Monday, July 19, 2010

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta - A look behind the contemplative months of Maria..

At mass last night... Father mentioned that many of us have really had no contact with those that live the "contemplative life."  Those that behind walls protecting them from the distractions of the world and spend their days in prayer for the world as well as the day to day jobs of living within a community.It reminded me of the gift I was allowed to receive when Maria entered a cloistered monsatery in Sauk Rapids of Poor Clare nuns... they were very open with her family and allowed her to take our camera and take a roll of film of her life behind the "enclosure!"  The enclosure of those contemplatives protects them from the many distractions that pull at us and prevent us from sitting at the Lord's feet in prayer each day as we long to do!  Yet, as parents and family... it was a huge sacrifice to not be able to touch or hug her... we did discover that a kiss could be shared through the opennings!These visits we took pictures from our side, but it was special to receive those that she took and some are self portraits... like the one of her sitting out reading next to the building... One of my favorites!   She found great peace in her discrenment out doing the stations of the cross in the beautiful enclosed grounds that surround the monatery... there were beautiful stations of the cross that she followed daily asking the Lord to reveal her path to carry her cross forward!This was "our cell (we don't call it my cell because everything is owned in common)"  the room where she slept and studied... prayer is throughout the day in their chapel... she mentions the stations in the novicaite oratory -"They are so beautiful, and you can pick them up off the stands.  They are solid pewter."The three postulants that include Maria in the middle.. the two other girls are now professed sisters and Maria decided that this was not for her and is now married with 2 children!  WE call the Poor Clares when we need prayers and keep them updated on our lives... we became close in the 5 months our daughter joined with them in their prayers and their lives!Maria's description of this picture; "The 3 postulants  (Lto R) Eileen (52), me and Jill(26) all decked out in old habits - mini veils, macrome cords and paint brushes ready to start our painting project in ST Agnes' new cell."
When we would leave Maria from sitting on our side of the enclosure.. we would look back and see her closing the bifold doors that would block out the view of her side... standing in the light with the statue of  the Sacred Heart of Jesus behind was always a very sad and hard thing for me.  It made me feel that she was watching us until she could no longer see us... like she missed us and yearned to be with us...This was a self porttait of her job with the furnace...From Maria's perspective behind the enclosure... Ruth expecting their first child - Easter 2004Easter 04 - Maria told us to come back.. she had something to tell us... Sharing spoonfuls of food through the "enclosure."  John does the entertainment by lip syncing "O, Happy day."Maria tells us that she is not in the right place... eventually comes home to embrace with great joy the life she left behind while she was discerning religious life - living with them for 5 months.Kittens fit through the opennings of the enclosure too!  Just no hugs... although I experienced a wonderful gift while I was visiting one time.  Maria was on her side and I was in the room facing her and we were sharing about what was going on in our individual lives... Suddenly there was a knock on the door and Maria went to talk to the novice director there... she came back and asked me if I would be willing to come back and check as a nurse on one of the old sisters, who had chronic heart disease and wasn't feeling well that day.  I quickly agreed and was told to walk to the door between the enclosure and it would be opened so that I could enter their world!  As I walked through... there stood Maria to greet me and I got a huge hug!  It was a wonderful gift!  I was floating on air for days and on top of it all I got to meet a special little sister and give her some encouragement and answer some of her and her caregivers questions.  They take care of their own!Maria was forever touched and deepened by her experience and came out thrilled and filled with wonder at her life being returned to her... She stood out in the cattle yard and with a beaming face spoke of the blessings she had had being raised on the farm... was this my same daughter, who liked the cattle least of anyone?With the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta coming up on August 26th... there were 2 articles about her in a magazine from the Knights of Columbus called Columbia... in the Editorial he mentions that she chose as her namesake and patron saint - ST Therese of Lisseux.  Who was a contemplative Carmelite sister, and from behind the enclosure, she did the "great works" of love with her "Little Way."  This "consisted of complete, childlike confidence in God and  a desire to participate in his merciful love.  Therese called herself the Little Flower, knowing that while not all souls are called to great works, every person has a vocation to love.  She joyfully offered even the smallest sufferings and acts of service for love of Christ, and received spiritual insights that are revealed only to the childlike (humble)." Maria was reading her book and heard the call to enter a "cloistered monastery" and consider that as a life for her - spent in prayer!Instead she carrys that faith and prayer life now into her domestic church - her family!  Blessed Theresa  as her patron saint and namesake - St Therese the Little Flower - "both had a simple yet profound understanding of the universal call to  holiness, and both had a deep spiritual thirst for Jesus."Wanting each of my girls to consider the beauty of religious life - I sent them to a girl's camp in Schoenstatt... so that they could see sisters in habits that shared the deep truths of the Catholic Church!  Two considered to the point of living within... one is taking some of the first steps to embrace her community and become a Little Sister of the Lamb...  too much to share for today.  I must end this and go and take some pictures of my granddaughter brushing the calves... Duty calls!

Jesus, thank you for the wonder of life and all the pathes that lead to holiness and You!  Allow our young people to be open and listening to your call!  Jesus we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!
Bless-bless, Barb


  1. Peace and Good!
    So good Maria' s children have a mom with so rich lifestyle!
    Jesus, Mary and Francis bless Maria and her family, and, obviously, the Poor Clares, her teachers!
    Br. Alberto Guimaraes OFS
    Braga - Portugal