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This Week's Priests

This week we are praying in a special way for the priests of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. Each week we will pray for 6 specific priests until we will have prayed for all the priests in that diocese. Please join us! Learn more about our priest chalkboard here: https://nunsforpriests.org/our-priest-chalkboard/ #priestchalkboard ...

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O Lord, can I go back to bed? Monastics follow a set schedule of prayer, work, and rest. But it isn’t always an even balance. Sometimes we get tired and behind in sleep, not surprisingly, with a life that deliberately includes regular nocturnal adoration. While the heart may soar before the Blessed Sacrament the body may understandably sag for want of slumber. In such cases, it can be forgiven that one may wish the day to move a little faster (towards Sacred Silence and bedtime, that is) and perhaps subliminally open the prayer book not to Morning Offering that starts the day but the Prayer for Daily Neglects that ends it. Even nuns can have wishful thinking….and coffee. https://nunsforpriests.org #sisterreginacomicstrip ...

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Our Priest ChalkboardLearn more

This week we are praying in a special way for the priests of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. Each week we will pray for 6 specific priests until we will have prayed for all the priests in that diocese. Please join us! Learn more about our priest chalkboard here: https://nunsforpriests.org/our-priest-chalkboard/ #priestchalkboard ...

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O Lord, can I go back to bed? Monastics follow a set schedule of prayer, work, and rest. But it isn’t always an even balance. Sometimes we get tired and behind in sleep, not surprisingly, with a life that deliberately includes regular nocturnal adoration. While the heart may soar before the Blessed Sacrament the body may understandably sag for want of slumber. In such cases, it can be forgiven that one may wish the day to move a little faster (towards Sacred Silence and bedtime, that is) and perhaps subliminally open the prayer book not to Morning Offering that starts the day but the Prayer for Daily Neglects that ends it. Even nuns can have wishful thinking….and coffee. https://nunsforpriests.org #sisterreginacomicstrip ...

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This week we’ll be praying in a special way for the priests of the @phoenixdiocese . Each week we will pray for 6 specific priests until we have prayed for all of the priests in the diocese. Please join us! @BishopOlmsted
@bishopnevares
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In The Full Habit and Scapular

The transition to monastic life isn't accomplished in one day or even one year. The Church in her wisdom demands no less than nine years of formation for a cloistered nun. The more today's secular culture is at variance with the religious life, the steeper the learning curve, not just spiritually but physically as well. Different schedules, food, prayers, study, recreation, even clothing must be adapted to. As a candidate progresses along her formation journey, her garb will not only have some symbolic meaning in the consecrated life but also change incrementally to permit physical adjustment. Our cartoon this week draws from the experiences of many a new novice learning to pray, work, and play with a full length scapular.

The garment serves as a symbol of consecrated religious being yoked to Christ. That's another way of saying it can represent the Cross willingly carried on the shoulders of the nun. It can also serve as the source of a few holy laughs as it inadvertently finds itself in use as a dish towel, tripping device, floor mat, car door flag (as it dangles out the closed door in traffic) until one learns the attention to detail it requires in being aware of the scapular's location relative to the body. "Did I just shut the window on my scapular front?" "Am I sitting on my scapular back?" "Where is my scapular hanging this moment?" As a sister learns this practical sensitivity, she can perhaps more easily ask very often, "Where is the Cross Jesus is asking me to carry for his priests right now? What work am I doing yoked to Christ this instant?"

Who knew a few square feet of fabric could bring one closer to Christ?

#SisterReginaComicStrip
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This week we are praying in a special way for the priests of the Diocese of Beaumont. Each week we will pray for 4 specific priests until we have prayed for all of the priests in the diocese. Please join us!

Learn more about our priest chalkboard here: https://nunsforpriests.org/our-priest-chalkboard/

#priestchalkboard
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Meus maxime mortificatsio est vita communis. In English, “My greatest mortification is community life.” Saint John Berchmans

While that can be true, so can a surprising contrast, “Community life is my greatest joy.”
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Our Comic Strip

O Lord, can I go back to bed? Monastics follow a set schedule of prayer, work, and rest. But it isn’t always an even balance. Sometimes we get tired and behind in sleep, not surprisingly, with a life that deliberately includes regular nocturnal adoration. While the heart may soar before the Blessed Sacrament the body may understandably sag for want of slumber. In such cases, it can be forgiven that one may wish the day to move a little faster (towards Sacred Silence and bedtime, that is) and perhaps subliminally open the prayer book not to Morning Offering that starts the day but the Prayer for Daily Neglects that ends it. Even nuns can have wishful thinking….and coffee. https://nunsforpriests.org #sisterreginacomicstrip ...

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In The Full Habit and Scapular

The transition to monastic life isn't accomplished in one day or even one year. The Church in her wisdom demands no less than nine years of formation for a cloistered nun. The more today's secular culture is at variance with the religious life, the steeper the learning curve, not just spiritually but physically as well. Different schedules, food, prayers, study, recreation, even clothing must be adapted to. As a candidate progresses along her formation journey, her garb will not only have some symbolic meaning in the consecrated life but also change incrementally to permit physical adjustment. Our cartoon this week draws from the experiences of many a new novice learning to pray, work, and play with a full length scapular.

The garment serves as a symbol of consecrated religious being yoked to Christ. That's another way of saying it can represent the Cross willingly carried on the shoulders of the nun. It can also serve as the source of a few holy laughs as it inadvertently finds itself in use as a dish towel, tripping device, floor mat, car door flag (as it dangles out the closed door in traffic) until one learns the attention to detail it requires in being aware of the scapular's location relative to the body. "Did I just shut the window on my scapular front?" "Am I sitting on my scapular back?" "Where is my scapular hanging this moment?" As a sister learns this practical sensitivity, she can perhaps more easily ask very often, "Where is the Cross Jesus is asking me to carry for his priests right now? What work am I doing yoked to Christ this instant?"

Who knew a few square feet of fabric could bring one closer to Christ?

#SisterReginaComicStrip
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Meus maxime mortificatsio est vita communis. In English, “My greatest mortification is community life.” Saint John Berchmans

While that can be true, so can a surprising contrast, “Community life is my greatest joy.”
...

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Vocations News: Coping with COVID-19 and Come and Sees
Yes, 2020 has been quite a year. We managed to get in a couple visits with inquiring women before COVID became a byword and seeming harbinger of all that could go wrong with the year 2020. By lockdown in March it was hoped a few weeks would be sufficient to dispel the plague of 2020. Now, as fall approaches with lifts and more lock downs and Advent promises to arrive quickly, many wouldn’t be blamed for thinking things will never get back to ‘normal’. Even the phrase ‘new normal’ really can’t fit this strange culture of permanent distancing and sanitization. And yet...who really defines normal?
Take the normal process of discerning a vocation to the religious life. Correspondence, a building relationship, an in person visit or visits (Come and See) to experience a little bit of the life, further education and learning, entrance....etc. All the predictable steps that were standard now have a virus template to adapt to. And with our limited capacity to communicate via the internet in our neck of the woods, video meetings over a computer wouldn’t be just another strange hurdle to learn, they would be cost prohibitive given our data caps. You would think with this new COVID-19 ’normal’ that, between social distancing and communications obstacles, we would have to forego welcoming inquirers, candidates, and aspirants. But who really defines normal? God. He can work around EVERYTHING.
So this fall and God willing, into the new year as well, we’ve scheduled women for Come and See experiences, suitably adapted to the precautions of coronavirus. We plan on sharing lots of information and communication in both directions....just not any germs or viruses! It demands creativity, flexibility, and ingenuity. Perhaps we can add the live video stuff someday but for now, God’s providing! #sisterreginacomicstrip
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Groaning Inwardly

Sometimes it seems that many people are focused more on their comfort here in time than in the hereafter. It pays to remember that life is indeed short and eternity long. And the prospect of Heaven’s rewards can be forgotten against the threat of the pains of hell. But thinking of redemption, a redemption that will one day include our resurrected bodies, is no small consolation amid the groans (both inward and outward) that accompany life and aging. In fact, staying focused on following the Lord as he guides us closer to himself for all eternity, makes offering up all our aches and pains not only easier but can transform the offering into an occasion of joy.

Be joyful whether your groans can be heard or not!

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When You Make Assumptions About Cats

Any cat owner knows that they are their own creatures and, when not in direct observation, we truly cannot know exactly what they are doing. And often, the adage about ignorance being bliss, is proven true. We recently shared photos of dust prints of Gunther's paws tracking along the very top of the thin iron railing on the second floor, perhaps 15 feet above ground.

This helped inspire this week's cartoon but even before the coloring was finished, during dinner in the refectory, Gunther decided this time to display his talents with an audience present. Climbing up to the library level, he jumped up on a support post atop the stairs and began to ascend to the railing top. When chastised verbally he responded dutifully by turning around and perching himself ever so precariously on the post top, the flat surface of which is about 2 inches by 2 inches...15 feet about his likely impact point if he fell. He's a large cat so that's not a big platform on which to sit. Oh, and he was looking UP looking for more ways to climb. But, to display his prompt obedience to Mother, he thought sliding down the flat banister rail would be the fastest way to reach her. Fortunately, she scaled the stairs before he could do this and encouraged him to use the stairs like we do. And he did.

So, how does this relate to anything spiritual? First, God has a sense of humor (and we think cats do too). Second, it is really true we mustn't judge by outward appearances only. Far more goes on in another's life than we can ever witness. For people, we could miss the sanctity walking all around us and judge only by what we see. For felines? It's anyone's guess but they are obliged to live by their motto, "Curiosity killed the cat, and satisfaction brought it back."

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A PRIEST FOREVER

This week we simply want to share our prayers of gratitude to God for the ordination to the priesthood of Father Matthew Donahue for the Diocese of Knoxville! Without priests, we can’t have the Eucharist so we are indebted to each and every priest. May our Lord raise up many more shepherds for his flock.
Deo Gratias!

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Eucharistic Revival
The USCCB is organizing a multiyear effort to revive the experience of the Eucharist in the life of the Catholic Church in America. Note the word "experience". It's crucial. While there must necessarily be a complete re-education on the Source and Summit of our Faith, knowing about the Eucharist won't be enough. Lived CONTACT with the Real Presence will cement the facts that we learn with our brains into fully formed Faith and formed consciences in the soul.

Arguments and wasteful fights about who deserves to receive Communion ought to fall by the wayside as each Catholic, in experiencing Christ truly present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, recognizes that none of us are worthy. But his Mercy allows us to repent, amend our ways, and reverently approach to receive the Gift that is never to be viewed as a "right". If anything, a successful revival will deeply inculcate in disciples that it is God's rights that matter most. Can anyone claim we haven't been trampling on those rights?

We must experience the Eucharist. Take a page out of Blessed Charles de Foucauld's prayer book. Oh, how his life changed when he entered a Church long after losing his childhood faith and prayed, "Dear God, if you exist make me know you!" God answered in spades! We go, kneel, look, expose our souls to Our Lord exposed in the monstrance and pray, "Dear Jesus, if you are truly present here, make me know you!" We expect nothing but allow him to flood our entire being with his loving gaze. And we keep doing this regularly. Calloused knees can be good for the soul. Time 'wasted' with Jesus bears only good fruit EVERYWHERE else as it gently draws us closer to him in all the other Sacraments, especially Confession.

This revival is not about numbers, Church attendance, or tithing. It is about relearning the truth of Jesus' Real Presence and our response in all aspects of our lives.

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GAMES CHILDREN PLAY

Some may remember playing Mass as children and felt the first vocational stirrings quite young. Such games could point to a future priest or religious or simply implant a respect for those called to that life.

Handmaids of the Precious Blood are called to a particular way of life as nuns giving our lives to Christ for the sake of his priests. We pray and sacrifice for the entire world but have a charism focusing on the sanctification of priests. Each of these men stand in the person of Christ and are ‘alter Christus’ - other Christs. God wants the cooperation of priests in the work of redemption and that is best achieved when they are holy priests.

Saint John Paul II often reminded us that without the Eucharist there is no Church, without our priests there is no Eucharist.

What’s at stake if a priest has no one to pray and sacrifice for him? If we lose the priest. We lose Jesus. And the Church. And that’s not “child’s play”.

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Make a plan and God laughs, right? There is a converse rule of thumb too. Make a plan that is NOT God's and be miserable. Despite appearances to the contrary among the elite, celebrities, and the lives of the rich and famous, have you ever personally met someone who got "everything they ever wanted" apart from God to be truly joyful, content, peaceful and satisfied?

What a blessing it is that WITH JESUS we already have everything we can want or need - even amid the trials, difficulties, persecutions, poverty etc., that may never have been part of "our" plans! God's plans for us are always the best.
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With Their Own Devices Be Glutted

Proverbs 1:20-33 gives us subject matter for this week’s cartoon as we once again find eternal truths in the Old Testament that still apply today since they are not so much about eras and epochs as they are about our fallen human nature. In this chapter of Proverbs, Wisdom, portrayed as a person, warns all those who choose Folly what will happen to them - God will give them precisely what they chose, Folly, and all its logical consequences.

We pray that in today’s world all technological devices be used with wisdom and prudence and that all use leads to Divine Wisdom.

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Clothed in Holiness and Ringing Out Joy

Cf Psalm 132 “Your priests shall be clothed with holiness: your faithful shall ring out their joy.”

In the breviary the psalms are presented so as to promote antiphonal chant by two choirs. On the breviary page a psalm may look different from what one will find in a Bible. The layout of the sentences, the grammar, and punctuation are adapted to suit the singing in choir.

It is also useful to note the colon in the verse cited above. Priests clothed with holiness. Faithful ringing out their joy. As presented on the breviary page, these are not separate sentences. They are related concepts. Got holy priests? Then we will be joyful. Likewise, got a joyful, faithful flock? Then we will raise up holy priests…and joyful ones at that!

We remain tremendously blessed to witness priests joyful and holy in their priesthood such that we can dare a cartoon on a liturgical slip that brought lighthearted smiles some years back. Priests carry heavy burdens and unique crosses and it is our vocation to pray and sacrifice for their sanctification. At times, in the unexpected moments of humor, God may be letting us know, “This one is clothed with holiness, ring out your joy!

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Seriously? Bambi is the Enemy?

We recently had a treat at Cor Jesu when a doe decided to have her fawn in our backyard and took to setting it’s hiding place just off our porch. We were touched that she chose to do this near the Holy Family statues. Between the Bambi fawn in the rocks and the fledgling mourning doves on the second deck we felt the animal kingdom was a bit closer and we were delighted that they felt safe enough to raise their wee ones under our noses. Gunther had other thoughts, though. While he is an excellent watcher of lightning bugs, we don’t think he’s ever seen a fawn before and he wasn’t quite sure this beast was friendly. He also kept an eye on the doe…just in case she brought another fawn along.

Mom and Bambi have continued to stick around and the little one seems big enough now to tag along with Mom on her feedings.

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The Lord is my Shepherd and the one I want

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. If you had everything you needed and wanted - could you hope for anything more? Would that mean you had no troubles? Having hope doesn't mean having no problems. It means you can trust the One to handle your problems and never abandon you in them. You shall not want for what? You shall not want for his presence, his love, his safety, his protection and guidance. The Good Shepherd didn't say we wouldn't have trouble (he said just the opposite) but we would always have him and he is the One who has overcome the world. This is the Shepherd we want with all our hearts.

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The Truth Will Set You Free

Freedom is a gift we must acknowledge gratefully and protect and cherish properly so that it is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It must be a means to the flourishing of life and the life of society. As simply an end in itself, an absolute freedom to do anything will feed decay in society and eventually lead into anarchy. True freedom is selfless and sacrificing, just like love.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is he, the Truth, that gives us true freedom.

[Cf John 8:31-32 “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Cf John 14:6 “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”]

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Distractions

Everyone has to deal with distractions. They can be especially irksome when one expects to be in a distraction-free environment. But they can also provide for ample humor and a lesson that can sometimes be forgotten: in religious life a sense of humor is not just helpful….it is a necessity.

A sometimes idealized setting can be what people think a monastery should be. Visions are conjured up of beautiful medieval architecture, and focused, serene, deeply echoing silence broken only by exquisitely executed polyphonic chant. But in our East Tennessee hills, our current chapel is actually rather small and at our community prayer times it’s filled with our recto-tonal chant competing with sounds of the allergic reactions of coughs and sneezes, the dehumidifier pump, the hot water tank, the bathroom, the pitch pipe (keeping us on key)…and the cat in the cell just above the Chapel ceiling.

Gertrude (or Sunbeam as she’s known in cartoon land) is a creature of habit, as are nuns. She has learned our schedule well and often times her best play periods coincide with Lauds and Vespers. We can often tell precisely where she is in the cell and sometimes exactly what toy she’s gotten a hold of. It can be a challenge to keep a straight face singing “all you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord” as she’s galloping after a toy she’s just sent scraping across the floor at high speed.

Then we remember that we can smile and may smile and should smile at this little gift of feline paws thundering over our heads because this is how that animal praises the Lord - by being the cat she was designed to be. The hunter and stalker all rolled into a ball of cute fluff simply ‘playing’. Oh yes, and she’s chased her first squirrel off leash…another thing God designed her for. So…Go Gertrude, Go!

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Little Sacrifices with Great Love

There are many great events to celebrate in August but our cartoon this week focuses on Saint Maximilian Kolbe on the 80th anniversary of his martyrdom . Yet it still is connected to the next day’s feast, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Kolbe saw how she did everything, no matter how small, as an act of tremendous love. And he taught his many friars that as well as demonstrating it in his own witness.

Many of our friends and benefactors may not see themselves as the generous souls they really are, But, as is often the case, we know of the great love behind each gift. Once again we raise our prayers of gratitude for the known and unknown donors who are able to assist us. Please always be assured of our prayers.

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A LIFE POURED OUT IN IMITATION OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi we find in the breviary this excerpt from the day's collect [special prayer for the day] “May we offer to our brothers and sisters a life poured out in loving service of that kingdom…”

This beautiful and arresting phrase “a life poured out” on the day of that great solemnity serves to help answer a question about the very name of our religious community.

Just why did our Founder call us Handmaids of the Precious Blood? With such a strong foundational element of our charism as Eucharistic adoration, why didn't he call us Handmaids of the Eucharist? Or, with our focus on the sanctification of priests, why not Handmaids of the Priesthood? Perhaps, because he desired to emphasize not so much who we were devoted to, but how we were to live out that devotion.

Yes, there would be a strident emphasis of the Eucharist and adoration but our Founder wanted that in ALL aspects of our religious life: prayer, work, rest, re-creation - all of it would be directed to the Eucharist but all of it had to be lived with unstinting generosity and alacrity to the Will of God. In other words, each Handmaid was to pour herself out completely, just like Christ shedding his Precious Blood on the Cross, holding nothing back.

So, if we are Handmaids of the Precious Blood, we are to offer our lives poured out in loving service of each other. In doing so, we fulfill the very last prayer intention chanted at the conclusion of each hour of the Divine Office:

"...and may the Precious Blood be glorified always in our lives. Amen!"

As we approach the month of July, the month dedicated to the Precious Blood, let us glorify the Most Precious Blood of Christ shed for us on the Cross.

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Gifts and Fruits

Sometimes it happens that people give gifts to each other they don't really want. They're thankful and polite, but then put them someplace on a shelf because they didn't want to give offense. Many little knick knacks, while representing small (but real) acts of kindness and charity, gather dust in this almost dormant way.

But what if the giver was God? Pentecost isn't just a Feast where we historically mark the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room. It's meant to help us recall the Gift of the Holy Spirit that we have already received. That we speak of this intangible munificence as seven separate gifts is more for our benefit, to try to wrap our heads around the unspeakable. That God, the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and wants to fill us with these magnificent gifts. And, surprise!...he expects us to do something with these gifts. They are to bear fruit. Even these are enumerated as twelve fruits. They are not to lie dormant and unused to wither and shrivel. They are to vivify.

If it seems impossible to understand the seven gifts and the twelve fruits or to witness their manifestation in souls, we only have to look at the Saints throughout the Church's history. They accepted and welcomed the Spirit, got out of the way, and let him operate in their lives.

If we notice dust collecting on the precious gifts that came to us in our lives, it's never to late to ask to Holy Spirit to clean things up and start bearing fruit again.

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