Friday, December 31, 2010

Merry "Tweleve Days of " Christmas!

Greetings of the Season!
I know this post should have been written days
ago,but this proves once again that I am a firm believer in the 12 days of Christmas!

I did have a very nice Christmas Day ~ it is a
beautiful feast and time of the year! One of my very favorite Christmas songs is "O Holy Night" with the lines ..."Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices ..." Emmanuel ~ God with us ... What a wonderful gift!
Time seems to be disappearing on me these days, but I could not let another day go by without some Christmas greeting on this last day of 2010 ... I share wit
h you a poem that I have had for a couple of years and also some Christmas pictures in my local community with the Sisters I live with. We had a great celebration of the day and then joined some BVM friends (Srs. of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) for dinner. We have shared holidays with these Sisters for many years now.... So the poem and the pictures ....
Christmas is more than a day at the end of the year, more that a day of joy and good cheer. Christmas is really God's pattern for living, to be followed each day by unselfish giving. Then Peace will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.
~ Author Unknown
And a saying I have remembered from years ago ...Christmas - an everyday season of the heart!
I hope you had a wonder-filled
one and I wish you many blessings as we bid 2010 goodbye and usher in a New Year! Peace and All Good!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent Invites Adventure!

Adventure ~
ad-ven-ture 1: a risky undertaking
2: a remarkable and exciting experience

As we begin this fourth week of Advent several thoughts and ideas run through my mind about this beautiful season of the year. A couple of weeks ago I just wanted to see what the dictionary said for the word Advent and discovered that the word "adventure" was only two words down from Advent in my Webster Dictionary. To me, the two words really are related!
Are we not invited to a risky undertaking when we set time apart for more prayer and some introspection to see how we can prepare our hearts for the coming of Christmas? Is not this time of preparation for Christmas a call to growth and the discovery of what a remarkable and exciting experience
the life of Jesus - the light that powers over dark - can bring us if we are open to the adventure!?!
As a Christian I am invited again and again
to take a risk ... to take the risk ... to reach out to others around me who might "walk in darkness", who maybe are not as fortunate as I am, who perhaps have stumbled into difficult times, who might feel sad and lonely and even disconnected and try to bring them a bit of love and care that was manifested on that first Christmas day. I have felt that way - at a low ebb at different times in my life and have been blessed with others who cared and brought me the light of God.
The little picture/poster shown above is
just such an example ... In 1989 I was teaching 4th grade at St. Charles School in Spokane , WA. At one point of the year I was feeling rather down, "disconnected", in the dark about some things in life and in community - I didn't think it showed especially when I was involved in the teaching day. Well, one morning one of my beautiful students brought in the pictured banner/poster shown above for me. I was totally shocked! It was exactly what I needed ... and I asked Alicia how it came about ~ what got her to do it?? Her response was so innocent and spontaneous: "Oh, I don't know ... I was watching TV last night and it just popped into my head, so I did it! ...and I want you to have it." WOW! Light powers over Dark ...... as God powers over EVEL (evil). That was pretty profound for a fourth grader. I know that little girl allowed the light of God to work in her life and she touched my life immensely!
This morning on my way to work I switched the radio to the Catholic radio station. It is the tradition of KBVM to broadcast the story, The Cinnamon Bear
- a classic 1937 story of the adventures of Judy and Jimmy Barton who have set out and are trying to find their missing silver star for the Christmas tree. I don't think I have ever heard the whole story, just snippets from year to year. Anyway, this morning fifteen words made an impact on my ears and heart as one of the characters said, "What I mean is - It's dark inside of me when I have my eyes closed." As we continue the journey through these last days of Advent, may we be people of the light, with our eyes wide open ready to take a risk and know of God's remarkable and exciting experience of the birth of Jesus ... O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Awareness

Advent, that time of waiting for the coming of Christ and the celebration of Christmas. Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation ... This season of Advent has already revealed a new awareness or two for me, as well as teaching me a few lessons on the patience of waiting ...

On November 30th - the first Tuesday of Advent, I went in for some surgery on my lower leg to remove part of a benign tumor. I had been anticipating this surgery for a long time with great anxiety, but everything went fine and and I got to come home that very afternoon. However, I am now hobbling along and needing to keep my leg elevated as much as possible. I am not use to this kind of inactivity - I've needed to learn patience with myself and my inability to do what I am use to doing ... for awhile anyway. Oh how I miss my brisk walks! I wait for the day to be able to go w
alking again.
I also am in a waiting mode for the lab report. The lab work was sent out to the Cleveland Clinic ~ just to make sure of things ...
probably a two week wait. Anyway, circumstances like these add a good perspective to life that is for sure!

So, while I have been "down" I have started reading a book by Sr. Joan Chittister
(The Gift of Years if you are really curious). In the introduction she used a quote by E.M. Forester that I have heard before and do like: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.".
There is a lot of truth to Forester's words. So often we have all kinds of plans and they get interrupted or changed for one reason or another. Things happen! I travel a lot as you probably have gathered, and sometimes travel planes get messed up. There is a delay and I miss the flight, but then end up getting a meal paid for by the airlines and meeti
ng someone that was totally unexpected that added a nice surprise to the trip enriching my life. I am sure you can think of other great examples when "plans" took unexpected detours that really were better - there is lots of life waiting for us if we "let go" instead of fretting and stewing which I so often have the tendency to do!
And you know, in some ways that is part of what Advent is all about!
A time like this Advent season helps to give us a pause in life ... to step back a bit and come to a better understanding of what it means to "Let go and let God". We certainly have a wonderful example of that in the Blessed Virgin Mary (whose feast we celebrated yesterday) in her beautiful "fiat" - her yes to God! She let go of the life she thought would be, to then embrace the awesome life that was waiting for her!

In our Franciscan Morn
ing Praise for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the second reading was from St. Bonaventure who wrote: "...the Archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin ...When she gave her consent to him, the Holy Spirit came upon her like a divine fire inflaming her soul and sanctifying her flesh in perfect purity. But the power of the Most High overshadowed her so that she could endure such fire." (The Tree of Life-Lig vit 1:3)
May each of us know many Advent blessings as we prepare for Christmas so that we also might be receptive to the power of God working in our lives and be prepared for the life that is waiting!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saints and Searchers!

November ... ahhh ...
a month
filled with celebrating All Saints on November 1st, the faithful departed with All Souls Day on the 2nd and many wonderful men and women canonized in our Church as Saints and role models of the faith, including St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Nov. 17th), a patron of the Third Order Regular Secular Franciscans (...Elizabeth of Hungary who fed the hungry!) And then, yesterday (November 21), the wonderful Feast of Christ the King. Whew! I got to celebrate part of that beautiful feast with over 500 teenagers of the Archdiocese of Portland at the Archdiocesan Youth Convention, but more about that later...

I have probably written at least four blog entries in my head over the past couple of weeks (as I traversed from one coast to the other and other points in between) ... needless to say the fingers never got to the keypads! So, today, I am trying
.....and now another day (sigh ~ it is now Nov. 24 and the day before Thanksgiving) ... I am trying again to finish this post....
I am not quite sure what happens to time - the hands on that clock
tick by so fast. I guess one thing that I have learned over the years as good intentions often get buried (ie. trying to write this entry), is that God appreciates our intentions - I hope! It is also very important though, that we keep trying! The saints are wonderful models for us of ordinary people who kept trying... trusting that God was with them even when attempts at something got sidetracked. I admire people with perseverance!

So, with all of that said, I mentioned above that I was w
ith the youth of the Archdiocese over the weekend. How wonderful it was to be with so many young people taking a weekend to celebrate their faith and join other young searchers in learning more about their Church. I applaud Youth Directors in the parishes that have the grace and stamina to walk with these teenagers! I was at the Convention with five other Sisters and one Benedictine Brother... we were privileged enough to give two optional workshops - one on Prayer in Everyday Living and the other entitled, Where Am I Going? and How Will I Get There? on decision making/discernment skills. We had a packed house for both workshops! That says to me that they want to grow in their spiritual lives and are seeking some concrete aids to that. Those young people gave me hope for our Church and for the future of our world!
Anyway, I offer you a peek into the youth conference and a couple of nice nature photos from the weekend. We didn't have too much time to roam around, but what can I say - we were at the Oregon coast and I HAD to check the ocean out a couple of times! The kids had some free time Saturday, so I did too ...
1.) Early morning moon... 2.) The youth gathered at the Seaside Convention Center 3.) Late afternoon sunset at the beach ~ no rain that afternoon, thank goodness!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Grabbing God Moments When We Can

God is Good!

Greetings from the east coast! I am sending this post from the Motherhouse of my Community in Aston, PA. I flew back here yesterday on a two week trip away (whew!) for meetings and a National Conference for vocation directors in Ohio. It is getting quite late and I hope I can get out a few coherent lines .... It is election night and I am trying to keep myself awake so I can check in on some early election results from Oregon before I go to bed since they are three hours behind in time than the east coast. Last night I stayed up later than I planned to see if the San Francisco Giants were going to win the World Series and now tonight, the election. The night before that I was up late packing. My track record for rest isn't very good lately - oh my!

As I come to the end of this day/night and think of all the busy-ness of the past couple days and the past couple of weeks, I realize how important it is to step back and step into God's loving presence ... to take time to rest in God! Yes, I know I need more physical rest than I have had lately, but I sure better fill up my tank in the prayer department too. Some times we don't have hours to spend in prayer like on retreat, but I am grateful for the the many God moments I do have like the gift of a beautiful day like today ... the graced solitude of time on the airplane yesterday where the "direct flight" trip went smoothly with nobody in the middle seat which gave me some extra time and space. God is good and is present with us ~ to us if only we open ourselves up to each moment! Peace and All Good!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Peace ... Let it grow!

I had hoped to write a quick post on Monday or Tuesday, but it didn't happen ...ohhh, those good intentions of mine!
So here I am at Friday! This morning when I went for my walk I saw a sticker in the back window of a parked car similar to the picture I recreated here (isn't technology with the Internet and clip art great!). I know I have seen the sticker on this car before, but this morning I read the words that were next to the PEACE symbol ..."Let it grow". It is funny how things get mi
ssed and then all of a sudden, something strikes you. That struck me this morning! It started me thinking, in a prayerful sort of way, that when we have peace in our hearts, peace in our neighborhoods, peace in our world, it can be like beautiful flowers growing - they bring refreshment, hope and delight to the weary spirit, and ... how we need to nourish the soil of our own hearts and that of each other to bring about those blossoms of peace. Prayer, scripture and a life in God is the living water that helps to do that. Really, wasn't that part of the mission of St. Francis' life?!? Think of the peace prayer we so often pray and sing! St. Francis probably didn't write those exact words, but they definitely embody his thought and belief.

With all that in mind, I also want to mention two great people our Church honors this week. Monday, October 11th was the Memorial feast of Pope John XXIII. It was on that day in 1962 that he convened the Second Vatican Council. Since he is a man I really admire for many reasons, it was a delight for me to be reminded on Monday at prayer time that he belonged to the Secular Franciscan Order. In his "Journal of a Soul", John XXIII wrote: "My Soul is open before you. Like a blank sheet of paper. Write on it what you will. O Lord: I am yours." After reading a biography of his life a couple of years ago it is very clear that he lived those words! God surely used this kind, wise and compassionate man to make a difference in our world and in the Church.
And, today, is the Feast of Teresa of Avila (1550-1582)
- a Carmelite Nun, saint and doctor of the Church. She was indeed a woman of prayer as well as insight and wisdom whose spirit still inspires people today.

Another significant event I want to mention before I sign off is a wonderful gathering I was a part of last weekend. About 25 of our Sisters gathered her
e in the Portland area (one of many such gatherings being held throughout the country) at our Franciscan Spiritual Center for an all day meeting with members of our Leadership who were in town. It was great day of prayer, sharing and dialogue about our life together as Sisters of St. Francis. Our day concluded with a beautiful prayer ritual in which we each received our new Constitution - the way of life that we follow. After much work to revise the Constitutions we had for over 25 years, it was exciting to receive this finished and beautiful document! Some of the concluding words of the Constitution are: "Inspired by thespirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi and our foundress Mother Francis Bachmann, we seek to follow Jesus Christ, who chose to be poor, and Mary, his Mother, by faithfully living the principles and practices set forth in our constitutions." Words for me that are both blessing and challenge as I strive to live my vocation daily.

So, for me and for you, may Jesus, the Prince of Peace be at the core of all of our lives!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy St. Francis Day!

October 4th .... Today we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi! A grand day to celebrate, so, Happy St. Francis Day!

In my office I have a Marvel Comic book on the life a St. Francis titled "FRANCIS, Brother of the Universe" ... and isn't that so true!
Born, Francesco Bernadone (1181-1226), more books
have been written about St. Francis than about any other saint. He is the patron saint of peace, the patron saint of ecology, the patron saint of Italy and the patron saint of animals (so says my Marvel comic book), but more importantly he was a true man of God and of the Gospel! Francis "got it" - he was passionate about his relationship with Christ, passionate about life and was true "brother" to all he met. Of course he wasn't born that way, but allowed God to work in and through him over time. So, today, as the Franciscan that I am, I celebrate and honor my brother Francis! I am working a bit today, but want to get home early to meet up with the Sisters I live with as we have a nice evening planned with a special dinner and prayers to celebrate!
Actually, my celebrating started over the weekend ... I traveled to Spokane WA where about 20 Sisters of St. Francis gathered for a special ceremony Sunday honoring our Sisters for 120 years of "Humanitarian Service" in Eastern Washington. In an old section of a cemetery in Spokane eight Franciscan Sisters were buried there in the early 1900s. These were pioneering women who journeyed west from Philadelphia establishing schools, an orphanage (St. Joseph Orphanage which is now St. Joseph Family Center & continues the helping and healing ministry) and also helped give service to the people in the area including tireless effort helping the Red Cross during the time of a terrible influenza epidemic. The ceremony included a bagpiper, a few good stories of these courageous women, a proclamation from the Mayor of Spokane, and the reception of a beautiful plaque from the American Red Cross. I feel proud to be part of such a beautiful legacy! I was touched by the stories and remembering, and am challenged by the fortitude, strength and self-giving witness of these early Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia! They indeed were true followers of St. Francis! It was a wonderful day and a fine way to usher in the feast day! I am sure he never could have imagined the Franciscan Movement that grew and has developed throughout the world that includes the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare (Poor Clares) and the Order of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (Third Order Regular which my Congregation is included in, and Secular Franciscan Order). Yeah, Francis! And so, I pray ..."O God, in your servant Francis you have given the world a true disciple of Jesus. Guide us who follow Francis (and all good men and women)to witness faithfully to the living Gospel and to bring compassion and joy to the world." ~ Morning Praise , Oct.4, Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise Prayer book

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Honoring the Angels ...and, no, not the baseball team!

...Today is the Feast of the Archangels ~ Michael, Gabriel and Raphael ~ and I just can't let the day go without a short post ....
"Let us join the angels of the Lord in their unending praise!
...Michael is honored by the Church as its special protector. Gabriel is best known as the angel of the annunciation to Mary and Zechariah. Raphael healed the blindness of Tobit... ~ from the Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise book - September 29
I get amused sometimes at our society in today's world - over the past couple of years, I've noticed that book stores and 'new age' people have made this big fuss over the "new" concept of angels. I just have to chuckle over all this because in our Catholic tradition, as well as the ancient tradition of our Jewish brothers and sisters, angels have always been so much a part of our belief! And this week, we celebrate two great Angel feast days - the Archangels today and on Saturday, the feast of the Guardian Angels. Angels also have a warm place in the Franciscan tradition stemming from Francis' tender affection and honor to these heavenly beings who have helped us to know God's great care and love for us. Pope Benedict in his writing of these two "angel" days said: "...these two celebrations move us to think of the provident care with which God looks after each human person ..."
So, noting that and with the Franciscan family today and on OCT. 2 nd we remember and pray ...
Francis had a great devotion to the messengers of God; open our ears to hear them and our eyes to see them in our everyday lives.
And hopefully we are not tiring out our Guardian Angels as in the picture of a statue I tumbled upon a few years ago:) angel saying, "Oh no, not in trouble again!?!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

...So Great a Love ...

Happy Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis!

Today is the feast of the great Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, but as a true blue Franciscan ~ follower of St. Francis, I also want to highlight this day as the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi!

In my Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise prayer book (published by The Franciscan Federation, Third Order Regular of the Sisters and Brothers of the United States), the office of the day is introduced with this explanation of the day ...
"Francis had a burning love for the Crucified and never ceased to preach this devotion. In 1224, two years before his death, as he was lost in deep contemplation on Mount La Verna, the marks of Christ's passion were imprinted on his body."
I just couldn't let the day go by without a brief entry, especially since I have this beautiful water colored image to share. A young woman that has become my friend drew and painted this picture and gave me the framed artwork. I love it! (... and technology is so great that I was able to scan it to share.)
Anyway ... in many ways it can be hard for me to comprehend the deep prayer and contemplation that was so very much a part of St.Francis that this awesome gift of the stigmata became his... whew ... So great a love Francis had for Jesus, the crucified Christ!
I don't know what more I can write at this point, so I close with a prayer used in this morning's office.
"O God, in your servant Francis you have given the world a true disciple of Jesus. Help us (help me) who follow Francis to witness faithfully to the living Gospel and bring to the world compassion and joy."
Blessings on your weekend! I am off to Spokane, WA next week for a gathering and meetings with others who minister in vocation and formation work in various Congregations ~ should be good to get together and share!
Pace E Bene!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Criss-Crossing Through God's Country

I am aware that I am long overdue for a new post... Where do the days - hmmm, the weeks, go!?! Many beginnings have been written in my head over the past two weeks, so today I must get to it! It is a good day to write as it is the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross ~ one of my favorite feast days! The picture of the cross I am including here was taken on my recent vacation (more about that later) to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, to be with two of our Sisters that minister at St. Stephens Indian Mission. The cross is painted on the ceiling of the main mission church. So, today being this feast, I share with you a Franciscan prayer that is almost always said at the beginning of Lauds and Vespers in my local community. I am sure other Franciscans pray it often as well.
We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all churches throughout the whole world and we bless You because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world. (from the Testament [5] of St. Francis)

So, as I mentioned, I was on vacation ... from August 27th - Sept. 3. Plans for this trip happened kind of fast. On August 31st there was a special ceremony at the Indian Mission that I was asked to come for. For 118 years our Sisters have ministered at St. Stephens Indian Mission along side the Jesuit priests. After 126 years of ministry on the Reservation the Jesuits had to make the decision to leave because of other community demands, and to turn the Mission over to the Diocese of Cheyenne.
Although it wasn't the vacation I had planned on, I am certainly glad I was able to go ... to be present to/with our Sisters who live there ... and to the Jesuits, to meet the new priests of the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity, and to share in this ceremony and transition time with the Shoshone and Arapaho people. The OSFs had a nice showing of Sisters with 4 of us able to travel in for the event, so there was some enjoyable community time too! St. Stephens was my first "mission experience" when I went there as a Candidate my first year in Community. It is a wonderful place with beautiful people! You can read more about the event as the Bishop of Wyoming, Bishop Etienne, writes in his blog about St. Stephen Indian Mission The Bishop has also included quite a number of great pictures, so just click on the link above :) I was glad to meet the Bishop and enjoyed reading his account of Aug.31st ...
It was a fun trip, although a LOT of driving was involved, traveling from Oregon to Washington State, into Idaho and Montana and finally into Wyoming. We did travel though some beautiful country as well as some wide open spaces! God truly speaks to my heart in all the diverse beauty of the landscape! Als
o, I had a fun traveling companion who joined me - Sr. Dolores Herbeck, a Sister living in Tacoma who is from Wyoming and lived many years on the Mission as she worked in Riverton as the Catholic grade school Principal. We definitely had some adventures and lots of good talks about life, community, the countryside and the spiritual-side.... However, even though we spent a day in Yellowstone National Park with several other Sisters, I still did not see a moose! Oh, that elusive moose ...
Thought you might enjoy a few more pictures ...

Including a pose of the Franciscans after a few busy days!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright ....

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight ....
Remember the rhyme from when you were a kid?! ...Actually, I still think of that little saying even to this day. For me there is something awesome and magical about the stars and I love clear summer nights to look up at the starry sky. Of course living in the city it is often hard to see the stars so brightly, but where I grew up in Southern Oregon, almost at the 5,000 foot level, the night sky is amazing! The picture here was taken on my retreat last summer at the Trappist Abbey in LaFayette, OR. Greeting the night time and watching the stars come out is a favorite thing for me when I am on retreat ...if the mosquitoes aren't too bad like they were for me this summer ....
Anyway, I'm not sure what is making me think of the stars right now, except August is the month of shooting stars and this past week I heard news of meteor showers - which I missed because of the 3 AM time of viewing! Also, I came across a quote yesterday which I would like to share with you. It might speak a bit of the many situations our world seems to be in right now ~ the earthquakes in Haiti and other countries recently, the oil spill in the Gulf, the flooding in Pakistan, etc....
Madeline L'Engle (1918-2007) wrote in "A Stone for a Pillow" (1986) this piece to reflect and think upon ..."If we look at the makeup of the word disaster, dis-aster, we see dis which means separation, and aster, which means star. So dis-aster is separation from the stars. Such separation is disaster indeed. When we are separated from the stars, the sea, each other, we are in danger of being separated from God." Something the think about indeed! In any kind of disaster, it is so important to stay connected to each other, help each other and especially stay connected with God to give us the courage and strength we need ...
I am off to spend a weekend with my family and, hopefully, I will be able to enjoy a couple of clear night skies to see some shooting stars! No matter if I see any shooting stars or not, I still give praise for the beauty of the night sky ... All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the Stars; in the heavens You made them, bright and precious and fair ... from the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Good it is to Celebrate!

Happy Feast of St. Clare!
Today, August 11th, we celebrate St. Clare of Assisi ... a very special day in my community. It is on this day that so many Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia - including myself - made our Final Vow!
Even though we have always celebrated the life of Clare, it is only in recent history that we have discovered what a strong and faith-filled person she truly was in her own right, not just a copy of St. Francis... Clare was a woman of initiative and courage. She was the first woman in the Church to have written a rule of life for woman - the "Poor Clares", and it is through her that we can understand St. Francis better.

So anyway, this evening we will have a nice dinner ~ I'm the cook ~ and special prayers to commemorate her Feast.
My Congregation broke from tradition a bit this year however, as many of us gathered together this past Sunday, at Our Lady of Angels Convent in Aston PA, (our Motherhouse) to support Sr. Patricia Kerezsi as she professed her Perpetual Profession ~ made her Final Vows as a Sr. of St. Francis! We had a wonderful celebration! So, in the spirit of St. Clare, may you have Faith to lead you. Joy to lift you. Love to light your way.
Here is a picture of Sr. Patricia with her mother (in the middle) our Formation Director, Sr. Diane (left) and Sr. Marijane (right),
and others who were there to celebrate and be a part of the special occasion ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections From the Hermitage

Last week I was away on my yearly, week long retreat! Ahh, what a very good and blessed week it was as I spent some solitude days in my own little hermitage in eastern Washington thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Carmelite Sisters of Mary. My great aunt was a Carmelite Sister so it was wonderful to connect a bit with the Carmelite charism and to celebrate their great Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt Carmel on July 16th. I think my aunt, Sr. Joseph, was watching over me from heaven and blessing my time during my retreat days ... I actually began retreat on a very appropriate Franciscan day, July 15th, the Feast of St. Bonaventure! The invocation for Morning Praise in my Franciscan prayer book that day was, "The Spirit of Wisdom is given to us in abundance. Let us rejoice in the goodness poured forth into our hearts and minds."
That message was confirmed over and over again for me while I was on retreat... so many gra
ced, wisdom moments! At one point I was listening to a CD on John's Gospel and some words the Dominican Sister, Sr. Mary Margaret Pazdan said caught my ears and really describes what retreat is about in so many ways - " nestle into the heart of God and say yes..." In the tradition of the Carmelite Sisters with whom I shared some time, I tried to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my days and my prayer. I had 80 acres of forested land to wander around in. The homily at Sunday's Mass included the thought that "All of creation is God's hospitality to us ... how do we receive it and take care of it?" In my roaming around each day - which I was able to do, and went for a good walk/hike every day - I found so much beauty and could really enter into the moment - that moment of God's abundant love and hospitality. I don't know about you, but I often tend to get caught up in things to do, worries and anxieties
bout things that need to be done, that I forget to be fully present to the preciousness of every moment. Retreat was a good reminder! ... And now I hope that I can carry the spirit of that time, "Hush now ... be still", with me into the days and months ahead! I hope that you can take a moment here and there in your day to "nestle into the heart of God".
In a little book written in the 1970s that I picked up in the hermitage - Jesus, Set Me Free: Inner Freedom Through Contemplation, Fr. George Malone
y, SJ wrote ...
"In prayer, the Spirit comes to our spirit and bears witne
ss that we are truly loved as the Father loves His eternal Son (Rm. 8:15). God's very own dynamic current of love, between Father and Son, catches us up and regenerates us into new creatures, ever more consciously aware of our inner dignity of being so privileged as to be loved infinitely by God." WOW! I thank God that I was able to have this retreat time. It was good for my heart, my soul and my mental state... and probably for the Sisters I live with too!
*A few more photos I took ... I was refreshed by the beauty that I encountered every day, and also want to share a picture of my hiking buddy, Strider :)
"Come forth into the light of things; let nature be your teacher."
~ William Wordsworth 1770-1850

Friday, July 9, 2010

FREE to Be ... You and Me...

I had great intentions to write on the 4th of July ~ at least I am still within the week ... What a wonderful day to celebrate though! We, as a people and a country have so much to be thankful for. I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday?
Personally, I had a
nice day! The weather was kind of overcast, but I went out for an energetic bike ride in the morning downtown on the waterfront along the Willamette River... always a pleasant ride for me. There were quite a few people and lots going on - it was just fun to mingle with the crowd on the holiday. Then later in the afternoon I enjoyed a delicious picnic type dinner with the Sisters I live with. I didn't go out to see any fireworks this year, but have surely enjoyed the ones nature has on display these summer days. ...*See the photos below that I've taken the past few weeks of God's daytime fireworks ...
Anyway, on my bike ride Sunday, I
rode past the the Blue's Festival event that was in full swing. People were flocking in to hear the music, but what was so great is that the proceeds were going to support the Oregon Food Bank! To go along with that happening, in the Portland "Oregonian" newspaper this morning, there is a good article on food and feeding the poor. I didn't have time to read the whole article yet, but I will! A non-profit organization called Portland Urban Gleaners was mentioned. Volunteers go around to grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, etc collecting GOOD food that can no longer be sold or served for profit. This food is then donated to places that can use the food to feed the hungry and serve meals to the homeless ...! What a wonderful concept! You know, as a society we waste so much food (in America, 150 lbs per person each year). How excellent that people have the freedom to be so resourceful like the Urban Gleaners to help others!!
Last night after community prayer ... to get a jump start on my weekend since I have family coming to town for a nieces wedding ... I was cleaning house. In our living/community
room we have a little calendar called "A Year of Daily Wisdom" by Marianne Williamson. I guess all the Sisters in my house, including myself, have been a little low on "wisdom" recently because the pages hadn't been turned since June 29th! So, I decided I better get the pages up to date and in doing so read each entry for the days we missed. I felt so wise when I went to bed last night :) Seriously though, I did like what Ms. Williamson wrote for July 4 ~ Independence Day... and since I wanted to write on the 4th, I share her quote with you now:
"Our freedom is not guaranteed by the Constitution; the only thing that guarantees freedom, ultimately, is our own commitment to it. That commitment must include our capacity to love each other as human beings, to remember we are brothers and sisters on this planet, and to surrender to God any thoughts we have to the contrary."
That sounds pretty Franciscan to me! It's all about relationship ... depending on our extravagant God who loves us deeply, reaching out in love to all our brothers and sisters, and striving daily to make our world a more beautiful, just and peaceful place!
May you be blessed in this next week. I am heading off for my annual week of retreat next week (July14-22) and am so looking forward to having more time for personal prayer and realigning my heart and spirit...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

...No Moose, But Lots of Faith Energy...

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~ Dr. Seuss

Last week I was graced with the opportunity to travel north to Anchorage, Alaska to be a part of ACYC 2010 - the Alaska Catholic Youth Conference! ... and what a great week it was! Catholic youth from all three Diocese of Alaska gathered together for four and a half days under the theme Who? What? Where? Why Catholic?? Thought provoking theme for all of us to ponder ...The enthusiasm and interest of these young people for their Catholic Faith and spiritual life was awesome to be a part of and inspiring for me!
On the front cover of the conference booklet that each participant received were the words: "...we have come to be strengthened in the Christian way of life and to become more determined to devote ourselves to the works of charity..." The teenagers listened, prayed, sang their hearts out, played, gave service and met new friends! I helped to give two workshops with my friend Sr. Bea LaFramboise, a Providence Sister and vocation minister from Seattle. The first workshop was on Prayer. The dozen or so who came were very sincere and the interest in their prayer life was beautiful! We had another good crowd of over 20 that attended the second workshop called Where Am I Going with my Life and How will I get There? in which we tried to introduce the teens to some tools for discernment.
One afternoon every participant was involved in some kind of service out in the community around Anchorage from grounds keeping at local religious sites, to soup kitchens, to the Food Bank of Alaska, to the weeding of invasive plants on BLM land to singing for the elderly... No job was too big or too small ...we were ALL out there making a difference, putting our faith into action, modeling the Catholic Social Teachings and trying to make our small corner of the world a better place ~ Dr. Seus AND St. Francis both have words to affirm our actions that day!
An added delight for me was the chance to connect with a Sister in my Franciscan Congregation, Sr. Kathy Radich, OSF who has ministered in St. Marys, Alaska for many years. Sr. Kathy was invited to be one of the main speakers and gave a wonderful talk on building and living Christian Community.
The whole week was great! I saw some beautiful scenery ... but no moose :(
I guess that just means I need to go back someday!
Today is the Feast of Peter & Paul, Apostles ... need I say, there are some zealous, young apostles of Christ in Alaska with them O, God!

Thomas of Celano on, The Life of Saint Francis:
"Yes, the noble building of charity rises upon the foundation of perseverance; and in it living stones, gathered from every part of the world, have been built into a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. What a great flame of charity burned in the new disciples of Christ! What great love of devout company flourished in them!" (1C 38)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Time of Jubilee!

The dictionary tells us that the word 'ju*bi*lee' means a season or occasion of celebration.
Well, the past several weeks I have been lucky enough to travel near and far, from Tacoma, WA to Spokane, WA and on to Aston, PA to celebrate the lives of many of my Franciscan Sisters as they have been celebrating 50 ... 70 ... and 75 years of dedication and faithfulness as Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia! What wonderful occasions to celebrate! ... what wonderful women to honor at Jubilee time!
In Tacoma three sisters celebrated their 50th Jubilee together. The picture here at the left is the three receiving a blessing, after they renewed their vows, from all those who were present for the Liturgical celebration. They were joined by other Jubilarians for the celebration ...
At evening prayers last night we had a reading from the Franciscan Rule of the Third Order Regular that really spoke to me of this Jubilee time of the year in my Community.
"Within themselves, let them always make a dwelling place and home for the one who is Lord God almighty, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, so that, with undivided hearts, they may increase in universal love by continually turning to God and to neighbor...(Jn 14:23) " TOR Rule 8

I am inspired by these Sisters who are so joyous and have a zest for life - they have truly taken the above rule of life to heart in their lives! Congratulations Jubilarians!