Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent blessings!

One lighted candle on our Advent wreath in cloister hall, outside our church doors, reminds us that we are in the first week of Advent, the liturgical season when we wait in hope, longing for God's coming among us - Emmanuel. On Saturday, November 26, Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, our prioress, blessed the Advent wreath and lit the first candle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


As my mom's health continues to decline, and we look into making major changes, I'm aware of how our home hasn't really changed too much over the past 30 years we've lived there. Well, that's not entirely true. We did have a few major changes. When I was around 10, we added 3 rooms to our house. At some point growing up, we built a shed in the back yard, but beyond that our house and our actions, for the most part, have stayed the same.

I wrote one time about when my brother and I were home from college and he went to the grocery store to buy toilet paper. When he went to check out, the cashier said, "That isn't the kind of toilet paper your mom usually buys."

A few years ago, my mom wanted me to go to the store and buy cheese. I was surprised when she asked, "Do you know what kind to get?" I responded, "Mom, we've bought the same cheese for 30 years." (Maybe she was remembering the toilet paper mix-up a few years earlier.)

It's not that anyone in my family would be against trying something new. I just think we all unconsciously fell into a comfortable routine. I remember being so surprised when my mom rearranged the living room furniture. Of course, that was around 15 years ago, and I'm a little more used to it now.

One thing that has changed a lot is my mom's mobility. She uses a walker to get around the house. Because of this, I moved the dining room buffet about 6 inches to make the maneuvering a little easier for her. As I moved the buffet, I was very much aware that this was probably the first time the piece of furniture had been moved in 20 or 30 years. A small incident, but a sign of a major change.

One thing that has remained constant at our house that I'll carry on as long as possible is the candy dish on top of the buffet, which has always been filled with M&Ms. My mom no longer eats them, but I always make sure the dish is replenished when I'm there. (I guess that's only fair since I do my part to empty it.) I'll buy a different kind of toilet paper or cheese before I say good-bye to the M&M dish.

Of course, these are all little changes compared to the major decisions and changes that lie ahead of us and the changes that we've already had to make. Not having my mom greet me when I come home and not having her wave for 2 blocks as I drive back to Ferdinand have been difficult changes. It was tough being at my niece's wedding and not seeing my mom being escorted down the aisle by her 8 year old grandson. Everyday from here on out, there will be more letting go.

I do find it interesting that my mom's illness really reared its ugly head soon after I made profession in October 2008. After entering in 2001, my mom waited 7 years to see me make profession. I'm convinced that she was doing all she could to hold off the disease and make it to profession. When I went home at Christmas that same year, it was like night and day as far as my mom's health.

Through all of this, we'll continue making difficult decisions. We'll continue moving furniture, getting rid of things, and filling up the M&M dish. Many things will change, but I will always be aware of my mom's sacrifices and unconditional love for my brothers and me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

We remember… and we honor and pray for all veterans of war and for men and women who are currently serving their country. We pray for peace among all nations.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When Times Are Tough

I work with the best people ever here at Notre Dame Academy in Louisville, KY. It's a real family, and everyone pitches in to help each other. Some of the teachers have given me gas money for when I go home to visit my mom. I couldn't ask for a better place to work and a better group of people to work with.

A lot of times we say or hear people say, "Let me know if you need anything." It's always nice when people think of things on their own and take action. I wouldn't ask my co-workers for gas money, but how thoughtful and kind of them to think of me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

All Souls Day

As part of our observance of All Souls Day on November 2, a special day to remember departed loved ones, we processed to the monastery cemetery for the conclusion of our Evening Prayer. We placed a wreath at the crucifix, blessed the graves, and prayed for the dead, including those whose names were sent to us by friends, families, and benefactors.

Congratulation to our jubilarians!

Jubilees are important occasions for our community. On Sunday, October 30, five of our sisters observed their jubilees - special anniversaries of their monastic profession. Five sisters - 325 years of prayer and service. With great joy and gratitude we celebrated their faithfulness to the monastic life and their commitment to years of ministry. Sister Mary Charlotte Kavanaugh (75 years), Sister Martha Marie Tempel (70 years), and Sisters Joanna Trainer, Lorraine DeVault, and Mary Dominic Frederick (60 years).

During the jubilee ceremony, the sisters renewed their vows and commitment and prayed for the grace to remain faithful.

Front row: Sister Martha Marie Tempel and Sister Mary Charlotte Kavanaugh
Back row: Sisters Joanna Trainer, Mary Dominic Frederick, and Lorraine DeVault

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moved to Clapping

Have you ever been so in awe of God's presence that you were moved to clapping? I think that's what happened to my students today. I have church singing practice with 4th-6th grade once a week in the church. The students were singing beautifully. It couldn't have been any better. We sang through a new Mass setting that we'll be using in Advent. Then we sang a song by Janet Vogt called Thank You, God. It was beautiful. When they sing and participate well, I let them choose a few songs, so we sang through I Danced in the Morning and Anthem. (They never get tired of these.) Then we sang a song called Give Thanks. At the end, they all started clapping. It was absolutely beautiful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Get by with a Little Help from My Students

One thing about preparing the children’s liturgies here at school is that you never know what will happen. I could practice 100 times with a student, but that morning, the student may be absent. Today’s liturgy for All Saints Day went really well thanks to the students. We did have 2 substitutes for the ministries because of absences (and maybe a candy hangover from Halloween).

I announced to the students before we started that we were going to sing the Gloria. Well, when the time came for us to sing, I had already forgotten and had the music set up for the Responsorial Psalm. Creature of Habit. We usually don’t sing the Gloria on a regular weekday, but did today for the Holy Day.

Then after the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm, I had my fingers on the piano keys ready to play the Alleluia. A student in the choir, thank goodness, said, “Do I go up now?” She was reading the Second Reading that day. Had she not said anything, I would have forgotten. Another change for the Holy Day that we don’t normally have on other weekdays.

After that, I think everything else was the same.

Sometimes I’m the one helping the students with the liturgies. Today, it was the students helping me.