About Sr. Nun Other

May 16, 2012, completed my 30th year as a Sister. It was both a milestone and just another day in an interesting journey. Some of those thirty years included singing with Gloriae Dei Cantores, marching in Spirit of America band, and serving on our Sisters Council. As a monastic, I live surrounded by beauty and within a frame work of opportunity and possibility. I'm sixty-four (much to my surprise) and extremely grateful for my life as a sister - past, present, and future.

The Confession of Saint Peter — January 18

Jesus asked, “But what about you?” And Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 16:15-17

Peter listened, heard, and reacted, just as he had when first called to discipleship. His legacy is that of a man of flesh, capable of a bold declaration of belief and equally capable of losing faith in a moment of fear and weakness.  Luke 22:54-62 describes Peter’s denial of the Lord he loved and followed: “Woman, I do not know him.” And he denied not once, but three times. Still he is the rock upon which Christ built His church and to whom He gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 

Today we love and honor Peter for his humanness, his weakness made strong through faith, and his life restored by forgiveness. 

Saint Peter

Saint Antony of Egypt, Bishop — January 17th

Known as Antony the Great, he was born to wealth, an Egyptian monk, who exemplified scripture, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.” Mark 10:21b

Antony’s long life spanned the years 251AD – 356AD, and he spent much of that time as a solitary ascetic, practicing personal mortification, devotion to prayer, and manual labor.  He was, however, not an antisocial man, and many people sought him out for spiritual guidance and healing.

If we trace his life in years lived, we arrive at the following:

Age 20 Began to practice asceticism

Age 35 Withdrew to absolute solitude on a mountain along the
The Nile named Pispir (now Dayr al-Maymun)

Age 54 Ended his retreat and organized the monastic life of
nearby like-minded hermits

Age 60 Desired to be a martyr in the Roman persecution
of Christians, exposing himself to danger

Age 88 An ardent soldier against the Arian heresy

Age 105 Died of natural causes in a cave on Mt. Kolzim, Egypt

Saint Antony was a Holy Man who lived a holy life. As a result of his example, many adopted an ascetic lifestyle, and Antony earned the title Father of Monasticism. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this quiet, shy man was his ability to inspire the love of God and the assurance of a joyful life without fear.

Community of Jesus

 

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, France — January 13

BISHOP AND dOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Saint Hilary was the son of wealthy pagan parents, born c. 300 AD. He was the recipient of an excellent education and had a keen mind. Although raised a pagan, Hilary questioned the concept of revering many gods. He began a quest to discover the one true God in Holy Scripture, and there, in the Gospels, he found Jesus. He believed the Lord’s teachings, became a Christian and was baptized.

Hilary was a gentle and mild man, but unafraid to fight for and defend Christianity when necessary. His primary weapon was the pen and his enemy, the 4th Century scourge of Arianism, a heresy that refuted the Divinity of Christ. In the year 353 AD, even though already a husband and father, he was appointed Bishop of Poitiers.  As Bishop, he embraced celibacy and dedicated his remaining years to the Church. He staunchly defended the decrees of Nicaea and preached the doctrine of salvation through Jesus as the Son of God. His stance displeased the Roman Emperor Constantine II, who exiled Saint Hilary to present-day Turkey. During his four-year exile, Hilary composed books, hymns, and sermons in support of his faith and in defense of the Blessed Trinity. He is considered the earliest hymnist.  

At the end of his exile, he returned to Poitiers. There in the town square, the faithful gathered to welcome him home. This kind and affable man continued his writing and preaching until his death in 368. Saint Hilary, highly respected for his humility and intelligence, was named a Doctor of the Church in 1851 by Pope Pius IX.

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – January 12

Christmas, Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord, and the Cana Wedding miracle are manifestations of that which the prophets foretold and the fulfillment of God’s promises to His creation.  At the manger, we find the very human birth of the Word; God made flesh to dwell among us.  Star-led Epiphany illustrates Christ’s availability to all people and nations, and at the Jordan River, Jesus joined the gathering of those baptized by His cousin, John. On Him alone, the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “you are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22, 23. 

This most blessed season is summed up beautifully by hymnist Christopher Wordsworth, who wrote:

Songs of thankfulness and praise,
Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise;
Manifested by the star
To the sages from afar,
Branch of royal David’s stem
In thy birth at Bethlehem;
Anthems be to thee addressed,
God in flesh made manifest.

Manifest at Jordan’s stream,
Prophet, priest, and king supreme;
And at Cana wedding guest
In thy Godhead manifest;
Manifest in power divine,
Changing water into wine;
Anthems be to thee addressed,
God in flesh made manifest.

 

Feast of Saint Andrew – November 30th

Saint Andrew was a fisherman by trade, called to be an Apostle of Christ and martyred upon a cross form called crux decussate (X-shaped cross or “saltire.”)  His crucifixion took place mid to late 1st century at Patras, Achaia, Roman Empire. The saltire, also known as Saint Andrew’s Cross, is the central figure on the flag of Scotland, of which Andrew is Patron Saint.

Andrew, whose name in Greek means manly and brave, was born in 6 BC in the village of Bethsaida along the Sea of Galilee.  A faithful and uncomplicated man, he led an extraordinary life of missionary work. Some scholars believe that he preached along the Black Sea, as far as Kiev and on to Novgorod. Saint Andrew became Patron Saint of the Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. 

In the Orthodox tradition, Believers refer to Andrew as protokletos, or First Called.  This claim is substantiated in scripture, specifically John: 40-42: Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John (The Baptist) said. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah.” Then he brought Simon to Jesus.

Matthew’s scriptural account tells a slightly different story. We read in Matthew 4:18-20 the following:  As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Whether called first or simultaneously first with his brother Peter, Saint Andrew is an example of humility.  There is little record of his interactions with Jesus and the other disciples; however, we know that it was he who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes. Andrew was also one of four disciples who approached Jesus on The Mount of Olives to inquire about signs of Jesus’ return. Neither gregarious nor impetuous like his more famous brother, Peter, he served Jesus with a quiet and sincere heart. Tradition, rooted in ancient writings praise Saint Andrew for his great love of the Cross and his Savior.

Saint Andrew, Community of Jesus

To Commemorate the Feast of Christ in Glory November 24, 2019

From the Hymn—Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies

Christ, whose glory fills the skies
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near,
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return,
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see,
Till Thou inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

       —Words by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

      —Music by Conrad Kocher, 17786-1872

Christ in Glory Fills the Skies

Feast Day of Pope Saint Clement I — November 23

Clement is somewhat a man of mystery, his life’s story defined by fact woven within myth and legend.  We know he was born ca. 35 AD and was a disciple of Saint Peter with whom he closely identified theologically.  While some noted historians believe Clement was successor to Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome, others place him third in the line of succession. He is honored as the first Apostolic Father of the Church, and held office as Pope from 88AD until his death in ca. 99AD. Consecrated by Peter, he led an exemplary life and was a leader in the late first century church in Rome.

Saint Clement made clear his belief in obedience to church authority as established by the early apostles.  His only existing text is a letter known as the First Epistle of Clement. It was written to the Christians in Corinth, and was a rebuke to those responsible for the deposition of certain presbyters or bishops.  He exhorted the troubled congregation to repent and restore those who were unfairly removed from office. This letter was so respected that it was read at church in Corinth, along with Holy Scripture.

Thought by some to be the first to refine iron from ore, and to shoe a horse, Saint Clement is the Patron Saint of metal workers and blacksmiths.  He also was arrested while Pope, and banished from Rome to Pontus. There he was condemned to work in the marble quarries, alongside many fellow Christians and pagan convicts.  Clement was a source of comfort, strength and encouragement to the prisoners. A particular hardship was the lack of drinking water and a miracle is attributed to the intervention of St. Clement.  The story is told that one day, upon seeing the suffering of his fellow prisoners, he knelt in prayer. When he looked up, he saw a lamb on a nearby hillside. Clement walked toward the lamb, and struck the ground near its feet with his pickaxe, releasing a gushing stream of clear water.  This miracle converted many local pagans, and also sealed St. Clement’s death. The ruling Roman Prefect sentenced him to death by drowning. An old anchor was tied around his neck and he was thrown in the Black Sea.

Lamb mosaic from the apse of the Church of the Transfiguration

 

Feast Day of Saint Martin of Tours — November 11

One of the primary functions of our 100 plus foot Bell Tower is to signal our Community that it is time to gather together and worship the Lord. We are part of a centuries-old stream of Church tradition, calling the people of God to worship with the tolling of bells. 

 This tradition began in Monastic houses in the early centuries of Christianity. Saint Martin of Tours, whom we honor today, is credited as the first to build a (4th-century) tower with large bells like our own.  

Pagan turned Christian, soldier, monk, hermit, missionary, miracle worker and beloved Bishop of Tours, Martin was one of the first non-martyrs venerated as a saint. The key elements of Saint Martin’s spirituality are prayer, solitude, and sacrifice.  Through numerous acts of kindness and charity, one being the sharing of half his cloak with a cold beggar dressed in rags, Saint Martin became the embodiment of Matthew 25:36,40:

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

When next you hear church bells toll, think of Saint Martin, who remained a kind and loving soldier for Christ to his life’s end.

Bells in the Church of the Transfiguration Bell Tower — The Community of Jesus

 

 

A Meditation on Saints and Martyrs

I recently saw a film about elderly D-Day soldiers returning to the beach at Normandy to honor those who fought and died alongside them in World War II. It was moving watching them share memories, tears, and gratitude for the sacrifice of their friends. “All Saints Day” is this kind of remembrance for the church.

The first Christian martyrs were honored at their gravesite on the anniversary of their death and Saints Days developed from this tradition. In those early years, I imagine there were eyewitnesses of the event, with tears, and gratitude for a faithful witness (“martyr” comes from the Greek word for “witness”). Then, after the first generation, stories would have been passed down. Eusebius, in the 4th century, wrote about the heroic death of Blandina, a slave girl 200 years earlier in Gaul (now Lyons, France). Although she was described as frail, Blandina had suffered such extreme tortures in the Roman coliseum that the crowds were “astonished at her endurance.” Eusebius goes on to say: But the blessed woman, like a noble athlete, renewed her strength in her confession; and her comfort and recreation and relief from the pain of her sufferings was in exclaiming, “I am a Christian, and there is nothing vile done by us.”1 

Yesterday’s celebrations of All Saints Day included all Christians, martyrs, and non-martyrs, known and unknown. But it is an excellent time to remember all who have died for the faith throughout Christianity, particularly those who are persecuted and dying in parts of the world today.

1 Eusebius, Church History, Book V, #19. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250105.htm

Inscription from an early Christian grave (3rd Century)

Celebrate All Saints’ Day with Poetry — Listen in

Celebrate All Saints’ Day by listening to selections from Paraclete Press poets Bonnie Thurston, Susan Miller, Kathleen O’Toole, and Scott Cairns, inspired by the lives of holy men and women through the ages, read by members of Elements Theatre Company. Click the title of any of the poems to start listening…

Scroll down and click the book titles to learn more about the poetry collections from Paraclete Press that contain each of these selections.

“Thanksgiving for Saint Thomas”
By Bonnie Thurston
From Practicing Silence

“Saint Francis and the Parsley”
By Susan Miller
From Communion of Saints

“Beyond Doubt”
By Kathleen O’Toole
From This Far

“Capable Flesh — Inspired by the Writings of Saint Irenaeus”
By Scott Cairns
From Endless Life