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!  

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“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.

His Love Endures forever! Mother Daughter Days at St. Francis Convent 2019

His Love Endures Forever!  This refrain rang out from the hearts of participants in our annual Mother Daughter Days in various ways throughout the event, which was held Jun 27-19, 2019.   Squeals rang through Marian Hall as the girls were reacquainted with friends from previous Mother Daughter Days, some of whom they hadn’t seen for awhile.  As each new family arrived the clumps of people visiting in the hallway grew and the volume increased until everyone was settled in and Sister called the group to attention.

Visiting continued as the girls hunted for hearts before praying together and sharing some of our gifts and preferences.  Listening to the girls tell about their moms revealed clearly the great love and admiration these 24 girls have for their mothers, and now, after spending a couple days with them, I share an admiration for them as well.

This weekend was a chance for moms to spend time with other faithful Catholic mothers who face similar challenges in passing on their love of Christ to their children in the midst of the many contrary messages and temptations which surround them.  Much sharing of struggles and advice was accomplished over meals, during recreation time, and in formal sharing times too.

For the girls, it was not only a chance to see some of their friends but also to spend time with Religious Sisters, whom some of them see only at Mother Daughter Days each year.  Getting a taste for the life of the Sisters is always an enjoyable part of the event as participants follow the Sisters’ schedule for prayer and meals while they are at the convent.  Propelled by their love for Jesus and their desire to participate in Holy Mass, participants arrived in chapel by 6:35 Friday morning.

Following morning prayers and Holy Mass breakfast was served with an opportunity to visit with the Sisters.  After breakfast a group of Sisters shared about their personal experiences of God’s love as well as their favorite things about being Sisters; they also answered questions from the mothers and daughters.  A recurring theme was that each Sister nurtures her individual relationship with the Lord and supports her fellow Sisters in doing the same such that they can take Jesus into the world through their various apostolates.  The Sisters expressed sincere gratitude for the privilege of having the Blessed Sacrament in each of our convents along with the possibility of participating in daily Mass, regular Confession, and Eucharistic adoration – all of which were part of Mother Daughter Days.  The value of living in community, supporting each other, and keeping a common schedule were mentioned as important for the Sisters.  Finally, the joy of sharing Jesus with the people we serve was communicated through the Sisters’ stories.

Now that our legs were rested and we were nourished both physically and spiritually, it was time for a tour of the convent and grounds.  Beautiful weather allowed us to enjoy the gardens, cemetery, and fish pond as well as both chapels, heritage rooms, and the gift shop.

This being Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, after lunch Sr. Jean Louise taught us about devotion to the Sacred Heart; families worked together to make a banner with images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for their homes.  She spent some time discussing the symbols we use to depict Jesus’ heart that portray his love for us.  Eucharistic Adoration was a special treat that afternoon as we had an opportunity to come face-to-face with the heart of Jesus we had been talking about and experience his love in a very direct way.

Another treat came Saturday morning when Fr. Scott Sautner visited with the moms about the great love of Jesus symbolized in the image of the Sacred Heart and how they could make that part of their family life.  He touched on guardian angels as well as the importance of intentional penances and devotions in every home.  The mothers were very grateful for this touching presentation.  Meanwhile, the daughters were reflecting on how they experience God’s love through their moms as they each created a small gift for their moms before demonstrating their ability to overcome obstacles with the help of Jesus.

All too quickly, it was time to say good-bye.  We promised to pray for each other and hope to meet again…at next year’s Mother Daughter Days if not before.  Now that the mothers and daughters have departed the Sisters recall their enthusiasm, devotion and faithfulness.  We are reminded of the members of the group when we see the chalk drawings on the sidewalk of everything from rainbows and cats to the Cross and Sacred Heart.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – We place our Trust in You!

Sr. Mary Ruth Huhn, OSF

I Kiss the Wounds

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi, everyone!!!

This has always been a personal favorite of mine – I can’t help that my given name was/is Christina and I was born right around this feast day.  (I still cherish secret hopes that I could celebrate my “name day” in the convent on this day – I’ve always held it as such but the fact that it’s a “movable feast” causes difficulties.)

This wondrous day celebrates the mystery of Christ’s physical, tangible presence among us still.

Recently, one of our Sisters told me about “the Hours prayer,” which they used to pray when working as they began each hour.  The fact that Christ is physically present, within our houses and places of work, might even help this prayer more accessible to us.

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I think it is a beautiful prayer, and encourage you to implement it (or even just the sentiments it contains) into your everyday life.

I kiss the Wounds of Thy sacred hands, with sorrows deep and true.

May every touch of my hands this day be an Act of Love for Thee

I kiss the Wounds of Thy sacred feet, with sorrows deep and true.

May every step on my way this day be an Act of Love for Thee.

I kiss the Wounds of Thy sacred head, with sorrows deep and true.

May every thought of mine this day be an Act of Love for Thee.

I kiss the Wounds of Thy sacred shoulder, with sorrows deep and true.

May every task of mine this day be an Act of Love for Thee.

I kiss the wounds of Thy Sacred side with sorrows deep and true.

May every beat of my heart this day be an act of love for You.

Usually, when I go to bed, saying a “good night” prayer to Our Lord, I gratefully remember that He is just down the hall (in our little chapel).

It is a good opportunity to offer Him my affection and “acts of love;”

I can even blow Him a kiss!

A Little Piece of Heaven

IMG_2206I just returned from our annual six-day retreat at our provincial house in Hankinson, North Dakota.

Despite the fact that retreats are not always easy for me, I think it was, overall, a positive experience.  (This actually fits well with what our constitutions refer to as “a wholesome unrest,” giving “us strength for constant renewal.”)

One of the topics of the retreat was poverty, and not necessarily the material kind.  The retreat-master spoke of our own interior poverty.  I was able to better recognize some of my own “poverties” during these days of reflection.

One of them, I guess, is that I am not able to sit still and quiet all day (during retreat).  I need diversion.

I found some of this by helping with dishes, helping a little in the kitchen (making rhubarb crisp and sauce), shelving some books in the library, and playing my heart out on the piano, not to mention occasional walks around the grounds.

When I was not doing the above, though, you could probably find me in our little old/new chapel.  It was the original chapel before a newer, larger one became necessary and was added sometime in the sixties.  (In the past several years, the “old chapel” has been brought back to life.)

I just love this little chapel.  Now, the wall behind the sanctuary is painted to appear sky-like.  I consider it to be a little piece of heaven, and love sitting in the front pew, as close as possible to the tabernacle, during times of retreat.

Another aspect of the retreat, that had a heavenly beauty of its own, was the opportunity to have a daily Holy Hour of Adoration with my Sisters.  Praying together in that small chapel was such a wonderful experience!

This time of retreat also gave me more opportunity to process my grief at my dad’s death (six months ago tomorrow).  I’ve wondered more in the past months what heaven is actually like for people.  It’s different for me thinking about what reality is like, now, for someone I’ve known and loved all my life.

I think that sitting there prayerfully, in that “heavenly” place, probably brought me closer to my dad and those others whom I hope are now enjoying that heavenly reality in its fullness.

I hope they’re remembering me, too, and putting in a good word for me; I surely need it!

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“You Should be Proud of Yourself!”

proud-fox-congratulations-card-root-429m1323_pv.1.m1323.jpg_source_imageSister Elaine was delighted the other day, and made no secret of it!  She received a card on the occasion of her 60th jubilee from a relative.  She was enthralled…

This card, a Hallmark, had a picture of a smug little fox with the caption: “You should be proud of yourself!”  Sister was quick to share that it was “the good Lord who should be proud for having gotten [her] that far,” through 60 years.

She mentioned later that she had even had the card in chapel, showing it to Him, and saying as much, thankful for the grace of perseverance over these years.

Congratulations, Sister Elaine, on your 60th Jubilee of Religious Profession, and for your example of joy and gratitude to the rest of us.

I think your little fox is pretty cute, too!

A Needed Novena

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These days between the Ascension and Pentecost are a good reminder to us of something we should be conscious of throughout the year: the importance of frequent prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Some people say that the gathering of early disciples in the upper room between the Ascension and Pentecost was “the first novena;” however, I would count that as ten days (Thursday to the second Sunday).

Nonetheless, this novena in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is one I stand in need of.  It is traditionally prayed in my community, and we’re three days into it.

I started the novena with one or two intentions in mind, for which I wanted to invoke the special help of the Holy Spirit.  But now, not even midway through, there’s another intention that has come to the fore for me.

What this reminds me is that there are very many issues in which we would do well to invoke aid from the One who can give us light and refreshment…the One who is called “the Soul’s most welcome guest” with good reason.

The Joys of Growing Things

garden4.pngAlthough I grew up “in town,” I spent many a day out in the country.  Our good friends had a farm about 50 miles south, where we often visited.

I’ve had experience gathering eggs, picking corn (and rock), playing around in the hayloft (and falling on my way down the ladder / fracturing my foot 😦 ), having bonfires that reached nearly to the telephone wires, and other great fun that you just don’t find within city limits.

Perhaps this experience “on the land” is part of the reason I love seeing things grow.  I’m delighting in the four plum seedlings that I’ve nursed from pits and that are once again flourishing after their winter dormancy beneath snow-covered pails.

Also, working with residents on our raised gardens out on the patio has become a tradition for me.  It’s fun carefully planning out where the little seeds will be planted.

This planting season, I actually used a tape measure, recently acquired from a conference the other Sisters had attended in Bismarck.

Now, we might actually have strawberries!  I got a call this morning from a friend of St. Anne’s who might be bringing us some extra strawberry plants.

Whether it be spinach, onions, cucumbers, peas, beets, basil, dill or strawberries (our crops this year). there is something sweet and satisfying about cooperating with life’s growing process, whether it be plants in our gardens or people in our lives.

Thanks be to God for the gift of our own lives as well as all the blessings that grow all around us!

Necessary to Undergo Many Hardships

Holy Cross, Bible, Prayer, Old Book, Faith, OrderIn today’s first reading from Acts, Paul and Barnabas mention the fact that it is “necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14).

In his homily at Mass, Father briefly reflected on the role “hardships” play in our lives.

In my own prayer this morning, this phrase struck me, too.  I know that hardships, as much as I’d rather avoid them or be quickly done with them, have been necessary in my life as well.

I think about times and situations that have been particularly hard, and realize they have been vital in my own growth as a person.

Where would I be today if it weren’t for these hardships of my life?

This passage to me serves as a lesson, as a reminder, to me to thank God for these hardships that help shape me as a person, that lead me closer to Him as I journey, seeking His kingdom.

Alleluia!!!

Image result for alleluia easterThis morning, at Mass, I was struck by the continuing omnipresence of the word “alleluia” in the liturgies of the Easter season.  Even though our society put those chocolate bunnies on sale weeks ago, the Church knows better and still fully immersed in this season of joy and praise.

I find it interesting that even verses with seemingly little connection to this “A word,” abolished during Lent, now end with Alleluia, exhorting us to “praise the Lord” (English translation of the word).

So, we might ask, why do we end the majority of our antiphons and liturgical proclamations with “alleluia,” “praise the Lord,” for over a month and a half, through Pentecost?

Is there a lesson for us?

I think so!  God has done truly amazing things for us…At Easter, we celebrate the marvelous mystery of Christ’s resurrection, His conquering of sin and death.  This truly merits our praise!

The ongoing prolific alleluias also might serve as a reminder for our daily lives, not only during Easter, but throughout the year, that we should be in the habit of giving thanks and praise.

Just as we exclaimed “alleluia” at least three times during the course of a ordinary Easter weekday Mass (though who can call the Mass ordinary?), we would do well to say it repeatedly in our hearts throughout the day!

Regardless of what the other words of the verses are about at Mass, we so often end them with “alleluia” during this joyous Eastertide; how much more should I lift my heart in praise, regardless of (or because of) the circumstances that surround me.

Alleluia!!!

Dignity of Women

aaWhen I had just finished college, I was a volunteer publicity assistant for our parish’s Council of Catholic Women.

One major undertaking I had in this role was creating a newsletter for the group, which we called Mulieris Dignitatem (Dignity of Women), drawing its name from JPII’s document on “the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”  It featured recent undertakings and events from the group’s members.

Now, years later, having started a group for area Catholic women to support each other in our faith, I find my mind drifting back to this important concept, so totally misunderstood in modern society.

As I try to figure out who will speak at next month’s gathering and what the topic will be, I am drawn to the possibility of a brief reflection on our call and dignity of women within the Church.  (I say “brief” because the speaker only has about 25 minutes allotted.)

Unfortunately, during the past several decades, with the laudable pursuit of respect and equality, a lot of women have become confused about what it means to be a woman, about what our wonderful, God-given role is, after all.

I think that preparations for upcoming meetings may be a good refresher course for me, personally, about the dignity and vocation each of us has as a woman within the Church.

In closing this little post, I find it fitting that our monthly gathering, entitled “Magnificat Morning” points to Mary, even in its name.

Who, better than she, can show us what it is like to be a woman of faith?

Mary, who first brought Christ to the world, can be a model to us, helping us to bring Him to those we meet each day.

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Which One?

imageedit_15_6499401804.jpgToday is a day of ambiguities, you might say.

This morning, for Morning Prayer, I was surprised that we used the full Office of St. Joseph; this celebration of St. Joseph the Worker is just an optional memorial.

Then, we went to Mass, and Father did not observe the memorial at all, simply using the Wednesday of the second week of Easter, another surprise!

The Mass to be attended was another instance of options and decisions.  There was a special Mass with the school children including a May Crowning, celebrated by the Bishop.  I had wanted to attend, but it didn’t work out with my schedule so we went to the early morning Mass instead.

And the ambiguity of my day continues….

I could ask myself today, what is my job title?  Am I a receptionist?  Am I involved in social ministry?  Am I a personal care aide?  Today, I’ll be all three, with another meeting in between and will finish my day at the reception desk again!  (I’ll be filling in for a sick aide/receptionist after my regular work duties.)

It will be an interesting day, I’m sure.  Who knows what other little ambiguities and challenges will come up?!

joseph-statue.jpgI pray that St. Joseph, the Worker, will intercede for me in all of it.

A Colorful Time!

The Paschal Triduum is always a beautiful time for me, but after the Easter Vigil (or, to be frank, during it), I am exhausted!!

There are so many things going on: helping with liturgies, special cleaning projects (candle holders, etc.), and continuing traditions that help make this time of year so special.

As we were discussing roles for the liturgies during these holy days, somehow the topic of “reading the red print” came up.  There is a lot of red print, that is text giving liturgical directives in the “Roman Missal” (the book used by the priest), during these days.

Even after having helped with Holy Week liturgies for several years, I still don’t remember everything.  There is a LOT to remember.  Thankfully, we’ve developed a “cheat sheet” here at St. Anne’s as to all that needs to be prepared, and even where certain needed items are kept.  It’s great! Needless to say, during the past week (or more), I’ve been reading a lot of colored text, or red print, as we say.

But, that’s not the end of my colorful experiences!

Good Friday evening, after finishing up my work in chapel, I went to our activity room kitchen and boiled 3 dozen eggs.  Holy Saturday afternoon, some residents gathered, and we dyed the eggs together.

I really love all these paschal traditions; they are so beautiful, just like the sparkling candles, flower-laden sanctuary, and colorful eggs.  These traditions help us “taste and see” the wonder of these holy days, the depth of which I feel I have barely touched.

Well, I’d better get to work now practicing the music for this morning’s Mass.

Happy Easter, everyone!

They’re Still There!!!

Today, having heard that the temperature was to get up to 60, I was finally able to get out in the yard and uncover my “little trees.”  Our maintenance man, Jasen, and I had planted them last fall, surrounding them with leaves for added protection, and covered them with pails for the winter.

Now, as spring appears to be here (I’d better not hold my breath), it is time to let my little seedlings see the sun.

They are so tiny that you can hardly see them, but they’re still there!

The sun is not too strong yet, but it should be increasing.  Hopefully, when warmer days come, my “little trees” will start soaking in the sun…Hopefully, within a few weeks, I can see some green, some new life!

I think there are some lessons for my own life in these little seedlings!

 

 

“See, I am Doing Something New!”

54520973_334990403789419_634626085643878400_nThis morning, as I was reflecting on the readings for today’s Mass, I was struck by a message that was repeated in both the first reading (Isaiah) and the epistle (Philippians):

“Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!”

~ and ~

“Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”

I have been praying about a difficult situation, asking for some change, some relief.  It was interesting that both of these readings seemed to lend me some promise of the “newness” for which I have been asking.

Might God be doing “something new” in me, in my life?  Time will tell!  In the meantime, I guess I’m called to renewed trust, to renewed love, each day.

As we see the snow recede and enjoy the ability to go outside without a winter jacket, this sense of anticipation, of new life just on the horizon, touches our physical world as well.

I pray that these final weeks of Lent and the coming festivities of Easter may be a time of renewal for you and for me as we daily seek His “upward calling.”

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Save Some for Next Year

IMG_20171220_124851.jpgI came over to the convent this afternoon to tie up a few loose ends (including checking email and brushing my teeth) before starting my shift at the reception desk.  I would not be off again until ten.

While I was here, I decided to look for an item Sr. Elaine had offered to me, stating it was in her top drawer.  Happily, I found it without too much effort.  At this point, the thought crossed my mind of switching her drawers around as an April Fools trick.  Instead, I admonished myself to “save some for next year.”

Throughout this day, I have been up to a bit of mischief, here and there.  I suppose you might say I am acting more like a child than a grown woman, but oh well, April 1st comes but once a year.

Having done my research for fresh (and harmless) April Fools tricks, I have been victimizing others at St. Anne’s by:

  • Putting a piece of tape on the computer mouse sensor so it doesn’t work
  • Drawing (realistic-looking) spiders down the toilet paper roll (using a sharpie for the head and  fine felt [or regular] pen for the legs works best)
  • Distributing old copies (from various extra copies from months and years gone by) of our monthly newsletter to residents – instead of the current issue (which will go out tomorrow)

I have a couple of other ideas in mind for next year!  I’d love to share, but I don’t dare – someone might read this and remember it on April 1st of 2020.

In the meantime, I have to hope that no one notices the specks of black marker on my hand, left behind from the toilet paper trick.  I want them to be surprised to see the spiders! 🙂

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I Guess I’m a Franciscan!

I will preface this reflection by stressing that I mean no disrespect to any members of other traditions; I am not saying that, within this “universal church” to which we belong, one Rule of life is superior to another.

With that being said, I came to a greater appreciation of my own spirituality this past week, spending a couple of days at the lovely University of Mary in Bismarck.  I had not grasped before the strong Benedictine presence on that campus, although a couple of my aunts had graduated from there.

We had been invited to the campus to take part in the fourth annual “Vocations Jamboree,” an opportunity for which I was very grateful.  We even got to stay in amazing guest rooms on campus; the virtue of hospitality was definitely evident there!

Wednesday morning, I found my way to a little chapel in which to have my morning visit with my Beloved.  I was so thankful; one never knows if a chapel and/or time for prayer will be available at special events such as this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart of my Lenten practice this year is trying to make the Stations of the Cross each day.  I really cherish this special form of prayer which brings us more deeply into meditation on our Lord’s sufferings.  Thus it was that, after finishing my half hour of meditation on the scriptures, my eye searched the walls of the small oratory, looking for plaques of the Stations.  There were none.

I think of Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, who said:  “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  I was not in a Franciscan house anymore…

Other aspects of the chapels there reinforced this realization for me, including but not limited to, the monastic style positioning of the pews.  (Again, I want to stress that I am not saying that one way is better than another.)

Being immersed in the Benedictine spirituality, which is somewhat foreign to me, brought me to the conclusion that I really am a Franciscan.

Actually, St. Francis’ three great devotions, to Christ in the Crib, on the Cross, and the Eucharist, have been key to my spirituality since childhood.

There are pictures of me as a toddler sitting before the manger set (the stable was built by my dad and the ceramic statues painted by my mom), absorbed in the scene.  In fifth grade, I was part of a living stations-type performance, acting as a woman of Jerusalem.  I also remember fondly attending Friday evening Stations of the Cross at our parish church.

I remember a evening in (5th grade??) CCD (Religious Ed.) class, when our teacher took us into the new Adoration chapel, and introduced us to how to visit Jesus there.  (This was to become the place I first experienced my call to religious life almost ten years later.)

With all of this, it’s no wonder I ended up in a community following St. Francis’ way of living the gospel.

However, it wasn’t until late in my process of “searching for the right place” that I became open to the possibility of a Franciscan community.

But, that’s another story altogether!

No Hands Went Up

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It was a beautiful Wednesday evening in mid-October when a first-time mother put her little baby in the car seat, and drove a mile to the school building where the seventh grade religious education class she was teaching was to meet.

As she entered the classroom, the students saw the infant, gathered around, and were eager to take turns holding the four-month old baby girl.  They fussed over the child, admiring with delight how little and sweet she was.

In the past two classes, the topic of abortion had come up in class discussions; some of these thirteen year-olds thought that it was alright for a woman to terminate her pregnancy, to end her unborn child’s life with an abortion, at least in certain cases.

Now, when class began, she, the teacher, asked for a show of hands of who thought an abortion was okay.  Over half of the hands went up.

The young mother decided to help the students, tangibly, to look at the issue in a new way.

She went on to explain that this little baby had just been diagnosed, the week before, with a vision impairment; her optic nerves were underdeveloped.  She and her husband did not know how much (if any) the baby would be able to see.

The class was speechless.

20180719_205946.jpgAfter more discussion, in closing, the young mother asked for a new show of hands as to how many students thought abortion was okay.  No hands went up this time.

I share this story now, having heard it from my mother over the years, for I am that “little baby.”  My life could have been terminated if those advocating selective abortion had their way.

With recent legislation, in some areas, which does not respect the dignity of the life of the unborn, I felt it was appropriate to share my connection with the issue.

Although I have had to deal with the challenges of impaired vision through the years, it definitely has not deprived my life of meaning.  I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to live, an opportunity denied to so many children of recent generations.

Now, I work in a care facility, serving Christ in our residents who need a caring home, people whose lives are not always seen as valuable.  Many of them are elderly and closer to the end of their lives.  I feel privileged to be able to help them, recognizing the dignity and value of each life.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

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Rhubarb in the Snow

20180719_205946What an interesting day…and it’s not over yet!!

Where do I begin???  For a few days, now, we’ve been hearing that a snowstorm is coming this weekend, but no one really knew how much of this white stuff was on the way.  With well over 60 inches already this season, the streets have become quite narrow.

I normally like to walk, but it’s not really a safe option anymore, until the “spring thaw” hist, whenever that will be.  Consequently, I caught a ride to Mass this evening; I had been on duty as the a.m. receptionist and unable to go earlier.

I came back, walking in the door just as the other Sisters were clearing the dishes.  I grabbed some soup, and headed in the chapel to join them for vespers and our weekly rosary for vocations.

After prayer, I headed to the activity room kitchen, a place I had spent a bit of time just the day before, to make some rhubarb sauce.

This culinary delight, though now out of season, is a favorite of our visiting sister, and so I planned to make a big batch to last the two weeks that she’ll be here helping out.

I could not make all of the rhubarb into sauce because I only had a limited amount of sugar.  However, I did manage a batch of 24 cups of rhubarb (with the almost four remaining cups of sugar), a little water, the remaining raspberry jello and syrup I had.

Despite the fact that I was really “scraping the bottom of the barrel,” it turned out to be delicious (if I do say so myself).

As I was turning off the stove, doing dishes, and wiping off the counters, I learned that one of our night shift workers (who lives a distance away) would not be able to make it in to work tonight.  Our dear receptionist was doing her best at trying to find a replacement.  After a busy day, and another one coming, I was not eager to work the night shift this time.

To help quicken the cooling process so I could go home and get a little rest before the night shift began at 10, I took my pot out and set it in the snow near the building.

I came back inside, and soon saw one of our apartment residents, who had helped cut up many a stalk of rhubarb (during its season).  I couldn’t help but offer her a little jar.

As I spooned the sauce into the jar, I realized that it was still too hot to pour into my plastic containers.  Outside I went again…this time, further out, where lightly falling flakes were still falling.

Soon the sauce was a bit cooler and safe to pour into containers.

It’s now a quarter after nine, and the phone just rang…one of my co-workers will be in at 10:30 tonight, so my “night shift will only be a half an hour long.

I’ll be glad to go to bed for some sleep after a very interesting day, complete, even, with rhubarb in the snow.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!

“Fast for Those Who Persecute You”

This afternoon, upon arriving at the reception desk for my shift, I took care of a few things, and picked up a book I’d found in our chapel library on The Faith of the Early Fathers.

I opened, and to my delight, found that it included The Didache, a very early teaching document with which I had become acquainted years before.  I thought it would be “fun” (pardon the flippant expression) and also edifying to read something from so early in our faith, so “close to the sources,” you might say.

I hadn’t been reading long when a phrase really caught my interest.  The passage  sounded very familiar, echoing almost word for word the message from the gospels on love for enemies, and the like.

The particular instruction that struck me was new to me, however: “Fast for those who persecute you.”

Wow!!  With the beginning of Lent just around the corner, and with myself struggling with a few people in my life, this one hit the nail right on the head!

Hammer by NicholasJudy567Although I am not sure what all of my Lenten practices will consist of, I am glad for the new inspiration of offering deeds of penance for those very people who I find difficult.

I think this may be a very good way for me to practice “love of enemies” and, also, perhaps to soften my attitude towards people who the gospel challenges me to love.