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How an Icon is Painted — 2 Months in 2 Minutes!

tumblr_mda7l5myo81rb44tmo1_500Iconography is the oldest tradition of Christian sacred art, embodying the work of thousands of iconographers, many of whom were themselves saints. Unlike other approaches to painting, the creation of an icon does not begin in the artist’s imagination. Rather, the iconographer’s first work is to study how the subject at hand has been traditionally depicted in this rich artistic tradition.s-carmelite-large Through the centuries, many monks and cloistered religious, especially in the Eastern tradition, would write icons which serves as an intense form of prayer. Much prayer and fasting goes into creating this sacred art. Here is an amazing link to a video of how the icon “O Holy Night” was conceived and painted, and below that a step by step walkthrough of the stages in the creation of an icon, in this case of St. John the Baptist. For more information on how icons are written, visit here.

Pink Sisters Mark 100 Years of Nonstop Prayer–Seek 100 More!

PinkSisters For more than 100 years, the cloistered nuns known as the Pink Sisters have worked in shifts to ensure nonstop prayer in Philadelphia’s Chapel of Divine Love. Now, to address their shrinking numbers and ensure their prayers continue for another century, the Roman Catholic Holy Spirit Adoration sisters have begun quietly reaching out, seeking to grow their order while carefully maintaining their secluded life. In the last year, they hung a banner outside their chapel and convent as a way to let other people know about their daily public Masses. They’ve granted more interviews with news reporters. And they have begun inviting Catholic women’s organizations and schools to speak to the sisters — with all conversations taking place through the grille in the convent visiting room, of course. There’s even a subtle recruitment flier hanging just inside the front door of the chapel. It encourages visitors to ask themselves three questions: Do you love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Do you realize the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament? Is Jesus calling you to say ‘yes’ to a life of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament? “We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things,” said Sister Maria Clarissa, 55. “We do our part in addressing these challenges, but at the same time, we leave it to the Lord. He’s the one who calls.” There were once as many as 40 nuns living in the Philadelphia convent. Now, there are 20: The youngest is 52, and the oldest is 90. The order was founded in Holland in 1896 with a focus on the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated bread they uphold as the body and blood of Christ. The rose-hued habits are meant to symbolize the joy the sisters feel honoring the Holy Spirit. In 1915, nine of the original sisters left the motherhouse and came to Philadelphia, where they were invited to open the order’s second convent. Today there are about 420 Holy Spirit Adoration sisters living in 22 convents in 12 countries. There are three other U.S. convents — in St. Louis; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lincoln, Nebraska. It may come as a surprise to some that a group of 20 nuns live a contemplative, secluded life not far from Philadelphia’s famed museums, historic landmarks and government. The sisters leave the cloister only for emergencies, such as medical appointments. When they do venture out, the sisters wear gray so as not to draw too much attention to themselves. It is a selfless life, focused on offering intercessory prayers on behalf of people they will never meet living in places they will never see. They pray most of the day, together and individually in shifts before the Blessed Sacrament, generally waking up at 5:15 a.m. to prepare for the first daily service, going to bed after the 8 p.m. final prayers. All the sisters have jobs. Some craft Mass cards and rosaries, the sales of which support the convent. Other sisters respond to letters and answer the phones. Some callers are lonely; others are suicidal. Just listening, the sisters say, seems to make a difference. The sisters get one hour of free time and one hour of recreation each day. They are allowed visits from family and friends three times a year. Sister Mary Angelica, 55, said she wants people who have lost touch with their faith to know there is always someone praying for them, “no matter what their need may be.” The sisters follow current events, but the newspapers they receive don’t include the sports or entertainment sections. “We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord,” explained Mary Angelica. “We are simple in everything, even meals — though on special occasions, we have ice cream.” For more information visit Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters.

New Cloistered Dominican Nun Clothed at Start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Summit On December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Sr. Danielle was clothed in the habit of the Dominican Order and began her novitiate, receiving the name Sr. Mary Ana of the Divine Mercy. The ceremony took place in the Chapter Hall of the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersy, adorned with beautiful pink and white roses–a gift from a good friend of the monastery for the entrance of Sr. Aisling and clothing of Sr. Danielle. During the ceremony, before the postulant is vested in the habit, the prioress gives a homily reflecting on the reading and the religious life. Below is the homily Sr. Mary Martin gave: My dear Sisters, Today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are giving the Dominican habit to Sr. Danielle. It is an appropriate feast for clothing a sister because the habit is white, and may be spotless for the moment, but none of us is conceived without sin. Mary is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” The rest of us must every day beg God’s mercy and that of one another. How fitting that on this day, when Pope Francis has opened the extraordinary Jubilee of mercy, Sr. Danielle should beg God’s mercy and ours. What a joy that, in this year of Jubilee for the 800th anniversary of the approbation of the Order, any young woman should enter the monastery, receive the habit of the Order, or make profession! We have much to be grateful for. God has already shown us great mercy in calling us to this way of life and giving us one another to love and support in living it. We have been called as Abram was, to leave everything and go to a land that God will show. That land is first of all not a place but a condition. That land is mercy, God’s mercy and ours. Only then is it the monastery and the Order, where this mercy is lived out as a concrete reality. Saint Dominic would cry out: “My God, mercy! What will become of poor sinners?” This is our cry also as Nuns of the Order. This is Sr. Danielle’s cry today and, we hope, every day of her life. Our beautiful mother, Mary, watches over us as we live out our lives. She is with us, not as an impossible ideal or a silent reproach to our sinfulness, but as one of us, helping and encouraging us to have the faith and love that she had, to live in hope of sharing the redemption that she received as pure gift. Mary, because she is conceived without sin, is the most redeemed of all God’s creatures and the shining beacon of hope for the rest of us. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Our Holy Father, St. Dominic, pray for us. For more information on the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary click here.

Ancient Italian City of Norcia Now Known for Its Singing Monks

The ancient city of Norcia in central Italy is known for its wild boar sausages and black truffles, but now it’s known for something else: Its singing monks. “We sing the praises of God nine times a day. So if you add all that up, it’s probably five hours every day, rain or shine, 365 days a year,” said Cassian Folsom, the American-born priest who leads St. Benedict’s Monastery in Norcia. The Monks of Norcia, a group of Benedictine monks in Norcia, Italy. The group's new Gregorian chant CD debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s classical music chart last week (June 10, 2015). Photo by Christopher McLallen, courtesy of the Monks of Norcia People no longer need to travel to this birthplace of St. Benedict to hear the monks, because their chants and hymns are on a CD that’s topped the Billboard charts this summer in classical, traditional music. “There’s a great hunger and thirst that people have, even non-believers, for something or other which they generally call spirituality,” said Folsom, 63. “If the CD can respond to that need, then we’d be very pleased.” The gentle tones of a Gregorian chant—and the many voices singing as one—creates a calming, ethereal quality that at its core is not a performance—it is prayer. “You have to believe in what you’re singing,” said Folsom, who studied voice at Indiana University when he felt the call to life in a monastery. BenedictaChantCD The monks’ CD, Benedicta, is music based on Scripture, especially Psalms and the life of the Virgin Mary, plus passages from the 1,500-year-old guide for monastic living, The Rule of St. Benedict. “Some of these are very, very dear to us and very familiar prayers,” said Basil Nixen, 33, an Arizona-born priest and choirmaster of the monastery. “I simply hope that the beauty, the order and the peace of the music will lead all who listen to it to seek the source of that peace.” Christopher Alder, a Grammy-winning producer from England, traveled to Norcia to oversee the recording sessions. “The chant that we record means something to them,” Alder said. “You can hear that in the sincerity of their singing. It does have something in the best sense that’s hypnotic, or meditative. It has something eternal to it.” Although Norcia is a centuries-old city nestled beneath the mountains of Umbria, no monks had lived there for nearly 200 years — until they moved back 15 years ago. In the early 1800s, the monks were evicted under Napoleonic laws in a wave of anti-clericalism. About 15 years ago, nearly everyone in the city—about 5,000 people— signed petitions asking the global leader of the Benedictines to bring them back. Of the monastery’s 17 monks, 12 are American. “The townspeople, they look to the monks if they have problems, if they want to talk to somebody about their family life,” Folsom explained. “To have the monks back after almost 200 years helps to complete the identity of the town.” For more information on St. Benedict’s Monastery, visit here. To sample their chant, click here.
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Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on Woman's Contemplative Life
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World Day of Cloistered Life - Pro Orantibus Day
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Free Audio Book
A Right to Be Merry By Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.
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Terms
Glossary of Cloistered Life terms
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