Sunday, August 23, 2015

12 States, 2700 miles...Day 4 (part 1)

So, we left G's tennis shoes in the room when we tried our best to leave quickly and quietly from the monastery. That's all we forgot so I consider it a victory. Imagine being on retreat...but having five little kids with you. I'm sure everyone was pleased when we headed out at 7 AM. We were also pleased. We were off to see the nuns!

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to be exact. We got there a bit early for the 8:30 Mass so we took some time to wander around the beautiful grounds. Clyde, Missouri has a population of 83 and about 50 of those people are nuns! Fantastic.
The nuns sit up front, facing one another (from their website)

It was an interesting situation, going to Mass in the sisters' chapel. It is a beautiful space and about 98% choir stalls (the little seats on the side where the nuns sit) with three pews at the back of the church. I felt like we were part of some heavenly celebration. Definitely a blessing to be the only non-professed people at Mass (makes the little people behave better).

After that we were treated to a light breakfast in the nuns' refectory. We also do vocabulary on our pilgrimages ;0) It was a shame for me to fall into sin so quickly after Mass. I would come close to trading my first-born son for that kitchen ;0) Amazing space. We were so blessed to share a meal with Sister Sophia who talked all about her life, the sisters, and faith. While we were eating a postulant from New Zealand came up to say hello. I asked her how she managed to get from New Zealand to Clyde, MO. "God" she said. Sometimes it is that easy.

We toured a little of the main floor, said "hello" to Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (Sister Sophia was pleased we knew the story so well...thank you Tommie DePaola!)

Next, we headed into the Relic Chapel. After the first World War, the community raised a great deal of money to send to the monasteries and chapels in Europe to help rebuild. In gratitude, those religious sent relics to the sisters, which are now housed in this amazing space. There were huge books that listed the nearly 600 relics by Saint and in which niche to find them. Other than St. Sylvia, I think they had everyone covered. They also had the body of St. Beatrice, a 13-year-old martyr from early Rome. When they shipped the remains, her facial bones were turning to dust so they mixed them with plaster and reshaped her face. Sister was worried the little ones would be scared...

C - Who is that?
Me - St. Beatrice. She was martyred for her faith when she was only a little older than your sister.
C - What is the slash on her neck?
Me - That's likely how she was martyred.
C - Oh, OK. She walks off to find St. Claire's relic

St. Beatrice

St. Bernadette Relic

St. Louis de Montfort relic

Sister told us that on Halloween night, they begin their last prayers of the evening among the relics and sing the Litany before processing into their chapel to pray. That must be an amazing experience.

These nuns support themselves in several ways, one of which is making altar bread. Sister told me that 90% of the altar bread used in America comes from a plant in Rhode Island and 10% comes from monasteries like theirs (travesty!). Sister was nice enough to keep a few sheets of the bread aside (unconsecrated, of course) and we walked down to feed the fish in their pond. It was a beautiful day and a great blessing to spend time with this wonderful sister.

Learning from Sister

Our last stop was the soap shop. The sisters also support themselves through sales of soap, scrubs, lotions, and lip balm. If you're looking for a great gift, please visit their store. Sister Cathleen wasn't in when we were visiting but we were given a wonderful lesson by Miss Wanda, the second in command. She had a wonderful way with the kids and her patience was amazing. Perhaps it's from working in a monastery? She walked the kids through the soap making process, from mixing to cutting to packaging and then let them make their own lip balm! What a gift.

Mixing it up (there is Holy Water in there...shhh)


talking soap

sealing it up

what a wonderful teacher

mixing the lip balm

even G got a turn!

We said thank you and goodbye to all of our new friends and headed out. What a glorious morning. How blessed we were to see the inner workings of a convent and to learn about and from such giving sisters. Days like this are priceless to me. They fall in among all of our other experiences and instead of nuns and priests being scary and foreign, they play a part in some of our happiest memories!

We are blessed.

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