Advent in the Monastery


Our Lady provides the perfect example of our vocationThis evening we begin the most reverent and mystical season of Advent.

The Monastery is a silent stronghold of prayerful preparation as Sisters move about, getting the Advent wreaths and candles into their holders, setting out the Advent blessings, changing their Divine Office breviaries to Volume 1, in blue, choosing Sunday’s Advent hymns and heartfully anticipating the grace of this holy season before the commemoration of Christ’s birth.

Within, we will prepare our souls with appropriate Advent spiritual reading, both privately and in the refectory, modifying our consumption with a moderate fast from treats, and praying the exquisite antiphons and psalms of this holy time.

Jesus is coming, once again, in memory as a baby and in the present with His peace-filled blessings for each one of us inhabiting our world, so often in tension.

Jesus, who so wants us to live in Him and for Him and by Him, calls us to remember, proclaim and live Him.

A Merciful Advent

1430832550293The season of Advent begins this coming weekend and the Year of Mercy commences on December 8, 2015.

Drawing on St. Francis de Sales’ writings on the attributes of mercy may help you live a merciful advent before God, within yourself and before others.

Sunday November 29th:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you, having pity and mercy on you. And I will build you again, and you shall be built, O virgin of Israel.” These are God’s words, and by them he promises that when the Savior comes into the world, he will establish a new kingdom in his Church, which will be his virgin spouse and true spiritual Israelite woman. …”It was not by” any merit of “works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy that he saved us. It was by that ancient, rather that eternal, charity which moved his divine providence to draw us to himself. If the Father had not drawn us, we would never have come to the Son, our Savior, nor consequently to salvation.                 

Treatise on the Love of God 1, 2:9, 123-24

Monday November 30th

The first thrust or movement which God gives our hearts so as to arouse them to their own good is truly effected in us but not by us. It comes unexpectedly before we have thought of it or even been able to think of it since “we are not sufficient of ourselves, as from ourselves, to think anything” that concerns our salvation. The whole of “our sufficiency is from God,” who not only loved us even before we were but also to the end that we might be and “that we be holy.” For this reason by the blessings of his fatherly mercy he prepares us and arouses our minds so as to move them to holy repentance and conversion.     

Treatise on the Love of God  1, 2:9, 125

Tuesday December 1

(Having made your confession) be attentive and open the ears of your heart to hear in spirit the words of your absolution, which the same Savior of our soul, seated on the throne of His mercy, will pronounce before all the angels and saints on high in heaven, at the same instant that the priest, in His name, absolves you here upon earth. So that all this blessed company, rejoicing at your happiness, will sing a spiritual canticle with incomparable joy, and each of them will give the kiss of peace and fellowship to your heart, now restored to grace and sanctity  

Introduction to the Devout Life 1: 21

Wednesday December 2

Divine mercy renders all things useful to us, all our tasks, no matter how lowly and weak they may be. Among the activities of the moral virtues little deeds bring no increase to the virtue from which they proceed, or if they are very little they even weaken it. For instance, great generosity dies if it is concerned with giving things of little value, and from generosity it turns into mere stinginess. But in commerce in virtues issuing from God’s mercy, and above all in charity, our every deed produces an increase. It is no marvel then, if sacred love, king of virtues, has nothing about it, either great or small, which is not lovable. What could love bring forth that would be unworthy of love and would not tend to love?

Treatise on the Love of God 1, 3:2, 168

Thursday December 3

As soon as we are restored by the return of charity to the rank of God’s children and as a result made capable of eternal glory, God recalls to mind our former good works and they again are rendered fruitful. It is against reason for sin to have as much power over charity as charity has over sin, for sin issues from our own weakness while charity proceeds from God’s power. If sin abounds in malice to ruin us, “grace superabounds” to restore us. God’s mercy, by which he wipes out sin, is continually exalted and becomes gloriously triumphant over the rigorous judgment by which God had forgotten the good works that preceded sin. By the bodily cures our Lord miraculously worked he not only restored health but he also added new blessings. Thus he always makes the cure far exceed the disease, so bountiful is he to man.

Treatise on the Love of God 2, 11:12, 232

Friday December 4

Like a little grain of mustard seed, our works are in no way comparable in greatness to the tree of glory they produce. Still they have the vigor and virtue to produce it because they proceed from the Holy Spirit. By a wondrous fusion of his grace into our hearts, he makes our works become his and yet at the same time lets them remain our own, since we are members of a head of which he is the Spirit and since we are engrafted on a tree of which he is the divine sap. Because he thus acts in our works, and in a certain manner we operate or co-operate in his action, he leaves us as our part all the merit and profit of our services and good works, while we leave him all honor and all praise for them, for we acknowledge that the beginning , progress, and end of whatever good we do depend on his mercy.  

Treatise on the Love of God 2, 11:6, 211-12

Saturday December 5

We see that the universe, and especially human nature, is like a clock made up of so great a variety of actions and movements that we cannot restrain our wonder at it. We know in a general way that these parts, diversely fashioned in so many ways, all serve either to display, as inside a watch, God’s most holy justice, or to make manifest the triumphant mercy of his goodness, as by a chime of praise. But to know in particular the function of each part, either as ordered to the general end or as to why it is made as it is, this we cannot understand unless the supreme workman teaches it to us. However, he does not reveal his art to us in order that we may admire it with greater reverence until in heaven he will ravish us with the beauty of his wisdom. Then in the abundance of his love he will unveil to us the reasons, means, and motives of all that has taken place in this world to effect our eternal salvation.

Treatise on the Love of God 1, 4: 8, 223

St. Jane de Chantal on Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving from all Visitandines!!

Gratitude & St. Jane de Chantal

As our national holiday of Thanksgiving is here, we can reflect on thoughts of  St. Jane de Chantal, our Foundress, regarding the spirit of gratitude.

Generally we ought to treat all sorts of persons with an extraordinary suavity and cordial respect, but especially those from whom we receive particular assistance and proofs of friendship, returning always great gratitude for even a small benefit done to us.”

 And as St Jane’s thoughts were never very far from those of St Francis de Sales, she goes on to remind us, “ And in this gratitude we ought to be conspicuous, as true Daughters of our Blessed Father, who of all men in the world, was the fullest of gratitude and affability towards all sorts of persons. He obliged everybody, and made use of nobody more than was necessary; and he did this in order to help and relieve his neighbor.”

 St Jane summarized these thoughts. “ In short, we must recompense and acknowledge the benefits we have received, at least by gratitude and praise given cordially , but without exaggeration.”

 “We ought to imitate our Holy Father and particularly with respect to our Benefactors, and especially the Religious Houses from which we receive great spiritual and temporal assistance. We ought to try, if the place allows of it, to render them the services in our power, such as getting their sacristy linen mended and washed, doing work and starching for them, and providing the starch and little things necessary and all other assistance, by which we may make some return for their charities.”

My God, how full of gratitude and acknowledgment ought Superiors and Monasteries who have Foundresses be toward them, trying to give satisfaction to their minds, and every reason to be pleased, treating them with openness, cordiality, and confidence, so that they may never feel disgust, or repent of the charity they have done. Much respect must be shown them, according to their rank and age.”

Source: “Answers” St. Jane de Chantal