Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Joy/Fear Paradigm

OPNunsmenlo_Joy
“You know, people have a lot of misconceptions about nuns. For example, before I visited, I had no idea nuns were so joyful!”

This comment is often repeated by candidates and aspirants to our monastery. It is unfortunate that, for many people in our society, they think of nuns as old, dour-faced women who one day decided they couldn’t face life in the world any longer, so they shut themselves inside a building with walls. Yet, in a healthy religious community, the opposite is true. The monastery often contains women, young and young at heart, who love life, and love God and the world so much, they choose to spend their days praising God and praying for the world. There is an undercurrent of deep and contagious joy that often springs forth (especially for Dominicans – St. Dominic was known as the joyful friar everywhere he went and his children have inherited his joy). Why is this?

The Gospel on Sunday gives us some insight. It is the parable of the talents told by Jesus to His disciples. In the parable, two faithful servants who used wisely the talents their master entrusted to them. In response, the master told these two servants they were to share in his joy. But to the servant who acted out of fear and buried his talent, the master spoke harsh words with grave consequences.

OPNunsmenlo_Organ2

When we respond generously and use the talents and gifts God has entrusted to us according to His will for us, we too share in His joy.

Imagine the joy God has and sharing more fully in it! That’s not to say we won’t experience fear. No doubt the two faithful servants also knew of their master’s reputation. Yet they chose to not allow fear to keep them from prudently using their talents and multiplying them.

God knows we struggle with fear and how it can cripple us, often keeping us from seeking and following Him. Our first parents, Adam and Eve hid from Him in the Garden of Eden because they were afraid. God has told us in the Scriptures 365 times “Do not be afraid.” And finally, Jesus conquered fear in the Garden of Gethsemane when, in His agony over facing torture and death on a cross, He finished His prayer with these words: “Not my will, but Yours be done.” In that Garden, we see that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Do you have deep joy? Is there something in your life that you try to hide from God because you are afraid? Have you asked God how He wants you to use your talents and then taken steps to be faithful and do it?

If you think God might be calling you to religious life, prayer is the most important place to begin, and then reach out to others like priests and religious to help you in your discernment. It is also very beneficial to attend discernment opportunities like a vocation day or weekend with a religious community. You may click here to find out about our discernment day in January or to contact our vocation directress who is always happy to accompany you on your discernment journey.

Let us leave you with a beautiful mediation written by C.S. Lewis on the great risk of love...

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell". 

Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Being Surrounded By The Cloud of Witnesses!

OPNunsmenlo_Mass

-Mass with our Dominican Friars earlier this month-


As Dominicans we hold this month of all saints and all souls very special in our hearts and prayers.

Each year, in addition to celebrating the traditional All Saints with the people of God, we also celebrate All Dominican Saints on November 7th and offer Mass along with praying the Office of the Dead for all our deceased Brothers and Sisters of the Order of Preachers on November 8th. Needless to say, it is a blessing to be a Dominican and a comfort to know that after we finished our earthly pilgrimage, we are always being remembered by our Dominican family in thoughts and prayers throughout the world.

What do the Dominican saints and our deceased Dominican Brothers and Sisters have in common? We can easily make the connection. When we listen to the words of our brother Henri-Dominique Lacordaire as he described the lives of the Dominican saints in his essay on the Re-establishment in France of the Order of Preachers, we are reminded of the faithful lives of all our Brothers and Sisters who have gone to the Father's house before us.

…Like their Master all of them wanted to be poor at a time when the Church was rich, poor even to the extent of being beggars. All of them, like their Father, at a time when the Church was powerful, wanted to exercise only one kind of authority: the voluntary surrender of human minds to virtue. They did not say as the heretics did: "The Church must be despoiled!" But rather they despoiled the Church in themselves and by themselves…

They loved God, they loved God truly, they loved God above all else. They loved their neighbor as themselves and more than themselves. They had received in their hearts that wound which has made all the saints eloquent. In addition to this asset of a passionate soul, without which no orator has ever existed, the Friars Preachers showed considerable shrewdness in grasping the kind of preaching which was suited to their time…

Throughout the day as our community gathers in prayer for the needs of the world and to give praise and thanksgiving to the Living God, we are edified and encouraged by the witnesses of our brothers in sisters whose presence surrounds us. Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, it is easier to strive and run the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

OPNunsmenlo_ChoirThe Gothic splendor inside the nuns’ choir (chapel) with the stained glass windows of the Dominican Saints represented by their symbols.

 

OPNunsmenlo_Shield

 This shield represents Saint Peter of Verona who was felled by the assassins' sword after a long apostolic career and with the blood that flowed from his wounds wrote the first words of the Apostles' Creed on the ground, "I believe in God."

 

 

 OPNunsmenlo_Vault

 -Cloister of the Dead-

Beneath the Altar is the crypt where our beloved Sisters are buried and where we often visit and pray for them and for all the holy souls, especially during this month for souls.

 


OPNunsmenlo_AllSouls

 Each Sunday during November we offer the Mass for the Holy Souls whose names have been sent to us by their loved ones.

Deo Gratias!

Friday, November 14, 2014

From The “Bar” To The “Grille”!

OPNunsmenlo_SisterTara1

Exciting news!

You may have already guessed from the most recent pictures we’ve shared, but here is the long-awaited formal announcement.

On November 1st, the Solemnity of All Saints, Sister Tara entered the cloister as our newest Postulant!

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Sr. Tara obtained her law degree before entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. She completed her aspirancy in 2010, but was prevented from entering until her student loans were resolved.

We are so grateful for The Labouré Society, friends and benefactors, who helped resolve this hurdle so we could welcome Sr. Tara into our community at long last!

Here’s a beautiful reflection written by our Dominican friar, Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P. of Sister Tara’s entrance: http://blog.stdominics.org/2014/11/12/a-preachers-life-entrance-day/. The pictures below supplement his eloquent writing.

OPNunsmenlo_SisterTara2
Prayer and hymn with Dominican Friars and friends before Sister Tara's entrance into the enclosure


 Veil is Given

 Bestowal of the Rosary of our Lady


OPNunsmenlo_SisterTara6
 We rejoice and give thanks to God for his mercy because...there is one more nun in the middle of Silicon Valley and in the heart of the Church praying for our world!

Please join us in praying for many more vocations.

 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Our Novitiate Art Class 101

To all who are passionately dedicated
to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty
so that through their creative work as artists
they may offer these as gifts to the world
.
-Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists

110_1143

This past Sunday, our young Sisters and aspirants in the Novitiate (formation) spent a day relaxing and exploring their gift of craftsmanship!  Even though this was their first art class, and with no previous knowledge about painting or art, the group enjoyed themselves greatly and produced beautiful and unique paintings according to each one's creativity and imagination.

The Novitiate would like our friends to guess who painted which pictures below:
110_1146-2

110_1148-2

110_1156
110_1160

What does art have to do with our vocation?  Listen to our beloved Saint Pope John Paul II in his letter addressed to artists:

Through his “artistic creativity” man appears more than ever “in the image of God”, and he accomplishes this task above all in shaping the wondrous “material” of his own humanity and then exercising creative dominion over the universe which surrounds him. With loving regard, the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power.

...That is why artists, the more conscious they are of their “gift”, are led all the more to see themselves and the whole of creation with eyes able to contemplate and give thanks, and to raise to God a hymn of praise. This is the only way for them to come to a full understanding of themselves, their vocation and their mission.

Deo Gratias!