“…I Watch for Your Coming”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second antiphon in this morning’s Liturgy of the Hours spoke to me in an unusually powerful way.

I was preparing to head back to Grand Forks after an eight-day home visit.

As I faced the day, a bit of uncertainty dampened my spirits.  Transitioning back into everyday life after time away can be a challenge; the problems left behind don’t tend to disappear during one’s absence.

This verse of the Office, however, spoke comfort to my soul.  I did not know what would await me on my return to “real life,” but I did know Who would be with me every step of the way.

I realized that during this day, with its joys and challenges, I could “watch” for Christ’s coming into my life.  He would surely appear in the little events of the day ahead as I traveled.  He would be with me, too, as I “picked up where I left off.”

Now back in Grand Forks, as I try to get odds and ends done, I am gratefully aware that He is with me still.  I pray that I may be more watchful and aware of His wondrous comings in my everyday life.

An Update

I am writing from West St. Paul, Minnesota, where I am spending some time with my mom on my “home visit.”  I am very grateful for the opportunity to spend time with her and old friends as well as get some needed R&R.  It’s been quite the year!

I had a nice morning attending Mass, visiting the adoration chapel, and greeting my music teacher from second and third grade – it is always fun be back in these spots that I frequented in my childhood and adolescence.  I just got back from a 35-minute walk through the brisk autumn air, back “home” from church.

I will keep this post short, but I wanted to also share with you that Our Franciscan Fiat will be moving.

In order to be integrated with the new website for our community, you will soon be able to follow the blog here.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Making Every Day Thanksgiving

Tony.This past week, I was speaking with someone who is presently away visiting family in Canada.  He said he’d be back after Thanksgiving there.  I didn’t know when Canadians celebrate this holiday so I had to look it up, learning that it is actually this coming Monday.

This topic of thanksgiving is one that has re-surfaced for me lately.

I have realized that I don’t make an effort at gratitude as much during my daily life as I could or should.  I am renewing my efforts.   I was also recently visiting with a friend and the topic of making a point to give thanks throughout the day came up.

Have you ever thought about it?:

If someone gives a friend a gift or does them a favor but the recipient does not acknowledge it with at least a word of thanks, doesn’t that seem rude?  God gives us even the very air we breath and our very existence.  How often do we remember to say “Thank you?”

It “just so happens” that the readings this Sunday morning have very much to do with the topic of thanksgiving.  We have the foreigner, Naaman, who just had to do something to show gratitude for his cure from leprosy; if he couldn’t give Elisha a gift for his healing, at least he wanted some soil from Israel on which to offer sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

In keeping with this obvious theme in the readings, I chose the hymn: “Now Thank We All Our God” for the closing one at Mass.  The titular words of this song also serve as a good reminder of when to give thanks: Now!

We should give thanks to God, in the now of our daily life, for the gifts that are constantly bestowed upon us.  Gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving Day (American or Canadian).

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“Pour Forth, We Beseech You… “

This morning at Mass, as we honored Our Lady of the Rosary, the words of the Collect (introductory prayer of the priest) delighted my ears:

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ you Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

I recognized these as the same words that we pray each day during the Angelus (with only slight deviations).

There are other times throughout the liturgical year when the prayers use parallel texts that are found elsewhere.  An example that comes to mind is on the Feast of Corpus Christi, when the Collect uses the same words as the prayer used for Benediction.

I always find this kind of neat when we hear a text that matches another familiar prayer.

The words of this morning’s prayer struck me for another reason, too.  I like the image of grace being “pour[ed] forth…into our hearts.”

IMG_20190928_212636507The thought of generous, plentiful amounts of grace being spilled upon my needy heart is encouraging.  No wonder the Church makes the point of using this prayer multiple times throughout the day and during the liturgical year!

It is interesting that we pray for a pouring forth of grace in close connection to Marian devotions.  It makes sense, though, that we ask for this through the intercession of Our Lady, who herself is “full of grace.”

I could certainly use a deluge of grace right now, and every day, for that matter!

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Your Love and Your Grace

IMG_20190928_191448010I just returned from a beautiful weekend retreat experience at our province’s retreat center in Hankinson.  We had talks, small group sessions, Mass, adoration, confession, and even “Songs & S’more Talk” (a delightful late evening campfire).

This was my first time leading a retreat, so it was definitely a learning experience.

Despite my burden of responsibility for the endeavor, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the women’s retreat, sponsored by our local Catholic Women’s group.  It was truly a grace-filled weekend for myself and, from what was shared, the other ladies as well.

The above mentioned word grace reminds me of the song that has especially stuck with me from the weekend.  It is based on St. Ignatius’ prayer: “Take Lord, Receive.”  The phrase that has been speaking to me is “Your love and your grace are enough for me.”  It has repeated in my brain long after we sang it together prior to one of the weekend talks.

As I face the days and challenges that lay ahead, I’ll rely on this love and this grace, which really are with us constantly and is ours for the asking.

I surely need it!

It’s Like I’d Been Drinkin’

This morning, my alarm woke me up at about five minutes to seven.  I hopped out of bed, and rushed to get out the door as quickly as possible to make it to church for the 7:15  Mass.

This was far from my normal morning routine but the fact is that I’d slept less than two hours in the last 24, having worked the night shift until 5 a.m.

Sr. Elaine had offered the day before that she could watch the desk for me in the morning (while I went to Mass) because she would be attending Mass in the evening.

I stopped over quickly at St. Anne’s, however, to confirm that this was still the plan.

As I headed for the door, to go back out into the pouring rain, I mentioned to her that I would be walking rather than biking.  I did not trust myself to operate a vehicle (be it only a bike).  “It’s like I’d been drinking,” I told her, as we exchanged chuckles.

(Maybe I should have staggered or zigzagged out of the lobby to prove the point.)


cheesecake-2867614_1920The rain had started already the evening before.  After doing some reading and prayers in chapel, I had intended to go back to the convent.  I was tired, and wouldn’t mind an early night.  However, when I noticed the intense lightning, I was concerned.  I didn’t care to get struck so I stayed indoors to safely wait out the storm.

During that time, our evening receptionist received a phone call from one of the night workers; she was having car trouble and wouldn’t be able to make it in.  No one else was available to fill her place, so I ended up working the shift.

I must say, I halfway enjoyed the night.  It was quiet, peaceful, and everybody got along beautifully.  If it weren’t for the strange feeling coming from sleep deprivation, I could see how a person could really like this not-so-popular shift.

Sometimes people have made derogatory remarks about the night staff, insinuating that they don’t do a good job, etc.  However, having worked with our “night owls” numerous times, I have come to have a great respect and appreciation for what they do.  They have been kind to me and put up with my lack of knowledge and numerous questions;  For this I am grateful.

I will be grateful, too, later today, for the opportunity to get a bit more sleep.  Then, this funny, hazy feeling should leave me, my thinking should be more sharp, and no one should get the impression that I’ve had “a few too many.”

(Please pardon any errors: This was written Saturday morning on very little sleep.)

Many Hands

Many hands…

There are two time-tried expressions which would counsel us in opposing directions: “Too many hands spoil the broth” or “Many hands make light work.”  I can see the veracity of both, but the latter one was more true for me today.

On the grounds of our provincial house in Hankinson, ND, there are concord grape vines, which have an interesting history of their own.

This year, it seems, there was an abundant crop.  Thus it was that we were offered some.  The Sister who was going to bring them when she came ended up not being able to make it here to Grand Forks so I wasn’t sure if we’d end up with them or not.

Friday afternoon, however, a call came.  A woman on staff there was coming up to visit family.  She would be bringing the grapes.  This solidified my weekend plans.  Accompanying the residents to the Potato Bowl parade would probably not fit neatly into my schedule!  (This really didn’t bother me, though.)

Knowing the morrow would be packed with plenty of work, I went to bed a little early Friday night, setting my alarm for about 4:20 a.m.

In the morning, I made a point to make my first stop be the chapel, because I did not know if there would be any time later in the day.  Well before 6, though, I was in the activity room kitchen, washing grapes.  I had found and printed a recipe for grape jam the day before.  Hopefully, I would get a lot done before walking over to St. Michael’s Church.

After returning from Mass, I grabbed something quick for breakfast and returned to the activity room, resuming my task of washing and removing the stems from the grapes.  There were five lugs, so I had plenty of work still waiting for me!

However, after a bit, Sr. Elaine showed up.  She began helping me.  I knew she had plenty of other work to do so I hated to see her spend too much time in there.  She wasn’t easily dismissed, though, and devoted several hours to cleaning grapes.

Sr. Rebecca was not too far behind her.  She, too, came and helped with the overwhelming quantity of grapes.

This left me to devote more time to making jam; not that I’m the expert.  After some trial and error and recipe modifications, we have 20 jars of grape jam (or syrup, depending on how well it sets), and many more to come.

By 3:30 p.m., when I quit to come for my shift at the reception desk, we had all the grapes de-stemmed.

Monday, I’ll have to wash the grapes and finishing cutting the crab apples, but at least a lot of the work is behind us.  Someone gave us some little crab apples to put in with the next batch (This is supposed to be a good addition, even helping the grapes to gel.)

~ ~ ~

I am very grateful for the help from my Sisters today.  Though I wouldn’t call the job “light work,” many hands really do help!!!


cheesecake-2867614_1920.jpgThis morning, I was of no use as far as liturgical music was concerned; I couldn’t sing.  I tried a little for the opening hymn, but by the time we got to the Gloria, I had to give up. (Seasonal allergies have deprived me of any singing ability I might normally have had.  I don’t think I have a cold – I feel okay, but there is a certain unusual huskiness to my voice at present.)

I felt kind of awkward, like a fish out of water.

Before Mass, I had arranged with Sr. Elaine that she play the refrain for the responsorial psalm on the organ and help sing it since I could not promise any assistance from my aggravated vocal chords.

It was kind disappointing to have limited music at Sunday Mass, but what could I do?  Nothing!!

My temporary experience of being voiceless, for some reason, reminded me of a school assignment I had back in my early teens.  We were told to write a letter to one of our legislators, sharing our views on a topic of our own choosing.  We did not, necessarily have to mail the letter, butt he project was to write one, anyway.

Within the month of having turned in this assignment, I received written response from the government official to whom I had addressed the letter.

I had NOT mailed my letter, so much teacher must have done so herself!  Boy, was I surprised!

I had expressed my views about the injustice of abortion.  I had explained that unborn children cannot speak up for themselves so I would attempt to speak for them.

I still remember my dad advising my on the correct wording to use. 🙂  For some reason, this experience of speaking on behalf of “the voiceless,” has stayed with me all these years.

As I reflected a bit on this today, I realized that there are many people in our world who are, in their own way, voiceless.  Even our own residents at St. Anne’s and many other elderly may fall into this category.

This experience of being “voiceless” serves as a reminder to me.

When the occasion arises, I might be called to “speak up” for those who cannot “speak for themselves,” as I mentioned in a school project letter over twenty years ago.


PA020012.JPGWhen I woke up this morning, I knew we’d probably be husking some corn (if yesterday’s rain hadn’t prevented it from being harvested), but I really didn’t fully grasp what the day would hold.

When I came to the front desk to give our receptionist a break she told me, “Oh, by the way, someone brought in some plums.”

A bag of plums awaited me (joyful the thought), but I wouldn’t even think of tackling them until the corn had all been shucked.

By early afternoon, though, 696 ears of corn had been cleaned and bagged, thanks to a great team of staff, volunteers and residents.  These, along with the 1,200 we processed this past Friday, ought to provide plenty of corn for the year.  The freezers we use for corn are FULL!!

So, when the corn was pretty much under control, I decided I might as well get to work on the plums.  I had thought I would use cheese cloth after first cooking up the plums, but changed my mind.  Instead, I cut the eight cups worth of plums open and took out the pits, also removing any spots/blemishes.  I found a recipe which called for using this method and, about an hour or so later, had several small jars of plum (freezer) jam setting on the table in our Activity Room kitchenette.

Although our freezers are more crowded after today’s corn, I hope we can find room for these jars without too much trouble.

Strength from “Our Daily Bread”

This Sunday’s gospel tells of the possibility that one may “not be strong enough” to make it on the journey of life, to reach our goal of heaven.

At Mass last evening, hearing these words of the homily, made me reflect…

I know that I am called to love others and to treat each person with love as I would Christ, especially those who I might consider “least.”  In Matthew’s account of the Last Judgement, we realize that this is even requisite for entering the Kingdom.  However, I realized, too, that I may not always have the strength to do this.   I have my own personal struggles that can distract me from this obligation and hinder me from fulfilling it.  I really don’t know if I have the strength to live each day as I am called to!

When the time came for Communion, however, I received the strength I needed for that day.   I don’t have strength for tomorrow or the next day, but, in the Eucharist, Jesus gives me strength for today!

This reminds me of the Israelites who were out in the dessert for years on their way back from Egypt.  They were only allowed to gather just enough Manna (bread from heaven) for the day (Exodus 16).  They could not save any overnight.  They were asked to trust God to supply it anew on the morrow.

I realize that I, too, need to receive strength for the day in the true “Bread from Heaven” that I receive at Mass.  I need to pray and trust our Lord to give me the strength and grace I need just for today.  The strength comes from Him.

Now, I am reminded of the old gospel song: One Day at a Time!

Concluding Helpful Scripture Passages for Discernment of Vocations to Religious Life

  1. Matt.14:22-33
photo of person walking on deserted island

 By Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

Reference: Jesus walks on water

Comment: The person called by Christ must extend full and even ‘blind’ faith that He will never fail, no matter how impossible or seemingly ‘unreasonable’ are the conditions the call imposes.


  1. Matt. 16:24-27, Luke 9:23-26

Reference: The ‘way of the crosses is an essential component of discipleship.

Comment: Jesus promises His disciples hardship and suffering in this world.  Lovers of self, seekers of applause, pursuers of mere temporal goals and substituters of ‘human reason or judgement’ for faith cannot remain faithful to Him.


  1. Matt. 19:16-22 and 28-30

Reference: The story of the rich young man, the reward for faithful disciples

Comment: Those who wish to preserve temporal benefit or goods in the midst of special discipleship are doomed to failure.  When God invites, we must submit ourselves to Him without conditions or qualifications.  The ultimate reward is beyond description.


  1. Matt. 20:26-28

Reference: The disciple of Christ is a servant to others.

Comment: Personal goals and ambition are incompatible with true discipleship in special vocations.


  1. Matt. 21:23-27

Reference: The Authority of Jesus over us is that of divine truth, not of human power or clearness.

Comment: Discernment does not involve submission of God’s mind, will, ways and call to human understanding.  God’s word must be accepted in faith.  We simply ask “What does God say or want?” and follow His direction rather than “argue” about it.


Msgr. Hendrickson was the chaplain at our Provincial House convent for many years.

Helpful Scripture Passages for Discernment of Vocations to Religious Life, Continued

bible book education holy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last week, I began sharing with you some scripture verses that may be of use.  Here are five more:

  1. Matt. 8:19-22

Reference: Absence of temporal rewards for service

Comment: What happens to those who abandon human wisdom and goals to serve Christ exclusively according to His call and will?  He is master of our whole life.


  1. Matt. 9:36-38

Reference: Task of those in special discipleship for Christ

Comment: This passage describes the love of Christ for all and His dependence on the disciples God chooses to become the special instruments of Jesus’ mission to others


  1. Matt. 10:37-42

Reference: God’s care for those who come to Jesus in simplicity and trust

Comment: The assurance of right choice for those who submit to our Lord in complete surrender of self


  1. 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Reference: God speaks to the young Samuel

Comment: We may not always recognize God’s voice, but want to be attentive.


  1. Matt. 12:46-50, Luke 18:19-20, Luke 14:25-33

Reference: The ‘mother’ and ‘brothers’ of Christ

Comment: The spiritual relationship to Jesus embraces and extends our temporal bonds into larger and more important family of God, our Father.

Helpful Scripture Passages for Discernment of Vocations to Religious Life

The last few days, we had a couple of young women visiting our provincial house in Hankinson (where I currently am) for a “Come & See” experience.

2017-08-16-08-06-09-1000x662During this time, Sr. Jean Louise, our vocation directress, shared a handout with fifteen “Helpful Scripture Passages for Discernment of Vocations to Religious Life” which had been compiled by the Sisters’ previous long-time chaplain, Msgr. Hendrickson.

I thought it would be nice to share it here on Our Franciscan Fiat.  Due to the length, however, I will break it up over three weeks’ time.  I hope you find it useful.

  1. Matt. 4:18-22, John 1:35-51

Reference: Jesus calls His disciples

Comment: Immediacy and completeness of response to God’s call by true disciples of Christ when grace of discernment proves recognition


  1. Matt. 5:3-16

Reference: Beatitudes and description of a disciple

Comment: The goals and purpose of all called to life in God through baptism.  These form the foundation of perfection and mission to which God calls disciples to Religious Life and Priesthood.

  1. Matt. 6:25-34

Reference: True spiritual values in daily life

Comment: God’s provision for all the needs of those who commit their lies to serve Him totally


  1. Mat. 7:7-8

Reference: The power of prayer

Comment: The real basis and source of discernment


  1. Matt. 7:24-25

Reference: Reward for acceptance of Jesus’ teaching

Comment: The VI story of those who dedicate themselves fully to God’s will in both average and extraordinary states of life


20190801_081738I’m going to keep this kind of “short and sweet” because, you see, I’m kind of booked right now, literally and figuratively.

I’ve been down at our provincial house in Hankinson since last Saturday, helping Sr. Donna with library work, etc.  In fact, I have a bunch of books on the desk near me that are waiting, as I type, to be processed.  Oh well, they can wait two minutes!

It is so nice having this time here with the other Sisters who I don’t get to see that much during the year.  It is nice to pray with them and visit with them, sharing the day.  When I am here for our annual retreat, I don’t get to talk to them much because of keeping silence at that time.

A couple of evenings while I have been here, a few of us even got together for a little informal discussion; it was very nice.

Well, I’d better get back to work and make the most of my time here.  God bless you.


Unveiled Face

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

_DSC0237_FotorAs encouraging as this passage is, I am afraid it doesn’t have much to do with the episode described below.  (I do hope I am cooperating with this process of transformation, though.)

~ ~ ~

One morning this past week, I got up and dressed, as usual, around the time that the sun was beginning to shed some glory on the semi-dark landscape.

Things went as usual, that is, until I came to my desk to put on my veil, wrist watch, and crucifix, which normally sit there overnight.

My watch was missing, to my dismay.

I put on a light.  While normal morning preparations don’t usually require extra electric lighting, due to light coming from my window, a search mission for this important time-telling accessory necessitated the flip of a switch that a.m.

My watch was nowhere to be seen, neither on my desk nor on the floor (even though I pulled out my chair and explored a bit on my hands and knees).

After several seconds searching, I gave up, saying a quick prayer for the discovery of this important item and heading upstairs, then out the door.

I went on with my day, first spending time in chapel and then going about my work…

As the morning progressed, I noticed from time to time, that something was not setting right with my veil.  I pulled on it a little, trying to adjust and straighten it.

You might not realize how annoying a cockeyed veil can be to one’s head!

Finally, perhaps around 10 a.m. (about five hours after first dressing), as I was walking through our main hallway at St. Anne’s, I thought, “Enough is enough!  I’ve got to get to the bottom of this veil issue!”

After a couple of seconds of feeling around my veil and head, I felt a lump.  Exploring further, I discovered that there was something hard lodged in my veil near the neck area.  My fingers soon pulled out the very watch I had looked for so desperately early that morning!  (It somehow had fallen inside my veil the evening before when I was undressing.)

Both mysteries, the missing watch and the uncomfortable veil, were solved, and I happily went on with my day.

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Grateful for “Miracles”

Tuesday morning is “Bible study time” for me.  I lead a weekly scripture-based session with some of our residents.  In preparation, I usually get my lesson plan in order while working the reception desk Monday evening.

33662614_1897862260253653_6845138247220199424_oLast night, though, I didn’t have to devote much effort to this.  I remembered that I still had a book on Miracles in the Bible that we had just started studying last time.  It highlights various miraculous accounts from the Old and New Testament (in chronological order), quoting the event from scripture and showing a photo from the Holy Land pertaining to the event.

I am thoroughly enjoying the book, and the residents seem to like it as well.

Having this book at hand spared me the trouble of developing a lesson, looking up page numbers and songs, and preparing a lot of materials.  I was grateful.

This book on miracles, you might say, was a small miracle in my personal life.

On thinking a bit about this, I wonder how many other “small miracles” are offered to me, unnoticed, each day.

Thank you, Lord, for all of the unnoticed miracles you give me each day!  

“Let All the Earth Cry Out to God with Joy!”

This morning’s responsorial psalm (at Sunday Mass, as quoted above) was a beautiful one.  I especially like the melody we used, to which it was set for liturgical use.

It is a good encouragement to us to praise God with joy.

In meditating upon the psalm (and other readings) at my prayer this morning, the phrase that especially struck me was: “He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot.”

IMG_2206.JPGIt spoke to me, personally, of God’s ability and willingness to intervene in human lives.  When the people of Israel called out to Him in their slavery in Egypt, God appointed Moses, sending him to Pharaoh.  He brought His people out of bondage with “a strong arm.”  He worked wonders to free them and bring them to the land of promise.

This same pattern of mercy and power, I imagine, can be seen today.

I may not have a terrible sea that I need to cross, pursued by a mortal enemy, but I have my own crosses of daily life, some big, some small.

I, too, can cry out to God, not only in joy, but also in sorrow.  I can beg His mercy in my need, asking him to rescue me and see me through whatever storm or sea I am facing.