Newsletter Winter 2005

Dear Friends of Carmel,


In giving conferences to his novices, Thomas Merton used to say that it was his job to talk about age-old truths but to make them sound like something new. Sometimes, our writers for Journey and the Joy , and even this newsletter, find such an approach inviting. In our winter issue of Journey and the Joy , one of the authors suggests that Christmas is a good time to think about our own birth. “Surely, there were angels singing when you were born,” she writes. And then there is the star. The author quotes Shakespeare who has one of his characters saying, “A star danced, and under that star was I born.” Probably, the most beautiful part of this article is the section that talks about the world waiting for our coming and a world in need of the gift we will bring. Now, that we are here, it is this gift we lay before the Child in the manger, while Mary and Joseph look on.



Speaking of stars, we have a bright one watching over us these days. It is in the southwest sky, and it appears at dusk. We call it our Christmas Star. We first see it at the beginning of our Hour of Prayer, and it continues on through Evening Praise. Of course, we pray that you may also have such a star shining over you. Several times, we attempted to take a photo of this Christmas Star. Sad to say, cameras do not like rays. All we gleaned from our efforts was a ball of light in the darkness. What is a star without its rays to shine on us!


In the middle of October, we received a most unusual email from Bolivia . “A very serious problem has arisen in this poor country of ours,” it read. “Things are getting worse. My life is in danger. I humbly ask if I may be received into your community.” (Ours was the only email that got through from Bolivia .)


On October 29, we greeted Sister Maria Rosa Del Castillo, O.C.D., at the Quad City Airport . We knew her by her smile. She was so happy to be back in America after 24 years in mission territory, including the jungles. The Eldridge community welcomes you, Sister Maria Rosa. You bring joy and light-heartedness to our Carmel .


Our recently mounted “Alleluia” bell now hangs lovely and beautiful in front of the monastery just waiting to sound out its music. Its small tower made of wrought iron to match Our Lady of Mount Carmel outside the chapel, is decorated with a “G” clef and musical notes. We dedicate this piece of art to our Sister Mary Anne Schuman. We also remember Sister Helen Sanchagrin and Sister Mary Teresa Nies. Being able to see the bell through the many windows in our long corridor can certainly perk up an ordinary day. On Christmas Eve, we will ring this little bell, together with the larger bell, and pray for all our friends and benefactors. Do listen with your heart to the sound of music.


Speaking of music, we have been praying that a full-time organist would come to us. We figured it was Sister Mary Anne's job to find us one. It seems like our devoted Sister is too busy enjoying heaven. As an interim measure, Sister Nancy Woolridge, a Sister of the Humility of Mary, has graciously agreed to play for us on the Sundays of Advent, St. John of the Cross and Christmas. We are very grateful for Sister Nancy's generosity and for what she offers us as a person and as a Sister of Humility. Sister is a real veteran in many ways. God is good.


For special Readings at the Liturgy of Hours, we sometimes choose contributions from Creighton University Reflections on the Web. The commentary for the First Sunday of Advent addressed the question of what one might ask of Christmas this year. In the reflection, the writer mentions the song from the musical play, Mame , whose main line is: “We need a little Christmas, right this very moment.” We do ponder within ourselves what we might ask of Christmas this year. For some of us, it is that Christmas will convince us of how much we are loved, and how much God is involved in our world and cares for us. Truly, the experience of Christmas we all feel at this time of year is real. It is God making tangible contact with us.


Dear Friends, as we close, we pray that a little Christmas will come to you and that you will hear, again, the angels who sang at your own birth. Know that we pray for you every day.


Your Carmelite Sisters in Eldridge , Iowa


Again, we hear  

the heart whispering:  

God is always

needing to be born.


Meister Eckhart, adapted

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