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!!!

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Voiceless

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.

A FULL Day!

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

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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

Booked

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.

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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