Friday, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 
Feast of the Sacred Heart

Yesterday, the assembly elected a new president and council. The president is Sr. Marie-Paul from Paris (Montmartre Carmel). She is the only one carried over from the last council. Sr. Marie-Gabrielle (Saint-Saulve), who was in a small group with Hilary and me, is the 1st Councilor. Then there is Sr. Odile from Marienthal (there are a lot of Odile’s here!!) and Sr. Claire-Agnes from Caen. 

Below is a shot from the party last night in honor of Sr. Christine's last 6 years of service to the Federation. The sisters showered her with gifts and love that was very apparent and touching. There were several really funny skits (ideas for CCA 2018?). Even though we didn't understand the French jokes, we could follow the story line and we enjoyed seeing the sisters laughing heartily! There was also a dance by the African sisters and a touching song by a group of nuns, who presented Christine with a lovely statue of the Good Shepherd. 

Some of our new friends: 
L: ?, R: Sr. Marie, Prioress of Lisieux
Sr. Monique, Plappeville Carmel

Sr. Myriam, Molineuf Carmel and ???

This morning there was a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Therese, specifically to the 'corridor of Mercy' in honor of today's feast. Hilary took these photos en route up the hill: 
Taken from the yard of the Basilica
Basilica of St. Therese

Sights from the return trip: 
Typical Normandy architecture
Lodging for pilgrims
More of 'Normandy' flavor
This picture of Celine painting could be one of today's bloggers blogging. (Hilary made me write that! :) )

On the morrow we will be in transit to the Carmel of Le Havre. So there will be no bloggers blogging tomorrow. Stay tuned for Sunday's next chapter. 

Happy Feastday, Sisters, one and all! You are in our hearts and prayers. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June 2, 2016

Today the sisters are meeting privately to discuss and elect the next council so we have a day off.
Therefore, we have time for a little more newsy sharing...
The sisters are concerned about several things: some had difficulty getting to the meeting because of the scarcity of gas and now some are not going to be able to return home because of a railway strike and/or the flooding that is affecting their areas and closing highways. Some sisters are already planning on staying at other monasteries for this reason. We also heard that Air France is on strike which doesn't affect Hilary and me directly - at least not YET! There may be spin-offs depending on how long the airline strike continues. Please keep this situation in your prayers.

Many sisters have remembered the visit of Bernadette Therese and Marie Louise 3 years ago and ask about them, which is very touching.

Below are some photos taken from around the area: the lobby of l'ermitage, the museum of St. Therese and surrounding scenes:

Sewing kit 'of the time'
Writing desk 'of the time'
Wall of plaques referring to answered prayers 
There are hundreds of these dating to the early 1920's!
The first burial site of Therese. Underneath this photo,the museum has running photographs of the prayers of gratitude inscribed into the cross in the first years after Therese's death. 
Facsimile of Therese's manuscript
Below: scenes from foggy, cold Lisieux
River outside the meeting place

In Lisieux, in order to get from one street to another, you often have to climb a set of stairs. Hilary climbed these and found 2 interesting gates at the top. 
From our small group: L - Sr. Marie-Gabrielle (Saint-Saulve) & Sr. Odile (Saint-Maur)
International guests from Belgium:
Sr. Helen & Sr. Christiane

This evening will be a party for Christine in gratitude for her last 6 years of service. 
Tomorrow there will be a pilgrimage to the Lisieux Basilica. More about this & the election results - tomorrow. 
Please keep in prayer our friend, Sr. Anne from the Carmel of Frileuse, who attended the 2014 CCA meeting with Christine. Anne has been struggling with cancer for some time. It spread to her hip causing an inadvertent fall a few days ago. She underwent surgery last evening. 

Au revoir from Claire and Hilary!! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 1, 2016

Voici Daniel! He is about to begin an excellent talk on on-going formation according to St. Teresa and John of the Cross in French. Daniel kindly prepared English translations for Hilary and me and the 2 sisters from the UK - a huge gift, considering his talk was 27 pages long! However, Hilary wanted the challenge of following it in French so she snitched a French copy. (I decided NOT to tell Daniel). To Hilary's surprise, her French translator, Soeur Marie-Paule (Mazille) wanted to follow the English copy.
Daniel made the point that in both initial and on-going formation there is a great need to continue the journey of self-knowledge that leads to the transformation of the person in God. His talk was very well received. Hilary and I thought it was excellent and got permission from Daniel to share it with our US Carmels. 

At the end of the morning the International presentations began. R: Sr. Mary of the UK presents a formation diagram, part of which is below. This was the Google 'Bobblehead' she was referring to!

Below: Sr. Domitille (Africa) and Sr. Marie-Claver present from Africa.
The CCA presentation was on the MLC-CCA on-going formation initiative. We prepared a short PowerPoint which was translated into French. Thanks to Monika, her friend and Claudette for your help with this translation!! The talk was very interesting to the assembly. Afterwards, when questions were invited for all the international guests - 2 out of the 3 questions were to Hilary and me for our presentation. And afterwards several sisters engaged us in further conversation about the program

In the afternoon, Sr. Marie-Odille from Frileuse Carmel took a group of the international sisters to Les Buissonetts. We enjoyed the view from the garden while we were waiting to tour the house. 
Sr. Mary (UK), Sr. Marie Odille (Translator), Moi

We passed a beautiful park in the city on the way back to l'ermitage. 

Thank you for your prayers, Sisters! It has been wonderful to be here with the sisters. Our bonds are strengthened as we daily share contemplative prayer, reflections, meals and the Eucharistic liturgy in the presence of Therese! 

Love to all,
Hilary & Claire

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, Feast of the Visitation

Greetings, mes soeurs!

Today on this feast of the Visitation we visited the old Carmel of Lisieux. How special!

Below are photos of places in the old monastery that you will recognize from the photos of that time. Hilary and I were very moved by this experience which we shared with a number of other sisters. However, the photo we asked one of the nuns to take of us in Therese's cell is so dismal that we're embarrassed to post it! So you just have to believe we were there and we prayed for you!

Hallway leading to Therese's room

Therese's cell sans Hilary & Claire
Courtyard where Therese was photographed as a novice
Cloister Walkway around the courtyard

Below: Recreation room off the cloister walkway where Therese was asked to write her autobiography
The infirmary as it was in Therese's time. 

Back at the meeting, we gathered in small groups. 
L to R: Claire-Agnes (Caen), Line-Marie (Compiegne), Veronique (Le Paquier - Switz)

The meeting folders have excellent demographics, website statistics for each page, archival updates etc. We noted that 4 Carmels of the French Federation have closed in the last 6 years. 
The average age is 69. 

FYI: Hilary found our equivalent of Starbucks across the street from the meeting place. We made a B-line there for an afternoon pick-up. I always leave it to Hilary to practice her French on sales-persons. She is amazing at ordering cafe au laits - believe me! She also paid her first bill in euros. 

Daniel Chowning began the first part of his talk tonight entitled Ongoing Formation of the human person according to St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. Excellent! I shall ask him if we can share it. 

Bonne Nuit and Happy Feast!