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  Sister watches a baptism The Sisters often help prepare souls for the Sacraments, especially for Baptism, Penance (confession), First Communion and Confirmation.
  
Articles in this newsletter:
“The Hearts of Jesus and Mary Have Merciful Designs for You”
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Active Life, Contemplative Spirit
Calendar

Our Apostolate of Prayer
Send intentions for Sisters’ Novenas

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Summer 2015

Dear Friends,

Praised be Jesus and Mary!

“The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you.” These words were spoken by an Angel to the children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, who were later destined to see the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. They are words that could be said to each one of us as well.

God’s plans for every soul He has created are full of love and mercy. How sad that many have no place for God in their lives, and no concern for His loving Providence in their regard! He sent His Son into the world to manifest His love: to show us the way and teach us the truth, and lay down His life for us. And as an added bonus, Jesus shares His spotless Mother with us.  

Among the many mercies that flow to us from the Heart of our Savior through His Mother are the Sacraments. This time of year might be called the season of the Sacraments, for often First Confession, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Matrimony take place during late spring and early summer. How grateful we should be for these sources of grace which are with us from the cradle to the grave, helping us to live our lives on the supernatural level!

Baptism, the gateway to all the other Sacraments, is our birth to the life of God. “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he shall not have eternal life.” These words of our Divine Lord emphasize the importance of the sacrament of Baptism, through which we become children of God. By this sacrament our souls are cleansed from original sin as well as any actual sins, and all the punishment due to them. Often those who are baptized as adults are envied for their good fortune at having a clean slate in the eyes of God. Happy thought! Years of sin, perhaps, erased as if they had never happened! On the other hand, those who are baptized as infants have the advantage of growing in God’s grace even before the dawn of reason. We will not realize until eternity the advantage of this almost inborn Catholic sense which was nurtured in us though we were all unaware.

Confirmation, our own personal Pentecost! Our coming of age in the supernatural realm! This is the sacrament of spiritual maturity, of blossoming and fruition. The breath of the Holy Spirit fills the sails of our soul, to facilitate and sweeten our practice of the virtues.

The Angel of Portgal   
The Angel of Portugal to the Fatima children: “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you.”

Who can adequately sing the mercy that is ours in the sacrament of Penance? To know the forgiveness of sin! How much guilt, unhappiness, psychological damage, perhaps even mental illness could be avoided if only confession were understood and appreciated as the spiritual medicine God intended it to be!

What a pinnacle of mercy we find in the Holy Eucharist! Who but God could have imagined this incredible mystery, whereby He feeds us with the spiritual food that is Himself! If with the psalmist we will sing the mercies of the Lord forever, is not this sacrament of union with Christ the greatest of these gifts? Holy Communion foreshadows the union of our souls with God that will be our joy and bliss throughout eternity.

Holy Orders and Matrimony are the sacraments of the propagation of life, both natural and supernatural! By Matrimony is sanctified the passing on of natural life; through Holy Orders, God gives us the ministers who convey to our souls their supernatural life.

And the final mercy, Extreme Unction is the sacrament for the journey across the frontier of eternity. This Last Anointing brings spiritual strength, cleansing, and peace to the soul about to face its merciful Judge. Having lived life in union with Christ through the sacraments, the soul comes not before a stranger, but to a meeting with a dear and life-long Friend, a Friend whose mother is our own spiritual mother, by His gift. How shall we fear such a meeting?

Yes, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on each one of us! What more complete or better chain of graces could we seek to guide us through life along the path of His mercy and love? What gratitude should we not have for the gift of our Catholic Faith, the source of our supernatural life from Christ, through Mary, our Mother!

Active Life, Contemplative Spirit

A Sister making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament   

The Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, with our apostolates of teaching, publishing and mission work, is an active congregation, as distinct from those which are purely contemplative, such as Carmelites. But even from our earliest days, the Sisters were urged to continually strive to preserve a prayerful spirit in everything they did. This balance of an active apostolate with the contemplative spirit is known as the “mixed life.” Christ Himself lived this kind of life: He was active in His works of teaching and healing, yet He did all in union with His Father and frequently spent time alone in prayer. This spirit of prayer is the “soul” of the apostolate and renders it fruitful of graces for souls.

This contemplative spirit is a radiation or extension of the formal prayer which is a vital part of a Sister’s life. In this article, we will look at only how the Sisters begin their day with prayer, and how this carries over into their active work. The first thing the Sisters do after rising and dressing is to gather in the chapel, where they spend about 45 minutes in prayer before Holy Mass. Morning prayers begin with the Magnificat — that beautiful canticle of praise and thanksgiving to God which burst forth from the lips of Our Lady when her cousin St. Elizabeth praised her as the “Mother of my Lord.” Then follows 30 minutes of mental prayer, which is basically a heart-to-heart conversation with God.

According to many spiritual writers, the degree of holiness a Sister reaches depends principally upon her practice of this type of prayer. “Mental prayer,” said St. Alphonsus, “is the blessed furnace in which souls are inflamed with love of God.” The more a Sister gets to know God in mental prayer, the more she loves Him. By pondering deeply on the eternal truths, her soul is enlightened by divine light and her will is moved to surrender to the workings of grace. As she makes progress in prayer, its transforming effect reaches deeper into the inmost recesses of her soul so that she derives more spiritual fruit from Holy Mass, the sacraments, and the other means of grace which are so abundant in religious life.

Five minutes before the end of the half hour, a bell rings, and the Sister brings her meditation to a close by renewing her vows and making a resolution for the day. The short prayers which follow  include three Hail Mary’s along with a consecration to God through our Blessed Mother of her soul with all its faculties, her heart with all its affections, and her body with all its senses. St. Joseph, as the “pattern of all who are devoted to toil,” also has a special place in our morning prayers, as does our holy angel guardian. The Sisters also pray the holy hour of Prime from the Divine Office, which is the perfect morning prayer because it is part of the liturgical prayer of the Church, consisting of psalms and antiphons that are appropriate for the beginning of the day. Then comes Holy Mass, which is, of course, the most important part of the day, for it is the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary as well as the sacrament of intimate union with Christ, Whom she receives in Holy Communion.

The Sisters praying during the 40 Hours Devotion

Our Apostolate of Prayer

Are you worried about a loved one? Is there a problem that is weighing heavily upon your heart? Send in your intentions, and the Sisters will commend them in their prayers and Masses, especially during our upcoming Novenas:

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
   (Feast: July 16)
Immaculate Heart of Mary
   (Feast: August 22)
 

By the time Mass has ended and Sister has finished her thanksgiving after Holy Communion, she has spent about an hour-and-a-half in chapel. With her soul fortified by prayer and nourished by Heavenly Food (the Blessed Sacrament), she is now ready to begin the “active” part of her day. After a simple breakfast eaten in silence to the background of Gregorian chant, Sister heads for her classroom or office. This spirit of silence also helps her preserve a prayerful spirit throughout the day; within the convent, the Sisters limit themselves to only necessary conversation during their work.

Even in a busy classroom, a Sister strives to preserve the contemplative spirit by recollecting herself from time to time, recalling the presence of God and renewing her consecration to Jesus through Mary. During the day, as her duties allow, she makes visits to the chapel, where she brings her worries and cares, her joys and sorrows to share with our Divine Lord. For it is not her external work that matters so much as the love, the motive and intentions with which she performs it — “All for Jesus, all through Mary...”

Calendar

June 13
21-25
27
29
30
  Sr. Mary Antoinette’s feastday
Sisters’ Annual Retreat
Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Sisters’ Vows Ceremonies
Sr. Mary Petra’s feastday
Sr. Mary Paula’s feastday
July 12
13-17
19-25
  Sr. Mary Veronica’s feastday
Classes for the teaching Sisters
Camp St. Philomena (see www.campstphilomena.com for information)
August 9
15
18
28
  Sr. Marie Vianney’s feastday
Feast of the Assumption BVM
Sr. Helen Marie’s feastday
Sr. Augustine Marie’s feastday

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Anima Mariae is the free quarterly newsletter of the CMRI Sisters.
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