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A Right to Be Merry
A Special Condensed Audio Version

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
809 East Nineteenth Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88201

+Peace and Blessings
Looking toward August 2016

Bringing our praise, we kneel before Thy altar,
Asking Thy grace, Thy mercy when we falter;
Mercy reveals the splendor of Thy glory:
Thine be our praise, O God; bestow on us Thy mercy.

Praise to Thy Name, O God of endless power;
Thanks be to Thee with every dawning hour;
Now we adore and sing Thy ancient glory,
Christ, we beseech Thee, hear and save us with Thy mercy.

Glory be Thine, our cause and our beginning;
Glory be Thine, for rescue from our sinning;
Thou who dost call each man to share Thy glory,
Grant us Thy creatures, Lord, the solace of Thy mercy.

— Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.

Our dear Friends,

“Bringing our praise, we kneel before Thy altar…” Those of you who are able to join us for our early-morning half-hour of Eucharistic adoration may already know this entire hymn by heart, for in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, it has been our joy to sing all three verses each day as Mother Abbess reposes the Blessed Sacrament at the end of our communal prayer time. Then the tower bells ring out their joyous message that Holy Mass, the greatest expression of God’s unfailing mercy, is about to begin. For the remainder of the day, the simple melody of our dear Mother Francis’ hymn to mercy echoes in our hearts, reminding us of our communal encounter with our Eucharistic Lord and His merciful goodness spilling over into all of our moments.

We look back over our experience of God’s mercy throughout the past year and sing in praise of His mercy, “Thanks be to Thee with every dawning hour!” The dawning hours of AUGUST 2 were brightened by a ruby glow as we gave our Bridegroom thanks and praise for Mother Abbess’ forty years of faithful vowed living; then, just two weeks later, streaks of gold enhanced the dawn as our septuagenarian Sister Mary Paul marked her fiftieth anniversary of entrance. And just how would our sister describe fifty golden years lived within the cloister? Sister Paul’s smiling answer was, “All is grace; all is mercy.”

Her answer certainly found confirmation in the grace-laden, mercy-filled months that followed. SEPTEMBER brought a special witness to the power of God’s mercy with the presence of Father Michael Passo, F.S.S.P., who had just returned to the United States after a two-year assignment in Colombia, South America. He told us that his five-hour canoe trips through rainforests populated with boa constrictors and jaguars had been completely worthwhile, and that he would gladly do it all over again for the sake of bringing “the solace of God’s mercy” to the isolated people who see a priest only once a year. Shortly after Father arrived in Roswell, our Lord surprised us by providing us with our own rainforest conditions — minus the boa constrictors, but with the rain! An amazing five-inch rainfall over the course of one day left our front drive and surrounding buffer land completely immersed in a flood unlike anything we had ever seen before (or since). Anyone who has lived in the Southwest knows well that such a rainfall is not an inconvenience, but rather a most welcome gift from our “God of endless power”. True, the wall of the sacristy basement did spring a leak which resembled a horizontal geyser; nonetheless, our hearts were filled to overflowing with gratitude for the saving rains — with the bonus of a new opportunity for sisterly teamwork, carrying bucket after bucket of water up the basement stairs!

Our communal song of “Thine be our praise, O God,” is, of course, a foretaste of the hymn that we all hope to sing forever in heaven with all the angels and saints — among whom our Seraphic parents shine out as particularly proficient in the art of praise. Our Father Saint Francis, who, “praising, led others to praise”, prepared us on his OCTOBER 4 solemnity for a blessed experience of the goodness and mercy of God as our new religious assistant, Father Larry Webber, O.F.M. Cap., arrived the next day to give us a five-day retreat. Father Larry reflected on our Father St. Francis’ prayerful meditation on the Our Father, renewing our appreciation for our Seraphic father’s heart so practiced in praise: “You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the Eternal Good, from Whom all good comes, without Whom there is no good.”

This joyous and prayerful retreat was an excellent preparation for the high point of our year when, on NOVEMBER 1, our Sister María José of Jesus was consecrated to God forever in the radiant ceremony of her solemn profession, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated by our Bishop Oscar Cantú. “Receive me, O Lord, according to your word and I shall live,” she sang with outstretched arms, just before pronouncing her vows. We sang our response with hearts filled with joy at our sister’s total surrender to Christ, and with profound gratitude for God’s gift of His merciful love to each of us: “O God, we have received your mercy, in the midst of your temple.” After Sister María José’s profession of vows, the solemnly-professed sisters walked in procession to the front of choir, lighted candles in hand, to sing with her the ancient Regnum Mundi: “The kingdom of the world I have despised for the love of my Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a moment of supreme rejoicing in the life of community to welcome another young bride of Christ into the ranks of the solemnly-professed, and our individual candles held aloft bore witness to the light and joy we desire our vowed lives to be in the heart of our Mother, Holy Church.

Our traditional celebration of Foundation Day on November 13 was filled with thanksgiving for our founding sisters who traveled from Chicago to Roswell sixty-seven years ago. After we received the terrible news of the terrorist attacks in Paris, we chose to spend our evening recreation hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, imploring God’s mercy upon all those affected and upon our strife-torn world.

On the vigil of DECEMBER 8, we joined the rest of the universal Church in the official opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. After we recited together our Holy Father Pope Francis’ prayer for the beginning of the year, Mother Abbess erected just outside the choir doors a small bronze image of the Father of Mercies embracing the Prodigal Son, mounted on a background which bore the official jubilee motto, “Misericordes sicut Pater,” “Merciful like the Father”. Then our procession entered choir, singing, “Bringing our praise, we kneel before Thy altar, Asking Thy grace, Thy mercy when we falter…” — and words themselves falter when we try to express our great joy in His mercy.

The first petals of the New Year always unfold under the gentle gaze of the Mother of God, whose solemnity we celebrate on JANUARY 1 — and this year the flower of her virginal maternity was reflected in the white splendor of new-fallen snow. A record-breaking blizzard, aptly named “Goliath,” had left in its wake drifts of snow piled high as far as the eye could see. The gloriously transformed landscape beneath our wide New Mexico skies, with the snow resplendently uniting heaven and earth, seemed to incarnate the Christmastide antiphon: “Mercy and truth have come together, alleluia; justice and peace have kissed, alleluia.” While the historic snowfall made major headlines for weeks afterward throughout our region, a quiet hymn of praise went on in our hearts for this kiss of God’s peace upon our suffering, war-weary world: “Mercy reveals the splendor of Thy glory; Thine be our praise, O God; bestow on us Thy mercy.”

Mercy and truth came together again in a beautiful way on FEBRUARY 2 as we closed the Year of Consecrated Life, renewing our vows together in the evening, repeating our pledge to live fully the truth of our consecration throughout the newly-opened Year of Mercy. A special Mass was celebrated by Bishop Cantú in our chapel to close the Year of Consecrated Life, though we know that the graces of the year will not close but continue to open out more fully in time to come. While God has indeed “called each man to share His glory,” we are forever humbled by His choice of us to share His glory in a most particular way through our consecration as brides of Christ.

MARCH and APRIL brought still more expressions of God’s merciful love with the commencement of work on what we hope will be our final construction project — this one taking place on the front grounds of the monastery. Through God’s goodness to us expressed through the generosity of you, our dear friends, we have been able to undertake the long-needed addition of an enlarged parlor area and other rooms, expanding the boundaries of the original farmhouse monastery into a small section of the front grounds. The demolition process of a portion of the front porch held within it more proofs of God’s ever-provident mercies, for within a no-longer-needed cinder block wall were discovered fragile-but-intact sections of newspapers bearing the date of… 1948! To both workers and nuns alike, it seemed a sign that God’s ever-present love, which brought us to Roswell in 1948 and has taken care of us ever since, was still at work in the new construction undertaken for love of Him. “Glory be Thine, our cause and our beginning,” resounds in each of our hearts as the work progresses each day. God’s Roswell foundation found its beginning in His merciful love, and that same merciful love remains the cause of all our joy, sixty-eight years later.

Some of the more optimistic (and somewhat unrealistic) among us had hoped that perhaps the new addition would be completed by the time our beloved Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke arrived for our annual retreat on MAY 12, but (in accord with the proposed time frame of the more realistic among us) it had not yet progressed past the stage of trenches, noisy compactors, and loads of dirt, as our contractor was intent on making the foundations of the new building strong and stable. His Eminence’s carefully and beautifully prepared retreat conferences helped us renew the strong foundations of our spiritual life, as he reflected with us on the Church’s wise maternal instructions regarding all aspects of our vocation. We kept our dear Cardinal’s days filled to the brim, allowing him only enough “free time” to prepare for yet another session of questions from his eager daughters. On his final evening with us, we took advantage of Holy Church’s permission to allow Cardinals within the papal enclosure and led him on an informal, joyous tour of our cloister gardens. We will forever hold that twilight hour to our hearts as one in which our dear Cardinal was very much at home, as we cherished the great privilege of having this courageous and loyal son of the Church in our midst.

With JUNE already swiftly leading us into JULY, we are preparing our hearts and our home once again to welcome another eminent visitor, Francis Cardinal Arinze, on July 17. Will the new addition be completed by then? Very likely, no. But we rejoice to know that all our work, all our prayer, and even our very lives are held firmly within the embrace of God’s merciful love. “All is grace; all is mercy.” And just as our Mother St. Clare thanked “our Benefactor, the Father of Mercies” with her whole heart, so do we, her daughters, thank Him and you, our dear friends, for the unmerited gifts of your love. As we continue the Year of Mercy, may our shared prayer be sung with utmost joy and heartfelt gratitude:

Now we adore and sing Thy ancient glory,
Grant us Thy creatures, Lord, the solace of Thy mercy.

Gratefully and devotedly, in our Mother St. Clare,

For more information or prayer requests write to:

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
809 E. 19th Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88201-7599