The True and Only Vine

By Sr. Nun Other

One of the Sisters suggested I write a blog called “bloom after pruning,” and she even provided a great picture!  She referred, of course, to the parable that portrays Jesus as the True Vine and God the Father as the Vine Dresser. Jesus says in John 15: 1-2, that He’ll remove every branch that bears no fruit, and prune the fruitful branches so that they bear more fruit. It’s a scripture I approach with caution, and not an experience I wait in line for. When one of my irregular branches is trimmed, usually through circumstance, I then have difficulty identifying who I am. I’m like a wibble-wobble toy without a fixed foundation — no idea how or where I’ll land.  Advice to me: keep reading. In subsequent verses, Jesus counsels His branches to (paraphrased), “Abide in me, abide in my love, until your journey is complete. Follow my commandments, as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and if you do, your joy will be complete.” It’s a passage more about relationship than pain–an intertwining of love, obedience, and joy — each dependent on the other — until we become not servants, but friends. So I’d like to modify my friend’s suggestion ever so slightly to say it’s possible to bloom during pruning.

The Community of Jesus

Never Alone

By Sr. Nun Other

Transition is my word of the week. It means changing from one state or condition to another; a passage or metamorphosis. I see transition at my doorstep in the flowers of early spring: crocuses, daffodils and tete-a-tetes form a gentle army to challenge winter’s lock down. For me, transition is one of life’s most difficult journeys. It can result from unmitigated failure, unmitigated success, or simply the passage of time. One is left “in the middle zone,” waiting for reformation, definition, and transformation. (If a tadpole can become a frog and a caterpillar a butterfly, isn’t just about anything possible?) If you find yourself in transition, be grateful, remain hopeful, for Jesus walks with us in the shadow-times as well as the light.

The Community of Jesus

Creative Genius

By Melodious Monk

Back in the spring, there where some extra zinnia seedlings available near our potting shed.  Not really knowing what a zinnia was, I grabbed a flat of tiny seedlings, figuring I would try planting them somewhere. With almost no root, and just a short razor thin green top, I worried these wispy seedlings would never last outdoors. But with nothing to loose, we planted them quickly in an empty corner of the front garden bed were a small tree recently had been removed.  The seedlings got partial sun and I watered them occasionally at first, but mostly just left them to Mother Nature. They started to grow, albeit slowly, not looking like much, and I was often surprised they were even still alive.

Last week I walked by and saw a beautiful purple flower!  I stopped and starred, almost in disbelief, at this large single purple flower beaming atop the end of a sturdy three foot stalk.  It made me smile, and marvel again at the genius of creation.

The Community of Jesus

Worthy Seedlings

By Sr. Nun Other

The Sisters do some early gardening work, and this morning, some of us planted seeds. When planting time ended, I washed my hands, changed clothes, and began my normal routine. Still planting seeds, but of another kind. It’s my belief that one day I’ll be accountable for the seeds I’ve sown. Because I follow Jesus and carry Him in my heart, I expect to discover some good fruit in my resume. But it’s the not-so-good fruit that worries me: the doubt, innuendo, anger, and unkindness I’ve spun into an unsuspecting environment. I’m a too-casual custodian of words and their impact, and on that point, I plan to change.

The Community of Jesus

Tuscan Tomato, Bread and Herb Soup: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

Tuscan Food has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. Since opening a new house in Barga, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany, we have become quite familiar with much of the Tuscan way of life-including foods most typical of that area. This herbed Tuscan tomato bread soup has become one of our favorites. It is delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature, and it will be even more flavorful if you use home grown garden-fresh tomatoes as they come into season.

Tuscan Tomato, Bread and Herb Soup

3 pounds of tasty, ripe tomatoes
Good extra-virgin olive oil |
2 large cloves of garlic, one whole, one finely chopped or crushed
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
3 sticks celery, very finely chopped
Pinch of salt
Black pepper
Small bunch of basil, leaves only (at least 25 leaves)
1 ½  pints chicken or vegetable broth
½ loaf Italian bread, cut into small pieces

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Put the tomatoes into the water and leave for a couple of minutes. Test with a knife tip to see if the skin peels away easily. Discard water, skin the tomatoes and finely chop.

Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large pot. Add the whole clove of garlic, the onions and celery and sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent, but not browning.

Add the chopped tomatoes, a pinch of salt and some black pepper, and cook gently for a couple of minutes.

Add stock and the pieces of bread. Cook, covered, for another 20 minutes on a low flame. Add more stock or hot water if necessary.

Locate the cooked garlic and squeeze it back into the dish with a garlic press. Add the raw chopped or crushed garlic and the finely chopped basil. Taste for seasoning.

You can serve this hot, at room temperature or chilled. Serve with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and raw extra virgin olive oil to swirl on top at the table.

Serves 6

The Community of Jesus


Botanically Speaking

By Sr. Nun Other

It’s sunflower season. Whether in a garden or a vase, they stand as uncomplicated and unpretentious sentinels of joy. An interesting fact about sunflowers: they turn their heads toward the sun, following its course each day. In so doing, they produce healthy fruit, tiny, edible seeds that burst with nutrients. I make life difficult and pursue joy as if I can earn it. What if I were to simply follow the Son each day, without question or resistance?

The Community of Jesus

Rainy Morning

By Renaissance Girl

I got up early this morning and walked down to the garden. I love the hush of early morning, especially after a rain. The air has that cool, fresh tang, and everything hangs with drops of water perched on the ends of branches or suspended on petals and leaves. Everything feels refreshed — which, on a Monday morning, is much needed.

Perhaps a reminder for me that no matter where else I look for refreshment, the real Source is not the amount of sleep I get, or the moments I can steal for myself — but the Sender of Rain who knows just what to send, and when.




Pepperoni Parmesan Croutons: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

This is the season for salad lovers, and we have been enjoying lots of salads at the convent with the daily fresh picked lettuce, herbs, and cucumbers from our gardens.

To add interest to them I’ve come up with my own croutons. If you like crisp and crunch, and you savor the flavor of Parmesan and pepperoni you’re sure to like these.

They are simple, quick and easy to make, add great taste to your salads, and served as snacks, they disappear in no time.

Pepperoni Parmesan Croutons
4 cups of torn Italian bread about 1/2 of a loaf
¾ teaspoon mixed Italian seasonings
¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½  cup torn pepperoni

Tear bread into bite sized pieces to equal about 4 cups. Toss with seasonings. Spread out on 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle with cheese and torn pepperoni.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until golden all over. Cool and break into pieces.

pepperoni parmesan croutons



Italian Strawberry Crostata: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

We’ve been cooking up lots of strawberry jam for Christmas gifts with this summer’s bountiful crop of berries from our garden.  One of our sisters has been dying to make a strawberry tart with it and today she did.

I loved the looks of it when it came out of the oven. I loved the taste of it even more, as did some of the other kitchen sisters who sampled it. The unusual flavor of fresh lemon zested crust was a taste treat in itself even without the filling.

“Leave it right here”, I said “I’ll be back in a minute to take a picture. This has to be a blog!”  Locating the camera as quickly as possible I returned to take this photo…..

strawberry tart






“A picture is worth a  thousand words.” photo by Sr. Clare

Italian Strawberry Crostata

The pastry for this simple jam tart is made with olive oil and flavored with vanilla, lemon rind and a little alcohol, which makes it tender. It is an easy, smooth dough to handle and does not go hard when stored in the fridge.

4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons vodka or other alcohol
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
3/4 cup strawberry jam

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on a clean surface. Lightly beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, alcohol and rind. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture.

Using your hands, work the flour in gradually to form a dough. Work dough lightly until it comes together into a smooth ball.

Divide dough into 3 pieces.  Roll out all pieces to about 1/2 inch thickness. Press 2 of them into the base of  9-10 inch sallow baking pans. Spread each generously with jam.

Cut remaining piece of dough into very thin long strips. Form a ring around edge of dough and make a criss-cross pattern on top of the tarts. Cut tiny diamonds of leftover dough and place into the center of each criss-cross.

Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly golden.

P.S. We added a few fresh berries on top of the jam the second time we tried it, and felt it added yet another dimension of wonderful flavor.


By Renaissance Girl

My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

The scripture from today’s devotional caught my attention with its translation “my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” It’s a strong image of your body longing for God. And hard to imagine in a “land” abundant with water.

I thought about my day yesterday, a series of events – cleaning jobs, rehearsals, gardening – darting from one thing to the next trying to stay on schedule. And realizing around 5:00 that my head was splitting and my mouth parched – I hadn’t stopped to take a drink and I could feel the effects. In that moment, I poured a big glass of water and drank it down. But what if there had been none? What if there was no relief? And this was just after a couple of hours! The Psalmist is describing a land of no water. Multiply my little headache by days of dryness. This is how he longs for God. Do I consider God as essential to me as water? Or, do I charge through my agenda for the day and only realize I need him when I’m parched?