We Need A Little Christmas

 This song is so appropriate this year! It made its debut in Jerry Herman\’s Broadway musical Mame in 1966, when Mame sang it to cheer up her nephew and servants after losing everything in the 1929 stock market crash. We\’ve heard stories that many people are buying real Christmas trees and putting up extra lights and decorations as a way of cheering themselves up during this crazy year. And although we don\’t usually decorate until about right now, our workmen felt we needed a little Christmas and put up some lights both inside and outside the monastery this year! 

Front of monastery
Infirmary yard with Infant Jesus

Our Lady of Fatima

The hedge by the carport

Our bell tower

We also have some decorating going on right now, as you can see…

My, what big poinsettias you have!

Our Lady with Jesus and their decorator, Sr. Mary Giuse


We\’re still decorating, and we plan to bring you more pictures when we\’re finished! These may come after the actual date of Christmas (that is, December 25) but remember, the Christmas season lasts until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is on January 10th this year. So during this year when we \”need a little Christmas\” in a particular way, remember you can celebrate for much longer than the secular world would have you believe! (In the old days, the Christmas season lasted until February 2, but even we think that\’s a little long.)

Christmas is always a special time for us here at the Monastery, since it is also \”our\” feast day. We are, after all, the Monastery of the Infant Jesus. We hope you will have a happy and blessed Christmas, and know that we are praying for all of you!

Annual Retreat

 We\’ve been on retreat the last week or so!

Father John Sica, O.P., gave us a retreat on the theme of the Image of God. He used many examples taken from the lives of our own Dominican saints, which we found especially fruitful for meditation. In a nod to our prioress, Sr. Mary Margaret, he gave one conference using St. Margaret of Hungary as an exemplar for the Dominican nuns to follow. Of course, one would need to be prudent in this regard, because while Margaret was generous, self-sacrificing, humble, joyful, pious–all things a good Dominican nun should be–she also tended to disdain things like baths and clean habits. Obviously the source must be considered when imitating most saints of centuries past!

In addition to Father\’s conferences, we enjoyed a few days of \”silent\” retreat, which has become a feature many of us enjoy. Since the schedule is more free, we are able to spend our time in prayer, lectio, and other activities for a much longer period than usual. 

Father John is a Dominican friar from St. Joseph\’s province (or, the eastern province). He has been living at Holy Rosary Priory in Houston the last two years attending classes at the University of St. Thomas. He has come before to give classes and to make his own personal retreat, so he was not entirely a stranger. We were especially lucky to get him for our retreat in these times of pandemic. He drove straight from Houston to Lufkin and always practiced social distancing when he was around us. It is always such a joy to get to know another of our Dominican friars!

We emerged from our retreat spiritually refreshed and ready to return to our daily work and routine. So far none of us has contracted COVID-19, although our chances are probably smaller because we don\’t get out much. Still, we continue to pray for a speedy end to the pandemic–with a vaccine, or some other help–and we pray for all of you in the world who are struggling so much more than we are. This was an important intention during our retreat.

It is our privilege to pray for you, always and at all times!

Nuns of Many Hats

Warm hats make warm hearts filled with gratitude!

There\’s an expression in English used to describe someone who has many different jobs or responsibilities. \”She works full time, takes care of her husband and children, and volunteers at church–she\’s a woman of many hats!\” In the same way, cloistered nuns wear many \”hats\”, in a manner of speaking. 

Our primary work is of course prayer, and specifically, praying the entire Liturgy of the Hours. To this we add a community rosary, recitation of the penitential psalms for the dead, a period of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for each sister (which includes an extra time of adoration during evening recreation, when your turn comes around) and two periods of meditation each day. Oh, and of course, the community Mass every morning. That\’s a lot of prayers! 
In between prayers, we manage to squeeze in work time in our various departments. Sisters pack altar breads, write thank-you notes to benefactors, send both prayer enrollment cards and our special three-part folders, keep our budget balanced, cook meals, clean, attend to visitors, work on the website and update the blog, accompany the men who have come to do maintenance of any kind inside the monastery. And, each sister carves out a place in the day to study, because study is one of the main pillars of Dominican spirituality. And in addition to all this, we have two periods of recreation (one is optional) and a siesta time. How does it all get done?
Of course, all our strength and ability to do these many works comes from God–which is why we make prayer the the center point of our lives. Everything we do is fueled by our prayer, our openness to God and the graces He wants to give us each day. When we are really trying to cooperate with His grace, even the rough patches go more smoothly. 
Recently, one of our benefactors made this hat metaphor more concrete by giving us a lot of hand knitted hats! Each one is different and unique, and each sister was allowed to choose one she thought was most fitting (in more ways than one–it\’s amazing how many sizes heads come in!). It was a delightful surprise and a welcome one, too. Many sisters enjoy walking in all sorts of weather, and this kind of hat is ideal for wearing over the veil. Some sisters prefer to wear a hat to bed, to keep their heads warm while they sleep, and they are perfect for this, too. 
We are so grateful to this benefactor–and all our benefactors–who help us to live this life of prayer, praise, study and penance. We literally could not do it without you! Thank you, thank you all so much!