Sunday, January 23, 2011

Unity as a Convent; Unity as People

In case you didn't see the picture on Franciscanized World, here is the completed Warm Up America! afghan. (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.) Fr. Jadin blessed the afghan, and we gave it to the Manitowoc County Domestic Violence Center. It truly was a team effort, and it was nice to see the Motherhouse come together to provide warmth and comfort for the people who will use the afghan.

We also just had an initial formation weekend which was very nice. Everyone in initial formation, including our temporary professed Sisters all came together for it. It was good to see Sr. Elena again, because she is missioned in Arizona. Unfortunately, it was very cold this weekend, even for Wisconsin, but she didn't seem to mind too much.

Coming together and unity seem to be a theme right now....we are in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is a week that our community participates in through prayer and discussion, since prayer leads to discussion. I think it is more than a coincidence that it falls around the same time as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. He is one of my heroes, and I try to model my life after his example. One thing that he really advocated for was unity among everyone. In honor of him and of Christian Unity, I am including a couple excerpts from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech:

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

"And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

"My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

"Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

"From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

"And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

"... And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

"Free at last! Free at last!

"Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

I would also like to recommend that you read the blog entry that one of our Sisters, Sr. Kathleen, wrote for Franciscanized World. It is an excellent entry called "Are You Aware of a Catholic Pastoral Letter on Racism." You can read it by clicking here:

The crucial beginning steps toward eradicating racism are: first, to realize our own racial prejudices, and second, to challenge them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Football Entry (why not?) :)

The following comic was taken from Holy Humor: Inspirational Wit and Cartoons by Cal and Rose Samra

The Packers have been in the playoffs for a couple weeks. I am a Packer fan as long as they aren't playing the Lions. The past few games have been pretty exciting, and next Sunday we go on to the NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears. I didn't know this before I came here, but the Chicago Bears are major rivals of the Packers, so it will be a pretty intense game. Whoever wins that one will go to the Super Bowl.

Joining the convent changes you. Holly (a postulant) and I both watch football now, and we like it! Who would have thought?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

God's Own Open Road

Every month, my community's blog, "Franciscanized World", presents a new song to listen to, to reflect on, and many times, to download for free. Each month's "song of the month" is different from the others and thus appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes. I check back every month to listen to the songs. Regardless of the style of music, all present a challenge to me, and this one in particular challenges me.

The song is called "God's Own Open Road" and it is written and performed by Tish Hinojosa. The Sisters are asking us (FYI: this includes you) to reflect on discernment with the song, being that this week is Vocation Awareness Week. Well I was expecting to listen to a simple song about the open road we journey on in life...what I heard was the words of a poet, with each line prompting me to think deeper....and it's still morning! I was relieved to look in the "comments" section and find that one of the postulants, Leslie, already wrote a reflection:

This song is a beautiful use of everyday imagery to reach a deeper spiritual truth. As we walk through this world every person has moments of questioning. We are all called to be seekers of the truth.

Then Sister Julie Ann wrote:

These lyrics articulate that which is difficult to discern...I want to know about the outer reaches Everything that heartbreak teaches Questions of survival that in every soul exist...
If National Vocation Awareness Week 2011 moves even one person to dig deeply for answers to these kind of questions, it will be a celebration of real commitment.

Perhaps I was thinking too hard.

In any case, it prompted me to reflect on where I've been, where I am, and where I am going on "God's Own Open Road" since I can't egocentrically claim it as my own journey, my own road. God is the GPS that keeps leading me back to His direction for my life, announcing "recalculating" every time I deviate from the path He's lovingly marked for the welfare of everyone. (I cannot claim this analogy of God as a GPS, and unfortunately I can't remember who brought this analogy to my attention.)

To quote part of the song:
Walking on the streets I’ve known
A city that I once called home
A stranger now another time
That doesn’t want me back

Poems in my native tongue
Whisper where I used to run
The river brushing by a shore
That knew it all along

Here I stood and there I dreamed
A future bright as magazines
Without the shades of sorrow in between
Where we’ve been & what we’ve seen
Are we taught or are we teaching
Reaching seeking needing preaching
Pleading speeding screeching to a halt

As I listened, an image flashed before me of where I came from:

The sky line, the Grand River; the city lights, take me mentally back to the past, and where I thought I was headed in the future that is now the present. As I follow along this path, asking questions of God, I am conscious that He is guiding me to grow into a deeper relationship with Him and to lead others to do the same. Everything else will fall into place.

"He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30, NAB).

If you wish to also reflect on this song, please click here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy National Vocation Awareness Week!

January 9-15, 2011 is a time that is being set aside in our country this year to pray for those who are being called by God to the priesthood or consecrated life. If you know a person who you think might be a good priest and/or religious, please don't be afraid to share this with him/her. They might resist it, but they will remember it. A number of people said this to me through the years, and here I am.

I have some links on the right side of my page under the heading "Related Websites." Click on "Register Online for Young Women's Discernment Retreats!" if you are thinking God may be calling you to be Sister. If you are a young man or woman who is considering the priesthood, religious life, or lay ecclesial ministry, click on "Catholics on Call- FREE In Person and Online Retreats for Catholic Young Men and Women ---worth doing! (I'm an alumna)." If you are a woman of any age considering a vocation to be a Sister, click on " A Nun's Life".

You can print out a holy card with a prayer for vocations by clicking here.

If you are a parent, you can click here for a helpful webpage.

Please know that countless people hold you in daily prayer.

In other news, I had a wonderful week for my mission experience in the U.P. (Upper Penninsula of Michigan)! I stayed in Marquette, and was amazed by all the welcoming, genuine people I met. I got to learn about and experience what it is like to minister in a parish. My week included visits with people in nursing homes and in their own homes, doing sacristy for masses, counting collection money for parish needs, visiting the preschool, spending time with our sisters in Republic, Champion, and Ishpeming, joining Northern Michigan University students for part of their retreat to start out the new semester in prayer, helping with communion services at nursing homes, helping with the Fish Bake, and so forth.... It was a really nice experience!

I have also been reading Three Cups of Tea, and I currently have two chapters left. As part of our community's special focus on social justice this year (it is always an important part of religious life but this year we are paying special attention to it), Three Cups of Tea was on the list of options for books that we can read. I had heard it was a good book, but it is actually even better than I thought it would be! It is an incredibly important book, too. As I read through the pages, I am reminded of a beautiful quote by Kahil Gibran: "I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the Spirit."

God bless you and your days ahead.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bringing in the New Year

Happy New Year! We had a really nice Holy Hour last night in St. Mary's Chapel. The meditations and songs were just perfect, and we had time to sit and pray. Afterwards, we had a social. Some other sisters and I stayed and watched a movie, and then we watched the happenings at Time Square with Dick Clark. I was duly impressed with his speech. It has improved so much...he must have been working really hard in speech therapy ever since his stroke. I don't know what happened with the ball that was supposed to come down didn't happen this year....or at least the TV cameras didn't show it. There was a nice firework display though. It was also nice to get to do the countdown at 11pm. I was able to journal a little bit afterwards and I am sure I was asleep before it struck midnight here.

I am going to spend this afternoon working on the Warm Up America! afghan. To find out more about this Foundation that encourages communities and schools to knit/crochet for a good cause, click here. Fifty-nine 7"x9" rectangles of various colors and patterns were knitted/crocheted by Sisters and were turned into me. (It takes 49 rectangles to make an afghan...I will send in the extra rectangles to the Warm Up America! Foundation.) I still haven't managed to learn how to crochet, but I haven't given up on it. I do enjoy it.

Once the rectangles were all handed in, it was time to assemble them together. A week ago, I was praying that somehow the afghan would be completed, even though I had no idea how to join the rectangles. Sr. Caritas came to my rescue and taught me how, and did some of them. Sr. Natalie and I are finishing up connecting the pieces, and then one of the Sisters will be crocheting a border around the afghan. It's looking really nice! The Warm Up America! Foundation would like the afghan to be given to a local charity so that throughout the country, people will be receiving them. I did some thinking and praying about it, and I'd like to give it to the Manitowoc County Domestic Violence Center for someone there.

Today, Sister Pamela Catherine is leaving to spend a week in Greenwood, MS and tomorrow, I will be leaving to spend a week in Marquette, MI, in the Upper Penninsula. We have mission sites in those places, and we are both looking forward to our stays. Sister Pamela Catherine is traveling by train and I am traveling by car. Both of us are grateful that we aren't flying, with the pat-downs they do these days! The postulants will also be spending a week on mission. They will each be at a different mission site in Wisconsin.

So 2011 is starting out well. I pray that 2011 is full of many blessings for you and your loved ones!