Posted June 04, 2013 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (May-June 2013)

by Paulette Curran.

This past while, two major influences on our lives, as on the entire Church of course, were the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis.

From the time of the announcement of the resignation, we prayerfully followed the events in Rome, listening to the last addresses of Pope Benedict at our after-lunch spiritual reading and watching some of the events of his final days as pope that our librarian Teresa Gehred taped from EWTN.

And, of course, we prayed for Pope Benedict, for the cardinals, and for our future pope.

At St. Mary’s, Fr. Ron Cafeo made a thank you card for Pope Benedict in the various languages we speak. Sofia Segal told him she had composed a poem to him, so that was incorporated into the card. Other staff and guests sent personal messages as well.

Someone discovered a website where you could "adopt a cardinal" to pray for, and several staff did that. But our internet access is limited, and so librarian, Rae Stanley, put out a basket containing the names of all the voting cardinals. And it turned out that there just happened to be the same number of cardinals as people in Combermere at the time!

Then when the white smoke issued from the Sistine Chapel mid-afternoon, we rang the bells and whoever could, gathered around the TV to wait for our new pope to appear, to hear his first words, and to receive his first blessing.

We even had a connection with the events in Rome. One of our members, Michael Weitl, a seminarian studying at the North American College, was interviewed along with another seminarian, on an EWTN program called, Life on the Rock.

I don’t know of anyone here at Madonna House who is not thrilled with our new pope. The Holy Spirit is full of surprises. In this day and age, who would have dreamed we would get this St. Francis kind of pope?

So what else has been going on? Well, we were living Lent, and then came, suddenly it felt like, Holy Week and Easter.

I have described this season so often before in this column, and some things about it are the same or very similar every year.

Always our celebrations are so rich, beautiful, and many-faceted. Holy Week included a Chrism Mass at our diocesan see in Pembroke (for some of us), a penance service, Easter egg dyeing, a Supper of the Lamb on Holy Thursday, and the Eastern Rite Burial of Christ on Good Friday evening.

This year Holy Week and Eastertide were a little quieter than usual. Because of the continuing renovations of Vianney House, our guest house for priests, we had no visiting priests, and we also had fewer lay guests than usual.

And, as always, the week or so after Easter is a time of longterm working guests leaving. Some gave moving testimonies to God’s work in their lives through their stay here.

Someone here called this past winter "winter of the walking wounded."

Among other various ailments and injuries were or are: viruses that hung on and on, two compression fractures (in one person), a fractured arm, and three fractured legs, feet, or ankles.

Spring is here—our northern spring, which comes very gradually and in fits and starts. Temperatures have been consistently fluctuating above and below freezing, which is ideal for the flow of sugar maple sap. In fact, we’ve already set a record—350 gallons of maple syrup—and, as of mid-April, the season is not yet over.

Our staff study days, in which we studied either a certain period of Church history or a document of Vatican II, ended with two presentations to the whole house.

There were eleven groups, and each was given ten minutes to present what it studied. Most groups had more than one person presenting; so some people had two minutes or less to say something about a huge subject. Try that as a challenge!

Seven people attended a Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto—hosting a book table and visiting with many people, both former working guests and people they were meeting for the first time. Between four and five thousand people attended the rally.

Members of a Cana family—Carol Timinski and three of her grown daughters—came to give several staff a felting workshop. Participants learned wet and dry felting—creating colorful small mats with wet felting and small animals and birds with dry felting.

Mary McGoff gave a presentation on communication skills to about 80 of the students of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (a nearby school of higher learning). She gave a lot of pertinent examples, and the talk was very well received.

Paul Moore led the traditional Lenten prayer of the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete for anyone who wished to pray it. About 35 people joined him, and apparently a few were stiff the following day from all the prostrations!

May Mary, the Mother of God, give you many blessings in this, her month, and may you know joy in nature at this beautiful time of year.


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