Archive for January, 2009

A lot going on

There has definitely been a lot going on late, most importantly, Christmas, which actually went well. I was able to talk with my family Christmas evening and the following evening so that makes it a really good time. I’ll try to give a timeline of events, so that I can catch everyone up on what life has been like here.

The Mothers were in Rome in November (I believe) and met with the Cardinal in charge of the Religious. In the meeting, he mentioned that he wanted to see that all Religious and Priests know and understand Latin. So, within two weeks, the books had arrived and we had our first class in Latin. Mostly, we are starting with pronunciation and a few vocabulary words. When we resume classes in January, we need to know the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be in Latin.

We are continuing our classes on Ecclesiology – the study of the Church and the basis of the Church.

Bishop Mengeling, who retired within the last year, has agreed to teach a class on the Bible that will contain history as well as connections between the New and Old Testaments. He will also focus a little bit on the integration of Jewish customs and Liturgy as the foundation of the Catholic Liturgy. He plans to come about once a week for two-hour sessions. He thinks the full course will take about two years to complete. He’s given us one class, but then he flew to Germany for Christmas and New Year’s to lead the year-end retreat at a German convent.

We just finished a five-day course on the Liturgy given by one our sisters from Denver. She is assisting on the research for changes to the Mass that will be instituted in 2012. Several parts have already been approved by the Vatican and the approved changes are posted online complete with scripture references to see exactly where the wording originated (note from Brandi: I couldn’t find an “official” document – here is an NPR story). Basically, with the translation of the Mass from Latin to English, there was a push for equivocal language. This means that the translation wasn’t exact – it was more “similar to” the original. These new translations should be a truer English translation of the Latin.

We are to have more classes over the Spring, which I think will be good. Most will be seminar-type classes. I think they are an attempt to give us some information but mostly to find out where our interests are for future study.

We each have regular meetings with the Postulant director. In a meeting, I mentioned that I liked Sacristy (which is the setting up and service for Mass and Holy Hour). Her reply was “well, the mothers have wanted to send someone to get their Master’s or PhD in Theology with an emphasis in Sacristy. Most likely that person would study in Rome for that. That really took me back – I hadn’t realized before how much a little comment could change the next 10 years of your life – a little scary!

Then, about a week later, we were all sitting at the table for dinner. We had a guest and it was announced that we would all be studying for advanced degrees in Theology – most likely during temporary vows (which follows the Novitiate). I knew that probably a few would get these degrees, but I had not heard this version before – that it would be everyone. Very interesting.

As for Christmas, we all found out on Tuesday (Dec. 23) that we would not be leaving on Dec. 26 as originally planned to go to Connecticut. We would be staying home, have Christmas in our individual homes and invite four guest Sisters and four Priests over. That meant we would need to set up in the basement for dinner (since it’s a bigger space), get a tree, put up decorations, etc. The big problem was that the basement had just gone through about five weeks of remodeling and the kitchen, dining area and pantry (including ever dish) was covered in dust. So, the preparation began! Everything was cleaned by the next morning and all the food was prepared the next day. It was tons of work, but it all went very well.

The next day, the Sisters from around the US began arriving for an end-of-the-year retreat. All together, about 50 of us were there – not counting the Sisters who couldn’t travel from within the United States, the ones n Rome, Germany and Australia.

We have been able to enjoy a 10 a.m. start (with Mass and prayers) every day followed by a meal, conference, evening prayer, supper and night prayer. There’s lots of eating and praying and talking. New Year’s Eve, we had a talent show in which teh Sisters sang, played their instruments, read poems, etc. Then, we had a special Holy Hour from 11:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., followed by a small reception (more eating and talking). I finally got to bed about 2:30 a.m. We were able to start late again today and we have a quiet evening to be able to get to bed early. Reality hits tomorrow with 5:30 a.m. Mass and prayers.

I really hope everyone is doing well. I miss all of you and think of you all often. I hope 2009 is filled with many blessings for all.


Sister Shana


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NOTE from Brandi: In November, the Sisters of Mercy sponsored an Illumination class. Sister Shana sent her finished illumination to Julia (her niece) for her second birthday. The following is the image and an explanation of the Illumination.

The illumination is an art form that reached its peak in the middle ages. All the colors have some significance and meaning. The calligraphy is a style used at the time. All the colors are created from stones and natural pigments, and we spent most of the first day of classes completing the grinding of the particles into paint. All the gold is real gold either gold paper or gold that we used in powder form to create the paint.

The picture itself was designed by the artist, Jed Gibbons, who came to teach teh class. He ahsdone many pieces in cathedrals and churces all over the world.

This Illumination was created by Sister Shana and was given to Julia Herrman, Sister Shana's niece, for her birthday.

This Illumination was created by Sister Shana and was given to Julia Herrman, Sister Shana's niece, for her birthday.

The “A” surrounding Mary is the beginning of the prayer and also symbolizes the tent of the Art of the Covenant from the Old Testament that prefigured Mary (As Mary is the new Arc who carried Christ).

The five pearls are referenced in Job. 28:18: “The price of wisdom is beyond pearls.”

The white lily represents purity and is the iconic symbol of Mary

Blue symbolizes Mary and is the color used on teh dress because it has a reflective element to it

The Holy Spirit overshadows Mary as in the Annunciation

The beads surrounding the piece represents the rosary, with the 20 beads represnting the mysteries: 5 joyful mysteries in blue; 5 sorrowful mysteries in purple; 5 glorious mysteries in gold; 5 luminous mysteries in white.

The cross is the mercy cross, which symbolizes the darkness fo the world with the Light of Christ as the Center – to bring Light to the darkness.

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