Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Discalced Carmelite Nun in Argentina ...

La hermana Mónica Astorga, carmelita descalza 
que vive en Neuquén (Argentina), 
acompaña desde hace diez años a un grupo de travestis y transexuales ...

'If I had not been accepted in Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge (for fallen women) and lived out my days there, unknown and despised among the poor penitents.'
- St.Therese of Lisieux

I thought of that quote from the testimony by Sr. Marie of the Trinity in the canonization process for Therese, while reading about an Argentine nun who ministers to transgender persons and prostitutes.

Sister Monica Astorga, o.c.d.
For the past 10 years, Sister Monica Astorga, a Discalced Carmelite in the central Argentine city of Neuquen, has helped a group of transvestites and transsexuals who decided to give up prostitution and addictions to alcohol and drugs. She has started them on the path of recovery and reintegration into society.
But the work has been full of obstacles, she said. “People asked me why there were transgendered people in church. I told them the Church is for everyone. Who was Jesus with? With sinners. What is important here is that they live in dignity, so they don’t have to sleep on the street in cold temperatures—even below zero. What I offer them is a space for prayer and to find a way to work, and the rest is for the judgment of God, which I know is so merciful.” - Read the rest at Aleteia
It's a very moving account.  Sr. Monica has the permission of her Bishop, and the encouragement of the Pope.  Perhaps like Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, Sr. Monica received a 'call within a call'.  I also think of  St. Simon Salus, who left his desert solitude to live amongst the outcasts, criminals, and whores, to demonstrate the love of God, to be a sort of presence of merciful love amidst the unlovable.  I'm so edified by this story of Sr. Monica.  I'm betting Sr.'s penitents may not always manage to be faithful, nor may they change all that much in appearance, yet the grace of God is available to them and they have found a place in the Church.

We have to make a place for people in the Church - the truth is, there is a place ... a place for all of us.

Christ can do all things if we ask with faith. "O Lord, I want to return to the Church and the sacraments but I don't know how." The Lord finds a way. When I write about two men or two women living together, agreeing to renounce sinful relations and determining to sanctify their lives and return to the Church and the sacraments, I'm saying that Christ can accomplish for them even more than they ask or desire. The Church does not lay burdens too heavy to carry on those who wish to be reconciled. The Church calls homosexuals, transsexuals, prostitutes, sinners to freedom, to chastity, to holiness. The Church does not dictate with whom and where a person must live, the Church doesn't command a person to join this or that group.

Have faith: Ask, seek, knock. It will be opened for you.

"I go to prepare a place for you...
... You know the way that leads to where I go...
... Follow me...
In my Father's house there are many dwelling places."

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, 
as many times as my heart beats, 
as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, 
so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy 
and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. 
May the greatest of all divine attributes, 
that of Your unfathomable mercy, 
pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.


  1. A beautiful; story indeed. A nun saint among God's children. People who have felt rejected or too ashamed to draw near the Lord but now, with hope and prayer and the example of someone of faith to show them the way, they too can draw near the lifespring of healing and grace through the sacraments and onward to Christ.

    What a blessing! Were I so fortunate. ^^

    1. I'm glad you approve of her - I'm so impressed with this nun.

  2. Reminds me of another saint, Mother Antonia Brenner. From Beverley Hills, married and divorced twice, La Madre ended up moving into a prison in Mexico. She attracted others to this way of serving and finally founded the Eudist Sisters of the Eleventh Hour. She has gone to God now but was a joy to behold.

    1. Yes! I thought of her too! Very much alike. These hidden saints. A local saint will be presented to the Pope this week, Mary Jo Copeland - such a generous wife and mother. Incredible service to the poor - right down with them.


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