A Relaxing Vacation Day?

page-0.jpgI am “back home” in West St. Paul, spending some much-appreciated vacation days with my family.

This morning, I slept in until close to 7 a.m., getting up on time to go with my parents to daily Mass.

After Mass and breakfast, my mom and I were ready to head over to the pool for a long-awaited swim when she got an invitation from my brother that we just couldn’t pass up; he had been doing some renovating in his house.   Now, there was a mess to clean up.  Since my mom was so knowledgeable at cleaning and such things, could she possibly stop over and help?

Since my dad would soon be leaving for his plans and since I was able-bodied, I accompanied my mother to my brother’s place to take part in this lucrative offer.

After spending a good two hours scrubbing floors, I was finally ready to go to the pool.

It was a wonderful treat to go swimming with my mom; a highlight of the trip, for sure!

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A Bit of Humble Pie

The beautiful, yet humbling words of Psalm 127 came to mind for me this evening.

If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor;
if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.

In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat, when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.

Recently, I have been realizing that my own efforts are not as essential as I may like to thing.  I have worked hard at a couple of projects, only to find the results for which I had labored almost “fell into our lap,” independent of me and my hard work…

For example, I have been working with our director of nursing, advertising for a opening LPN position.  Exciting to hear that she had found someone, I soon learned that the new nurse had not even seen any of my job postings; she had just happened to call and inquire if we had anything.

I also have been working hard on public relations for our facility, reaching out to various local senior service providers.

Thankfully, we have had several new admissions in the past weeks.  It didn’t do my ego any good to hear that these individuals had been referred to us totally independently of my outreach efforts.

employ app.pngThe above-quoted psalm fits this situation (as well as countless others) perfectly.   Our Lord has poured out gifts upon us, upon me, not needing my efforts.  Nonetheless, I realize, too, the He likes to use my feeble attempts.

Reviving a Beautiful Tradition

Yesterday, as we were packing up from our rummage sale, Sr. Rebecca came across some linens which she showed me, wondering if we could possibly use them for chapel.

A couple of pieces proved large enough to be made into chalice veils for Mass.

They were plain white, however.

In order to make it fitting and beautiful for liturgical use, I decided to embroider an emblem on one.

employ appAfter doing a little searching, I came up with the idea of having a blue ‘M’ with a gold cross.  This way, we can use the new veil for Marian feast days.

I measured the cloth, printed the design, emboldened it with black marker, and traced it in the desired place.

Now, I have it in my embroidery hoop and am on my way towards finishing my first chalice veil.

This liturgical embroidery, actually, borrows from a long-standing tradition in our community.

Our Sisters, over the years, had embroidered countless vestments and other items for liturgical use.

Unfortunately, our vestment department had to close some time back.

As I stitch, trying to make the cloth beautiful, I think lovingly of the hard, dedicated work our Sisters did over the years, working at such tasks day in and day out (with much greater skill than I have, I am sure).

I Had a Talk with Julie

Picture1Here at St. Anne’s, making arrangements for train travel is not unheard of.  For some, including myself, driving a car to the desired destination is not an option.  (My vision does not allow for this.)

Just recently, in fact, a kindhearted co-worker provided a ride to and from the train for one of our residents when he was visiting his family for Easter.

Because of these occasional travels, we have become well-acquainted with Julie, Amtrak’s automated ticket agent, who responds to those calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.   In fact, one of my fellow receptionists and I like to mimic poor Julie’s corny greeting: “Hi, I’m Julie – Amtrak’s automated ticket agent.”  I love to put on my best nasal voice for the occasion.

She really isn’t as nasal as I make her out to be, and is really quite pleasant.  It does help if you know how to talk her language.  For example, to speak with a real person, I’ve learned to just say “agent” right away.  To this, she’ll respond: “I think you said you want to speak with an agent…”

This afternoon, I informed this co-worker that I’d had a talk with Julie again today.  I would soon be taking the train home to St. Paul.

 * * *

Sometimes, travel plans are made far in advance, while others can be more ‘spur of the moment.”  This upcoming trip fits more in the latter category.  I just found out this morning that I could get a ride back with someone I know.

Despite the struggles I often have in finding transportation, things seem to be falling into place nicely for me; for this I am very grateful.

I pray and trust that the leading scripture verse listed in reference to travelling will be true for me on this upcoming journey:  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)

Gathered Together in [His] Name

30516334_2077217705900667_6704575136776323253_n“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20)

This past weekend, we experienced this truth as we met at our provincial house in Hankinsnon.

We are grateful to all of those who kept us in prayer during (and leading up to) the days of our provincial election chapter.

It was a beautiful gathering of those Sisters in our province well enough to take part.  We were also blessed by the presence of our Superior General, Sr. Roswitha, from Germany, and one of her councillors, Sr. Paulit, who is originally from India.

The comment was made, on more than one occasion, of how good it was to ‘be together,’ just to have the chance to spend time together and visit.

30265105_2077217342567370_7451339460710484369_nSo often, we only come together for a short time, for a few hours’ meeting.  When we spend more time together at the provincial house it is for retreat; therefore, with the silence, there is not much opportunity to visit.

These days of Chapter were a grace-filled opportunity to spend time with our Sisters.

 

I would like to ask your continued prayers for our community and especially for the new leadership, whose offices begin June 1st.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our community during this transition and in the days, months, and years ahead.

Do I Still Have to Sleep in the Cupboard?

chip5Last night, after a very busy few days, we got in the car to attend the Easter Vigil at the local parish (We were unable to have a Vigil here at St. Anne’s).

Three hours later, when the rich, beautiful liturgy was over, it was after 11 p.m.  I had struggled with fatigue throughout the celebration.  Too bad I hadn’t had time for a nap beforehand!

Between setting up and helping with Triduum liturgies in our own chapel, working the reception desk, making hot cross buns, and doing special annual cleaning, I was feeling a bit worn out before the Mass was even close to being over.  It was a beautiful experience, nonetheless.

With that being said, you probably think I rushed home and jumped into bed, right?  Actually, that’s not quite how it went.  I had one detail to attend to in our own chapel before letting my eyelids close.

Our tabernacle was still empty and the Blessed Sacrament was still securely locked away in another place, in a cupboard, no less!  (As you may know, the Blessed Sacrament is traditionally reserved in another place during these special days.)

As I waited for Mass to begin, I must have been considering this…

Do you remember Chip from Disney’s 1991 movie, Beauty and the Beast?   Words from this cute little guy (the boy-turned-into-a-tea-cup who returned to human form when the spell was broken) came to mind for me.

At the end of the movie, he asked his mother: “Do I still have to sleep in the cupboard?”  Now that we had reached the celebration of the Resurrection, I imagined Jesus saying these words.  I’m silly, I know.

The answer to that question was “No.”

Around 11:23 p.m., having returned to St. Anne’s, I took the Blessed Sacrament and the sanctuary lamp back out to the main chapel.

Jesus was back home and wouldn’t need to sleep in the cupboard again until this time next year.

 

Triduum Traditions

300px-grace_cathedral_-_votive_rackThese upcoming days of the Paschal Tridium are a very special time.  For me, they are not an easy time, but they are a wondrous time.  They are full of traditions…traditions common to the Church throughout the world, traditions I brought from home, and traditions I have developed personally during my time here at St. Anne’s.

Before entering into this time of silence (a tradition within our community), I thought I’d share these traditions with you.  Many of them relate to my work in chapel.  Sr. Rebecca and I have developed a ‘cheat sheet’ with detailed instructions on preparations needed for the liturgies.

One tradition that has come about for me, personally, is ironing the ‘curtains’ for the Altar of Repose (where the Blessed Sacrament is kept Holy Thursday evening.  They are made of delicate gold fabric and take special attention to iron.  I ironed them Monday morning because I had more time then than I would later in the week.  They are now in their own place of repose (in an empty room upstairs) until I bring them out tomorrow morning.

Another tradition I have developed is making Hot Cross Buns for our residents.  This afternoon, one of our apartment ladies helped me make them.  Actually, she is a more experienced baker than I am.  We will serve them tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow morning, I will, according to tradition, remove the vigil light candle stand from the chapel for cleaning.  (The Altar of Repose is placed where it usually stands.)

Sometime in the next couple of days, I will clean the stand, bake the candle holders and clean out the wax.  It’s tradition.

Another practice I have come to associate with these Holy Days is polishing the wood in the chapel and sanctuary.  Without exposition during the Tridium, we have less visitors.  There are long periods of time available to me to do this and other cleaning which cannot be done as easily other times.

Another tradition, which I knew as a child, has come into use again for me recently, after several years of not being involved in it.  That is, dyeing Easter eggs.  I plan on doing this with a few of our residents Holy Saturday afternoon.

That same day, the Easter lilies will go into chapel; I have traditionally been helping prepare them for this.

As you can gather from reading the above, this is a busy time for me.  Not to mention all the liturgical preparations and planning involved.

Please pray for me.

On a Busy Palm Saturday, Why Bother?

P3090035After a busy day, working at the front desk, reading to our residents, serving snacks, and setting up in Chapel for tomorrow’s Palm Sunday, I trudged the ten blocks to St. Michael’s Church.  The roads weren’t exactly clean and easy to traverse; last night’s snow fall had not helped.

I had left behind one of our residents who was busy taking the extra strings off the palms to clean them up for the morning.  She thrives on keeping busy, and this was a good job for her.

I arrived in the Church two minutes ahead of the scheduled time for Saturday afternoon confessions, only to find a long line ahead of me.

Pressed for time and a bit anxious about circumstances back home, I almost turned around and headed out of the Church.  Why bother going to Confession again?  It hadn’t been that long.

These temptations to be a runaway sinner, however, did not last long; I knew better!

I knew I wanted to say I was sorry for the things I had done again that were not in keeping with my call as a Christian.  I knew I wanted to ask for and receive God’s forgiveness.  I knew I wanted added grace, a new start.

Furthermore, I had trudged TOO far in less-than-ideal walking conditions to turn around and go back without getting what I had come for.

Although I had to wait a good half an hour, with greater or lesser patience, I’m glad I did.

I returned to St. Anne’s, and all was well.  I was on time for my other duties…The palms had all been cleaned, and I had gotten cleaned, too!

Exept for a few minor details, it seems that all is ready for the beginning of Holy Week.