Only a Few More Days to be Owly


Saturday evening, when we drew names for our “prayer partner,” we also drew a slip with our “Advent practice” for the coming weeks.  (We did all this a week early since our Sisters with whom we exchange were in town for Thanksgiving.)

The “Advent practices” start this coming weekend (I guess you could say, Saturday evening with first vespers).

We never know which character from the nativity scene we will be called to emulate by drawing a little slip of paper; this year I have the exalted role of “the donkey.”

Sr. Elaine drew a slip designating her as “the angel the brings joy.”  In our common discussion that evening, we came to the conclusion that, as such, she could not be owly.  Bringing joy and being grumpy don’t mesh well.  (She and I like to tease about her “being owly” if she makes remarks that are less than positive and friendly- it’s become an inside joke.)

Sr. Elaine informed us that evening that she still had a week left in which to get this ‘owliness’ out of her system; the Advent practice does not actually start until Advent (thus the above-mentioned first vespers time-frame).

If you happen to stop by St. Anne’s within the next few days, beware; Sr. Elaine may try to get the last of the owliness used up before it’s too late!

~ Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

PS: This is really just in fun – she’s not that terribly owly anyway!  In fact, she goes out of her way to bring happiness to others.


I’ve Got the “Little” Sister

Resized_20161019_090643As is customary for Thanksgiving weekend, last evening we held our annual prayer service/name drawing for the coming liturgical year.  (This often falls on the first Sunday of Advent, but this year, it was on the vigil of the wonderful feast of Christ the King.)

During this beautiful time of community sharing between our St. Anne’s convent and our visiting Sisters from Little Flower Convent in Rugby, we prayed, sang, and shared.  We also each drew a couple of items, one being an “Advent practice” for the coming season, in which we were given a role from the nativity scene to emulate (be the donkey, ox, shepherd, or angel, etc. )

We also drew the name of the person for whom we are to pray in the coming liturgical year.

During the visiting the followed, we shared some memories of those whose names we had drawn in the past.

I could not help call to mind my first Advent “in the convent” when I had drawn the name of our Sister Elizabeth Klein, now deceased.

We do not reveal the name of our prayer person until Christmas.  However, for fun, I had hinted with my postulant directress as to her identity.  I had told her that I had “the little sister.”  Sr. Elizabeth’s last name, Klein, is German for small or little.

(I’m not sure if that was ‘legal.’)

I remember that when I was first visiting Hankinson the pears were in season.  Sr. Elizabeth would go out and pick them, bringing them in to table with her.  Although she had once been a school teacher at our various missions, specializing in music, she was, by this time, retired to our provincial house.

Her life was a real gift to our community.  Along with her mere presence, prayer, and teaching, she also blessed us with some of her own original music which has been used throughout the years by our Sisters.  Among these is a song she wrote about our province.

As we conclude this Thanksgiving weekend, I offer a prayer of thanks for the life of this, our “little” Sister, and for having the opportunity to get to know her a little.

Cecilia, You’re Breaking my Heart

Today’s feast brings to mind Simon & Garfunkel’s hit song bearing this saint’s name.

img_studentlife_inpage_residencehalls_caecillian-03cc3546Having grown upon listening to “the oldies station” (thanks to my dad) and having lived in “Caecilian Hall” for most of my college years, I’ve heard this catchy tune countless times before.  (I had friends/floormates who were known to sing it for fun at times.)

The above-mentioned building has an interesting story behind its name, having formally been used as the music building on campus.  To this day, I continue to invoke St. Cecilia, the patron saint of (sacred) music when I need to help in this role, especially before leading the responorial psalm, a task for which I have no formal training).

Sr. Elaine and I take turns providing organ music for Mass (on the days when hymns are being used).  Today, in honor of St. Cecilia, I mad a special point of using music where I might otherwise have been tempted to let it go.

This early virgin martyr has a special place in my devotional life; a musician with limited abilities such as myself especially needs her intercession.

guercino_-_st-_cecilia_-_google_art_projectShe also is an example for me of purity and fidelity to Christ amidst whatever trials may come.

St. Cecilia, please pray for us!

“Called – Llamados”

23559920_1843270989317956_2425648659906597885_nThis afternoon, I got back from spending a long weekend with Sr. Jean Louise, Sr. Mary Ruth, fellow travelers, and about 25,000 others gathered in Indianapolis for the bi-annual National Catholic Youth Conference.

This year’s conference was entitled “Called – Llamados.”  (I enjoyed the bit of Spanish that was used during parts of the weekend – I only wished I could have read the lyrics better on the screen.)

This theme of being called came up during the sessions.  For example, we are called to listen and called to serve (My tired, overwhelmed brain cannot recall the other sub-themes at present.)

Especially on Saturday, a day which traditionally honors our Blessed Lady, we were reminded of her “yes.”  Throughout the weekend, we were encouraged to offer our own individual “yes.”  It was a good opportunity to interiorly offer my own “yes” again.

As I thought about this, I realized again that a yes is not a one time thing.  It is something we are called to give again and again.  In my reflection this weekend, I was also reminded that my efforts at living this are not enough.

To echo the words of a song we sang at the end of the evening, “Your grace is enough.”  I have to call upon God’s grace, and rely upon it, rather than my own efforts.  His grace is what will enable me to live my yes.

Please pray for me that I may be faithful in doing this.


Please Plan Your Emergencies Accordingly

img_0553Midway through a second consecutive day of helping fill in for a sick aide, I was having supper with Sr. Elaine (while Sr. Rebecca took her turn at the reception desk).

As I’ve been thinking ahead to my upcoming trip to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis next week, I mentioned that I’d been tempted to put a note at the employee time clock.

It would state something like: “Sr. Christina will be out of town for several days and will not be available November 15 through 19.  Please plan your emergencies accordingly.”

emergency-clipart-k21407704We both kind of laughed at the turn of phrase.  There’s a reason I don’t have a job title anymore on my name badge.  Like so many others here, I end up filling up in multiple departments.

I am so grateful to those who pitched in to help with needed tasks, especially with laundry.  (I don’t mind collecting, sorting colors, and running them through the machines, but reading name tags and sorting/delivering accordingly is challenging.)

As I look forward to my upcoming trip, I hope no other emergencies come up during that time.  I’m not saying people couldn’t live without me, but I like to be able to help in such cases.

While other job responsibilities are all good, there is something I find especially rewarding about providing direct care for our residents.

“As a Child Finds Rest…”


Familiar words from Psalm 131 came to mind for me after Communion this morning: “As a child finds rest in its mother’s arms, even so, my soul.”

It came as a moment of quiet, restful peace which I really appreciated.

I have been so gifted these last couple of days.  I have received such blessings and relief.  A burdensome situation (of many months) seems to have been resolved.  (Sometimes we don’t know what weight we are bearing until it is lifted.)

Also, we got a new oven so I can bake with “my ladies.”  (a few of our residents thoroughly enjoy helping bake; I have been limited in doing this recently due to a dysfunctional oven.)  I would have been happy with a used one – anything had to be better than what we had.  (The new stove’s maiden voyage of a pot of rhubarb sauce was a success.)

On top of all this, I had this quiet moment of grace this morning.

I am so blessed!  I have to be thankful to Our Lord for taking such good care of me on life’s journey.

Give Them All

This evening, after a somewhat stressful day, I put on an old cassette tape I’d received from my mom.  (Yes, I still have some around!)

One of the songs gave me a nudge that I am still working to implement.  I’ve been dealing with a couple of challenging issues here, and have found myself feeling frustrated.  The vocalist, whose music I grew up with, encouraged her listeners, encouraged ME, to “give them all to Jesus.”

I think there might be something to the timing of me hearing this song.  I think I should be attentive to the beautiful words contained there.

In the near future, I need to set aside a moment to make a real effort at giving my present frustrations and concerns over to Jesus; I think He can handle them (better than I can).  It’s easier said then done, though.

Snow, Snow, Look at the Snow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast evening, shortly before 10 p.m., I returned to St. Anne’s (the facility at which I work) to bring the dog back.  (Recently, “Zoe” has been an evening guest at our convent.)

Snow was falling; it was beautiful.  Something about a fresh snow fall tends to bring out the playful little girl in me.  That is, until mid-January when I am sick and tired of it.

While waiting for the dog, who wasn’t as quick as I was, I preceded to try drawing a smile face in the snow, something I often do when that “little girl” gets the better of me.

The snow was still falling, though, and I figured that my cheerful illustration would be covered up in a soft blanket of white long before anyone could see it in the morning.

When I got inside with Zoe and brushed off my feet, I saw a few of our residents gathered in the atrium, a room which my dad has dubbed “the perfect place to watch a snowstorm.”  (the room has an abundance of window space.)

To these lingering residents, I exclaimed: “Snow, snow!  Look at the snow,” quoting a book we knew and loved as children.  I continued on, quoting: “Do you like snow?  Yes, I like snow!  Do you like it in your face?  Yes, I like it any place!”

I’m not so sure I agree with all of that, but there is something beautiful about God’s gift of that fluffy white stuff!

What do you think?