May 25, 2017

Centennial Blessings

On May 13, 2017, I was able to experience the Holy Father’s Eucharistic Celebration in Fatima from my sick room as it aired on EWTN.  The faith, joy, and prayerfulness of the pilgrims were so touching and it made me desire to take on the spiritual experience with an open heart.  I was not able to see the whole celebration because of the early hour at which it began and the fact that it coincided with our own convent Mass being celebrated.  After Mass, I quickly returned to watching EWTN.  Most of it was over and they advertised a replay later at 11:00am.  Sr. M. Lucia, who entered the convent with me and was celebrating her nameday, also wanted to watch it, so I invited her to join me. 

The day before, while praying the rosary along with the pilgrims gathered in Fatima, I had the inspiration to invite her, along with Sr. M. Jacinta who also celebrated her feastday on May 13 to join me to pray together.  It worked out that 2:00pm would be the best time.  We had EWTN on mute but still visible.  As we were starting the rosary, Pope Francis exposed the Blessed Sacrament.  As we were praying the 5th Joyful Mystery, our Holy Father walked over to the section where all of the sick and infirm were seated and blessed each section with the Eucharist.  What a true blessing!  It was so wonderful to be a part of this Fatima Celebration in the Heart of the Church, my Mother.

-       Sr. M. Theresita

May 5, 2017

Open to the little things...

Sr. Mary Joseph's mission reflection from her time at Bonacum House in Lincoln, NE concludes the reflections of our second year novice mission experiences.  Please pray for our sisters as they continue to prepare for their first profession of vows.

The last six months, I have had the privilege to be on mission at Bonacum House in Lincoln, Nebraska. Bonacum House is a retirement home for the priests of the diocese of Lincoln with our sisters running it. While my daily duties were that of a housekeeper, it was really the presence and witness of the Sisters as spiritual mothers that was the primary apostolate. 

I was daily reminded that it is through our encounters with one another that we are able to meet Christ.  I realized this doing laps around the house with one of the priests one day. While it was a simple experience, I was reminded of the importance of being present in the moment. In our world today, people often don’t even look at each other when walking by.  They ask how you are doing but then do not stop to really listen to the answer. However, it is when we stop and listen to each other that we have a chance to encounter Christ, and I was reminded of this time and time again being at Bonacum House. So many times we are looking for the big things to do when it is often in the little things that the Holy Spirit often works. We simply have to be open to the Spirit working in our lives and respond in trust that He is guiding us for it is through having that receptive heart that we can encounter Christ. 

May 3, 2017

Change a life with a smile...

We continue our mission reflection series with some thoughts from Sr. M. Philomena who served at the Mother of Good Counsel Home in St. Louis.

Sr. M. Philomena with her family at her reception into the Novitiate.

These past six months I was on mission at our Mother of Good Counsel Home in St. Louis. I was part of the activity staff. We would play bingo, make cards, have sing alongs, watch movies, and have potlucks and other activities with the residents. They always looked forward to the activities, especially bingo. When it was bingo day some residents would come a few minutes early, go to their favorite spot, and count their bingo chips to make sure they had enough. Their prizes if they won were candy, money or chips. Chocolate Hershey bars were a must have in our prize bucket. What also made bingo fun was that certain numbers had little sayings after it that the residents would say like “get your kicks on route 66” when 66 was called or “double nickel” for 55. I also had the blessing to give the Holy Eucharist to our residents who were not able to attend Mass. One resident kissed the Eucharist before receiving Him which was very touching. Some nights, before they would go to bed I would give them a blessing.

I learned that when you do your apostolate with humility, love, and with a smile it can change the lives of the people around you. It can give comfort to a family who just lost a loved one or give encouragement to a person going through a tough situation. The Home is a place where you can encounter Christ each day. I was able to encounter Him through my conversations with the beautiful and joyful staff, our ever grateful residents and their families, and by living our Thuine Franciscan charism with my co-Sisters. The Mother of Good Counsel Home is truly a home where the presence of God can be felt and seen.

I want to thank my co-Sisters, staff, and residents at the Home who welcomed me with open arms and showed me the beauty of the Body of Christ, His Church.

May 1, 2017

"Whatever the task, work as serving the Lord and not man": Reflections from the field

In honor of St. Joseph the worker, today we begin a three-part series compliments of our Second-Year Novices.  These sisters are preparing to make their first profession of vows and have reflected on their six month mission experience where they shared in the active apostolates of our community.  

Today's reflection comes from Sr. John Mary, named for Pope St. John Paul II, whose theology of work and of the human person informed her mission experience at Bonacum House in Lincoln, NE.

“Perhaps God wills to give that person to you,” Pope St. John Paul II’s spiritual director once said to him in the beginning years of his priesthood.  These words served to help him, as he put it, “…trust God and accept the gift one man becomes for the other.”  This “communion of persons” is at the heart of our mission as disciples of Christ and the six months I spent at Bonacum House in Lincoln, Nebraska.  As a retirement home for priests in which our sisters also live and work, it was a unique opportunity to witness how God calls us to a culture of communion. 

While the apostolate consists of domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning, the heart of it all is really the essence of our charism, to make the merciful love of Christ visible, both to the priest residents and our sisters.  I was constantly in awe of the ways the Lord’s desire to give Himself to us was manifested, whether in the sacraments, through our sisters, the priests and staff, and simply the unexpected gifts and events of each day.  For example, when one of the priests was ill I had the honor of bringing Holy Communion to him (this was quite the role reversal as the priest is usually the one giving me Holy Communion).  Upon my arrival with the Blessed Sacrament he became extremely reverent and freely prayed in gratitude that the Lord had come to him.  I returned to the Chapel with a sense of humble gratitude for the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and His tender attentiveness to each of us.  This presence of God’s love created an atmosphere of constant gratitude which made for a very joyful six months.  I am immensely grateful for the gift I received at Bonacum House as I recall the following words of Pope St. John Paul II, “We must ourselves be a total gift…in order to recognize, in every man, the gift that he is, and to thank the Giver for the gift of the human person.”

April 24, 2017

He Makes All Things New

The Easter Season is upon us!  The Lord is risen as he promised and restores all creation!
Our community celebrated Easter in a special way as our Junior Professed Sisters renewed their vows on Easter Sunday.  They spent Saturday praying and preparing, led by Msgr. David Hoefler of the Diocese of Springfield.  Sunday morning's celebration of Mass was a beautiful connection as each of them deepened their baptismal promises through their consecration.  Please pray for them as they continue to live into their vocation and give everything to the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Click here to view more pictures from the day.

March 17, 2017

Prose in the Desert

Lord Jesus
 when You went to the desert
      and stayed those forty long days
            what was in Your Heart
                           in Your gaze?
           was it love burning bright
                   with a longing to give?
           was it silence grown loud
                    with a longing to give?

      Eternally the Father is there
            and You are there
            eternally giving   
                         and receiving
            Perhaps You entered more fully
                  away from noise of streets
                  and smell of foods
            a renewed intensity of love
                  for One who is always new

And yet I also know
      that the desert, the hunger, the tempting
      was a gift in view of me
            that you might receive the gift of me
                  and I the gift of You.
so draw me close
      and draw me away
            into the silence
            the want
            the embrace that fills and sustains.

March 5, 2017

Temptations in the Desert

Here we are at the first Sunday of Lent.  In the Gospel for today, we hear the account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.  The words of the Enemy are strikingly similar to those used in the Garden.  “IF you are the Son of God…”  “Did God REALLY tell you not to eat the fruit of the tree?”  The temptation of the New Adam echoes the temptation of the first.  St. Paul tells us that because of the sin of that first Adam, many died but that the grace of God “overflows for the many” because of the gift of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-19).  Do you believe that?  Do you trust in the grace and mercy that is available to you, freely given by a God who is madly in love with you and who has made you his own?  Living in our deepest identity as beloved sons and daughters is the key to resisting the temptations, lies, questions, and doubts posed by the Enemy.  Trust in the Father’s love and be not afraid of the things that will come as we journey in the desert of Lent.