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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
St. Margaret of Hungary (1242-1271) was the daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary and his wife Maria. Before she was born, the Tartars were ravaging the lands, and her parents vowed to offer their child to God if He would deliver them from the Tartars. He did, and they did. At the age of three, Margaret was brought to a monastery of Dominican nuns in Veszprem.
To everyone’s surprise, Margaret loved the religious life. King Bela intended to remove her from the monastery when she was old enough to get married (ten or twelve years being enough, apparently, to satisfy his vow to God) but Margaret refused marriage three times. Even after making solemn vows, an attempt was made to dispense her from her vows for yet another offer of marriage. However, Margaret stood firm and held to her purpose, and never left the monastery.
A royal princess-become-nun might have led a more relaxed life in the monastery, but Margaret embraced suffering and hardship, doing heavy work in the kitchen and laundry and tending the sick. She was also rather extreme in her penances, which, as one commentator points out delicately, “seem excessive to us of a weaker age”. She hardly ever bathed, and she frequently engaged in fasting and scourging. In addition to this, Margaret added numerous prayers to those already recited in the Divine Office chanted by all the nuns.
All this took a toll on Margaret’s health, and she died at the age of 27. She was remembered and revered in Hungary for many years before finally being canonized in 1943.
Margaret is a great example of a person who had a single purpose and ideal: God. God was the one thing she strove for, to conform herself to His likeness, to be His true spouse, to show her devotion through acts of generosity and kindness and self-forgetfulness. In her own time and place, she found a way to serve God that makes us remember her today. Times have changed, but the love that inspired Margaret of Hungary is still alive. What is our single purpose, our one thing? How will we serve God today?
Since we usually wrap Christmas presents to go under the tree prior to the big holiday, we thought this could be our “unwrapping”–showing you all what’s been hiding under the paper!
We were blessed to receive special visits from two sets of people–Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 23, and a bunch of Santa’s elves a few days before that.
On Christmas Day, we had our traditional Christmas dinner cooked by the faithful Knights of Columbus. We are so grateful to the Knights for all they do for us–as one of the sisters said, “They are our Knights in shining armor!”
After dinner and a good nap, we came to the community room to open the community gifts (lots of puzzles, treats, and various and sundry useful items) as well as a personal gift for each sister.
We have creches set up all over the monastery. Here are a few of them:
On December 29, the bishop of Tyler, our own Bishop Joseph Strickland, came to say Mass for us. Our chaplain, Fr. Ian, concelebrated with him.
After Mass, we visited with the bishop and Fr. Ian, then all had dinner together in the community room. We had a great time!
It’s truly been a blessed Advent and Christmas season! We pray you continue to enjoy this beautiful season, and we wish you a very Happy New Year 2022!
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, TX has declared that 2022 will be a year dedicated to Mary and the Eucharist for all of us here in the diocese. This has special meaning to us because Eucharistic devotion is an important part of our spirituality here. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in our chapel from 8 AM to 8 PM every day, and each sister takes a turn praying with Our Lord truly present under this sacramental sign. We also welcome anyone who wishes to come and pray with us during these times.
It almost goes without saying that Mary is another big part of our lives! Each of us takes the name “Mary” as part of our religious name–usually just Mary but sometimes it’s Maria, Marie, Miriam, etc.–and cherishes a special devotion to the Mother of God, especially as Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. We pray the rosary together every afternoon at about 2:40 pm (on Sundays we say it privately) and you are welcome to join us for that, too.
Dominicans through the centuries have been devoted to Mary and the Eucharist. Legend has it that Our Lady herself gave St. Dominic the rosary as a powerful prayer to help in his work re-establishing the Catholic faith in Europe. St. Catherine of Siena, it is said, lived on nothing but the Eucharist for the last few months of her life. Our own monastery traces its Eucharistic roots back to France, where a monastery of Dominican nuns established perpetual adoration and then brought this tradition to the United States when a foundation was made here.
We feel blessed to be a part of a year that will lift hearts and minds to Mary and the Eucharist–in the diocese of Tyler, Texas and hopefully in many other places as well. If you are in the Lufkin area, please come by and spend some time with Jesus–He’s waiting for you!
Recently, Father came to our monastery to fill in for our chaplain while he had to be away–and while he was here he gave us some very good courses on the virtue of hope. This is especially appropriate for Advent, when we wait in hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course, we had to have a parlor visit with him too!
Father John is working on his doctoral dissertation now, having finished his classes. We pray it will go smoothly for him, and he will finish up with some great work! It is always a pleasure to meet with one of our Dominican brothers, and especially to enjoy the fruits of their contemplative works. Thank you, Father John!