July 6, 2015

Made for Communion

   I was transferred to our Day Care Center two weeks ago and am now personally experiencing the deep wisdom of toddlers.  Within their Kool-Aid stained grins, freshly-sucked-on thumbs, and precious chubby cheeks lies an innate knowledge of the world around them that simply cannot be taught except by their Maker Himself.  Not only "out of the mouths" of babes come the most basic and true lessons about life, but simply out of their own actions and way of living can we adults learn a thing or two about why we're here.
   Last week I was playing with several toddlers in the exciting world of large plastic structures, wide open spaces, and outside voices in the Day Care Center known as the gym.  Watching little ones enter the space is telling in itself as some of them are so overtaken with joy to be in such a wonderful place that their whole bodies shake with excitement, their arms flail and stiffen in enthusiasm, and their soft little shoe-laden feet scamper across the floor in double time.
    After a few thrilling rounds of Ring-Around-the-Rosy, several of the toddlers wanted to play on a small wooden teeter-totter shaped like a boat.  So, their imaginations brought them to an ocean of pretend, and they set sail in the midst of the loud din of several other games in full-swing around them. I was enjoying witnessing how free the children were and how much they naturally seemed to desire being with one another.  Besides the occasional dispute, in general, they welcomed one another immediately and found great happiness in giggling and carrying on with more and more of their peers.  It only took about forty-five seconds for the fact that the small toy could only hold five children to be a problem.  After being ousted off-board, one of the young girls who thought she had a right to a much longer time on the toy, threw herself onto the plastic gym mat in a fit of anger.
      Immediately her playmates froze with a fear that seemed to arrest their freedom.  Their faces searched their surroundings for an explanation as to why their unity had been so violently interrupted.  Within each of them the Lord had obviously rooted a deep call for communion with one another.  They desired that bond with their friends, or even mere acquaintances, to continue and were stilled with confusion when it was disturbed.  Thankfully another gift of toddlers is their often short memory span.  After a few minutes, the others let the distressed little girl back on-board for another trip, and unity was restored.  
      How often do we, seemingly so much more "complex" than our youngest generation, desire unity and communion to prevail in our lives?  Unlike these playful little ones, we have the reason, intellect, and so the responsibility to make choices to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3)

- Sister Marysia, FSGM

July 1, 2015

It is in giving of ourselves that we receive.

Summer is a busy time in the convent. Between retreats, vacations, homevisit, feast day preparations, the Community is very active. As a student Sister I am available during the summertime to cover for Sisters who are on retreat etc. This is a great gift as I am able to get to know my Sisters and get to experience how my Sisters make the merciful love of Christ visible. By the time I head back to my convent in Ohio, I will have served in seven different convents!

My current location is in Lincoln, Nebraska. Here our Sisters serve at Bonacum House which is a home for retired priests. During my time here one of the priests celebrated his 70th anniversary of ordination. Wow! Seventy years is an impressive witness of fidelity. This is a record for the Diocese of Lincoln. While Father's memory is showing signs of his age (95), his love of God and his vocation continue to shine. When I asked him how he would describe his priesthood, he responded with one word – fulfillment. Later he added that it is a gift from God. As we continued talking he began encouraging me in my own vocation. Father said that through my service as a Sister, my own hands will participate in the work of God. If I do that, he said I will do great things for Him. As I felt tears come to my eyes I knew that I was not sent to Lincoln just to serve the priests. I was sent here to receive.

During a homily that another priest gave to the Sisters he told us to ask ourselves what animates our lives. Immediately the answer “love of God” came to my mind. Regardless of where our summer schedules lead us, we will encounter the love of God. This summer has been filled with many reminders of His love for me. In particular, my time in Lincoln has reminded me of the beauty of my vocation. Christ's love for me as His Bride is what animates my life. I gave my yes almost five years ago, and I have learned that it is in 'giving of ourselves that we receive.'

- Sister Teresa Maria, FSGM

June 27, 2015

Love is Our Mission

This summer I had the opportunity to be a part of Camp Tekakwitha in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.  Each year Archbishop Naumann chooses a theme for the camp, which thousands of school-aged kids attend for 3-9 days at a time.  The theme for this year is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

As I sat and gazed upon the crucifix in the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Chapel at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect the theme is for this year.  Love is our mission…this is not just a call for some, but for all.  This is our mission as Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, as well.  Through our charism, we are called to receive the merciful love of Christ through our prayer and participation in the Sacraments, and then give that love to all we encounter.  This is something we strive for daily.  I strive to do this in my local convent, in my classroom, with my coworkers, and with anyone else I might meet throughout the day.

It has been a wonderful experience for me these past two summers to spend some time at Camp Tekakwitha, getting to know the staffers and campers.  In the time I have spent there, I have witnessed young men and women giving totally of themselves over the course of the summer.  Some of these young men and women were once students of mine, and it makes me incredibly proud to see them striving for sainthood, striving to make this camp family come fully alive through living out the mission of love.  They inspire and edify me, as I, too, strive to live the mission of love…of merciful love.

-Sister M. Bridget, FSGM

June 23, 2015

You are Created for Greatness!

Do you remember the parable of the mustard seed? It is often used in reference to faith and how it begins as the tiniest of seeds but will become the largest of plants, which will hold much upon its branches as it continues to grow. During this summer Sister M. Bernadette and I shared that gift of faith as we led a vacation bible summer camp in Seneca, Illinois. What a joy it was! Our theme was, “You are created for greatness!” Every single person is just like that mustard seed. You are made for more, for greatness! During the week we, of course, played many games and sang songs, but also learned about the various covenants that the Lord made with His people. In each covenant is shown the foreshadowing of Jesus and the new covenant that He gives us. So that we might be restored to that fullness of life, which He first gave us in the Garden of Eden and makes new upon the Cross. We are like those mustard seeds, placed in the soil of God’s merciful love so that all may eat of its fruits. May you share with others the glory of God by allowing Him to use you to reveal the greatness we are all created for!
- Sister M. Caterina, FSGM

June 18, 2015

The Joy of my Heart

O my soul what joy is this that thou do’st feel?

What song is this that my heart sings?

For low look and see the bridegroom comes for me at dawn!

Arrayed in splendor bright!

O my heart fling wide the doors that lead to thy dwelling place.

There let the Bridegroom and the bride abide for ever more!

Who is this the Bridegroom who comes for me at dawn?

Look at the sky and see His star arises in the East.

Come behold Him lying in the hay.

A manger for His cradle,

A stable for His home.

A tiny baby humble and yet King of all.

Now look and see this tiny babe grow up and become a man.

Behold He preaches His Father’s Word,

And does His Father’s Will.

See Him now upon the Cross,

The Bridegroom of my soul.

A crown of thorns upon His head,

His heart pierced by a lance.

Now behold Him in His glory,

Arrayed in dazzling white.

This is He my Bridegroom with whom I shall abide!

- Sr. M. Eucharia Lyon, FSGM

June 15, 2015

It Is Like Dialysis

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Mt. 11:28

When we recently celebrated the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I was reflecting on what this means in my life, and I realized that to place your heart in Jesus’ Sacred Heart and to just rest there in Him is a bit like dialysis.  What His Heart is filled with is what we want to be filled with, and what He longs to fill us with, even if it means dying on the cross for us, which He has.

But how does this happen?  How is it that what is in His Heart can fill our poor, broken, isolated or hungry hearts?  It is like dialysis, where what is in His heart is able to get across the membrane that surrounds our heart, fitting in through the tiniest of holes, where we are open to His grace.  The more we open our hearts in love, trust and gratitude, the more those graces can flow.

Not only do the good things from the Lord come into our hearts, but things from our heart can go to His Heart as well.  Our praise and our love, spoken from our heart to His, must bring Him joy.  All the things that had been filling our hearts up till now, things that we sometimes don’t really want, can also come out through those little holes, into His Heart.  Jesus then takes them upon Himself for us.  Yet, though He carries these burdens for us, He never resents us for it.  Instead, Jesus rejoices when we allow Him to love us as we are and to heal us in those ways, for He loves us and wants us to be free.

Jesus also invites us at times to take the hurts of others into our hearts and to give them over to Him as we pray in a special way for someone who is hurting, take the first step to reach out in forgiveness, or serve the people around us in the myriad of ways, both seen and unseen, in which the Lord is calling us to make His merciful love visible… all through the transforming love of His Sacred Heart.

- Sister M. Lucy, FSGM

June 8, 2015

Magnifying the Mystery

On occasion, the Liturgical year offers convergence that provides for a fresh look at a particular celebration.  This year, the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity falls on May 31, which is usually when we remember the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth.  That feast is thus suppressed in the liturgical eye, but I think that Mary would be okay with that since it’s in her nature to be an arrow pointing toward the mysteries greater than herself.

You know the story of the Visitation.   Just after the conception of Jesus in her womb, Mary goes “in haste” to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth who is bearing John the Baptist.  When she arrives, Elizabeth, and the child in her womb, recognize the presence of God and Mary is moved to pray the “Magnificat” which we echo each evening in the prayer of the Church.

“My soul magnifies the Lord.”  Indeed, Mary, in her very being is like a magnifying glass.  When one looks to her, the mystery of God is enlarged and made more visible.  This is where liturgical convergence offers new meaning to the mysteries celebrated today. 

Mary is at once daughter of the Father, spouse of the Spirit, and mother of the Son.  Her identity is rooted in relationship…her relationship to the Trinue God and the relationship of the persons of the Trinity one to another.  Relationship means receiving and giving and Mary models the primacy of grace.  The gift of God’s love must first be received before we can resolve to give anything back to Him.  The meeting of receiving and giving is communion.  Communion is perfectly modeled in the Trinity, reflected and imprinted in the identity of the Blessed Mother and extended to us.  We are invited to discover our deepest identity in communion and like Mary, to “Magnify the Lord” and His greatness in our very beings.

- Sister M. Karolyn, FSGM