This August 15 will mark 90 years since the Sacramentine Sisters of Don Orione were founded to offer something very particular for the salvation of the world: their blindness.
They are a community of blind nuns consecrated to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and wear a distinctive white habit, a red scapular, and a white Host embroidered on the chest.
“I intend to offer with this new branch of the religious family, as a flower before the throne of the Blessed Virgin, so that she herself, with her blessed hands, offer it to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” Saint Luigi Orione told them when he founded the order in Italy Aug. 15, 1927.
This branch of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (LMSC) has as its mission, according to its constitutions, to offer to God “the privation of sight for those who do not know the truth yet so that they may come to God, the light of the world.”
In addition they seek to support with Eucharistic Adoration and sacrifice “the apostolic action of the LMSC and the Sons of Divine Providence,” the two congregations founded by Saint Luigi Orione. The congregation is present in Italy, Spain, the Philippines, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
They have been in Chile since 1943 and currently there are three sisters there: Sr. María Luz Ojeda, Sr. Elizabeth Sepúlveda, and Sr. María Pía Urbina, who is on mission in the Philippines at the moment.
These sisters attend computer classes to be able to bring before the Blessed Sacrament the numerous petitions they receive from many faithful through their Facebook account, where they offer to pray for each intention they receive.
Sr. María Luz Ojeda had an accident when she was a child which left her with severe vision problems which gradually increased until at 30 years of age she completely lost her sight.
“Sometimes I personally thank God, since because of this I was able to enter the congregation. Before the Blessed Sacrament I often tell the Lord: 'this is my means of helping you save souls,' and I'm happy,” Sr. María Luz told CNA.
The religious sister explained that “every day in our prayer and Adoration we present to the Lord the poverty, sufferings, and sorrows of humanity.”
“Perhaps what I am going to say may seem like I'm claiming too much but I am going to have this to present to the Lord on the day he calls me, that I helped him save souls,” Sr. María Luz said.
The sisters dedicate each day of the week for a special intention: Mondays for the sick, Tuesday for young people, Wednesdays for peace, Thursdays for vocations, Fridays for the elderly, Saturdays for children, and Sundays for families.
Katie Devitt stood in front of the Monastery of the Poor Clares in Kokomo, Indiana.
She carried her only remaining possessions:
• Two rosaries
• Two Bibles
• A few family photos
Her family waited beside her, fully aware of what this day meant.
Devitt will never touch them or her friends again. She may see her parents just a few times a year, but only through a screen. Mail is limited. Personal phone calls are not permitted. She may only leave the monastery for medical appointments.
When Devitt was ready, she said her goodbyes and then knocked on the door. Behind it, nine cloistered sisters waited.
At a time when few young people enter religious life, Devitt, Arts ’05, chose what some would call one of the most extreme paths: the life of a cloistered contemplative nun.
A native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Devitt once dreamed of being a rock critic for the Chicago Tribune. She was raised Ukrainian Greek Catholic, but never gave her faith much thought outside of Sunday Mass.
On September 8, 2016, Pope Francis received in audience some 250 participants in the congress of Benedictine abbots and abbesses gathered in Rome to reflect on the monastic charism received from St. Benedict and their faithfulness to it in a changing world.
This theme acquires special meaning in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy since, as Francis affirmed, “if it is only in the contemplation of Jesus Christ that we perceive the merciful face of the Father, monastic life constitutes a privileged route to achieve this contemplative experience and to translate it into personal and community witness.”
Today’s world clearly demonstrates the need for a mercy that is the heart of Christian life and “which definitively manifests the authenticity and credibility of the message of which the Church is the depository, and which she proclaims. And in this time and in this Church, called to focus increasingly on the essential, monks and nuns safeguard by vocation a peculiar gift and a special responsibility: that of keeping alive the oases of the spirit, where pastors and faithful can draw from the wellsprings of Divine Mercy.”
With the grace of God and seeking to live mercifully in their communities, monks and nuns “announce evangelical fraternity from all their monasteries spread out in every corner of the globe, and they do so with that purposeful and eloquent silence that lets God speak out in the deafening and distracted life of the world.”
Therefore, although they live separated from the world, their cloistered life “is not barren: on the contrary, an enrichment and not an obstacle to communion.”
Their work, in harmony with prayer, enables them to participate in God’s creative work and shows their “solidarity with the poor who cannot live without work.”
Their hospitality allows them to encounter the hearts of the “most lost and distant, of those who are in a condition of grave human and spiritual poverty,” and their commitment to the formation of the young is highly appreciated. “Students in your schools, through study and your witness of life, can too become experts in that humanity that emanates from the Benedictine Rule. Your contemplative life is also a privileged channel for nurturing communion with the brothers of the Oriental Churches.”
“Your service to the Church is very valuable,” the Holy Father concluded, expressing his hope that the Congress may strengthen the Federation so that it is increasingly at the service of communion and cooperation between monasteries and urging the Benedictines not to be discouraged if their members age or diminish in number. “On the contrary,” he emphasised, “conserve the zeal of your witness, even in those countries that are most difficult today, with faithfulness to your charism and the courage to found new communities.”
It was Thomas Cromwell, through two parliamentary resolutions, who transferred the ownership of abbeys, churches, monasteries and other possessions of the Catholic Church in England to the hands of the English crown. Among these, countless manuscripts, libraries and works of art, but especially farms and other productive buildings were taken over by the government. In particular, of course, monasteries and abbeys. Those that were not destroyed, expropriated or simply shut down were handed over to the political allies of Henry VIII.
But why was Henry VIII so eager to get his hands on northern English monasteries? According to historian Stephanie Mann, basically for two classic, too-well-known simple reasons: money and power. These expropriations would provide Henry VIII with an extraordinary, unexpected income without resorting to deeply unpopular measures (such as higher taxes), while also eliminating the influence of the Roman papacy over the English crown.
Now, about 500 years later, in a series of photographs published in the Daily Mail, we can see Cistercian monks, Father Joseph and Brother Bernard, visiting the ruins of one of these great abbeys: the Abbey of Rievaulx.
Rievaulx had been founded in 1132 by twelve monks from Clairvaux Abbey in France (the foundation of Saint Bernard), and soon was considered one of the greatest British abbeys. At its peak, 650 people actively lived and worked at Rievaulx, including monks, direct and indirect employees and other officials associated with the maintenance of monastic activities. On December 3, 1538, Henry VIII ordered them all to leave the building, expropriating every valuable object in it (particularly the lead used in stained glasses).
Today, a museum is housed in the abbey, led by English Heritage, a company/charity that is responsible for the preservation of more than 400 historic sites across England. The museum exhibits some of the artifacts monks once used at the abbey, and chronicles of the history of the Cistercian Order in England.