Cecilia, You’re Breaking my Heart

Today’s feast brings to mind Simon & Garfunkel’s hit song bearing this saint’s name.

img_studentlife_inpage_residencehalls_caecillian-03cc3546Having grown upon listening to “the oldies station” (thanks to my dad) and having lived in “Caecilian Hall” for most of my college years, I’ve heard this catchy tune countless times before.  (I had friends/floormates who were known to sing it for fun at times.)

The above-mentioned building has an interesting story behind its name, having formally been used as the music building on campus.  To this day, I continue to invoke St. Cecilia, the patron saint of (sacred) music when I need to help in this role, especially before leading the responorial psalm, a task for which I have no formal training).

Sr. Elaine and I take turns providing organ music for Mass (on the days when hymns are being used).  Today, in honor of St. Cecilia, I mad a special point of using music where I might otherwise have been tempted to let it go.

This early virgin martyr has a special place in my devotional life; a musician with limited abilities such as myself especially needs her intercession.

guercino_-_st-_cecilia_-_google_art_projectShe also is an example for me of purity and fidelity to Christ amidst whatever trials may come.

St. Cecilia, please pray for us!


“Called – Llamados”

23559920_1843270989317956_2425648659906597885_nThis afternoon, I got back from spending a long weekend with Sr. Jean Louise, Sr. Mary Ruth, fellow travelers, and about 25,000 others gathered in Indianapolis for the bi-annual National Catholic Youth Conference.

This year’s conference was entitled “Called – Llamados.”  (I enjoyed the bit of Spanish that was used during parts of the weekend – I only wished I could have read the lyrics better on the screen.)

This theme of being called came up during the sessions.  For example, we are called to listen and called to serve (My tired, overwhelmed brain cannot recall the other sub-themes at present.)

Especially on Saturday, a day which traditionally honors our Blessed Lady, we were reminded of her “yes.”  Throughout the weekend, we were encouraged to offer our own individual “yes.”  It was a good opportunity to interiorly offer my own “yes” again.

As I thought about this, I realized again that a yes is not a one time thing.  It is something we are called to give again and again.  In my reflection this weekend, I was also reminded that my efforts at living this are not enough.

To echo the words of a song we sang at the end of the evening, “Your grace is enough.”  I have to call upon God’s grace, and rely upon it, rather than my own efforts.  His grace is what will enable me to live my yes.

Please pray for me that I may be faithful in doing this.


Please Plan Your Emergencies Accordingly

img_0553Midway through a second consecutive day of helping fill in for a sick aide, I was having supper with Sr. Elaine (while Sr. Rebecca took her turn at the reception desk).

As I’ve been thinking ahead to my upcoming trip to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis next week, I mentioned that I’d been tempted to put a note at the employee time clock.

It would state something like: “Sr. Christina will be out of town for several days and will not be available November 15 through 19.  Please plan your emergencies accordingly.”

emergency-clipart-k21407704We both kind of laughed at the turn of phrase.  There’s a reason I don’t have a job title anymore on my name badge.  Like so many others here, I end up filling up in multiple departments.

I am so grateful to those who pitched in to help with needed tasks, especially with laundry.  (I don’t mind collecting, sorting colors, and running them through the machines, but reading name tags and sorting/delivering accordingly is challenging.)

As I look forward to my upcoming trip, I hope no other emergencies come up during that time.  I’m not saying people couldn’t live without me, but I like to be able to help in such cases.

While other job responsibilities are all good, there is something I find especially rewarding about providing direct care for our residents.

“As a Child Finds Rest…”


Familiar words from Psalm 131 came to mind for me after Communion this morning: “As a child finds rest in its mother’s arms, even so, my soul.”

It came as a moment of quiet, restful peace which I really appreciated.

I have been so gifted these last couple of days.  I have received such blessings and relief.  A burdensome situation (of many months) seems to have been resolved.  (Sometimes we don’t know what weight we are bearing until it is lifted.)

Also, we got a new oven so I can bake with “my ladies.”  (a few of our residents thoroughly enjoy helping bake; I have been limited in doing this recently due to a dysfunctional oven.)  I would have been happy with a used one – anything had to be better than what we had.  (The new stove’s maiden voyage of a pot of rhubarb sauce was a success.)

On top of all this, I had this quiet moment of grace this morning.

I am so blessed!  I have to be thankful to Our Lord for taking such good care of me on life’s journey.

Give Them All

This evening, after a somewhat stressful day, I put on an old cassette tape I’d received from my mom.  (Yes, I still have some around!)

One of the songs gave me a nudge that I am still working to implement.  I’ve been dealing with a couple of challenging issues here, and have found myself feeling frustrated.  The vocalist, whose music I grew up with, encouraged her listeners, encouraged ME, to “give them all to Jesus.”

I think there might be something to the timing of me hearing this song.  I think I should be attentive to the beautiful words contained there.

In the near future, I need to set aside a moment to make a real effort at giving my present frustrations and concerns over to Jesus; I think He can handle them (better than I can).  It’s easier said then done, though.

Snow, Snow, Look at the Snow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast evening, shortly before 10 p.m., I returned to St. Anne’s (the facility at which I work) to bring the dog back.  (Recently, “Zoe” has been an evening guest at our convent.)

Snow was falling; it was beautiful.  Something about a fresh snow fall tends to bring out the playful little girl in me.  That is, until mid-January when I am sick and tired of it.

While waiting for the dog, who wasn’t as quick as I was, I preceded to try drawing a smile face in the snow, something I often do when that “little girl” gets the better of me.

The snow was still falling, though, and I figured that my cheerful illustration would be covered up in a soft blanket of white long before anyone could see it in the morning.

When I got inside with Zoe and brushed off my feet, I saw a few of our residents gathered in the atrium, a room which my dad has dubbed “the perfect place to watch a snowstorm.”  (the room has an abundance of window space.)

To these lingering residents, I exclaimed: “Snow, snow!  Look at the snow,” quoting a book we knew and loved as children.  I continued on, quoting: “Do you like snow?  Yes, I like snow!  Do you like it in your face?  Yes, I like it any place!”

I’m not so sure I agree with all of that, but there is something beautiful about God’s gift of that fluffy white stuff!

What do you think?

Ancient Egyptian Technology

halloween.jpgWe had quite the day here at St. Anne’s!

Several of us enjoy celebrating “All Hallows Eve,” dressing up, partying, and what not.

As a follow up to our Bible study unit on the Exodus, in which we loved using the song: “Go Down, Moses,”  Paulla, our wonderful activities assistant, found a costume for an Egyptian pharaoh at a local thrift store.

Boy did we have fun, today!  We sang this fun song a few times, helped with a bingo party, and served hot dogs, cooked using ancient Egyptian technology (we kidded).

The activities staff actually used the oven in our kitchenette, but it did not work well.  We are having real problems with it, although it really isn’t ancient.

My pumpkin/jack-o-lantern costume (pictured above) is really more ancient, having been made years ago by my mom and me when I was in grade school.

I can tell that it needs a little mending work as the face is starting to come off.  (It was made using iron-on material.)

We should all sleep well tonight after all the excitement.  A little expression I’ve heard seems fitting for the occasion:  “Sleep with the angels; rise with the saints.”

After all, it’s All Saints Day tomorrow.

Borrowing St. Anthony

Preschool libraryYesterday morning, when I was working as receptionist, I got a couple of phone calls for Sr. Elaine within a fairly short time period, both from our evening receptionist, Carla.

I think I kind of wondered what was up, but “minded my own business.”

This evening, after finishing our semi-monthly community spiritual discussion, Sr. Elaine filled us in on the humorous details:

Carla had called, saying that her good friend was trying to find her keys, which she had lost.  She had recently been traveling.  She told Carla that she would have to have St. Anthony help her find the keys.  Or, she might try looking up some new saints to help since the old ones were pretty busy already.

Carla had advised her not to bother with St. Anthony since was too busy helping Sr. Elaine find missing objects.  Sr. Elaine told Carla that this friend could borrow St. Anthony for a while (to help find her keys).

Shortly thereafter, Carla called back to tell Sr. Elaine that she could have St. Anthony back now; her friend had found her keys right away after asking his intercession.  She thanked Sr. Elaine for letting her borrow him.

And I thank Sr. Elaine for letting me ‘borrow’ this delightful little story!

“Stay With Me, Lord!”

I’m not usually one to have a ton of little devotionals and prayer cards around, but I got one just the other day that is really “a keeper.”  My parents had come up to Grand Forks to help us with our annual fall sale and luncheon this weekend.  Their presence was much appreciated.

Along with their cherished help and company, they also gave use a few other treasures.  One of these was a simple paper given me by my mom.  She offered me St. Pio of Pietrelcina’s Prayer after Holy Communion entitled “Stay with me, Lord!”

This line grabbed my attention, as the scripture of the journey to Emmaus is one of my favorites.  The petition of those two early disciples to their companion Easter evening always strikes a chord with me.

On reading the prayer that followed, I was edified to see several of my own sentiments voiced by a canonized saint.  It was consoling to realize that someone who is now in heaven once shared some of my own heart’s stirrings.

Parts of the prayer that really touched me in this way were:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You.  You know how easily I abandon You.  Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.  Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life,
and without You, I am without fervor.  Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light,
and without You, I am in darkness…Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You
very much, and always be in Your company.  Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You…Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers. I need You.

So, I gathered, St. Pio (commonly known as ‘Padre Pio’), known for holiness, also faced struggles with his own weakness.  He also keenly felt his need for Christ’s presence and help.

I guess maybe there’s hope for me, after all.