstorm & it was very cold. A few snowflakes,
while watching Eve, became frozen & decided to turn into snowdrop
flowers to end the long winter. So the Snowdrop is a flower of hope.
The 2nd legend says the godess Flora gave a carnival costume to all
flowers, Snowdrop received the white one which he shared with Snow,
they played & danced together & enjoyed each others company so much
that now every Spring they are together. Lastly there is a Russian
legend that once apon a time Grandmother Winter & Grandfather Wind &
Cold decided not to let Lady Spring come to earth. All the flowers
became scared of Winter & wilted. Snowdrop was the only brave flower
to straighten up & show it's petals. As a result Father Sun noticed
it, warmed the earth & let Lady Spring arrive.
We live through the seasons of life just as we live through the
seasons of the year, and like nature's seasons they are continually
changing, challenging, unpredictable & often surprising. So these
early days of Lent have proved with the Holy Father's news.
Every Thursday, before the first Friday of the month we have a Holy
Hour. Last night we had a special one, a time before the Blessed
Sacrament, when we held the Holy Father in prayer. We enfolded him
in love & gratitude as he laid down his Office. Our prayers continue
for him as he embarks on this new & different chapter in his life's
journey. On February 2nd this year, the Feast of the Purification, &
a special day of prayer for Religious, Pope Benedict gave a
beautiful homily, part of which can be read if you click the picture
'Almighty & everlasting God,
who has given your faithful servant Benedict
grace to maintain his faith & hope in you
amid the labours of his apostolic ministry;
graciously bestow upon him, we pray,
the consolations of your Holy Spirit
and uphold him in serenity of life.
Through Christ Our Lord.'
Amen Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI at the conclusion
his ministry as Bishop of Rome & Supreme Pontiff.
"I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart."
In Lent God leads us into the desert. In this lonely, barren
place we are able to see things more clearly because there are fewer
distractions, so be sure you have your eyes, & the eyes of your
heart, opened wide.
click on picture
Lent is also known as a 'little springtime.' Isn't that lovely?
Spring is the season of newness, the new birth of much of nature, we
find buds on the barren trees, we see the spring bulbs just about
popping their heads above an often frozen soil. We hear the birds
singing, it won't be long before they'll be nest-building &
egg-laying. For us too Lent can be a time of new life, bursting
forth from our winter barreness. A time of renewal, of casting aside
our 'yesterdays' & building on our tomorrows while living today.
Many many welcomes,
Ever as of old time,
Coming in the colt time,
Prophet of the gay-time,
Prophet of the May-time,
Prophet of the roses.
Many Many welcomes,
We went to see how the work was progressing down at St Josephs
today. Go into the 'The Future ' of 'We're Moving' to see what we
click on picture
Today we remember who we are & who God is, & what He has done for
us. The ashes we received this morning are a sign of humble
thanks for the new life we have in Christ. Yesterday we enjoyed
pancakes, today we 'enjoy' ashes. Everyday this Lent let us 'enjoy'
something, be it a gift we receive or a gift we offer to the Lord.
click on picture to read
Fr Jim's Lenten sermon
from last Sunday
"If the Lord does not build the house, then in vain do its builders
labour." Team work, tenacity & Mother Nature make for a wonderful
team. Click on the picture opposite & turn up sound to marvel at
I omitted 3 pages from Eric's funeral sermon which are now below,
please read again - sorry!
The Oven bird is a native of Mexico, Central & S. America. It has a
unique song & builds its nest with clay, mud & a mixture of fibre,
hair & straw. Baked in the hot sun it becomes rock hard & a safe
Tomorrow we shall have Eric's funeral. A very sad day
for many, & also a time to celebrate his life, to remember him &
to thank God for his presence
in our lives.
'Let life be as beautiful
as summer flowers,
and death as beautiful
as Autumn leaves.' Rabindranath Tagore
"In His mercy
may He give us safe lodging,
and a holy rest
and peace at the last."
Bl. John Henry Newman
And we thought we had trouble with our 15-19 bat population! The
bat loft is growing amid huge mud turrets, & due to the heavy
rain, not ideal working conditions. But Luke, Matthew, Mark,
John, James, Simon & Aaron are plodding on. It's almost like
having the twelve apostles down there! Now we are just waiting
Death is such an awesome mystery, we cannot control it or delay
it, we must learn to embrace & welcome it, knowing that, as
Cardinal Hume once said, when we meet God face to face, "we are
as little children climbing onto a loving father's lap &
whispering our life's story into His ear," as He welcomes us
into eternal life. Our dear friend Eric Stamp has gone to God.
He died at home last Friday, surrounded by his loving family.
Eric was affiliated to our Order, as is his wife Lorraine, they
have lived next to the Monastery for many years, helping us in
so many ways. He was our Estate Manager & Our Mother's
brother-in-law. The power of prayer had enveloped them over many
months & now will continue to do so for Lorraine & the family in
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord & let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace.
Life is eternal,
Love is immortal.
& death is only
& an horizon is nothing but the limit
of our earthly sight.
24.1.13.Feast of St. Francis de Sales
" Let us go forward full of courage to do what we are called to
do, but let us go with simplicity. God alone is the consoler of
our hearts, He alone calms souls of good will, those who hope in
Him. Happy are they who walk in the way of God's love, their
hearts are changed forever". St. Francis de Sales
Click on the picture opposite to take a walk through our winter
wonderland. The pond is frozen solid, the trees are beautifully
'dressed' & the sheep seem unperturbed by the sudden change of
Like most of the country, here at Wadron it's been snowing
all day. Everywhere
is very beautiful, hushed & muted in some kind of magic. The poor
birds are scavaging for food & titbits & I haven't seen a fox or a
rabbit for several days. Usually they are regulars on our front
lawn. Hopefully they're warm & snug 'below ground'. Each day we are
making the Novena to our Holy Founder, St. Francis de Sales, who's
feastday is on the 24th. You & all all your intentions are
remembered in our prayers.
A little news re-moving. Check on on our
'We're moving' page, the Future. We will keep you updated.
Every morning when we come out of choir, after Lauds, we turn to the
sister behind us & break the 'Great Silence' with the greeting, "God
be praised, good morning dear sister." This happens in all our
monasteries throughout the world. They are the first spoken words of
our day, and what better way to begin it? Greetings & good wishes
are very important, they can point out for us the way our day may
go. They can lift our hearts, strengthen our spirits, make us feel
warm inside, even put a smile on our face. Click on the picture
opposite to see greetings I received this week.
We had our Epiphany recreation today & sat round our open log
fire. We'll miss this when we move to St. Josephs. If you're cold &
fancy toasting your toes click on the picture opposite.
The word Epiphany means a moment of sudden understanding or
revelation, an 'Ah' or 'Wow' moment. The presence of the Wise men
before the baby Jesus was a 'wow' moment, an immediate realisation
of God's plan, manifested in ordinary lives. We live these moments
everyday. Our gentle, gracious God showers us with gifts & we don't
always recognise them. It sometimes takes seeing it in others that
opens our eyes & our hearts. Click on the picture opposite & turn
the sound up.
Winter nights have a magic of their own. On
these crisp, cold nights, being in the middle
of the countryside, we can look up & gaze
at a star-studded sky in awe; knowing that
it has the promise of frost & that we'll probably
need to put on an extra layer in the morning.
There's an old Inuit or Eskimo tradition that
stars aren't stars - rather they are holes
in the sky where the love of our departed
ones shines through to show us how happy
they are. A nice thought for the day.
'The heavens proclaim the glory of God'
Mother of God
'Memory is the place
all our yesterdays gather.'
As one year ends & another begins we
all inevitably look back over our experiences of the past 12 months,
as well as looking to the future. What miracles will God offer us
this coming year? What blessings & challenges will be ours?
Yesterday Our Mother shared some 'end of year' thoughts with us,
click on the picture to read them.
May this New Year be for you all, one of hope, blessing &
abandonment to God's will. On this feast of the Mother of God, let's
ask for the grace, like her, to 'ponder' deep in our hearts all the
gifts we have received.
"For all that has been, thanks;
for all that shall be, yes."
It's almost at the end of the year & it's
still raining! We had a lovely Christmas
celebration beginning with a candle-lit
service of carols, readings & music leading
into the Mass of Midnight. We remembered
you all in prayer. To share part of our
Christmas day click on the picture opposite.
The firm 'Thomas Cook' does tours of the
Greek Islands, tours of the Lake District. So we
now invite you to take a tour of the monastery cribs!
As you will see there are several around the house.
Click on the picture opposite
"What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise manI would do my
Yet what I can I give Him
I give Him my heart."
Christmas Blessings & great Joy to you all
as we remember you before the crib.
All year we've been saying we'd like to start to make soap, it's a
very monastic occupation. These past few weeks Our Mother has
actually begun, & very successfully too. I wish I knew how, if there
was a way, to put a 'scratch & sniff' onto the web page so you could
share the different fragrances of lavender, lemon balm, jasmine &
rose, to name a few! Click on the picture opposite to see these
first attempts - & inhale deeply!
BE CAREFUL -
of the Advent Virus. It is very prevalent in the run up to
Christmas. Be alert to it's symptoms such as hope, peace, joy &
love. So many could be exposed to this virus & if the conditions are
right it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it
in epidemic proportions. Some of it's signs & symptoms could be the
following: an unmistakeable ability to enjoy each moment, a loss of
interest in judging other people, a loss in the ability to worry
which can often be a serious symptom. One will notice frequent
episodes of appreciation with contented feelings of connectedness
with others & nature. Other signs are frequent attacks of smiling &
an increased tendency to let things happen rather than frustratingly
trying to make them happen. There is an increased susceptibility to
the love extended by others, as well as the uncontrollable urge to
We are now in retreat till Christmas day, we keep
you, your intentions & all those you hold in your
hearts in prayer.
'I am waiting for a green shoot
to come out of my stump one morning
in this unseasonable springtime.
December's leaf & blossom, winter's bird.
Joy waits with me & I can feel it's seepage
into my day & night.
My bones sing & I hear an unknown music
from that one place where, by old reverence stirred,
the vowels drain from a word.
I think of the marvellous flower that is to come
and how the light will hover over it.
Now & again though is the message blurred
by brief uncertainties:
I fear that by my rude excess of watching
the green may be deterred
or that I have miscalculated seasons
or given far too personal a meaning
to glorious promises Isaiah heard.
Yet who am I to minimize the worth
of what a stump is likely to bring forth?' Jessica Powers
'I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place,
with hope's expectance of nativity.
I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earths most amazing knowledge: someone is hidden in this dark with me.'
"Speak the word and receive the Word;
offer what is yours and conceive what is of God; give what is
& embrace what is eternal"
Just a few days to go before Christmas, so yesterday at recreation
we began to sort out decorations & cribs for the community room &
other areas of the monastery. It's good fun unpacking the boxes put
away since last year & discovering all the treasures so carefully
The O Antiphons, one of the oldest liturgical rituals in the church,
are prayed around the world during Vespers in these final days of
Advent. They've been described as 'a unique work of art & a special
ornament of the pre-Christmas Liturgy.' Each antiphon begins with an
invocation of the expected Messiah, followed by praise of Him under
one of His particular titles. Each ends with a petition for God's
people & the cry for Him to 'Come!'
Prayer is not a 'spare
wheel' that you pull out when
in trouble, it's a 'steering wheel' that directs the right
path throughout. Why is a car's
windscreen so large & the rear view
mirror so small? Because our past is not as important
as our future. So look ahead & move on. Friendship is like a
book. It takes a few seconds to burn,
but it takes years to write. All things in life are
temporary. If going well, enjoy it, they
will not last forever. If going wrong, don't worry, they
can't last forever either. Old friends are gold!
New friends are diamond. If you
get a diamond, don't forget the gold. Because to hold
a diamond, you always need a base of gold. Often when we lose
hope & think 'This is the end', God
smiles from above & says "Relax, My Child, it's just a bend,
not the end." When God solves your
problems, you have faith in His
abilities; when God doesn't solve your problems He has
faith in your abilities. A blind person asked
St. Anthony "Can there be anything
worse that losing your eyesight?" He replied:"Yes, losing
your vision." When you pray for
others, God listens to you & blesses
them, & the times when you are safe & happy, it means
that someone has prayed for you. Worrying does not take
away tomorrow's troubles;
it takes away today's peace.
Today the church commemorates St Lucy. Lucia means light & so this
is a feast of light. Lucy is the patron saint of those whose eyes
need healing & was a virgin martyr during the reign of Diocletion.
This feast celebrated in many countries has different traditions. In
Italy there are torchlight processions & bonfires. In Sweden the
oldest daughter of the family dresses in white & wears a green
wreath of lighted candles. St. Lucy was a 'light' for her people
during a time of persecution. During the hustle & bustle of
preparations for Christmas, may we be witnessess to something
brighter, pointing out the way to the Light which is coming.
We are all called to a special task during these last weeks of
Advent: those who will listen, those who will ask the question "What
can I do?" We are all called to 'Prepare the way.'
We live in the desert of today's world, today's society. It may not
be the same environment that John the Baptist knew, but nevertheless
for us it may still sometimes be a desert. Bereft of God, parched
with not having Jesus in our daily lives. How will you & I 'prepare
the way?' What will we do? It may not be much, but as someone once
said ' If we all do a little it adds up to a lot.' In the solitude &
barreness of our hearts let's search for what we each need to get
ready for the coming of Jesus this Christmas. Like John the Baptist
let us wait in readiness, in patience & in love.
Some thoughts for you on this cold, frosty December day.
'Life is a constant Advent season: we are constantly waiting to
become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle,
fear, expectation & fulfilment are all part of our Advent
experience. The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole,
as we know it could & should be. But the coming of Christ & His
presence among us - as one of us - gives us reasons to live in hope:
that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from
our fears & prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned. May
this Advent be a time for bringing hope, transformation & fulfilment
into the Advent of our lives.' Connections
At the Annunciation Mary did not understand the words that were said
to her by the Angel Gabriel: "How can this be?" she replied to his
message. Eventually she uttered three words that changed her life &
the course of human history,"Let it be." These words full of faith,
abandonment, trust & love, were her 'Yes', her 'Fiat' to God's Will
for her. Do you remember the song the Beatles wrote:
'When I find
myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me.
Speaking words of wisdom.
Let it be, let it be ...'
These words 'Let it be' are challenging, they remind us that that
God working within us is not something we bring about, it's pure
gift. Something we, like Our Lady, receive, accept and let happen.
The Beatles - LetItBe
18.104.22.168st Sunday of Advent
Advent begins. The season of 'waiting' commences. In the Gospels
some were very good at waiting. Zechariah & Elizabeth, Anna &
Simeon, Mary. Something wonderful was going to happen & they
were all patiently waiting in expectation. They were all actively
waiting, fully present to the moment, fully confident that something
was changing within each of them. As we too join them, let's do so,
not passively, but actively, preparing for the promise to be
fulfilled in each one of us. Our journey has begun, the first candle
is lit to show us the way. Let's support each other along the path .
Lord Jesus come, Maranatha'.
'Live fully in the present moment.'
St. Francis de Sales
25.11.12 Christ the King
As we've said before, our Holy Founder, St Francis de Sales is the
patron saint of journalists. There are many different kinds of
journalists, newspaper reporters, magazine columnists, TV news
readers, researchers, to name but a few. Are bloggers journalists?
It's a debateable question. If he was here with us today, our Holy
Founder would probably have a blog, a daily 'input' of words of
great wisdom. When he was a priest in the Chablais he copied, by
hand, many of his sermons and slipped them under the doors of those
who had left the faith. These sermons were called 'The
Controversies'. His creativity earned him a renowned reputation
among the journalistic world of his day, perhaps we could call him a
' blogger' of his day. So we dedicate our simple blog to him, ask
him to sit here & guide the hand & heart of Sr. Mary Blog-erina, as
she shares with you the musings of the day.
Today is the feast of Christ the King. We are coming to the end of
the Churches Liturgical year, the end of 'Ordinary time', & the
beginning of Advent, a special season for the preparation of
Christmas. Ordinary means, not exceptional, average. Fifty five
years before being elected Pope & one year before being ordained a
priest, Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) wrote the following on
January 29th, the former feast of St. Francis de Sales: "Today was
the perfect feast, I spent it in the company of St. Francis de
Sales, gentlest of saints. What a magnificent figure of a man,
priest & bishop. If I were like him, I would not mind even if they
were to make me pope!... My life, so the Lord tells me, must be a
perfect copy of that of St. Francis de Sales, if I wish to bear good
fruit. There is nothing extraordinary in me or my behaviour, except
my way of doing ordinary things,... 'all ordinary things but done in
no ordinary way'."
On this beautiful feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, we unite,
with our sisters all over the world, in the public renewal of our
vows at mass. We give thanks to God for our vocation to serve Him as
Daughters of Prayer in the Church.
Our Tridium retreat, given by Fr. Paul Addison O.S.M. was a journey
of discovery & insight. Among the pearls of wisdom Father shared
with us were these wonderful words by Nelson Mandela, & for us it
echoes the sentiments of Our Holy Founder, St. Francis de Sales to:
"Be who you are, and be that well."
Fr. Paul Addison O.S.M.
'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest
fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light,
not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who
am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually,
who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around
you. We were all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to
make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just
in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light
shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the
same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
Tomorrow is 'Prisoner's Sunday,' a day when we pray for all those
imprisoned in our world, their families & loved ones. Although we
think particularly of those within our prison systems, there are
other kinds of prisoners, & possibly we all fit into one of the
catogories. Those deprived of their freedom, their identity, their
rights, their human dignity, their freedom of speech. Those who are
'imprisoned' by illness, physical & psychological, by home or work
situations, by relationships and loneliness. Those deprived of the
'ordinary' things in life that perhaps we take for granted. Some
folk seem to have a rough deal in life. We have a strong weapon -
prayer. Let's use it's power today.
Beginning this evening,
we are in retreat for three days.
Please hold us in prayer.
On a beautiful sunny morning we walked down to St Joseph's to
see the results of our hard work, & using our imagination, tried to
mark out some of the rooms. The sunshine beamed through onto a much
clearer space than a few months ago.
At our last meeting with the Daughters of St Francis de Sales
Christine shared this beautiful prayer with us. When you feel
stressed, harrassed, when you want to still your mind, place
yourself in the presence of God & say this slowly:
Before your God.
Let your God
Look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
with an enormous love.
and only wants
to look upon you
with that love.
Let your God
In Flanders field the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, so bravely singing, fly,
scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved, and were loved and now we lie,
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe,
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high
if ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields. John McCrae
'They shall not grow old
as we who are left grow old,
age shall not weary them
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,
we shall remember them.'
In 1913 on this day Albert Camus was born.
He became a well known French writer & philosopher, reflecting on
the meaning of life. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 &
it was he who wrote:
'Don't walk in front of me - I may not follow,
Don't walk behind me - I may not lead,
Just walk beside me - and be my friend.'
This gives us some food for thought today.
Long November days prompt us to gather our thoughts to especially
remember those who
have died. Perhaps our own relatives & friends,
our collegues & work companions or those who
have no-one to pray for them. It can be a
time of sadness but also one of hope, of trust
& expectation. God has redeemed us
promised us eternal life. One day we will
hope someone, somewhere is praying for &
Click on the picture opposite.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
& let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen
22.214.171.124th Sunday of Ordinary time
'Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus & His disciples,
together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man
Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard it was
Jesus of Nazareth he began to shout " Jesus, Son of David, have
mercy on me." Many rebuked him & told him to be quiet, but he
shouted all the more, "Son of David have mercy on me." Jesus stopped
& said "Call him." So they said "Here, on your feet, He's
calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet & came
to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The
blind man said "Rabbi, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "Your faith
has healed you." Immediately he received his sight & followed Jesus
along the road.'
During his visit to England, Blessed John Paul II said
" We are only pilgrims on this earth, making our way towards that
Heavenly Kingdom promised to us as God's children. Beloved Brethren
in Christ, for the future, can we not make that pilgrimage together
hand-in-hand doing all we can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by
the peace that binds us together. This would surely bring down upon
us the blessing of God our Father on our pilgrim way."
We unite ourselves in love & prayer with our Anglican brothers & sisters as they,
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, meet to discern & choose a
new Archbishop of Canterbury.
Our lives at the moment seems to be a series of surveys! Bat survey,
soil survey, tree survey, pond survey, building survey. Before our
building plans can get underway the experts have come and spent
hours looking, taking specimens, measuring, counting, digging &
discussing. They were all passionate about what they do. The bat
surveyists came several times & through the night sat watching for
bats flying in & out & under the eaves of the roof of St Josephs,
they got really excited about the bat droppings & different kinds of
bats, & went home triumphant with their specimens! Now we have to
build a new home for the bats, a bat loft, & as they are a protected
species they will be re-housed before work on St Josephs begins. Any
big project needs preparation & prayer. Because we share our lives
with much of God's nature & beauty, this too has to be preserved,
respected & looked after in a very special way. We are the
custodians of creation on many different levels.
Do you remember the song 'Catch a falling star & put it in your
pocket'? Sung by Perry Como, it hit the charts in 1957. Whether we
have the good fortune to see a shooting star out of our window or
not we all have, in our lives, shooting stars. Moments of wonder,
experiences of awe that we would love to capture, to hold onto - put
in our pockets, either to share with others later or to hold as
something precious to be be able to look at from time to time. God's
Love is like a shooting star darting into our lives each moment of
each day. Let's make sure we see it, recognise it , capture it - &
as the song says 'never let it fade away'.
Shooting star taken from
our Monastery window.
Feast of St. Margaret Mary
Back from the desert & trying to catch up. Firstly Sr. M.
Catherine's Ruby Jubilee. A wonderful day for Sister & for all of
us, celebrating 40 years of Religious Consecration. Our beautiful
Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Francis Kemsley O. Carm. (Sr. M.
Catherine had taught him when he was a little boy) & our own Fr.
Jim, followed by a buffet lunch - click picture opposite. It's
always good to share a celebration, to give praise & thanks to God
together, & also to enjoy one another's company on these very
Tomorrow we will be celebrating Sr. M. Catherine's Ruby Jubilee.
Mass is at 11am, followed by a buffet lunch. In the evening Sr. Mary
Blog-erina goes into retreat, so Jubilee news will be deferred until
her return. Please pray for them both and - watch this space!
As we are moving, relocating, on a journey - so many ways to
express what lies ahead - it's good to look at the road. We know it
won't be straight, it will have twists & turns, it may have
diversions & backroads, it will have speed limitations & bumps along
the way. We may need to stop in the lay-by & re-evaluate where we
are going. But what we do know is that we begin this venture in good
faith, clinging to the God who has called us & brought us thus far.
He will never desert us or let us down. It is a journey of
excitement, of trust & of thanksgiving.
click on picture
'God of Harvest, gardiner supreme,
You place us at the centre,
feed us, equip us, & having
provided for us,
look to a different harvest.
A fruitfulness of lives
in service to You & others.
God of harvest, feed us, prune us, harvest
lives may bring glory to to You.'
Yesterday eight of us went to Aylesford Priory in Kent, joining the
Southwark Diocesan Day of Prayer for Religious. Our Chaplain, Fr.
Jim is the Vicar for Religious for Southwark. We had an early start
for the journey, but the sun made an appearance & it was a great
day. Sr. Gemma Simmonds C.J. gave us two very thought provoking
conferences on the theme 'A future full
of Hope'. It was so good to visit this beautiful shrine of Our
Lady and to meet all the Sisters & Brothers. It's many years since
some of us had previously visited Aylesford, prior to our entering
the monastery. There were between 80-100 religious sisters &
brothers present & Archbishop Peter Smith, the Archbishop of
Southwark, concelebrated the Mass. We were a very tired but happy
band of nuns that made the long journey home.
Last week Our Mother, Sr. Mary Joseph & Sr. Clare Chantal spent 4
days in Leeds at Hinsley Hall, attending Conferences organised by
the Association of British Contemplatives. The theme was 'Transition'. It was well attended by sisters from the Carmelites, Poor
Clares, Augustinians, Redemptoristines, Bernadines & some
Anglican sisters. Fr. Ronnie McAinsh C.Ss.R. gave the talks. Our
sisters enjoyed it very much, meeting the different sisters &
click on the picture
to meet the group
In Moulin, France there is a Museum dedicated to the Visitation Order.
It was created in 1990 by a friend of our monastery
in Moulin, M. Gerard Picaud & is supported by our Monasteries all
over the world. We loan the Museum different items of historical
interest, vestments, portraits, churchware, objects of devotion,
textiles & paintings, dating from the early seventeenth century to
this present day. We, ourselves have lent several items which are on
display. The monastery in Moulin was on the
verge of closing & M. Picaud promised the then Superior, Mother
Francoise Bernadette, that he would try & retain the memory of the
Visitation in Moulin. The Monastery did not close and the Museum
thrived. Do visit the Museum by clicking on the link opposite, on
the Home Page you are able to translate the site into English.
We all need silence in our lives. We live in a very noisy world,
surrounded by busyness & bustle. Sometimes it seems imposssible to
'catch' a few moments of silence, to find a restful space. It's not
always possible to remove ourselves from the present situation to a
gentler place, so we need to have that 'quiet place' within
ourselves. John O'Donohue said that "Nature is always wrapped in
seamless prayer. That she knows how to calm our minds & still our
click on the picture
to share a restful space.
Today we celebrate Our Lady's Birthday & the Church celebrates the
first dawning of redemption. Mary, our mother & 'Cause of our joy'
was given to us, & was entrusted with the mission of becoming the
Mother of God. Her 'Yes' to the Angel Gabriel was extraordinary.
Let's ponder on the 'yes's' we are called to make in our daily
lives, very ordinary yes's, ordinary challenges, but ones that can
become sources of grace for others that we may never know.
Since Setember 8th marks the end of summer & the beginning of
Autumn, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations & customs
attached to it. In the old Roman Ritual there is the blessing of the
summer harvest & planting of the seeds of Autumn. The winegrowers in
France called this feast 'Our Lady of the Grape Harvest'. The best
grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed & then some
bunches are attached to the hands on the statue of Mary. Then a
festive meal is enjoyed, which includes the new grapes. In the Alps
of Austria this day is 'Drive Down Day'. The cattle & sheep are led
from their summer pastures on the slopes & brought to their winter
quarters in the valleys. In some parts of Austria, milk from
this day & all the left-over food are given to the poor in honour of
Our Lady's Nativity.
"A privilege which Mary had above all creatures is that no-one else
gave themselves so perfectly to the Divine Majesty as she did. She
was more perfectly obedient to the Word of God than any other
St Francis de Sales
We are made up of many layers, like an onion. We were perhaps born
with some of these layers, others we may have created ourselves, for
different reasons. Each layer has a purpose, each layer has a
different texture & in the middle perhaps we will find our soul.
Click opposite on the picture to read a poem I want to share with
Today is the feast of St Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. It's
also the birthday of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was born in
1910, & who worked with & served the poor of India. A journalist
once asked her why she bothered working with the poor in Calcutta
because it was just a drop in the ocean, there being millions of
poor people in India. Mother Teresa said in reply that she was not
concerned with a big way of doing things - she was concerned with
individuals. "This person," she said, pointing to one of the
poor,"thinks it makes all the difference." What can we do to make a
difference to someone's life in our part of the world today?
'The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good
ending, then having the two as close together as possible!'
"Ask for nothing, refuse nothing." St Francis de Sales
St Francis de Sales is the patron saint of journalists, so when, a
couple of days ago a young reporter asked if she could come from a
local newspaper to do an article on the Monastery, we said 'Yes'. To
read it please click on the picture opposite.
We have a Sat. Nav. called Matilde. When she's plugged in we
spend most of our time arguing & disagreeing with her about the
route in which she directs us. We know a better & quicker way!
Isn't it the same in life? Although God is with us showing us the
way we still often think we know better. If we've chosen God as our
Guide, then let's do it 'His Way.'
Last night we had a Vigil in honour of Our Holy Mother, St Jane Frances
de Chantal, who's feast we keep today. Prayers, music, readings &
reflections focused us on our great Feast, & gave us reason for much
joy, gratitude & celebration. Today we have Exposition of the
Blessed Sacrament all day & we will remember you & all those you
hold in your heart before the Lord.
"Our hearts desire
is only that His will
is accomplished in us."
St Jane de Chantal
Yesterday the Olympics came to Waldron, and 'Team Visitation' were
in good form. After months of practise they were out to win gold - &
they did!It was very very windy, but
bright & sunny. All the games were played with 'Waldron Rules' which
left a little to be desired! But great fun was enjoyed by all & we
were in union with all our great athletes, who are doing us proud at
Click picture to view our
& turn up sound.
A group of students were asked to list the
Seven Wonders of the World.
After some deliberation they came up
with the usual list:
1. The Pyramids of Egypt.
2. The Taj Mahal.
3. The Grand Canyon.
4. The Panama Canal.
5. The Empire State building.
6. St Peters Basilica.
7. The Great Wall of China.
One young girl seemed to be having trouble
making up her list, she said "There are so many." But eventually she
said, "I think the seven
Wonders of the World are - see opposite.
For us in the Monastery, one of the Wonders
of our Visitation world is Our Holy Mother,
St. Jane Francis de Chantal. We keep her
feast next Sunday. For us and for our
sisters all over the world she is a daily
inspiration, example and blessing.
We don't have to look the same
to be friends
Tonight is the official opening of the Olympic Games here in Great
Britain. As London welcomes the world it's a time to take pride in our country & in all those who
represent us in the Games. The athletes from all over the world are
poised to give of their best, to compete with pride & enthusiasm: to
be an inspiration to us all in their dedication & hard work.
We pray for for unity & safety for all.
This morning at 8.12.am bells were rung in unison throughout our
country to celebrate the Olympic Games.
See opposite Our Mother joining in.
Click on picture below
to hear our 'Olympic bells.'
Yesterday morning we had the pleasure of a visit from our Fr. Jim's
nephew, Bishop Stephen Conway, who is the Anglican Bishop of Ely. It
was lovely to meet him & hear about his diocese & his work. He is
also the Anglican Bishop accompanying the L'Arche communities in
To receive the gift of faith is a great grace & blessing. Yesterday
at Mass we welcomed our good friend Eric Stamp into full communion
with the Catholic Church. It was such a joy for Eric, Lorraine, the
family & our community. In this special 'Year of Faith' Eric
has embarked on this journey of discovery. May he know peace of
heart, joy of spirit & gentleness of soul.
'May you listen
to your longings to be free,
May the frames of your belonging
be large enough
for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day
with a voice of blessing
whispering in your heart,
that something good
is going to happen to you.
May you find a harmony
between your soul & your life.
May there be kindness in your gaze
when you look within.
May you allow the wild beauty
of the invisible world
to gather you, mind you
& embrace you in longing.'
Today we celebrate the Anniversary of the Dedication of our
chapel. On this special day, 44 years ago, it was dedicated by
Bishop Cashman. Since then we have had the joy & privilege of
daily Mass, singing the Divine Office, celebrating the First &
Final Professions of our sisters, & so many other wonderful
occasions. How many prayers have sped Heavenward from this
sacred place over the years. How many people have joined us for
prayer in this chapel. Together we have been the 'People of
God', together we have been able to say with joy,
it is good for us to be here.'
As we celebrate again this anniversary we remember in prayer our
many benefactors & friends, the priests who have faithfully
served us over the years, our departed sisters and our present
Our chapel 1968
house your blessing Lord
On this house your grace bestow.
On this house your blessing Lord
May it come and never go.
Bringing peace and joy and happiness,
Bringing love that knows no end.
On this house your blessing Lord
On this house your blessing send.
The Olympic competitors begin to arrive today in Great Britain,
there is a spirit of great excitement both among them & among the
millions who wish them well. After months, if not years of training
& sheer focused discipline - their time is NOW!
It's a bit like the Religious life, a life of new challenges,
training, learning, trying out new skills, discovering skills we
didn't know we
had & learning to live & work as part of a
team, a community.
The Athletes at the Olympics have their goals set on Gold, Silver &
Bronze medals for the glory of their countries. We have our goals
set on Heaven, for God's glory & of beginning that Heaven here on
You will see we have now 'opened' an online shop. It's only small,
please take a look & tell us what you think.
A lady drove into a shopping centre, smiling to herself at the good
news she'd received about her son. After shopping she drove out of
the car park & handed in her parking ticket at the kiosk, ready to
pay the standard charge of £1. She opened her purse, smiled, &
handed over three £1 coins, saying, "This is to pay for the next two
cars as well." Then she drove off.
Only a small gesture, but that kind thought was like a pebble thrown
into a pond, the ripples caused spreading goodwill & kindness. John
Vanier calls it the 'Circle of Gratuity.' We aren't all called to do
something 'big'. But we are called to look out for small
opportunities, as Mother Teresa said, "To do something small, but
with a lot of love." What could you do today?
Sisters Mary Joseph & Mary Catherine are beginning their annual
retreats. Sisters Clare Chantal & Mary Dorothy have just finished
theirs. Some find it strange that as enclosed, contemplative nuns we
have the need to withdraw even more for a specific time each year.
This invitation to the desert, to a place of stillness &
'apartness', is very special. We live full, busy lives. Our horarium
provides a daily structure which calls us to prayer, work,
recreation, creativity & hospitality. The call to retreat is a
withdrawal from this 'norm'; a time to enter more deeply into
ourselves in order to unite ourselves more fully with our God.
These are days of space, days of blessings & quiet, days of waiting
& listening, as God encircles us within Himself.
Please pray for our Sisters in retreat.
"I will lead her into the desert and speak to
"... a willingness to share generously and joyfully in the life of
the community, united in the love of Christ."
"People enter community to be happy,they stay when they find
happiness comes from making others happy."
Everyday we receive phone calls, letters & emails from those who are
sick or have loved ones that are suffering, asking for our prayers,
which we are privileged to give, to offer in their name. Today
is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
One year after being shot & seriously wounded Blessed John Paul 11,
during his visit to Great Britain said: "I myself have had a share
in suffering, & known the physical weakness that comes with injury &
sickness. It is precisely because I have experienced suffering that
I am able to confirm with ever greater conviction that nothing at
all can ever separate us from the love of God. No disease, injury or
infirmity can ever deprive you of your dignity as children of God.
We often find in the Gospels the bonds of
affection between Jesus & the sick or disabled.
We believe in Christ's healing love, & we reaffirm that nothing will
separate us from that love.
Surely Jesus wishes to say: 'Be clean; be healed; be strong; be
May Our Lady of Perpetual Succour interceed for us, & place before
her Son all those we hold in
Whose feet will you wash today?
Jean Vanier tells us "To wash one anothers feet is a prayer. It
reveals our desire to forgive and be forgiven. To be, in humility,
of service. This act is a symbol & prophecy of the kingdom of God."
What service have
I offered my brothers & sisters today, however
small & insignificant, in love?
Before we sleep tonight we could all
ask ourselves "Whose feet have
I washed today?"
If Our Holy Founder, St Francis de Sales were here today, he would
be Twittering and Blogging! He is the Patron Saint of
Journalists, so was strong on communication and no doubt would be
using the modern means available to us today. Our friends, the
Anglican Sisters of Bethany, who take their Spirit and Rule from St
Francis de Sales, have just had an article printed in a local paper
about their 'Tweets'. Sr. Elizabeth Pio is their 'chief Tweeter',
and finds it an excellent way to spread the 'Good News' and 'keep in touch'.
Click on the picture opposite to read the article.
We are all precious. None of us are worthless. God has created each
one of us in His own image & likeness and therefore we are
priceless. From the moment of our conception we share, first
the womb of our mothers, then the life of our parents, and so it
goes on. By God's grace we are all capable of sharing, we all have
something to share:
"A wise woman who was travelling in the mountains found a precious
stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was
hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The
hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give
it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left,
rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was valuable enough
to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came
back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he
said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the
hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what
you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."
click on picture
15.6.12.Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
On Friday 11th June 1611, St Francis de Sales sent a letter to our
first three sisters, St. Jane Francis de Chantal, Sr. Jeanne
Charlotte de Brechard and Sr. Ann Jacqueline Favre. He told them
about an inspiration he had had about a coat of arms for the
Visitation Order. He suggested a heart pierced by two arrows,
surrounded by a crown of thorns. This inspiration became the design
for the seal
of every monastery of the Visitation.
More than 50 years later one of our sisters, St. Margaret Mary
Alocoque, received revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
at our monastery of Paray-le-Monial.
In the letter about our coat of arms, Our
Holy Founder said "Our little Congregation
is the work of the hearts of Jesus and Mary. The dying Saviour gave
birth to us through the wounds of His Sacred Heart."
"This Divine Heart is an
abyss filled with all blessings
and into it the poor should submerge all their needs.
It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our
sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our
foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of
love to meet our every need."
St Margaret Mary
What a wonderful weekend we have
just shared with the whole of Great
and around the world. The
weather didn't prevent people waiting
for hours to catch
a glimpse of the
Queen passing by. The Pageantry,
splendour, colourful flags and
warm-hearted crowds all made it an unforgettable occasion. We
& bunting up too and amid the
we offered many prayers
for our dear
Queen and for all the
We feel proud to be British.
Aged 23 years, Queen Elizabeth ll
made a vow to serve
and her country all her
See opposite. On this Jubilee weekend
she renewed those vows.
During the next few days we shall be
joining millions of people all
world in celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. What an
example of dedication
and service she has been for us, what an
inspiration to so many. We ask God's
blessing on her and all the Royal
family and continue to pray the words of our National Anthem, "Happy &
Glorious, long to reign over us, God save the Queen."
So we may meet you on the Royal Barge during the Thames Pageant, at
the Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace or in St Pauls
Cathedral. Watch this space to find out what we got up to . . . .
31.5.12.Feast of the
Today, throughout our Order we keep
the Solemnity of the Visitation of Mary.
We have Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament all day, as we praise & thank
God for our holy Order, for our individual vocations & for the many
have each received. We hold before God, through the intercession of
Mary his Mother,
all those we have in our hearts, all those
who have asked our prayers.
"To receive the Holy Spirit you must be still,
you must ask for Him, desire Him. On this
Feast of Love may this fire come into our
hearts to set us on fire." St Jane de Chantal
"It is a wonderful thing that this Divine Spirit does not hesitate
to dwell in us, therefore
we must be simple & ingenuous if we wish
the Holy Spirit to come to us." St
Francis de Sales
It is with great joy that today, under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, we have re-elected our dear Mother Jane Margaret as Superior
for this next triennial. May God bless her & our community as we
journey forward in love & hope, in joy & prayer.
Click opposite to share a beautiful May morning
here at the monastery.
Can you recognise the bird-song? The cuckoo must have a sore throat as he is singing non-stop! The
wind was rather strong.
Turn the sound up high.
Very early on Saturday morning we said goodbye to our dear friends
Sheila & her daughter Tara. They had come from the
United States to make a weeks retreat
with us in the monastery. It was a great
meet up with them again & to
renew the bonds of friendship.
Dreams make you who you are. They're not about the outside world,
they're about your contact with the universe, your contact with your
real self. We capture our dreams, that 'special place' where we go,
we search & we discover another realm of being. Some of us
'daydream', all of us dream at night though we may not remember it.
Every dream is important, it is your hopes & dreams that shape you,
shape your future & the road you will take in life. Click on
the picture opposite.
As you will see we have now added a Vocation Page to the
Website. Many are
searching to find their vocation in life; some
see if the stirrings
of their heart could be
the Lord's invitation to follow
Him more closely
in the Monastic Religious Life. Ask Our Lady
this month of May to 'make a secret visitation
to your heart.'