Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jesus Shall Carry Us

If you haven't yet, I invite you to peruse Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel. He writes in refreshingly plain language and it is quite profound. I chose a paragraph from it to be my daily message for this school year with its unforeseeable ups and downs. One line from it that sums it up well is "No single act of love for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted" (paragraph #279).

This paragraph ended up being helpful right away. The school year came in like a lion as we were met with hurricane warnings. We were scared. The children were scared. We put on our brave faces for them. The hurricanes were headed directly toward the islands. Our families, friends, Community, and people we don't even know were praying for our safety. The storms downgraded, then one went below our island, while the other traveled above. The Big Island, however, wasn't so lucky. They were hit by Hurricane Iselle, and aid money has been sent their way to help pay for damages. We are so thankful for all the prayers because we believe that they helped to dissuade and downgrade the storms.

Around that time, I told my second and third graders the famous story of the Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson. In this poem, Stevenson writes about Jesus carrying us through difficult times. About a week later, I was struggling to get a jam out of my "jam-free guaranteed" stapler. I happen to have a very expressive face. One of my students came up to me and whispered, "Jesus is carrying you, Sister Monica!"

My students delight me so much! I love their curiosity and enthusiasm. We are studying Earth Science and it's been fun to watch them explore rocks and soil while soaking in new terms like "erosion." The much anticipated volcanic eruption will occur this week!

I don't know what the months ahead hold for us, but Jesus will carry us when we need it. :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Free Music from Franciscans Offers Inspiration

Update: Click here September's Song of the Month. It's a catchy song by Ken Yates

One of my passions is music. I love all kinds of music, except the yelling kind. I happen to have a really awesome Pandora Christian Rock station that I have been developing since 2008. It all began with Tenth Avenue North. I added in Jennifer Knapp, Jars of Clay, Toby Mac, Group 1 Crew, Barlow Girl and Matt Maher. Pandora fills in the rest, providing me with music by artists such as David Crowder Band, Mandisa, and Needtobreathe.

When I get tired of listening to all that, I listen to Motown Radio. I was raised in Michigan so naturally Motown music played a crucial role in my development. To date, I have never had to give a Motown song a thumbs down!

A lot of our Sisters share my love for music, and every month we provide free downloads from indie artists. If we can't work out a free download deal, you are at least able to listen to it on Franciscanized World. The Song of the Month for August is beautifully done. It is On the Road to Human Being by Kerry Patrick Clark. The message is simple but one that bears repeating: that we as humans are more alike than we are different. We all want to find meaning in our lives, but we can get sidetracked by surface level endeavors.

Kerry Patrick Clark
I think I was beginning my freshman year in high school when I had an epiphany that everyone, no matter what mask they wear on the surface, wants to be liked by others. I reasoned that there was no one standing in my way of providing (mainly nonverbal) affirmations to the people around me. A personal experiment soon became a lifestyle, and the theory became a given.

At the beginning of his book, The Confessions, Saint Augustine wrote, "You have made us for Yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." God is Love, so we were made for Love. When we show love to others, we give them a glimpse of God's love.

All these thoughts of mine stem from listening to our August Song of the Month. To listen to this song and all future free downloads, visit our Community's blog: Franciscanized World.