This post was written by Dominican Sister of Hope Monica Socinski, O.P.. All photos were taken by Sister Monica Socinski.

When one grows up in the Green Mountains of Vermont, it is difficult to view the expanse of a sunrise  or a sunset. There is only a narrow horizon. The final sinking of the sun or its rising cannot be seen in its glorious fullness. Only the afterglow is visible and the full panorama is obscured by the rolling peaks of these mountains colored in evergreen trees, hence, in Latin the name montanes viridi, or green mountains or the French les monts verts (Vermont).

The Green Mountains of Vermont from my home in Vermont

The first time I ever saw a long and huge horizon, it was after graduation from college when I visited my aunt and uncle in New York to see the ocean. The expanse was so immense that it left me speechless and in a contemplative mode. It made me think of the Breton fisherman’s prayer, “O Lord, my boat is so small and the sea is so wide, help me!” The horizon seemed to go off into infinity!

At this time of my life’s journey, as I reflect this Lent on the early discovery of the immensity of the nature of this Mother Earth both in her mountain and ocean, it makes me think of the theological virtue of Hope as our brother Thomas Aquinas dubbed it. Hope expands my vision beyond the immediate horizon. Hope seeks to break open our hearts and helps us not to fear and to love who we are because our God, Creator of all this, has called us to this task or way of life. Our heart is then open to the whisperings of the Trinity. Our heart hears the Father who calls us daughter or son; our heart opens to the Son to whom we have given our lives; and to the Spirit who inspires us to love and serve  others as we should from each sunrise to the daily sunset.


Sunset in Atlantic Highlands from the porch.


Sunrise on retreat at Stella Maris

When we see the sunset, we think of the Cosmic Christ  brought to the tomb at the end of His great suffering, his journey to find our Hebrew ancestors in the netherworld to set them free to the great Vision of God and His return to us in the Eucharist rising in the East each day in the brilliant sunrise. The beauty of all the colors of the risings and the settings of the sun are never duplicated just as the opportunities in life that are presented each day. The discovery of this daily occurrence brings us closer to the plan God has for us, or, if you will, it’s an acute awareness of Divine Providence.  As the Psalmist says, “the sun knows when to set and when to rise”. So we live in Hope because God is real; God is faithful to his promise and God knows us. If we live in the present,  deep down we shall know that all shall be well as the mystic Julian of Norwich puts it!

So let’s seize the day, the rising and the setting of the sun, or as the Roman poet Horace has said in his “Odes” CARPE DIEM!