Saints, Sleds and Snowballs

Moniales, the blogsite for the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey (affectionately known around here as the Sisters of Our Lady of the Incredible Soaps and Hand Creme) is a favorite stop of mine. There are many great blogs run by Catholic priests and by religious, both male and female, but the blogmistress at Moniales manages to give a comprehensive sense of what monastic life is like in the 21st century -the juxtaposition of the modern with the ancient, and how they manage to fit- and to also surprise us. Sometimes one checks in and finds an arresting discourse, or even a recipe. Other times, an informative glimpse into a life and a love that can seem so mysterious from the outside.

Today, the sisters are sharing with us their tradition (one that has been picked up in the Catholic blogosphere) of pulling patron saints and scriptural quotes for the upcoming year.

Online, this practice, common to religious life, has been adopted by some Catholic bloggers; the notion is not so much that you have selected a saint to prayer-partner you, but that the saint has chosen you, in order to help you along your way. I must admit that every year I have had a saint pulled for me, I have winced and said, “Who? WHY?” but inevitably, over the course of the year, I come to understand why I have ended up with that specific saint, and yes, I do learn something. In this way, I have become acquainted with St. Gerard Majella, St. Titus and -for 2010- St. Philip Neri.

Neri was a cheerful and charming saint, and since I lack charm and did resolve not to be “so pissy and bitchy” this year, perhaps he will teach me much. And I am happy to have a priest-saint to pray with in the Year of the Priest, to remind me to keep praying for my own priests, and for more heroic priests.

And just in case Moniales visitors think the life too grim, they share a fun video of some of the novitiate out sledding in the snow. And just think, when they’re with their snowball fights, they dried off, got right back into silence and into choir, where they prayed for all of us.

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  • Antony

    If you like music celebrating your saints, I recommend Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio “San Filippo Neri” for four voices – the saint and the three virtues – Faith, Hope, and Charity.

  • Greg

    St. Philip Neri can teach a lot of us a lot: good to recognize him. We might try to imagine him as present at our discourse to see how it would be affected.
    Seemingly random saint-selection (or us-selection) may be just the thing. The day I finally gave up alcohol was the Feast of the Flight into Egypt, so I took my sobriety to be under the protection of St. Joseph. In addition to twice-daily prayers to God for thanks and protection, I try and remember to ask St. Joseph for his protection too.

  • Maria

    I applaud those few monsasteries who do not feel compelled to blog and adverstise as the laity. Abbet of Regina Laudis is one such monsatery that that has not succumber to this oddly worldy undertaking as the Dominican nuns of New Jersey and so many others have. Sadly, even Georgetown Visitation, the high school I attended in Washington DC engages in “blogging”/

  • Antony

    If you like listening to music about your saint, I recommend Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio “San Filippo Neri” for four voices – the saint and the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.

  • Maria

    iSorry. Typos corrected:

    I applaud those few monsasteries who do not feel compelled to blog and adverstise, as do the laity. The Benedictines @ Abbey of Regina Laudis is one such monsatery that that has not succumbed to this oddly worldy undertaking, as the Dominican nuns of New Jersey, and so many others have. Sadly, even the Visitandines @ Georgetown Visitation, the high school I attended in Washington DC, engages in “blogging”. Such congress with the world calls into question the meaning of enclosure.

    [I think there are good arguments to be made for some monastic houses blogging and some not blogging. There are all sorts of people out there, of good faith, who can serve in all sorts of ways, and these monastics who blog may well be exposing the whole idea of monasticism to some who would never otherwise have thought of it. Different monastic houses fit different personalities. I think they're all good, and I am not going to decide which is better. The Regina Laudis nuns are great; they have constitutional enclosure and often join their guests on the grounds - for that matter Mother Delores Hart has given numerous press interviews and retains her membership in the Screen Actor's Guild. Some might say that also "questions the meaning of enclosure" and others would not; they would see it as a great opportunity to teach about the life. The Dominican Nuns have papal enclosure under modern norms, and they're great little powerhouses of prayer. Other houses have a stricter, more traditional papal enclosure; I would be VERY hesitant to make a lot of fuss about the "meaning of enclosure" because we have the example of Mother Angelica, a very visible monastic nun who has done a great deal to promote both active and contemplative vocations. The Holy Spirit uses who and what he will, and it all serves God. But someone who dislikes a blogging community is free to choose among those who don't. And vice versa. -admin]

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  • http://www.zazzle.com/shanasfo shanasfo

    I’ve contacted the Saint chooser, Marianne, and got our family Patrons for the year.

    St Lawrence for me.

    Oh my. Either my cooking could use some improvement, in which case I will be paying more attention to the Prairie Woman’s blog, or else I’m going to have a rather hot and uncomfortable new year.

    (St Lawrence is patron of chefs and he was martyred by being char broiled over a gridiron. He supposedly said to his torturers in good humor, “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.”)

  • CV

    My family is on many different Catholic mailing lists so we typically get all kinds of fundraising materials in the mail, especially around the beginning of December. This year I received an unsolicited mailing from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Kansas City, MO.

    It contained a full-length CD recorded by the sisters, “Christmas at Ephesus,” along with a simple envelope and request for prayer intentions.

    This is one of the loveliest recordings I have ever heard, and I have been listening to it throughout the Christmas season. My only advice to the sisters is to put their contact info on the CD case! (which happens to be very professionally done, with lyrics and liner notes and beautiful photography).

    There is a lot more information about the Benedictines of Mary on their Web site. Here’s how they describe themselves:

    “The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is a traditional monastic community of women who desire to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary in the giving of herself to God to fulfill His Will, especially in her role of assistance by prayer and work to the Apostles, first priests of the Catholic Church. Society in these latter days is in obvious dire need of re-evangelization and sanctification through the ministry in particular of the sacred priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. Although times have changed, the divine mission committed to the first Apostles, as well as the needs of those to whom they were sent, have not. It is our ideal to imitate Our Lady’s retirement from the world in quiet seclusion, as well as her apostolic charity. Consecrated entirely to her and filled with her spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God, we aspire to be, to the successors of the Apostles in our times, what she was to them in the beginning: behind-the-scenes
    encouragement, assistance and support.”

    link

    This CD was one of the best gifts I received this year and I would like to spread the news about this monastic community and their work.

    [I have written many times about the Benedictines of Mary - in fact my husband and I were just talking at breakfast about sending them a socket they need - and recommended both of their CD's (one reader bought five copies of their Christmas album to give as gifts). They're what I call "old school" Benedictines, and I admire them a lot. Let us keep them in our prayers as January 6th approaches. At that time Sr. Maria Concordia (a novice) will make her first vows, and four of their five postulants will be clothed in the habit and begin their novitiate. Terrific monastic community that is growing quickly and need donations to help build their house. Some of their plans are here.]

  • http://6degreesofprep.blogspot.com/ Dave Gibboni

    I got the biggest kick out of this video posting. I want to see that the sisters have a good time sledding down the hill. I want to see them laugh and have snowball fights. It’s called Life. And the monastic life contains Life, must contain it. Surprise — they eat, too! And sleep!! And I love that the sisters share it with us to let us know that they are living Life.

    [The sisters like to say they are serious about monastic life, but not about themselves. I like that -admin]

  • Anglican Peggy

    Nuns on sleds. That has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen and I mean that is the best way. I couldn’t keep from smiling.

  • Sal

    I got a priest for 2010, too- St. John of Cologne. He was a martyr of the Protestant Reformation, killed for trying to aid brother imprisoned priests.
    Not sure what this means: bravery in the face of scary change, perhaps.

    Speaking of monastics- that Mystic Monk coffee was a very popular gift this year. Thank you for bringing them to our attention!

  • Therese Z

    When I was a kid in Catholic school in the 1960′s, one Sister tucked up her scapular and took her place to play softball with the boys at recess and we marvelled. When Kennedy was assasinated, our teacher cried, and we marvelled. Another was a Minnesota Twins fan, a town far from us, and we marvelled.

    Nuns had feet! Nuns cried! Nuns liked baseball!

    I hope this kind of video shows up on the laptop of someone who knows little about nuns, or knows only distortions. Let them marvel that nuns are regular people, and they might have a little warmer spot in their hearts for the life of religious people.

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