A contemplative monastic nun writing about spirituality, family, relationships, memories, art and craft,
books and more...all from the Boomer Generation perspective and experience.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Caryll Houselander
1901 - 1954
A Prayer for Our Time

British author so stunning with spiritual insight Caryll Houselander is best known for her book "The Reed of God", a meditation on Mary the mother of Jesus. The title is metaphor for Mary's willingness to allow God to work Divine Will in and through her being.
Less well known in the United States other works are rooted in her experience of the horrors of the London Blitz during World War II. Our monastic library (no longer with us to my great dismay) held some of these gems. Among them I found her little book "The Comforting of Christ". In just the title we are invited to consider such a strange notion; the idea that we human beings can comfort the suffering Christ. Think about that one.
At the end of this precious book Houselander placed a lengthy prayer entitled " A Meditation on the Mass of Reparation". Beautiful in its poetic phrasing the prayer never fails to open my heart. Over  and over again I have been drawn to the section that speaks of the moment when the priest adds a drop of water to the chalice of wine. I share this section here because while its content was born in the mist of Britain's darkest hour its appropriateness in our time is so poignant. After reading of the horrors reported in the New York Times on a daily basis, I am present at Mass with this prayer before me.
"Receive the tears of the world, in the drop of water in the Chalice; receive the tears of the old mothers who weep in the ruins of their homes, rifled nests of the little birds that were once their sons; receive the tears of frightened children, of homesick children. Receive the privileged tears of those who can weep for contrition; receive the tears that are not shed, that are hard as salt-water frozen in hearts that can weep no more; that ache in the throats of those who have no more tears to shed. Receive, O God, from my hands, who am not worthy to breathe the air He breathes, the tears of Christ in the Chalice of our salvation, the tears of the Infant in Bethlehem, the tears of the little foreign Child in Egypt, the tears shed over Jerusalem, the tears shed over Lazarus...O God, we offer Thee the tears of Christ in the tears of the world: "We offer Thee the Chalice of Salvation, humbly begging Thy mercy that it may ascend to Thee for our salvation and for that of the whole world."  

More History from World War II Letters


Helmut Eric Nimke - 1944
The limits of time - only 24 hours in each day - do not allow for concentrated effort in completely processing the cache of letters written by my mother and father during WWII. Therefore my reportage concerning what they reveal is a bit strung out here. But I know there are readers who look forward to reading more.
Just found this post in draft form stashed in the "files" of this blog. Just can't let it go to waste even if there is little I can add at this time. The letter above seems to have been a joint communication by men in my father's squadron who are dismayed by the injustices they observe in Meridian, Mississippi. Bear in mind that 10 years later Meridian would be at the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement.
Below are two enclosures from the letters. They are followed by a letter in which justice issues are spoken of yet again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Church and New Document Governing Nuns

In April 2014 CICLSAL - The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life sent a questionnaire to the monasteries of contemplative women ("cloistered monasteries") requesting their response to an attached questionnaire. In 2008 the Congregation held a Plenary Assembly concerned with "The Monastic Life and Its Meaning in the Church and the World Today". Currently ecclesial legislation regarding monasteries of nuns is governed by the Apostolic Constitution entitled "Sponsa Christi" promulgated in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. 
To inform the work of the Congregation in preparing a new document a questionnaire was sent out with a return date of September 2014. The new document is to be promulgated during the Year of Consecrated Life which begins Advent, November 30, 2014 and will end on February 2, 2016, the World Day for Consecrated Life.
The essay below is my own general response which has come out of our community deliberations in response to the questionnaire.
Answer the Call:
General Response to Questionnaire 
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
 and Societies of Apostolic Life
Sr. Hildegard Pleva, OSsR

In concert with the desires of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has been directed to prepare a proposal for a new apostolic constitution for monasteries of nuns, a successor to Sponsa Christi promulgated in 1955 by Pope Pius XII.  It is possible to discern within this directive an invitation offered by our loving God. A call can be heard; a call issued to our Church which, having entered the 3rd millennium, is invited to affirm the dignity of all women created in the image and likeness of God and particularly women of our faith baptized into the Paschal Mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ who is priest, prophet and king.
In formulation of the proposed Papal document, the first of its kind in the 21st century, the Congregation, cognizant of current theology and scripture interpretation with regard to women as well as the cultural and societal norms of our period in history, can be attentive to the signs of our times. Recognizing the import of these factors, the new document should assert the dignity of women, render respect, declare trust and, by its stipulations, affirm the full equality of women in the Church and society, both secular and ecclesial.
The regulations concerning Papal Enclosure were first promulgated over 1,000 years ago. Analysis by historians has revealed that these regulations and their periodic reiteration in a variety of documents were rooted primarily in the political, economic and cultural context of times long passed; more rooted in constructs and circumstances long passed than in any purely spiritual value. To this day anachronistic provisions are draped with the cloth of spirituality.
Just as apostolic congregations of women are largely self-determining in the manner in which they live out their vows and fulfill their stated active apostolic purpose to serve the needs of the people of God, women in solemn vows and committed to the apostolic work of prayer, should be similarly self-determining of the manner in which they remain committed to and exercise their vowed ministry. In this way their dignity and equality in the ecclesial setting would be affirmed.
In the matter of interaction with the world at large and the ways in which modern technology can present a challenge to contemplative life, contemplative women, in accord with the philosophy described here, should be paid the respect and trust that their dignity and equality merit. They have the ability to self-manage the circumstances of their lives and the availability of new technologies in a manner that supports contemplation, corporate prayer, and community life in accord with their varied charisms while remaining focused upon the apostolic work of prayer for our Church and our world. The current technological challenge is not a new species of development. In the 16th century there was the appearance of the printing press. The 19th century brought with it the telegraph and telephone. In the 20th century we dealt with the advent of the automobile, television and mass media. All of these the challenges were weathered as this question was answered, “How can we use this development to foster faith, prayer and community (local as well as international) but not allow it to destroy the focus of our charism and crumble the enclosure of our hearts?” Contemplative women can be trusted today to answer the same question with great integrity and to respond appropriately to current technological developments in computer sciences, the ability to access to the Internet and the availability of social media.
The document under consideration can express this trust in allowing mature women who are committed to their vows and the person of Jesus to formulate the question over and over as the times demand and to continue to live lives centered on Jesus, pledged to Gospel values and determined to preserve contemplative life dedicated to the apostolic work of prayer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why is Our Public Discourse Lacking in Civility?
Listened to a great discussion about this topic on Albany Public Radio WAMC today, the last in a series focusing this issue. It was terrific and got me thinking. So I just had to leave a comment on their website www.wamc.org. Now I share it with you.

I am so very grateful to all at WAMC for thoughtful presentations concerning current pressing issues in such thorough and thought provoking ways and also for so often providing just plain fun.
Caught snippets of the series on civil discourse and only today was I able to listen to an entire panel discussion. It was a deliciously high level of discourse; an antidote to the prevalence of incivility today. By the time I got my ideas together Joe stopped announcing the telephone number so I lost my chance to add my two cents worth to the Roundtable discussion. So here goes.

As the panelists offered, there is more to this issue than meets the eye. Fear is usually at the root of anger and violence. Insecurity is rampant in the populace. But there are a few other points I would like to raise.
In the introduction to her book “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism” Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote, “…the vitality of democracy…depends on popular knowledge of complex questions.” I would argue that there is very little of this type of knowledge present today. Admittedly, things are more complicated than ever and it is easy to remain unaware of unintended consequences of our acts and policies. However, the deterioration of public education, fewer college programs providing a broad liberal arts education and the mediocre quality of public media in general do not enrich our capacity to understand complex matters. This factor also contributes to low turnout at the polls.
Television programming is such a “vast wasteland” that reality TV has become the norm: the more dysfunctional, violent, and inane the better. Could it be that FOX News deliberately recreates the situation and mentality of reality TV just to match numbers on the agitation barometer? Social media, as I have heard Joe’s guests report, allow people of like mind to communicate so exclusively with one another that they do not ever have to engage in any kind of conversation with those who think differently. This contributes to their bunker mentality. The military image becomes apt when violent response erupts in discourse or, even worse, in shoot outs in our schools.
I have often thought that the trend toward fundamentalism of one kind or another which we have seen emerge all over the world, across nations, cultures and religions, is also the root of political polarization in our government. If so, and if I remember what eventually happened to Senator Joseph McCarthy, this too shall pass.
I am a contemplative nun living with 21 other woman in a monastery so I will close with this point. There is a movement out there in business, organizations, schools, etc., to learn and pursue something called contemplative decision-making. The key words are something like stop, look, talk, listen, reflect in silence, reconsider, talk and listen again. It takes a great deal of time but it works.

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Please Note and Share Info

Seems like it has been one hurdle after another here at the monastery. We've closed our cape sewing business; continue making habits (many right now) for Redemptorist priests and brothers; had a full and beautiful Holy Week and Easter; offered a program about our foundress Maria Celeste just yesterday and now attempting to clear out commercial sewing business equipment AND profession art equipment and supplies no longer needed here.

So sorry to all my friends but posting the sale notices here is one other way I can publicize these events. Please, please please spread the word. Note that these lists include the URL for same ads on Craig's List where photographs of items can be seen. Many thanks.

Commercial Sewing Manufacture Equipment

Available for purchase and pick-up only on Saturday, May 10, 2014, 10am to 3pm in Beacon, NY.
1 custom made sewing table with large surface designed for a commercial machine. Measures 5 feet square. $150.00
4  commercial garment racks on wheels 6' long, 71" high, 19" wide. Optional fittings for wooden ball hook hangers (hangers included). $90.00 each
1 commercial garment rack same as above without extra fittings. $75.00
Available only on Monday, May 3, 2014 from 10:30am to 12:30pm at Arnoff Storage, 1282 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603    
1 Singer Highspeed Commercial Sewing Machine #251-22 with original book and with custom made table 5' x 5' $350.00
1 - 5' x 5' custom made sewing table for factory machine (machine not included  $150.00
1 large heavy duty rack for up to six rolls of up to 70" wide fabric (100 yard plus rolls) with safety lock wheels -  $300.00
1 cutting table 10.5 feet long and 6.5 feet wide with collapsible legs - $150.00
 1 rolling garment rack 73" long, 33" wide and 75" high - $75.00
 Professional Art Equipment and Supplies
Seerite Top Loading Opaque Projector (6x6) - $50.00
Light Box approx. 18" x 18" - $50.00
Metal cabinet on wheels - $50.00
Folding drawing table, heavy duty, top 28" x 42" - $75.00
Variety of new metal framing materials still in boxes
Two folding easels
Mounted and rolled canvas
Assorted pad paper for drawing water color and pastel
Assorted loose paper in large sheets - fine quality - water color, pastel and drawing
Assorted brushes