Walking with My Sister

This is the time of year when it happens. Boxes are packed, keys are passed to a new set of hands, a few days of training, and the move takes place. It is one of the many beautiful aspects of the vow of obedience. I know every year when I receive my assignment I am going (or staying) exactly where I am needed.

It is not up to any individual sister to decide where she will serve for the next year. (“Next year” means from August to August.) The entire big picture is taken into account, the strengths of each member are known, and the needs of every apostolate. If I had to choose a career, maybe this is not what I would choose, but I have the assurance that this is where I will encounter God and where I can do His will. (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 7:49 pm  Comments (1)  

What is it with the gloves?

Through the ages Carmel has held many attractions not only for those called to dwell within this enclosed garden, but also for those touched by this particular way of life. For some it is the solitude, for others the silence. For still others the emphasis on the soul’s espousal to God has captured their hearts. But we have recently discovered that there is yet another aspect that has touched hearts.

Drying gloves.

I certainly do not propose that this is the primary influence on anyone when they visit our convent, but based on the number of amazed comments we receive I believe it is worth mentioning.

You see, we have discovered that the best way for us to dry the large amount of dishes that we wash at each meal is to use white, terry cloth gloves. Slip them on and your entire hand becomes a drying towel. It saves time and even eliminates broken dishes. (Well, at least it decreases the casualties of glasses.) (more…)

Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 8:32 am  Comments (3)  

The Day of All Days

Regina Decor Carmeli, ora pro nobis!

Thursday, July 15th dawned clear and seasonably warm for Alhambra, CA. And all the Carmelites were full steam ahead getting ready for today’s feast. Music rehearsals, food preparations, floor waxing, guest sisters & family arriving: it was a buzz of activity.

But if you had been a fly on the wall in the Chapel (or maybe more appropriately, a cherub in a stained glass window) you would have seen sisters stopping by for a few minutes here and there between projects to thank Our Lord for the great gift of our vocation. We really do live a balanced life.

Then…at 4:45 p.m. 62 Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart gathered for our Holy Hour and First Vespers for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There was a definite extra charge of energy in the Chapel.

The rest of our sisters will arrive today. (We are close to 140 in total, a small intimate family gathering.) Our three postulants will be initiated into the Novitiate and officially become our sisters.  As an outward sign they will receive white veils and we will call them by a new name.  (more…)

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 7:40 am  Comments (6)  

A Love to Withstand Time

Maybe I am a little biased, but I think our Chapel has unique blessings. Perhaps it is the more than 30 angels imaged there, or all the pictures and statues of saints. The numerous floral arrangements with blossoms from the grounds might also contribute. It could be the lingering aroma of incense from our daily Holy Hours blending with the burning wax of our many votive candles. Then again just maybe it is the sound of the flowing fountain on the plaza just outside or the cooing mourning dove. Of course there may be an eco or two left from the last major celebration when trumpets and flutes harmonized with organ and voices. Surely each of these adds to the blessings.

But none is truly the source. We repainted our Chapel a few years ago and during the long process the visual was far from what it is now. But it was still a sacred space. Try as we might, there are days when the flowers are a bit wilted, at least until the sister sacristan gets a chance to clean them up. We do have some little skunk friends that have over powered our more holy fragrances from time to time. But it does not detract from that unique element pervading the Chapel. Jet planes, muffler-less cars, and screeching crows have drowned out any pleasant sound now and again. And believe it or not, we sometimes sing off key and the instruments are not always perfectly tuned. Nevertheless, Sacred Heart Chapel is special in (dare I say it) a mystical way.

By now you are probably asking the same question as I. Why? What makes the difference? (more…)

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Comments (5)  

Carmel means…

Carmel means enclosed garden. The other day as I was walking through our beautiful gardens, I could not help reflecting how blessed we are who live here. The exquisite beauty of creation was all around me everywhere I turned. The next day I enjoyed my little stroll again, this time with a camera, and here is what I saw…and prayed.

Lord, Your love and mercy surround me always. It is the atmosphere in which I move, sustaining me and giving me life.

God, You are the joy of my soul. You restore the happiness of my youth and promise me the endless bliss of heaven.

Even in the rocky and barren soil of my poor soul, You my God can bring forth the most beautiful flowers. All that is needed is faith.

Lord, You have to have a great sense of humor. Who would have thought of a flower that looks like that? The One Who is head-over-heels for me.

Each of us is truly lovely by ourselves, but how much more so when arranged with others according to Your design, O Lord!

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 7:40 am  Comments (2)  

A Carmelite 4th of July

A little more to the right, sisters!

Sunday was a beautiful day. We had one of our sister’s families visiting including her young nephews and her niece. We had priests visiting as well. And of course we have ten extra sisters here during the summer (home from Miami, Arizona, and Ohio). Full house? To say the least!

Patriotism is a virtue!

The preparations began Saturday evening (except for the designated shopper who braved the grocery store in the afternoon. Chaos!) Black and white veils were bustling here and there preparing games for the next day, chopping ingredients for meals,

How did He get that flag?!?!

making mouthwatering cherry rolls for breakfast, and spreading red, white, and blue decorations all over our Plaza. Not even Baby Jesus was over looked!

The day in which we thank God for the independence He has granted us, the freedom to worship Him and pursue the happiness He created for us, was truly blessed for all of us, particularly being able to spend it together. (more…)

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm  Comments (1)