Sunday, November 30, 2008

Experiencing Christ

As we enter into the season of Advent, a time of watchfulness and expectation for the coming of Jesus, I'm reminded of a story that Sr. Mary Mark told. She used to work with mentally handicapped children and started a school in Memphis called Madonna Learning Center. She had taken a group of students to the St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, IN for a tour. One of the students walked away from the group and went up to the balcony. She then shouted with a loud voice, "Jesus is going to be here in 10 minutes!" I know if I had been there, I certainly would have stuck around.

Jesus is already present among us. We experience this presence in the Word, in the Eucharist, in those around us, in ourselves, in nature, and in countless other ways. Are we aware of this presence? Do we not only treat others as Christ, but also honor the Christ within ourselves and treat ourselves with respect? What are ways that you have experienced Christ's presence?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I am thankful for:
1. Friends near and far
2. My Benedictine community
3. My parents
4. My siblings
5. My nieces & nephews
6. My great niece and great nephew
7. Love
8. A listening ear in time of need
9. Sunny days
10. Morning frost
11. A star-filled night sky
12. My faith
13. Good health
14. Food on the table
15. Flowers
16. House plants
17. Computers
18. Internet to stay in touch
19. Heat
20. A warm, comfortable bed
21. People to look up to
22. All who support our community
23. Teachers & mentors who have helped me along the way
24. Children
25. Prayer
26. Freedom
27. Common sense
28. My vocation to religious life
29. Smiles
30. Tears
31. Laughter
32. Music

Just off the top of my head!

For what are you thankful? Leave a comment and let everyone know!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the Record . . . .

Thought this article worth reading. If you struggle with knowing what God is calling you to do with your life or if you know what God is calling you to do and have trouble acting on it, join the club. I'm sure all of us would agree - it ain't easy! Benedict tells us to "listen with the ear of your heart." The answer will come and may even surprise you. Also it may take longer than you would want or it may happen quicker than you'd like. Who knows? God's time is not our time. Pray, pray, pray. Then after that, pray some more. I used to pray for openness to hear God's call and courage to respond. Knowing and following God's plan can be challenging and confusing, but I know for me it has brought peace. God's blessings to you all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saint Cecilia

Thought For Today

‘To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.’ ~Aaron Copland

Today (Nov 22nd) is the feast of St.Cecilia. She is the patroness of music and musicians. We so often take music for granted and yet it is the pulse and heartbeat of life. Music is there for every occasion. It can uplift and it can calm and relax. It can unite and break down barriers. It has been said that music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence and silence is full of music. We live in a noisy world with little room for quiet time and silence. Quiet relaxing music can lead us to a much quieter place where we can often encounter the gentle quiet presence of God. Today we thank God and Cecilia for the great gift of music. As the old saying puts it so well: ‘When words fail, music speaks.’

Taken from Today is My Gift to You written by Fr. James McSweeney, a native of Millstreet, Co. Cork, Ireland.

A Time to Give Thanks

I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with all kinds of delicious foods, time with family, and the Macy's Parade. I also take time during these days to reflect on the many blessings and graces that I have received this past year. It is a sad state of affairs that in our society we spend more time focusing on Christmas shopping and bargains rather than spending Thanksgiving reflecting upon all that we do have and have been given. Spending time with family and friends reminiscing about the past and sharing our hopes and dreams for the year to come. It may be that the present economic situation will jolt us back into reality of the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let us pray that our country may refocus itself and set new priorites as we reflect on our current situation. May you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What, Me Worry?

I'm in charge of the children's liturgies at school. We often do skits before Mass that pertain to the readings. I recently came across a skit on the internet about worrying. It compared worrying to rocking in a rocking chair. Both give you something to do, but neither gets you anywhere. Worrying is also like using a camera without any film or batteries in it because both give you pictures that will never develop. The part of the skit that struck me the most (because I can relate) compared worrying to holding on to a heavy box even though you've asked someone to help you carry it. Both weigh you down and keep you from being productive.

I know in prayer I often ask God to help me and to work through me. I wonder though if I ever let go to allow this to happen fully. I desire to put everything in God's hands (especially those heavy loads), but I still hold on to certain thoughts, expectations, worries, fears, and past hurts. I bring these to God, while at the same I continue to hold on to them, causing me to not be truly free. I'm still holding on to the heavy box after asking God to take it.

I'm reminded of St. Hildegard - a Benedictine saint who saw herself as a feather on the breath of God. Wherever God wanted her to go, she went. Whatever God wanted her to do, she did. I'm sure at times she must have questioned. However, she also trusted fully and completely in God.

I know I ask God to help me, but how much do I allow this to happen. With St. Hildegard as our guide, let us pray that we may become free from any fears or worries. May we trust fully and become a feather on the breath of God.


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I probably got this from my Dad. This is holiday. It is his favorite because there is no gift giving. We can gather as a family and just be together. I like it because we gather and just be. I love being at the Monastery at Thanksgiving. It is a time to really be thankful for what God has given each of us. I am very thankful for community, my students and being a live. I also like Thanksgiving because I can spend time with my family. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We got an early start on Christmas this past weekend during Ferdinand's Christkindlmarkt. People from all over came to spend time browsing through several spaces throughout the town that had various booths of Christmas decor, apparel, and gifts as well as all kinds of antiques. It seemed to be relatively well-attended despite the weather, which was very cold and very wet. (Sr. Teresa swears that she saw a few snowflakes on Saturday. I think I saw a few too -- it was that cold.)

The monastery was a hubbub of activity. Quite a few groups toured through our church and grounds. Many of our sisters helped make baked goods to sell last weekend -- everything from cinnamon rolls to springerles. We also hosted the opening of Christkindlmarkt on Friday night with a special appearance by the Christkindlmarkt angel (Sr. Jeana). Several of us also played handbells for it. Children and some adults from the area were also a part of the opening celebration. It was quite beautiful.

On Sunday, a few groups of us sisters gave a Christmas concert. It was very beautiful. I got goosebumps several different times. I was very proud of our community, not only for the supreme effort that went into all of the preparations for the weekend, but also for sharing who we are with other people.

Last night at supper, the sisters in my house were talking about the talents that the sisters in our community have. While that is true, because we have very gifted women in our community, the best part is that our sisters do not keep their talents to themselves. They share them with others -- not only through concerts and such, but also by helping other sisters discover their own talents.

When I entered I had never played a musical instrument before. I didn't think it would be possible. Now I am involved with music through playing bass and handbells. When I entered it wasn't a question of whether or not I played something, but what I wanted to learn to play. I am very proud of our sisters for being selfless and giving through sharing their talents.


This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to take 2 high schoolers from our parish to a large Archdiocesan youth rally/retreat with over 400 people. Steve Agrisano was the keynote speaker and played lots of wonderful music that got the crowd pumped up and inspired to live their faith. It was an awesome event and I was so touched by the call we all heard to love and serve and to reach out to the less fortunate and marginalized at school, at home, wherever we might see someone on the outskirts. Jesus calls us to be with them. Steve told hilarious stories and got everyone motivated to try and see Jesus in everyone they meet.

One man was sharing about his love for Jesus and he said, "You know, servant leadership really boils down to this: The other person should feel better about who they are and their journey because of their contact with you." What a beautiful image- a nugget that I will take with me from the event. We are all called to be servant leaders! All the youth were also challenged to live their faith every day, not just at youth rallies and inspiring events. How true for all of us! It is so easy to let experiences of God's presence slip, but when we stay centered on God, that focus can remain.

Anyway, I wanted to share about this experience with you. I've been singing the songs now for 3 days since then! If you get the chance to attend some kind of rally or inspiring event with people from your diocese or Archdiocese, I really recommend it. It might just give you the refreshment you need to continue on your daily journey.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Missouri Pride

Do any of you ever watch America's Got Talent? I don't usually watch it, but the guy who won the million dollars is from Sikeston, MO - 14 miles from my hometown. I think all of us in MO can take pride in what he has accomplished at 32 years old. He stated in a newspaper article that some are telling him he should claim a bigger city as his hometown. However, his family, friends, and support came from the MO bootheel, so he's proud to claim Sikeston as his hometown. Before he was on the show he sold insurance. Just goes to show you what could happen when you DREAM BIG. Check out his website. It's incredible!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


This is for Sister Catherine Marie, who's Final profession I was not able to attend because I live on mission in Rome, Italy, but I was very much present in mind and spirit. Sharing these days of joy are what community is all about and this past week I had the opportunity to attend the final profession of Sister Scholastica who lives in the Benedictine community in Assisi. The world of Benedictine women is very much a global community and the only difference in the ceremony was the people and the language. At Final Profession the sister asks to be part of our community and we members publicly accept her into our community. Then the sister makes/reads her vows to the community and sings her "Suscipe"....accept me O Lord. Those of us who have professed our final vows join in singing, with heart and mind. We are renewing our own profession and asking God to accept again our vows. Isn't that what life is all about, asking God to accept us as who we are? But in a Benedictine community we also ask our sisters to accept us as who we are! And we in turn accept who they are and will become!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Grace of Forgiveness

Forgiving myself is probably the toughest and most challenging part of my life because I hold on to many past regrets and mistakes. I heard a story once about a person who wasn't sure if he believed in God. God appeared to this man, and the man started to question God on many subjects. God answered every question. Finally, the man said, "OK. I have sinned many times in my life. Some of my sins are so big and so terrible that I have kept them hidden for many years. If you are really God, tell me my 5 biggest sins." To this request, God responded, "I have forgotten."

We hear the words "forgive and forget." I believe God follows this. If I want to be like God, I should do the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Family that Prays Together . . .

Please pray for my aunt who has been in the hospital with a brain aneurysm since August 22. Her family has been keeping us all updated on her progress through a website called I'm always so thankful to read the updates and the messages that people post. She has a lot of people praying for her, which is helping her in making baby steps to recovery. All of us in the family have been given an assignment to send her a picture and information about ourselves in order to help her recover.

My mom's side of the family is very large, but also very close. I know if I were ever in need, all I would have to do is get the word out and my family would answer. Much of this has to do with my grandma. She was the embodiment of love and showered us all with love. She died in 1996 at the age of 94, but I still remember going to her house every other weekend. We would honk the horn when we saw her house from the highway. There was no way she could hear us, but it was our signal that we were almost there. We started waving and yelling "Yoo Hoo" from the moment we pulled into the driveway, parked the car (which seemed forever), got out of the car, ran up the steps and onto the back porch. We were always greeted with a big hug and chocolate chip cookies.

An example of her prayer: In 1995 I had knee surgery that lasted 4 or 5 hours. My grandma prayed the entire time until someone called with news that I was ok. She said she had 5 rosaries out in front of her. When one got warm, she put it down and picked up another one. We never underestimated the power of "Grandma's rosary." Believe me, I kept her informed of anything that was going on in my life - especially any college finals. I still call on her, especially with teaching. She taught school for a few years and drove to school in a horse and buggy.

My aunt being in the hospital is another time in our family when prayers are needed. Without a doubt, they are streaming forth. I believe that my family is so close because of my grandma's love and example. Her constant prayer and nurturing helped us to be a strong family that will answer whenever there is a need. I pray that I can be just a little bit like her.

Veteran's Day Tribute

Thank you God for all those who have given their lives for our country and for other countries! Be with those who are currently fighting and their families. Be with all our world leaders that they will fight to bring an end to all wars and strife in our world.

Thank you Veterans!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Monastery - School of the Lord's Service

Thanks, Jeana, for your nice reflection. It made me think of lots of things.

I had the privilege a few year ago to be a camp companion to a little girl with Down Syndrom. It was called Camp Quality and was a camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. This little girl had cancer and Down Syndrom. I must admit, I did it originally for a resume booster. I was going into my junior year of college and really didn't know what I wanted to do "when I grew up." I decided to work at the camp for a week, and it really changed my life. I went back to college and changed my major to education. I had wanted special education, but that wasn't an option in undergrad at my school.

People with special needs have so much to teach us. Being open, honest, geniune, and loving are just a few. Also living in the present moment and being thankful for what is. Not getting upset at what you can't do, but celebrating what you can.

I also worked at a camp one summer for adults with physical disabilities. From them I learned the need to slow down and not care what others think, but to recognize one another's strengths and needs. The best dance I had ever been to was at the closing celebration at this camp. People went out and moved one arm if that's all they could move. It didn't matter what you looked like or what your skill was. The important thing was to have fun and celebrate.

From the mentally and physically challenged, I have learned to focus on the present and not worry about the future. When the camp came to an end, I was thinking of the upcoming school year and what all I needed to do. When I asked one of the adult campers what he was going to do now that camp was over, he said, "I'll probably go home and make a sandwich." If only I could be so present.

I know every person has something to teach me. Sometimes I don't always want to learn from certain people. Sometimes I think I need to teach certain people rather than learn from them. I guess that's one of the reasons we call the monastery "the school of the Lord's service." We're constantly learning. We're a motley group of women with a variety of gifts and personalities. I certainly have lots to learn. The common phrase I hear at the monastery everywhere I go is "It's a life long journey." Thank Goodness!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome to Holland!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about anticipating the birth of my first niece. Well a couple extra weeks after we first expected her, our little one arrived safely. Soon after her birth, though, the doctors were checking out her heart and lungs, and broke the news to my sister and brother-in-law: their baby has Down Syndrome. She also has a valve issue in her heart (present in 50% of all babies born with Down Syndrome), and will need surgery to repair it when she is 4-6 months old.

The initial shock of such a diagnosis is hard to describe. You mourn for the child that you expected to arrive who will not be coming after all, but at the same time you have to get it together to properly welcome the little blessing who HAS shown up. A mother from the school where I teach kindly sent me a bag full of info on Down Syndrome, and I soon read an analogy that totally fits. It goes like this:

You've been dreaming of going to Italy for years. For months you plan a trip. You read the guidebooks, talk with friends who have seen the wonders, and research all the possible ways to travel. You book a flight, pack your bag, and get on the plane. Dreaming of the Roman Forum, the shop windows of colored glass in Venice, and the cobalt blue waters off the Isle of Capris, you make your 10 hour flight. And finally, the flight attendant comes to the speaker and says, "Welcome to Holland! We're so glad you're here!" And you protest, "Holland?! Are you kidding? I bought a ticket to Italy! What am I doing in Holland?"

Now, after the initial shock of realizing that you are in fact in another country altogether, you can either bemoan the fact that you are not in Italy and will not be seeing any Bernini sculpture on this trip, or you can accept the fact that you actually are in Holland, and get out to see the tulips. Or Amsterdam, or the Hague, or the art museums, or the fashion world. Holland has its own charms. A lot of us just don't know what they are. What I've found, though, is that when you start calling up your friends and you say, "Guess what? I'm in Holland, not Italy," a number of them do know what's to be seen there, at least the highlights, and they wish you well on your unexpected adventure.

It's hard to put words around the blessing that a child with Down Syndrome is, but everybody seems to know that special things happen in their presence. I know for myself that the class of students I am teaching this year is far kinder, far more gentle, and far more accepting than most groups of high school juniors I've met, because of the presence of one such blessing in their class. I hope and pray that my niece will cause a similar effect in the people she encounters.

Why does this kind of thing happen? Who knows? God has a sense of humor, I guess, and gives us what we need, whether or not we recognize it. We may have been hankering for a trip to Italy, but perhaps God knows best that what we really need we will get from a journey through Holland. It probably won't be easy; it may take a while to catch up on this country's guidebooks. We may have to figure out some feats of navigation by trial and error. But like in my childhood vacations where Dad simply suggested we all "go west," I imagine we have some wonderful times and beautiful vistas ahead. Who are we to imagine we're in control of everything anyway?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teens Encounter Christ

My weekend was filled with spending time with God, friends, and teens. The retreat is called Teens Encounter Christ. This is a weekend where teens can come and be filled with God's love. I learned lots of games. I really enjoyed sharing my faith and my love of God with the teens. This is a retreat that I had made when I was in high school. This time also allowed me to think about practicing what I say I believe in. If I can talk the talk I need to walk the walk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prayer Needs

Ever realize that the more people you know, the more there is to pray for! Everybody always has so much going on in their lives. It's hard to deal with at times. Are you aware that you can send prayer requests to the Sisters on our website Look on the upper right hand corner. The prayer requests are put on our prayer board at Ferdinand. They're also sent out on email to all the mission sisters.

Please contact us if you have any prayer requests. Also keep us updated with any progress. We have many needs in our personal lives, work places, families, countries, world. The more I hear, the more I know the only thing I can do is turn to God. Please know that the Sisters want to be supportive and offer our prayers. We ask for your prayers as well as we continue to seek God together and reach out to those in need.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Today!

I used to watch this show called "Out of this World." It was about this girl who was part alien. Her mom was human and her dad was from another planet. I believe her name was Eve and she had the power to stop time. I always wished I could do that. I still do actually - usually in the morning when my alarm rings.

I must be fascinated with changing time because another one of my favorite shows is "Quantum Leap." In the show, Sam Becket created a time machine and had the ability to put "right what once went wrong."

This weekend we turned our clocks back one hour. Ever wish you could stop or turn back time? This weekend offered us the opportunity to live one hour over. Since it happened at night probably a lot of people enjoyed the extra hour of sleep.

I know we can't live our lives in the past and say, "I should have. . ." or "I wish I would have . . ." No need beating ourselves up over things that happened and can't be changed. Same is true for other people. We can't keep beating someone else up for things they did in the past.

No matter how much I'd like it, I have no power to control time. The best I can do is learn from the past and make right in the present moment what went wrong in the past.

Here's wishing everyone peace and happiness in the present moment.