Friday, August 15, 2014

"Hail, Our Hope!"

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"Mary lifted herself up to such lofty heights of heaven that the Word reached down from the highest pinnacle of heaven and took her in" (Ambrose Autpert)


In his beautiful meditation on the Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus Liguori recounted that John Gerson, the High Chancellor of Paris believes that the kingdom of God consists of justice and mercy based on his meditation of the psalm "These two things have I heard, that power belongeth to God, and mercy to thee, O Lord." While the Lord reserved the kingdom of justice for himself, he has given Mary the kingdom of mercy and ordained that all the mercies that are given to humankind must pass through the hands of Mary. This belief was also confirmed by St. Thomas in his Preface to the Canonical Epistles, stating that: "the holy Virgin, when she conceived the divine Word in her womb, and brought him forth, obtained the half of the kingdom of God by becoming queen of mercy, Jesus Christ remaining king of justice."
 
As poor banished children of Eve, it is our consolation and joy to constantly call upon the name of Mary who is our Mother, our Queen, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! It is of no surprise that the Order of Preachers whose mission it is to preach the Word of God for the salvation of souls entrust ourselves very fervently to this tender and merciful Queen through unceasing prayers and each night when we make procession to the shrine of Mary while singing the Salve Regina. The following narrates the vision of how our Blessed Virgin appeared to our Founder, St. Dominic in prayer and revealed her protection over the Order.

One night, after prolonging his prayers until midnight, Dominic left the church and came to the dormitory, where he completed what he had come to do and, taking his place at one end of the dormitory, continued to pray. As he stood praying, he glanced at the other end of the dormitory and saw three beautiful women enter, but noticed that the one in the middle was a venerable lady far more beautiful and dignified than the other two. One of them was carrying a beautiful, shining vessel and the other an aspersorium which she handed to the lady in the center, who went from bed to bed sprinkling the brethren with holy water and blessing them. As she went along in this way, she passed by one of the brethren without sprinkling him or blessing him. Blessed Dominic observed this and took note of the brother they had neglected. Then rising from his prayer and walking as far as the lamp which hung from the middle of the dormitory, he fell at the lady’s feet and began to entreat her to tell him who she was, although he already knew. At that time the beautiful and devotional antiphon Salve Regina was not being sung but only recited kneeling, by the brothers and sisters in Rome. When the lady answered, she said to Blessed Dominic: “I am the one you call upon in the evening. When you say, ‘Turn therefore most gracious advocate thine eyes of mercy toward us,’ I prostrate myself before my Son and ask him to preserve this Order.” Then Blessed Dominic asked her about her companions. “One is Cecilia and the other Catherine,” she answered. After that Blessed Dominic inquired about the brother she had passed by as she had sprinkled and blessed all the others. “Because he was not properly disposed,” she said. After this she continued to sprinkle and bless all the others and then disappeared.

When she was gone Blessed Dominic returned to pray in the place he stood before. Suddenly he was rapt in spirit before God and saw our Lord and the Blessed Virgin sitting at his right. It seemed to Blessed Dominic that our Lady was wearing a cape of bright blue, the color of sapphire. As Blessed Dominic looked around, he could see religious of all the orders but his own around the throne of God, so that he began to weep bitterly and stood far away, not daring to approach the Lord and His mother. Then our Lady motioned for him to come near. But he would not dare, until our Lord Himself also called him. Then Blessed Dominic cast himself before them weeping bitterly. But our Lord told him to rise, and when he did, our Lord asked him, “Why are you weeping so?” “I am weeping because I see all the other orders here but no sign of my own.” And the Lord said to him, “Do you want to see your Order?” and he answered, “Yes, Lord.” Then our Lord, putting his hand upon the shoulders of the Blessed Virgin, said to Blessed Dominic, “I have entrusted your Order to my Mother.” Then he asked him again, “Do you still wish to see your Order?” and again he answered “Yes, Lord.” Then the Blessed Virgin opened the cape which covered her and spread it out before Blessed Dominic, to whom it seemed vast enough to cover the entire heaven and, under it, he saw a large multitude of the brethren. Then prostrating himself, Blessed Dominic gave thanks to God and to Blessed Mary his Mother. After that the vision disappeared and he returned to himself just as the bell rang for Matins.

When Matins were over, he called the brethren to chapter and gave them a long and beautiful talk, exhorting them to love and pay reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Among other things he related this vision to them.
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Hand Embroidered Vestment of Mary's Patronage over the Order with gold threads by our sisters at the monastery

 


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O Mary, open the gate of heaven to us...You have its keys! (St. Ambrose)


Monday, August 4, 2014

A Not-So-Ordinary Summer At The Monastery!


If you have been following our blog and Facebook, you will know the details about our effort to promote a culture of vocations and the exceptional responses we’ve experienced, but for those who have not, it all began with the “Come and See Weekend” we held in January for thirteen young women who came searching to know what God is asking of them.

With further contact and interviews, two of these women who came to this discernment weekend and two other women pursued the process of Aspirancy where they had an opportunity to live within the enclosure to further discern their vocation to the Dominican contemplative life in our monastery. The aspirants arrived for First Vespers on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Their first day in the monastery began with a beautiful sung liturgy, enhanced by the presence of our Dominican Laity members and eighteen friars in attendance, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

Festivities followed and the aspirants quickly learned about the special spirit of Dominican family that pervades our monastery.

Choir Practice with our organist, Brother Thomas Aquinas O.P. for Corpus Christi Sunday Celebration
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This was not the end. Many other women who could not come for the full weekend in January, because of either short notice or previous engagements, continued their contact with our vocation directress Sr. Joseph Marie and repeatedly expressed their need to deeply search and discern their vocation. In response to their request, another mini discernment day was organized.

We began with our 8:00 a.m. Mass celebrated by the vocation director of the Western Province, Fr. Steven Maekawa, O.P.  After a short break, introductions were made and conferences followed on Religious Life and the Discernment Process, Dominican Monastic Life and Dominican Spirituality. Personal vocation stories followed and a question and answer period. Thirty women crowded into the parlor area for these presentations. We prayed the Office and recited the Rosary together and after a light luncheon, the day concluded with Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

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Vocation Day 2014

The women were encouraged to have a spiritual director as part of their discernment process. Another important factor is to have a good support system. The inquirers hunger for like-minded companions and treasure the opportunity to maintain a frequent line of communication with our vocation directress.

Brother Thomas Aquinas, O.P., a tremendously gifted student brother of our Province, offered to give us three lectures entitled “St. Thomas Aquinas on the Virtue of Religion” as part of our ongoing formation. Besides being a very skilled organist, he is an avid teacher at heart.
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Some of our many visitors this summer included Fr. Dominic Joseph Bump, O.P. of the Eastern Province who covered for our Chaplain during their Province Assembly, Fr. Peter Hannah, O.P. of the Western Province who came to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving after his Ordination, and Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., from our Western Province who provided us with a special Retreat geared to discerning, developing and using our spiritual gifts (our charisms). The basic format was taken from the workbook entitled: “The Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory” by Sherry Weddell, published by the Catherine of Siena Institute, a program of the Western Dominican Province.  If you wish to learn about your charisms, you may check out the resources available at: http://www.siena.org/Called-Gifted/called-a-gifted

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After Mass of Thanksgiving and first blessing, Fr. Peter (center), Fr. Dominic and our Dominican Friars visited with the nuns in the parlor
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Fr. Dominic Joseph Bump, O.P., a true Marian Friar, giving class to the Novitiate and candidates

We continue to live in the “drought” mode, saving water wherever and whenever possible. We’ve had to minimize all planting this year but on the brighter side, this has provided us a new opportunity to custom landscape some areas that needed attention. Thanks to our benefactor crew of Stanford students, they have now taken to heart the task of lightening and brightening our garden area.

Gardening Day 1
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Gardening Day 36

Thank You Catholic Community of Stanford!

Deo Gratias!