This weekend we are offering hospitality to three visitors from Great Britain: a Servite sister and two consecrated Servite women (one of whom is the head of their Secular Institute). The sister is quite a conversationalist. Turns out she is the granddaughter of the first President of the Russian Duma. (She is praying she will be able to visit Moscow for this, the centenary year of the first Duma. Please say a little prayer to St. Paul for this intention.) Her father disappeared sometime in the Soviet years, and the family has no idea when, where or how he died or where he is buried. (They recently wrote a formal letter requesting the opportunity to look into any records there might be in his regard.) She has memories of her early childhood in the Orthodox Church: being taught the Our Father in the old Slavonic language by the son of the priest (in hiding; everyone was afraid); being lifted up in her mother's arms to receive the Eucharist; later in Paris, her grandmother taking a lighted taper away from the Easter service, waiting at the Metro with her lit candle... Her mother was not allowed to leave Russia, so "Olga" and her sister left for France in the charge of their grandmother. But when she reached school age, she had to go to a state boarding school. Since there was no Orthodox Church in the area of Calais, where the school was, her there were a number of Catholic Churches and one Protestant "temple," as it was called there. Grandma was happy that they believed in God, and left the matter of where up to the kids. The girl, not knowing one from the other, simply said "Catholic." And so it was. Well, the Lord drew that little soul, and when she made her first Communion in the Catholic Church at age twelve (this is a pretty old lady we're talking about), she felt the attraction to go to daily Mass--which she did, until the school realized that one of their pupils was wandering off alone every morning!
Since the group had come in from a London flight, we sent them off to bed now (1:20 in the morning for them!), but we are all looking forward to hearing more from Sr. Olga, the French-speaking Russian nun from England!