Volume 5 January/February 2010
Dear Friends, After much thought, I’ve decided that I will continue the newsletter! I greatly apologize for not letting any of you know what was going on for such a long time, but I’m going to try to be more disciplined and get this out punctually. One of the biggest changes is that it will now be online – online, as in no more e-mail attachments, which I know some people were having difficulties with! I was very happy to find the website Issuu, which allows you to upload your newsletters and magazines to a reader-friendly format on the internet. The fact that it’s on the internet, though, will mean that I’ll definitely be tightening up the security. I’ll just put your first name and last initial (or even middle name’s initial) with the articles and drawings. Another change will be that my family and myself will write more of the articles. I figure that since all of you original subscribers are getting much older and busier, you don’t need me constantly twisting your arm to write submissions! However, I’d like to get into the groove of writing every day, and having the newsletter should help me do that. And if any of you would like to write an article or even a whole column, I’d be delighted! Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details on the newsletter, please look at the new website, www.avemaristella.wordpress.com. That’s also where you can find all of the back issues.
I hope to continue this newsletter as long as I can for the greater glory of God! In Corde Regis, Ivy Rose Therese B.
Table of Contents “The Keys of the Kingdom……………….….pg. 2 Book Reviews: A Right to Be Merry……….…pg. 2 “Tout Suite!”…………….……………………pg. 3 Maria Regina Sanctorum Omnium…………pg. 4 “A Perfect Metaphor”…..…………………….pg. 5 Sacramentals of the Church – Holy Water…pg. 6 Feasts of the Church………………………….pg. 7
Masthead by Mr. Timothy B.
THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM A Story by Ivy B. The hot sun beat down on Abdiel’s head as he scuffed along the dusty road, kicking the dirt morosely. A small cloud of dust followed him, echoing his stormy mood.
convent. In the joyful and beauty-loving spirit of the founders, St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, the author relates humorous incidents, such as the nun who had to practice screaming to rehearse for a play on the life of St. Clare (a vow of silence renders you out of practice when it comes to screaming!), and the humble beauties of an enclosed life: for instance, the way the liturgical year is intimately woven through every aspect of the day, right down to the food they eat.
“Those stupid cows!” he muttered, scowling. “They would have to get out today, when I had big plans for a game with the other boys!” A heartfelt sigh escaped him when the shouts of his friends reached his ears as he walked past the field in which they frequently met for ball games. He could see them running, shouting, laughing, and kicking around the ball made of rags that was their most highly prized plaything. “Abdiel!” called his friend Adam. “Come play with us! You can find those old cows when the game is finished.” Abdiel looked with longing at the lively game, but shook his head. “No,” he replied, “I’d better not. Someone might steal the cows if I don’t find them right away, and my mother needs them so she can sell their milk.” “Oh,” groaned Adam, “all right. Well good luck!” “Thanks,” called Abdiel, and continued down the road, looking hard at the horizon and hoping to see the bony, reddish, bovine forms of the cows. They did not appear, however, no matter how hard he looked. Spying a well ahead, he decided to stop and get a drink of water, as fast walking on such a hot, dry day was thirsty work. Lifting the dipper from its niche in the side of the well, he hoisted himself onto the edge and lowered it into the water. The water looked dark and cool, so he put his entire hand in the water, stirring it and watching the rippling circles spread, and then splashed some on his face. As he lifted his head to drink, he spotted thirteen men sitting under a tree nearby. The plain, coarsely woven garb of the little group was covered in a fine layer of dust, and all of them looked warm and tired. A few of them had splashed water on their faces, and it ran down their faces, leaving little trails of mud, but they looked refreshed. Continued on page 4…
But most of all, she relates to us the beauties of Lady Poverty and the joy that comes from traveling through this world with no material possessions; the wonder and beauty of belonging entirely to God and serving Him alone; the epic grandeur of the Divine Office; the sweet and wondrous freedom that comes from the vow of holy obedience; and the joy and inspiration the Poor Clares receive as a legacy from their holy founders. Their life of silence and prayer, bound by vows, framed with the Divine Office, and given meaning and purpose by the Holy Mass, is one of joy. The beauty of the contemplative vocation lies in the fact that they are able to serve God with the full attention of their minds and souls, and to bring Him the world, with all its pain and suffering, that He might cover it with His Love. In this beautiful and inspiring book, we see that the contemplatives are necessary for the life of every person. These spouses of Christ are mothers to the whole world, and with the poet, they cry, “O world, I cannot hold you close enough!”. And because of this, they are called to leave everything that they may gain everything for themselves and everyone whom their prayers and sacrifices touch. To quote Mother Mary Francis, “Hidden away from the glare noise of worldly living, we are enclosed in the womb of holy Church. I walk down the cloisters, and my heart moves to a single tune: Lord, it is good, so good to be here!” Review by Ivy B.
B OOK R EVIEWS A Right to Be Merry , by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C Overflowing with joy, "A Right to Be Merry" gives us an insider’s view of life in a cloistered Poor Clare
Drawing by Mr. Timothy B. remembering where I was; on the second floor at the older kids’ classrooms. From behind a closed classroom door I could hear a group of OUT UITE students reciting together what I was pretty sure By Mr. Timothy B. was Latin. It would not be until I reached third grade that I would become an alter boy and learn The tall, heavy door of Mother St. Theresa’s first all the Latin prayers for serving Mass. I couldn’t grade classroom closed behind be with authority imagine that far into the future and being able to as I stepped into the well polished, dimly lit tackle such a huge task. Learning the English hallway. I could hear my own footsteps as I alphabet, what sound each letter makes, printing walked toward the brightness of the stairwell. the letters neatly and deciphering words was Just a few minutes ago my first grade teacher plenty to be challenged with as a first grader this had given me an unusual assignment. “Please year. Hopefully , I thought, in two years my deliver this to Mother St. Jean Marie, tout suite brain will grow enough to cram some Latin in (right away),” she said handing me a large manila envelope. there, too.
“Yes, Mother” I replied, my pulse quickening as I was singled out of my 50 or so classmates and realized I was going to unexplored territory: the eighth grade classroom on the second floor.
As I continued down the hall I could see Mother St. Patrick through the window on the upper part of the door of the fifth grade classroom, holding a book in one arm while she wrote with chalk on the blackboard. The students were not visible to me (or I to them) since the lowest part of the window was several inches above eye level but I knew my sister, Carol was in there, as well as her best friends, Sandy Arseneau, Dottie L’Ecuyer and Linda Padwoski. I thought it was funny that I was just outside my sister’s classroom and she had no idea.
After slowly climbing the stairs, I paused at the large window at the landing between floors and squinted into the low, afternoon, winter sunlight and the snow covered fields surrounding the old four-story convent. The first two floors and a room in the basement served as our parish’s Catholic grade school. The two uppermost floors are where the novices lived. These were young women in the early stages of their formation as nuns of the Congregation of Notre Dame. My mother had gone to school here, twenty some years before, and since her family’s farm was several miles north of Bourbonnais, she was a boarder from third grade
Finally, my destination was just ahead on the right. I approached the closed door, took a deep breath and knocked. No answer, so I knocked harder, maybe too hard. The door opened and a girl twice, maybe three times my height greeted me with an awkward, crooked grin, which I returned in kind. Amid a few snickers and giggles I bravely strode towards Mother St. Jean Marie’s desk at the front of the room and stole a glance at the 70 (or so) eighth grade eyes staring at me. Most of the faces at least looked familiar, mostly from seeing them at Mass, especially those who were altar boys. A few I knew quite well. My cousin Paul Cyrier, the oldest of eight kids from my Uncle Bernard’s farm, was one. Last summer he had given a
through high school. That is, she and other girls lived at the convent during the week and just went home on weekends. As one would expect, the CND nuns had a great influence on my mom throughout her life. I turned from the window and quickly took the rest of the steps but stopped suddenly at the top,
bunch of us kids rides in a cart pulled by his pony named Kippy. Also, I saw Richard Benoit, a neighbor whose dad was a volunteer fireman on the Bourbonnais Rural Fire Department and always backed his car into the driveway so he could make the fastest getaway possible when the fire whistle blew.
with a picture of Our Lady on the front. I turned it over and, drawing on my months of language arts study, I began to form the sounds of the letters in front of me, reciting each word slowly and carefully until I reached the period at the end of the passage. Just as I felt a sense of relief, having made it through, I bolted back and my eyes widened as the eighth graders erupted into raucous applause led by Mother St. Jean Marie. “You did such a fine job reading, Timothy, that I want you to please keep the holy card.”
“Timothy.” Mother’s voice jolted my mind back to where I was standing. “To what do we owe the honor of your visit?” “Mother St. Theresa asked me to bring this to you,” I said, handing her the large envelope with “Mother St. Jean Marie” written in perfect cursive across the front. “Thank you, Timothy.” I felt myself blush at being addressed once again with my formal name instead of the more usual “Timmy”.
“Thank you, Mother,” I said, carefully holding the card with both hands and walking towards the door, once again being held open by the same tall girl with the same crooked grin from the front seat closest to the door. Instead of returning her crooked grin, I now couldn’t help but give her a fuller, toothier more genuine smile as I beamed proudly with huge sense of accomplishment and not a small sense of relief.
“Since you’ve come all this way I think it would be nice if you would read something for the class.”
In the next issue: A history of the Congregation of Notre Dame
“Yes, Mother”, I heard my voice say in a barely audible whisper as she handed me a holy card
************************************************** MARIA REGINA SANCTORUM OMNIUM Prayer of St. Aloysius Gonzaga O Holy Mary, my Lady, into your blessed trust and safekeeping and into the depths of your mercy, I commend my soul and body this day, every day of my life, and at the hour of my death. To you I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life. By your most holy intercession and by your merits, may all my actions be directed and disposed according to your will and the Will of your divine Son. Amen.
no different with the Mystical Body, which has a soul in the Person of the Holy Ghost.
A PERFECT METAPHOR
If a part of our body is sick or injured, the entire body suffers, and it’s the same way with the Mystical Body. We pray for those members who are falling or have fallen from grace, so they will not infect the healthy members. And sometimes, a member becomes so sick (like gangrene on a physical body) that it must be cut off through excommunication.
By Ivy B.
A physical body is an excellent metaphor for the Church. Just as a body cannot live without its head, we cannot have life without Christ our Head. A body cannot function without blood, either, and in grace we find the lifegiving blood of the Church. Anything that passes from the head to the body must come through the neck, and the neck of the Mystical Body is Our Lady – God dispenses all His graces through His dearly loved Mother. Jesus came into this world through her, and he wants us to go to Him through her. Finally, every physical body has a soul, and it’s
All of the members of the Mystical Body are necessary for its life and wellbeing, just as our physical bodies require all of their parts to function correctly. Some members are the feet of the Church – they bring her to those who don’t know her yet. Others are the hands, and they tirelessly care for the other members in whatever their needs may be. And
still others make up the heart of the Church through their prayers, which send the precious blood of grace coursing to all the members.
Abdiel’s breath caught in his throat. He suddenly knew that he had been given the great privilege of witnessing a very important – nay, earth-shattering – event, even though he did not know what it meant. A hush had fallen on the little group of men. “And I say to thee,” continued Jesus, “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter who had been Simon fell to his knees, and Abdiel could see the look of awe and wonder and holy joy mingled together on his face before he bowed his head. Jesus placed His hands on Peter’s head. “And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus’ face shone with joy as He looked at the man kneeling before Him. “Whatever thou shalt bind upon earth shalt be bound also in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose upon earth shalt be loosed also in heaven.” He stepped away from Peter, who remained kneeling for a time. A thrill of wonder was running down Abdiel’s back, and he could only imagine how it must be coursing through Peter. What a great and noble task had been given to him! As Abdiel bowed his head in awe before the holy scene before him, he saw in his mind’s eye thousands and thousands of people who all bore a mark of peace on their faces. He saw great cities and cathedrals, more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined. He saw people acting with kindness and true charity towards one another, and heard them singing beautiful music that seemed to come from heaven itself. He saw soldiers dying noble deaths in the field of battle, a single ray of light shining upon them as they breathed their last. He felt terrible suffering and knew joyous peace in the depths of his soul, and somehow he suddenly knew what it all meant. He knew that it was the Everlasting Church that had just been founded by the Godman standing before him, and he also knew that someday, somehow, he would be a part of it. When he opened his eyes again, he saw that the men had risen to their feet, preparing to be on their way. Jesus suddenly turned and smiled at him. Abdiel would never forget His smile, a smile full of peace and joy and strength, as long as he lived. Then Jesus turned back to His apostles, saying firmly, “And tell no man that I am the Christ. The hour has not yet come.” To be continued in the next issue…
Continued from “The Keys of the Kingdom” on page 2… Abdiel knew at once who they were. He had often heard his father speak of Jesus, a young man Who was the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. He had been preaching in the cities and synagogues, and quickly drawn a number of followers. “I like the teachings of this man,” Abdiel’s father had said. “He preaches a life of love of God and neighbor, and what’s more, He actually lives it out himself.” Since his father had spoken so highly of Jesus, Abdiel was anxious to hear Him speak himself. He leaned forward from his perch on the edge of the well, the missing cows and the ballgame both forgotten. The men were facing away from the well and did not notice him, so their conversation continued uninterrupted. “Well, some say John the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets,” one of the men was saying to a tall man clad in a dark red tunic who sat in their midst. Abdiel guessed that the man in the tunic was Jesus, and that the other twelve were His apostles – his closest friends. Jesus turned to His apostles and Abdiel could see His face in profile. His dark, piercing eyes were searching the faces of His friends. “But who you say that I am?” He asked quietly. One of the men jumped to his feet. He was short and powerful looking, with a good-natured, eager face. “Thou art Christ,” he exclaimed, “the Son of the Living God.” Jesus rose to his feet, and looked at the man with an expression of joyful solemnity. A ray of sunlight had somehow found its way through the thickly spreading branches of the tree that towered over them, and it shone on the faces of the two men. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but My Father Who is in heaven,” He said.
Candlemas – February 2 St. Blaise – February 3 Our Lady of Lourdes – February 11 Seven Holy Founders of Servites – February 12 ASH WEDNESDAY – February 17 St. Bernadette – February 18 1st Sunday of Lent – February 21 Chair of St. Peter – February 22 St. Peter Damian – February 23 St. Matthias the Apostle – February 24 St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows – February 27
SACRAMENTALS OF THE CHURCH HOLY WATER
By Mrs. Cynthia B.
'Can the children of the Bridegroom mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.’ The disciples of John the Baptist received this answer when they asked Jesus why they and the Pharisees fasted frequently, but the disciples of Jesus never did. The disciples, indeed, had no cause to mourn and do penance as their Happiness was in their midst, but now that He has returned to heaven, we must fast and do penance, just as He had foretold. Christians have been fasting and doing penance in the forty days preceding Easter since the early days of the Church. Until Christianity became legal in A.D 313, Lenten practices and the duration of the season varied greatly, but they were always focused on prayer, penance, and preparation for the upcoming feast of Easter. The catechumens were often baptized at the Easter Vigil (as they still frequently are), and Lent also served as their time of preparation for the reception of this great sacrament, as well as a time for baptized Christians to reflect on their own baptismal promises. By the end of the fourth century, it was decided that Lent would last for forty days. Forty days has always been of significance for periods of spiritual preparation: for example, Moses remained on Mount Sinai fasting for forty days in preparation for the reception of the Ten Commandments; Elijah walked forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb; and Our Lord Himself fasted in the desert for forty days and nights to prepare for His public ministry. It seemed fitting that all Christians would prepare for the remembrance of their redemption from the powers of hell by denying themselves and striving to spend more time in prayer and recollection for forty days. Even after Lent’s duration had been decided on, however, there was a lot of variance in how much fasting and penance was to be done. For a time,
Wow! Isn’t water amazing? Think of all that we use it for and your list will be very long indeed. Water cleanses, refreshes, and offers us comfort. Holy water, combined with another sacramental, the Sign of the Cross, is one of the most used sacramentals of the Catholic Church. A sacramental, according to the “Baltimore Catechism”, is intended to “excited good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements to remit venial sin.” Holy water can cleanse our souls of venial sin, refresh them with good thoughts, and comfort them with increased devotion. When a priest blesses water, he prays that those who use it may have God’s blessing and protection from the powers of darkness. Holy water is thus appropriately used whenever and wherever there is a need of protection from temptations and other spiritual enemies. Holy water is used in nearly all of the Church’s blessings. When bestowing a blessing the priest often uses the “Rituale Romanum”, which includes blessings for people, of course, but also for buildings, church bells, altar linens, ships, food, printing machinery, railways, bees, and more! In case you’ve wondered, blessed objects do not lose the blessing by being broken and repaired, or given away and lent to others, but only by being totally destroyed or sold. One of the most wonderful uses of holy water is during the Sunday Asperges in the Tridentine Rite, when the priest blesses the severs and congregation while the Asperges (Psalm 51, verse 7) is sung by the choir. It is a beautiful way to start the most beautiful and perfect prayer of all: the Holy Mass.
FEASTS OF THE CHURCH By Ivy B.
FEASTS OF FEBRUARY 6
consuming any animal product – meat, fish, milk, or eggs – was forbidden, but some regions allowed fish, and eventually the rules were relaxed to only require abstinence from meat on Fridays, and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It’s still an admirable and widespread practice, though, to give up some kind of food you especially enjoy, or to forego some enjoyable activity. There have been many different ways of observing Lent throughout the years, but the focus has always been the same: we do it to detach ourselves from things of this world, to show sorrow for our sins, and to express our desire to be united with Our Lord in His sufferings. It is through denying ourselves things we enjoy, be it food or anything else, that we can learn to forego the physical world more and more, and be more closely united to the world of the soul. But simply foregoing earthly pleasures is not enough to bring us to true union with God. We must strengthen our bond with God by prayer, that our thoughts and minds and wills may always become more attuned to His. If we have struggled faithfully throughout those forty days to come closer to God, serve Him better, and love Him more faithfully, our joy at Easter will know no bounds.