Monday, October 24, 2011

Learn Something New Every Day

Today one of the 2nd graders who is new to our school saw me in the hallway and said, "You know, I'm figuring out that I like music. I think it's kind of fun." I'm glad to hear that she likes music. I think it can be used by her as a way to open up, feel more comfortable, and make new friends.

Music can be used to express feelings or thoughts that are otherwise difficult to express. For me, it has certainly changed my life. I truly was not aware that I had any musical talent before entering the monastery, and now here I am. I've been a music teacher for the last 8 years. It's amazing how God works.

Music is the tool that is used to help me become more fully who I am called to be. It connects me to people and opens me up to love and the God who dwells within me.

I'm glad that little girl is discovering that she likes music. Hopefully, through her enjoyment and having fun, she too will develop a closer relationship with God.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Live Fully

I went home this weekend to see my mom. She spends most of her time in bed, so I don't get to spend a whole lot of time with her, but I value the time I do get. Someone told me that the best thing I can do for her is to live my life fully. That makes sense. It's tempting, since my mom is suffering, to suffer right along with her. I don't believe my mom would want that though. Sure, it's difficult to watch her decline, but that doesn't mean I have to spend my life moping around.

This is hard to explain, and I hope it doesn't appear insensitive. Robert Wicks talks about this in his book Riding the Dragon. When his daughter was in the hospital, he thought he had to appear gloomy or else his neighbors would mistake him for not caring. He thought the more forlorn he looked, the more it would seem he cared about his daughter who was sick. When he went to visit her, she told him that he looked worse than she felt. It was then that he realized that his being miserable was not helping him or his daughter.

I do live my life the best I can, taking advantage of every opportunity and learning as much as I can, so I can become more fully the person I was created to be. I have no doubt my mom is proud. After all, I am her favorite daughter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sisters' suggestions for books on Benedictine spirituality

You can read the fall issue of our magazine, Seek. Pray. Share., on our web site! Just go to this page and download it.

Want to learn about Benedictine spirituality? Our book column on page 20 describes seven books that some of our sisters have recommended as a good place to start. We couldn’t fit all of their suggestions in the magazine, so here’s the entire list. The first seven are the top picks. Happy reading!

St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine, 2005
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, 1991
The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Sister Joan Chittister, 2010
Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality by Esther de Waal, 1998
A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal, 1995
Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, 2010
The Song of the Seed: The Monastic Way of Tending the Soul by Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, 1997
A Good Life…Benedict’s Guide to Everyday Joy by Robert Benson, 2004
Benedict’s Rule: A Translation and Commentary by Terrence G. Kardong, 1996
Benedict's Way: An Ancient Monk's Insights for a Balanced Life by Lonnie Collins Pratt, 2001
Engaging Benedict: What the Rule Can Teach Us Today by Laura Swan, 2005
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison, 2006
Man of Blessing, A Life of St. Benedict by Carmen Acevedo Butcher, 2006
Praying with Benedict by Katherine Howard, 2004
Preferring Christ: A Devotional Commentary and Workbook on the Rule of St. Benedict by Norvene Vest, 2004
Saint Benedict for the Laity by Eric Dean, 1989
Spirituality for Everyday Living: An Adaptation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Brian C. Taylor, 1989
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, 1997The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock, 1991
The Motley Crew: Monastic Lives by Brother Benet Tvedten, 2006
Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina by Thelma Hall, 1988

These were mentioned as books appropriate for the reader with some background in Benedictine spirituality:
Lectio Matters: Before The Burning Bush: Through the Revelatory Texts of Scripture, Nature and Experience by Mary Margaret Funk, 2010
New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton, 2007
Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating, OCSO, 2006
Sermons on the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1980
Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict by Michael Casey, 2005
The Institutes by John Cassian, 2000

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best wishes, Margie!

Here are a few photos from the retirement dinner we had yesterday (Sunday, Oct. 9) for Margie Bowman and her family.

She worked here as a Certified Nursing Assistant, CNA, for almost 31 years before retiring this spring. Notice there's one photo with her and her sister Verena Kays, one of our pantry aides.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fulfilling Our Calling

Today and yesterday, we’ve been having Parent, Teacher, Student (PTS) Conferences at school. This involves the homeroom teachers, so as a music teacher, I fortunately don’t have to do them unless there is a specific need.

There are many things homeroom teachers do that I do not do, but there are also things that I do that the homeroom teachers do not have to do. We all have our specific calling and talents. I’m grateful that I can use my gifts as a music teacher.

Every teacher does have different responsibilities, depending on the age of the students. As the 3 year olds were leaving my classroom the other day, I heard the teacher tell one student, “Hold on. Let me hold your hand. Your pants are falling down and your shoe’s untied.” You probably wouldn’t hear the teachers of the older students say that. I’ve heard them discuss other important things with them, such as the importance of wearing deodorant every day.

Teachers really do have many more responsibilities each day beyond teaching. It all depends on what our gifts are as to what subject and age level we teach.

Let us be grateful for whatever our calling is in life and fulfill that calling to the best of our ability – whether it’s tying shoes or reminding students about personal hygiene.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Organization & Planning???????

Organization and planning have never been strong characteristics of mine or even characteristics at all. They really weren't in my vocabulary until a few years ago. I don't know how I managed, but somehow things worked out. I still think back to the day during my first year of teaching. It was probably April and I came home and said, "Mary Celestin, did you know people plan?" I think she was waiting for me to finish the sentence, but that was it. That was the revelation I had had that day. It was a new concept for me. I was more used to having ideas instead of plans. I didn't have a lesson plan book, but a lesson idea book. Sometimes I did what was written, but more often than not, I made it up as I went along. I didn't know what my plans were until after I was finished. I really didn't know any other way.

This is now my 8th year of teaching (7th year at Notre Dame Academy in Louisville, KY). My lesson plan book today looks a lot different than my first years. Thank goodness!

I still struggle with organization and planning, but I'm working on it. This year, in particular, I need lots of organization and planning. I have two choirs - a 2nd & 3rd grade choir and a 4th-8th grade choir. Before starting the 2nd & 3rd grade choir, I asked our principal if therapy or counseling would be covered under worker's comp in case I go crazy. She said, "It didn't cover pre-existing conditions." How’s that for support?????

Actually, it’s going really well. I do need to be organized and well planned. There are around 25-30 students in each choir, so I’ve divided them up into teams. Then if there are different jobs or instruments that need to be played for Mass, I choose a team for that week. Brilliant! But this kind of thinking doesn’t come naturally. I’ve been stretched and have learned along the way. It is paying off. One kid today said, “Sr. Catherine, how come you’re choosing this year to be so organized?” I just laughed and said, “Because there are so many of you.” It really is a necessity.

So, after 8 years of teaching, I think I may be getting the hang of things. By the time I’m ready to retire, you should look out. I may actually know what I’m doing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Surrendering to New Life

"I surrender" doesn't have a very good connotation. I think of being defeated, overpowered, conquered. In the world, it means "I give up. You win." In the spiritual sense, however, I believe it takes a lot of strength to surrender. Even though I'd like to hold on to the familiar, it sometimes takes a lot of work and energy to hold on and do things the way they've always been done and be the way I've always been. It takes much greater courage and trust to let that all go and surrender to a new way of being. To give up familiar ways and surrender to God's way.

I'm not a person who gives up control easily. I like being in charge. However, I can't surrender in the worldly sense; I have to surrender in the spiritual sense - to give up my own will and desires and embrace fully God's will.

Jesus surrendered to God's will and it led him to the cross. The story didn't stop there, however. There's a resurrection - resurrection to new life if we are first willing to surrender and embrace change and the unknown, trusting in God's steadfast and unconditional love. Surrendering, no doubt, will lead me places I'd rather not go. It may cause me to change or do things I'd rather not do. But it won't end there. When I surrender, I am opening myself up to new life.

Congratulations, Sisters Jill & Kathy!

Today we celebrated the perpetual profession of two of our sisters -- Sister Jill Marie Reuber and Sister Kathleen Marie Cash. It was a beautiful ceremony for two wonderful people! Congratulations and God's Blessings to both of you.