Monday, May 1, 2023



It is our custom to select cards with the fruits and gifts of the Spirit on Pentecost to serve as a reminder of what we already possess as baptized individuals into the one body of Christ. 

Just as this watercolor of the outpouring graces of the 
Holy Spirit washes across this one piece of paper, so, too, is our community awash with graces.  Yet, when the one piece of paper is divided into many cards, each individual card, though unique with its flowing design, is still of one piece.  We are like that: all connected yet having our own special gifts and talents to offer in service to our community and to our world.  

When I was painting this watercolor, I was humming a song I heard from a cassette tape made by the St. Alphonsus ‘Rock’ Church in St. Louis, ‘Spirit, Fall On Me,’ imagining the graces falling down upon us all like a waterfall - imagine Niagara Falls - with plentiful water, refreshing water. That is God’s way with graces – showering on us all with plentiful Redemption. 

At the bottom of the waterfall are ripples pushing out further and further, ever expanding from the base of the waterfall to affect everything around it.  We are those ripples when
we use those graces that have fallen on us for the benefit of all.

As we receive the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit may we be refreshed by the plentiful graces falling all around us by the powerful, joyful out-pouring of the Spirit upon us individually, as a community and ripple-out those graces to the entire world. 

Saturday, April 1, 2023


We begin this Holy Week with Palm Sunday.  Gathered in the vestibule, we sing our Hosannas to the Son of David and, waving our palms, process into chapel.  In awe we listen to the reading from Philippians 2:6-11, a canticle, a song we sing every Saturday evening.   Yet this time, it takes on a deeper meaning: Though in the form of God,…Jesus emptied himself, …Flesh and blood, he humbled himself, obeying to the death, death on a cross.  

     We contemplate how Jesus, the God-Man, stretched out his arms on the cross to embrace ALL people.  What a powerful sign of love.   Our Foundress, Blessed Maria Celeste, in her mystical writings tells us Jesus’ words: Oh, with what love I embraced the cross, loved it, desired it and took pleasure in it -- all for your love… You are My friend and My delight.   I embrace you from the Kingdom of the Cross and of glory, in the Kingdom of My Peace. Unite your sufferings and afflictions to Me and you will live just the way I lived as God-Man on this earth.

     Our personal crosses are usually small. Many have crosses that are truly hard to bear. We accept them because we do not carry them alone.  Jesus’ love carries them with us.  We can lean heavily on him is our times of sin, sufferings and afflictions.  Christ raises us up. He raised them up on the cross 2000 years ago and has done so before time began.   Jesus’ death on a cross displays God’s pure gift of love.   So immense, so extravagant IS God’s love and mercy for us.  Jesus died, not because we were so terrible, but even if we were,  Jesus died because He LOVES us and showed that love by obedience to God’s plan of love for our salvation.    

The Philippians' canticle does not end in sadness, though.  It ends triumphantly because of Christ's pure gift.  It proclaims a message fir for Easter:  At the name of Jesus every knee will bend, in heaven, on earth and in the world below, and every tongue exclaim to the glory of God, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! 

                                                JOYOUS EASTER

Wednesday, March 1, 2023



I am sure you have never had anything to worry about.   Reality check:  if you are alive, you worry.  At the Dollar Stone I found worry stones with crosses on them.  They come in all sizes and shapes, much like our worries.  Many people put these stones in their pockets to help the pray as rub their thumb against when they are troubled.

Even the foundress of the Redemptoristine Nuns, Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa, had cause to worry and be bewildered.    Imagine how you would feel if, as a novice in your community, you had a revelation that you were to be the instrument Jesus uses to found a new Order.  The plan of the new Order was to be based on the life of Jesus: on His humility and His love.  Imagine the turmoil that would cause in community.   That is exactly what happened to Celeste. 

Blessed Celeste was an eighteenth-century mystic.  All her life she enjoyed a special relationship with her Beloved Lord.  From the age of six, Jesus spoke tenderly to her heart and through the years He was her Guide saying she would travel in His footsteps in the same way He travelled in His earthly life.

Jesus said, “You are for me alone and I am for you alone.”   He explained, “You are my friend, you are my delight!  In your sufferings and afflictions, I keep you in my Kingdom of the Cross and in the Kingdom of my Peace and rest, just the way I lived on this earth, so that I might give you the Kingdom of Eternal Happiness.”  

And Celeste indeed traveled in Jesus’s footsteps.  After she told her superiors about the revelation. Things went as she suspected and, at one point, was sequestered to a closet under the eaves for two weeks and forbidden the reception of Holy Communion.  People were calling her delusional, a troublemaker.   It wasn’t until she was interviewed by one Rev. Alphonsus Liguori that Celeste was believed and the Order was approved.  

All the while Blessed Celeste lived in faith and prayer following the pattern of Jesus’s life of self-emptying, embracing the cross for love of Him.   Even after the Order was established, she still experienced worry and bewilderment when she was ultimately expelled from the community because she was true to her Lord and followed her conscience.   For five years she was a wayfarer until she founded a new monastery based on the Rule revealed to her by Jesus.

Throughout this time, Jesus continued to guide Celeste.  In wonder Celeste says to Jesus, “In your humiliations (self-emptying) all the sweetnesses of your treasures and infinite glory are hidden.  There you invite me to keep you company on the cross and in your mercy, gazed on me with compassion.”

Jesus responds to Celeste, “Be not surprised that I died for you on the cross: I embraced the cross, loved it, desired it and took pleasure in it ~ all for your love.”  It was as if he were saying not to worry and, “Keep your gazed fixed on Me without any fear in all that you do knowing that this work is totally mine.” 

Celeste answers, “I thank you, my faithful Lover, for the great love and mercy you have for me.  You, God, live in the human person; in my life the Son of the Eternal Father is living, having come down into my heart to give new life to my flesh.  Make me an echo of your love.”

What worries do we have in common with Celeste? Misunderstanding and hurts with our family and friends, our places of work, our local communities?  Do we share them with Jesus?

We live in a time of self-emptying, like Jesus, our Beloved.  We share humiliations, weaknesses, illnesses, as well as the everyday challenges and mundane occurrences of our lives with Jesus.  These are the hidden treasures that transform us when we unite ourselves to Jesus on the cross.   And you are not alone.  The very people who are such a bother are the same people who, if we accept their critiques, instruction, chisel off our rough edges, ware down our bumps and polish us up.  In the moment, this is not pleasant or easy.  But, if we step back and listen in the silence of our hearts, we may learn something about ourselves and others. 

In the book of Proverbs, it is written, “Listen to instruction and grow wise.”   These ‘instructions’ are not destructions.  These instructions rub us smooth like the worry stone you hold in your hand polished to a shine by prayer and time.  All of us are all participating in this rubbing, this transformation as we travel together with Jesus.  Together we are being polished to glory.

How can we persevere when things get rough?  Like Celeste we can reflect on the life of Jesus in prayer, faith and trust knowing we are not alone at any moment of our lives during times of worry.   In sweet acceptance we offer ourselves, like Jesus, like Celeste, to God knowing we are worthy of divine love.   We discover the graces and gifts, the wisdom and strength received from those hidden treasures, as we rub up against our own weaknesses and sufferings with others and move on enlightened to share in the supreme glory of the cross of Jesus, our Beloved. 

How does it feel to be rubbed the wrong way?  

Do you take this to prayer?

Does it ever smooth out your hard edges?   

What does your ‘polished to glory’ look like?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023


 The last phrase of our Redemptoristine mission statement is: ‘Responding to the call of the gospel in our changing times.’   That is one thing we can all count on – changing times.  How do we live life in our changing times?   The only answer is trust in God.

When Celeste was 17, the Lord said to her, “I wish to be your Guide.  Love me alone. I am totally yours and have chosen you to be my spouse.”  Have you heard Jesus' call?  Young and old, Jesus desires to be our Guide, our confidant, our love alone.  

In her writing, Blessed Celeste she shares these words Jesus spoke to her:  “At the hour of my Incarnation, there burst upon the world the dawn of the Divine Sun upon the earth and the Dew of Grace, the Holy Spirit, upon all my creatures.”  That phrase ‘Dew of Grace’ bespeaks the gentle quality of God’s tender love toward us.  The Dew of Grace is an all-encompassing, eternal outpouring of blessings upon each and every one of us.

How do we live life in our changing times? The present often seems to be a struggle. But because we know in our hearts the gentle tender love of God toward all God’s creatures, we follow Jesus’ example and, in our turn, strive to be gentle and loving towards others AND ourselves during times of tribulation and turmoil.  In the last phrase of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Remember, I am with you always.” 28:20   That gives us cause to trust in God. 

The past is a jumble of change.   And we’ve lived through it!  Through thick and thin, whether we were aware of it at the time, or not, God is always there with us; loving us in our changing times.  Only by hindsight do we remember the unexpected graces that were given us for which we are now grateful.  

The future is yet to be. We can only imagine what change is next.   Let us walk together remembering the past with Jesus’ tender loving presence among us and move into the future with trust and imagination knowing that God is always with us in our changing times.


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Thank You For The Blessings

This hymn was written to celebrate the turn of the century.  
For our community, it has become an annual part of the
Blessing of the New Year on January 31.  

1.   Thank you for the blessings 
      of our yesterdays. 
      By your grace, this New Year,            
      Fill our hearts anew. 
      Alleluia, alleluia,
      Fill our hearts anew.
      Alleluia, alleluia,                           
      Fill our hearts anew.  


2.   Keep us in the moment
      of your love today.
      By your grace, this New Year,
      Grant us peace in you.
      Alleluia, alleluia,
      Grant us peace in you.                    
      Alleluia, alleluia, 
      Grant us peace in you.

3.  Guide us through the morrow       
     to our heavenly home.
     By you grace, this New Year,

     Light our way to you.
     Alleluia, alleluia,
     Light our way to you.
     Alleluia, alleluia,
     Light our way to you.

                    Verses to tune: Jubilate Deo
                        Moira Quinn, OSsR 1999

Thursday, December 1, 2022



In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Scrooge says, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future!”  

The Liturgical Year begins with Advent: as we light the Advent wreath we remember it is a time of preparation, of quiet reflection opening of the heart to welcome anew the Son of God. 

But there are many days within Advent to celebrate: On December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, Sr. Moira always paints a giant spice cookie to celebrate the day and makes a St. Lucy’s bread for the morning of December13th.

On the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, we held our Sunday Associate meeting via ZOOM.  Many of the Sisters and Associates shared their love of Our Lady under this title.  We learned that Juan Diego’s indigenous name means ‘Talking Eagle,’ which brought to mind Blessed Celeste’s description of those who have a clean heart like Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, who, “Fix their gaze with affection and love on the eternal Sun of Justice; as an eagle gazes on the sun.”   During Advent, we too are called to clear away all the triviality that blinds us from the true meaning of the season and God’s plan of love, and with the help of Our Lady, fly to Jesus and announce His presence among us.

When we put up our little Forest of Christmas Trees in Celeste Hall, our Red Nun’s community room, we ended with a special Night Prayer with the Blessing of the Christmas Trees and Creche, hymns and sampling of Christmas cookies and eggnog.

Even though we were all ‘boosted’ in December, we did not have Mass Christmas Eve night.   We did have a joyful Mass Christmas day with our faithful pastor from the parish, Fr. Richard Smith.    We felt like the Holy Family in Bethlehem with just us quietly celebrating the birth of the Christ Child. 

We joined the Carmelites for their tradition of three days of quiet before the New Year.   On December 31, we Red Nuns, held a solemn Evening Prayer for Our Mother of God in Celeste Hall which ended with each Sister selecting for the New Year a patron Saint, a Title of Our Lady, a Petition and a Practice (a saying) to contemplate from our Constitutions.

        On the final celebration of the Christmas cycle Candlemas or the Presentation of the Lord, February 2, we took down our Christmas Forest.

Our community has the tradition of renewing our vows every 25th of the month. Every ‘Little Christmas’ we honor the Incarnation by placing the Baby Jesus in Celeste Hall and gather to renew of vows and pray.   The shrine is always decorated to reflect the

month. For Valentine’s month Jesus holds a heart because “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”  On March 25 we held the people of Ukraine with the invasion of their country.  Even when ‘Little Christmas’ falls during Lent or Easter we honor Christ’s free act of Love on the Cross. Near Memorial Day in May, we remember our fallen military
as we honor Jesus who wished to save us by his example of love.  In June, John the Baptist visited the Christ Child in the manger.   We were are mindful in September of the teachers who, like Jesus, open the minds and hearts of their students with their love and care. Around Thanksgiving we praised the abundance of God’s mercy and love in giving us Jesus.

We also wish to share with you other highlights of the past year:   Sr. Moira’s beloved mother, Mary, 92, died February 26.   For the Easter Triduum, Rev. James Hess, O. Carm. celebrated the service and Vigil Mass.   On June 12, Sisters Paula and Paz joined other Jubilarians at St Patrick Cathedral for Mass and luncheon with Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  It was a blessed day to rejoice with all the sisters and brothers of various congregations for their witness and dedication to the Lord.  Sr. Paula celebrated 70 years and Sr. M. Paz celebrated 60 years.  Sr Paula’s brother, Tom, 88, died on June 29, 2022.  
We thank God for the miracle of him coming back to the Sacraments on his last day.

Because of distance (Puerto Rico, Chicago) and the remnants of covid, Sr. Linda measured Redemptorist for habits via Zoom.  Sr. Mary Jane, who keeps our computers humming, is enjoying learning to play a Recorder in the Key of F.

The Red Nuns joined the Brown Nuns (Carmelites) in their 10-day Pre-Pentecost silent retreat.  On Pentecost morning we drew cards with the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.  Throughout the year we rejoice

with our Carmelite Sisters when they honor their great Saints Teresa, Therese, John of the Cross and newly canonized Titus Brandsma.  And they Celebrate our feasts with us. 

For the Solemnity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Redemptorist Fr. Karl Esker was our celebrant at Mass.  On the Feast of Holy Redeemer (Third Sunday of July) Fr. Richard Smith was our celebrant at Mass.  He is becoming an honorary Redemptorist because he also celebrated St Alphonsus (August 1) and St Gerard (October 16) with us.

We met a couple of newly ordained priests, Fr. Andrew Chu, who told us about his dream to go on mission to China, and O. Carm. Michael Joyce.  We pray for these young men who are so full of the Spirit.  We had other priest visitors who shared their stories with the Carmelites and us:  Fr Jozef Krajnak from Slovakia and Fr. Xavier Doss, OCD, from India.  And we are always blessed to have our own Fr. Provincial Paul Borowski, CSsR celebrate Mass for us and share the news of the province.

For our joint 10-day community retreat in October we were pleased to have Redemptorists Jim Wallace and Phil Dabney come to give us reflections on Aging in Christ, Living in Christ, Dying in Christ and Rising in Christ.  But before they were half way through the retreat, two Carmelite Sisters tested positive for covid!  We informed

Frs. Phil and Jim and advised them to leave.  We continued the retreat as ‘hermits’ – masked and social distancing within the monastery.   Thank God, both Sisters recovered and we have arranged for the Redemptorists to return in the Spring to finish their presentations.   

Our Novena Prayers before Christmas for all your intentions begins December 16. 
We gather in Celeste Hall around the flickering Advent candles and pray:

“Adore, oh my soul, in the heart of Mary,
the only begotten Son of God who was made man for love of you.”

As we wish you every blessing this Christmas and New Year,
let us be grateful for the Past, peaceful in the Present and hopeful for the Future,
and honor Christmas in our hearts and keep it all the year!


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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Blessed Celeste's Seven Keys of Thanksgiving


November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving; the time of year when we count our blessings. Our Foundress Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa was a person deeply aware of all the blessings she received from God, her Beloved: the supernatural as well as the mundane. 

You see, she was a mystic: one who was so imbued with the knowledge of her symbiotic relationship with her Maker and Redeemer working in her life and in creation that her only recourse was to give humble thanks.  Here in her writings are the Seven Keys she offers us to unlock the door to giving thanks.

FORGETFULNESS OF SELF Believe in the graces you know that I give to my friends and you will participate, by benevolence, in the good things which are theirs, and it will be pleasing to Me that you will thank Me for them as though you had received them for yourself. 

HOPE   I thank you, my faithful Lover, for the great love you have for me. O my beloved Spouse, I, to please you, desire to be newly dressed with an angelic and divine purity, because I know that it is this purity which is pleasing to you.  But I see myself as full of ingratitude and imperfections. What shall I do, my Lord?  I come to You, my safe Refuge, that You may cause everything in me to be pure.

PURE FAITH    You, who are my whole Good, gives Himself to me sacramentally in a morsel of bread; there I receive the gift of pure faith; there I receive healing and am strengthened. And when I hear your sweet Word, my spirit melts with love, because You, God, live now in me, having come down into my heart to give new life to my flesh by the life of the Spirit you breathed into me.   Love of my heart, how can I thank you!


Beloved daughter, remember that My Divine Son would be with you to the end of the world because He would be the food of your life and soul in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.  My Mercy has been the greatest gift.   Because of this Sacrament, you are filled to overflowing with a torrent of love, especially love of your neighbor, for you have become immersed in God.  See now, daughter, what dignity this Sacrament gives you, hence your whole life should be a continual preparation for and thanksgiving for My Mercy and Love.

HUMILITY   O Sweetness of my soul, you gave me three jewels: the one on my right hand was self-emptying; the second on my left hand was love of the cross and the third on the heart was pure love.  These three jewels were impressed upon me like three pledges of Your love in my soul, a love that would last unto eternity. Clothed with these jewels you have made me a beautiful image of You.   O my Goodness, how shall I thank You for this great love which You have shown me, so lowly a creature?   

PRAYER       And how can I describe the peace, the contentment and the security that the soul enjoys in prayer?  She reposes in a secure Refuge under these divine wings: there she hides herself in a passive giving of herself over as a gift, totally dependent on her Beloved. There she puts all her hopes; there she hides all her miseries; there she finds rest from all her crosses; there she places all her desires; there she is content. I bless and I thank You because, without any merit on my part, You heaped upon me all sorts of blessings and graces.

DIVINE LOVE    O God, my Lover, I give you infinite thanks because You deigned to speak to my heart with these most sweet words so full of goodness, "to you I will give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven," meaning that You have given me the keys of Your Divine Love since You gave me Your Divine Son so that He might live His life in my heart and that I might live in Your Divine Heart… What kind of thanks can I give You, only Lover of my heart?!