Sunday, April 25, 2010

47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations


I hadn't realized there was a day of prayer for vocations until today...I do pray for vocations, but I'm glad there is a day to set aside specifically for those who are discerning Jesus' call in their lives. Pope Benedict XVI titled this day of prayer "Witness Awakens Vocations". The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also opened their new vocation website on this day of prayer for vocations.

The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever
they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own
its criteria for judgement and conduct. They become “signs of contradiction” for
the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centredness and
individualism. By letting themselves be won over by God through
self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly
awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their
turn, in a way that is generous and complete. To imitate Christ, chaste, poor
and obedient, and to identify with him: this is the ideal of the consecrated
life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and

Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her
vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond
to the universal call to holiness. Consequently, in order to foster vocations to
the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in
promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of
those who have already said “yes” to God and to his plan for the life of each
individual. Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will
encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting
their future. Those who would assist them need to have the skills for encounter
and dialogue which are capable of enlightening and accompanying them, above all
through the example of life lived as a vocation. ~ Pope Benedict XVI
This is also a good day to remember and reflect on my own vocation history. Before entering on January 3rd, 1998, I spent a fair few years unsure of where I was finding God or following Christ. However, things came to a focus when Sr. Lorraine became my spiritual director as I was finishing up college. We met twice a month to discuss a book about the Rule of Benedict, pray, and share about our prayer lives. She was a wonderful guide and coach as I started to seriously consider my vocation to be a Benedictine; she was also quite direct. Sr. Lorraine challenged me to begin letting go of things, to practice setting aside parties and spending practices. Then she cut to the more outings with boys who happened to be 'friends'. I was still waffling a bit during one of our sessions before I requested application papers and she gave me some of the most wonderful advice (I think it's why I'm here now): You don't have to enter knowing that you can be there for a lifetime! Give God a year and see how your Call goes and listen to Christ in your prayer. Then give God another year ... Being a Sister doesn't happen all at once, but it grows year by year.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

God's Plan


Well, I've received two notices from schools. One school sent a letter regretfully informing me that they decided to hire an applicant with more middle school experience. Another school I interviewed with (and was really hoping for) e-mailed me that they preferred an applicant with more urban experience. Yup, e-mailed, I knew that wasn't going to be good news.

The strange thing is...I'm okay with it all. The interviews were both positive experiences and I feel that I presented my abilities as a teacher well. From here, the schools need to discern who is going to best serve to educate their students.

I'm also continuing my education through this experience...I'm learning to trust. God has a direction in mind "for I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). One of the schools with which I interviewed is still discerning their choice of applicants and I have been reaching out to another school system; however, with all I do, it is still God's will in the end. I just need to keep trusting that God's plans and my love of students and teaching will connect.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Rome...30 Days To Go!


I am so excited! In 30 days, I will be on my way to Rome for a whole month of Benedictine study with 25 other Benedictine sisters. Today, I received my 'updated' schedule and there are some amazing trips on the way!

We have four trips to the Vatican: Celebrating Pentecost with a Papal Liturgy at St. Peter's, a Vatican Rosary, a trip to the Vatican Museum, and an Audience with the Pope. There are also some Benedictine sites that I cannot wait to see: Cell of Benedict, Norcia, Subiaco, and Monte Cassino!

There is so much to be excited to see and do, and it feels like I've been waiting forever!


Friday, April 16, 2010



I had two wonderful interviews today! I feel that both schools would be great opportunities to serve with teachers and it rests in the discernment of their committees!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grammar Daze


Today, the 6th grade teacher offered me a task that I felt prepared for...tutoring the boys in identifying direct & indirect objects and predicate nouns & adjectives. Yes! This I have done, this I can do! It felt good to settle in and play with some grammar in the classroom. I tried to make it less fearful, a little funny, and I admitted to my own failure (literally) in grammar as a middle schooler. However, it was more challenging that I anticipated.

The teacher had introduced and taught the concept the previous two days, but it was still elusive to many of the Latino gentlemen in the classroom. I was to review the basics with small groups of three or four and practice a few examples. My background in freshman English was very useful in finding funny examples and sharing my English-algebra equation (Sub + A.V. + I.O. + D.O.). But I could have used one more tool in my tutoring, Spanish.

I think that understanding Spanish would have been very useful today. Many of these basic parts of speech show up in both languages and could have helped the boys see how the D.O. and I.O. work in either situation. But alas, I am monolingual (with a smattering of sign language) and need to place Spanish on my "to do" list of courses coming up after I move.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010



If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness
is beyond our natural power to achieve (which it certainly is) then it follows
that God himself must give us the light, the strength, and the courage to
fulfill the task he requires of us. He will certainly give us the grace we need.
If we do not become saints it is because we do not avail ourselves of his gift.

Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness (New York: Image, 1963). p. 17.

I received that quote in my weekly e-mail reflection from the Merton Institute; I felt it was particularly powerful. In my theology course, we are discussing the four marks of the Church and how all are given through the initiative and gift of God and that the Church does it's best to live those marks visibly and invisibly. Plus my prof has given me a bit of extra reading material and it included Lumen Gentium and its Universal Calll to Holiness. Merton's reflection on holiness seemed to fit right into not only my life but also my studies right now.

Tough "Call" this saintly business, but it is the work I've chosen to do by joining up with the Benedictines and the "School of the Lord's Service." Right now I am focusing on learning to seek and trust God as pursue a ministry position...aka looking for a job...while relying upon God's gift of grace to lead me (and the principals) through this discernment process. No present like the reality of searching for work to bring me back to reliance on God.


Friday, April 9, 2010

New Possibilities in Ministry


I am excited to share that I will be interviewing with two Catholic High Schools serving in the Omaha Archdiocese! Both schools have invited me to tour their school and interview with department leaders. They are searching for the teacher who would best fit the needs of their students and mission/charism. I am seeking for a school where I can minister with others as we teach with the children of God (Sr. Fran's line that I stole long ago). As I continue through the application and assessment process, I keep praying for God's direction and guidance not only for myself, but also for the school leaders who are discerning.


"Hope is patience with the lamp lit." ~ Tertullian

Thursday, April 8, 2010



An English teacher's modern Hamlet as done by the Royal Shakespeare Company and taped by BBC. No, it gets better! Hamlet is performed by David Tennant and Claudius is played by Patrick Stewart!

For more about the upcoming event on Great Perfomances and a video clip go to the GP Website!


God's Sense of Humor


Wisconsin weather reveals God's sense of humor. Last week we were graced with gorgeous upper 60 to 70 degree temperatures with sunshine and blue sky. Students were in shorts and T-shirts; playing frisbee or tossing a baseball. Then these last few days we have had monsoon-like rain and wind! I walked about campus as quickly as possible yesterday to no avail; I was drenched to the skin and had to change clothes when I arrived home from class. Last night the weather reporter was almost laughing as he predicted1-3 inches of SNOW for the late night through early morning in the city.

This wild weather shows me that God has a good sense of humor...He's keeping us on our toes : )


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celebrating Baptism


Last night's Easter Vigil was long but wonderful. We celebrated 7 Baptisms in the parish! There were two adult men, a 4th grade boy, and a mom with her three children (one 3rd grade boy, one 2nd grade girl, and a little kindergarten girl). I had never shared in the celebration of an adult Baptism, but to celebrate 7 was amazing. They processed into the church dressed with one of the simple cream colored robes of the altar servers.

The parish had just installed a new Baptismal font. The square basin is raised up about 4 feet or so and runs over the edge into a pool that is approximately 3 feet wide by 5 feet long and 1 1/2 foot deep (or so). Father stood in the pool as he blessed the water and then called each of the Catechumen up the two steps and down into the pool. Then Catechumen knelt in the water while Father poured water over their head in Baptism. As they stepped out of the water, the parish sang a Baptismal song of blessing over them. The two little girls were also anointed with the oils of Baptism while in the pool.

All the congregation was invited to process to the font and bless themselves...this gave the newly Baptised enough time to change into their "Easter Best". They processed back into the Church with brilliant white, knee length, light cowls over their dresses and suits. Except the little girls had changed into new white sundresses (too cute). Now they were all called up to the sanctuary along with the three elect joining the Church in Confirmation and Eucharist to receive a lighted candle and be anointed with the oils of confirmation. There was much singing during all of this and a few tears (I'm a softy) among the celebrants. It was a wonderful way to begin the Easter season.

It was a beautiful night of celebration.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday


The Monastery is a flurry of quiet activity, I'm not home; however, some things stay ever the same. Balanced between Liturgy of the Hours and individual reflection, the sisters are preparing for the Easter Vigil and its celebrations.

The "upper" Chapel needs one last dusting and cleaning before tonight. Banners are hung from the sandstone columns, Easter lilies and baby mums are arranged about the altar, and the Easter candle (designed by Sr. Mary Kay) is checked for a final fit in both the baptismal font and wood-carved stand. The Lenten reminders are removed from all the tables in the refectory, and the tables are prepared (with Sr. Anna's arrangements) for Easter celebration with bright table runners, flowers, and candles. In fact, reminders of Easter glory spring up all over the Monastery as my sisters near the Vigil tonight night.

Why wait? My family and non-Benedictine friends have been asking why we would wait to the last minute to do all this work. The answer is very simple, Benedict asks we live Lent well, to learn from it all we can, and Lent doesn't end until tonight. So, we wait to change our liturgical season until the great celebration nears. Also, I love the preparation...the quiet, reflective arranging of flowers, banners, and candles. Even in our work, we carry the prayerful nature of the day.

Why the reminiscing? Well, I'm not in a situation to help with preparing a celebration while here at fact...I'm reading Theology homework about the history of the papacy and researching a bit for an essay in my education course. So, I thought that taking a moment to remember and reflect on home would be a good way to remember the importance of the day.