Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Mother Maria Celeste, our foundress, was fascinated with the Incarnate life of the Word of God among us.  Part of my training as a young Sister involved the “Intentions of the Hours”.  As  postulants and novices, at set times throughout the day, we ‘remembered’ the events of Jesus’ life, from His conception at the dawning  of the day, as we made our morning meditation,  to his burial at the evening hour of Compline.  It was like the Rosary of Our Lady in action, but it focused on the whole of Jesus’ life. 
Sometime after our Pope St. John Paul wrote and published the Illumination Mysteries of the Rosary to honor the Public Life of Christ I began to think about the Rosary Mysteries in a new way.  For so many hundreds of year we had prayed the Joyful Mysteries of His life but they only covered the very early childhood of the Incarnate Word from His Conception to the Presentation in the Temple when He was 40 days old, and then skipped to his Bar Mitzvah when he was 12 years old.  There were 18 more years after that
I began to think a lot about the Hidden Life of Jesus, 30 years of His Life.  Precious years but we know so little of them.  Have you ever thought about that?  Thirty years before Jesus Christ began his public ministry, which was after he was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, “being about 30 years of age “as St. Luke tells us.    
And in God’s plan for his whole life why was so much time given to those years?  And so few years by comparison given to his public ministry of  2 ½ to 3 years, and 3 days to his Passion and Death?  Let’s think for a moment about what we know of that time:  from the moment of the Incarnation in Mary’s womb, through his birth and infancy, his childhood, his youth, young manhood, mature manhood.  As St. Luke tells the story it seems that Jesus was ready to begin his work for the Father and for us at age 12, but at his parents urging “he went back to Nazareth and was subject to them”.  “And Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.” I would like to suggest that all these years, perhaps especially the last 18 of them, were a long Advent time for Jesus. 
What do you think? What did he, the Word and Wisdom of God incarnate among us, need to learn?  Or simply, why this long awaiting before He could give himself wholeheartedly to the ministry for which He came? 
(Take time here to hear the thoughts and reflections of the group. )
In an important writing of Ven. Maria Celeste, The Interior Garden, our Mother Celeste reflects on each one of those years of the Hidden Life and sees how in them Jesus entered already into the plan of Redemption which he would consummate on the Cross.  I brought with me a copy of a study of this section by Fr. Domenico Capone, CSSR.  In her reflections he says Celeste is seeking to know and understand the interior journey of Jesus so that she may learn to do likewise. 
Mother Celeste uses the words ‘annihilations’ and ‘humiliations’ that Jesus had to pass through during all of those 30+ years.  She has a reflection for each year of his life, and what patience, acceptance and humility were asked of him, the Word of God now suffering all the limitations of human life on earth.  In what He endured with great good-will she learns many lessons for herself—that is the focus of her prayer and considerations.  That is how she will become a living memorial of her beloved God-among-us.  That will be her Advent Journey to the fullness of God’s life within her. 
Here are a few examples from the Little Garden, Pages 321 -357. 
At the end Father Domenico Capone summarizes “This {hidden life of Christ} had its beginning with Christ’s conception, and then for more than thirty years His annihilation consisted in living an uneventful life in the small village of Nazareth, in the house of a carpenter and being a laborer in the service of others. This uneventful life, so different from the life of John the Baptist, was nonetheless for Him the greatest annihilation; it was a daily life that contained eternity and the life of God, but jealously veiled it. St. Celeste sought to intuit this annihilation mystically and she understood and described the immense condescension of Christ: He accepts as the virtue of annihilation, in His own annihilation, what in us is simply our own truth: truth as limited creatures; but worse, as creatures who are sinners. And so, while in Christ annihilation was an “emptying”, a “kenosis” of the “glory” that was connatural to Him as the Son of God, in us it means an “emptying out of an egoism” which prevents us from knowing our limits, and even worse, our sins.
Annihilation in us is therefore not dehumanizing…but instead is the truth, the true humanism; it is a question of a true intelligence in which true reasoning is “wisdom”. For this reason Sr. Celeste, in her thirst for both truth and intelligence,…has celebrated the magisterium of the “sapiential intelligence of Christ, as a book of truth and as the sole Teacher who can make us understand the double reading of Himself as a book with an evangelical message: a reading of Himself as the Son of Man, and a reading of Himself as the Son of God. Spiritual life consists of being enclosed with Christ in the humble little house of Nazareth and being open there to this double reading, but always in the “reflection of the light and power that emanates from His humanity in great humility.
And it seems to us that at Nazareth, the Man Jesus, the Word of God, in His humility and in the silence of his work – which had a social dimension and utility beyond the salvific value of annihilation, as meditated on by Sr. Celeste -   would have shown the politicians who ruled the city, where the secret was for making the earth and the terrestrial realities, even the most humble, a truly civilized place. We believe that the world must return to Nazareth and there observe how Jesus works in silence for others, without fanfare, and thus reveals the true political wisdom needed for civilized life.”
May we all learn those lessons so that we too can be a blessing wherever we live our own simple, hidden and humble lives.  Amen!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


After three days, Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple, sitting among the elders, listening to them and asking them questions.   And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son. Why have you treated us like this?  Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”   Jesus said to them, “Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand….And his mother
Henry O. Tanner 1898
pondered all these things in her heart.  Lk 2: 46-50

“And she pondered all this in her heart.”  In Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Dangerous Memories she says in Greek, symballein, ‘to ponder’ means to puzzle out their meaning, to toss things together until they make sense.  Now, we’ve been doing a lot of collective pondering this last month.  What is God trying to tell us?  Advent is fast approaching and that is a time of waiting, preparing and pondering the great mystery of God-with-us.    And, like it or not, that is what our entire life is like:  waiting, preparing, pondering what God’s plan is for us.   We can puzzle all we want, but in the end, the best we can do is step out in faith and trust in God’s loving mercy.  Not blind faith, which asks no questions, but true faith which comes with lots of doubts and questions yet filled with hope and trust that God-is-with-us. 

Ven. M. Celeste went through many difficulties in her life; nevertheless, she pondered the Plan of the Father, fixed her gaze on her Beloved and proceeded live as a constant reminder of all that the Father accomplished in Christ for our salvation.  We are called to do the same.  With Celeste, with Mary, we ponder
the very heart of the mystery of Redemptive love and, with thankful hearts, live God’s plan of love in the Church and for the world. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I am re-reading Sr. Elizabeth Johnson's book, Dangerous Memories: a Mosaic of Mary in the Scriptures drawn from her earlier book, Truly Our Sister.   October 7th is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and that put me in mind of the occasion ten years ago when I was on retreat in Emmitsburg when I felt the marian hymns at Mass that day did not speak of the richness of the role of Mary in our lives.   So I wrote my own.

                 White is the Rose

White is the rose of beauty of beginnings.
Woman of joy, you heard and you believed.
You share our dreams of what the future offers;
Pray we be one: a people full of joy.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of joy.

Red is the rose of sorrows deep and lasting.
Woman of faith, you saw and you were grieved.
You share our tears when all we see is horror;
Pray we be one: a people full of faith.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of tears.

Gold is the rose of triumph unimagined.
Woman of hope, you sensed all would be well.
You shared that trust in One who came to save us;
Pray we be one: a people full of hope.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister.
We follow you, our guide in times of hope.

True is the rose of wonder in God’s presence.
Woman of love, you sought Home in your heart.
You shared that grace and rest in the Beloved;
Pray we be one: a people full of love.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of grace.

Text: 11 10 11 10 11 10; Moira Quinn, OSsR © October 7, 2005
Redemptoristine Nuns of New York, Inc.Tune: 
FINLANDIA by Jean Sibelius 1865-1957

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Days are getting shorter.  Nights darker.  The land is parched.  We pray for rain. Every year this happens, yet we always seem surprised, and a little put out.

Let us not forget the wonder of the stars of night and the Creator who made them, and us.

Cosmos ~ detail  Moira '12 
When we were young we used to wish on stars, those millions of specks of hope ‘up above the world so high.’   What do we wish for now?  Eyes open to see the specks of hope all around us.  The contemplative eye and heart that see through the darkness and glimpses the light of our life, Jesus our Redeemer, ahead of us guiding the way.

We follow trusting in the bath of rebirth when the Holy Spirit will rain down on the parched land of our souls life-giving graces of mercy, peace and joy.  With millions of those droplets of rain we are transformed and grow into the likeness of Jesus and carry on the redemptive work of Christ in the world today. 

Whether the night be dark or the land parched; a tiny dot in the sky or a seed buried beneath the ground, beauty and richness is already present: hope is there ready to rise and shine.

So let us wish on that star, Jesus, and ask for the graces-abundant rain that we may be specks of hope for the world.

As followers of the Redeemer, let us renew our vows.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Let books be your dining table
and you shall be full of delights.
Let them be your mattress
and you shall sleep restful nights.
Author unknown
SIGNATURE OF AL THINGS ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
TWILIGHT SAGA series ~ Stephenie Meyers
SILENCE ~ Shusaku Endo translation by William Johnston, sj
Novels by Nicholas Sparks and Debbie Macomber
GONE GIRL ~ Gillian Flynn on CD
HARRY POTTER series ~ J.K. Rowling on CD
THE LAST LECTURE ~ Randy Pausch on CD
Non Fiction:
Anything by David McCullough ~ The Wright Brothers
Blanche Wiessen Cook ~ ELEANOR ROOSEVELT VOL I & II
Elaine Pagels ~ REVELATION: Visions, Prophecy and Politics
Robert Wicks ~ RIDING THE DRAGON: 10 lesions for inner strength in challenging times
James Martin, sj ~ JESUS: a Pilgrimage


Monday, June 15, 2015


In the Name of Love

Do you remember the call?
when did you hear your name out loud?
Can you remember the word that you heard
when the story began in you?
Listen, remember, catch glimpses of springtime
and roots sinking deep in the heart of our God,
and you were carried, green and stretching to light,
In the name of Love.

Do you remember the call?
The call into full red rose of day?
Can you remember the vision, the dream,
and the courage to love for life?
Listen, remember, catch glimpses of summer
Seasons by Moira '08
and all blossomed gentleness radiant with light,
and you were dancing, full and given to life,
In the name of Love.

Do you remember the call?
And you, letting go, golden to grace?
Trusting the journey and all it would be
born of love and fidelity.
Listen, remember, catch glimpses of autumn,                      
of all that’s surrendered in wisdom and hope,
for it is given, for the yet to become,
In the name of Love.

Do you remember the call?
Sung in the silent depths of you?
Know that its power is deep in your heart
as a fire, a song, a dream.
Listen, remember, catch glimpses of winter,
touch new life in hiding and set it ablaze,                      
and let it grow into fullness of life     
In the name of Love.
                            copyright Jennifer Corlett, OSU & Mark Hobson    

Yes, I remember the call.  That is why we are gathered here today.  Before we begin this Eucharistic celebration I’d like to share with you some glimpses of my journey.

From my earliest memories I wanted to be a nun.  My first grade teacher, a Sister of St. Joseph, must have made a big impression on me: I remember her as being very kind and understanding. 

1963 Mom, Grandpa "Toots"& Grandma Quinn,  Dad, Theresa, Irene and Moira
It was in the Spring when I made my First Holy Communion.   On returning to my seat after receiving the Body of Christ, an elderly woman that I did not know, who was seated in a wheel chair in the aisle, touched my arm and said, “Pray for me.”  

At some point, when I was still quite young, I was up in the choir loft of our old church, St. Francis de Chantal in Wantagh, listening to the Mass, still in Latin, hearing the beautiful music, gazing at the light-filled stained glass windows and thinking. “I could stay here forever.”

Confirmation 1966
In fifth grade I took as my Confirmation name St. Therese.  I had read one of those little books the school gave to the kids so they could pick out a saint to be their spiritual guide and friend.  Her ‘Little Way’ seemed something I could do.

I went to Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville.  When all my friends were busy figuring out what college to go to, I was still thinking of being a nun, but was too shy and insecure to follow that path.  I knew I was not college material, therefore I decided to study cosmetology – it seemed logical since I gave myself an asymmetrical haircut when I was about 4 and later had a Tressy doll.

When I was in my late twenties, I remember a priest giving a vocation talk at Mass and me crying throughout because I knew that was what I wanted but did not have the chutzpah to answer the call.

I remember the call clearly when I did answer the call.  It started on New Year’s Eve at a house party.  My sister Paula was bragging that this was going to be a big year for the Quinn girls:  Irene was having a baby, Cate.  Theresa and Kevin were getting married.  She, Paula, was graduating from Catholic U. with honors….  And Moira – oh, she was turning 30!  Ugh!

The next night I got out the classified ads from the New York Times to get an idea of options other than hairdressing which I had been doing successfully for 10 years.  I couldn’t see myself cutting hair the rest of my life and I did not want the responsibility of managing or owning a shop.  So after reading the ads from A-Z and not finding anything that fit - I did not want to be a teacher, a social worker, a nurse, a cook…  I sent up a prayer, “Lord, what am I going to do?”   And the answer came clear as a bell.  “Are you ready to be a nun?”  I actually looked behind me to see who spoke, it was that clear.  I said, “Yes.”  And immediately I felt at peace.

All along God was preparing glimpses of the pathway to make it easier for me to follow:  I had bought a Summer cottage in Millerton, NY four years earlier and spent many a weekend there by myself.  During that time I was inspired to work on my novel on the life of John the Baptist.  John’s life stirred in me a desire to give my all to follow Jesus.       see link above on the right

I remember the Fall before I entered when I caught glimpses of what life as a contemplative monastic would be like when I attended a day program and met Redemptoristines from around the world.   Their topic of discussion was our Constitutions.  They were ordinary women, like me, who had given their treasure and talent for the glory of God.  It gave me courage to come as I was – still shy and unsure – to give my all to this group of women and the Order.   Recently, I was strolling down memory lane and came across a reflection I wrote during me retreat before my First Profession in 1991.  It’s entitled YES.

First Profession Esopus 1991 Henry and Mary Quinn 
Mary said, “Yes.
I am the handmaid of the Lord
let it be done to me according to your word.”
And God became Incarnate
in our Redeeming Lord.

Celeste said, “Yes”
to been given, “My only begotten Son…
to make you divine in life…
to be for the world
a Viva Memoria.”

You, my Sisters, said, “Yes”
To “A cross…A kiss…
To let your willing be an echo of Mine”
that He might really live in your hearts
and His works be alive!

Do you, “Fix your gaze upon Him
that you might be radiant with joy,
so that My creatures might remember
My eternal Love?”
I say, “Yes.”

And here we are today, twenty-five years later – six months earlier than my actual anniversary because no one wants to travel in the Winter.    I catch glimpses of all the sisters present here and realize the majority of you have been in religious life almost as long as I have been alive.  All of you have been a great witness not only to me but to all the lives you have touched and the whole world.  Your “Yes” inspires me to continue to give my all.   Your “Yes” gives me the courage to persevere through the many changes our church and religious life continues to undergo.     Your “Yes” invites me to deepen my relationship with Jesus ‘to be a clear and radiant witness of the love God has for each of us in Christ.’  C&S 5

Early on in my religious life I took as a motto, “JOY:  Jesus, Other, You.”  I pray that I will always live in “communion with Christ, who is the light of my faith, the strength of my charity and the source of my hope.”
C&S 16

I wish to thank the Redemptorists for being true brothers since the conception of our double institute in 1731 and 32, and by welcoming and supporting us in being a prayer presence in the Hudson Valley since 1957.  Thank you to our Carmelite Sisters for welcoming us two years ago to share their monastery.    And thanks, also, to all of our friends who have enriched our lives in so many and unique ways over the years.
And I especially want to tell my family how much I love them and thank them for all their love and support throughout my life. 
God bless you all.   Amen.