Get Off the Couch!

p1010031I missed posting here this past weekend because I was away, joining my old church youth group for their winter retreat at Camp Wapo near Amery, Wisconsin.

The theme of the weekend, which was brought home to us through several skits, drew from Pope Francis’ words at World Youth Day.  He encouraged his listeners to “get off the couch!”

The humorous yet poignant skits involved several student actors, their director, and an old couch in the lodge that served as our chapel.

We were reminded that we are not to just sit and stay comfortable.  We need to “get out there” and follow Jesus where he is calling us, whatever our walk in life may be.  Although it is easier just to “sit around” and do non-constructive (even detrimental) activities, there is so much more to life than “sitting on a couch.”

My experience of getting back to town for these functions never seems to be one of ease and comfort, so I guess I am in compliance with Pope Francis’ exhortation on that one.  With a possible snow storm and drivers’ change of plans, transportation was once again an adventure!

Leave a Mark!

winterretreat1

I am looking forward to a little trip this weekend (and praying for good travelling weather!).

I’ve been invited to again join my home parish (St. Joseph’s Church) youth group on their annual winter ‘retreat.’  This year’s theme is: “Leave a Mark,” based on Pope Francis’ words:  “….we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate,’take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on.  No, we came for another reason: To leave a mark.”

Although these words were intended for others, they are also relevant to me.  We are all called to leave a mark, for good, in various ways.  One of the ways we do this as Franciscan Sisters is through our apostolates.

May I take this opportunity to answer a question that was posed to me?  A writer inquired: “What apostolic ministries do you guys do?”  

Our Constitutions would offer this answer:

“…we have formed our living tradition as Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen, a tradition which is also visible in the works we have undertaken over the course of time:

  • Education and instruction in elementary, secondary, and vocational schools; adult education;
  • Education and character formation of children and young people in special institutes;
  • Care of the ill and the aged in hospitals, in nursing homes, in homes for the aged, and in medical centers; living and working with the handicapped;
  • Conducting houses of study and resident homes for students, offering domestic services in seminaries, offering services in our own communities;
  • Pastoral and missionary services; family services;
  • Social work for the poor performed in the service of the Church.”

In whatever apostolate we are asked to serve, let us pray that we may leave the mark that God has in mind, that we may truly share the love and light of Christ with those with whom we come in contact.

“Contemplating Christ With Mary”

frpeytonrosarywebI got done mixing cookies together with two of our resident ladies before lunch this morning.  (They’re now baked and awaiting blissful consumption by our residents.)

This being done, I had twenty minutes before I was needed at the front desk.  I took advantage of this little window of time and stepped into chapel: I was anticipating the likelihood of needing to work Saturday night and still had about an hour of reading yet for the week.  (We are supposed to devote two hours a week to spiritual reading, according to our directives.)

I figured it would be wise to get as much done ahead of time as possible rather than needing to squeeze it in before working nights.

Unfortunately, I am in between books right now.  I hadn’t made it home to bring over another library book yet.  Thankfully, we have a nice collection of books for visitors to read in our Adoration chapel, so I made my way to the bookshelf to find something quick.

I happened to see St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, and grabbed it.  I remember when it came out and the new luminous mysteries were added.

A phrase from the letter, which I remembered hearing or reading before, is “to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”  According to John Paul II, the rosary is nothing other than this.

Although sometimes people seem to rush through the rosary, the document encourages a “quiet rhythm and a lingering pace.”  I can’t say I always live up to that perfectly, but I hope to.

Our directives also encourage us to meditate upon the Incarnation and the Passion of our Lord.  I find frequent use of the Joyful and the Sorrowful Mysteries is a good way to do this, contemplating Christ’s face with Mary, as the recent Pope encourages us to do.

You Are My All in All

stannesI planned a special lesson for our Bible Study this morning since this Tuesday’s gathering with our residents landed on the very morning of Valentine’s Day itself.

I used readings from 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John, and other love-related passages, including the greatest commandment as outlined in Mark’s gospel.  I thought it would be nice to point out to our residents, amidst all the superficial hearts and flowers, the true meaning and call of love.

We talked about Jesus’ call to “love one another as I have loved you,” about how and to what extent He loved us.  In light of this selfless, life-giving love “even to death on a cross,” we reminded ourselves that our love cannot know selfish limits.

As is often the case, this morning’s resident Bible Study included singing.  I had picked a couple of songs that seemed apropos for Valentine’s Day, including “Down in My Heart” and “Come into My Heart.”

However, we got done with the lesson a bit early and had time for a couple more songs.  We ended by singing a song appropriate to this special day in its own way: “You Are My All in All.”

On Valentine’s Day, lovers sometimes exchange messages with endearing phrases; even Sweetheart candies offer phrases such as “LOVE YOU,” “ONLY YOU,” and “BE MINE.”

For all of us as Christians, and especially for me as a Religious, it seemed appropriate to sing this song as a Valentine message to Jesus, my spouse.

I’m not in the candy-making business (although I do my share of cookie baking), but I could envision a little sweetheart inscribed with the words: “My All in All.”

While thousands of people around us are using this annual break in the winter blahs to express their love and devotion to their “sweetheart,” why shouldn’t we do the same to Ours?

Congratulations, St. Gerard’s!

Let’s take this opportunity to congratulate our Sisters and the staff at St. Gerard’s who worked so hard on the Giving Hearts Day project again this year!

It paid off!  St. Gerard’s got second place for their video and also raised over $90,000 to support their work of “serving all in Jesus’ name.”

St. Gerard’s Community of Care, in Hankinson, ND, offers multiple services to young and old: skilled care nursing, an independent living Unit, child care, and kinder kollege.

Congratulations, Sisters and Staff of St. Gerard’s; may God bless you in your ministry!

Blest Are They

il_340x270-1115753979_7217It was a busy morning…

Tuesday mornings are always busy: getting ready for Bible study, setting up for Mass, attending Mass, giving a break to the receptionist on duty, finalizing Bible study preparations and finally leading the group of residents in the weekly study.  It’s always a relief when I finally sit down and catch my breath at 11:15 when I give my co-worker her lunch break.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to do it, but it is a bit like ‘crunch time’ trying to get it all done in a short time period.

The last few weeks, we’ve been studying the Gospel of Matthew.  We are now at the Sermon on the Mount, discussing the Beattitudes and the salt and light metaphors.

A few months ago, we were given a projector, and I now have the capacity to show lyrics and even YouTube videos on a screen for our residents.  They really seem to enjoy singing along to the spiritual songs.

We have some “old stand by” hymns and songs, but I also try to incorporate a song or two that really pertains to the lesson of the day.

It thought the song “Blest Are They” would be appropriate and was happy to hear the residents singing along heartily to it.

The words of the song also touched me personally as I sat listening and singing with the music video during this morning’s Bible Study.

It occurred to me how we are really, truly blessed.  What a privilege and an honor to be invited to live as disciples of Christ!  How blessed we are to be called to a life in imitation of Him.

Premonitions

p1010009I’ve worked a number of night shifts here at St. Anne’s over the past few years.  Usually, however, it is at last minute notice.

In fact, if I hear the phone ring between 9:45 and 10:15 p.m., I’ve come to instinctively cringe, fearing one of the two scheduled night aides would not be making it in; this would leave me to work the night shift.

Actually, I don’t mind it too much.  I kind of enjoy the work, and am happy to help where I can.

This being called upon to work nights does not happen terribly often, maybe a dozen times a year.

This week, we realized that we would need someone to fill in for a worker this weekend (Fri.-Sun.).  Thankfully, two other staff are able to pick up Saturday and Sunday.  However, we were unable to find someone for Friday night.

Thus it is that I’ve known since early this week that I would be working tonight.  For me, it is really strange to have this “premonition,” to be able to actually plan ahead for my sleep schedule.

There are a number of other things happening at this time.  When I woke up this morning, I didn’t know if I’d be helping with bingo, for example.  It should prove to be an interesting 24 hours.

This morning’s responsorial psalm (27) served as a good reminder to me, amidst my crazy schedule, that no matter what happens, “the LORD is my life’s refuge [and He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent.”  It further inspires me with reminders that He is my light and my salvation I should trust Him and not fear.  The first reading (Hebrews 3) also beautifully points out: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?”

Even with premonitions of an interesting night to come, I have this consolation to fall back upon.