Peace and Blessings! God reward you for the family news. Now to give another glimpse of my life here at the monastery. One great joy I want to share is that I’m becoming a polyglot! I’m learning a new language. A second language in the cloister? Yes, because silence is the language of God and you may recall that silence was not my predominant virtue! Here in our cloister it is an essential part of our union with Him. I pray someday it will become my best language!
Silence is also the language of love, another reason to become most fluent in it. I think the interior silence is the hardest to learn. Memories, images and thoughts tend to crowd in and occupy the mind. It takes practice not to pay undue attention to them and really focus on the present moment with full attention, intention and deliberation. So much to learn! Soon we will enter the great silence of Lent. More about that another time! How are the dogs, and that troublesome cat next door? Love and miss you, but we are one in heart and prayer!
Sister Mary Neophilus
To learn more, go to the website of the Corpus Christi Monastery of the Poor Clare Colettines in Rockford, IL and read, “A Life of Prayer and Worship.”
As Visitation Sisters around the world look forward to the feast of St. Francis de Sales Jan 24, the sisters in the United States say that the spirituality crafted by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal remains strong and shows signs of growth.
That’s true, judged by web visits to the Sisters’ new Second Federation website, begun last February. Visits have increased to 650 per month, and the website has posted a steady stream of articles on Salesian spirituality, while explaining little-known devotions and facts in the lives of the two founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal.
This spirituality is suited for both those living in the world, and for contemplative life, such as that of sisters living in the Visitation’s cloistered communities. The 1999 Vatican instruction Verbi Sponsa states, “. . . Just as in the upper room, Mary in her heart, with her prayerful presence, watched over the origins of the Church, so too now the Church’s journey is entrusted to the loving heart and praying hands of cloistered nuns” (No. 4).
The Order, formally known as the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, was founded in 1610 by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in Annecy, in eastern France. The Order spread from France throughout Europe and beyond. Today the group numbers approximately 2,500 Sisters in more than 150 monasteries throughout the world. They are growing in Africa; there is a monastery in Korea, and in South and Central America the houses continue to expand.
For more information on the Visitation and its spirituality for religious and laity, visit the Second Federation of the Visitation. Learn also about cloistered Visitation communities, such as the Toledo, OH Visitation.
St. Anthony of Egypt, abbot, was born in Coma, Upper Egypt. While still young he got rid of all his possessions and lived among the local ascetics, and then withdrew into the desert, where he lived in complete solitude and was repeatedly tempted by the devil. Remaining steadfast, he attracted a number of disciples to a hermit’s life in the desert and a small monastery was formed at the place. From there he, in 311, went to Alexandria to encourage the confessors during the persecution of the Emperor Maximinus Daia (emperor in the east 310-313).
St. Anthony was reputed to be a miracle-maker and many were converted by him. His surviving works include a letter to the Emperor Constantine and several ones to different monasteries. St. Athanasius, who knew Anthony well and wrote his biography, said, “Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God.”
Anthony lived a long and righteous life and died at the age of 105. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave. In 561 his relics were transferred to Alexandria, and much later, they were claimed by Constantinople and by La Motte, where the Order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony was founded c. 1100. His feastday is January 17.