Sunday, May 29, 2011

From Celebration to Silent Joy...and Anticipation

Today we are celebrating diamond jubilees at the Motherhouse! It is an exciting day to honor these inspirational Sisters who have been professed for 60 or 75 years! This morning, Sister Pamela Catherine and I served breakfast to guests of the Sisters and that was nice. They were very gracious.

At our breakfast table with other Sisters and the soon-to-be novices, we were figuring out how old we will be at our jubilees. It was kind of fun. We shall see if we will live that long. I won't reveal the others' ages in case they don't want theirs known but I am fine with sharing mine.

Next year (2012) I will be making my first profession.

2012 - I will be 27 years old
Silver Jubilee (25 years professed): 2037 - 52 years old
Golden Jubilee (50 years professed): 2062 - 77 years old
Diamond Jubilee (60 years professed): 2072 - 87 years old
Diamond Jubilee (75 years professed): 2087 - 102 years old

I can see why they allow the celebration of the the diamond jubilee to be at 60 years! :)

After today's festivities, we will begin our retreat! I am very much looking forward to it! It will begin tonight and go until Saturday morning. It's a silent retreat, but we will have talks, mass, and prayer together. Tonight, at the opening session, we will recieve a general schedule. Afterwards, I will create my own personal *tentative* schedule that will include personal prayer, art, and exercise. Naps are encouraged when needed so the schedule has to be tentative. (It's much easier to pray when you are well rested.)

Upcoming Events
~June 5th: Pamela Catherine's First Profession
~June 12th: the Postulants are Received into the Novitiate
~June 13th: Camp Franciscan Leaders Arrive for Leadership Day
~June 14th-16th: Camp Franciscan
~June 26th: Silver and Golden Jubilee Celebration

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

For Those Affected by Flooding and Tornadoes

In the novitiate, we watch ABC World News. It's nice and refreshing that there is a faith dimension to their program. For the past couple of weeks there have been many reports about the flooding and more recently, the tornadoes. It breaks my heart to view the footage of all those affected by these natural disasters. Please know that as a community we pray frequently for all of you and your loved ones. I will be spending next week in retreat so I will have extra time to pray for you!

God bless you. He is closer to you than you can ever imagine, supplying you with all the graces that you need to get through this devastation!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Stages of Initial Formation

Last Wednesday, I posted a blog entry called "What It Means to be in Initial Formation." You can read it by clicking here. In that entry I wrote about the nature and process of formation itself.

Today, my focus is on the stages of initial formation for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. My personal experience is limited to the postulancy and first year novitiate. I will do my best to summarize the other stages.

The postulancy is a time to live among the Sisters, and to continue to discern whether God is calling oneself to the religious life. Postulants enroll in classes at Silver Lake College to develop an understanding of Catholicism, spirituality, and philosophy. They may also take other classes toward their degrees.

Postulants participate in "Mission Experiences" in which they spend time with Sisters at our various mission sites. You can look at pictures from our postulants' recent mission experiences in Arizona by clicking here.

Postulants participate in the prayer life of the community, as well as daily recreation.The length of postulancy is typically 9-10 months, depending on the needs of the young woman in formation. Canonically, it cannot be less than 6 months, and a person can stay in the postulancy for a second year.

The novitiate is two years in length. When a young woman becomes a novice, she receives her religious name and begins wearing a white veil. The novitiate is a time to deepen one's relationship with God and to continue to discern God's direction for one's life.

In the first year of the novitiate, novices study the Old Testament in the Fall and the New Testament in the Spring. They learn about the charisms, constitutions, and history of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, as well as the Franciscan Rule and history. They also spend time helping out around the Motherhouse. (This year, I worked in the kitchen and bakery, as well as sacristy.)

In the second year of the novitiate, novices take classes at Silver Lake College to prepare for their apostolates and to continue to study theology. They also study the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Novices participate in the prayer life of the community, and in addition, they pray midday and night prayer together. There is a chapel in the novitiate with a tabernacle. Novices have daily recreation as well. They also have "mission experiences (staying with Sisters at our various mission sites)."

Temporary Profession
When a young woman professes vows for the first time, she recieves a black veil. The temporary profession is renewed every year until the Sister is ready for perpetual profession. Temporary profession ordinarily lasts between three and six years.

During Temporary Profession, the Sister is either working toward her degree, or begining her apostolate (her ministry). She lives at a mission site with other Sisters. In the summers, the Sister resides at the Motherhouse for the Temporary Profession program.

Perpetual Profession
When a young woman makes final vows, she becomes a permament member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She receives a ring. Her formation is not over though! Everyone is called to continue to grow throughout our lives.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poem: I'm the Daddy of a Nun

This Wednesday, I am going to be sharing about the stages of formation for our community, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, but first, I want to share with you all a cute poem that's on a little card in the novitiate. This is in honor of all family members who have so generously shared their sons/daughters/sisters/brothers/nieces/nephews with the Church.

I'm the Daddy of a Nun

Sure my daughter has been vested
And my joy I cannot hide,
For I've watched her from the cradle
With a father's honest pride.

But the morn she left me early
I was feeling mighty blue,
Just a-thinking how I'd miss her
And the things she used to do.

But now, somehow it's different,--
With each rising of the sun,
And my heart is ever singing,
"I'm the daddy of a nun."

Since to err is only human
There's a whole lot on the slate,
That I'll have to make account for
When I reach the golden gate.

But then I'm not a-worrying
About the deeds I've done,
I'll just whisper to St. Peter:
"I'm the daddy of a nun."

Copyright 1954 by The Notre Dame Publishing Co., N.Y.C. Litho in Italy

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What It Means to be in Initial Formation

Next week, I will write about the different stages of Initial Formation for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. This week, I am writing about the process of formation itself. defines formation as follows:

for·ma·tion   /fɔrˈmeɪʃən/ [fawr-mey-shuhn]

1. the act or process of forming or the state of being formed: the formation of ice.
2. the manner in which a thing is formed; disposition of parts; formal structure or arrangement.

Formation, by its very nature, is not an easy process. Just take the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly:

It's all about change and growth. This is at the heart of initial formation in a religious community. (It is called initial formation, because formation is a lifelong process!)

One thing that has helped me in my initial formation process is knowing Maslow's Four Stages of Learning, also known as the Conscious Competence Theory. I was required to memorize these stages for a public speaking class. (Thanks, Dave, for requiring this!) It has helped me to be patient with myself, especially in the Conscious Incompetence stage!

Maslow's 4 Stages of Learning/The Conscious Competence Theory:
1. Unconscious Incompetence: The individual is not aware that s/he is doing something wrong or that s/he needs to improve in an area.
Example: Sam is not aware that he mumbles when he talks.

2. Conscious Incompetence: The individual recognizes that s/he is doing something wrong but it is either a bad habit or s/he does not know how to improve.
Example: Sam's friend has told him that he mumbles when he talks. Now that he is aware of it, he wants to make a change. He catches himself mumbling again, and tells himself he needs to stop it.

3. Conscious Competence: The individual is improving/doing something right but has to concentrate to do it.
Example: When Sam talks, he focuses on opening his mouth more and ennunciating his words.
4. Unconscious Competence: The individual is able to do something right without even thinking about it. The skill has become second nature.
Example: Sam no longer mumbles and doesn't even have to think about it.

As I mentioned above, Conscious Incompetence can be the most frustrating stage. In St. Paul's letter to the Romans, he expresses this feeling:

"What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate."
-Romans 7:15, NAB

It also can be frustrating because you know that you are changing, but the change is not observable to other people. This calls for patience on both sides. Using the scenario with Sam, imagine that he is with his friend, and he starts mumbling again. Sam is working on not mumbling, but his friend cannot read Sam's mind. He might not know that Sam is trying to improve. In this situation, Sam and his friend both need to be patient with each other. Sam needs to be patient with his friend's lack of superpowers, and his friend needs to be patient with Sam's learning process. In addition, Sam needs to be patient with himself, knowing that seldom do people change as quickly as they want to. However, as long as one wants to change, provided that it is physically possible, one can change.

Here are a couple good songs on this topic:
Do People Bloom by Ezra Holbrook
Changes IV by Cat Stevens

And a reflection by a friend in seminary:
Try, and keep trying and keep trying, and try again.

Fortunately for me, I am a "no-vice!" ;-)

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

In other news, I was able to borrow The King's Speech from Silver Lake College's library, and we watched it with a bunch of our fellow Sisters. It was an excellent movie! Just incredible.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

JPII, We Love You!

I have been trying to find coverage of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. I guess I have to be a little more patient.

In the meantime, I found this cute video. I love the way he responded to the media:

I just loved JPII. I remember Toronto, Canada in 2002. He was riding around above us in a helicopter throughout the week leading up to World Youth Day, praying for us all. That really touched me. All of a sudden, the successor of St. Peter was no longer a person far removed. He was and is a person who genuinely cares.

My experience with Blessed John Paul II really helped set the stage for how I experience the Church and the Vatican. I now have a love for the Church that transcends the emotions that I felt at World Youth Day. I don't want to belittle emotional experiences because I think they are necessary for making the first step in anything. I don't think people decide to do things that they feel "just okay" about, unless they are obligated to do them. God knows we need these emotions, so He provides us with "excessive happiness" (to quote the movie Patch Adams).

I love the Church and trust that Christ continues to be at the head of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church #792), guiding our pope, Pope Benedict XVI and all of us. I love Pope Benedict XVI, and I invite you all if you aren't already doing so, to keep him in your daily prayers and learn about him. He certainly has a lot of good to offer the Church. My favorite thing that he has written so far is Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). I invite you to read that.

Also, to those of you who live in the United Kingdom, congratulations on the royal wedding! Isn't is great that they got married on the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena, who has the same name as Duchess Catherine? I heard that the Anglican archbishop even mentioned the saint at the wedding ceremony!