Posts in Nuns of the Monastery
Junior Wood Carver Nun

IMG_0413It's time to continue our explorations of the creative arts in the monastery by featuring our Junior Wood Carver Nun, Sr. Mary Magdalene. When we asked Sister how she took up wood carving last year, she relates that her inspiration came from our Sr. Mary Ellen Timothy. Sister had taught herself wood carving in the 1960s, and had fashioned several beautiful pieces, including our choir purificator box with an inlaid fleur-de-lis design. After Sister's death in June 2011, her basement wood shop became a storage area. While helping clean out the room, Sr. Mary Magdalene came across a holy water font carved by Sister, and thought, "Hey! I could do this!" and began teaching herself, by means of books and consultations with our workman, Gary Williams, and, of course, the most important teaching method of all, trial and error. Her skill could also be attributed to genetics. After telling her father about her forays in carving, he told Sister how he loved wood carving in his younger days. Sister has already made quite a few items, including holy water fonts, and is working on a statue of St. Dominic, a St. Nicholas' statue, and a new stable for the chapel's Nativity set. One of her biggest challenges is finding the right kind of wood. Already she has mastered the various machinery in the shop, including the ban saw, scroll saw, dremmel, power sander, router, and a drill press.

We thank God that the sounds of sanding are heard once again in the monastery basement, and ask your prayers for Sr. Mary Magdalene as she takes up the wood carver mantle. We are sure that Sr. Mary Ellen Timothy is interceding for her (and smiling down upon at her). Here is a slideshow of Sr. Mary Magdalene's wood shop and work.


New Liturgical Musicians!

Beyond formation classes, another type of learning (no less vital) enjoys a privileged place in the novitiate, what we might term "on-the-job training." The novitiate sisters learn (or improve upon) various skills, from cooking to gardening, sewing, soap making, rosary making and even wood carving. As our Constitutions states, "the sisters are taught those crafts and technical skills which are best suited to the needs of the life in the monastery" (LCM 119; IV). Sr. Mary Cecilia practices the organ in our basement rec room.

Most of the skills are acquired in the time-honored monastic manner, by being taught and passed on by our sisters. A few are self-taught. Others may require the expertise of outside professionals, such as learning musical instruments, especially those used at the liturgy. At present, we are blessed to have two junior organists, Sr. Mary Veronica and Sr. Mary Cecilia, who take weekly lessons from a local teacher. Both alternate playing the organ at Terce (Mid-morning Prayer) and Sext (Midday Prayer). It is gratifying to see (and hear) them at the organ, whether they are playing or practicing. As any nun will tell you, organists are highly prized members of the community.

Stretch that pinky finger!

Sister makes a notation on her music ("I'm indicating what finger I should play the note on!").

With a look of intense interest (or is it intense boredom?), Sabina listens Sister's playing.

Sr. Mary Veronica plays a hymn from The Summit Choirbook at Sext (Midday Prayer).


Sr. Mary Jacinta at her Vespers debut.

The other musical instrument used in our liturgical prayer is the autoharp (a chorded zither), which accompanies our chanting of the psalms at Lauds, Office of Readings and Vespers. We are pleased to announce that Sr. Mary Jacinta has recently joined the ranks of our autoharpists. Sr. Maria Teresa has helped Sister learn the instrument, which she plays with a certain Caribbean flair! Please pray for our young liturgical musicians, that the Lord may increase their skill and mastery!


Sr. Mary Jacinta takes notes as Sr. Maria Teresa goes over the psalm tones.

"The solemn celebration of the liturgy is the heart of our whole life and the chief source of its unity" (LCM 75). Visitors to our monastery (whether friars, nuns or laypeople) have always commented on the beauty and reverence of our liturgy. May the Lord grant that we may continue to sing His praises, making joyful music to Him with all our skill.

Another Year of Wisdom

It's hard to believe that another year has passed since our theology students were in Lufkin yet here they are getting ready to head out to the airport for their two-week stay at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus. (They drove in the car, not in the trunk!)

This year the Sisters will be studying Patristics and the Moral Vision of St. Thomas. Fr. David Meconi, SJ, who was here at Summit last year giving us some lectures was supposed to teach the Patristics' course but sadly had to find a substitute at the last minute because of his mother's final illness. Please pray for her! Mr. Noel Pretila, adjunct professor of Theological Studies at St. Louis University will be teaching for him. If Fr. Meconi's name seems familiar it is because he is the editor of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, a friar we have known since his first days in the Order will be doing the course on Moral Theology. Fr. Nicanor is an Associate Professor at Providence College where he teaches molecular microbiology and genetics.

In the afternoon sessions the sisters will be giving presentations on the psalms (last year's course) and some sisters took on the added challenge of translating one of St. Thomas' commentaries on a psalm of their choosing.

We already miss our sisters but know that these 4 years of theological study will benefit not just them but our community. The time together also forges bonds between the nuns of the different monasteries.

Joys of Summer

We are all enjoying the welcome relief from the heat wave! The garden loved it, and with the day of a good soaking rain everything shot up 10 feet! Well, OK, maybe not 10 feet!

At dinner dishes Sr. Mary Jacinta said, "I ate 2 plums at meditation this morning! They were delicious! I'm going to pick more at recreation!" So, a group of sisters donned hats, Sr. Mary Magadene found the tallest ladder she could find and the eating, I mean, the picking, began in earnest!

Later, evening recreation was spent showing off each others growing project to each other.

This year the garden isn't that big but more sisters than usual decided to grow one or two things.

Sr. Mary Veronica has a beet patch, Sr. Maria Teresa loving cares for her basil which she is growing for pesto! Sr. Joseph Maria has her garden box with all sorts of vegetables. Sr. Mary Cecilia, Sr. Mary Jacinta and Sr. Mary Martin are growing tomatoes, beans and parsley. Sr. Mary Magdalene has a large squash and zucchini patch the fruits of which have even made itinto Fr. Gregory's morning homilies. Like anyone who grows zucchini, Sr. Mary Magdalene has found that no matter how much you give away or freeze there is still more! Sr. Mary Catharine nurtures the small vineyard and has a small garden of green and salmon colored zinnias and large white marigolds (supposedly!). As she is busy "growing" novices she doesn't have much time for much more than that and she tells us that, "I like to grow zinnias and marigolds."

"They're glorified weeds! You can count on them to grow, they produce lots of flowers that make people happy and the nice neatly weeded rows give me delusions of control!"

The vineyard is producing a small crop of grapes. Fortunately, it seems we have the black rot under control. What isn't under control are the birds who know just the right moment to eat every single grape.

Last year, Sr. Mary Catharine decided to wait one more day before harvesting. You guessed it! The next morning nary a grape was on the vines!

By the way, yes we know that the layout of this post is especially awful. If you have any tricks as to how the post you are producing can look the same as the published post please email us at Thank you!


The Dominicans are at it again!

What are we up to now? Well, really, nothing we haven't been doing...praying! But this time Dominicans all over the world received the invitation we have been waiting for: to pray for the success of the full reconciliation of the Society of Pius X with Rome. If you read the interview of our brother, Archbishop DiNoia, OP you might have missed the last question and answer:

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about reconciliation?

I’m neither; I just don’t know. I think it will be an act of grace.

In fact, I’m going to ask the Dominicans to start praying. I hope it’ll happen. The Pope doesn’t want this to continue — another sect, another division.

So, it wasn't much of a surprise when we received a communication from the Archbishop via the Provincial's office to pray the Litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds especially this week when the SSPX is having their Chapter. We were encouraged to pray it in the months ahead!

The Dominican Litany is long and it gets longer every year! It was much shorter when it was first prayed in 1254! It continues to be a powerful prayer, as we ask the intercession of our brothers and sisters in heaven!

The lay Dominicans have this on their site:

Innocent IV (born around 1200 and Pope from June 25, 1243) became a foe of the Order when the Dominican community in Genoa, the Pope's home town, would not give him their Priory and its land for a castle he wanted to build there to protect his relatives from his enemies. Angered by what he considered to be Dominican ingratitude in the face of favors he had granted the Order, Innocent now acceded to the long standing demands of some of the secular clergy who were upset by the Friars' popularity in the pastoral ministry, in preaching, and in university teaching.

Thus on May 10, 1254, the Pope placed some restrictions on the apostolate of the Dominicans in the French town of Saint-Quentin, and then began limiting the activities of the Other French Priories. On June 4 he in effect expelled the Dominican professors from the University of Paris. This new animosity on the part of the Supreme Pontiff frightened the Friars, who began to say the Litany of the Saints for a deliverance from what they saw as the impending suppression of the whole Order.

On Nov. 21, 1254, Innocent IV signed a decree rescinding all the privileges of the Order of Preachers, and instead forbidding all Dominicans to receive any lay person in their churches on Sundays and Holidays, to preach in their churches on other days before the Solemn Mass in the local diocesan parish church, to preach in an episcopal town if the bishop was to preach there that day, and to hear anyone's confession without the permission of the penitent's pastor. A Cardinal who supported the Pope in this affair had even further restriction to suggest to Innocent.

On the day the latter signed the aforementioned decree, the said Cardinal tumbled down some stairs and shortly thereafter died of the injuries. The Pope himself, on that very same day, Nov. 21, 1254, after signing the decree, suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed. Sixteen days later, On Dec. 7, 1254, Pope Innocent IV died. The new Pope, Alexander IV, restored all its privileges to the Order on Dec. 22, 1254, thirty-one days after their suppression and on the 38th anniversary of the Order's approval by Honorius III on Dec. 22, 1216.

As a result of the foregoing, the saying arose, "Beware the Litanies of the Dominicans."

This Litany is therefore recommended as a Novena in especially critical circumstances.

If you would like to join us in praying for this intention you can download a pdf file of the Litany HERE.

It's missing a few new blesseds but they will understand!