Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seeking God...


When I began this blog, it was to share the stories and ponderings in my continuing to seek God while serving away from the monastery, sisters, family, and friends.  However, God continues to lead in new directions; while I am still serving away from the monastery, I have returned to our home diocese and am sharing apartment convent life with another of our sisters. 

Most importantly, the prioress has asked that I take up sharing our community's stories in a blog for the monastery.  So...  This set of stories is ending, but if you would like to know more about our life please take a look at our blog or Facebook page!

Sacred Heart Monastery Blog

Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery Facebook


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Archangels We Need


More Archangels! The first time I wrote about these angels I was still in graduate school and trying to make my way through a day of observation as an assistant in a Catholic High School.  Now, I am back to teaching full time but still calling upon the help of these Archangels to make it through our day.

We celebrated the feast and our Sword wielding namesake a day early with our monks, students, staff, and the Archbishop.  The chapel was filled to the brim with 220 boys (still slightly grumpy with being forced into the full dress code a whole day early) plus teachers, staff, and a few parents. 

They did pretty well, our boys, there were a few strays; one senior leaned his head back against a column behind his chair.  It would've looked like he was thinking, except his mouth drooped open a little bit.  A junior fought sleep bravely, but his head kept bobbing clearly showed sleep winning...even with his dean next to him.  I swept behind the row to gently thwack this slouched and snoozing kiddo with my 'liturgy aid' and just kept moving.  His head popped back up with a startled look; I smiled to show no malice, disturbing his sleep was enough.  Trussed up in their button-down shirts, ties, and dress junior forgot his socks. Sadly for him, I had been celebrating Dress Code Demerit Week and the lack of socks became his first demerit of the year.  Harsh?  No, correction of the sleepy and the sloven was done with a smile, a reminder, and a humor-filled-hope that it won't happen again.

The boys also joined in the praises of this day, "In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord" Responsorial Psalm.  The students proclaimed the Word, assisted in distributing the Eucharist, and participated fairly well.  A choir of men's and boys voices held together pretty well in responses and rang out a little off key, but strong with song.  Those moments are always the most profound for me.  After growing up with only sisters and little church that was mostly women, joining a monastery (ahem, all women), and teaching at a co-ed school where the young ladies did most of the proclaiming and I am surrounded by deep conviction of tenors and basses.  Participation is the norm; even if it's half-hearted, the combined effect is outstanding and it warms my heart.

So I pray for my boys...may Michael will defend them, may Raphael guide and heal them, and may Gabriel herald God's Will for their way.  We don't see them, we don't always think of them, but these angels of power are needed in all our lives. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

State Fair Fun!


This weekend some of us sisters serving in Nebraska gathered for fun at the State Fair! A weekend of prayer and play to rejuvenate our hearts and souls.  Saturday was spent cooking and catching up on all we've been doing since we returned to our missions (our parish and school work).  That evening we attended Mass at Sister's parish where she helps out with caring for others.  A big surprise for me was a familiar face!  One of my students who just graduated was at Mass with us!  He peeked over at me as I was peeking over at him...both of us unsure if we were recognizing the right person since neither knew the other should be there.  After Mass he came over to greet me with a big smile and hug.  It was fun to catch up with him at the start of his new college the by...he was getting ready to show his hogs at the fair the next day. 
I loved seeing all the folk wandering up and down the streets of the fairgrounds.  Here we were watching the folk's check out a hay bale designed to look like snoopy flying one of his doghouses!  There were families with baby strollers, teens sporting their school-4H-FFA affiliations, young couples, and those who had seen many more fairs.  It was fun to watch them go by...

Important to all state fairs is the fried food on a stick! We tried fried Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, HoHos, MilkyWays, Chocolate covered Bacon, Corndogs, and the winner...Fried Peaches!  They tasted like fresh peach cobbler with a little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top.  The peaches were sweet and juicy and all warm with a crunchy batter covering.  Hmmm...luckily we were all willing to share.  Between the giggles, we swapped bites of the sweet and the savory. 

 The fair had a marvelous exhibit with huge sand sculptures about the state.  This one shows a variety of the states fish, bird, flower and rock formations.  It was amazing to see these grand sized sand castles tower over the families and lookie-loos.  It was also amazing because they seemed to hold up against the wind and heat of the wide-open fair grounds.

While strolling through the quilt exhibit, we were amazing at this Triptych of panels telling the story of Christ's love for us in blocks and thread.  Each of the panels had a Bible verse stitched in to tell the message of the fabric.  The first began with "Come to me..." then the next was "I am with you always"...and finally "It is finished."  We paused quite awhile to ponder the images and what they could mean. 

 Sea lions and Tigers were the exotic animals of choice for the fair!  We tried to get to the sea lion show, but it was all the way across the fair and one of our sisters got overheated and needed a cool break.  So we trekked back through the 100 degree heat to a fan cooled exhibit hall and listed to some fiddle and folk music while sipping our cool sodas and lemonades.  Later, we did get to the Tiger experience with many other families.  The tigers were a bit slow and grumpy, but the tamers shared that they like to sleep through the heat of the day or cool out in pools of water.  Still, they thrilled the little kids and intrigued the grown ups.  We sisters decided we agreed with the tigers, hot days like our fair day were designed for laying low in the shade or cooling off in a relaxing pool with friends.

As we left the fair for our little convent home, the lights and squeals of delight from the midway carried all throughout the fairgrounds.  We had been all over the grounds by this time and were too weary to check out the goings-on but it was a beautiful reminder of fun and life and joy of the young and old we had been seeing all day long.  I had to take a quick picture as we made our way to the shuttle-bus, a picture of how I remember fairs when I was little, a picture of how the rural fairs still celebrate today. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Community takes Work


Community life, like family life, takes some extra work and determination! Our community of over a hundred has small groups of 5-14 for evening recreation, family support, and prayer.  Every Fall our small groups gather to set goals, evaluate how they are supporting each other and the community as a whole, and determine how the work of community life can be helped.  Out on the mission, Sister and I just sat down to discuss life at our little Convent apartment away from the Monastery. 

We asked one of our sisters from the closest of our Convents to guide us through our discussion.  The work of our community life was wonderful discussion and all worked out well.  Our life together moves along fairly smoothly, but it is always good to reflect and share about the past year and our hopes for the year to come.  Then the secondary reason for our going to the other sisters' Convent apartment was FUN. 

We recently put our 6 bedroom, 2 full bathroom, 2 living room (you get the picture) house up for sale since we only had a couple sisters still living and working in the city.  So...They gave us a tour of our new place in the big city!  It is a lovely little Convent apartment, simply furnished but homey.  After our meeting, we shared in a wonderful supper, Liturgy of the Hours, and reflection on the Gospel.  Then we returned to the table for some fun!  A lively game of hand and foot which my partner, Sister Principal, and I lost...but a good time was had by all.  It was good just to visit, see our new place, hear their stories of moving and packing and moving, and share some prayer together.  Sister Roommate and I didn't set out for home until 9:45PM (very late)! 

Even though it was quite the late night by the time we reached our little convent, it was a wonderful day and blessing to get to visit with our sisters nearby.  Now, we are getting back to the work of our daily life our horarium here together while we remember our sisters at the Monastery.  Soon enough we will be home for a weekend Theology Institute and later on our holiday fair...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

School Eve


Ah summer, it was just too brief.  It was wonderful to be home at the monastery with my sisters, but August sends us back to our places of ministry and service.  I've returned to the big city and school.

The staff and faculty have worked through three days of preparation and inservices, and tomorrow hails the first day of classes!  I've unpacked into a lovely new office space I share with another theology teacher, tweaked & photocopied all my syllabi, and re-read and re-wrote the beginning of my lesson plans.  Still, nothing prepares me totally for our 7:55 bell for first period and 20 boys trooping into my classroom.

Speaking of the boys, it was wonderful to see them at the school Mass and picnic on Sunday.  I floated along with the school staff throughout the families and their students.  The fun in such a gathering is to find out what they had been doing over the summer.  Most of the boys were already trimmed up and ready for school, but a few were still quite scruffy around the edges...this offers us a chance to tease them a bit without any need for demerits or detentions.  What surprised me (and always does) is how many will walk up to the teachers to ask us how our summers went. 

Back to 7:55 tomorrow morning; even though all I plan on discussing is my syllabi and general issues, I'm always a bit anxious about that first day.  In preparation, I've been doing a bit more than keeping the school schedule and working on my lessons; I've been praying for my students and me.  A few extra petitions in our Liturgy of the Hours, a chaplet or all helps remind me that it isn't just my boys and me in our classroom, Christ is in the midst of us all.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Generosity in Work


For the third time in three years, I am moving to a different office.  Our spaces keep changing, and needs have shifted another theology teacher and myself to an office near the crypt (in the basement).  At the end of last school year, we peeked  into the space that was currently being used for an extra office, storage space, and keeper of odds and ends...and made a polite request.  We hoped for a good scrub down of the space and a new coat of paint to brighten the windowless room.

Our maintenance and custodial folk have never been okay with just the basics but poured out their generosity in service to the school.  Yesterday, I turned on the light to the office and was frozen in the doorway with amazement!  The new Theology Department Office:  a drop ceiling to hide the pipes and plumbing above, carpet squares to cover the simple poured cement floor below, one wall is sage green with the other three a sunny mustardy yellow, even the wall of power boxes has been hidden behind a new wall!  As soon as I gathered my wits together, I began to search out the men and women behind the amazing transformation of the basement room into this Awesome Office and profusely thanked each of them.

There are days when I struggle and wonder if I'm really in the right place, but then I recall the outpouring of support among the staff and faculty and realize I don't want to be anywhere else!  These last few weeks, the generosity came from the maintenance staff, but tomorrow it could be anyone else or even myself reaching out to others.  I hope you also have such moments of joy in your work-service-ministry with others.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Bakery Day!


This morning I was giving the chance to fill-in for our Sister Baker and was quickly reminded that the best way to get your Sisters to visit you at work is to bake cookies! Sister Baker met me in the bakery and to remind me about where the necessities are and to be ready for a few guests during the morning. As I dipped out pan after pan of dough, Sisters dropped in for a 'sample' of dough or a 'quick bite' of a cookie fresh from the oven. My Novice Director (now retired) preferred the fresh cookies while our Sister who coordinates maintenance and housekeeping likes the dough better.

The bakery warmed up quickly as the morning wore on, but by 11 o'clock the cookies were packed away, the dishes done, and the stainless steel counters polished up!

96 Ginger Snap Cookies
96 Sugar Cookies
96 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies