My First Chapter!

2017-08-16-08-06-09-1000x662Although I’ve been around our community of Franciscan Sisters for quite a while now, today was my first ever “Chapter of Affairs.”  That is because we only have these pre-election meetings once every six years.

Sisters only begin attending these official meetings after professing their final vows.  At the time of the last such chapter, I was still in temporary vows.

Today, like days of other community meetings, was a beautiful opportunity to meet and mingle with our sisters, to be together ‘as a family.’  Serving about 140 miles north, we don’t get that chance every day.

I am always grateful for these opportunities.

Today, being at this meeting for the first time, I was finally ‘one of the group.’  I got to hear reports on the past six years and take part in other decision-making prior to our election in early April.

Please join me in continuing prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance during this exciting time.


Doubling Up

Have you ever noticed that, at times, a certain scriptural passage or theme seems to keep coming back to you?

This happened to me today at vespers.

This morning, our Bible study was based off last Sunday’s readings  This included Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept…”  This evening, we prayed it again as one of the psalms.

Also, in discussing the reading from Ephesians, this morning we had gotten around to talking about “faith and works.”  This evening, the reading from St. James was on that very topic.

I find it so neat when that happens, and wonder if there’s a lesson I am supposed to be learning.

This whole day has been one of doubling up, I guess.  You might say I was making up for lost time; I missed out on over an hour of my day because my alarm clock was set on p.m. instead of a.m. 🙂

I ended up ‘doubling up’ in another way, too.  I set out to make brownies with one of our residents this afternoon and ended up making cookies as well, in order to use up the little bit of applesauce I had left in the fridge.

The cookies were not one of my most successful baking projects, unfortunately.  The result of a make-shift and hurried recipe, they will soon be making their way into a cookie salad.

“May Your Help Always Renew Us”

melting_snowLast evening, having completed the office work I had undertaken, I headed to chapel to catch up on my spiritual reading and pray Compline (Night Prayer).

As I finished the Liturgy of the Hours, the words of the concluding prayer struck me by their appropriateness:


Lord God,
send peaceful sleep
to refresh our tired bodies.
May your help always renew us
and keep us strong in your service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

I needed God’s help to renew me…I was tired, not only toward the end of the day, but also toward the end (hopefully) of a long winter.

The extended periods of darkness and cold, along with the ‘routineness’ of life and other challenges can wear on a person.

This prayer reminds us that we all need God to renew our tired bodies and souls.

Whether it be in a good night sleep or the sight of melting snow washing down the street drains, we can be grateful for the strength and encouragement He sends us.

Spring will come; the sun will shine 🙂

Plus, I realized yesterday, that we’ve reached the half-way mark of Lent!  Yipee!

Miles to Go!

20171220_165454.jpgThis afternoon, I did not start my aide work around 4:30 as I usually do; I was detained by an important meeting until past our normal suppertime.

After a quick meal and KP duty, we hustled off to chapel to pray Evening prayer (minus the normal supplemental invocations we normally include).  We needed to make up lost time.

We got out of chapel a few minutes early, but none too soon – I had miles to go!

Since I had missed my first rounds, bathrooms needed checking, beds had yet to be opened, and a tea cup for one resident had not been prepared for the evening…

…And that was just to be caught up to where I should be by 6:30!

Thankfully, my co-worker at the front desk was gracious enough to take care of the tea as I headed to the kitchen to get snacks.

Needless to say, by the time I got upstairs with my snack tray, it was too late to open beds; the residents had doubtless ‘crawled in’ already.

As I type this at the front desk, I realize I neglected to take one ladies special new shoes off for her – Oops!

As I made my way around the floors, attending to the needs of our residents, the phrase ‘miles to go,’ which so amply described my situation, provoked the memory for me of a song we had sung in grade school music class: Road Less Traveled.

A few of the lyrics that I still remember are: “On that long and winding road…there are miles to go.”  This song had referred to the road of life.

As I worked, the prayer surfaced in my heart that I may travel life’s journey in a way pleasing to God and in accord with His desires for me.

An important scripture to me (a psalm verse printed on my name plaque back home) comes to mind as well: “Lead my, O Lord in your righteousness…make my way straight before me.”

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

PS: If you’ve enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on your social media outlets using the buttons below.

Praise to the Holiest

I just concluded my days of leading Office this evening with vespers.  You might call me lazy, avoiding having to re-mark the books for our visitors, but I used the same hymn for both morning and evening prayer today.

However, there were other motives at work here; I was not just looking for the easy way out.  Praise to the Holiest in the Heights is a beautiful hymn and, at least in our breviary, it has seven verses.  This is plenty to spread out over two liturgical prayer sessions!

There is something sweet, touching, and almost tender about this anthem, written by John Henry Newman around the time that our Civil War was ending.  The words are poignant and touching.

In my own personal history, there is something “sweet, touching, and almost tender” about this hymn, too.  The first time I ever remember hearing it was when I was exploring different religious communities before finding my way to North Dakota.  It was during Lent and the song was used liturgically by the Sisters I was visiting.

Thus, whenever I hear it, I am reminded of my own journey.  Hearing of Christ’s journey of love in this hymn touches me with an awareness of His presence in my own.  Reflecting upon it breathes a tender gratitude into my soul.

It calls me to praise.



20171204_152200I just returned from a weekend away, attending the winter retreat for my home parish’s youth group before spending a day or two with my folks.

It was a wonderful time and I am so grateful for the opportunity to get away, take part in this nice event, and spend time with my family.

As I remarked to someone earlier today, February may be a short month, but it sure gets to be long!  Will spring ever come?  After so many weeks of winter drudgery, it was wonderful to have a break.  (I’ll admit to feeling a bit selfish in offering to come on the weekend since I had ulterior motives for my own mental health.)

On the weekend, the youth director kind of made fun of me for the unusual prayer request I made prior to the retreat;  I had asked her for prayers that the travel arrangements would go smoothly.

Not being able to drive (due to limited vision) tends to make travel interesting, I must say.

This evening, having returned to work and taking care of assigned tasks, I again prayed for “smoothness.”  I asked that things go smoothly and without any troubles as I once again took up my aide work.   I would be just fine with an easy night, without any plugged toilets, leaking catheters, or rowdy residents.

I was up for a smooth transition back into daily life after a wonderful, smooth trip.

My prayers were answered beautifully, again.

As I write this, a scriptural passage comes to mind, however, as a gentle reminder.  Especially during Lent, we hear that we must take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

I guess this all serves as a reminder to be grateful for whatever comes, whether it be an opportunity to bear the cross with Him or a smooth stretch of road that I need to make it through a tough winter.


20171204_152200.jpgLast evening, after a day of receptionist duties and baking, it might have been nice to just “go home, sit down, and look pretty” (as Sr. Elaine sometimes says).

However, this was not to be. 😦  This ‘recreation night’ would be different from the normal connotations related to that name.  (Wednesdays and Sundays are designated as such in our convent.)

We were (are) expecting company Friday evening; our sisters from Rugby are coming through on their way to a conference in Fargo.

This is good; we are always glad to see them.  However, this time it necessitated a bit of work besides the customary dusting and vacuuming that precedes their visits.

This time, beds had to be rearranged.  The mattress that had been in one of the guest rooms was a bit short in length.   A longer one would be much more conducive to a good night’s sleep for a sister who is not vertically challenged.

So it was that Sr. Rebecca and I set about the work of moving bed frames and mattressess from one room to another.  We had to tilt one to make it through the narrow door frame.  Another was very heavy and difficult to maneuver.

By the time Sr. Elaine got home, we were almost done.  She was in time, though, to help with the last move.

Today, if someone were to ask “What did you do for recreation last night,” I would have to reply: “Well, we moved beds around, for starters!”

What an odd way to relax and build community after a day’s work! 🙂

“One Day at a Time” afternoon, I headed out of chapel.  I had finished up the prayer time missed by my inability to get out of bed promptly earlier this morning.  (Winter fatigue had gotten the better of me, I guess.)

I had also cleaned about 20 votive candle holders there.  (This had not been done yet today, some people had obviously been busy with matches over the past hours.)

As I walked down the hall, I remembered another item on my ‘to do’ list: figuring out a song on the organ for Chuck.

Our bookkeeper, who also plays accordion and organizes monthly dances for our residents, was preparing music for tomorrow’s event here at St. Anne’s.  Since it is Lent, he was trying to incorporate a bit of religious music into the mix.

He had picked “Just a Closer Walk” and “One Day at a Time.”  However, he was not happy with the musical arrangement he had for the latter piece.  I had offered to figure it out for him, in hopes that he would like what I came up with better.  (I am very familiar with it from hearing my mom’s Christy Lane tape over the years.)

So, I sat down at the library organ, used frequently by one of residents, and began picking out the melody.  With a little work, I got it worked out.

Although Chuck decided not to use the piece after all, the words of the song strike me as very appropriate for my Lenten journey this year.

I’ve come to a conclusion of a couple of practices I would do well to undertake especially at this time.  However, I know that I won’t be able to keep it up for 40 days (well, I guess it’s really 38 now with liturgical reforms 🙂 ).  I have been realizing, lately, that I need to heed the words of this song; I need to turn to Jesus each day, asking His strength to live and serve “one day at a time.”

I need to depend on His strength, not my own.  I pray I may remember this each day (and many times throughout) of this Lenten season.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

PS: If you’ve enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on your social media outlets using the buttons below.

Veni Sancte Spiritus

I know it’s not a particularly Lenten prayer, but I have been trying to say the Veni Sancte Spiritus every day in preparation for our community’s upcoming “chapters.”

In case you’re not familiar with this use of the word, a “chapter” in the context of a religious community, is an assembly or meeting.  We will soon be electing (in early April) new Sisters to serve in administration (leadership).  They will serve a six-year term.

I think our Sisters in Rugby are one step ahead of me, as they have the established custom of praying the Veni Sancte Spiritus together on their way over to school in the morning.

Now is a very important time for us to be praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share this beautiful, time-honored prayer with you, and to encourage you to make it part of your own prayer life.  It dpes, in fact, have a special place in the Church’s prayer, being sung on Pentecost as well as when the cardinals enter the chapel to elect a new pope.

I would also like to ask for your prayers for us as we enter into a special time of discernment and transition for the future of our community here in North Dakota.

Please pray with me:

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give:

Come, Thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, Thou Light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal! Light divine!
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill;

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on those who ever more,
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gitfs descend:

Give them comfort when they die,
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joys that never end. 


20170912_170353.jpgLent is almost upon us!  It is a time of conversion, a time of sacrifice, a time for growth.  Might we even say: a time for transformation?

As a sacristan, the days leading up to Lent are a time of transformation on a physical, tangible level.  I have to prepare our chapel for this beautiful, grace-filled season in which our hearts are to be prepared for Easter.

One transformation which takes place is burning of last year’s palms to make ashes for tomorrow’s observance.  Suffice it to say that yesterday morning this process involved complications that I am not eager to repeat.  (The 1968 hit song “Ring of Fire” was sung in my honor by one of my co-workers.)  Lent is a good time to grow in humility, so I guess I got a jump start.

I also just got done taking the poinsettias out of chapel.  They are still there from Christmas.  (Maybe, we can save one or two white ones for St. Joseph’s Day.)

Another change inherent in the beginning of Lent here is the changing of missalettes.  New ones start tomorrow.  Before Mass I had to find and bring out the boxes of new missalettes to be distributed.

Furthermore, the altar cloths will have to be changed to violet.  As I put away the green chalice veil after Mass this morning, I commented to Father that we won’t be needing this until May or June.

Our large violet altar cloth is currently hanging over the table in the little private dining room (which is not used that much).  It is my hope the wrinkles will be diminished by this which will minimize the needed ironing.

Amidst these exteriors, I am praying for the grace to make a good Lent and for guidance to know what I should do to expedite the transformation process.  Like last year’s palms and our chapel, I pray that I may be transformed more and more into what God wants me to be.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on your social media outlets using the buttons below.