Friday, September 2, 2016

Spiritual Life

Spiritual Enrichment through Writing

by Sister Mary Paul Cutri, OCD

Each order of religious life offers the Church a spirituality consistent with the inspiration of its founder.  In the Carmelite Order of Discalced Carmelites, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross left, as heritage to their followers, many writings on prayer and the life of Carmel in the Church.  They spoke of what they experienced in response to the requests of many who sought to learn of God’s ways with us in a life committed to God in prayer.

For some religious, expressing themselves in writing comes as a response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to share the riches of the unique spirituality in which they have been nourished.  In this spirit, moved by the teaching of Saint John of the Cross regarding solitude, I began several years ago to attempt to write on this subject.  In 2010, the Institute of Carmelite Studies published my book, Sounding Solitude, which is an approach to transformation in Christ by love. The twelve chapters of the book describe some experiences along the way of solitude’s intimacy, solitude’s savorings, solitude’s sufferings, love as its meaning and the power of transformation that takes place through Christ in us.  To spend time with the Lord in long periods of solitude and prayer is to begin to learn the ways of God and how we are to respond in the likeness of Christ to the work God is doing in us. In our desire for union with God, “God will capture the hearts of people, leaving them so touched by love that they have no desire other than to belong to God by consent, as they belong to God by creation and grace.  We are destined to be transformed in Christ by love.”

I have received comments, especially from our Secular Carmelites who have read the book, saying that it has helped them in their life of prayer.  All praise to God who both inspires and motivates us in sharing the gifts of grace God gives us.  It is all God’s work of love.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Notable News

A Sister of Many Talents: Sr. Tanya Johnson, O.C.D.

Golden Jubilee

Tatiana or Tanya Johnson was born on July 6th, in Berkeley, CA. to the parents, Walter Johnson and Susan Harris .  She was the first-born of eight surviving gifted children.  Her family with five boys, worked creatively in outdoor projects which gave Sr. Tanya experience in gardening, landscaping and more recently bee-keeping.  She tends our hives of bees with devotion and has produced honey of the best quality for our use.

Tanya from the age of six had a religious and missionary spirit which moved her to desire the consecrated life.  Though she frequently went to daily Mass with her mother at a nearby Carmel, she first spent some time with the Maryknoll Sisters before coming to Carmel of the Assumption in Latrobe, PA. in 1962.

When she arrived in Latrobe, she immediately used her skills to help clear some of the grounds near our entrance, cutting trees, removing cement work and planting bushes.  Sr. Tanya enjoys working outdoors and providing us with food from a large vegetable and fruit garden, but that work is only a portion of her contribution to our community life.  She has great devotion to Our Blessed Mother and skillfully makes Rosaries to sell in our store.  Formerly she engaged in artwork for which she is also talented.  Sr. Tanya painted the images of the Way of the Cross which are hanging in our Chapel and used for Lenten devotions of the Stations.

Sr. Tanya’s indoor work in the monastery has been packing Altar Breads which we formerly baked but now distribute to our Diocesan parishes and to other parishes in nearby States. Her times of cooking for the community bring forth delicious new recipes, the fruits of her creativity.  There seems to be no end to her interests and the abilities God has given her in so many creative ways. 

Other interests Sr. Tanya has had for many years are archeology and genealogy, most likely influenced by her mother who shared the same fields of interest.  Sr. Tanya has retrieved much data regarding the Johnson and Harris families.  She also has a small collection of archeological artifacts.

We are blessed with a very gifted Sister whose work in community covers many fields.  As we celebrate these fifty years of Sr. Tanya’s profession as a Carmelite, we give thanks to God who has graced her with a call to prayer and service to which she has been faithful and continues to flourish in many ways.  Her fidelity to God and to our Queen of Carmel is manifest in her generosity and self-giving love.

We celebrate God’s infinite mercy in giving Sr. Tanya 50 years of profession as a Carmelite Nun.  With a public celebration of the Eucharist in August followed by a reception, we join her in offering thanks to God and in praising God’s goodness to her and to our community.  May Sr. Tanya have many more joyous and fruitful years ahead, all to the glory of God!