The New Season of Grace has Begun

The Alleluia banner before the Ash Wednesday service.

By S. Karen Mohan, VHM

“Each new season renews an aspect of the great mystery of Christ living and present in the Church. Each recurring season shows us some new way in which we live in Christ and in which Christ acts in the world….”- Thomas Merton

As I lit the fire to burn last year’s palm, preparing the ashes to mark our foreheads for the Ash Wednesday “signing”, I noticed how quickly those palm flowers dissolved. What had been was now becoming the symbol for our Lenten “springtime” renewal.   At Vespers on Ash Wednesday eve, we sang the Alleluia for the last time until the Easter Vigil, and then rolled up our Alleluia banner, “burying“ it in a box until it is unfurled once more at the Great Sabbath. We were ready for Lent to begin.

The 35 people ages 9-95, who gathered in our living room for our Ash Wednesday Mass today were ready, too.   What a privilege for our community to host such a gathering! Some were “regulars”; some were there for the first time ; all were affirming by their presence in the sacredness of this “Christian community retreat”.

Thomas Merton once wrote, “Each new season renews an aspect of the great mystery of Christ living and present in the Church. Each recurring season shows us some new way in which we live in Christ and in which Christ acts in the world….”

The new season of grace has begun.   We enter it together, with faith, hope and love.

From Table to Table

Eucharistby Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM

“Our faith tells us that the Eucharist is the ultimate Thanksgiving meal and the best preparation for being sent.”

For the past 25 years our monastery dining room table has been the setting for good food, stimulating  conversation  and  amazing people  who enrich and inspire us to “walk the talk”  of our mission embodied in the motto of the Visitation Order,  “Live Jesus“.

This Fremont table was a gift from previous owners,  Lacious and Margaret Burgess who raised six children  and fed many  friends and neighbors long before we arrived in north Minneapolis. We learned from their pastor that no one was turned away at the Burgess’  home.

The Sisters  recognize the sacredness of this  table.   We  hope that those who have been fed at our table   will  “taste  the blessing”  received  “where two or three gather “ in Christ’s name.   Such blessings  flow from  the nourishment  received at the “Table of Thanksgiving”  which we  call “The Eucharist”.

As part of our way of life as Visitation Sisters, we participate in the great prayer of the Mass daily.

“Feeding on the Body of Christ strengthens and unites us as we are sent forth to share Christ’s love…”

Mass at MonasteryMany priests have made time in their schedule so that we can celebrate Mass regularly in our monastery. We are very grateful to them and to others who join us for  this  great prayer.  On some days the congregation may be small; on other days  we are “shoulder to shoulder”  as we pray!

The word, “Mass“  means  “to be sent”;  Eucharist  means  “Thanksgiving”. Our faith tells us that the Eucharist is the ultimate Thanksgiving meal and the best  preparation for being sent.  We come as the family of God, to praise and thank God for the blessing of life and to intercede for  the  people and  needs of the whole  world.  We ask for mercy. We listen to and share the Word of God in union with people across the globe “breaking open” the same Scriptures. We witness the Spirit alive and active among us as we share.

In the Eucharistic prayer  the crucified and risen Lord gathers us all into unity.  With confidence, then, we join our hands and pray as he taught us, share his peace with each other and partake of his very life in communion. Feeding on the Body of Christ strengthens and unites us as we are sent forth to share Christ’s love that day.

I am aware that  the Mass holds the intimacy of Christ loving me as I hear his Word and unite my life with his offering to his Father. I am also aware that the Mass holds the expansiveness of Christ’s transforming presence in the community gathered at this “covenant meal”.   As a deeply personal prayer and a communal prayer, the Eucharist prepares us to live the mandate of Matthew 25:

  “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.” 

I like how C.S. Lewis once put it, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament, your neighbor is the holiest object present to your senses.”

In this, our 25th anniversary year,  I  can imagine those who once came for Eucharist at our monastery but now celebrate the “full vision” of  Christ’s presence in heaven  joining us as we continue to acclaim at every Mass,   HOLY  HOLY  HOLY…. HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF GOD’S GLORY !