Friday, March 21, 2014

This Week in Madonna House - March 16-21

I'm writing up this week's TWIMH post, which I normally do on Saturday or Sunday, today, as tomorrow I am travelling out to St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno Saskatchewan (that's on the great Canadian prairie, for those non-Canucks reading this). I will be teaching a week-long intensive course on liturgy and worship all next week.

In fact, while I have material for blogging for the week ahead, I'm not at all sure I'll be able to keep up the daily posts, as I will be fully engaged in this course and may not have the time or mental energy for my usual writing. We'll see - but if the blog goes a bit dark next week, that's why.

Meanwhile, this week in MH was marked by three main events. Monday, the feast of St. Patrick, was celebrated in a fairly low key fashion, mostly because it coincided with the mailing bee of our spring begging letter that evening. How does MH survive? How do we support ourselves? What is the business model that keeps the lights on and the gas in our cars?

We beg people to give us money, and they do. Great plan, eh? This was the first thing Catherine Doherty knew about the call God was giving her, the one thing she was absolutely certain of, from the first moment of her apostolic life. God wanted her to be a mendicant, a beggar, like St. Francis of Assisi and all the other mendicant orders in the Church.

Before she even knew she was founding a community (which came as a considerable shock to her, which took her some time to get over), she knew she was to live on the Providence of God as expressed through the goodness and generosity of others. And she bequeathed that to us, going so far as to say that, "The day MH stops begging, it will disappear from the mind of God."

There is a lot that could be said about that (and maybe I will some day), but for now, our practice is to send out a letter to our mailing list twice a year, and so we all get together on an evening to fold and stuff, stuff and seal, somewhere around 15 000 letters for mailing. It is a joyful, peaceful time together, when we are all increasingly conscious of the simple fact that, if God does not move the hearts of our benefactors to help us in our work, we will simply fold our tents in short order. And since Catherine began her work more or less in 1934, we have 80 years of seeing how God provides in the love and help we are given by all these good people.

Event Two was the Solemnity of St. Joseph on Wednesday. Besides being the great feast of the whole Church that it is, Joseph being the patron of the Universal Church and so many other things (Canada, for example!), it also has a local MH meaning. St. Joseph is the patron of our lay men's department, one of the three constituent parts that makes up the MH apostolate, without which it would be a radically and much impoverished vocation.

So we celebrated the feast as we always do, with good liturgy and good food (how else does one celebrate a feast?), and had special displays and tributes to the MH laymen, including a lovely digital slide show of all the men, past and present, which played on a laptop throughout the day.

Third was just yesterday, and came as a total surprise to all of us. As I said repeatedly throughout the afternoon, "When I got out of bed this morning, I had no idea I would be hosting the visit of a travelling pilgrim icon of Our Lady." But this is what happened.

Human Life International is sponsoring the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life  (read all about it at the link) with a beautiful and very large icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Black Madonna, travelling around here, there, everywhere to encourage prayer for a culture of life and an end to the outrages against the sanctity of life which are so rampant in our world today, abortion and nascent euthanasia primary among them.

So, having come to Canada and visited Montreal and Ottawa, the priest accompanying the Madonna, Fr. Peter West, decided to bring her here to MH! They arrived mid-afternoon, and we had a lovely time, enthroning her for the evening and night in our original chapel, where people could simply spend time praying before this image as the Spirit moved them.

Meanwhile, Fr. West and his layman companion had a tour, Mass, supper, and generally a great visit to Madonna House. They were heading back to the States today, and I had to laugh that Our Lady, on her first visit to Canada, knew that she had to come to Montreal, Ottawa... and Combermere! She certainly knows where the most important places are (that's a joke, folks...).

Otherwise, a pretty ordinary kind of Lenten week in one of our quieter times of year. Guests keep rolling in and out - we seem to be popular as a place to spend part of Lent this year. I ask your prayers, you praying types, as I hit the road tomorrow for this little adventure in teaching, which is something of a departure for me--missions and retreats have been more my bailiwick of late.

I will try to keep blogging, but if it proves impossible, I'll be talking to you all in a week or so. Happy Lent-ing to you all, meantime!


  1. May the Holy Spirit come and assist you in your teaching.

  2. You sem entitled for a beggar, not humble,,,,,,and fleshy.

  3. @ moe
    you don't look like Larry or Curly.

    1. Missionary name, pidgin for Moses. Two other branches of my family are Abe and Grace. Hawaiian.

      What nationality or culture does anonymous originate in? Hellenic? You Greek?

  4. My daughter is 12, sort of risky talking about my 12 year old daughter when you guys have got the mean spirit thing going. I am talking the risk.
    She is learning about the internet now, as a social tool and as a way to do some school work. We both have made some mistakes with this- but we are learning.
    The mistakes largely have to do with boundaries. I want to protect her but not cloak her. Abuse usually usually involves trespass on another's equality or freedom because of unclear or poorly defined boundaries.
    The thing about the internet is that it is hard to create those boundaries. In a blog space like this..
    I thinking of all this because of a few emails I got earlier in the week about bullying. Also, my daughter and I watched a movie tonight called cyber bullying. It was very sad- about a teen who attempted suicide after cyberbullying.
    The first temptation is to bully back. But, that doesn't really help does it?
    Another thing to do is isolate the offender- you know further marginalize him or her. But then- for those who truly are marginalized- how does healing occur- without being seen or heard?
    I don't know the answers.
    But this mean spirited is really sad...


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