Help to Answer the Call

Image result for help answer phone free clip artMy first perception of a call to religious life came during my college years, but, lacking knowledge of where I should go or what exactly I should be looking for, I finished my studies, majoring in written communication.

Later, I was searching and trying to find out where I should be.  Knowing I was looking into religious life, the editor of the Catholic publication for which I wrote mentioned the Labouré Society (which helps eliminate financial obstacles to one’s entrance into religious life or the priesthood).

Having received scholarships, parental assistance, and working myself, I did not have any college loans to pay off.  However, I was gratified to hear about the fine work the Society undertook.

Now, years later, I was reminded of the Labouré Society again, happening upon  their website.    After some communication with them, I thought I would share about their ministry in this blog.

According to their own materials, “the Labouré Society exists to provide financial assistance and spiritual support to individuals who must resolve student loans in order to pursue a vocation to the priesthood and/or religious life in the Catholic Church…[They] are a team of Catholic business professionals working to increase vocations to the Catholic Church.”

The group is named after Saint Catherine Labouré because of the important place Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and St. Catherine Labouré have in their history.

Since its founding in 2003, The Society has assisted 275 individuals by awarding over $4 million for student debt reduction.

When I was home visiting my family last week, I was invited to visit at their nearby office, but sadly ran out of time on that brief trip.

Their program may be of interest both to those wishing to support religious vocations and to those pursuing their vocation but in need of support.

May Our Lady continue to intercede for them in their fine and important work!
Sr. Christina M. Neumann

Who’s the Patron Saint of Plumbers??!!


St. Vincent Ferrer

Last evening, I was again asked to fill in as aide for an hour.  Things usually go pretty smoothly and I don’t mind the work.

However, last night was a bit unusual.  When doing rounds, checking for the cleanliness of the bathroom facilities up on the floors where our residents’ bedrooms are, I found THREE problem areas.

I went in one bathroom area to inspect.  There was another lady in there, who left the stall she had originally planned to use.  She said that it was plugged.

We normally keep a plunger handy beside one toilet for cases such as this, so I tried to find it.  The lady, by this time, was busy in a different stall.  She did not see the plunger in there, however.  The open stall I checked did not have a plunger.  The one stall left to check was locked.


Try as I might, I could not reach the latch from the outside.  I had to crawl underneath to open it up.  (I hoped the floor was clean and that no one had missed the toilet since the last scrubbing there.)

I was able to unlock the door and come out with the needed utensil.  I took care of the neighboring toilet and was soon on my way.  During the course of events, I asked “Who’s the patron saint of plumbers?”.  Neither of us knew.

I found an additional toilet plugged during my time upstairs.  What an unusual night!  (I can go weeks on end without having to deal with this, but last night was exceptional!)

For cases such as this, I figured I’d better figure out who the patron saint of plumbers was.  There is some variation in the answer, but my most consistent finding was Saint Vincent Ferrer.

I can add him to my list of necessary occupational patrons.  I am already accustomed to calling upon the following:

  • Our Blessed Mother and Saint Martha – when baking or cooking
  • Saint Isidore of Seville – for computer issues            ~ and ~
  • Saint John of God – for printer trouble

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Where’d You Park?

may 011.jpgI’ve found that home visits can be a nice opportunity to reflect on one’s life’s journey.

I just returned from a day and a half visit back with my parents in West St. Paul, Minnesota.  I had taken advantage of the opportunity to ride with one of my co-workers’ family members on a quick-trip to Minneapolis.

The visit was short, and sweet, and to the point, you might say.  Nonetheless, I was able to get in a visit to Minnehaha Falls (one of my favorite spots), wooded hikes with my dad, visits with family and friends, and a long bike ride around my ‘old stomping ground.’

Monday afternoon, my parents had another commitment, and I had a little errand to run.  They offered me the use of one of their bikes, on which my dad checked the air in the tires.  I took off, then for a lovely afternoon.  Biking is a favorite mode of transportation for me since I am unable to drive a car due to my vision.

Not totally unusual for me, I missed my turn and ended up taking the ‘scenic route.’  I made my way back and found my destination without too much trouble.

After taking care of business in there, I headed back out and made my way to Charlton, a main street in the area, which would lead me on my way to St. Joseph’s Church, where I wanted to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and sneak in a little time for prayer.

It was like old times, biking up to the church and sneaking it through the doorways.  Rather than hassle with locking the bike up, I had long ago learned to stash a bike in the cloak area.  (I’ve seen others use this space for their bikes as well.)

This biking and parking experience on a gorgeous September afternoon reminded me of another time I had biked to St. Joe’s Church years before.

I was in quite a different place at that time.  Rather than enjoying a bike ride and making a Visit during a brief stay with my family, at that time I was still living at home and had biked up to Church to meet with our pastor.

I felt called to Religious Life, but didn’t know where I should look, what I should do.  The meeting with him was helpful.  (To this day I am most grateful for his guidance.)  At the end, he said: “Where’d you park; I’ll walk you out.”

Somehow, he didn’t realize that I could not drive because of my vision.

At that time, the Church had not yet been remodeled and the best bikers’ parking space was between the two sets of doors off the parking lot shared by the church and school.

IMG_0896.JPGI had to answer him by saying “In between the two sets of doors.”  I don’t think that was the answer he was expecting.  This ‘in between’ mode serves as a metaphor for where I was at on a deeper level.

I am definitely grateful that this time of searching is over, and I have found where I’m supposed to be.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

What a Ding-a-Ling!

img_0896This morning, I came into chapel before Mass, grabbed the bell I use from its place in the back cabinet, and took a seat in one of the pews.

Rather than put it on the ledge of the pew in front of me, as I usually do, for some reason today, I set it on the pew cushion itself.

A little while later, I had to get up to take care of some last minute detail in the sacristy.  I came back to the body of the chapel and took a seat.  Mass was starting, but where was my bell?  I must have left it in my original seat, but which was that?

Since I left, the seats had filled in a bit.  I scanned the pews, to no avail.  I could not find the bell.  We have other bells, but they are way up in the bottom cabinet in the sacristy.  I was not about to make a scene and go up to get another.

I just let it go…I figured there would be no bell-ringing today during the Eucharistic prayer to serve as a wake up call and sign of reverence.  There wasn’t much I could do.

I was also the reader at this Mass, since this is “my week for liturgy,” as we say.  (We take turns leading Office, picking hymns and reading for Mass.)  When I returned from leading the petitions, I ended up in yet another pew.  What a ding-a-ling I was!

I had, by this time, given up on the possibility of having a bell at this Mass.  I took part in the preface dialog and sang along with the “Holy, Holy.”  When it came time for the Consecration, boy was I in for a surprise!

A bell was rung by the gentleman sitting in front of me.  THERE was the bell!

That must have been my original seat.  I was humored, but thankful that he had taken the initiative to enhance our celebration of Mass by ringing it, since this ding-a-ling (me) had lost it.

How To Use Social Media To Grow in Holiness

socialmediawordcloudI decided to share this article on a very important issue here.  It was published on the Windows to the Soul Blog by Sr. Marie Paul Curley in response to a question I had posed to her.

She writes:

I have been saving up this reader’s question because I wanted to give it a well-developed answer. I’ve not had the time to develop the answer in a way that I’d hoped, but rather than wait any longer…

Read more at: How To Use Social Media To Grow in Holiness

Breakfast in a Jar?


Have you ever heard of ‘breakfast in a jar’?

Well, I hadn’t either until I came to Rugby for some days of R&R this past week.  I was invited to join our Sisters serving at Little Flower Parish and School who had been visiting us in Grand Forks over Labor Day Weekend.

The occasion for this (above-mentioned) obscure yet tasty concoction was the tight schedule on Tuesday and Thursday mornings there.  Mass those days is at 7 a.m. and the Sisters are due at school shortly after that.

Consequently, they pack a breakfast in a little bag and take it along.  After Mass, they head directly to the school library, where breakfast is held.

My horizons were broadened Tuesday morning when Sr. Mary Ruth (responsible for breakfast) pulled two covered pint jars out of this little insulated lunch bag.  In the jar were layers of oatmeal, chia seeds, fruit cocktail, and yogurt.

Having never heard of the second ingredient, I needed to have her explain to me what they were.  She reminded me of the ‘Chia Pets’ we used to see advertised on TV as kids.

It’s a good thing that our daily time of silence (the later hours of evening and the time before breakfast) was completed by then; otherwise I would have been completely clueless as to the nature of what I was enjoying with this ‘Breakfast in a jar.’


Remember…An intercessory prayer to Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph


Here at St. Anne’s, after Vespers, we pray a few short prayers together, including one to St. Joseph, which I mentioned in a post some months back.  My former teacher, Lori Barklow, graciously shared a lovely reflection and prayer based on this:

In the adoration chapel at the Church of St. Joseph in West St Paul, statues of Mary and Joseph are positioned on opposite sides of the altar, one on each side of the cross. Often when beginning a holy hour and praying for a specific intention, I start with ten memorares. (Ten because nine of them complete a novena and a final one for thanksgiving). Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC who is published with Marian Press in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, has referred to these memorares as  ‘flying novenas’ because an entire novena can be prayed quickly and easily.

So what does that have to do with statues of Mary and Joseph in an adoration chapel? Well, a few months ago I asked Sister Christina to share with me her evening prayer to St. Joseph. To my surprise, as I started to read it I found it was similar to the memorare, yet still distinctly an intercessory prayer to St. Joseph. I had heard it said that if you ask St. Joseph for something and then change your mind, that it is too late.  In other words, St. Joseph is quick to answer our prayers. When I put the two prayers side by side (the memorare and the prayer to St. Joseph) I began to see one combined prayer of intercession to the parents of Our Lord come into being.

Our Blessed Mother is beautifully invoked three times in the memorare: ‘Gracious Virgin Mary’, ‘Virgin of Virgins my Mother’, and ‘Mother of the Word Incarnate’. Similarly, the prayer to St. Joseph refers to him as ‘Most Pure Spouse of the Virgin Mary’, ‘beloved patron’, and ‘foster Father of our Redeemer’.

Here is the prayer when those beautiful descriptions and titles are placed throughout our requests for their combined intercessions.

Memorare to our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph

Remember, oh most gracious Virgin Mary and your chaste spouse St. Joseph that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee oh Virgin of Virgins my Mother and St. Joseph my patron and protector. To thee do I come, before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. Oh Mother of the Word Incarnate and St. Joseph his tender hearted Father, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Stay Awake!

IMG_0552Last Friday’s gospel came back to mind as I reflected on this afternoon’s happenings here at St. Anne’s.  After telling a parable about the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus exhorted the listeners: “…stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

Sitting at the table, upon finishing lunch, a feeling came over me…I knew that this adage would not be easy to follow in the coming hours.

I was sleepy…

Not only that, but I had committed to help with bingo at 2 o’clock.  I feared that the sound of a monotone voice calling number after number for 45 minutes would pose a definite threat to my alertness.

If I fell asleep while watching cards for our blind residents, I could miss a number or two for them.  That wouldn’t be fair, would it?

I needed to do something!  It was five minutes to two and I felt ready for a nap.  With encouragement from one of my coworkers and resources provided by Sister Elaine, I broke my normal practice of avoiding candy.  I was reminded that chocolate has caffeine.  I think, however, that the sugar contained therein made me feel sluggish and counteracted any stimulation brought by the caffeine.  I should have known and benefited from past experience that any supposed boost doesn’t work for me.  (I’ve learned that sugar makes me more tired.)

Although I didn’t fall asleep at bingo today, I probably would have done just as well, and felt better, without the chocolate.

I need to keep working on being “awake” to myself, to watching what I do.  I don’t want to so easily give in to appealing excuses, like a piece of candy, when reality is that I’d be just as well without it.

There are so many things in which I need to stay awake if I want to follow Jesus and His words as I should.

I pray for the grace to be “awake” (and responsive) to the opportunities He offers me each day: opportunities to give my utmost in serving Him in those around me.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF