Friday, April 24, 2009

Countdown

One teacher at our school has the tradition of a countdown to the end of the year: for the 30 school days before summer break starts, she posts in the faculty lunchroom 30 fancily numbered signs, which we all then color and decorate one by one as the days slip away. Usually we draw the things we're looking forward to experiencing in the coming months away. Presently, we have fewer than 30 days left, and the signs have yet to appear. I think we must be having too much fun- the time is going so fast we didn't even realize the end was this near!

Summer for me this year? Three weeks of "vow camp" in South Dakota with other Benedictines preparing to make perpetual monastic profession, and a few weeks back at the monastery, probably working in the bakery, answering the phone at switchboard, giving tours, and covering other chores for sisters as they go on vacation or retreat. What's up for you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Crazy, but It Just Makes Sense

I remember going to see Pope John Paul II in St. Louis when I was in college. I would have cancelled everything to have gone to see him. It was a great experience. I remember one religious sister sharing her vocation story at the youth gathering. She said the reason she entered religious life was because, "It just made sense." I still remember thinking, "She's crazy!" I was discerning religious life for myself at the time . . . secretly. In actuality, I was fighting it, and I was fighting pretty hard. I was putting up a really good fight.

Being called to religious life didn't make any sense to me. That is, until I became exhausted from fighting. I threw in the towel and opened myself up to the possibility. What I came to realize after reading, searching the Internet, visiting communities, and praying was that the life really did make sense. It makes sense to me now because this is where I am called. It fits well. I can imagine the people who hear or read my story are probably thinking what I once thought, "She's crazy!"

I don't claim to be "normal," whatever that is. I am blessed though. Blessed that I was graced with the openness to look into religious life and graced with the courage to have pursued it. Now I pray for the grace of perseverance to live my vows faithfully each and every day. It's not easy, and nuns are human. We're not granted special powers. And we're certainly not any different than anyone else.

I know the life I live and the things I do would not be possible without the grace of God. What I once thought was crazy, what I once fought hard to resist is now the life I live and love. I echo the words of the sister who spoke at the youth gathering many years ago, "It just makes sense."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are you wondering if God might be calling you to religious life?

Have you ever thought: "Is God calling me? I want to be of service to people. I want to grow in my relationship with God. Could this be God nudging me? If so, what do I do now?"

If this sounds familiar or rings a bell with you, why not check it out? There are hundreds of religious orders of women throughout the world! One way to do this is to go to Vision's VocationGuide.org. Vision (a vocation magazine and website) has a vocation match that you can fill out. It then matches you with religious communities that fit your profile. This can be quite helpful.

If you would like to look at our community: the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, IN, I invite you to go to our website: www.thedome.org and check us out. On our website, click on JOIN US and you'll find lots of vocation information, along with our vocation video, profiles of our newer members, and much more. You can even find out blog listed there.

We offer visiting or "Come and See" type weekends throughout the year, and a week-long event during the summer. This is a chance to get to know us, see how we live, what we do, how we pray, and to get to know other women who are also searching. If you're interested in learning more about us, call Sister Michelle or me, Sister Agnes Marie, at 1-800-738-9999 or email us at vocation@thedome.org. We'd be happy to talk with you and to assist you in your discernment.

This may be God nudging you. Who knows? Why not check it out? You may be pleasantly surprised.

God bless!

Sister Agnes Marie

Monday, April 20, 2009

Something to Remember at Easter

What a great message this little boy has to share with us, especially during this Easter Season!

video

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Awakening A Rebirth of Enthusiasm in Vocations

Wow! What a week! Since last Tuesday evening we have had 55 religious sisters and brothers here with us attending our workshop Awakening A Rebirth of Enthusiasm in Vocations. They came from all over the United States, India, Ireland, and Canada. They came looking for hope and ideas to reawaken a spirit of attracting new members to their communities and congregations. I think they found that for sure! They were all so enthused when they left... they were on fire to take what they found here back home. I pray that they will be able to light fires in their communities and hold that fire of hope to grow!

For us, it has been wonderful having them all here. Though we are the ones who "put on" the workshop, they also taught us much over the week. Their energy and enthusiasm lit a fire for us as well. Their shared wisdom and stories encourage us to continue the good work that God has called us to.

See our Home at the Dome web page for pictures from the workshop.

God's blessings to them all!

Friday, April 17, 2009

AMAZING!!!

If you have not seen the video of Susan Boyle, a participant on Britain's Got Talent, by all means take the time now to watch this video clip from YouTube!

I will say no more and let you see for yourself why I want you to watch it. So many times we can be judgemental, critical, and down-right unchristian towards another. This woman hopefully will encourage all to reconsider before judging someone, especially by outside appearances.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnmbJzH93NU

Please do take 7 and 1/2 minutes to watch it!

Guess Who?


I like this picture for 2 reasons. One, because it has my favorite stuffed animal - my pink panther. My brother Donald had a teddy bear known as Ted E. Bear, so my pink panther's name was pinkapanther. "A" pronounced "Uh" was his middle name. I still have him. He is a fond memory of my childhood. I'd hook his nose over my shoulder and then could have my hands free to do other things. My guess is I was either chasing my brother or trying to get away from him.

Another reason I like this picture is because I'm twisting my hair. I used to do this constantly without realizing it. It's the main reason I took up crocheting when I was in high school. I wanted something else to do with my hands. Twisting yarn around sounded more productive than twisting hair.

I remember one time when I was little. My dad was driving, and I was in the back seat behind him. (This was before we knew to wear seat belts or sit in childseats in the back.) Since my dad was driving, I asked him if he wanted me to twist his hair for him. I really thought I was doing him a favor. For the rest of the trip, I twisted my hair and my dad's.
Sometimes I look at young children and wish they could stay innocent and carefree forever. Ideally, little kids are that way. The truth is, however, that often they have lots of stress and problems at an early age. The situations they find themselves in may cause them to grow up too soon. I know the students I teach have a great deal going on in their lives. One student told me the other day that he couldn't deal with the stress at school because he has so much stress at home.

I worry about some of the older students in middle school. I know that is a very difficult age because it may seem to those students that the whole world is focused on them. Students are very self conscious about how they look or what they wear, who they hang out with, what they like or don't like. The list goes on and on. I'm sure many of us stil worry about some of these things as adults.

I certainly don't want to get stuck in those middle school and high school years. When I do worry about things or find myself concerned about what others may think, I ask myself, "Am I me-centered or God-centered?" Since God loves me just the way I am, why shouldn't I? It may be hard to understand as an adolescent, but hopefully not as an adult.

Yes, when I start to worry or put myself down, the question I ask myself is, "Am I me-centered or God-centered?" If I'm doing the best I can that's all I can do, and I believe God is pleased.

To sum it up another way, one of the sisters told me recently, "When you get to the pearly gates, God will ask, 'Did you love?' not were you successful."

If I'm me-centered, I'm concerned about success. If I'm God-centered, I'm focused on love, God's will, and letting God be in control.

Loving God, help me to get out of the way so that your will may be done in me. Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

There's No Wrong Way . . .

I recently received this note from a parent.

"I have also wanted to mention to you how impressed I was w/ you at KUNA. I have a lot of Baptist friends that pray out loud from the heart and make it seem so easy. You have been the only person in my entire Catholic upbringing that I have ever heard pray the way you did w/ those girls before they danced. I’m sure it meant a lot to them, but it meant even more to me. Thank you so much for bringing Jesus to them that night. That is why we pay so much to send our children to a Catholic school."

I haven't always been able to pray "off the cuff" in front of others. Most of us Catholics are more comfortable with traditional prayers. I've learned a great deal from my protestant friends and other Catholics who simply "go with it." They make it seem so easy and natural to pray to God with their own words, from their heart.

I'm reminded of the Reece's commercial from a while back that said, "There's no wrong way to eat a Reece's." There's no wrong way to pray either.

Take a deep breath, get out of the way, allow the Holy Spirit to enter, and see what words come.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Community Support

If you want to know what first attracted me to the Ferdinand Benedictines, it was the love and service I witnessed when I came to visit. I remember the simple act of putting tablecloths on the tables in the dining room really amazed me.

After supper one weekend when I was visiting, one of the sisters requested help putting the tablecloths on for a special celebration the next day. In no time flat, the sisters got busy, mindful of what exactly needed to be done. Each sister worked together, jumping in where needed without saying a word. The whole scene really amazed me. I thought to myself, "This is a community that really loves one another and is mindful of one another's needs."

Of course putting on tablecloths is a small act compared to bigger things I've seen. There are certainly greater needs that are also met, but it is the small, everyday tasks where sisters help one another that really touch me.

Recently I went to MO to visit my parents over spring break. Without being asked, several sisters volunteered to travel with me. They were willing to drop me off and pick me up. It was a lot to ask of someone, and I certainly didn't want to burden anyone. However, the sisters who helped me assured me that they were more than willing to help.

Sister Brenda took me to my parents and Sisters Mary Ann and Mary Louise picked me up. What a blessing it was that I didn't have to worry. "Give us this day our daily bread." God supplies all our needs.

I must admit I felt a little guilty that they had to make the trip. But that is what community is for. We all truly help each other in our time of need. I worked on being OK with asking them to do this. I had to stop protesting inwardly and feeling guilty and accept that they were all truly OK with making the trip.

I was blown away not only by their generosity, but also by what was said at the end of the trip. Sisters Mary Ann and Mary Louise had been on the road from 8am to 5pm. When we arrived back in Ferdinand, would you believe they thanked me for allowing them to be a part of my journey. They were glad I felt free enough to ask them to make the trip. That certainly wasn't what I was expecting at all. It took me by surprise.

We are a part of each other's lives. We are a community that holds and supports one another in time of need.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I do not have much time to write since Vespers is in 12 mintues... but I wanted to take the time to wish all of you a very Happy Easter! May the blessings of the Risen Christ be with you all and warm your heart this day and during this Easter season.

Watch for pictures from Holy Week and Easter on The Home @ the Dome on our web site.

I also put some videos up on YouTube from Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Also, speical blessings on those who entered the Church last night!
Now it is five minutes until Vespers and the bells are ringing - better go!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Accepting Mistakes

I used to worry a lot. Now, after making lots and lots and lots of mistakes, I've learned to just go with the flow a little better. As a musician, I really can't get too hung up on my mistakes because they're going to come - the next one probably bigger than the previous one. So, the best thing is to accept them and move on. I'm reminded of the Family Circus cartoon that says, "You learn from your mistakes, so be sure to make lots of them." I've got that down pat.

I really have grown in my acceptance of my mistakes. I was reflecting on just how I have been able to do this. One big reason is because I do make lots of mistakes, so I've had lots of practice in accepting them and moving on. Also another HUGE reason is because of the wisdom of my mom.

I remember in college, calling my mom and telling her I was going to flunk a class. (Now, I never flunked a class. My worries were just exaggerated.) My mom would say, "That's OK. You can just take it again next year." I then brought up the issue of money and the need to pay for the class twice. Money was always tight at our house, but that wasn't an issue either. She just said, "We'll figure it out. Just do the best you can."

Over spring break, I went home to see my parents. My mom is by far the most accepting person I know. I wish I could be just 10% like her. While I was there, I visited my brother Chris and his family. They live in Bell City, MO about 40 minutes from my parents. To get there, you have to take all country roads. I did fine getting there. No problem. Coming back late at night though, I missed a turn somewhere and had no idea where I was. I was lost on these back country roads. I turned around once, but didn't find my mistake. So, I decided to keep going, hoping I would eventually get to some kind of road sign. I was so excited when I finally saw one coming up. The sign pointed out the town to the left, the town to the right, and the town straight ahead. Unfortunately these were little bitty towns, and I had never heard of them.

I get lost a lot, so this wasn't new to me. I've learned that if my instinct tells me to turn right, I should turn left. And if my instinct tells me to turn left, I should turn right. So I turned right and kept going, hoping for another sign. After a few minutes of driving, I saw civilization ahead - a McDonald's. You know, chicken nuggets and french fries are always good late at night. I figured it was all part of God's plan.

I couldn't believe the town where I ended up. I was way off track. I went into McDonald's and asked for directions, hoping also that I wouldn't run into any cousins while I was there. I have cousins all over southeast MO. If I did run into someone, I didn't know how I would be able to explain my reason for being there - other than the truth, I guess. "I was just out for a drive and heard the fries were good here." Hmmmm . . . I wonder if they would have believed that? I wouldn't have been able to say it with a straight face anyway. I got the late night snack, the directions, and wasn't spotted by anyone I knew, so all was well.

Of course, I returned to my parents' house later than I expected. In truth, I was just glad to have had enough gas and to have made it back safely.

The next morning when I told my mom what had happened and where I ended up, she simply said, "Well, that's one way to get back here."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Break!

I just wanted to share that I had a great Spring break! I got to spend a few days at the monastery and went to Evansville and hung out with some great friends there. I got lots of stuff done around the house, made a birthday lunch for a friend, had a long supper with another great friend and went to Martinsville, IN to spend time with family there. God is so good! I'm so glad I had this time to relax, rejuvenate and have fun. Now- if I can only convince myself that I have to go back to work tomorrow!