Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nuns With Good Habits - Pro Life Edition

Today marks the 37th Anniversary of the 2 worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court of the USA. Those decisions for the few who don't know were Roe v Wade & Doe v Bolton. Because of those 2 rulings about 50 million unborn children have been murdered by abortion in the USA. Scripture clearly teaches us that God can bring good out of evil. Abortion is definitely evil, an intrinsic evil. But God has not let that evil go unchallenged. he has raised up many organizations that are fighting to put an end to abortion & deal with the damage that abortion has done, emotionally & spiritually, to those involved in it.
That is why I am looking at the Sisters of Life on this day. As it says on their website:
"The Sisters of Life is a contemplative / active religious community of women founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life. Like all religious communities, we take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We also are consecrated under a special, fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.
Reverence and gratitude for the unique and unrepeatable gift of each human life made in the image and likeness of God fuels the prayer of each Sister, our first mission in building the Kingdom of God and the “Culture of Life.” It also provides the starting point for our interactions with others, especially relationships in community between our 70 Sisters (who come from across the United States, Canada and New Zealand), and in our apostolates.
Inspired by the love of Christ our Spouse, the author of Life, we desire to pour out all our gifts of nature and grace in the apostolate, that nothing of the gift of life, and no one to whom it has been given, should be lost.
Our missions are carried out with the heart of the Church and with the hope of revealing to those we serve the inherent goodness and beauty of their own lives, so that each person may see and experience the truth that they are an unrepeatable creation of the Master
Those missions are:
1. To welcome pregnant guests to live with then in the Holy Respite of 1 of their convents
2. Assist pregnant women in need of practical assistance through their Visitation Mission
3. Host retreats at Villa Maria Guadalupe Retreat Center
4. Invite those who have suffered abortion to hope & healing through day & weekend Entering Canaan Retreats
5. Direct the New York Archdiocesan Family Life / Respect Life Office
6. Run the Dr. Joseph Stanton Human Life Issues Library @ Our Lady of New York Convent
As I pointed out earlier, the Sisters of Life were founded in 1991. Nearly 20 yrs later there are now about 70 sisters. Why was this order started by Cardinal O'Connor?
"During a visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp, the then Bishop-elect John J. O’Connor placed his hands inside the red brick crematoria oven and “felt the intermingled ashes of Jew and Christian, rabbi, priest and minister.” Struck to the heart, he proclaimed, “Good God, how could human beings do this to other human beings?” In that instant, he received a life-transforming grace and vowed to do all he could, from that moment forward, to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life, wherever it was most vulnerable.
Several years later, now John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York and the leading voice for life within the Church, he prayed to understand why the efforts of the pro-life cause were not gleaning the results expected. His eyes fell upon the passage from Scripture, “This kind of demon can only be cast out by prayer and fasting,” and another, life-transforming, grace was his. This time, though, the grace was not just a personal one, but one for the whole Church; it was the grace that gave birth to a new charism, a new religious community in the Church, the Sisters of Life
." I have to add that, having met & talked to Cardinal O'Connor back in the 1990s, I would have expected no other response from him than this 1.
He then wrote an article for his weekly newspaper column titled, “Help Wanted: Sisters of Life”. He received hundreds of responses to that column. 8 women entered the newly formed community on Foundation Day, June 1, 1991. Among those eight was Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, the first Superior General of the Sisters of Life.
(from their history) "Throughout the first years of Formation, the new community was greatly assisted by the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, who provided our postulancy residence and first directors. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma provided our first novice director, Sr. (now Mother) Assumpta Long, O.P., and assistant novice director, Sr. Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM. They remained with us for one year before Mother Agnes Mary was missioned as Superior General on August 22, 1993. The Little Sisters of the Poor and the Hawthorne Dominicans granted us the privilege of working in their apostolates before we had our own.
By February, 1994, the Sisters of Life had five temporary professed members, one convent, and were assisting pregnant women in crisis. At the end of that year, a second convent, Our Lady of New York, was opened. Soon pregnant women were living with the Sisters. 1996 saw both the beginning of our retreats for those who suffer abortion and the official opening of the Dr. Stanton Human Life Issues Library. Two years later, a third convent, Sacred Heart of Jesus was added, and by the following year, 1999, it was ready to receive pregnant women as full-time guests
1999 was also the year that Cardinal O' Connor O’Connor was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died on 3 May 2000.
As they so rightly point out on their website: "His patrimony of seeing in each human person, regardless of poverty or wealth, sickness or health, level of intelligence or physical capacity, a precious and unique image of the Son of God, remains indelibly printed in the hearts of his spiritual daughters. How grateful we are to have had a great man of God as our Founder and father." As I said before, i can attest to this based on personal experience. & it is clear to me by what the Sisters of Life are doing that they share that same vision.
Their website goes on to share their history after his death: "The Lord has continued to bless the community in the years following our Founder’s entry into Eternal Life. A fourth convent, and the first outside the bounds of New York City, St. Paul the Apostle, was opened in 2001. The following year, Edward Cardinal Egan, who succeeded Cardinal O’Connor as Archbishop of New York, requested the Sisters of Life to direct and staff the Archdiocesan Family Life/ Respect Life Office, a request we have happily accommodated since that time.
Thirteen years after Foundation, on our patronal feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, 2004, the Sisters of Life were officially approved as a Religious Institute of diocesan right within the Church. On this momentous occasion, the charism of Life given to Cardinal O’Connor years before was confirmed by the Church as an authentic, and unique, religious charism in and for the Church. Deo Gloria!
During that same Spring, our Entering Canaan mission for those suffering abortion had the joy of seeing its retreat manual published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for distribution throughout the United States. In the Fall of 2004, one of the first visions of our Founder for the Sisters of Life became a reality thanks to the generous support and collaboration of the Knights of Columbus: a life issues retreat center, Villa Maria Guadalupe, in Stamford, Connecticut.
In 2006, our Visitation Mission moved its mission to assist vulnerable pregnant women to the heart of Manhattan, with increased visibility and capacity to serve women in need. Just over a year later, in 2007, our first international foundation became a reality when we opened a convent outside Toronto, bringing our missions of evangelization and the Visitation to Canada.
From the earliest days of our foundation we have had the opportunity to evangelize on the sanctity of human life across the nation and beyond. In the summer of 2008, had the privilege of sharing the beauty of God’s Truth during World Youth Day in Sydney at the Love & Life Site, a Catechetical Site co-sponsored by the Sisters of Life, the Knights of Columbus and John Paul II Institutes. As the Lord continues to bless our community, we eagerly await how He will continue to reveal this charism of Life “even to the ends of the earth
In New York City they also work with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR & the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Their prayer life is centered arround the Eucharist. In fact their entire lives "are profoundly Eucharistic. Four hours a day are spent in common prayer. All of their common prayer is prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. They pray a daily, common Eucharistic Holy Hour that includes the Rosary, 45 minutes of meditation & Vespers. Their reason for the Eucharistic centered prayer is simple & logical. "Like our Blessed Mother, who conceived Jesus beneath her heart at the Annunciation and immediately “went in haste to the hill country” to serve her elderly cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, Sisters of Life first must receive Jesus in the Eucharist before they can begin their work on behalf of vulnerable human life. It is Jesus living in us who gives joy and hope to those weary and worn with fear."
"In the Eucharist, we find Mercy Himself at our mercy, vulnerable to all. We find the Word silent in a culture that equates communication with value, hidden in a culture that deifies the tangible, faceless in a culture that longs for recognition. Our faith in His Presence in the Eucharist helps us to discern His presence in every human life, even, and especially when that life is vulnerable, silent, hidden or diminished in any way."
They also prayer with pray with Elizabeth of the Visitation, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” & of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important part of their spirituality. "Without Mary, none of us would be able to give ourselves to Jesus to the degree we desire. She is our model of self-giving, joy-filled love, our hope of promises fulfilled, and the mother of our souls. She is always there for us, leading us without fear deeper into the heart of Jesus, into the heart of Life, so that we too might be able to echo her Magnificat."
The Sisters also spend time each day in spiritual reading. All the convents reserve one day a week & one Sunday a month as prayer days spent in silence with extended hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Scripture says that "where sin abounded, grace did more abound." (Romans 5:20 Douay-Rheims) The Sisters for Life are clearly a manifestation of that grace. God has raised them up to counter the intrinsic evil that is abortion. They are an evangelical witness to the Gospel of Life & are truly working to build the Culture of Life that God desires in the USA. & they are a shining light that stands as proof that God can bring good out of the worst evil.



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