“For With the Lord there is Mercy…”

s31790-masterimage-r8056-lectionary-onlineThis evening after Vespers, I prayed the “Prayer for our Deceased Sister” with the other Sisters and visitors in our Chapel for the first time in quite a while.  We will be doing this for the rest of the week since one of our German Sisters died recently.

This prayer is offered in conjunction with Psalm 130: “Out of the Depths.”  One phrase of this psalm was particularly striking to me this evening: “For with the Lord there is mercy…”

It is consoling to think that in the midst of our troubled world, facing natural disasters, murders, political unrest and other issues, “with the Lord there is mercy.”

We really cannot grasp how this mercy works and how far it extends.  Without our even thinking about it, God’s mercy can work through us.


Corny Connections

corn.JPGAs I work to process about 1,440 ears of corn (half of which we have been cutting the kernels from and blanching), this morning’s reading about Ruth seemed appropriate.

She is known for gleaning leftover grain from the field of her future husband, Boaz.  We have in common this agricultural connection.

For me, like Ruth, working with the produce of the land, has been a part of life for a long time.  Not only do we get a lot of produce donated here at St. Anne’s which we have to process, but I was introduced to “corn-cutting parties” when I growing up.

We spent a lot of time on our friends’ farm during my childhood and adolescence.  So, while I grew up “in town,” I still had a lot of farm experience as well.

I remember one occasion when we had the kitchen table heaped high with corn which we cut off the cobs for my mom to blanch.  The kettles were then set in the bathtub to cool before the corn was put into bags and frozen.

Although I still ended up calling her to ask advice for blanching this year’s corn donation, this earlier experience provided a good background for me.

It is different actually running the operation yourself.  Now I am the one doing the blanching while others helped with the cutting.  We have eight bags now in the freezer.  This afternoon, when I get off work at the reception desk, I will work to blanch that which I was unable to finish yesterday.

It is nice that we have modern conveniences available which had not yet been invented at the time of Ruth.  An electric stove and freezers certainly make life easier!  A less sophisticated invention that I really appreciate in the large colander which I am borrowing from our main kitchen.  I works beautifully to be able to pour the contents from my hot corn kettle into it, preserving the water below and keeping the corn on top.

I remember what fun I used to have doing dishes when the time came to wash the colander, putting it through the water and creating a fountain with water coming through its holes.  This also had a way of revitalizing my soap suds if they had diminished.  (I wonder if they had any similar device in biblical times on the plain of Moab or near Bethlehem.)

In chapel this morning, as I moved from reflection on Ruth to the Gospel reading, I also felt a connection with the latter scripture passage.  Jesus reminded us of the command to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor.

When I am busy processing all this corn, I remind myself of the reason for doing it.  It is to be an act of love for God and neighbor.  It truly does occupy all the effort and attentiveness I can muster.

The psalm, too, ties in.  The exhortation to “praise the Lord, my soul” is appropriate in thanksgiving for those who shared their bounty.  I am also grateful to all those who are working together in this project, husking, “de-hairing,” and cutting the corn before it makes it into our kettles.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

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Thoughts from Mother Daughter Days Participants

21013783_10155156601786725_2405091968820712625_oAs a Grandmother, I was thrilled to be able to spend time with my granddaughter at the convent.  I had attended the very first Mother/Daughter days with my own daughter in 2004 as a last “hurrah” before she left for college.  Now it has come full circle and attending with her daughter was like coming home.  The sisters are so welcoming and do a wonderful job of making sure each girl feels special.  We’ve got it on our calendar for next year already…

Thanks for a fun 3 days!

Christina would like you to know that it was “super, super fun!” and “I liked meeting the Sisters and seeing how they lived.  It makes me want to be a Sister.”


From Ellen (mom of Tina):  It was a wonderful opportunity to share in the daily lives of the Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen.  I enjoyed meeting the Sisters and hearing about their life.  They have and do so much good in the area and the world.  The catholic church is blessed to have these great women of faith to help us pass the Faith onto our children and the world.  See you all next year!


God bless!

Ellen and Tina


Hats Off to Tuesday Evenings!

I know I’m a bit of a tease; maybe I should learn to act my age!PB260002.JPG

I do enjoy giving people a little grief, at times.  One example is hat-stealing.

We have a married couple that prays with us Tuesday evenings; they join in vespers during their 6-7 adoration hour.

On these occasions, the gentleman brings his hat with him and sets it on the pew beside him.

I am not opposed to swiping the hat and hiding it elsewhere.

We enjoy teasing each other; he brings out the little kid in me, I guess.

The experience of praying with this fine pair and the other Sisters here is part of what makes Tuesday p.m.s a high point in my week.

On Tuesdays, I have some free time in the afternoon, followed by supper and prayer together.  After this, promptly at 6:30 p.m., I work the reception desk here until 10.

I like this schedule as I enjoy the quiet evening half-shift at the desk.  I am also glad to be free to have supper and prayer together before this.

The peace and quiet of Tuesday evenings stands in sharp contrast to Tuesday mornings, when I have multiple commitments almost simultaneously, with 9 a.m. Mass followed by sacristy and receptionist duties right before leading Bible study.

Mother Daughter Days

Thanksgiving service
I just got back from a few days at our provincial house in Hankinson, ND.

This past Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon, We had a group of over twenty mothers and daughters join us for activities, prayers and Mass, games, and “mother-daughter time.”

There was a nice mixture of prayer and fun and also the chance to learn more about our faith and vocation.

The girls even learned actions to the song “Canticle of the Sun,” which is based from St. Francis’ own composition.

I was happy to have two opportunities that I don’t often have when I was there:  I got to play a rousing game of “Spoons” with some of the girls and I also was able to play the beautiful sounding organ in our large chapel there.  (An electric keyboard is nice, but the sound of the organ in Hankinson is really lovely!)

It was a nice chance, too, to visit with our Sisters in Hankinson since I don’t get to do that too often.

Thank you, Sr. Jean Louise for organizing this nice event again!

(More pictures will be forthcoming on this site.)

“That Looks Like a Chicken”

IMG_2207.JPGI know chicken isn’t really a profound or inspirational topic, but we don’t have to be profound and inspirational all the time, do we?

Last evening, our dietary staff served chicken strips, along with other menu items such as apple rings and peas.

I had a little extra time since the other Sisters were still out of town and I was on my own schedule over the supper hour.

Thus it was that I gave in to my urge, or inspiration, to share my “chicken joke” again.

I had showed it several years ago here in the dining room as a diversion during a tornado warning, but now there was a somewhat new audience; several residents have come and gone since that time.

I first learned “the chicken joke,” which my dad does not encourage, about twenty years ago at a graduation open house for the son of one of my mom’s friend.  Since that time I have embellished it.  I now can offer the bare bones, basic version or the embellished, extended, dramatic version in which I tell of my friend Ed, the farmer, sharing a bit of his life’s story and recounting the tragic death of his beloved pet chicken, Beatrice whose special attentions roused the envy of Ed’s wife!  (I have quite the imagination, I guess.)

Last night, I kept things a bit simpler for our residents, some of whom have auditory challenges.

I walked into the dining room but they were still serving a few people.  I had a little time to kill before I could go through the line.  So, back to our conference room I went to get a hand towel (which I was ready to send out to the laundry, anyway).  I proceeded to tell the “chicken joke” in which I mysteriously transform a hand towel into the figure of a butchered chicken.

The residents enjoyed the little story and demonstration; in fact, I had to do it two or three times to allow for others who were interested to see what they had missed.

When I had finished producing my second or third hen, one of our residents observed from his table: “That looks like a chicken!”

I’m glad he thought so!

Anyone wishing detailed instructions on how this art is accomplished is welcome to call or email me for a tutorial in poultry procedures.

My St. Clare Connection


Statue of St. Clare – at my Novitiate Reception

Nine years ago today, on the Feast of St. Clare, I professed my first vows in Hankinson at our Provincial House!

What a special day!

St. Clare, in fact, has been special to me for some time.  Not only was I received as a novice (with a haircut* and all) on her feast day and did I make first vows two years later on that date, I had been introduced to her previously.

*When St. Clare fled to follow St. Francis, he cut off her beautiful hair, tangibly illustrating her departure from worldly things for the sake of Christ

When I was first discerning religious life, my mom happened to stop in at a local religious goods store.  She had been making home visits as a hospice nurse and couldn’t find the patient address; she stopped in this store to get directions.

She recalls saying a prayer, “Mary is there anything I should pick up while here?”  Strange as the story may seem, two copies of the same book fell off the shelf near her.  It happened to be a biography of St. Clare, and she felt inspired to get it for me.

I read it, and appreciated learning more about this inspiring saint, who is often pictured holding the Blessed Sacrament due to a story that she held off invading troops from her monastery by bringing Jesus out and asking His protection for her Sisters.

I feel a special closeness to this early follower of St. Francis.  Not only do we share a special love for the Eucharist, but she also is patroness of embroiders, communications, and against eye problems, three things very relevant to me personally.

Her desire to faithfully follow in the footsteps of Christ inspires me on my journey.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF


IMG_2207.JPGBackground Note: I facilitate a weekly Bible Study group for residents at our Home for elderly and vulnerable adults

It wasn’t what you would call a typical Bible Study/Faith Sharing Group this morning!

At one point, a person could walk into the room and hear some rather unconventional lyrics being sung to the old melody of “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”  That poor elderly agriculturalist would turn over in his grave if he heard our version, invented to correlate with today’s scripture study on the Ten Plagues in Egypt.

Yesterday, our Activities Assistant and I somehow came to create new lyrics to this familiar tune regarding the Sixth Plague that came upon Egypt: boils.  We utilized them with the residents this morning.  (Please note: the following lyrics may be to graphic for younger audiences.)

Old Egyptian had a boil
And on his boil he had some puss
with a pop pop here and a scratch, scratch there,
here a pop, there a scratch, every where a scratch or pop.
Old Egyptian had a boil

Thankfully, the rest of the lesson wasn’t quite so explicitly grotesque, but it did involve frogs, pestilence, locusts, and the like, along with interjections of “Let My People Go

On a more serious note, we did discuss how the story of the Exodus has special meaning for us as Christians.

It is beautiful to see the parallel of how God saved His people from slavery in Egypt and led them out to the promised land; the Father sent His Son Jesus to save us from the slavery of sin and lead us to the Promised Land of heaven.

The story of Moses also serves as a calling to us each personally.  We noted that God sometimes asks us to do things, as He did Moses, things that we may not want to do.  We have to ask ourselves: Are we willing to accept what He asks or do we make excuses?

To “Make our People Happy”

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses, indoor and foodIt seems that a number of the things we do here are, as we sometimes put it, simply done “to make our people happy,” that is: to help provide joy, satisfaction, or fulfillment to our residents.

(In case you’re new to this blog, I serve at an assisted living-type facility.)

This motive led me to our activity room kitchen yesterday afternoon when I was relieved at the front desk by our evening receptionist.

With the hot, muggy weather we’d been having, I hadn’t touched the oven for quite a while.  Now with beautiful, cooler temperatures, baking was no longer out of the question.

Some of our ladies really love to bake.  They enjoy getting “their hands in there” and taking part in activities they once undertook to look after their families.

It can be a bit challenging to keep two or more ladies busy while measuring out ingredients and sometimes having to run to get something I need from elsewhere in the building (like an egg from the main kitchen or cooking spray from the conference room pantry as was the case yesterday.)

Nonetheless, I do it because “it makes our people happy.”  They so enjoy it and thrive on being part of this project.  The other residents savor the chance to have home-baked special treats as well.

It is so neat to be able to say: “Would you like a cookie?  We [here mentioning helpers by name] made them this afternoon.”  It is uplifting for me to be able to “lift them up” and credit them with making something that so delights their fellow residents.

I find that letting older people, now retired, have a chance at some real, productive work does them a lot of good (physically and emotionally).  I have seen it many times.

IMG_2168Tomorrow, I will put this philosophy into practice again (out of necessity, if nothing else).  We received about 100 more pounds of rhubarb this afternoon, and it’s not going to cut up itself.

Sr. Chistina M. Neumann

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