“Just a Weary Pilgrim”

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

For some reason, “pilgrim” was my word for today.  It stood out to me both at my time of prayer and when Father happened to use it in his homily at Mass.

In fact, the words of the familiar folk song: “When the Saints Go Marching In” came to mind.

In one of its verses, this old tune comments: “I am just a weary pilgrim traveling through this world of sin, Getting ready for my Savior when the Saints go marching in.”

This verse kind of sums up how I feel at times.

I don’t know about you but, for me, the continual struggles of life can make me feel weary at times.  Some situations just don’t seem to get better, but carry on, day after day and week after week, as I continue on the pilgrimage of life.

I remind myself, though, that these problems won’t last for ever.

Through them all, I am, hopefully, “getting ready for the Savior.”  Even amidst the struggles, I have to try to live in a way pleasing to Him.

The struggles must be a bridge rather than an obstacle in my pilgrim journey toward (and with) Him.

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The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

dscn5033This morning, after things had settled down a little bit, a couple of residents and I were inspired to sing “The sun will come out tomorrow…” from Annie.  I don’t remember what exactly triggered it, but it seemed fitting.

With all of yesterday’s craziness (including a state health survey, three unexpected overnight visitors, a man seeking funeral advice, and much more), the sun had to come out today.

And, yes…things were looking up!  The surveyor left last evening and I finally finished the video I’ve been working on (for days) for our 65th anniversary celebration.

After carefully selecting background music that was free to use, I uploaded it to YouTube for ease in sharing.  To my dismayed surprise, I received notice that a couple of the musical selections were subject to copyright law.  I am now awaiting permissions that I didn’t know I needed.

This process of scanning old albums to create a video for our big day (Monday) has been a wonderful learning process and history lesson.

You can share in the little lesson be watching it below.

Should I Be Wearing White?

1965Having lived at our provincial house for a time (where one of our Sisters wore white), and being familiar with our directives, I knew that there was an option for our Sisters to wear all white rather than black and white as I am accustomed to now.

However, the reality of this being done never hit me before like it did this past week.

I have been going through old photo albums and scanning in pictures to make a video for our 65th anniversary celebration at St. Anne’s.

One of my  co-workers noticed, in the old pictures, that some Sisters were wearing black and others white.  She asked me why that was.  I told her that Sisters who engaged in certain works may wear white.

I wasn’t sure which apostolates traditionally called for this apparel, and discussed it with Sr. Elaine, who was around “back in the day.”  I was informed that those Sisters in dietary even wore white, along with the nurses and care aides.

I find this history so interesting.  This photo project, although it is a lot of work, is fascinating and informative as well.

This discussion made me think to myself: Should I be wearing white?  

I do a fair amount of aide duties and dietary-related work.  (Maybe, I should have hung on to my white veil from novitiate!)

If I were living back in the early days of St. Anne’s, would I be one of the “white” Sisters?

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

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A Life-Changing Endowment

By: Sr. Christina M. Neumann

This morning, after some days’ visit, I saw my parents off.  I waved to them as they drove away, bound for West St. Paul, my home town (after a stop 140 miles south at our provincial house in Hankinson).

As wonderful it is to spend time with family, I needed a day to catch up on other work that had taken a back seat during their visit…

I had pictures to scan for a video chronicling our Home’s 65-year history (we have a celebration coming up), I had laundry to finish, a little work in chapel to get done, and who knew what else the hours would hold before I was due at the reception desk for my 3:30-10 p.m. shift.

By 11:15 a.m., I had gotten some items checked off my mental “to do list,” but still had some miles to go as I headed from our convent for a brief session of “desk duty” to give the morning receptionist her lunch break.

Walking into the office, I saw a note, with large black letters on my mail tray/stackette.  It said: “Sr. Christina…rhubarb in the Activity Room.”

Over my years at St. Anne’s, I’ve become the main produce processing organizer/recruiter.  Our exhilarating operations, which I refer to as “rhubarb cutting parties” take place in our activity room.  Thus it was that this exciting endowment of fresh produce awaited me in the kitchen there.

After we prayed our Angelus and Grace but before going into the dining room to get a plate, I thought I’d better check how much rhubarb we had to contend with.  I saw a large white garbage bag full – a fair amount but not as much as we’ve sometimes dealt with before.

I decided I ought to try and recruit a few residents to help, which I tried as I walked through the dining room.  I announced we’d be cutting rhubarb at about twenty to one.

So much for time to catch up and get ahead on my other projects!

We worked hard for a couple of hours, processing about 12 pounds.  I decided, rather than packing up and freezing all of it, to make some more sauce right away.  Thus it was that 45 cups of rhubarb became sauce for us and our residents to enjoy.

Needless to say, I ended up barely finishing before I was due for my 3:30 shift at the reception desk.

(I still need to package the sauce which I left out to cool.)

This endowment of rhubarb, by anonymous sources, was truly life-changing.

My afternoon progressed far differently than I had anticipated.

Maybe tomorrow I can get more of my other work done.

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Christmas in July

gl27520rv20red20chalice20veilThis morning, I put a red chalice veil on over the pall and finished a couple of other sacristy duties before grabbing breakfast and heading to the front desk.  It matched nicely with the lacy tabernacle veil some feet away.

I like it when things match.  Call me silly, but when the visiting priest walks out into the sanctuary with corresponding vestments, it “does my heart good.”

But, alas, this was not to be the case on this occasion.  Father came out in green!

Oh, my…we had Christmas in July!  His green contrasted noticeably with the red!

This has happened before when my guess at the Mass of choice differed from the Mass that was actually chosen.  (When there are optional memorials for a day, I have to make an educated guess” as to what Mass to set up for, marking the missal and putting on altar cloths accordingly.)

It’s only too bad that Sr. Elaine (organist today) didn’t play “Joy to the World” as a postlude or recessional.

image2I just hope that “every heart” in our congregation still lovingly “prepare[s] Him room” every time we gather, despite distracting discrepancies.

These Four Years

Today, for me, marks four years,
which have held both joy and tears,
since I final profession made
when on our chapel floor I laid.

I am so grateful for this call,
That I am His through it all!
Whether days be bleak or bright,
I’m always with Him, in His sight.

I don’t know what the years will hold,
what will come before I’m old.
But I pray that I always might
do what’s pleasing in His sight.

I pray He’ll use these feeble hands,
these feet which need His help to stand
to bring His blessings to those in need,
and that He’ll always take the lead.

Thank You for Coming “Under my Roof.”

003.JPGThis morning, we heard the Gospel of the centurion (Roman soldier in charge of 100 men) who was commended for his faith.

He had approached Jesus, seeking healing for a sick servant.  When Jesus offered to come  and cure him, the centurion stopped Him, proclaiming his unworthiness and voicing his trust in the power of Jesus’ mere word.

It is from this encounter that we get the text we use before communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

At Communion this morning, after hearing this Gospel, a spontaneous prayer came to my heart: “Lord, thank you for coming under my roof.”

Like the centurion, I am not worthy of the honor of His presence, His visit.  However, unlike him, I won’t discourage Jesus from coming.  I need His presence!

The words of the communion antiphon today were a consolation, reminding me that I have this grace (His presence): “I am with you always.”

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“It’s Already Tomorrow in Australia”

australia-on-globe-mdI’m about to close off the night here at the front desk, and what an evening it’s been!!!

It started with a hospital visit, from which we arrived home late.  Then, when we were just finishing supper, I was paged and asked to help our aide upstairs.

Without violating HIPAA regulations, let’s just say there was a mess to clean up.  Sr. Elaine said she’d start evening Office, which we pray together regularly after supper.  As I hurried away, I said “Maybe, you’d better finish it, too.”  I was right; I had to pray privately this evening once I got to the front desk for my shift, a couple of minutes late.

It was good to be able to sit down and have that chaos behind me; but more awaited.  I was working on a project the computer, but had also been noticing that it was somewhat slow.  Also, the browser window was not displaying properly.

I tried various things, including restarted the computer, and ended up trying to “de-clutter.”  I thought I’d uninstall some unneeded software that may have been accidentally downloaded over the years.  Well, in my tired haste, I had accidentally started to uninstall our MS Office software – not good!

I ended up having to force the computer off to terminate the de-installation process!

I hoped no permanent damage was done and finally got back to my project.

I am very grateful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance lately.

It seems that I start out on these projects, overwhelmed and lacking clarity.  I pray for guidance and things seem to come around.  (Yes, I did remember to say “thank you.”)

The above-mentioned project involves some email correspondence on occasion, so I checked gmail again.  However, the “new message” was not the one I was waiting for.  Instead, it came all the way from Australia!

We get pre-written petitions for the “Universal Prayer” at Mass from a priest “down under” who writes and sends them out to various parishes.  This email was the coming week’s Mass petitions.

(I have to “doctor them up” a bit and modify them for our audience.  We don’t typically pray for “those in leadership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

Anyway, this email from the other side of the world reminded me of a little quote Sr.  Elaine has used jokingly on occasion: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

* * *

Even when things go topsy-turvy for me, and I’m afraid I’m going to crash the computer or get sick from cleaning an unsavory mess, I don’t need to worry.  The same One who made all seven continents (including Australia) has a handle on the craziness in my life as well.  🙂

Hairspray?

P1010008Our Constitutions direct us to “use those things entrusted to [us] carefully and in keeping with their purpose.”

This passage comes to mind on occasion as I carry out my work, and I try to follow it.  It came to mind again this past week, this time in regard to my own attempts at cleanliness/ professionalism.

* * *

I headed over to chapel early, as usual for a Thursday.  I had my own private prayer, common Liturgy of the Hours, and sacristy duties to complete before coming to work at the front desk.  Plus, this was my “week for liturgy,” which meant setting up books for visitors in chapel and picking songs for Mass.

Unfortunately, I had done neither of these tasks had I done ahead of time.

In the course of the early morning, I noticed that there was something amiss with the pen I was carrying in my pocket.  Later, I also noticed that my hands were blackened.  I wondered if the black nail polish I had used a couple months ago on my discolored breviary cover was coming off.  That didn’t seem likely, though, after all these weeks had passed.

With my hurried, half-awake mentality, I simply washed my hands and finished what I needed to do before coming the front desk.

At some point, I finally made the connection: my hands were dirty from reaching in my pocket.  My pen was “amiss” because the had become unscrewed there – it had leaked!  You might say it exploded in my pocket!

As it would turn out, not only were the pen and my keys in the pocket this morning, but the space in my skirt was also shared temporarily by my magnetic name badge.  Also, I carry a rosary, and it, too, was tarnished.  I threw the culpable, dysfunctional pen out before it could do any more damage.

I vaguely remembered hearing that hairspray is supposed to be good for taking out ink; I confirmed this with two of my co-workers, recalling that I had a bottle of hairspray at home.

Actually, my novice mistress had given it to me years before, in case I might need it for any reason.  The bottle was now almost empty, although I don’t remember the last time I’d used it.

It’s been a busy few days, but I finally got around to my ink removal efforts this afternoon.  I hated to see my nice name badge ruined by ink spots and hoped the hairspray would live up to its reputation.

I applied it to the badge and remembered the soiled rosary as well.  It worked pretty well, but it looked like the rosary looked like it could still stand a little help, so I sprayed it again with hairspray and left it to set awhile.

This evening, I rinsed it out again and draped it over the handle of a bathroom drawer to dry thoroughly.

Good thing the drawer was not explicitly “entrusted to me” because I don’t know that I was really using it “in keeping with its purpose,” either.  However, I don’t think any harm will come to the drawer because of its unconventional use.

As I come and go, be it a busy Thursday morning or a quiet Sunday afternoon at the front desk, I pray that I use the life that’s entrusted to me “carefully,” in a way that will bring good to others.

I pray that, somehow, my little life can help others when things are amiss and make their days more bright and fresh.

“Coffee-Time Apostolate”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis photo is from the inside of the cupboard door in our kitchenette, near where the coffee cups are kept.

It is a little “cheat sheet” for Sr. Elaine who daily hosts “coffee-time” after Mass.

This little note is there to remind her of all the different beverage preferences of those who regularly attend this morning session.

Some like decaffeinated, some like “the real thing,” (Sr. Elaine refers to this difference as “leaded or unleaded.”   Some prefer cappuccino, and others like “half & half” (half water/half coffee).

She truly exercises a spirit of hospitality, taking time from her heavy workload to facilitate fellowship and provide beverages and treats to those who wish to gather and visit here after Mass.

Today, some of the fresh rhubarb we’ve received will go toward this cause in the form of sour cream rhubarb bars made by our baking team (Sr. Christina and resident[s]).