A blessed & white Christmas!

Sr. Aloysia throwing bread to migrating birds.

Dialogue between the ox (Sr. Elizabeth) & the ass ( Sr. Paul Therese)

"The Christmas Alphabet" by the novitiate

'O Holy Night' with flute and guitar

Ours was not only a blessed but also a truly white Christmas this year because the snow kept coming. But despite the unfavorable condition on the road, there were still quite a number of churchgoers who braved the snow, even more than we expected. The Gregorian choir of the Norbertine Abbey in Grimbergen contributed a lot in making our midnight Mass very solemn.

On Christmas day itself, we also had a very well prepared Liturgy. Two of our Sisters and two lay musicians played the flute. Our churchgoers greeted us after the Mass as a tradition on special and big feasts like Christmas and Easter.

In the evening of the 25th, the Novitiate presented a short play around the crib, a dialogue between the ox and the ass, a choral presentation with illustrations on the Chrismas Alphabet, then "O Holy Night" with flute and guitar. Simple yet meaningful presentation that delighted our Sisters. We then retired early to make up for our lack of sleep the previous night because we return to bed at past 2:00 o'clock in the morning because after the midnight mass we still partook of some warm drink and bread.

Wishing you all a blessed and happy Christmas and a grace-filled 2011!


Saint Nicholas and Black Peter

Saint Nicholas and his assistant black Peter came a day earlier than his feast on December 6.

Piet told us to go to another place in procession.

So all went eagerly and cheerfully in obedience.

Sr. Paul Therese played with the flute a hymn to St Nicholas so that he will come.

And indeed, the Saint appeared!

and gave each sister some words of advise and encourgament.

And of course, the much-awaited gifts!
Our eldest sister, Sr. Augustina received a teddy bear!

Sr. Lutgart, our liturgist, received clear books for her music pieces.

After each one received her gift, a souvenir pose with the Saint before he proceded to his next itinerary. Black Peter took this photo so he is nowhere to be seen.

Winter 2010

On the first week of December we had our first snow this winter. It is still the second winter for our 3 new Filipina sisters, so we went out again to our garden so that they can really feel, play and enjoy the snow!

Hurrah! Thank you, Lord for the snow!

As if we have a very big forest no?

Under the weeping willow

Oei, oie, oei, what are they going to do with the ladder?

So,now you know, someone wanted to climb the Magnolia tree.

How do you like this one? And my! Look at Sr. Paul Therese's very big pair of boots!

Here is also another one, Sr. Elizabeth, posing with Jesus on the Cross
but not resembling Mary Magdalen because she is smiling and not crying

Thanks to our very patient and eager photographer, Sr. Aloysia!



A blessed advent season!

Be watchful!
"Let us walk in the light of the Lord" - Isaiah

While the super markets and department stores have already long displayed Christmas items and Christmas carols have perhaps been played several times already on the radio, we in Carmel have just lighted the first candle of our Advent wreath and only this afternoon have we put up the Advent house, with still one window open. We are still about to start the great adventure...

We are still about to plunge deeper into the mystery of this very rich season, together with Our Blessed Mother, in silent yet joyful expectation of the coming of Jesus in our heart, not only on Christmas day but each day and each moment of our life.

Advent house


Autumn in the Troost

The views in our monastery garden during this season are just marvelous that we wish to share them with you. One sunny morning when it was not so cold, we brought our oldest sister, Sr Augustina (84), around the garden, an advance treat for her birthday on the 7th of November. The two novices, Sr. Elizabeth and Sr. Paul Therese, were in the laundry, so they could join us for souvenir photos.

Our new friend, Lieze

Lieze with our two novices in the parlor before she left

Introducing to you our new fine young Belgian friend, Lieze, 19 years old, from Keselo, a student at the Sacred Heart Institute in Heveerle. She is preparing herself to become a nursery school teacher. We came to know her the first time when she came to interview one of our sisters about of life in February this year. Later, during the summer and autumn vacations, she asked to spend a day of recollection in the monastery. She said that she relished the silence, her spiritual reading, and praying the Divine Office with the Sisters and the Holy Mass, everything helped her to be herself again. Lieze left us a thank you note with her beautiful drawings based on what she has read during the day. She looks forward to her next recollection day, perhaps during the Christmas break. You are always welcome, Lieze!


Solemnity of our holy Mother St. Teresa

Santa Teresa de Jesus wine met our eyes
on the table during the apperitief just before lunch

The surpise first recipe; buttered snails with garlic

The 3 "servidoras" who really did their best to speak in Spanish

On the Feast of our La Madre Fundadora last October 15, we thought of making her spirit of "Alegria" alive in our midst. During the Mass, we sang a very lively Gloria in Tagalog to the accompaniment of guitar and mandolin. As recessional we sang another Filipino composition entitled "Teresa" by Mother Madeleine of Cagayan Carmel.

Right after the Mass, the 3 youngest Sisters went our ahead to dress up in Spanish attire to greet the community with "Feliz Fiesta!" We then went in procession to the refectory singing "Alegria" (with adapted lyrics) with castanets, tamborine
and guitar. The 3 "servidoras" tried their very best to speak in Spanish, the meaning of which only they know. But really we reserched some words, thanks to the help of Fr. Rafael Mendoza, our Procurator General, who supplied us with the translations. As we entered the refectory, we saw on the table a bottle of wine with label, "Santa Teresa de Jesus", which was said to really come from Spain and was given by the Goyvaerts' family. After the "apperitief" we partook of a special meal, the first recipe of which was baked snails with butter and garlic, served on a small silver plate with matching tong and a small fork! Thanks to the expertise of Sr. Aloysia! It was our first time to eat this recipe and in that way!

At coffee time in the afternoon, we surprised again the community with our own version of the "Torero" with Sr. Socoro as the "matador", the 2 novices as the "toro" (bull) and Sr. Carmela as the Flamenco dancer, who danced with the matador after the bull fight as a victory celebration. This was much to the enjoyment of our Belgian Sisters!

There were bit serious parts too. Sr. Socoro sang "Nada de Turbe" in our dialect, Sr. Paul Therese played the flute accompanied by Sr. Luisa's guitar. Then, in the evening, we drew the testaments of our holy Mother, St. Teresa. On the eve, we also read in the choir after Matins, the account of her death and listened to her last words to us her daughters.

We felt that La Madre smiled at us and gave us her blessings as we brought joy to our fellow Sisters for it was often been said by our older Sisters that "when we can make others laugh we have the blessings of our holy Mother".

The Matador and the defeated toro

The Matador with the Flamenco dancer

Sr. Paul Therese played the piece, "Teresa" accompanied by Sr. Maria Luisa


Harvest time in our little vineyard

Sr. Carmela tasting the grapes if they are sweet

Sr. Socoro and Sr. Elizabeth showing you the grapes
protected with nets againts the migrating birds,
although they still managed to get their share.

For the first time we have finally succeeded to harvest some grapes from our little vineyard, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Sr. Aloysia with the help of the novitiate and Sr. Socoro during the pruning and thinning stages. From the three vines ( 2 violets and 1 green) we were able to serve the community four times and those were more than enough for us. Thank you Lord for the harvest of grapes, which reminds us of our relationship with you. "I am the Vine and you are the branches... Apart from me you can bear no fruits..."

Justify Full
The harvested grapes ready for serving

Feast of St. Therese in the Novitiate

The two novices; Sr. Marie Elizabeth and Sr. Marie Paul Therese

The Sisters holding their chosen symbols

The novitiate prepared a paraliturgy and invited the community on September 30, the eve of St. Therese's feast, and her death anniversary. We started with a prayer led by our Mother and a song in her honor with guitar.

Some symbols used by Little Therese in her writings were mounted on card boards and placed on the altar near her statue. After reading an excerpt from her writings and an article about her death, each sister chose for herself a symbol which spoke to her heart and explained why. Two or three symbols were chosen twice. Each Sister's interpretation of the symbol gave us a little glimpse into her interior and was very enriching to our journeying together.

After the sharing, we received a prayer leaflet with Therese's medal. At the back was written qoutations from our holy Sister in relation to those symbols we have chosen. That was a wonderful evening in preparation for her feast!


It is Pruning Time for us!

Sr . Marie Elizabeth's first time experience of thinning and pruning grapes.

Sr. Elizabeth and Sr. Marie Paul Therese cutting some false branches

What do you think? Can these grapes already reach full maturity?

Summer time in Belgium seems very short this year. We had had really warm sunny days in July but this month the weather is more like in autumn, not much sun and gets dark easily. We could not sit outside at the terrace during recreation like in the previous years.

On the other hand, it seems that the changing weather favors our grapes because they seem to be growing healthier. The novitiate spent time pruning them, cutting false branches and thinning, sacrificing some fruits which cluster so close to each other so that the others can grow bigger . We also sung to the grapes as we learned that it can help. Hopefully, we will be able to harvest from our little vineyard this year. Well, it is not the quantity that matters but the quality. Whether it will yield much or not, the time we spent there is worth it because it enabled us to contemplate our Vine-branch relationship with Our Lord, Who says: "I am the Vine and you are the branches. Remain in me and I in you. And we shall be one in love". That is also a hymn that we love to sing while taking care of the grapes.

Our little adventure last Sunday...

climbing the 121 steps to the belfry

Sr. Aloysia explaining how the fire extinguisher works

what could they be peeping through that small window?

who would ever think that we could touch with our bare hands the antique bronze bell that calls us to prayer several times a day?

This tiny room in the belfry was used before for recollection days

the manually-operated clock/bell of old

Last Sunday, we had a little adventure going up to our belfry, led by one of our Belgian Sisters, Sr Aloysia, our Jack- of- all- trade. It was to see the new metal bridge built above the ceiling of the basilica for easy repair and easy access for firemen in case of emergency. From there, we could get an overview of the city of Vilvoorde and of our monastery. We also took the opportunity to see our two antique bells at very close range plus the old one no longer in use.
Oh, what an extraordinary experience for our new Filipina Sisters. After climbing down the 121 steps in the narrow stairway, we had impression that we came from another world.


Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

A blessed feast to you all!

As we join the entire Carmelite Order in celebrating the Solemnity of our Patroness, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, we also celebrate the feast of our Mother Prioress with a well-prepared Liturgy, paraliturgy on the eve, some gifts and a program with some musical numbers taken from the Sound of Music, to the great delight of our Belgian Sisters. The some photos of the said event will still follow due to some technical problem.


Resurrected blog

Please, our apologies for the big gap between the last post and this one. For some reasons, the sister-in-charge was not able to update our blog for the last couple of months. We hope this time it is going to be better.

Here, you can see the latest group who visited our monastery, 14 candidates for Confirmation from Melsbroek, a neighboring town. They came with their 3 catechists in the afternoon of June 23. We showed them a documentary DVD about our Carmel after invoking singing a hymn invoking the Holy Spirit. The candidates posed many questions to the Sister. Their visit ended with the singing of a Marian hymn before the image of Our Lady of Consolation in our temporary chapel.

Invoking the Holy Spirit

Singing before the image of Our Lady of Consolation
in the temporay chapel

A souvenir group photo with Our Blessed Mother