Mother Angelica’s Monastery.
If you have been to Medjugordje, you know the story about the church and the painting. The church it seems was built to accomodate a huge crowd that didn’t exist in the tiny village. The painting of Our Lady appearing over the village was painted years before anyone ever claimed to have seen the virgin.
A visit to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament reminds me of both. The complex nestled well off the beaten path (or in this case cow patch), likely one day will reflect Mother Angelica’s visionary foresight. This is a place that was built to hold a liturgy of papal proportions–will that happen one day here.
On this cold January day there were six cars in the parking lot that could easily accommodate 1,000′s. The piazza that could rival St. Peter’s was empty. The large Church included three novices, a professed, three young men, a Franciscan and me.
I was here to attend Vespers, but had left my copy of the Office in the car thinking that there would be books available in the Church similar to what you would find if you visited a Benedictine monastery. There were none though, and despite the reminders of Our Lord’s Passion visible–I poor sinner that I am, did not feel like walking that 3/4 of a mile back to my car in the cold to get it.
Enter Deacon Bill Steltemeier who graciously got out of his wheel chair (a sight right out of the Gospels or at least a Holy Ghost revival) and walked over and offered me his extra. Then stood beside me to help me negotiate the specific feast for the Franciscan martyrs (something I would not have known otherwise since it was a feast pecular to Franciscans). Deacon Bill also helped me to see where the nuns were since, I confess for the first ten minutes I could not understand what they were saying–their chant was indecipherable to me, until I finally tuned my ears to the high pitched tone–then I could follow, although still with great difficulty.
At the conclusion of Vespers, we immediately did Compline. I was a little surprised at this–I wonder if it is a Franciscan practice? That was followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
The magnificence of the Shrine itself is something to behold. The central focus is the Eucharistic Lord and it is a real blessing to all who visit. And if you are there for Vespers–you might even have a Deacon to help you!