June 6, 2014

Soon to air on EWTN

What does a religious vocation have to do with evangelization?  Everything!  If you want to learn more, we invite you to join us on May 29th as we join EWTN (www.EWTN.com) on Life on the Rock from 8PM -9PM EDT.  Our Sisters, Sister M. Maximilia Um and Sister M. Bernadette Morse will be joining show hosts, Father Mark and Doug Barry to talk about Vocations and Evangelization.  Tune in and don’t miss it!   

May 5, 2014

“Return to Galilee”

During this Easter season and this month of May devoted to our Blessed Mother I have been reflecting on the Easter Vigil homily of Pope Francis. In the Gospel he recounts how the women told the disciples Jesus’ command, “to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” He goes on further to describe the significance of their return to Galilee. “Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began!” 

Where did everything begin for Mary? What was her Galilee? I returned with her to the moment of the Annunciation. It is the beginning of Mary’s vocation as the Mother of God. Her yes leads to the indwelling life of Jesus within her and the call to go forth and care for her cousin Elizabeth. This has led me to return to my own moment of saying yes to become a Sister and the new life I received in following the Lord’s will, which is the message of the Resurrection. Now may you ponder these questions which Pope Francis gives to us “What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee?”
- Sister M. Caterina, FSGM

May 1, 2014

An Ordinary Hero

I was born three years after he was elected.  I was a teenager when he came to St. Louis in 1999.  I was a young adult when he died.  Until I was 24 years old, he was the only Pope I knew.  Now he is a saint.  On Divine Mercy Sunday, one of my favorite feastday because it emphasizes God’s unbounding love and desire that all would respond to that love, I rejoiced with the Church as Pope John Paul II was canonized alongside Pope John XXIII.  It was an occasion on which I was renewed in gratitude for the gift of the name given to me when I was received into the community.  He was not even beatified when I received the name, but we all knew it would happen sooner than later.  I wanted to be named for a zealous, missionary catechist.  He was not the first to come to mind, but after my initial ideas were rejected, it became clear that he fit the bill. 
In the nearly eight years I have borne his name, different aspects of his life and teaching have struck me but I consistently return to one phrase, echoed countless times in his speeches and homilies: Be not afraid. 
Given his life experiences, no one would have blamed him if he were afraid.  He experienced loss, loneliness, war, being elected Pope (probably the scariest moment) and an attempt on his life.  Yet he knew “Him in whom He trusted.”  Christ was his sole hope and that witness gives me courage.   His difficulties were never used to justify mediocrity or as an excuse to give up.  He carried his crosses to the end and he did so with love for us, imitating Christ’s sacrificial love.   He carried his cross and he won the crown of life.
He is a hero, but an ordinary hero.  He chose to become better rather than bitter.  Even what seems extraordinary (ie, taking down communism), was accomplished because he cooperated with God’s grace.  All of us have what it takes to become a saint, an ordinary hero.  We just need to do it, forsaking excuses and shortcuts.  Inspired by our newest saint and assisted by his prayer, it seems a bit more accessible to me.   Sunday’s celebration was a reminder of what happens when we cooperate with Divine Mercy.  
            My connection with Pope John XXIII is not as intimate as my name, but he looks out for me all the same.   From the time I was a young child spending the night at my grandparent’s house, he was watching over me, literally, from a framed picture that hangs on the wall of my father’s boyhood bedroom.  I did not know who he was until I was in college, but when I learned more about him, his life, papacy, and contributions to the Church, I was glad to know that we were old friends.  I was also excited to learn the day on which I was baptized, October 11, is the anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and observed as his feastday. 
           Both of our new saints radiated the joy of Christ through their humor and in the manner in which they encountered each person with whom they came in contact.  They used all that they were for God’s glory and now they share it with Him.  May we all one day join those same ranks in the Ocean of Mercy.
- Sister M. Karolyn, FSGM

April 24, 2014

“Do this in memory of me.”

          On Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014, I renewed my vows for the first time with 16 other junior professed Sisters. It took me back to August 14that my first profession, saying the words for the first time and placing my hands into those of Mother M. Regina Pacis. Our lives are consecrated and lived through the vows, not simply for their own sake, but for the sake of others. As a Community each Sister has the responsibility to live individually and yet together this way of life as the Body of Christ.  When each junior professed sister renewed her vows, and as I did it myself, it was beautiful to recall that image of the Body of Christ and to allow Him to lead me each day wherever He desires His merciful love to be made visible.

April 18, 2014

Doing the Father's Will

                As first year novices we spend quite a bit of time learning, reading, and praying about our three vows.  So far, I have focused more of my time outside class on the vows of poverty and chastity.  It has been a great blessing to deepen my understanding of God’s call for me to live in intimate union with Him – loving Him before all others and above all else, and seeing everything (and everyone) else as a gift from Him.  I have been able to recognize more His great love for me in the gift of my vocation and all the many gifts He gives me each day of my life. 
               That was a rather long introduction to the point of this post.  I am supposed to be writing about a Lenten grace.  When I was praying about how God was calling me to fast and pray this Lent, He seemed to be saying, “Okay, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to think about that third vow.”  So I resolved to focus on Obedience for this time of Lent.  It seemed simple enough to me – just do what my superiors asked, follow the order of the day, and be cheerful while doing it.  If I really wanted a challenge I could even make myself available to do things that my co-sisters asked, even though I didn’t really have to.  By doing all of this I could more closely imitate Christ in His obedience to the Father.
                The grace of this Lent has really turned out to be a much greater awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.  He has guided me to a much deeper understanding of what it means that Christ was obedient even to death.  Through scripture reading, meditation, and daily Mass, the Holy Spirit has increased my love for and given me the grace to do the will of the Father.  Through our daily examination of conscience, He has helped me to see how He is really there, showing me God’s will at every moment.  If I follow His promptings, I will receive more grace and be open to Him even more.  He has led me to reflect on how these little daily obediences are how I grow closer to Christ in doing the will of the Father.  And all this has led me to ponder how much I am willing to give.  Am I really ready to give my whole being, my whole life, like Christ did?  That’s definitely something to continue to strive for, while knowing that the Holy Spirit will show me the way to do it, give me the grace to do it, and increase my love for doing it, moment by moment, and day by day.

April 17, 2014

The Eucharist - a Lenten grace received

At first when I started thinking of a Lenten grace to write about I could not think of anything.  After all, I have not had any visions, been healed of a disease or worked any miracles!  But then I thought about the greatest grace imaginable, the grace of falling deeper in love with the One Who has called me to be His.  This has been His gift to me this Lent; the gift of knowing in a deeper way that I am His and He is mine.  The gift of falling more in love with our Eucharistic God, Who even as I write this and you read this, is waiting for us, waiting to shower His love on us.  Not in some generic spring shower way, but a torrential downpour on each of our souls.  This Lent Jesus has let me experience, even if it was just a little, His presence in the Holy Eucharist.  His gift to me has been Himself and now I am trying to give Him in return what He is longing for:  my whole being.  I pray that all of us will come to see the immense gift of the Eucharist, to experience in an even deeper way the reality of our total dependence on the Eucharist and Jesus’ great longing to unite each of us totally with Himself for all eternity!  In the words of St. Peter Julian Eymard, “We have the Eucharist, what more could we want!”

April 16, 2014

His Face

Lent, a time of prayer, penance, and fasting, has been filled with many graces.  This Lent was busy with many different activities, but at the root of it has been Christ.  He has shown His Face in the people I have met and served.  He has spoken through my Sisters, visitors and the time spent in silence before the Blessed Sacrament with His peace.

                Graces can be so apparent and other times so hidden.  In this Lenten journey Christ has poured so many graces, too numerous to count or even share.  He has spoken through scripture to share that He comes for all of us.  Even in the difficult moments when we barely recognize ourselves, He is waiting for us, for me, for you at the well thirsting for your love.  He has shown us through the blind man that wonder of being able to see Christ and the world anew when we say yes daily in our little self denials.  The blind man showed us that really our stories and everything should simply be Christ.  Lent has given me insight of truly being present on the Way of the Cross.