Saturday, February 07, 2009

7 Nun Pictures for 7 Quick Takes Saturday

Here's Jen's post of quick takes for this week.

I think I'll do something a little different this time. My quick takes shall all be pictures, and to make it more interesting they'll all be pictures of nuns, and to make it more interesting still they'll all be pictures of nuns I have personally met.

I'll tell you right now what all the nuns I've known had in common: they were joyful.

1) Here's a group of us with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. They do nursing, teaching, and retreat work-- I think the nuns who work in the hospital have white habits so they'll look more nurse-like. Incidentally if you live in Southern California and want to do a retreat, their house in Alhambra is lovely and they always have good (orthodox!) speakers. One of the priests in my parish is going to direct a big ol' eight-day Ignatian retreat there in July.

2) The sisters staff a medical center in Duarte and sometimes they take their wheelchair patients out for a stroll on the path outside. So the city of Duarte was sporting enough to put up this sign. :) One of the sisters is demonstrating for us.

I know a couple at church whose only child is one of the Carmelites, and they're so proud of her. I love to hear them talk about it.

3) The Missionaries of Charity don't seem to have an official website, but there's here and here. They have a convent in Lynwood, California, where I used to spend every Thursday afternoon answering the phone and door for them while they had their weekly day of prayer. I stopped it when I started working again, but I miss them. This order is an amazing work of God. It started in 1948 when Mother Teresa left the order of teaching sisters where she'd been happy for eighteen years, and walked out onto the streets of Calcutta with nothing but the clothes on her back, determined to found a new order to serve the poor as Jesus had commanded her to do. Now there are about 5000 sisters worldwide. I had the great luck of being at their convent on the day Sister Nirmala visited-- she's been the head of the order since just before Mother Teresa died. They're truly an international crowd, from all continents. In Lynwood they visit the poor, feed the homeless, teach catechism to children, run a home for pregnant woman with no place else to stay, and perform other deeds of mercy. A priest told me that of all the American women who try their vocations with the MCs, only about one in twelve perseveres to final vows. Apparently the lifestyle is too trying for those who've grown up rich.

4) Some friends and I dropped by the convent of the Sisters, Servants of Mary in Oxnard. They have a beautiful apostlate: they all become nurses and at night they go out to private homes where there are sick people who need round-the-clock care and can't afford it. That way the family of the sick person can rest, and they do it for free. This order and most of their members came from Mexico, but they'd like more American vocations. Everyone in the order needs to learn both English and Spanish.

They served us a delicious lunch and chatted with us and they were so friendly and sweet. They have their own way of hugging-- embrace on the left shoulder and then again on the right-- I got hugged that way about ten times. :) As you can see we mostly met the postulants and novices, because the sisters usually sleep during the daytime.

5) This woman here is so much fun: Sr. Guadalupe of The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Boston. She once told me her whole vocation story which essentially had me laughing for forty-five minutes straight. St. Peter Chanel was her parish before she entered religious life, so I see her there when she comes home to visit her family. But normally she's surrounded by all the other people who want to talk with her.

On the occasion of this picture we were meeting with a group to discuss the Diary of St. Faustina. Of course St. Faustina (who died in Poland in 1938) was from this very congregation, so Sr. Guadalupe has the Diary half-memorized. Normally Fr. Larry would lead our discussion, but on that night he got Sr. Guadalupe to come and then made her do all the talking, and it was fascinating to listen to her enthusiastic commentary. I kept thinking what a privilege it was to be there.

6) Here's a group of us visiting the cloistered Dominican nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery. We spent one night there; I was sorry it wasn't longer for I didn't get nearly enough time just to hang around the place and chant the Liturgy of the Hours with the nuns. Also they fed us ridiculously well, and even though we all agreed it was too much food, we all cleaned our plates at every meal. In this picture we were having breakfast with some of the nuns, which meant the extern sister (the only one who leaves the cloister area) set up a table for us in one of the visiting rooms, and the nuns gathered on their side of the same room and chatted with us. We got a fair bit of time to talk with them even though they never left the cloister and we never entered it. :)

7) Here's the back of the extern sister as she waters the front yard. I love her big flowing veil.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

so, what habit are you taking ;)?

Rachel Gray said...

Believe it or not, none of the above (unless God surprises me)... I admire them all, though!

Meg said...

Whatever God wills for you. No pressure, everything is in His time.

JimAroo said...

Brown is such a good color for you.
That settles it.

Rachel Gray said...

Wow, that was easy! Thanks for the unbiased opinion. :)

JimAroo said...

And thank you for the gracious comment about hearing us talk about our daughter. :)

Lee Gilbert said...

"Believe it or not, none of the above (unless God surprises me)... I admire them all, though!"

So then, it's perfectly obvious nothing but the cloistered Carmelites will do. And have I got the monastery for you. The Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, NE.

They have all the offices in Latin, and the Mass in the extraordinary form as well. The place is overflowing with vocations. It was built in 2001 for 21 sisters and now has 33! There are only 13 solemn professed, and 20 in the novitiate. Mother Theresa is not turning down any good vocations, and they are getting ready to make a new foundation. My daughter is there since August of '07 and is already senior in religion to another 11 women.

She, by the way, is very, very happy. It's such a joyful convent, and very ascetic at the same time.

What a glorious thing it is to be the father of a contemplative nun!