On the Winning Side

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St. Michael Statue at St. Anne’s

This morning, as I was going over the readings for Mass, it struck me that “We’re on the winning side.”

There are actually two options for the first reading on this feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.  The first option is from the book of Daniel and the second is from Revelation.

The first speaks of thrones being set up, the Ancient One taking His throne, and thousands ministering to Him.  It speaks of “one like a son of man” receiving dominion, glory, kingship, and the service of all nations.  It concludes with the reassuring words that his everlasting dominion shall not be taken away nor His kingship destroyed.

The second option is not “for general audiences.”  It speaks of Michael and his angels battling against the dragon, who fought back with his helpers.  They lost the battle, however, and lost their place in heaven.  Although the serpent deceived the whole world, we are encouraged to hear that “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.”  We read further that “the accuser of our brothers is cast out.”

Victory has been won; we have conquered “by the Blood of the Lamb.”  Although we have plenty of struggles and enough to discourage us, I was reminded that “we’re on the winning side!”

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Gone Fishing

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The season of summer vacationing, during which many people “get away” and relax at lake resorts or property, is winding down.  The days of fun on the water, swimming, boating, and fishing have all but vanished for another year.

I, however, was privileged to have one more “fishing” experience last evening.  I had been asked to fill in as personal care aide here at St. Anne’s and was making my rounds to check the cleanliness of the bathrooms and empty trash.

With only my trash bag (no pole, bait, hook or bobber), I found that a disposable chuck (protective pad against incontinence) had somehow “gone swimming.”  To prevent a flood to disrupt the tranquility of this “get away spot,” I carefully removed the unwanted item, fishing it out of the toilet and carefully relocating it into my trash bag.  Yuck!

Although it’s “no vacation,” I do find doing this occasional aide work to be rewarding, even enjoyable at times.  It is fun to converse with our residents, joke with them, and make their evening a bit brighter.  I am privileged to be able to help those who are not able to care fully for themselves.

 

No Time for Baking?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has been a busy week!  I am looking forward to a quiet evening and the chance to catch up on a bit of reading after all that’s been going on.

Having made many gallons of apple sauce yesterday afternoon and planning ahead for Sunday’s fall/harvest-themed “reminisce” program that we’ll be having with our residents, I had “oatmeal applesauce cookies” on my mind earlier.

I thought they would be the perfect treat to share on this occasion, and I knew that a few of our ladies here at St. Anne’s would love the nostalgic activity around our activity room kitchen.

I was scheduled to get off work at the front desk here by 1:30 p.m. so that I could help with a project we needed to finish for the health department.  I thought that it wouldn’t take too long, and we’d have plenty of time to get the two dozen cookies done well before supper.

The task I was helping ended up taking longer than I imagined it would.  I looked at the time on t he computer as we finished, seeing that it was close to 4 p.m.!

Did I still have time to get all the cookies done before I was due back at the front desk and our ladies went in for supper?  I wasn’t sure.

Realizing, however, that my recipe was a rather simple one, I thought we’d give it a try.  I gathered the ladies who were happy for the chance to help bake again.

Not long after, we had a good supply of aromatic harvest-time cookies cooling on wire racks.

Completing these harvest-time activities so often gives me a deep sense of gratitude, not only for the bounty that has been shared with us, but for the many helping hands that worked together, and for the graces given me to see the task to “a happy end.”

“My Little Sister’s Coming!”

IMG_20170916_110135383_HDR.jpgAbout a week ago, I got an email from my sister asking if I was up for company over the weekend.

After checking things out here, I informed her that I certainly was.

Soon after, I could be heard sharing the exciting news with a co-worker: “My little sister’s coming!”

Angie has come with my parents before when they’ve driven the 330 mile trek to visit me in Grand Forks.  However, it was particularly nice, touching, and special to have a visit from her by herself.

She arrived Friday evening, and Saturday morning we walked together to Town Square, where we visited the Farmers’ Market.

As you can see from the picture, she found some fresh beets to take home with her.

Some people wonder about how family ties are effected when a person enters religious life.  There certainly are variations from community to community.

While logistics of visits with family are certainly impacted, these relationships are not ended when one enters a religious community.  Although I don’t talk to my family members every day, I do include them in my daily prayers.  I am grateful for their prayer support for me as well.

 

 

Great Love, Great Suffering

mary-seven-sorrowsIn preparation for reading at this morning’s Mass, I used the texts from the lectionary for my meditation.  In reflecting on the “alleluia verse,” I was struck by the relationship between love and sorrow.

I realized that Mary, who is now invoked as “Our Lady of Sorrows,” probably loved more than any other human person ever had, more than any of us.  Her great love for her Son must have been a cause of great, corresponding sorrow.

She had to see Him be treated cruelly and put to death.  If you see someone you love suffering, it causes you suffering and sorrow as well.  Since Mary, whose love was so great, saw her Son suffering so terribly, her sorrow must have been tremendous as well.

I know that I have sufferings and sorrows in my own life, but I doubt I’ll ever have any that compare to what Mary went through.

If we ever get tempted to fall into self-pity, we have only to look to our sorrowful, suffering Mother to see that we don’t have it so bad after all.

As Franciscan Sisters, we are encouraged by our directives to keep the example of Mary “ever before [our] eyes.”  An integral part of this example was her willingness to cooperate in God’s plan, even when it meant intense suffering.

“Plum Full”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning, when I woke up, I surely did not anticipate all that this day would hold!

We had been out to the farm of Sr. Rebecca’s niece yesterday, and she had given us potatoes, tomatoes, onions, tomato sauces (salsa and pasta), and plums – lots of them!

It was nice to get out of town, despite the fact that we had trouble finding the farm.

I figured that today would be a nice Monday, with a few little projects before coming to the front desk for my 3:30-10 p.m. receptionist shift, but, boy, had I underestimated how long plum processing takes!

We had about four grocery bags of sweet, JUICY, plums.  Since we now have a Ninja blender for taking care of such things, I thought we would just take the pits out and puree the plums before cooking them into jam or desserts.  I had a few helpers to aid me in the process, but could certainly have used more.

The night shift, who clean in the activity room, should feel that their efforts are worthwhile tonight.  Often, when cutting into the little plums, juice would squirt out in any direction.  In fact, one of the nearby vinyl-covered chairs had definite evidence of the “plum pitting party.”

I did clean up as best I could with the time I had, but, there are only so many hours in a day (a fact which I acutely felt this afternoon).

With my work at the front desk, efforts to finalize a new brochure, posting a job opening, and changing the altar cloth, this day was PLUM FULL!

At some point this afternoon, I remembered that I also had tomorrow morning’s Bible study to prepare for as well.  After saying a quick prayer for guidance in this, it dawned on me that I could play our Biblical Pursuit board game with the residents, saving myself the effort of another task of preparing a lesson.  I am grateful for the “inspiration.”

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

“They Left Everything and Followed Him”

calling_of_apostlesThis morning, we again heard the beautiful story of the beginnings of St. Peter’s discipleship in the gospel reading.

To be accurate, this probably wasn’t the very beginning; he obviously had some familiarity with Jesus before he let him use his boat.

There is so much in this passage; so much for reflection and meditation.

I was glad to have had the chance to pray with this text this morning before Mass during my mediation.  One phrase that stuck out to me as I “heard” this text for the second time today was: “they left everything and followed him.”

I realized, upon further reflection at Mass, that each of us is called (in a sense) to leave everything and follow him each day of our lives.

Different days, this can mean different things.  I have different things I cling to at different times.

My desire to do things my way, to say what  want, to have a relationship go according to my plans; I should be willing to “leave” all this behind at Jesus’ call.  He may be asking me to go beyond my selfishness, to step beyond my own ideas.  Like Peter in another gospel account, maybe I need to “get out of the boat” and walk toward Jesus on the water.

What I am doing may not be gravely wrong (I hope and pray not), but I may be called to leave it behind for something better.

When I made my vows, I gave myself to Jesus, following Him in a special way.  This gospel passage reminded me of the need, on a daily basis, to be like Peter and Andrew.

I have to be open to what Jesus may be asking me to leave today, be it my impatience with others, my curiosity, or another pettiness.

Unlike Peter, I do not say: “”Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful [wo]man” for I desperately need and want his companionship.

Crown Him with Many Crowns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning, my fingers delighted in playing the chords and melody of a hymn which had been chosen by Sr. Rebecca, whose week it is to lead Office, lector at Mass, and select the music.  In other words, it’s “her week for liturgy.”

She had picked “Crown Him With Many Crowns” for Friday’s Mass, and it is my turn to provide accompaniment on the keyboard in our chapel.  The arrangement I use is in the key of D, which is probably my favorite anyway.

Along with the ease for playing and the beautiful sound, this hymn also has lovely words of praise to our King.  They were, I discovered with a little research, written by an Anglican convert to Catholicism.  Not too long after becoming Catholic in his forties, Mathew Bridges (1800-1894) wrote this magnificent hymn.

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity. 

This is one of those songs which, for me, lifts the heart.  Its words do inspire my soul to praise and hail our “matchless King” who died for us.

Reflecting on this also inspires me again to live my life in a way that will please Him, rather than myself.  I pray I may do so as a faithful subject of so great a King.

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