December 13, 2016

Adventus

            As I am coming to the end of my first semester at St. Louis University, I am, as a co-Sister put it, “eye-brow deep” in studying for finals. In the midst of my studying, one of my favorite ways to take a “brain break” from trying to cram all the information I’ve learned this past semester into my brain, is to pull out my dictionary and look up new words or to go online and find etymologies to words. Call me a nerd, but I just find words and their root meanings or how to came to be fascinating.
            Seeing as to how we are right smack in the middle of Advent, I thought it fitting to look up the etymology to the word advent. It turns out that advent comes from the Latin word adventus and has quite a range of meanings. It can mean a coming, arrival, or appearance—all fitting for the way we understand Advent and our waiting for the coming of Jesus on Christmas. However, I came across a translation that both surprised and struck me. Adventus also has a military connotation: incursion or invasion. It turns out that in ancient Rome, the Romans held a special ceremony, an adventus, in which an emperor was formally welcomed with a glorious entry into a city either during a progress or after military campaign. I found this meaning to be so fitting, seeing as to how we celebrate Advent, as a waiting, or rather, a joyful anticipation of the coming of the King of Kings, our Prince of Peace.

            Greater is He than any earthly king of emperor! He, the creator of the universe, the maker of our hearts, abandoned His throne in Heaven and chose to come down to us a vulnerable and poor child. Unlike an earthly king, He does not come decked out in magnificence, but rather, comes to us through a lowly maiden, is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and is laid in a manger. Yet, this poor Child comes to redeem and save us, to raise us to new life and to glory with Him. As Advent nears to an end, let us more consciously unite our hearts with Mary, contemplating the awesome wonder of the mystery of the Incarnation, waiting with bated breaths as the coming of the Christ Child draws near. Let us continue to prepare our hearts, clearing out all the cobwebs and clutter that we have allowed to accumulate, so that baby Jesus may have the most glorious of entries and find the most welcoming of dwellings into our hearts on Christmas morning. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!  

November 27, 2016

SMART goals for Advent...

While most people recognize Lent as a season to make resolutions for spiritual growth, Advent is likewise a privileged time to dig deeper in the spiritual life.  Check out this video from The Living Person community that explains how to create SMART goals for this season of preparation.
Come, Lord Jesus.

November 8, 2016

A Journey as a Destination

(From Left to Right) Sr. Maris Stella, Sr. M. Pieta, Sr. M. Alexandra, Sr. Maria Consuela & Anna pose in front of the Shrine Church at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse
During week two of the Psalter, one encounters an antiphon that reads: “When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God”?  Yes, life is a pilgrimage, and there are many moments along the way where one can enter into the presence of God.  There is one thing that is certain about pilgrimages; no one embarks on one by accident.  So we must ask ourselves, what journey am I on?  What pilgrimage am I on?  Where is my destination?  Recently the Novitiate set out on a pilgrimage to the many holy shrines in Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful journey filled with much love and joy!  From the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Holy Hill, and from the apparition site of Our Lady of Good Help to the St. Joseph Shrine, our hearts were set apart and invited to enter into the journey that awaited each one of us.  Little did we know that the journey that awaited us would be filled with many moments of laughter!

One instance in particular occurred when we locked ourselves out of the van, after getting gas.  Thanks to the help of the local sheriff, we were back on the road in no time.  Later on, our pilgrimage brought us through the tail-gating scene of a Green Bay Packers home game! From lost water bottles, to the distribution of rosaries in McDonalds, we still were able to enter into the presence of God amidst the unexpected.  The Novitiate encountered beautiful hospitality from the House of Formation and its aspirants.  A love of community blossomed.  So, while this pilgrimage to Wisconsin had come to an end, we had only just begun to enter into the presence of God. You and our community accompanied us in a special way as we prayed and lit candles for your intentions!

September 22, 2016

A Jubilee in the Jubilee

Sr. M. Margaret reflects on
her 25 years of Religious Life.
I am grateful to God for 25 years of Religious Life.  It is hard to believe it has been that long.  As I look back, I thank God for everything I have experienced, for the joys and sorrows, the challenges and many blessings.  When I reflect on my many experiences in my apostolate as a teacher, I think about the numerous spiritual children that God has blessed me with.  I have a multitude of memories and stories I could tell of my teaching experience as well as my community experiences.  I know that god has been present through it all.  In the beginning, he said to me, "Veni Si Amas," "Come if you love."  I am grateful for that first call and the grace to respond to that call.  I pray that my life has been a joyful surrender, a sacrifice of praise to God through my service, through my vows and the gift of self.  I look back and I look forward with joy and gratitude.  Each day is a new beginning, a new opportunity.  In this Year of Mercy, this jubilee year in the Church, I think, "Wow!  What a wonderful time to celebrate my 25th Jubilee!"  I have also reflected on the fact that I professed my final vows in the Jubilee Year 2000 declared by Pope St. John Paul II.  Now, Pope Francis has declared this jubilee year and we are all called to receive the MANY graces that our Lord has for us.  It is by his love that we have been called, and it is by his love that we remain in his service.  Let us together rejoice in his merciful love.  I thank God for my call as a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George for these past 25 years, and I pray, God willing, for many more years of grace and blessings remaining ever close to his heart.

Register NOW for the Veni Si Amas Retreat!

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100 Years of Religious Life!

From Left: Sr. M. Margaret, Sr. M. Seraphica, Sr. Marie-Therese, Sr. Marietta
Four sisters celebrated 25 years of religious life (4 x 25 = 100) in a community celebration on September 17, the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.  Click here to view some photos from the celebration and be sure to read their reflections on the blog.

September 21, 2016

Praising God "no matter what" for 25 years...

Sister Marie-Therese shares her gratitude
and joy as she celebrated her Silver Jubilee
 on September 17.
On Saturday, September 17, 2016 Sister Marietta, Sister M. Margaret, Sister M. Seraphica and I had a grace-filled Silver Jubilee celebration at St. Francis Convent in Alton. It was a great joy to celebrate together since in recent years, members of our group were in faraway Cuba and Oklahoma! My fellow jubilarians came to the Friday evening faculty recital at the college where I teach to support me as I  performed with our piano trio. When we returned, our doors were decorated with silver balloons and silver “25’s!” We were blessed to celebrate our Silver Jubilee on the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, reflecting that the wounds of Christ should always remain imprinted on the hearts of Franciscans. 
Many Sisters came from other convents to join us for the special Mass Saturday morning. My favorite hymn was the chant Ave Verum, which asks “sweet Jesus” to “be a foretaste for us of the heavenly banquet” and “to have mercy on us.” When singing or hearing chant, I remember learning that the lack of regular meter symbolizes heaven, where time is not measured as it is on earth. 
Between festive meals, we spent some time together gratefully remembering the last 25 years. We also shared memories with the Sisters at supper, laughing about events like the time my right eyebrow was accidentally shaved off in a convent postulant haircut. We all remembered the class on praise many years ago, when our postulant mistress exhorted us to praise God “no matter what” and to especially praise Him in the difficult times and struggles, as this helps us to keep our eyes on Him and to give us better perspective. We praise Him now with hearts overwhelmed with gratitude for our vocation as brides of Christ in this Franciscan community!
- Sister Marie-Therese, FSGM