Sunday, June 5, 2016

This Week in Madonna House - May 29-June 4

This week in Madonna House began with the great feast of Corpus Christi. In MH we do many of the traditional practices associated with this day. After a festive Mass honoring the gift of the Eucharistic Lord to the Church, we had exposition and adoration for the whole day.

At the end of the afternoon we had the traditional procession with the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at the St. Mary’s chapel, going to the parish church, the statue of Our Lady of Combermere, having Benediction in each of those stations, and ending at Our Lady of the Woods chapel with a final Benediction.

Many of our neighbors and friends from the surrounding parishes join us for that event, including lots of families with young children. It is a really joyful and beautiful thing, which we all look forward to (even with the black flies!).

I had to leave the procession early myself, as I had to scoot down to Maynooth for their Corpus Christi event at which I spoke on ‘The Eucharist and the Year of Mercy’.

The other event around which the week revolved is the annual pre-promise retreat. In Madonna House we have seven years of making temporary promises before making final promises for life. All those making their first promises for one year (thus receiving the Pax-Caritas cross), renewing for two years at a time, or making finals have a three day retreat beforehand, which we are square in the middle of as I write this.

In fact, I am the retreat master this year, and am writing this from the building we use for such purposes, Loreto House. The theme I chose for the retreat is “The Little Mandate: The Treasure at the Heart of Our Life”. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on this blog that 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Catherine bringing forth the MH Little Mandate as a public document. She had received it as words in prayer from God 35 years previously, but had considered them God’s mandate to her personally. It was in 1966 that she came to realize that these were words for the whole community.

So we have different MH staff coming in and sharing with the retreatants their own sense of the Mandate and individual lines of it. I spoke to them myself about the word that has resonated largely for me lately, which is ‘Arise-go – sell all you possess, give it directly, personally to the poor.’ Others have spoken or will speak on ‘Go into the marketplace’, ‘Go with fears into the depths of men’s hearts’, ‘Go to the poor, being poor’, and ‘Pray always – I will be your rest.’

Our MH retreats are not all prayer, silence, and austere living, mind you. It is a celebratory joyful retreat. We are being feted with delicious meals, beautifully decorated tables, and much love and care from the community. Pray for the young men and women who are preparing to either make or renew their commitment to this family by their promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This Wednesday, June 8, will be our promises day.

Beyond that, the big push these days is planting the vegetable gardens at the farm (this week, carrots, broccoli, squash, and probably a few more crops I didn’t hear about). Also, the woman in charge of Cana Colony is very busy indeed getting the camp set up for the families who will start coming for that experience in less than a month. We will shortly be having an ‘all hands on deck’ work bee to clean the place up from top to bottom.

The shops are busy with the early summer tourists, and the men are very busy getting the massive renovations of the women’s guest dorm, St. Germaine’s, finished before the summer program begins.

It has been an extremely dry spring so far, but as I write this a beautiful rain is pouring down from the heavens – a welcome gift for the earth and all that grows therein. We also have had quite an influx of men guests this past week – another welcome gift from the Lord

So as we move through these busy days filled with much work and much beauty, be assured of our prayers for you and for the whole world at this time.

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