Queen of the May

Our May Crowning was on May 8 this year–Mother’s Day.

Sr. Mary Christine crowning Our Lady of the Pines with a beautiful crown of real flowers

Some of you may be aware that during May, our Monastery has a May Novena. And it’s not too late to send in your intentions! Please feel free to email them to us, and we will include them in our novena prayers throughout this month.

May Our Lady bless you in a very special way this month!

A Life for the World: Sr. Mary Thomas, O.P.

How did you find out about the Monastery?

I was a Texas History teacher, and I got assigned to a new classroom. I was hunting through some old Texas travel magazines and found an article on the Monastery.

How did you decide to become a nun?

I was teaching in an inner city school, lots of problems. I wanted so much to help but nothing really worked. I realized that I could help them more by praying for them in the Monastery. That’s one of the special charisms of the Dominican nuns–we pray for those preaching in the world, and that includes teaching.

What is the best thing about being a nun at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus?

Aside from the wonderful prayer life, I have to say I was very attracted by the diversity in our Monastery. We have sisters from the United States and from all over the world. It really makes you aware of the universality of the Catholic Church, and our place in it as nuns.

What advice would you give to anyone discerning a vocation right now?

Pray a lot! And, do research on religious communities, by going online, by reading, by visiting and talking with the communities. There’s such an incredible variety out there, each one with a unique spirit and a special charism. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

A Life for the World: Sr. Mary Rose, O.P.

Sr. Mary Rose graciously agreed to share some insights with us! Read on for more!

How did you find our about the Monastery of the Infant Jesus?

My parents knew the nuns. I grew up here in Lufkin, and we often visited the monastery.

How did you decide to become a nun?

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a nun…but when I got into high school, I thought maybe I’d rather get married instead! I went to college and worked for a while, and met someone I really liked. But I realized there was a desire in my heart that only God could satisfy. So I entered the monastery, and I’ve been here ever since.

What are some of the best things about being a nun at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus?

First I have to mention the fact that we have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every day. That’s a great privilege. The nuns here have a joyful spirit, and we take our Dominican life very seriously. And of course, the grounds are beautiful!

What advice would you give to anyone discerning a vocation right now?

Spend time in prayer. I have a special devotion to the rosary, but you can pray any prayers you like. Go to daily Mass if possible. A retreat can be a good opportunity to get some quiet time alone with God and listen more closely to His voice. And, of course, visit monasteries! Looking at social media and reading literature is great, but there’s nothing like coming for a personal visit. You really get to know the community and experience their unique spirit and the way they live their particular charism.

Intrigued? Want more information? Please contact us by email, phone, or snail mail–all the info is here on the blog!

A Question for You

First we want to address young women.

Have you ever considered a religious vocation? More specifically, to the cloistered monastic life?

And then for everyone else:

Do you know a young woman who might make a good cloistered nun? Have you ever considered asking her about this?

Although some lucky people know almost from the beginning what they want to do with their lives, many of us here at the monastery were influenced by someone who suggested the idea of a cloistered vocation. That doesn’t mean we were necessarily happy to hear it, at the time! Our society definitely looks askance at people who voluntarily give up good jobs, prospects of marriage and children and a sense of independence to become cloistered nuns. And yet, many of those who were asked inquired–and tried it out–and liked it–and stayed. True, it’s not a call for everyone, but there are probably many people who are unaware God is calling them. (Or they’re trying not to listen, but that’s another story!)

Dominican cloistered religious life is a radical way of serving God and our fellow human beings. Instead of tending the sick, teaching, working for social justice, and other good causes, we devote our lives to prayer for the salvation of the world. While these active ministries are good and necessary, there needs to be a balance of concentrated prayer to help all those working in the world do their jobs better. And there are so many people in the world who don’t pray, who don’t know God, who have never encountered Christ. We pray for them to be led to the truth according to God’s plan for them.

We plan to have a series on Dominican cloistered vocations, which will include special topics of interest as well as interviews with Dominican nuns. We hope you will pray for us to make this series happen! Please pray, too, that the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts of young women and encourage them to investigate further. We have some good prospects right now, and we’d love to add more! Know that we are always praying for you, our readers, too. Thank you for your support!

Be My Valentine…Anytime

OK, it’s been a week, but the whole month of February is usually dedicated to the loving feelings of Valentine’s Day. At the Monastery, we don’t give valentines to each other, but sometimes people give us valentines! We were surprised and delighted with the Valentine’s Day treats we received.

Note the Fritos–always great with a Dr. Pepper

As you can see in the pictures, each valentine bag contained a small package of chips (various kinds) and a Dr. Pepper! One could say it was a Texas style valentine.

These lovely treats were given to us by Earl and Judy Parker, good friends of our Monastery who celebrated their second wedding anniversary on February 14. They met at a local retirement place and fell in love. Very sweet!

Judy and Earl Parker

And speaking of sweets, we also each received a small box of chocolates from other good friends–Tim and Susie Healy, who visit us as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus each year. So we had both the salty and the sweet, and everybody was happy.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for romantic love. We are reminded of the need to put agape, or charity, into everything we do. This is a love that transcends the self and looks for the good of another–as, indeed, all love should do.

Love is shown in so many beautiful ways. One of our sisters received this floral tribute from a former student this year. (She was a teaching Dominican before she entered out Monastery.) We are all so grateful to him–the flowers were gorgeous and they made Sister very happy! Charity in action!

The month of February is almost over, but there’s still time to tell someone you love him or her or to reach out in charity to your neighbors. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. As St. John of the Cross wrote, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”

Tet: Year of the Tiger

Photo by A G on Unsplash

Grrrr! We had a great time welcoming the Year of the Tiger in our community recently! As our readers may know, we have many different cultures in our community and we try to honor them in some way. This was our 20th year to celebrate Tet.

Gathered together to begin the evening. It’s been cold in Texas, by the way!
Sr. Mary Christine

Did you know that the Lunar New Year originated in Vietnam? At least, this is what our Vietnamese sisters tell us, and we think they should know! Sr. Mary Christine did her usual fantastic job of explaining all about the Year of the Tiger. We don’t have any “tigers” in our community right now, but if we did, it sounds like they’d fit in just fine! Tigers are supposed to be very strong minded!

Picking our “lucky envelopes” from the tree and enjoying the delicious Asian snacks. Everything was generously provided by Sr. Mary Christine’s family!

Sr. Mary Christine devised a number of original and unusual games for us to play, as she always does. We enjoyed ourselves by playing in teams for points.

A fun game similar to Telephone, only we wrote on each other’s hands–tricky!
Sr. Marie Augustine shows off her fine sense of balance with game counters balanced on a chopstick

We were still having fun when the bell rang to summon us to Compline and Benediction, and that’s the way an evening should end. Sr. Mary Christine organized things so that although only one team won the evening, each sister received a prize.

We are grateful for our opportunities to share in the heritage of our sisters and to make this heritage part of our own community life. Thank you so much to Sr. Mary Christine and Sr. Mary Giuse, our two Vietnamese sisters, who bring so much talent and joy to our community, and thank you for your great example of prayer!

Renewal of Vows!

On January 27 during our usual morning Mass, Sr. Mary Therese of the Divine Mercy, O.P., renewed her vow of obedience for one year.

Sisters in temporary vows have to make these vows first for three years and then renew their vows each year for three more years. This is Sr. Mary Therese’s second time to renew for one year. Thus, she is beginning her fifth year of temporary vows.

Actually, Dominicans only take one vow, that of obedience, but it encompasses the other two evangelical counsels–poverty and chastity. The sister makes her profession in the hands of the prioress (as seen above), a traditional gesture dating back to the early days of the Order and 13th century ways.

Please continue to pray for Sister as she takes another big step forward in her monastic journey!