Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Unexpected Blessing of Music

I cannot believe that it is already the end of September! The 4 postulants have now been here for over a month, and seem to be adjusting well despite the changes in lifestyle. We are kept busy with school, charges, and music lessons, and of course our prayer life and recreation. Yesterday, I worked in the kitchen and made a couple fruit trays with apples, oranges, and grapefruit.

Piano is still going well. I have now been taking lessons for two weeks. It is getting more tricky, because my fingers are starting to move up the keyboard a little bit, and I am starting to play more than one note at the same time. I am enjoying it very much though, and I am always excited to see that what I struggle with one day comes easier for me the next day.

I began voice lessons yesterday, too, with Leslie, one of the postulants, and that went well. I became a second soprano this year. Generally we sing the alto part, and only sing the second soprano part for SSA music. (SSA- first soprano, second soprano, alto). In junior high, I was a second soprano at Saint Cecilia Music Society, but that was ages ago. In high school, I was moved to first soprano, since I could sing higher notes...I think my range developed. In College Chorus, I sang the descant part. Ha ha I just remember the splitting headaches we all got from singing those high notes for over an hour at rehearsals. So now I am back at second soprano. Some how, I had only learned solfège for the key of C up until now, so in the voice lessons yesterday, I was introduced to the phenomenon that the solfège moves.

I have always had a passion for music, but I never thought that I would get to use this passion later on in life. It is one of the blessings of belonging to this community.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

There's a lot going on at the convent...

It seems that I haven't written in a while. School has started. Sister Isabelle and I are taking Old Testament with Sister Mary Ann. We are enjoying the class....I am not just saying that because Sister Mary Ann is one of the vocation directors and therefore reads this blog...we're getting a lot out of it. It's kind of awkward writing that knowing that she's going to read this so I'll stop now.

We started our piano lessons and I can't believe how much I've learned in a week. Sister Rose Cecile is an excellent teacher, and she's really funny!

We (3 Novices and 4 Postulants) just finished an exciting game of basketball in the gym. I think the other team won. It was a lot of fun, and it was nice to do that for recreation.

Yesterday, we (Novices, Postulants and Directresses) when to a daylong conference at Marytown in Libertyville, IL. It was called "Glorify God in Your Body," and it was the Theology of the Body for Priests, Consecrated Religious, and Other Consecrated Persons. It was a wonderful day. The mass was so reverent, and the talks were great. It was also cool to interact with people from other orders, like the Missionaries of Charity, Dominicans, Canons Regular, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc. I am working on a blog entry about chastity, and I will incorporate things from the conference into it. It won't be on my blog though, it it be on Chastity Force's website, and it should be posted at the beginning of October. Click here for Chastity Force's blog. (
Since my entry won't be up for about a week, you can take time to look around at the rest of the site, read other blog entries and watch the videos. My friends Amanda and David run Chastity Force, and they are incredible people.

I hope that you all are having fun, too, and enjoying the fall!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Call to Prayer

In reference to the following entry: He called it off. Praise God!

In our community, we feel that it is important to pay attention to current events. It certainly gives us more things to pray for! In the novitiate, we watch the local and world news. The past couple of nights, ABC's World News has been informing us that Pastor Terry Jones and his congregation, will be hosting an event called "International Burn a Koran/Qur'an Day."

Pastor Jones believes that Islam is of the devil, and on 9/11/10, he plans on burning Qur'ans, a book so sacred to Muslims that they don't let it touch the floor. Several key political, cultural, military, and religious figures throughout the world, including the Vatican (click here for the awesome EWTN article) have tried to persuade him to call it off, but he is convinced that this is what Jesus would do. Muslims have tried to make peace with him to no avail. He will not call it off unless God gives Him a sign that it is the wrong thing to do. Um...I'd say all these key people giving him warnings not to do it is a pretty good sign...

I don't know what kind of "sign" Pastor Jones is looking for. I am not seeing any of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in this situation. They are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. I believe that this is spiritual warfare. This is no reason to fear. God will turn all things to good, so we don't need to worry about it but entrust it to Him. As Sister Isabelle and I told our fifth graders last year, the devil is like a fire ant, and God is like Godzilla (Godzilla times infinity!). We need to be wary that we don't get discouraged by events like this and keep looking up to heavenly things.

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. -John 16:33

I am calling out to everyone to pray for everything involved in the situation, including its aftereffects. Everything from a sign for Pastor Jones and conversion for him and his followers to the safety of our troops. Pray for healing for all Muslims from the emotional pain of this planned event, pray for peace.... Please pray. Pray the rosary, pray before the Blessed Sacrament, pray the St. Michael the Archangel prayer, pray using your own words....please pray.

And He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. "And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
-Luke 11: 5-13

Thank you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Year, New (or Renewed) Goals

I love this time of year. It's a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. It's back to school time! I don't know if that excitement ever goes away. For instance, in a movie I've seen more than a few times, You've Got Mail, Tom Hank's character writes to his online friend, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms" (You've Got Mail Movie Script).

At least for me, it's easier to make resolutions at this time of the year than it is on December 31st. It's probably because I imagine December 31st as the middle of the year. Hmmm....that could be one of the reasons why many people fail to keep their New Year's Resolutions...they're accustomed to making S.M.A.R.T. Goals at the beginning of the year, as their teachers taught them. (For how to make SMART goals, click here.) Maybe if people started going to the gym in late August or Early September, they'd be more likely to use their membership in February. Just a thought.

Today's Gospel is very appropriate for New (School) Year Resolutions:

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.' Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."
-Luke 14:25-33, NAB

While some parts of it can sound harsh, especially the word "hate", the meaning of the Gospel passage is for us surrender everything to follow Christ. We are not to allow anything to control us, whether it is money, unhealthy relationships, or a whole bunch of other things. God wants us to be FREE, and it is by surrendering to God that we can be truly free and happy.

We can set goals for ourselves to grow in our faith in God, and also remove things in our life that are causing us the most stress, particularly through SMART Goals (S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Attainable, R = Realistic, T = Timely). I think that Jesus could have been talking about SMART goals in the second part of the Gospel. (Vague Goal: Construct a Tower. SMART Goal: Sit down and calculate the cost [before the 24th of this month].)

It is important to be aware that anything new takes more time to do. If you want to pray the rosary daily, be aware that it will take longer to do it at first if you are learning the prayers and about the mysteries. Another option is to buy a CD, audiotape or download an MP3 of the rosary that includes meditations. Make sure it contains the Luminous Mysteries for Thursdays. Pray with it on the way to work or while out for a walk/run. Eventually, you will know it and look forward to it so much that you will be able to pray it in your own quiet place.

Also, sometimes you need outside help to achieve your goal. If you want to eliminate your debt, you can register for Dave Ramsey's biblically based, tried and true program called Financial Peace University. Many classes are starting within the next couple weeks. You can find one in your area by going to this site:, or you can do the program online.

If you will be in West Michigan on September 11th, and want you and/or your family to grow in knowledge and commitment to chastity, you could have a SMART goal of having everyone ages 5 and up attend a Chastity Force Conference at Pius X Church in Grandville, Michigan. It includes age-appropriate workshops, Mass with the Pius X parish communiy, and a concert by Amanda Vernon. You can register by clicking here.

If you are a young woman discerning religious life, you can register today for a retreat by clicking on "Young Women's Discernment Retreats! (pdf)" under "Related Websites" at the upper right hand corner of this page, or you can register online at

I have a few of my own goals. For example, this year, I will be taking weekly half-hour piano lessons and practicing piano at least 30 minutes everyday. I know that by doing this SMART goal, I will achieve my vague goal of learning to play the piano.

God bless you on achieving your goals!