Stairs for Lent?

PA100002.JPGLast evening, I went to bed at 6:45, anticipating working a night shift.  One of our aides had called earlier in the day, home with sick children.  By early evening, neither she nor I had been able to find another staff person to fill in.

The decision was made that, unless we heard anything, I would just plan on working ‘nights’; I did not have a heavy work schedule on the morrow and could easily catch up on sleep.  Plus, knowing in advance, I’d have a chance for a “long [spring] nap” before hand.

Although I went to bed, I had a tough time getting to sleep.  What sleep I did get was fitful.  Then, at 9:15 p.m., I heard the phone rang.  One of the night staff had got his message and had called that he would come in to work; I would not need to fill in after all.

I didn’t quite know what to think.  I should be relieved, I guess, to have the night off and some sense of normalcy, but I couldn’t just go back to bed and sleep until 5:18 a.m., as normal.

Plus, I had a couple of details to attend to, which I had planned on taking care of after the shift started at 10.

I re-dressed, went over to my workplace, and took care of business.  I thought, however, that I’d better exert some physical energy if I wanted to get a good night sleep the second time my head hit the pillow.

After a few jumping jacks in a private, tucked away corner by the stair well, I had a better idea:

I remembered that, as a kid, my dad had sometimes done “stairs for Lent,” undertaking an activity which, for him, was both penitential and healthy.

(He would walk up and down the stairs repeatedly  Minnesota winters are not conducive to outdoor exercise.)

I thought that, on this occasion, “stairs” would be a good idea for me as well.

I know the days of Lent are supposed to include some form of penance.  This Thursday of the Fourth Week had really not involved anything for me along this line.  “Stairs” would be perfect, both fulfilling my obligation to do some penance and helping me sleep this night.  Plus, exercise is healthy, right?

After “doing stairs” for several minutes, I decided that “enough was enough.”  Plus, I didn’t want to cause any disturbance for our residents who might be resting.  Nor did I want to raise any eyebrows.

After a quick visit to chapel, I got ready for bed, sleeping until my alarm want off at 3:35 a.m.  (I had already gotten a couple extra hours of sleep and really didn’t need to sleep in until my normal hour of morning rising.

Here I am now, at 6:01, prayers said and sacristy work done.  I have a jump start on this new day!

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

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Sister Flintstone?

715820-2Please don’t get me wrong – I mean no disrespect for the deceased, but we have begun praying for “Sister Flintstone.”

In our Activity Department, here at St. Anne’s, we were just finishing up “Bedrock Days,” a week with Flintstone-themed activities.  This even included a dance, complete with costumes and pterodactyl drumsticks (pretzel logs covered in caramel and cocoa pebbles cereal).  I had a little part in the fun, printing Flintstones pictures for them and helping recruit dance attendance by playing “Meet the Flintstones” over our PA system, etc.

We received an email from Germany late last week with the obituary for Sister Wilma.  (Upon receiving such an email, we pray for the deceased for one week, using Psalm 130 followed by a special prayer.)

Most often, the names are not familiar ones for us Americans since the Sisters are from Germany and Brazil, mostly.  It can be helpful, if we want to remember who we’re praying for, to use little cognitive tricks to jar the memory.

Having read that a Sr. Wilma had died, and having just enjoyed a pterodactyl drummy myself, I spontaneously mentioned to Sr. Elaine: “We’ll have to pray for Sr. Flinstone now.”

[Please rest assured, we don’t call her “Sr. Flintstone” in chapel, but revert back to her proper name.]

Que Sera Sera

P1010031“When I was a little girl” we sang this song in our school music concert.  My younger sister and I, then, acquired the habit of dancing as we sang it, twirling at the words: “Que sera sera.”

I don’t know what ever impelled us to do this, but the memory remains with me to this day, especially due to recent circumstances…

Last fall, Sr. Jean Louise had invited me to join her and Sr. M. Ruth in Bismarck toward the end of March for the University of Mary’s second annual “vocations jamboree.”

With encouragement from my supervisor and superior, I was eager to go!  Surely, there would be someone coming from Grand Forks.  The matter was set aside.

As the date got closer, I looked into the matter, trying to see if anyone was coming from “the Valley” with whom I could catch a ride.  (Due to a vision impairment, I’m unable to drive.)

As the date drew nearer, I found that there was only one registrant coming from Grand Forks, and his schedule did not fit my needs.  However, one of our Sisters from Hankinson was tentatively thinking of attending.  I could ride with her, if I could catch a ride to Fargo to meet her (and a ride back again).

When you can’t drive, you end up being a bit resourceful.  I found someone I know who was planning a trip down there Friday morning!  Yeah – she would be happy to have me ride with her!

Another lady who comes to chapel here was planning a trip to Fargo for Saturday.  I could hook up with her on the way back.

Things were shaping up that maybe I could go to this gathering after all!

To make a long story short, throughout the course of the day and evening yesterday, both of these rides fell through.

From one hour to the next, I didn’t know whether I was staying or going.  In the end, the Sister from Hankinson had to cancel her plans as well.

With rapidly changing plans, I could be likened to that little girl twirling around to the words of the beloved song. “Que sera sera; whatever will be will be” is very apropos.

In a way, although I had really wanted to go, I was happier once things were settled.  I remember, too, that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” as St. Paul wrote to the Romans (8:28).

Tudo Bem [All Good]

Please enjoy a little article all the way from Brazil!  Our Sisters serve in two provinces there.

Duque de Caxias, March 21st, 2017

I am Sr.  Sueli from Caxias Province.  I was with the Sisters of St Anne’s Convent for some months in 2003.  It was a marvelous experience! I am so grateful!

Nowadays, I am responsible for our Sisters in our Province.  I have to encourage the sisters, take care of their health and visit them every year, specially the Sisters who live far away from here, in Caxias/Rio de Janero.  We have ten communities, dispersed in five States in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Mato Grosso do Sul, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina.  Some of our Sisters work in schools, home for the elderly and pastoral work.

I have to travel long distances to see and be with the Sisters.

We have three schools where students pay tuition, two of them in Rio de Janeiro.  These schools in Rio de Janeiro support five free schools in very poor and dangerous areas.  These students receive everything from us: food, uniforms, school supplies and our care.  Maybe, one of them, “Creche Menino Jesus”, will be turned over to the Mayor of the city because we don’t have enough Sisters to take care of the school.  It is a shame because we have kids there from four months to five years old.  It is getting too heavy for us.

Yesterday, I came from a community in Ecoporanga/Espírito Santo.  There are three Sisters there and three Franciscan Brothers.  In addition to the parish church they attend to fifty-four communities in rural areas.  It is wonderful to be with those people! They have a deep faith and are very generous! They come to the church by bicycles, by cars, by horses and motos.  The small churches are always full of people.  The Franciscan priests have two or three Masses almost every day to attend all of those communities.

If you want to visit us, it will be a pleasure!

Pray for us and for our people! We do the same for you!

Sr.  Sueli Sendra


Can’t Pinch Me!

PA050022.JPGI just got my nails painted green by our kind activity assistant.  I already had a string of green beads on.

I remember, as a kid, being told that, on St. Patrick’s Day, you were liable to be pinched if you didn’t wear green.  To this day, I enjoy teasing about this and enjoying some St. Patrick’s Day humor.  I even have several St. Patrick’s Day jokes that I use for “joke of the day,” announcing them over our paging system.

This afternoon, our residents will enjoy some folk music from visiting entertainers.  It’s neat to have an occasion to celebrate as we’re getting very weary of winter and are itching for spring.  Although my family doesn’t have one drop of Irish blood, I can remember setting a special table and even enjoying green food on this mid-March festivity.

I write this as I wait for my nails to dry.  I’ve been warned to wait a while before embroidering so I don’t stain the towel I’m working on.

With my beads and nails, no one’d better pinch me…I’m Irish for the day!

“You Know When I Sit and When I Stand”

Thanksgiving service2Psalm 139 says it well!

I was preparing to give a little presentation to the group of Secular Franciscans with whom I serve.

The topic was the Liturgy of the Hours.  I wanted to go into the meaning and history of this Prayer of the Church, as well as help remind people of some of the practical principles involved.

One detail we discussed was posture and gestures.  Rather than just saying: “This is what we do.  THE END.”  I wanted to explain the meaning for these physical aspects of our liturgical prayer.

Not being an expert myself, I did a little research.  Although my sources were geared toward the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the meaning, history and symbolism would be applicable to the Liturgy of the Hours as well.

They listed other postures/gestures used at Mass (such as kneeling, processing, etc.), but I just picked out those pertinent to our topic of the Office.  You may find the explanations interesting.

STANDING  In standing, we show respect and honor.  We especially stand during the Gospels in reverence; they contain the words of Jesus. This has been a common prayer custom since the early church.  It is the stance of those who have risen with Christ and seek the things that are above.  In standing we acknowledge our full stature given by God.   During the common recitation of the office, we stand for the introductory prayers and hymn and then for the Gospel canticle and what follows.

SITTING: Sitting is the posture of listening and meditation.  We sit for the psalms, reading, and responsorial.

BOWING is a sign of profound reverence.  You might notice people bowing during the “Glory to the Father” and at the name of Jesus, etc.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS “is a simple ritual which expresses our prayer that the Trinity–God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit–will be with us.”  (Schiffer)

“Because it was by his death on the Cross that Christ redeemed humankind, we trace the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads.” (USCCB)  We make the sign of the Cross at the beginning of the Gospel Canticle (While saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel” / “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”  We also make it at the beginning and the end of the Office.

Excerpts and information from:

Draw Near, O Lord, Our God

We sang this beautiful hymn again this morning at Lauds!

It is one of those hymns that strikes a chord in the depths of my soul.  It was translated translated over 50 years ago from the Latin hymn Attende Domine.

The above-mentioned hymn Christians is traced back to Christians in Spain in the 900s (a Mozarabic litany).

This chant is used during the Lenten season, confessing our sinfulness and pleading for mercy.

There are multiple translations into English, but I do like the one used in our breviary: “Draw near O Lord, our God; graciously hear us…”

How appropriate that prayer is!  How well it articulates the pleadings of the heart!

Mark Your Calendars…Mother Daughter Days

franciscan associate 009.JPGThe date is set!  Our annual Mother Daughter Days will be held August 17-19 at St. Francis Convent in Hankinson, North Dakota.

Sr. Jean Louise has been leading this lovely event for over ten years, now.

It’s an opportunity for mothers and their daughters to get away, spend some special time together growing in their faith, and even have a little fun.

They join the Sisters for prayer, Mass, meals, and story sharing.

If you’re interested in joining us, please call Sr. Jean Louise at: 701.208.1245 or email:

To download the flyer, click here.

Life’s Simple Pleasures

img_0553I was ecstatic!  I had to share the news!

After finishing my receptionist duties, I had been heading toward our dining room.  It was just about supper time.  One of our residents stopped me with the inquiry: “Sister, can you drain me?”  (The individual has a catheter which needs to be emptied periodically.)

I was not serving as personal care aide this evening, but it seemed that staff on duty were otherwise occupied.  Therefore, I preceded to the nurse’s office for gloves and the triangular graduated container we use for urine drainage.  On my way, I instructed him to meet me in the bathroom.

When I finally got to the bathroom, having been detained by an inquiring visitor, I had him roll back his pant leg, as is customary, in order to access and drain the bag. When this was done, I made a euphoria-inducing observation: a different style bag was in place!  It was complete with a tab and a cap, two things which safeguard against leeks and facilitate the drainage process.

I was so happy!  Wow!  Wonders never cease!  (I had been wishing we had a better style bag in place and had expressed my concerns to the nurse a week or two ago.  Nothing had happened at the time, but now…dreams do come true!)

Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  It’s good to be grateful for the little things.  After all, one little tab and cap can prevent a BIG mess!