5 Beautiful Ways I Learned How to “Live Jesus” After Visiting an Alabama Monastery
Visitation Monastery, Bridget Costello / ChurchPOP
Like an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of big city living and the home of the original Mardi Gras (yes, it started in Mobile, Ala.) lies the Visitation Monastery.
An altogether step back in time to something ever ancient yet ever new.
Here, the daughters of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantel live a quiet, prayerful, yet powerful witness and life. The Visitation Sisters embody their Salesian spirituality through kindness, gentleness, authenticity, and beauty.
I would like to share five quotes from the great Salesian saints that I’ve personally witnessed in practice here. Five simple ways by which these sisters “Live Jesus”. Five tips we could all benefit from.
1) “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength.” – St. Francis de Sales
Sr. Christine Marie and Carol, a friend of the Monastery, picked me up at the airport upon my arrival in Mobile. They both greeted me with the warmest smiles.
Sister immediately ask to carry one of my bags and grabbed the largest one. As she led the way to the parking lot, Carol fell a few steps behind us. Sr. Christine Marie paused, turned back, and said ever so gently, “Come, walk with us, not behind us.”
These two simple and gentle gestures immediately made me smile and recall the words above from St. Francis de Sales. No doubt, these sisters are spiritual giants!
Yet, gentleness is one of their greatest strengths.
2) “To be faithful, we must live simply. Then being free from attachments, we are possessed by nothing.” – St. Jane de Chantel
Ahhhh simplicity! What beauty to behold.
When sister brought me to my room, it was a very small, simple space with one twin bed, a very small desk and chair, and a worn Bible. No frills, no distractions, just enough.
The sisters live a radical life of simplicity that makes you see that there truly is more to life. It’s the type of simplicity that removes everything so that one can better focus on Jesus.
When removed from a world that puts so much value on bling, brawn, and brains, you see the sublimity of such simplicity. It’s transcendent.
I learned that the bling in a sister’s life is not that of storing the treasures on earth where moth and decay destroy (Matt. 6:19). Rather, she truly stores up treasures in heaven. These sisters treasure Jesus. Thusly, their hearts are constantly with Jesus.
The brawn of a sister is her spiritual strength, and her brains are far more than human intelligence. Instead, she is a model of the knowledge and wisdom of the things of God. And all of this is borne out of simplicity and a fervent prayer life.
3) “My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed Sacrament, where my heart is, as it were, in Its center.” -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
The Visitation sisters are truly prayer warriors!
They bring all of their adoration, praise, supplications, and more before Jesus in the Holy Eucharist throughout their day. It’s the place where they are the happiest and the most beautiful.
Being with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is where their hearts are. If only we all realized that our greatest happiness is found in, with, and through Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. O what heavenly joy we would experience here on earth!
4) “Be devoted to Mary, most Holy” -St. John Bosco
Contemplating Our Lady’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth as recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56) is part of the sisters’ vocation.
From the moment of my arrival, I clearly saw that this is Our Lady’s house. Their daily prayers include praying the Rosary as a community.
If only we all modeled this devotion to Mary, most Holy. If only we all prayed the Rosary daily. Families would be saved, holy vocations would increase, and the world would change.
5) “We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more.” – St. Joseph Cafasso (Don Bosco’s confessor)
Love permeates everything at the monastery. Love in deeds, love in words, love in kindness, love in authenticity, love in action, love in everything!
The Sisters of the Visitation live Jesus because they love Jesus. And it is because of this love for Jesus that they love His people and pray for them.
God grants great graces to those who learn how to better live and love Jesus from this simple, contemplative life. I hope these few lines challenge and provoke us to a desire for someone more.
St. Francis de Sales wanted his followers to live Jesus. This requires effort. Be assured, however, that God’s grace will make up for all that we lack!
It is a great comfort knowing that these wonderful sisters now pray for me and all my loved ones.
They pray for our sanctity and for vocations among our young. They pray for the healing of hearts wounded by loss. They pray for marriages in trouble. They pray for the conversion of sinners. They pray that our needs are met and that we are free and joyful.
Let us pray for them in return. May they persevere in their vocation of prayer for us, the Church. So, that we may preserve in our vocations, whatever they may be.