The Sister Servants of the Eternal Word
Veritas, Caritas, Maria
Issue #1 January 2022
January: The Month of the Holy Name of Jesus
In the Latin Rite, January 3rd is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the entire month of January is dedicated to honoring the name of Jesus. The holy name of Jesus is a powerful prayer in time of temptation and trial as well as a prayer of love and adoration. It is an especially good practice to call on Jesus with devotion and to make reparation for all of the times his name is taken in vain. In the Eastern Churches there is the beautiful practice of praying the "Jesus Prayer". During this month, let us speak the name of Jesus more often and with more love, in our prayer and also in our conversations with others.
"The Jesus Prayer"
Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me a sinner.
POSADAS A Sister Servant Tradition
Las Posadas is a Mexican tradition which has become one of our favorite events to host each year.
Above: Mother Louise Marie prepares Mary and Joseph for their search for lodging.
Catholic missionaries from Spain brought the practice of posadas to Mexico hundreds of years ago. The word "posadas" means house or inn. In Mexican culture Las Posadas is a way to remember the journey that Jesus and Mary made to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay. Traditionally, families gather for nine consecutive nights. A boy dresses up as Joseph and a girl dresses up as the Blessed Virgin. Each night the people gather to pray the Rosary and then travel to a house in the neighborhood so that Joseph and Mary can ask them for shelter. Years ago, a good friend approached our community about offering posadas for families in our area. With her and her husband's help we hosted them successfully, and since then it has become a Casa Maria tradition.
Left: Sr. Marie Therese with one of our innkeepers.
Instead of hosting posadas for nine consecutive nights we offer the event on one Sunday evening during Advent. We are blessed to have seen it grow year by year and to be able to welcome new families who come to experience the small pilgrimage. In addition to "Mary" and "Joseph" other children dress up as shepherds or angels. Adult volunteers, often dads accompanied by their sons, don a variety of robes, old sheets, and yards of fabric in order to portray innkeepers.
Below and right: Joseph and Mary speak with innkeepers.
We pray the Rosary as we walk from inn to inn, reliving what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to rely completely on God's providence as they searched for shelter on Christmas Eve. At the first four inns our little pilgrims are met with the answer "no" but the at the last inn the doors are thrown open and they are welcomed inside. This past year one little participant was heard to say, "They should let us in. It is cold outside!" Happily, once inside we sing a hymn to Our Lady and serve hot chocolate and a variety of cookies. Las Posadas has been a wonderful way to celebrate Advent year after year.
Left: A little shepherd with his mom
Right: Sr. Rita Marie and Sr. Mary Michael serve hot chocolate at the reception.
s ' t n a l u t s o A P pective s r e P Mat e n i l ade Sr. M
Hello, my name is Sr. Madeline Mattingly, and I am from Philpot, KY. I am a postulant with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word in Birmingham, AL, and I entered in January 2021. I wanted to share my experience of what my first year has been like living in religious life. When I was discerning, religious life looked perfect, so peaceful, so much joy, a dream come true. Now on the inside and actually living it, I have learned that while it is a life of joy and laughter, it is also a battle to try to die to oneself daily and grow in perfect charity. As Our Lord says, “You therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Being from a family of five kids, I thought community life would be the easiest thing for me because I love my family and I love being with people. However, I soon discovered, and I am still convinced, that within community each sister is a unique human being. At first, it was difficult trying to get to know all of the sisters and helping them to get to know me. As time went on, I learned new
things about myself that I had never noticed before. As my postulancy has continued, I have learned that this life demands great charity and self-gift. It is a grace to have this challenge and the opportunity to strive to live this life. Another surprising thing for me has been the importance of formation in religious life. It is necessary to first lay the foundation of the virtues before one can reach the heights of prayer. I am blessed to have professed sisters teach me classes on Catholic doctrine, Sacred Scripture, virtues, the call to holiness, etc. As I continue to live and adjust to my new life, I pray that I will remember and keep before my eyes that everything I learn will help me to become the happiest and holiest version of myself. Please pray for me as I continue to discern God’s will in my life.
A c i t s i r a h c u E e l c a r Mi written by a Sister Servant I remember being awakened in the middle of the night, climbing into my shoes and stumbling out to the van to accompany my mom to her holy hour. I was about ten years old when she allowed me to join her for her weekly hour of adoration. Even though I spent most of the 3:00AM holy hour asleep in a small armchair, I am convinced that those times spent with Jesus in the Eucharist shaped my vocation story. I first experienced a strong inclination to religious life before I even knew what it was. When I was about four years old, I began to desire to be like St. Therese and to belong to God like she did. Throughout my childhood that desire never left me, but after I graduated high school, I began to wrestle with that call. The natural longing for marriage and family began to grow, and it seemed to be competing with the deeper and more mysterious desire for religious life. When I began to shrink back from the sacrifice of religious life, I also began to shrink away from God. Thankfully, my spiritual director called me out on the mistake that I was making, namely, I had put my own will before God’s will. Since I had known the Sister Servants for years, I attended one of their retreats and, to my surprise, ended up with an application in hand. But the battle was not over. Even as I filled out the forms and mailed them to the sisters, I was begging God to spare me! Little did I know that He was not offering me a life of sadness, but a life of joy. Throughout that time, I maintained the practice of a weekly holy hour at my parish’s perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel. Each Friday afternoon I would stumble into the chapel, as I had when I was ten, except that now I was stumbling over my own selfishness and fear. If it were not for that weekly hour with Jesus, I would not have made it to the day of my entrance. As I was leaving the chapel one Friday afternoon, I came to understand that it was Jesus who I was rejecting when I fought against my vocation. It became a little clearer to me that when I begged him, “Don’t make me be a sister” that I was begging him to take back a gift from God the Father. I have been with the community now for over ten years. My vocation is a gift which continually blows me away. There is no doubt in my mind that it was Our Lord in the Eucharist who broke through my fear and selfishness - a true Eucharistic miracle.