Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Nephew

My brother and his wife just had their second son. I had the great opportunity to see him over my spring break. I was able to hold him and just watch him sleep. He is a beautiful baby. I also got the chance to play with his older brother. I love to see them grow and change.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Spring Break Time!

Today at 3pm, we started Spring break. As we were leaving school, all of us teachers were just as excited as the kids! It was awesome to see all the smiles. I am looking forward to spending extra time at the monastery hanging out, having time to catch up on things and doing some fun things that I normally don't have as much time to do as I would like: guitar, crosstitching, reading, and spending lots of time with friends. What a gift these breaks are! Know of my thoughts and prayers for all of you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Benedictine Life Weekend

Last weekend we had a come and see Benedictine Life Weekend. Two women attended. One from Kentucky and the other from Illinois. We had a great weekend! The theme was The Spirit of the Rule of Benedict. The Rule is the little book that Saint Benedict wrote for his monks 1,500 years ago on how to live Benedictine monastic life. Sister Jane Michele McClure provided the input Saturday morning. She talked about how she tries to live out the Rule in her day to day life, in her living and in her ministry as the director of development for Habitat for Humanity in Evansville, Indiana. Here are some pictures from the weekend.

Saturday was the Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict so we had a little party that evening. Saint Benedict himself showed up for a visit, though he sounded an awful lot like Sister Jeannine!
See the count down on this page
for the dates for our next
Benedictine Life event!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seeing the Dirt

I've been on the RCIA team at my parish in Louisville, and this weekend I led dismissal with our catechumen and candidates. We had such a good discussion of today's readings. In the first reading we got the Ten Commandments, in the second we got Paul's reflection on the foolishness of the sign of resurrection, and in the Gospel we got Jesus "cleansing the temple." Together they provide good food for thought: if my body is a "temple of the Spirit," how do I need to clean house? How clear of a sign of the resurrection is my life? As the priest said in the homily I heard this weekend, these readings are about spring cleaning, going into the rooms and closets of one's soul and bringing things to light.

Last night I was sitting in our living room when I looked over behind the couch nearby and noticed that the air vent along that wall was just loaded with dirt. The dust was so thick it was hanging out and had coated the wall nearby, catching on cobwebs. Now don't get me wrong: I generally vacuum and dust this room every week, but I'd never noticed this nastiness before. Despite common monastic practice, I can't say that I generally spend all my time checking out all the little corners of things. But brought to light, brought to my attention, I had to do something.

I think it's the same way with our souls during Lent. This is, literally and figuratively, time for cleaning house. The Ten Commandments provide a good inventory, for starters: how well do I keep holy the sabbath? How well do I really honor my parents? How well do I speak truthfully and protect the good name of others? Do I covet? Do I get jealous of other people, their talents, or their stuff? As we continue our Lenten practices, we should be becoming more aware of where our dirt is. Once you really see it, it's a lot easier to do something about it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First Reactions

Today I was thinking about the reaction I received when I told others I was looking into religious life. It was very hard for me because I wasn't truly comfortable with the idea myself.

One day in college I had made up my mind that I was going to tell my mom that day. Well, wouldn't you know, I called her around 11:59 pm. When my mom answered, I said, all in one breath, "Mom, I'm thinking about becoming a CA (community advisor) and I have a job interview on Wednesday and I'm looking into religious life and I meet with this woman on Friday." My mom's response was, "Oh, Catherine, you don't want to do that, do you?" I said, "Well, I just want to look into it." I didn't think my mom was too keen on the idea, so I let it drop.

A few weeks later, I was talking to my mom on the phone.
"Oh, Catherine, I was talking to Fr. Dave, and he said you were looking into religious life." She was so excited.
"Mom, I told you that a few weeks ago. Remember? I told you I was looking into the CA job and also looking into religious life."
"I only heard about the job. I didn't want you to do that because it's so much work. I must have been switching ears when you told me about religious life."

What a relief. I thought she was against it, but she was all for it.

It was hard for me to tell people, even my parents, which is why I waited until 11:59 pm. But I had to do it sometime. I could no longer keep putting it off. I can spend lots of energy worrying and putting off the inevitable. However, what I worry about oftentimes doesn't become the reality. Only with God's help, can I face my fears. The actual reality once I faced my fears and did what I needed to do was a lot different than the reality I had created in my head. What a relief. I had a lot of anxiety and worry that really could have been avoided.

I soon told other friends and family members. Some were supportive. Some were not. Some questioned. Some thought I was crazy. Some thought maybe something was wrong and I was joining to escape. I knew in my heart, however, that what I was doing was right. I was following God's will.

Looking into religious life isn't easy. Joining a religious community isn't easy. My advice is to find people you can talk to about it. Any big change involves some degree of fear and uncertainty. That's normal. When you can work through that and reach the other side, there is peace and inner happiness.

So, call up someone you trust. Just don't wait until 11:59 pm. They may be half asleep or switching ears.

A Beautiful Saturday

This past Saturday, it was gorgeous in my neck of the woods. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect. Yet in the midst of that, 55 high schoolers from three parishes here in Louisville still decided to complete a 24 hour food fast. I was touched by their desire to say yes to this event, even when they could have been doing so many other things. I helped as the assistant director for a poverty simulation that they spent the afternoon experiencing. They were given a month (four 15-minute weeks) to see if they could make the "family" of which they had become a member better off financially than when they started. This is a difficult task because challenges and obstacles are placed before them. Yet, many of the families persevered past their frustration and creatively came up with various solutions that might have really helped in the real world. They were touched by the experience. They seemed to come away realizing that it often the person who is homeless or poor isn't lazy, but faced with circumstances and situations that are out of their control. This awareness raised a compassion in them that was great to see. By the end of the simulation, a few were asking about ways they could make a difference. God was tangible at that poverty simulation and will work through those teens who experienced it. What a gift! This was another sign for me that service and volunteering is such a great thing and that there are lots of people willing to do it. If you have a chance to participate in a poverty simulation in your area, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This is lovely, something we should all remember.

I recently received this email story and I thought I'd share it with you.

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait. ''That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged. 'It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account.. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing.'

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fasting or Feasting during Lent?

Fast from complaining and feast on appreciation.
Fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness.
Fast from idle gossip and feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from judging others and feast on the Christ within them.
Fast from emphasis on differences and feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness and feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness and feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute and feast on phrases that uplift.
Fast from anger and feast on optimism.
Fast from discouragement and feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress and feast on anything that inspires.
Fast from lethargy and feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion and feast on truth.
Fast from problems that overwhelm and feast on prayer that gives us the strength to get through.

From Today is My Gift to You