An Eventful September

On September 11, the eve of the day on which the Church commemorates the “Holy Name of Mary,” our Sister Mary was clothed with the Benedictine habit. What a glorious day it was!

Two days later, a wildfire broke out from lightning striking a bush on our neighbor’s land, and we spent the day preparing to evacuate. Thankfully, due to the amazing fire fighting squad (on foot and in the air), who worked tirelessly through the night, we were able to safely stay in our monastery. We were also blessed by many friends and oblates who reached out to check on us and let us know that we could stay with them if we needed to leave. Praise the Lord for surrounding us with so many good people!

It was a great gift that we did not have to evacuate, because Sister Assunta’s Vow Renewal was set to take place on the next day, September 14, The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. After six years here, she has now renewed her vows for another year, bringing her one step closer to her Solemn Profession.

In honor of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrated this month, one of our Sisters wrote this reflection:


A Rock Beneath the Cross

You have said
To plant in fertile ground
With rich, nutritious soil,
In order to take root
And bear fruit;
But then You go and
Contradict Yourself,
Because I’ve seen
Trees growing out of rocks,
For nothing is impossible
For You…

And it’s a good thing, too,
Because I am like that rock,
Stony, hard, unloving,
Critical, rigid, cold,
But still You give me hope
That if I only keep saying,
“I only want You,
And to love like You,”
Then You will accomplish
A miracle in me,
And a tree will grow
From this rock…

And I think of Moses
Striking the rock,
And water pouring forth,
Just like You were struck
By me on the Cross,
And blood and water 
Poured out love and mercy
Upon this very rock
Who struck You…

So there is hope
For this heart of stone,
Because beneath your Cross,
Watered by Your blood,
Anything is possible,
And even a fruit-bearing tree
Can grow.

I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

Embracing the Cross

A reflection on the triumph of Love by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB

I was thinking about the incredible words we sing during the Divine Office on the Feast of St. Andrew: “Seeing the cross [of his own martyrdom], Andrew cried out with joy, ‘O precious cross! Truly I have always loved you, and I have desired to embrace you.’”

This is a disciple who ran away in the garden of Gethsemane—he didn’t stand by Jesus on the cross—so the greatest gift that could be given to him was another chance to stand by the cross. What did he do with it? He embraced it. He longed for that moment to tell Christ, “I love you, and I want to be with you, wherever that leads.” This is the power of the triumph of the cross. Love is the triumph of the cross. When we love enough that we no longer fear the crosses in our lives but we embrace them and we long for them because they unite us with him who has loved us beyond all love, that is the triumph of the cross. So today we celebrate that we no longer fear the cross; it is truly the exaltation. Of course we cannot do this of ourselves. St. Andrew, St. Peter, none of them, could have embraced the cross on their own, but with divine strength they could embrace and kiss it. And their suffering turned into gratitude. Yes, when we can thank God for the crosses in our life, God has triumphed. When we can see that it is Love that has given us once again the chance to prove our love, we will rejoice and say, “Amen!” and run toward it, because we have a chance to prove our love. Let us pray today that the cross may triumph in our own lives, because it will not happen on our own. It is completely divine strength.

May this Easter season bring you much joy in the resurrection of Our Lord, who suffered his cross for the love of us, that we might have a sense of the depths of his love and desire to return our love for his.

Artwork by Sr. Ancilla Armijo, OSB

Suffer Willingly, Love Fully

Reflection on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

It’s a blessing to celebrate the Triumph of the Cross because it immerses us, once again, in the holiest days of the year – the Triduum.  In our daily lives, it is easy to get caught up in what needs to be done; this feast is a reminder to sit with the message of the Triduum.

Saint John Paul the Great knew suffering intimately.  In his apostolic letter on human suffering, he says,

“The Cross of Christ throws salvific light in a most penetrating way on man’s life and, in particular, on his suffering.  For through faith, the Cross reaches man together with the Resurrection.  The mystery of the Passion is contained in the Paschal Mystery.  The witnesses of Christ’s Passion are, at the same time, witnesses of His Resurrection.  St. Paul writes, ‘That I may know Him, Christ, and the power of His Resurrection and may share His sufferings becoming like Him in His death that if possible I may obtain resurrection from the dead.’”

In our own lives, we can learn to value suffering because it strengthens us.  The conviction we need to have in order to suffer gracefully is a conviction of love:  you only suffer willingly when you love fully.  Christ loved fully and He suffered willingly out of that love.