…How pleasant it is, When [Sisters] Dwell Together as One!

psalm-133Psalm 133 (see above) came to mind today as we gathered for a semi-annual community meeting of our province in Hankinson, ND.

The full verse actually says, “How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!”

A footnote to this verse actually says: “Brothers: in biblical Hebrew this word includes both the male and female members of a group united by blood relationships or by shared experiences and values.”   I think my application for the verse to the Sisters in our community is, therefore, appropriate.

These meetings are a beautiful, joy-filled experience where we have the chance to come together as one.  We hear announcements, attend Mass in our chapel, participate in discussions, vote on any decisions, and just enjoy being together.

listen 014.JPGA couple added bonuses of the day were the chance to play Scrabble with my postulant directness and ‘tickling the ivory’ – The organ in the chapel there has such a beautiful sound to it.  (I’ve been practicing Pachelbel’s Canon in D and was happy to be able to try it out after dinner.)

~ ~ ~ ~

In closing, I’d like to alert you to the fact that there may not any more posts on Our Franciscan Fiat until after May 24.  I (Sr. Christina) will be away for community functions until that time and may not have regular access to a computer.  


“Let Us Go Rejoicing…”


July 2, 2013

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

This psalm (the responsory for the fifth Wednesday of Easter) has a special place in my heart and special significance for me.

It started out in high school or college, when I began praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This psalm was always used Saturday evening in this small blue volume.

Around this same time, I was introduced to the song “Unto the House of the Lord,” which is based on this psalm.  I have had it on CD for years.

Then, in 2013, when preparing for the liturgy for my perpetual profession, I discovered that the entrance antiphon for such a Mass is drawn from this scripture.

One can almost feel the eagerness of the ancient Israelite pilgrims when reading this beautiful psalm.  We continue to use it on occasion in the Liturgy of the Hours (Saturday evening, week four).

Silly as it may sound, it reminds me of the 1960s song, “Chapel of Love.”  I grew up hearing the oldies station with my dad.  On numerous occasions, I’ve been involved in the fun of singing “…Bells will ring; the sun will shine…” on the way to chapel.  The references to one’s wedding day in this song give it beautiful parallels for us in the Religious Life.

It is good to rejoice in the gift we have of going to the House of the Lord.  We are so privileged!  We need not travel to Jerusalem, but only as far as the nearest chapel or church, to “enter His presence singing for joy.”

It’d help to use the right key!

P1010005What a busy day it’s been!

Chapel duties in the morning, before heading to work as receptionist at our front desk…And, while there, I was involved in a big, multifaceted project.

In fact, when the time came for “the changing of the guard,” as we sometimes call it, I asked my relief person to do ‘Reading Hour’ for me.  (That is the semi-weekly session where I read a book aloud to our residents.)  Sr. Rebecca and I were engrossed in work on our project and were almost done with one major part.

Before this shift change, however, I had an interruption.   A phone call came from a resident upstairs that there was water on the floor up in Bathroom #2 on the ladies’ floor.  Around the same time, another woman came by and reported the same issue.

Unfortunately, our aide (whose responsibility such plumbing problems would be) was out picking up two residents from a medical procedure.

Rather than letting the problem go until she returned, Sr. Rebecca and I both agreed that I should look into the situation.  (I had visions of a stream of toilet water flowing out into the main hall.)

Sr. Rebecca manned the reception desk where we were working hard on our project, and I hustled upstairs.  Sure enough, water was definitely out of the stall and had proceeded into other areas of that bathroom.

I opened the door to the culprit toilet to find a massive amount of toilet paper still in the bowl.  Thankfully, I had an extra glove still in my pocket.  I grabbed the nearby wastebasket, fished into the toilet (with the gloved hand), and extracted the glob of toilet paper.  It flushed easily after that.

Now, there was the problem of the stream of toilet water on the floor…off to get supplies.

I carry keys on me all the time: in one pocket, I have the one to our convent and in the other, I have four keys on the same clasp for various locks around St. Anne’s.  I use them frequently.

I know that my square-shaped key opens any janitor closets throughout the building., so I reached in my pocket and extracted a gold, square key as I headed across the hall to a nearby closet room.  I put it in the key hole and attempted to turn it, without success.  I pulled it out and tried again, with the same frustrating results.

At a loss as to what was wrong, I called down to Sr. Rebecca, still at the reception desk, and asked her if they had changed the locks.  She said they had not and offered to get a mop bucket from down there.  I said that I would try the other closet and call back if it didn’t work.

So, I proceeded to the other door, put in my square key, and attempted to open it; no success here either.  What a day!  In the midst of all this, I remembered that I had washed off my key that morning because it had somehow become sticky.  I re-checked the key to make sure there was no remaining debris that could be hindering its functionality.  The key seemed to be fine, so what could be the trouble?

Finally, I took another look at the key.  It was a single key, with no others attached on the key-ring.  That was odd; my janitor key was accompanied by three other important door-openers.  What was up with that?  Then, I realized: this was the square key from my other pocket, the one to the convent…No wonder it wouldn’t work!

It’d help to use the right key, I guess!  I’m glad that those above who hold keys always know which ones to use and how best to use them.  That’s reassuring!


What’s an Impulse?

impulse-85459126This year, we are celebrating the 775th Anniversary of our community’s existence. On that happy occasion, the Sisters of our international congregation are engaging in special discussions.

The Sisters in our generalate in Germany are providing us with reading materials and discussion questions on the three evangelical counsels. What is so neat about this is that they are specific to our Franciscan congregation, drawing from numerous sources, including our own constitutions. I am so grateful for these materials and for the discussion this occasion is bringing about within our local community.

It is so special, to me, to read and discuss materials written for Dillingen Franciscans by Dillingen Franciscans – they are specifically tailored to us.

The language, however, does not seem ‘specifically tailored to us’ Americans. The documents were originally written in German and the English translation is quite interesting at times.  Americans do not use all the English words in the same ways as Indians (I believe Indians Sisters translated).  An example which we chuckle at is the “Impulses.”

The documents we are reading together offer questions for discussion at the end of each section. Somehow, they are given the heading of “Impulses.”  Maybe the original German word had a different connotation.

Impulses or no impulses, I am very grateful for these discussions which, in accord with our Constitutions, “serve the honor of God, strengthen the oneness of the community, and promote our apostolic service.”

Thankfully, the frequency of these discussions is guided by our directives and our schedule, rather than by impulse.

From Rump Roast to Head Cheese

old (4).jpgWe are finally just about finished with our little lamb cake!  Every year at Easter, the kitchen makes pound cake delicacies to mark the paschal celebrations.

The lamb is an Easter symbol, reminding us of Christ as the Lamb who was sacrificed.

The making of lamb cakes at St. Anne’s  started back when our sisters were still working in the kitchen.  At that time, there were so many here that two lambs were needed, a bigger and a smaller one.

The lamb, along with ham and colored eggs, is traditionally blessed here after the Easter vigil.

Now, it takes a while for us to finish the one, and be the time we’re at his head, our poor little lamby is a little bit hard.

We start cutting from the back end, and tease that we’re indulging in ‘rump roast.’  As the days of Eastertide progress, however, we finish the hind quarters and make our way to the head.

We have discovered that my homemade rhubarb sauce goes very well with the lamb, which by this time is a bit dry.  I will jokingly say that I am ‘going to get out the gravy,’ before going to the refrigerator for the container of sauce.

At present, at that is left of our little lamb is the head and neck section.  So, now we joke that we have head cheese.

“Keep My Eyes on Jesus…”

LFS-motto-300x225Sometimes, do you find, that life isn’t so easy?

Between difficulties of daily life, spring fever (getting sick of the cold weather and gray skies), and whatever else comes, it can be easy enough to forget the joy of this Easter season we’re in the middle of celebrating.

Recently, when thinking about this, a wonderful realization came to mind.  We can get mopey and down when keeping our eyes on ourselves.

If I can change my focus, my attention, from myself to Jesus, I will be much better off.   Instead of dwelling on myself and my struggles, I need to look to Jesus and “keep my eyes on [Him].”

There is a song about Peter walking on the water which comes to mind.  The refrain is: “If I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can walk on water.”

This is very true; if only I can remember it!

For the Sake of the Name

s31790-masterimage-r8056-lectionary-onlineThis week, as we continue reading from the Acts of the Apostles at Mass, we hear again the phrase:  “for the sake of the name.”  These scriptures refer to the disciples rejoicing at being found worthy to suffer for the sake of the Name of Jesus.

This above-quoted phrase struck me as I heard it at Mass this past week.  It called me to reflect: Have I ever suffered dishonor for the sake of His name?  Certainly, I have never faced martyrdom as many early Christians did.  I have, however, experienced other difficulties for the sake of His Name.

Pondering on this beautiful, inspiring phrase called me to think about my present daily life as well.  It calls me to do everything for Jesus.  It serves as a sort of examination of conscience.  I might ask myself: Did I do everything this morning for Jesus, for the sake of His Name?

When  I make my morning offering, I can dedicate all I am to do this day to Him and commit myself to live my whole life ” for the sake of the name.”   It can call me to think twice about doing things unworthy of “the Name.”  For example, I can’t really be short and impatient with a co-worker with His holy Name in mind, can I?  The more I keep Jesus in mind, and His Name on my lips (interiorly), the more likely I think I will be to live my day in a way that pleases Him.

I don’t know what my efforts each day will bring, trials or pleasant results.  However, like the early disciples, I can rejoice in whatever comes of living “for the sake of the name” of Jesus.  For, as St. Peter says, elsewhere in Acts, there is not “any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

I would like to close by exhorting us with the Psalmist (103):
“Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!”

Seedbed for Vocations

IMG_0214By Sister M. Jean Louise Schafer, OSF

Whether it is the tradition of planting ‘live Easter baskets’ or planting the seed of a vocation, Eastertide is ripe with possibilities.  As our Congregation celebrates 775 years (1241 – 2016) we joyfully look with hope to the future.  We happily accepted the invitation of Msgr. James Shea, president of the University of Mary in Bismarck, to be present for the first annual Vocation Jamboree during Easter Week.

Over fifty religious congregations, communities, and service organizations were on hand there to visit with students from the three Catholic high schools of the diocese, university students, homeschooling families and high school students from parish religion programs.  What a witness that was; what a joyous event it turned out to be!

Our display table was situated in what seemed to be the Franciscan section of the fieldhouse: a couple from Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, represented a cloistered community of Poor Clares, on our right, while Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist from Meriden, Connecticut, were on our left.

People gathered in the nearby auditorium as the evening advanced.  The 4:30 Mass offered by Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, drew many Catholics from the area.  That evening Bishop Barron addressed the large crowd about using the new media, including social networking, for the New Evangelization.   The idea of spring loveliness came full circle as he encouraged all to ‘look to the beautiful in life’ and in the Church, to spread the Word of God.  Making disciples of all nations is possible using today’s technology as long as one emphasizes goodness, truth and beauty!

St. Luke tells us that Jesus told his disciples “the harvest is rich, but the laborers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to do the harvesting.” (Luke 10:2)   May the Risen Christ, Master of the Harvest, draw all peoples to Himself.  Happy Easter.  Alleluia!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

IMG_0889The following question was recently submitted:
I have a question for you.  
Recently you wrote a post on SWEET SILENCE.  In it you quoted from Constitutions 3.10.  Since Constitutions is not a book in my Bible, could you tell me if this is from a book for postulants or some other study guide?
Thank you,
Dear Betty,
Thanks for your interest.I apologize for the lack of clarity in last week’s brief post.  The ‘constitutions’ referenced there is the document of our congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen, which we Sisters in our community are to follow.
It gives directives and advice on various matters related to our life: prayer, common life, practices, etc.  When we make our vows, we promise to live in poverty, consecrated chastity, and obedience, according to the Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis and the Constitutions of our Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen.
Supplemental to our constitutions are the provincial directives, which each province (e.g., Brazil, India, etc.) has to offer more specific guidelines that vary from province to province
Thank you, Betty, for your question. Anyone else wishing to submit a question may click here.