Prayer for Life

20171220_165454Since the legalization of abortion 45 years ago, the pro-life cause has always been important to our Franciscan community.  Our Sisters have been dedicated to praying in front of the abortion clinic in Fargo, supporting pregnancy centers, and much more.

Here at St. Anne’s, we have the custom of including a ‘prayer for life’ in our common devotions after vespers.

Working at a facility which offers care for the aged and disabled, those well on their way to the other end of life’s journey, we have a special concern for respect for life “until natural death,” to quote an often-used phrase.

Like the unborn, the elderly and disabled are vulnerable and in need in their own way.  We are glad to be able to provide a home for individuals who often lack family support.  We recognize the dignity and worth of them, as well.

Sometimes, this is not easy; we can get caught up in our own agenda and forget about each person’s human dignity and the importance of cherishing each person.

Our “prayer for life,” consequently addresses this.

Please join us in praying:

Mary, our Mother,
as you once cherished Christ’s life
within your womb,
teach us also to cherish all life,
from the unborn to the elderly
from the physically disabled
to those whose minds fail them.
Help us to treat each person we meet
as we would Christ, remembering his words:
“Whatever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me.”
Teach us to love Him more each day
by valuing each precious life we encounter.



Pepto-Bismol Pink

20171220_165454Close to nine o’clock last evening, I was tying up loose ends over here at St. Anne’s, putting away my costume, checking things in chapel, and doing whatever else I had to do after a chaotic afternoon and busy evening.

We had held our annual employee appreciation dinner party and had just recently made it back from the restaurant.

This year, we had decided, in honor of our 65 year in Grand Forks, to have a decades dress up theme, where people were encouraged to come in a fashion from the past, such as a poodle skirt or bell-bottoms.

Though many did not participate, some of us did.  Our activity assistant lent me a pink skirt (that even flares when you spin) and her co-worker brought me a “rock & roll” blouse (with a poodle on it) to wear with it.

Along with a pink lace scarf, the outfit was completed with pink nail polish.

By the late evening hour, when I passed by the nurse’s office, I no longer was wearing my ’50s attire.  I voiced my regrets that this nurse had not been able to join us (since she had to work).  Although I was unable to show her my complete outfit, I still had my nails painted.

In visiting with her, I dubbed them “Pepto-Bismol Pink.”

This morning, as I sit at the reception desk, the nail polish still remains.  After filling in as a floor aide before coming to my regular shift, there was no time to even think about getting out the fingernail polish remover from our little beauty shop across the hall.

I guess it’s good to have a little extra color these days when most of us are suffering from the “winter blahs” and are more than ready for spring.

“And These, Thy Gifts”

IMG_20171220_124851This morning, to open our weekly Bible study, I asked one of our residents to lead us in a prayer.

Accidentally, she began: “Bless us, O Lord…”

Mistakes, happen; I know all to well!

Rather than correct and stop her, I just “went with it,” and we all finished the prayer together.

I figured that a prayer asking for blessing and recalling God’s gifts was appropriate any time.  In fact, God’s word, the Scripture, which we were about to read and discuss, is a very great gift, indeed.

As we began Bible study, this prayer truly was fitting; we were about to receive the gift of God’s word, given to us from His bounty and goodness, “through Christ, our Lord.”

What a beautiful prayer it was to begin our Bible study.

When we had finished, as the residents were leaving, lunchtime was just around the corner.

So, I prayed this traditional meal prayer a second time with one or two who were remaining, this time gratefully asking a blessing upon our physical food which we were “about to receive.”

Cat Burglar?

20171220_165454Sr. Elaine went out shopping again this morning, as she often does on Saturdays (or when need arises around here).

As she was about to take the items out to the car, a man (store employee) who appeared to be in his mid to late 30s approached her, saying: “You look like someone who could use some help…Can I help you?”

She decided to be gracious and politely accept the kind offer.  The man helped her carry items out.  She opened the trunk with the remote control from the key ring she was carrying.  Sr. Elaine noted how shocked he was that “this old lady would have a modern car.”

When everything was successfully placed in the trunk, he offered: “Would you like some help getting into the car?”

By this time, though, enough was enough for poor Sr. Elaine.  She did not want to be taken for an invalid.  She graciously declined the offer, assuring him that she would be fine.

Sr. Elaine returned back to St. Anne’s and had to share a good laugh with our nurse on duty.  Before sharing this with her, however, she asked her: “What do I look like?”  After they shared the story and a good laugh, the nurse confessed that Sr. Elaine bore a resemblance to a ‘cat burglar.’

Not sure what connotations such a title might hold (not being too familiar with the phrase), a little research was done on Sister’s behalf here in the main office.

We found that a cat burglar is any of the following:

  • a burglar who is adept at entering and leaving the burglarized place without attracting notice
  • a burglar who breaks into buildings by climbing through upstairs windows, across roofs, etc., especially with great stealth and agility
  • a thief who steals from houses or other buildings by climbing up walls

20171220_165454.jpgThese activities, though not morally sound, are not so vulgar as to make such a reference inappropriate to share.  Therefore, we have printed the picture for Sr. Elaine, the cat buglar, to use in her annual greetings.

“I’m So Glad You’re Here!”

P2090003.JPGWe now have a little decorative snowman standing near the front desk here at St. Anne’s.  As cute as he may look at first glance, don’t let looks deceive you; he can get on your nerves very quickly.  (Sr. Rebecca recently put a lot of the Christmas decorations away and brought out snowmen.)

You see, not only does this little snowman stand there and look charming, he also has greetings which he offers at random; he is motion-sensitive but somewhat unpredictable: he does not always respond.

He has a few ‘canned’ greetings, which include: “It’s cold outside!,” “Be our guest and stay a while!,” “Come on in; it’s warm inside,” and “I’m so glad you’re here!”

To just hear the little guy once as a passerby is one thing; I may even concede to calling him cute on a one-time encounter.  But, after hearing him, as the receptionist, whenever anyone comes near, for several hours, even the most peaceful among us is ready to strangle the little fellow.

Unable to find any on/off switch, we had subjected him to solitary confinement upon the safe in our back office.  That way, the only time he’d speak up is if someone approached that back corner.

Unfortunately, Sr. Rebecca, unaware of the torture he had been putting us through, keeps bringing him back out to his prominent place next to the front desk.

Needless to say, I do not share his sentiments of: “I’m so glad you’re here!”

However, I found myself echoing this corny little phrase, unthinkingly this morning in the quiet of our chapel.

Remembering Christ’s presence in the tabernacle here, I had used these words in prayer: “I’m so glad you’re here!”

Oh, no!!!  Now I sound like that obnoxious snowman!


I Was Here This Morning!

20171220_165734This morning, Father approached the ambo, offered the customary greeting and announcement, and began to read the assigned gospel passage from Mark.

As I stood listening, it struck me: “I was here this morning.”

The passage chronicled Jesus’ call of Levi (Matthew) and subsequent dinner arrangements and proclamations, inferring that he is the physician sent to the sick of soul.

This was not the first time in recent memory that this account had been presented to me; I had used it less than four hours earlier for my morning meditation.  (I find it nice to read the scriptures before hearing them at Mass.)

I really appreciate passages with concrete images and encounters, into which I can easily place myself.  I find them much more conducive to meditation (for myself, personally) than lofty, philosophical discourses.  But, that could just be me; everyone’s different.

In this passage, we were told of Levi’s concrete, life-changing encounter with our Lord.

This morning, in my own time of quiet prayer, I, too, had encountered Jesus.  Like Levi so long ago, I had met Him, present with me in the tabernacle of our chapel.

Now I was meeting Him again as the scriptures were read aloud.  Soon, in the most extraordinary way, I would be meeting Him at Holy Communion!

It is beautiful to be able to meet Jesus several times a day, in the scriptures, in “the Breaking of the Bread,” and in the people I encounter.  I would do well to be more conscious of his holy presence with me throughout the day.

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Free Will!

soda-cans-gold-silverLast evening, we were talking about the trouble we have with some of our residents.  Oftentimes, they just don’t make good decisions.

For their own health, we wish some of our people would limit their intake of soda pop.  They just seem to drink excessive amounts with no concern for their kidneys or medication retention.  Others can be sick with a cold or suffering from symptoms of COPD and still go out for a smoke in sub-zero temperatures.

It is said and frustrating.  I am not saying that, by any means, all of our residents do this, but there are some.

We wish we could limit this, make them stop smoking, or drastically cut their pop intake.  However, they have their rights, “they are their own guardians.”

As I was thinking about this on my way to bed after putting in my time as aide and receptionist, it occurred to me that it boils down to free will;  it also struck me that I’m not all that different.

I do things that aren’t good for me, too.  I don’t always “behave” in my own best interest.  I give in to my own whims and desires rather than saying ‘no’ to myself, all too often.

We all have been given the gift of free will.  God has so respected and loved us, giving us the ‘right’ to make our own decisions.

If only we would all use this gift more appropriately!

¡Hace Mucho Frio!

24294078_1712662668773614_3566575335590337298_nThis morning, Sr. Elaine pulled in the garage at our convent and I jumped out of the car and literally ran back over to St. Anne’s.

We three sisters had gone over to Mass at the local parish church since we don’t have Mass here today.

I don’t like the cold, and I spend as little time out in it as possible.  I really dilike sitting town in a cold car with a skirt.  (The fact that I often only wear knee-high stockings doesn’t help much.)  For being a native “Minnesota girl,” Frosty and I don’t get along too well.

Thus it was that I hustled out of the garage and over to my workplace, which is only a couple hundred feet away from our convent.

I rushed in the door and hung up my heavy winter coat, catching a glimpse of one of our residents on her way to the nurse.

The two of us have something in common; she is Hispanic and I have studied Spanish.  I’d like to “keep it up” but have little opportunity to do so.  I do enjoy practicing my Spanish with others when the occasion presents itself, though it’s not as often as I’d like.

This morning, though, as I finished putting my jacket away for heading in for some breakfast, I spontaneously exclaimed to the above-mentioned lady: “¡Hace mucho frio!” (It is very cold!)  She responded amiably and I went on my way for a bowl of hot cereal.

Being able to connect with people is so important!  Finding a common ground and drawing them out is such a big part of our ministry here.  Our residents may come here, feeling lonely and isolated; if we can show interest in them and get them interested in something, it can really help them on their way to leading a happy, healthy life once again.

Who knew that cold (frio) could have health benefits?

Let’s Get Together (yeah yeah yeah)

Image result for happy new year border

Well, if you’ve seen the original Parent Trap, you will hopefully have caught my reference.

I’m way too young to have been around when the show first came out, but I certainly saw it as a child.

This post’s titular phrase, from a fun song in the above-mentioned film, came to mind after I got this picture sent to me from our little gathering last night.

Sometimes, my fellow Sister and superior, Sr. Elaine, asks: “What time should we get together?” as we make plans for our community book study/discussion.

Last evening, we did, indeed, get together, as Hayley Mills once sang, but it was not for any parent-related shenanigans.  Nor was it for a book study.

20171220_165454Rather, “[they] and I combine[d]” (that is, we gathered) for our annual Christmas/New Years prayer service and gift exchange party.

(We do this December 31st every year with our Sisters from Rugby, who stop through at our convent for a few days on their way back from spending Christmas at our provincial house.  Since they work in a school setting they have some time off now.  They traditionally go back to Hankinson, helping out and enjoying Christmas with our other Sisters there.)

After voicing prayers for several different intentions and singing a couple of carols, we exchanged gifts from near the tree downstairs, thus revealing our prayer partners for the year (see earlier post).

After all this was done, we headed upstairs to share some of the plentiful goodies we’ve received over the last couple of weeks.

At this New Years Party, we don’t make it until midnight; in fact, we had things tidied up on time for me to make it back to my room by the 10 o’clock curfew.

It was a good thing, too, because I was exhausted from the hubbub of the season and all we’ve been dealing with lately.