Monday, December 14, 2009

NBLB: No Branch Left Behind

I am currently studying for finals, but I thought I'd at least put a few pictures of our decorations in our homeroom. We are celebrating Christmas tonight since Marie and I will be on our Home Visits over the holidays.

Sr. Pat kindly gave us 3 boxes of ornaments, and we had the scathingly brilliant idea to use each and every one of them! :) We decided it was our duty to promote NBLB: No Branch Left Behind. We also put together candy cherries with wire. I kept burning myself, but it was fun anyway.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

City Girl Goes to a Dairy Farm

Today, I went with Marie and a couple of the other sisters to the farm that Sr. Anne grew up in. It was so much fun. What great pet therapy! I got to help milk the cows! I had never done that before! In case anyone is confused by my sweatshirt...I'm wearing black under it. I still wear a uniform, I just needed to wear a sweatshirt and that was what I had. They don't want me to freeze. :)

We also got to drink some (cold) milk from the cows. It tastes really good. And we saw black pigs! They will be butchered in two weeks.

The Lions won today! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On being a Nine

It's about 6:30pm and it's DARK. I kind of like the dark. I suppose I could turn on the light, but I kind of like how well my computer screen stands out. It's easier for me to focus on it. I wonder if it has any affect on one's eyes though.

Today, we spent all day learning about the Enneagram. For anyone who has wondered why I haven't written in my blog as much as time has gone on, my personality type could help explain that. I am type 9. I am usually not one for personality tests. I was a developmental psychology minor, and one of the things I learned is that no one fits into any category. I am simply Kara. Yet, I always like to approach new things with as open of a mind as possible.

The enneagram is a unique personality test, because instead of focusing on behaviors (like most), it focuses on motives. As a nine, I might do the same actions as someone who is type 2, but for a very different reason.

The nine is a Peacemaker. I am alway attuned to the thoughts and feelings of those around me. I love to help people....but my motivation for that is to establish peace in the's to make others feel as comfortable and nurtured as possible. Since I am so connected with the thoughts of others, I have a difficult time paying attention to my own thoughts and feelings. I avoid forming my own opinions because it might create conflict, and I like peace. It is often hard for others to know what I really think because I can play the devil's advocate so well that people actually think that it is my opinion. It is really easy for me to empathize with others, even people who do and say things I would never say or do. For instance, I was feeling sorry for a woman who murdered people on the show "The Mentalist" last Thursday. I could see why she felt it was okay to murder those people. Of course, it bothered me that she did that. Nothing can justify murdering people. Yet that did not get rid of my empathy for her. Of course I had to remember that she was just a character on a TV show.

The part that makes my fewer blog posts make more sense is that I like to dabble in things. When I make a to-do list, I prioritize, like most people. However, I do the least important, easier tasks first. That gives me the confidence to do the bigger tasks. For instance, tonight I have to work on a project for a class with Marie. That is a more important task. I also knew I wanted to write in this blog. That is a much easier task and (sorry faithful readers) not as important. Thus I'm doing this first. Sometimes, ok, a lot of times, I get distracted by other things I need to do. Like I am about to do my homework, but I think I'll focus better if I have coffee. So I walk down the hall to get coffee and I run into someone. I end up having a really good conversation with that person, and it reminds me to email someone. While I am emailing that person, I read a really interesting headline in my gmail. I click on the headline and read the article, which makes me want to learn more about the topic. I read other articles relating to the first one. Then I remember that I need to do homework. So I go get some coffee, and on my way down I pass the chapel, and remember that I need to pray. Of course, I am about to work on the project because Marie is not a 9, and as a 9 I am conscious of the fact that she probably doesn't want to wait to the last minute.

Some people, maybe 8s and hmm...some 1s, might not want to commit a day to learning about personality types. But there is a lot more to it than that. More than anything else, I learned that it is ok to be me, and that I'm not alone in my nine-ness. :)I can work hard to improve myself, but it's ok that I am who I am. We want to be someone better than we are, but God loves us how we are in this moment. I spent today laughing at myself and understanding myself, which is something that I can neglect to do, because as a nine, I usually focus on understanding others.

Ok...I'll do the project...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recap of events....and discernment retreat this weekend!

Here is a picture from All Hallows Eve. We got to dress up as saints. My favorite part of the night was visiting the sisters in the infirmary. It kind of reminded me of trick or treating. I was impressed by how many people recognized me as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. I was very excited to show Sr. Kateri my costume! She liked it. I then hung out with Marie, the novices, and the temporary professed sister in the green hut. A couple of the sisters decided to try to scare us. That was funny.

Last weekend, it was very warm! I helped clear our trails with some of the sisters, and it was nice to be out enjoying the weather. I also played frisbee. After spending a few days without sunshine, it was glorious.

Monday was a big day for our community- it was the 140th Anniversary! Wow, 140 years! It really shows the strength of the community. The novices held a cemetery service and a program about the history of the community. They did a fantastic job. I loved seeing the pictures of the sisters throughout the years.

This weekend is one of the discernment retreats. I do not envy the retreatants. It's not easy looking at hundreds of communities and wondering which one is the right one...or if this is even the right vocation. Yet somehow God lead me to the right community for me. Please pray for the twelve young women who are going be here soon. I am looking forward to meeting them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Some Good Fun

Things are going well at the convent. For my own spiritual reading, I am reading The God Who Won't Let Go by Peter Van Breemen. I keep it in my assigned pew in the chapel so that I make sure to read a little of it each day. It's amazing how much those minutes add up. It's a wonderful book that was recommended to me by a sister here. I usually read a paragraph or two, and reflect and pray, then another paragraph or two, reflect and pray. It's very deep, but well written and I'm really growing from reading it. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about God's personal love for him/her.

It's really funny how accustomed I've come to praying a few hours a day and receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion frequently. I used to try to give God 15 minutes every day, and if I was really motivated, I'd even go to daily mass. Now I can't imagine life without those hours spent in prayer.

I think I've mentioned in this blog how I am from lower Michigan, home of the Detroit Lions. Well, they played the beloved Green Bay Packers last Sunday (we won't go into the's too soon to talk about it). At 6 am last Sunday, I may or may not have played a practical joke on the Packers fans, and I may or may not have had an accomplice who also happens to be from Lower Michigan.

*Thank you Aunt Judy for the Lions/Packers reversible blanket you made for me! I put it to good use. :)

The following was done with permission of the head of the cafeteria:

It was all in good fun and the sisters enjoyed it!

On another positive note, some of my family was able to visit, and my community received their approval! It was very fun, and it made me feel even more at home here! :)

I am in the midst of midterms....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Feast Day!

Today was my first St. Francis Day! What a joyful day! Last night, we had the Transitus ceremony, and it reminded me a lot of the Easter was very nice. We even sang my favorite song, Canticle of the Sun. I've always liked the part about dancing in the forest and playing the fields. Then we got to sleep in this morning- a true blessing of St. Francis! We had a big breakfast and everyone was in high spirits. The kitchen staff went all out in making it a special time for us.

I had dishes. By the way, our dish washing machine looks like Willy Wonka donated it. It's pretty sweet. After dishes, we had St. Francis-themed morning prayer and....a St. Francis mass! The readings, music and homily all were about St. Francis.

Oh dear, I just realized that Extreme Makeover Home Edition is on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Having fun is important

Wow, I've been busy! It's been a good busy though! My classes are all very interesting, but now I remember what it is like to be a college student again....always studying for some test, writing papers, doing projects, and reading, reading, reading. I am trying to find a balance between everything, while being patient with myself as I get used to it. I was incredibly busy in my undergraduate years as a student leader and student worker, and I didn't have time (read: make time) for a "life". At the convent, they believe that having a "life" outside of duties is very important. This must be one of the reasons why nuns live longer than most people.

One of the ways they do this is by making recreation a priority. It's not a reward for getting things accomplished, it's a priority. Last Friday, for instance, we had a Hootenanny. I had never heard of such a thing, but it was a lot of fun!

"An informal, festive performance by folk singers, often including audience participation with the use of acoustic instruments"

We sang some songs I've heard of and some that were new to me but old folk songs. I got to dance a little bit too. They played a polka song that brought me back to my Grand Rapidian roots. Of course I had to dance! It's the little things like this that make me feel at home.

Then yesterday was a glorious day! The Lions won! Unfortunately, we don't get their games in Wisconsin, but I kept reloading the Google page to keep track of the score, and every now and then, the Packers game would feature Detroit's game. I did get to see the epic ending of the Lions game. The Sisters, yes even the devout Packers fans, were celebrating with me. The Lions wons, the Bengals won, and the Packers won. Good day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

God has a sense of humor

Before I came to the convent, I was thinking about the habit. It is important to have one's attention on what one is gaining by joining the religious life, instead of what one is giving up. Yet I was thinking about how I wouldn't be able to dress up like the 80s for an 80s dance-party anymore. This thought came to my mind yesterday, and again, I dismissed the thought.

I was given an old button down white shirt I could wear, except it had a little too much stuff on it for my taste. Sr. Pat tailored it a little bit, and I hung it in my closet, without trying it on. This morning I put it on....and it has puffy sleeves! I considered putting my hair in a side ponytail for an added affect, but I quickly decided against it because I didn't want to distract people in church.

Later in the morning, while cleaning, I put it in a lava-style pony tail, on top of my head. God is so funny! He certainly plays an active role in all of our lives.

This made me think of the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 1:25.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."
This means that the hilarious nature of God is stronger than human's sense of humor.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feast Day and Birthday

I have been very busy with the classes that I am taking, but I love each of them. Surprisingly, I am enjoying the philosophy class. Marie and I are learning a great deal about the libertarian-determinism debate, and we have decided that we are not pre-determined to be determinists. I am looking forward to the next topic in the class, which is about the existence of God vs. the absence of God.

Not surprisingly, I am loving taking an art class again. I had given up my art major to become an elementary school teacher. I am taking advanced ceramics, and it's wonderful. I am working on a candle stick in the shape of a rose.

Today has been an interesting day because it's my birthday. They certainly know how to make someone feel special here! I cannot believe all the things that people have done here already. I feel very touched.

It's also my first Franciscan Feast Day. Today is the feast of the Stigmata. St. Francis had a deep reverence for the Passion of Christ. He actually wanted to suffer and become a martyr. He prayed for this! God didn't grant his wish, but he gave him the gift of the stigmata, in which he had the wounds of Christ. He didn't want to attract attention to himself, so he tried to cover up his wounds but it was really hard to cover up. I had never heard of anyone who prayed for more suffering, but more power to him!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy 9/9/9!

Yes, I'm easily amused. That makes life so much fun!

It's also the St. Peter Claver's Feast Day! Who is that? Basically one of the coolest saints ever. He is the patron saint of slaves, Colombia, and African Americans. He nourished, nurtured, instructed and protected victims of slavery in the 17th century.

This morning's closing prayer:
God of mercy and love,
you offer all peoples
the dignity of sharing in your life.
By the example and prayers of Saint Peter Claver,
strengthen us to overcome all racial hatreds
and to love each other as brothers and sisters.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We also pray for an end to slavery. Slavery still continues, only it's under a different name: human trafficking.

In other news, classes are in full swing at Silver Lake College. I am reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church for my theology class. I had no idea that it would be so spiritually enriching! I learned that God loves us so much that He is constantly drawing us close to Him. He created us to share His love and happiness with us. It is only through God and with God that we will find our ultimate joy.

We try so hard to be happier through various experiences and things, and the whole time we are seeking God. The catechism quotes St. Augustine in saying that "my soul is restless until it rests in you."

I love John Mayer's song, "Something's Missing." I wonder if he knows the answer to the question that he poses in the song. That the thing he's longing for is a deeper relationship with God.
Listen to the Song Here
Read the Lyrics Here- make sure to scroll down the page

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yay for Habits!

For the past several days, I have been attempting to wake up at 5am. For those of you who think that sounds crazy, add to that idea that I am a night person. Yet it sounds nice to have that time to have coffee, relax and do the hour of personal prayer. The way the professed sisters talk about it make sound so very glamorous. This morning was the closest I've come to that. At 5:30am, I sprang from my bed!

The motivation? Today was the first day that Marie and I got to wear our postulant habits! It felt like prom. We were showered with compliments at how nice we looked. With over 150 sisters in the motherhouse, that's a lot.

I spent a lot of time today studying philosophy and theology. Sr. Pat was very concerned about this and said that I need to enjoy the sabbath. So I played games instead of finishing another subject area. Classes start Tuesday....yes, we already have homework due. I was so spoiled at Aquinas College and didn't even know it. At least the classes are interesting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Getting used to rural life

I am learning that there isn't really a time-frame for homesickness. While my homesickness significantly decreased within the first week, it still hits me every now and then. Like when I am driving/riding around Manitowoc, noticing how starkly different it is from Grand Rapids. Today I not only did that, but I also spent some time looking across Lake Michigan, noticing more than ever how one cannot see the other side of the lake.

What do I miss? Everything. Even the things I took forgranted: car horns, people yelling in the street, protesters of the war downtown, people praying on street corners, sirens, hearing the train, buildings, overpopulated squirrels who eat human food, etc. Yet, life in the country has it's perks as well. It's actually dark at night. Truly dark. There's no streetlights that make me want to close my blinds, and I am sure that if I thought to do it, I could go outside and look at the stars. Wow, I need to do that! I also can open a window at night without worrying about who might use it as an entryway. The country comes with it's own sounds, it just takes longer to notice them. Most of the time I just hear silence, but when I stop and pay attention, I hear birds singing, I hear the leaves on the trees, I hear Sisters laughing together in the distance. Some day this will become my new "familiar."

One of the nice things about being Catholic is that the mass is the same wherever you go. The nice thing about believing in God is that you know that as many things change in our lives, God remains constant. I have been hearing that so many times while I have been here, and it's very comforting. I don't know if I've been hearing it at the Liturgy of the Hours or at Mass or what, but it always gives me peace. Probably Liturgy of the Hours. Wow, I did not know I would love the Liturgy of the Hours this much. Before coming to the convent, I hadn't paid much attention to the book of Psalm. Now I look forward to praying with them! It's my new favorite book in the Bible. I just love how honest the writer(s) of the Psalms are. They express the full range of human emotions, and are very frank and real with God. It's incredible.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Good Times

I had a fun day. After morning prayer, mass and breakfast, Sr. Pat taught Marie and I how to pray the Franciscan Crown. It is a seven decade rosary...we went on a "rosary walk" around the beautiful grounds of the convent. I loved having the seven decades because oftentimes by the time I finish five decades I am so peaceful that I don't want to stop the rosary.

I also spent some time today reading Robert Morneau's book Paths to Prayer. I have had the privilege of meeting him personally and listening to talks by him, so it is exciting that I get to study one of his books for my postulancy. What a wonderful person! He's a brilliant theologian, too. He's actually instructed some of the sisters in my community.

Once a month, all of the sisters in the motherhouse gather for recreation in the same room...that's a LOT of people. We played a trivia game about the community. Well, I participated on the sidelines this time...I'm still learning. But I had fun. I also had a chance to introduce myself. Against the advice of one of the sisters at my table, I announced my loyalty to the Detroit Lion's. :) Sr. Pamela Catherine and I have each other for support! I am becoming a Packer's fan...unless, of course they are playing the Lions!

We got to spend more time with the novices today! Their directress, Sr. Natalie, coached me in a game of Hand and first time playing. Apparently, learning how to play Hand and Foot the officially initiation into the community. I am glad I enjoy the game, because I'll be playing it for the rest of my life. Sr. Chiara and I won! :)

Time for bed. I need to start getting to bed earlier, since we wake up so early. I'm a night person, so I get tricked by how much energy I have at night. I have to be awake enough to remember to call the State of Michigan tomorrow. I need to get out of Jury Duty! Of all things...ok, I just put a sticky note on my monitor so I'll remember to call them tomorrow, because that's the last day I can call them before I get a court order. Sr. Myra Jean says she doesn't want me to go to jail.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I love recreational time

Yesterday, Marie and I tried out the tennis court. We had a lot of fun hitting the tennis ball back and forth (and running after it). Our plan is to continue to play while it's still nice out. Marie used one of the wooden tennis racquets from the convent...I used mine, with the intent of taking turns using the modern racquet. Surprisingly, the antique worked really well for Marie and she continued to play well with it! I am going to grab one of those next time we go out to play.

Sr. Pat showed us where the basketballs are and the gym. I am so excited that Marie loves to play basketball, too! We will get to continue to play in the gym during the winter which is nice.

We got to spend a lot of time with the novices yesterday and today, which has been wonderful! They are so delightful, and it is nice to talk with people who went through the same thing within the past couple of years. Joining a religious community is a big adjustment (I've never prayed this much in my life), and it's refreshing to have people to talk about it with.

Today, I showed them Invisible Children's most recent movie: The Rescue. It is a very important 36 minute video, and if you have not heard of the Invisible Children, I encourage you to watch it. It's not appropriate for children, and it might be difficult for veterans to watch as well. The Invisible Children are children who are forced to be soldiers. Joseph Kony is my generation's Adolf Hitler, and just like the Holocaust, very few people are aware of it.

It is a very sobering video, and we spent some time processing it. It is impossible to watch that film and not be motivated to do something. I have heard that one of the best things we can do is pray, because it is a spiritual war.

Before I joined this community, I attended protests for this cause. Even though I won't be as active as I was, I will still be committed to helping the children in anyway I can.

After we took time to process it, Sr. Natalie brought up a snack for us. Mmm...I love the homemade bread that the people who work in the convent's bakery make! We joked around for awhile. It was a lot of fun. I learned something interesting: it is an unwritten rule that we are to have "recreational time" every day. So I'm required to have fun every day...I think I can manage that! :)

I have now been at the convent for almost a week. We will hopefully start wearing our postulant habits on Monday! Marie and I cannot wait to begin wearing them, so we will feel more "official".

Oh yes, I almost forgot...I watched my first Packer's game last night! It was a lot of fun...very exciting game. It was a late game though, so we went to bed at half-time. I did hear that there were two loyal fans who stayed up for the whole game. I couldn't do that. I was tired today just from staying up until 11:30pm! Good for them, though.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Personal Prayer

I love the hour of personal prayer we have each day. I'm finding myself desiring and enjoying the individual attention of God. It's just like wanting individual attention of a close friend. I feel very privileged to have this vocation.

Today my directress is taking Marie and I to Cato Falls. We will have our personal prayer time there, in the midst of nature. Very Franciscan way of praying! :)

I am so grateful for this time of spiritual growth. It is so necessary before I begin my apostolate of teaching in three years. I cannot be an effective teacher for my students if I haven't grown in my faith for myself. It's just like what JP2 wrote in his encyclical. It's a wonderful document about how we must evangelize to ourselves first. We need to work on our own spiritual maturity before we can help others with their growth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bring on the Rain!

I was feeling very homesick until yesterday afternoon, when it rained. The sound and sight of the rain reminded me of home. We've had a rainy summer in Grand Rapids, so much that rain of all things brought me comfort. I guess in Wisconsin they've had a very dry summer, so it was a blessing to have the rain!

I have been learning all about the postulancy, which is a time of discernment and to grow in prayer. It's also a time of preparation for my further stages of formation.

Last night was very fun. We got to go to a picnic put on by the Serrans, who pray for vocations and support those in formation and seminarians. They served us hamburgers and brats and lead us in a game of BINGO. I've never played BINGO with that many people before and it was a lot of fun. It reminded me of watching Noddea steal the show in BINGO the musical. Loved it. By the way, Noddea is the one who came up for the name for this blog. I had spent over an hour trying to come up with a title and she thought of one in two minutes! So clever!

I won some postage stamps. Sr. Pat is encouraging us to try out the lost art of "snail mail" so it was a perfect prize!

After the picnic, a bunch of us watched "America's Got Talent". So much fun to watch that show with a group of people!

I am getting used to and loving the new schedule. Every morning at 6:30am, I go to chapel to prepare for morning prayer. Morning prayer begins at 6:45am, and then we have mass.

We have an hour of personal prayer every day, and I like to pray the rosary during that time, plus another form of prayer (I'm experimenting with different ways to pray!)

We also pray evening prayer together.

Time to go!

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Days at the Convent

My postulant directress just allowed the other postulant, Marie, and I some time to check our emails. Yes! So much has been going on that I've been wanting to write in this blog...especially since I saw the movie "Julie & Julia" on Saturday...very cute!

I've been having a lot of fun with all these adventures!

Some how, even though I just about filled my Aunt Judy's SUV, I forgot a few important things, like pants. And to remove my hot pink nail polish. But all is well now.

Oops...time is just about up.

I am working really hard at living in the moment. While in chapel last night, I was looking around at all these sisters in their habits and thinking, "What am I doing here?" Yet, I felt as if God was telling me, "Slow down, Kara. Just enjoy the moment." I felt better.

I played a fun game called "Aggravation" last night with Marie, the novices, and our directresses. It's just like the game "Sorry!" only it is a choking hazard. The pieces look like gum balls.

Today, we registered for classes! I'm very excited for mine:

Ceramics II
Professional Roles and Responsibilities (Intro to Special Ed)
Philosophy of the Human Person
Catholic Beliefs and Practices
Cultural Diversity (and Wisconsin Native Americans)

Time for personal prayer. :)