Monday, July 9, 2012

Serving Others to Imitate Christ

Summers at the Motherhouse allow for different kinds of activity than during the year. Sr. Pamela Catherine and I, as part of the Temporary Professed Summer Program, have been helping out with the Service Crew. We have been washing windows, cleaning the guesthouses and making the beds, helping in the laundry room, wiping down the cafeteria line, doing dishes and our personal favorite: washing cars. Sr. Elena, who is in the Perpetual Vow Summer Program, helps us with the cars, although the majority of her time is spent in prayer- she is really enjoying this extra time with the Lord! She is going to profess final vows in August, and we are all so excited for her! I am glad she's here!

For our instructions we have been reading Pope John Paul II's encyclical On Human Work (Latin: Laborem exercens). While he does address worker's rights in the encyclical, most of it is about the dignity of human work. My favorite insight from what we have read so far is the comment on the humility of God, who though He was in the form of God, He became Man. He did manual labor as a carpenter, working by the sweat of His brow (see Genesis 3:19).  Then on the night before He died, He washed his disciples' feet, which at the time was an extraordinary lowly job. His disciples thought that it was beneath their rabbi to do such a thing. But He did, and then said that they are to do the same for each other (see John 13:1-17). Jesus made work holy and when we work we are in conformity with Him.

Reading this encyclical has also brought to light a significant value of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity: no job is too lowly for anyone; no person is too important for any job. Our Community Director (what other Communities call their Mother General or Mother Superior) joins the others in shoveling the snow/ice during the winter, picking strawberries in the summer, as well as anything thing else she can find time to do. Our former Community Director is often found cutting vegetables, washing dishes, and doing similar tasks around the house. Administrators, health care workers, teachers, and others all chip in where  and when they can. 

We'll be finishing the encyclical (and the Temporary Professed Summer Program) this week. It seems that it has gone by so fast.... Sr. Pamela Catherine will renew her vows this Sunday at Mass, which we are looking forward to. Then she is going on her homevisit, and I will be here to attend an Environmental Education workshop.

I pray that you are enjoying your summer, and staying cool in all the heat!


  1. Now, that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one! Yes, I have been "staying cool in the heat!" Seriously, I enjoyed your article! Love, Mom

  2. Insightful post that invites life-long action. Thanks, Sister Monica!

  3. Thanks for sharing your comments on Pope John Paul’s encyclical and your summer activities. I hope the Environmental Workshop goes well. Peace. Sister June

  4. I appreciated working with Sr. Pamela Catherine and Sr. Monica on the service team and am grateful for their work and their words of wisdom. Blessings on your home visit and workshop. Sr. Veronica

    1. Thanks Sr. Veronica! You were fun to work with and for!

  5. Sister Monica, It is always enlightening to read your column. You have good insight into things. I'm glad you are enjoying your summer.I always enjoy meeting you as you seem so happy.
    Sister Rosangela

  6. A beautiful expression of religious life during summer months. It's another way of serving Christ and working with others. I wish you the best as you prepare for Hawaii.

  7. What an insightful summary to your summer's study, work and prayer. I have always admired our community's ability to work, pray and study without regard for other positions held. It is a true "sisterhood". Blessings on your travels to Hawaii. I am eager to learn of Hawaii through your eyes.

  8. Sr. Monica,
    I too find it beautiful the way that each Sister pitches in where necessary. That is one of the many gifts of our community. Enjoy the summer!

  9. sister renee mirkesJuly 19, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    Sister Monica: Three cheers for Laborem Exercens! Here's another concept that John Paul II develops so skillfully and that captured my attention: human persons--their moral values, their intrinsic dignity, and their work activity itself--should never be subordinated to capital, to making money, to a materialistic paradigm where the push for profit supercedes the need for human fulfillment that is the very goal of work: engagement with one's vocation to develop person and community through one's labor of love.

  10. Sister Monica,

    Your insights from the encyclical and observations of our Community are so meaningful. God bless your days in Hawaii!