Denise Day Spencer

March 13, 2009

Hospitality Passionist style

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 10:09 pm

On our spring break this year I decided to do something different. I made arrangements for a one-day personal retreat at St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville, Kentucky, home to about 15 cloistered Passionist nuns. That’s just outside of Owensboro, where my parents and my sister live. So it’s very handy to incorporate into a family visit, which is just what I did.

A patient and kindly Sister Mary kept in touch with me via e-mail as I debated on which day to come, whether or not I would spend the night and what all of the plans would be. I opted for a day retreat, and had a wonderful visit. Next time around, though, I need to arrive earlier; the time went by too quickly!

Though the guest facilities had been booked for a group retreat the previous weekend and would be again the following weekend, I had the place to myself on my Thursday adventure. Sister Mary started me out with a tour of the guest facilities, which included very nice rooms (each with a private bathroom), a library, a small prayer room/Eucharistic chapel, a large conference room with adjacent chapel, an indoor sitting area overlooking the lake out front, a rear patio and a lovely dining room. Outdoors there are several paved walking paths, including the Stations of the Cross.

Guests are welcome and invited to attend Mass and prayer times with the sisters. I was there for afternoon and evening prayers. The beautiful chapel has a unique water channel running down the center aisle to separate the visitors from the nuns.

I had arranged to eat lunch there, but since I was flying solo I wondered what kind of meal I would have. When I entered the room I saw that the hired help had laid out a lunch buffet-style. The first item was something mysteriously wrapped in a napkin. Before leaving me on my own, she unceremoniously pulled off the napkin to reveal one hamburger. Next to it was a small plate containing one piece of cheese. I had to smile at this buffet for Spencer, Party of One. Next to the lonely cheese–remember the last verse of “The Farmer in the Dell?” Isn’t it, “The cheese stands alone?”–was a small saucepan containing vegetable soup. Then a tossed salad and a bowl of applesauce complete with a decorative cherry on top. Oh, and one of Michael’s favorites, a “Little Debbie” oatmeal cake, for dessert. I ate in obedient silence–obedient because signs were posted requesting “Silence”–while music played softly in the background. It was a very generous and tasty lunch. I can only hope the sisters ate as well as I did.

By now you’re surely thinking, “Hey! This sounds like a commercial.” OK. You caught me. But think about it; when was the last time you took a spiritual retreat? St. Joseph offers guided and unguided retreats, and sessions for groups or individuals. The facility is very comfortable and the grounds are beautiful. Christians of all denominations are welcome.

You may say, “I don’t know if I’d like all that contemplative stuff.” Well, I admit I do. I also admit I was once a weird kid who prayed up in the big maple tree in our front yard. But there’s nothing weird about breaking away from the busyness of everyday life to pray, meditate and reflect for a while. There’s nothing strange about silence, a rest from the noise that surrounds us daily. As a quote from the Passionist web site says, “Happy is the person who reflects on the life giving passion of our Lord. He will be humble, trustful, thankful and loving towards Jesus who is our justice, our sanctification and our redemption.” –St. Vincent Strambi, Passionist Bishop.

So the next time you need a spiritual boost, think Passionist. You’ll be warmly welcomed, whether you’re part of a group or a party of one.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi Denise!
    Found your blog via the link on Michael’s, which I just recently started reading.
    Look forward to more posts from you.

    Comment by Walt — June 9, 2009 @ 12:41 pm | Reply


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