Sunday, July 30, 2017


SERVANT of GOD MOTHER MARY TERESA TALLON is another American born woman, we hope soon to be added to the roster of  saints. One of the things I love about her is her emphasis on bringing lapsed Catholics back to the Church. - a passion of mine!  In a monastery we each have our gifts. For Mother Catarina is  it is evangelization- for me it is taking care of the Catholics!

Julia Teresa Tallon was born on a farm in the Mohawk Valley near the city of UticaNew York in 1867 as the seventh of eight children to the Irish immigrants Peter Tallon and Bridget Duffy.

From 1879 she felt a strong call to enter the religious life despite the protests of her mother and siblings who did not approve of her decision. Her mother in particular, despite her deep faith, did not approve of her daughter's decision though was powerless to prevent her from following her call.

Regardless of their opinion she joined the Holy Cross Sisters int South Bend, Indiana in 1887 and resided with the order at their convent until 1920 after the conclusion of World War I. For thirty-three years she remained with the Sisters teaching a variety of subjects in Catholic schools. Little did she know that God was preparing her for another aspect of religious life - the founding of a contemplative-missionary Congregation for the streets and homes, to teach the faith and counsel, and especially to reclaim lapsed and uninstructed Catholics.

On the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1920, when she arrived in New York City to begin this work, the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate were born. She had left the Holy Cross Sisters after obtaining approval from the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities.

Though quiet and retiring by nature, she was strong-willed and courageous (necessary qualities for any foundress), as well as intelligent and reflective. Even as a young girl she was seen to be magnetic, compelling and persuasive. People were drawn to her and held by her fervor and enthusiasm, especially for the things of God. 

Her books, personal letters, and numerous printed articles show a deeply loving religious  who was unflinchingly staunch and loyal to the Church’s teaching, to the Holy Father, and to the mission God had given her.

In spite of suffering from disabling illnesses in the final two decades of her life Mother Mary Teresa  carried on the administration of the Congregation, hiding from most who knew her the severity of her illness.

On 10 February 1954 she was critically ill after suffering a fall in her room and spent the next month in pain. She died on the evening of 10 March 1954 just as her community concluded the recitation of the rosary at her bedside.

Before she died she said, “I leave everything in God’s hands, who gave the wonderful vocation. He can give it to someone else as He gave it to me—and more effective than in me … As for me, I’ll be glad to go to God and under Him care for you all. He loves you more than I do.”

The beatification process opened in the Archdiocese of New York on 20 February 2013 under Pope Benedict XVI.   

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I am always interested in learning more about modern day mystics- we all know of Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, but what about these modern saints and  yet to be named saints, who I think keep the world going.  Remember Abraham asking God not to  destroy the  world if there were ten just men?

 EDVIGE CARBON was recently named Venerable by the Holy Father. Born in Sardinia in 1880,   she became well-known among the faithful and religious alike for her ecstasies and angelic visions. She kept an extensive spiritual journal in which she recorded appearances from Jesus well as many saints.

Her mother recalled Edvige's birth and told her that on that occasion she had seen a luminous host in the monstrance and said because of this : "If I die, you must receive Holy Communion every day and you should be very good, because Jesus, a few moments after you were born, showed me a host, as I have told you".

Another odd phenomenon that took place after her birth was a supernatural branding of the Cross on her breast formed from her own flesh.

With her Family

Her mother taught her embroidery as a child and she later worked with her father in the embroidery business. She also spent time in the convent of the Sisters of Saint Vincent in Alghero where the nuns led a course in embroidery. Her mother's frail health saw her tend to the education and care of her younger siblings as well as other domestic duties.

Edvige wanted to become a nun in 1895 but her mother disapproved of it and she took this disapproval as a sign of the will of God.  From 1896 her visions of Jesus and Mary became ever more frequent. She became a professed member of the Third Order of Saint Francis in 1906 and belonged to an association known as the Friends of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She began recording her thoughts in a spiritual journal. Her mother died in 1910 and her responsibilities tripled.

Her spiritual gifts included  the reading of hearts as well as the discernment of spirits. She received the stigmata – for she wanted to suffer for the glory of God.

She had visions of St. Gemma Galgani,  whom she admired, having  attended her canonization in 1940. She also had visits from St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, despite the fact that the priest was in fact alive. Padre Pio knew of  her and referred to her as a "saint".

In 1934  she settled in Rome in 1938 where she taught catechism and ministered to the poor and sick.  She  died of angina pectoris in 1952.

Edvige Carboni was an extraordinary mystic. She spent her life between the natural and the supernatural; between the human and the divine.  Jesus, Mary and the saints appeared to her almost daily. 

In our own lifetime there are many very holy people -  a wonderful sign of hope in the Church and the world- some we will never know!

Monday, July 24, 2017


While they terrify me, I am always fascinated by mystics, especially in our modern times. When one delves deep into their lives, it can be said that basically “there is nothing new under the sun”!
Read St. Faustina’s journal and then go back  800+ years and read the writings of St. Gertrude- it is all there. It is as though Jesus or His Mother sends the same message over and over to each generation, especially when the world is in some state of turmoil – when is it not?

And that message is love God and love one another.

A woman so little known in our day, that there is only one translation into English about her (thanks to the monks of Silverspring in Ireland).

MARIA SIELER  led a retired life yet all who knew her, whether in her youth or in her last years of life in Rome, testify that she was a woman of  great piety. Only her diary gives us insight into her inner life.

She was born on 3 February 1899 in Winterdorf in the parish of St. Ruprecht an der Raab (Styria / Austria). Here she lived as a simple peasant girl. At an early age, her religious life developed, which manifested itself in a great love for Christ and a willingness to sacrifice.

At the age of 20, the Lord  asked her to offer sacrifice for the renewal of the priesthood and  for the salvation of the Church. It was intended to remind the faithful, especially the priests, that there could be no fruitful apostolate without personal devotion to Christ and without constant struggle for selflessness. 

Maria wanted to enter religious life but was rejected again and again, because of ill health. She not only knew physical suffering but also inner darkness and desolation. 
Maria wanted to enter religious life but was rejected again and again, because of ill health. She not only knew physical suffering but also inner darkness and desolation.

Maria  did not experience the sufferings of Christ in visions, nor did she have the stigmatized wounds of the Lord. Rather she suffered the inner sufferings of  Jesus.  

  She died on 29 July 1952 in Rome at the age of 53.

Thanks to the efforts of Father Franz Kober the priest of St. Ruprecht, who died on 23 March 2003, the mortal remains of this great woman were brought back to her home from Rome. Many there now see her as  an advocate for us and certainly for priests.

Friday, July 21, 2017


While the rest of our country swelters, summer has been lagging in our islands- not that we complain- we all enjoy the cool weather, even if it means the garden's produce will be later in harvesting.  Our feathered friends have not seemed to notice, as they delight in the many colored flowers and berries.

Brilliant purple finch with berry- Our neighbor Ned Griffin photo

As I  am recovering from back surgery, one of my joys is sitting on the deck watching the many birds who come to drink and eat.  Feast indeed!

Rufous hummingbird- James Benedict Sane photo

It is hard to say, as I sit here, who are my favorites, but at this time of year it may have to be the two pair of black-headed grosbeak who come daily for the seed.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017


 My friends the ravens and crows  have been back in the news of late-  new research, new people interested in their antics, new books, etc.  Just this past week  The Week       had a two  page article  ("What a Crow Knows") about the on-going  research at UW (Univ. of Washington in Seattle) and always, Dr. John Marzluff (see Blogs Jan. 2013,  May & Aug. 2012), who once helped my 4H kids with their crow project, is featured.

Seems scientists in other parts of the world have taken an interest in the intelligence of these creatures, further demonstrating that they (not the scientists) are known for their
exceptional intelligence and ability to co-operate.

In 2015 scientists from the University of Vienna discovered that the birds will punish those who don't play fair. It is the first time this type of behavior, akin to social policing, has been observed outside humans and other primates.

John Marzluff & friend

In the experiment, captive ravens paired up to simultaneously pull the two ends of one rope to slide a platform with two pieces of cheese into reach.
If, however, only one individual would pull, the rope would slip through the loops on the platform and the birds were left with the rope and without cheese.
Without any training the ravens spontaneously solved the task and co-operated successfully.

However, it turned out that the birds didn't all get on very well, and that they chose to work together with friends rather than with enemies. When one of the birds cheated and took not only its own reward, but also the reward of its companion, an interesting scenario arose. These cheats were far more likely to steal a reward again, and their victims were only too aware of this.

Once the raven who had missed out completed the task, they became reluctant to take part in the experiment, at least with the same individual.
This in turn deprived the cheat of the treat, providing a form of punishment. 

How ravens achieve their high levels of intelligence is still somewhat of a mystery. It is generally believed that larger brains make animals smarter, but these birds do not read the books!. 

In a series of cognitive tests carried out at Lund University in Sweden last year, ravens performed just as well as chimps, despite having significantly smaller brains. 

The team tested the intelligence of the birds using what's known as a 'cylinder task' which measures the animals' level of self-control, said to be a key indicator of intelligence levels.

A total of five adult ravens, 10 adult New Caledonian crows and 10 adult jackdaws took part in the study.

The results of the tests were then compared the results of a similar experiment carried out with chimps, and animal brain sizes were taken and listed. Overall, ravens were the most successful and deemed the most intelligent with a score of 100 per cent - the same result as chimps. 

We  all know the expression “bird-brain” taken to mean an annoyingly stupid and shallow person.  Well, that is certainly a misnomer, and maybe its not so bad to have one!

Saturday, July 15, 2017


If you are afraid of love, don’t ever become a priest, and don’t ever celebrate Mass.  The Mass will cause a torrent of interior suffering to pour down upon your soul, with one purpose only– to break you in half, so that all the people of the world can enter into your heart.”  - Thomas Merton

Having our two new young priests who minister to us, makes me see the need to do more for our them and other priests. In recent Blogs we introduced the new priests of our Archdiocese. One, will come next week to say Mass for us and give us his blessing.

There was recently an article in Mother Dilecta’s Catholic paper regarding the increase of priestly vocations. I think I have said in the past that where there is Eucharistic adoration, there is an increase in vocations to the priesthood. But as one can see by the following statistics, it takes a lot to propel one into the priesthood.

The typical member of the priestly ordinations in 2017 is a 34-year-old cradle Catholic.  This was from a recently released survey of 444 of the 590 men slated to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States. The survey was conducted for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

The typical ordinand also prayed the Rosary and regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering seminary. 77% of the men were preparing for the diocesan priesthood. Among religious ordinations, the Jesuits (27 men), Dominicans (12), and Capuchin Franciscans (8) have the largest ordination classes. (Where are the Benedictines?)

25% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (4%), Vietnam (3%), the Philippines (2%), and Colombia (2%). On average, these foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 12 years and arrived in the US at age 25.

50% attended Catholic elementary school,  41% a Catholic high school or Catholic college (40%).  70% of ordinands are white, 14% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 4% are black. 7% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 21. 35% have a relative who was a priest or religious and in 80% of cases, both parents were Catholic.

69% prayed the Rosary, and 77% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration before entering the seminary.

Ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16. 70% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 45% were encouraged by a friend, 44% by a parishioner, 40% by their mother, and 32% by their father.

43% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 16% had earned a graduate degree. 57% worked full time before entering seminary. 48% took part in a parish youth group, 31% took part in Boy Scouts, and 23% took part in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of St. Peter Claver.

15% took part in a World Youth Day.  75% had served as altar servers, 52% as readers, and 43% as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion before entering seminary.

A lot of statistics, but it is obvious that a vocation must be nourished if it is to flourish.
Eucharistic devotions such as adoration and visits to the Blessed Sacrament
are forms of prayer that increase our interior union with Christ. They help us gain
more benefits from the Mass and deepen our desire to serve others. and open our heart to the Heart of Christ.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Tapestry of  Saints- Cathedral in Los Angeles

Yesterday on the feast of St. Benedict, the Holy Father decreed that ‘offering of life’ is path to sainthood. 

Pope Francis has issued an apostolic letter decreeing that the oblatio vitae—the “offering of life”has joined martyrdom and the heroic exercise of the virtues as a recognized path to beatification and canonization in the Church. Ah ha I said: one more way to become a saint, but alas it seems no easier than martyrdom!

The title of the apostolic letter, Maiorem hac dilectionem (“Greater love than this”), is a reference to Christ’s words in St. John’s Gospel (“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” 15:13).

The faithful who “have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this intention are worthy of special esteem and honor,” the Pope wrote in his motu proprio.

The Pope wrote that five conditions must be met for a Servant of God’s beatification under this category:

Br. Mickey McGrath
“the free and voluntary offering of one’s life and the heroic acceptance, on account of charity, of a certain and near death”

a link between the offering of life and a premature death

at least an ordinary exercise of the Christian virtues before and after the offering of life

the existence, after death, of a reputation of sanctity and of (potentially miraculous) signs

a miracle obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession

The Pope’s letter follows a September 2016 meeting of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, whose members offered a favorable opinion on the question of whether the offering of life should become a new official path to beatification.

Still a lot of work to become a saint!

Monday, July 10, 2017


Father Raja
We have a unique situation with our chaplain at Our Lady of the Rock. For the first time in 40 years we will not have a resident chaplain, but one of two priests will ferry over daily to minister to us.  Both are from India, both are young and full of missionary zeal- missionaries to the USA?  Seems that parts of southern India, in this case the State of Tamil Nadu, has a “glut” of young priests.  Father Raja whom we have enjoyed for a week (priests will alternate weeks) says he is number 52 of 73 priests from his parish church of  the Sacred Heart in the  village” of Sindalacherry. This small city, which is very lovely beneath mountains, has over 1,000 Catholic families. In fact the whole town is Catholic. 

Father Watson

Father Raja and Father Watson, who is from the same state, but a large city  (Vellore), do not even speak the same dialect, so speak English to one another. While  separate in language, they are from the same religious order- and a new one at that. 

HERALDS of GOOD NEWS is a Missionary Society of Apostolic Life, started in Eluru diocese, India on 14th October 1984. It became an Institute of Pontifical Right on May 5, 1999. The specific aim of the Society is the promotion of vocations to priesthood, the training of seminarians and the supply of zealous and hardworking missionaries to India and abroad in places which experience a shortage of priests due to the lack of local vocations.

Heralds of Good News Missionary Society was founded by Rev. Dr. Jose Kaimlett in 1984 with the approval and blessings of  Rt. Rev. Dr. John Mulagada, Bishop of Eluru. For the better administration of the Society, it was divided into four Provinces, namely St. Paul Province, Mary Queen of Apostles Province, Mother Theresa Province and St. John Paul II Province. Today, each province functions independently, taking care of its members and bringing about new initiatives for the greater Glory of God and Salvation of souls.

As Father Jose continued his priestly ministry and mission, he realized that the priests alone could not do all the work needed to meet the needs of the poor, the sick and education. He realized that there is a tremendous need for women religious. Being fully aware of the increasing shortage of vocations to religious life especially in the Western countries, Father Kaimlett started a missionary society for women in the year 1992 in the diocese of Eluru.

Over the years  the society has made rapid progress both in the number of sisters and their activities. At present  they have 16 communities serving in seven dioceses in India, 7 communities serving in 5 dioceses in Italy and another community in Tanzania. Through the guidance and direction of Father Jose they are also serve the poorest of the poor, marginalized and other sections of the society by imparting value based education to people even  in the remotest areas.

Father Watson is the priest administrator of our whole county- sounds big, but not many Catholics- so we really are mission country!  We pray the joy these two priests exude may spread rapidly to our  faith "poor" islands!

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Mother Nicola Golden Jubilee- Peru

Mother  Marie Adele
Recently I heard from my Benedictine nuns in Sechura, Peru. Their Mother Abbess from England was making a visitation.  Their foundress MOTHER MARIE ADELE GARNIER has been made a Servant of God and evidence for her cause is being gathered.

Mother Marie Adela Garnier was born on August 15, 1838, in Grancey-le-Chateau, in northeastern France (Burgandy). She had three sisters and one brother. For many years she taught as a governess and was greatly loved and esteemed by both parents and children.  From her youth she felt deeply the love of Christ touching her heart, drawing her to surrender herself totally to him. Her devotion to the Eucharistic Christ became the center of her spiritual life.

The Eucharist, the Sacrament and Sacrifice of the love of Christ, and the Sacred Heart, symbol of the love human and divine of Christ for his Father and for all humanity, could never be separated in the soul of Marie Adèle.

Early in her life, she had a vision of Jesus in a Host given to her during Communion, which affected her for the rest of her life. In 1885,  Marie Adèle sought to live this Eucharistic life as a solitary at Montmartre in Paris. Her health failed and she was obliged to abandon this way of life.

Several years later the Lord called her to establish a religious family consecrated to the worship and praise of the Holy Trinity through liturgical prayer and Eucharistic adoration in the contemplative life. She founded her Congregation - the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre, in 1898 at Montmartre, Paris, with the  approbation of Cardinal Richard, Archbishop of Paris. The new Community would be dedicated to the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance.

Mother Marie Adèle  established this form of contemplative life within the monastic tradition of the Church under the Rule of St. Benedict. In 1901 the young community fled to England on account of the laws of France against religious Orders. The Foundress settled her new community at Tyburn in London, at the famous site of the martyrdom of more than 100 Catholic Reformation Martyrs.

This monastery is now the Mother House of her Congregation which has monasteries in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Italy and France.

Toward the end of her life, in 1923, she had another  vision in the Eucharist, this one of the living heart of Jesus.

Mother Marie Adèle Garnier died at Tyburn in the year 1924 renowned for holiness and virtue. She is honored and remembered especially for her heroic love of God and neighbor, her spirit of prayer, divine contemplation, rich mystical and spiritual doctrine, humility, obedience, patience, simplicity & purity of heart, and above all for her spirit of total "self-abandon" to the Holy Will of God, which she declared to be her unique good.

In a letter she had written to Father Charles Sauve she related the following:

“At the moment in which the priest took a particle of the Holy Host and put it into the chalice I raised my eyes to adore and to contemplate the holy particle…The fingers of the priest held not a white particle but a particle of striking red, the color of blood and luminous at the same time … The fingers of the priest were red on the right of the particle, as from a blood stain that seemed still wet.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


It never ceases to amaze me how many interesting Catholic artists of the past there are that I have never heard of who were famous in their time. One such is JOHANNES (JAN) TOOROP, who  was born  in 1858 in Purworejo on the island ofJava in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).  His father was Christoffel Theodorus Toorop, a civil servant, and his mother was Maria Magdalena Cooke.  He was the third of five children and lived on the island of Bangka near Sumatra until he was nine years old. He was then sent to school in Batavia on Java.

In 1869 he left Indonesia for the Netherlands, where he studied in Delft and Amsterdam. In 1880 he became a student at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. From 1882 to 1886 he lived in Brussels where he joined Les XX (Les Vingts), a group of artists centered on James Ensor. Johannes worked in various styles during these years, such as RealismImpressionism Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. I found many images where people are praying, some of which I think his strongest works.

The Prayer
The Nun
After his marriage to Annie Hall, a British woman, in 1886, Johannes alternated his time between The Hague, England and Brussels, and after 1890 also the Dutch seaside town of Katwijk aan Zee. During this period he developed his unique Symbolist style, with dynamic, unpredictable lines based on Javanese motifs, highly stylized willowy figures, and curvilinear designs.

In the late 19th century (1897) he lived for 20 years in a small house in the seaside town,  Domburg, Walcheren, Zeeland. He worked with a group of fellow artists, including Marinus Zwart and Piet Mondrian. There was no joint endeavor or common style among them. Each followed his individual personality, but they sought their inspiration in "the Zeeland Light", in the dunes, forests, beaches and the characteristic Zeeland population. Johannes was the center of this group.


After this he turned to Art Nouveau styles, in which a similar play of lines is used for decorative purposes, without any apparent symbolic meaning. In 1905, together with his daughter Charley, he converted to Catholicism and began producing religious works. He also created book illustrations, posters, and stained glass designs. The overture for his move was made in the preceding years, as he joined a circle of Catholic creatives who called themselves De Violier. Having converted to Catholicism, the latter years of his life and career were focused on making pieces that correlated to his faith.

 Among the few official commissions he received from the Catholic Church in Holland were designs for stained glass windows in the St. Joseph Church in Nijmegen, executed in 1913, as well as a series of paintings of the Stations of the Cross for the church of St. Bernulphus in Oosterbeek, begun in 1916 and completed in 1919. By this time he was in poor health, however, and by 1920 was largely confined to a wheelchair, with his left leg paralyzed. Nevertheless, he continued to work effectively, producing numerous drawings and prints. 


Throughout his life Johannes also produced portraits, in sketch format and as paintings, which range in style from highly realistic to impressionistic.  He was a superb portraitist, and produced a large number of drawn and painted portraits of family, friends and fellow artists, as well as many portraits - usually in the form of highly finished drawings - of some of the leading Dutch writers, poets, clergymen, politicians, lawyers, musicians, composers and intellectuals of his day. 

Johannes Toorop may justifiably be claimed as one of the finest Dutch portraitists of the early 20th century in  the period between Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Piet Mondriaan (1872- 1944). He died on 3 March 1928 in The Hague in the Netherlands. His daughter Charley Toorop (1891–1955) was also a painter, as was his grandson Edgar Fernhout.


Saturday, July 1, 2017


The desire to leave something of ourselves behind to the next generation is part of the human condition. We ask, what will I be remembered for? The saints are remembered for their holiness which was witnessed by many in their times.  Some wrote of their lives, others had someone write about them (eg. St. Marianne of Molokai). 

Whatever it is, we want a part of the life we lived, the work we did, to be handed down. Sometimes I ask myself, I do this now, I save this, but who in the next generation will pick it up? Will it be worth anything? I think of our Mother Jerome who left  perhaps thousands of pages and notes of her many works, from herbs and poetry to Christology. You might have to write your memoirs to ensure that the answer to both questions is the same.

One of our nuns here at Our Lady of the Rock has written her own life, which stands as a memorial of her own giveness to us and others.

I quote the back cover:

THE CHORD OF LONGING explores a musical scholar’s search for meaning, love, and acceptance through decades as a single mother, a Marxist, a musician, and finally, a member of a monastic community. In frank and honest language, Mother Felicitas explains how that long search led her through extraordinary pain and difficulty, profound questioning, and finally toward everlasting and perfect love. The title is based on a chord of yearning—the famous chord that begins Wagner’s opera, Tristan and Isolde. Writes the author: “This chord’s dissonance, this tension, demands to be resolved.” It is the perfect metaphor to describe her own quest for resolution, beautifully described in this personal tale of tribulation and transcendence.

Mother Felicitas teaching Cate herbs

Mother Felicitas Curti, OSB, PhD in musicology and scholar of Gregorian chant, lives in a small monastic community on a remote island in Washington State tending an herb garden and spreading joy with her violin playing and musical teachings. The path that took her to this Benedictine community and spiritual fulfillment is both rocky and remarkable. She was a rebellious child, bohemian teenager, and, in her twenties, a political revolutionary, publishing articles in radical socialist papers and journals. In her thirties she explored the New Age culture while raising two sons and teaching music history and theory in college. Always, she was questioning everything, especially herself. Her passion for a more just society and for an abundant, pure love guided her even as her life began unraveling around her—a life she examines with an open heart and
unflinching eye in her riveting memoir, The Chord of Longing.

 Her book is available at Amazon as well as Our Lady of the Rock.