- Daily Holy Mass together
- Morning and Evening Prayer of the Divine Office in community
- A daily holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration
- A half hour meditation
- Daily Rosary
- Daily Scripture and other spiritual reading
- Monthly Retreat Day
- Annual Retreat of 8 days
- A spirit of prayerfulness throughout the day called recollection.
Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth combined deep prayerfulness with outreach to someone in need, and so Mary is the model for our contemplative-missionary vocation.
The Parish Visitor imitates Christ’s own way of life through the vows of
- CHASTITY …doing everything in the spirit of purity that it may be a holy offering to God.
- POVERTY …to have everything of this world is nothing, to have only Christ is everything.
- OBEDIENCE …my only desire is to do the will of God.
The Parish Visitors are Grateful Spouses of the Blessed Sacrament
“The purpose of every Host is to find a resting place in a human heart, and surely that heart ought to thank God. In fact, the word Eucharist means thanksgiving. The Eucharist will furnish us with thanksgiving and will enable us to live the life of union with God. Our Lord is the Master and Superior in the convent. Our first visit in the morning and our last at night is to Jesus. Then, before going out to the parish visitation and instruction, we make a visit to Him to receive a blessing on our work, and again, on returning from duty, we go for a visit and a blessing. We are truly spouses of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Miracle on Madison Avenue
by Sr. Mary Remias, P.V.M.I.
The drug addict, mother of two boys, had her life in ruins. Child Protective Services had taken them away to a foster home.
Resolved to amend her life, she promised God that she would do anything to get off drugs and get the boys back home.
She decided to visit a nearby Presbyterian church and pray with all her might for God’s help. On the way, she noticed a house on a corner with stained glass windows. Something or, rather, Someone had beckoned her to stop, and pray in the direction of the house.
Day after day, week after week, month after month, the woman would return to the corner, turn toward the stained glass windows and pray for God’s help with her addiction. With each visit, her resolve would gain strength until she and the authorities were convinced that she was drug free. And then, mother and sons were joyfully reunited.
The woman told me her story when I visited her home while doing parish visitation. After she mentioned the street names of the corner and the year, I was able to tell her why she prayed outside the house with stained glass windows.
“You were praying to Jesus, Who was in the chapel of our former convent on Madison Avenue,” I said. “We moved to another convent after your prayer vigil ended.”
My new friend was amazed by what I told her. I also said that since she has spent so much time outside, she should come in for a visit.
Without knowing it, she had poured out her sorrowful soul to Jesus Eucharistic; and He was preparing her and her family to enter the sacramental life of the Church. Jesus Himself had tended her soul, now it was the Parish Visitor’s privilege to help reap the harvest.
The Wrong Waiting Room?
by Sr. Marie Cecile, P.V.M.I.
It was like an overgrown garden. People were everywhere waiting at the clinic to see the doctor.
Sister Jean Marie and I looked around for two empty seats together. There were some single ones, but they were separated by a great variety of moods. A child sent up a squall, while an old man groaned as he tried to get more comfortable.
When a man and a woman on television began giving graphic descriptions of intimacies, the clinic became alive with snickering and favorable comments about the couple. Our presence as Catholic Sisters wearing obviously religious clothing, did not act as a deterrent to the crowd's growing interest in the couple's promotion of lust.
I noticed that one unoccupied chair was directly under the TV set and faced out toward the viewers. Perhaps the chair had been used as a footstool earlier in the day.
"What would happen," I wondered, "if I sat on that chair, faced my fellow patients, removed my rather large rosary and began to pray?" Being of a scientific frame of mind, I considered this an experiment. And so, I sat on the chair and began silently to pray the Rosary.
The experiment worked beautifully! First, the raucous remarks became fewer and fewer. Then, a man said, "Why do they show things like this?" "It's disgusting!" a woman said, fearlessly. Just then my name was called. I got up reluctantly, because I was just beginning to see the success of my experiment. To my surprise, I was told that I had actually been sitting in the wrong waiting room.
After Sister and I left we both laughed. The wrong waiting room certainly seemed to be the right one! "Go out and preach to the people," St. Francis told his friars, "And, if it is absolutely necessary you may even use words."
Our habit and Our Lady's Rosary certainly did show the folks in the clinic how "God's love for us ... raises important questions about who God is and who we are." (Pope Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est" art. 2)
by Sr. Rose Aimee, P.V.M.I.
I was on my way to the parish rectory to plan my family visitation calls for the day, when I stopped by the church to make a visit to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Time before the Lord is never wasted; it provides the needed graces to help others and ourselves to overcome countless trials.
As I was praying this day, I noticed a young woman kneeling up front and weeping. Oh, the tears, the tears! What an ocean of sorrow, from such a young person. I approached her carefully, respecting her need for solitude with Our Lord. She was surprised when I quietly knelt beside her. After a few minutes, I told her that she could talk to me about her problems if she wished. "Perhaps, I can help."
We walked to the rectory, where she poured out her soul. She was a beautiful person, but confused, like many of our young people today, who, when approaching a divided road, take the wrong one. She had just lost her job and did not know what to do or where to go. Her home was in another state.
The excitement of the "big city" had captured her imagination. She had quit college to follow this false attraction only to find disappointments, emptiness and deceit. In her childhood and early adolescence, she had prayed and learned about God. Now, it was all coming back to her. That was why she was in church where it was quiet and calm, where she could pray and cry her eyes out.
When our conversation was coming to an end, and the tears had stopped flowing, I quietly insisted, "Get out of the city! Go back to your hometown and pick up where you left off. (She had come from a good family to which she could return.) Pray over this, give it serious thought. Come back tomorrow and let me know which road you wish to choose."
The appointment was kept. Her decision was to complete her education at the college she had attended. At my request she gave me the address where she would be staying. I promised that I would write. There were no tears today, but new hope in God.
I let several weeks go by before writing to her. In no time, I received an answer. She had been visiting friends and, upon her return, she found my letter on her desk. She was thrilled!
Years passed and one day I received an invitation to the graduation of my friend. There was an extra note informing me that not only did she have her degree, but she had been promised employment in her special field.
At college she had come in contact with a group of young people who met once a week to read the Bible, share their insights, and pray together. It was here that she met the young man she would marry. Her tear-filled prayers before the Blessed Sacrament led to their happy marriage and God's blessing of a family. They are truly grateful to God for all He has given them.
A Mother's Memory
by Sr. Mary Ludivine, P.V.M.I.
During the forty busy years when I was privileged to do parish visiting in many thousands of homes, I met many good mothers of happy, holy families. I often recall their stories of First Communion days. There is a profound joy within a mother's heart when her child receives the Eucharist for the first time.
As a spiritual mother, I have many happy memories of First Communion days and the events that led up to those wonderful days. I would like to share one memory with you.
It began when I rang the doorbell of a little house on a dead-end street. The bell was answered by a nurse's aide. As she whispered, "There are no baptized Catholics here," a woman's voice shouted from somewhere inside the house, "Tell whoever it is to come in. I want company!"
Guessing that the caller was a shut-in. I told the nurse I would be glad to talk to her patient for a little while, "even though there were no Catholics here." She agreed and in a few moments I was greeting a woman seated in a wheelchair in a very tidy sitting room.
The elderly patient was greatly surprised to see that her unexpected caller was a Catholic Sister. I explained that the pastor of the local Catholic church had asked the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate to make a survey of the parish neighborhood so that he would know all in his flock.
"I've never been a Catholic," she explained, "but it is surprising that I am not, because I really should have been one."
"Would you like to tell me about it?" I asked. "Oh, yes," she said.
"My parents emigrated from London. They had been students in a school that trains people to be servants in the homes of the wealthy. Eventually they arrived in New York and were working in the home of an elderly woman — Mom as a maid and Dad as a chauffeur and general man-servant around the property.
"I was born 89 years ago in an upper class neighborhood about 50 miles north of New York City and was baptized in a Catholic church nearby. My parents had been Catholic in England, but didn't practice their faith because of all the Sunday duties involved in their work and the lack of any legal regulations for domestics back in those days.
"It had all been just too hard for them and they fell away from the Church," she said. "And now, I'm not Catholic." She could remember talk of sending her to Sunday school, but she was never sent. They doubted they could get her to instructions, and besides, "How could they dress me suitably for the special feast days and for a Communion service?"
The kindly old lady assured me that she had grown up in a good home. She was loved and taught the difference between right and wrong. "Eventually l married a good man in a Protestant church ceremony. He died some years ago."
God had not sent them children — and now she was here alone and so very glad to have a visitor, especially one who seemed willing to listen to all these long-ago happenings.
"Have you thought of becoming Catholic now?" I asked, thinking of her mistaken belief that she was not Catholic, even though she had been baptized Catholic.
A sudden change in her expression hinted that she had, indeed, been thinking about becoming Catholic, but she said, "That would be impossible now. I can't walk at all and I never leave the house. I could not possibly go to church."
"You do not have to go to church if you cannot get to church," I said. "And, in fact, you actually are a Catholic right now!"
Her expression changed from disbelief to relief as I explained, "Your parents took care of that when they had you baptized as a Catholic. All you need to do is to prepare yourself to receive your First Penance and First Holy Communion. Due to your infirmities, you could do that right here at home."
In the days that followed, we became close friends, and she gradually revealed that the thought had often been on her mind. She mistakenly believed that there was no way it could be done. Surely, a spiritual mother was needed here to help nurture her desire to answer God's invitation for her to become fully Catholic.
A few weeks after my first visit, I wrote to the church in the village where she was born and received a copy of her baptismal certificate. Meanwhile, she was delighted to have some books to study. We talked at length about Catholic teachings, especially those that would have meaning in the life of a house-bound woman of her age.
When she was fully prepared for the Sacraments, the pastor came with me to meet her and hear her confession, while I continued on my visitation rounds in the neighborhood. The next day, I did a few little things to turn her living room into a temporary chapel — a white linen cover for the little table, flowers, of course, and a blessed candle placed before a framed picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Father arrived with a pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament for each of us and together we received Jesus.
What a joy it is to have become a spiritual mother to this gentle woman and to the many thousands of others, whom I may call my children, by the grace of God. Spiritual motherhood is one of the special gifts of a religious vocation; and what a gift it is!