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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 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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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”.

#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 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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15 1

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”.

#SisterReginaComicStrip
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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 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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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 Toledo, Ohio. Each week we will pray for 6 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

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”.

#SisterReginaComicStrip
...

27 1

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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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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Remember man, thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return

Thanks to COVID-19, receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday will, like many other customs we've grown familiar with, be done differently this year, according to safety protocols given by the Holy See.

This can be a good thing: a noticeably altered tangible act that puts us outside our 'old familiar' comfort zone of how we mark the start of Lent. We notice more around us whenever we are uncomfortable. Pay attention. Perhaps, like the virus itself and the heartache and havoc it has wreaked across the globe, we will focus on the same words we will hear regardless of how the ashes are distributed. Dust. Dirt. We come from the earth...humus. Our bodies will return there when we too die. When we acknowledge this, remembering who and what we are, creatures of God and not gods, it humbles us. Then glancing ahead to Easter we also remember who we are, who we belong to, and what we were made for: God and Heaven.

Yes, we will return to dust. But a Loving God is also asking us, yearning for us, to live in such a way amid this earthly dust, that we will live forever in joy with him eternally.

Happy Lent! Repent and Rejoice! Our God is a Merciful God!

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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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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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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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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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All God’s Creatures Got a Place In The Choir

Do you remember singing, “All God’s Creatures Got A Place In The Choir?” Yes, everything and every little thing was indeed made by God for a purpose even when we can’t know precisely why that is. In Heaven, adoring God in the Beatific vision, it’s unlikely that we will feel the need to ask, “Lord, why did you create the lady bugs that bite and stink and aren’t so lady like?” But we can practice now being grateful for them. After all, they do eat aphids and are fairly cute.

Being grateful even for things we can’t understand, or even like, is wonderful preparation. Preparation for what? Growing in holiness. Joyful gratitude is the hallmark of the Saints. So next time you want to complain about those little bugs, thank God for them instead.

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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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Gertrude gets her nom de plume and enters cartoon-land in the Sister Regina comic strip as Shadow’s new side-kick: SUNBEAM. We had plenty of suggestions, some more than once, but this one had a ring to it as we flesh out the feline dynamic duo of the squirrel wars. Here’s just some that were submitted:

Samson

Sunny

Lily

Rose

Sunshine

Misty

Lightfoot

Flame

Sunbeam

Light

Cuddles

Trudy

Gertrude is steadily growing, gaining weight and trying out various speeds racing around the cell she occupies after her toys, insects, and anything else she wants to chase. Despite her small size she can hit the ground with an impact that sounds like a human and, despite our best efforts, we smile in distraction as we detect her barreling across the floor just above the Mass Chapel. More than once a Handmaid has heard various thumps and bumps and wondered if a plumber or other contractor might be fixing something in the cell above Chapel and then realize, “Oh, its just Gertrude…all 7 pounds of her.” Look out wood-eating rodents!

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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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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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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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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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You know it’s Advent When the Masks are Violet

It’s beginning to look like Advent. A simple wreath. A different breviary. Different hymns. No Gloria. Violet vestments. Ah yes, and violet masks. There was some joking when masks and lock downs began in earnest earlier this historic year that we all hoped we wouldn’t have to see masks in Advent. But Covid-19 seems determined to stay around into 2021.

Are you going to let that be a determining factor in the joy of the upcoming season of anticipation and expectation as we prayerfully await the coming of the Infant King? If Mary and Joseph didn’t let a census take away their joy as they prepared to welcome Jesus, then we don’t have to either. As inconvenient as it was, they saw readily the Hand of God in the matter and trusted. That trust didn’t diminish the trials and dangers they faced. It meant God was with them through it all and quite literally in fact. Think about it. Do you feel helpless in the face of this pandemic and unrest? Who is more helpless than a babe in the womb? Jesus was right there with Joseph and Mary in every difficulty. Just as he is with us. He is “God with us” Emmanuel.

O Come O Come Emmanuel!

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Ever feel like prayer 'didn't work'?

It's difficult to describe prayer. Imagine the near impossibility of conveying in mere human language what transpires between God and a soul. The cartoon may help disabuse some folks of the notion that nuns have prayer come easy to them or that prayer is only for priests and nuns and not everyone else.

The truth is that not only are all called to an intimate prayer life with the Almighty, but also that achieving this union with the Trinity really isn't an 'achievement' at all. It's a gift. We don't do it. We can't schedule it. We are expected to do our part to cooperate with the grace that God gives in growing in holiness, but it is never solely our doing.

Prayer is communication with God but often we need to remind ourselves that listening to him in silence is far more important than whatever we tell him.

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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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Sister Regina Comic StripLearn more

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