Prophets not accepted

Friday, May 26, 2017

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC




Recently I reflected on the passage from the gospel of Luke where Jesus gets up and preaches in his local synagogue and the people in his town write him off as just one of the kids from the neighborhood. They assumed that a child of a poor carpenter would have nothing of importance to say to them.

This story sparked thoughts of how we may discount or not recognize the wisdom and abilities of those we take for granted or who are closest to us. We can marvel at something said by a well-known public figure or someone in authority and think it profound, while people close to us can say the very same thing and we tend to ignore them.

There are women in my community who have exceptional gifts and skills. Perhaps a person has a beautiful voice, but is never asked to sing a solo at a community liturgy. Or maybe her ministry is facilitating meetings of other congregations, but she is rarely asked to play that role in our Congregation.

These and other incidents remind me that we often do not take the time to get to know and acknowledge the abilities of the people we live and work with every day. It would be a helpful exercise to reflect on the gifts we see in those we rub elbows with day in and day out.

Saint Paul writes about the body and how each part is necessary for one to be a fully functioning human being. If any part is not working well, the body eventually becomes weak or ill.

If we are not careful, we can write off the gifts and talents of people around us because they are young or elderly or because we just do not take the time to recognize and affirm their abilities. It may be that our affirmation and recognition is just be the spark they need to further develop their gifts and talents.

Let us not overlook or discount the talents and abilities of the people in our lives. Before we look in the yellow pages for wisdom or expertise, let us first look at those in our circle. The help we need might be right in our midst.

Celebrating the Sabbath

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC
 


One of the commandments given to us is to keep holy the Sabbath. God modeled this in the creation story when he rested on the seventh day. It would be well for us to revisit this commandment and explore the wisdom behind it. We might also examine how well we keep or celebrate the Sabbath. Do we honor and hold this day differently than the other six days of the week?

I read an article that suggested that the purpose of the Sabbath is to take time out of our daily lives to enhance our relationship with God. That made sense to me. Sabbath times are important, especially when many of us are so busy and that we feel we are slaves to our calendars. Sometimes we even have to make appointments to be with family and friends. We are a culture of workaholics.

Time is important in all relationships and that includes our relationship with God. Nurturing our relationship with God does not mean we sit around and pray all day. It does mean resting our minds and bodies so we can better hear God’s voice and recognize God’s presence in our world.

In busy mode, it is easy to miss the beauty of life. Without leisure time, we can stifle our gift of creativity. It is in spending time with God and those we love that our relationships are rejuvenated and refreshed. It is when we are rested that we can truly hear God in the recesses of our hearts. Ironically, it is when we stop and take this special time of rest that, our lives are often more fulfilled and we become more productive.

Realistically some people must work on Sunday. For others Sunday is the only day they can shop, do laundry, clean house and so on. I can sympathize. If this is your reality, maybe it’s possible to choose another day of the week to celebrate this important time of rest.

Living the Sabbath is both a command and a gift. It is a regular time to be refreshed and to enhance and deepen our relationships with God and the significant people in our lives. It is a time to get in touch with that deepest part of us where God lives. Real Sabbath living could transform our lives and our world if we would only give it a chance.

What are you going to do or NOT DO next Sunday to relax and recognize that God is living in all of creation?

 

The untold story

Friday, May 5, 2017

by Bernice Asare-Badu, candidate, Ghana


It has only been a few years since I first met with the Sisters of the Holy Cross in my parish at the funeral of the sister of Brother Joseph Tsiquaye, CSC. However, my memory of this encounter remains clear and is filled with joy. Candidly speaking, that meeting completely changed my life.

One of the things that I have always been proud of is following my heart and allowing myself to do God’s will. Today, everything seems to be very different from the time I was discerning a vocation. Here in Holy Cross, things are very structured, which keeps my life in shape and helps me to stay connected with God. My stay here comes with a lot of blessings, and I love to describe them in the categories of spirituality, community and ministry.

Spirituality

Prayer is the center of the sisters’ lives. I have come to appreciate this also. The strength I draw from our togetherness in prayer helps me to love God and makes me feel special in his sight. My experience with the prayers of the liturgical seasons, songs sung and our relationship and connection to nature makes me feel the true presence of God.

Community

The care I see sisters give to one another clearly exemplifies the mission statement “our lives together.” I also am a beneficiary of such care and love. Experiencing this love has encouraged me to share my love with all people. The relationship and the deep respect I see sisters share with each other and all people again encourages me to learn to do likewise. As I live with the sisters, I learn that the dignity of the human person comes first.

Ministry

Another thing I have appreciated is watching the sisters nurture children with love. The education they provide for the students not only develops their minds, but their hearts as well. This helps in preparing the children adequately to become responsible adults and citizens of our country. The compassionate hearts of the sisters lead people to share their problems freely. My ministry of handing out learning materials, student IDs, bus cards and, at one point, teaching, gave me an opportunity to interact with new people and I am very glad I did.

With these experiences and many more to come, I ask God to grant me, and all people discerning a vocation, especially in our Congregation, the grace to stay focused and to love and appreciate the gift of one another. I ask for guidance and perseverance to continue to be open to the direction of the Spirit.

Making time for sisters

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

As a volunteer, employee enjoys connections



Volunteer and employee, Deb Wolfinger, visits with Sister Anna Mae Golden at Saint Mary's Convent in Notre Dame, Indiana.

Deb Wolfinger pulls some clothes from Sister Anna Mae Golden’s closet and starts swapping out the metal hangers for plastic ones. “You don’t care for metal hangers, right Sister?” Deb asks even though she doesn’t have to; she already knows how Sister Anna Mae likes things.

For nearly 12 years Deb worked as a resident assistant on the 2nd floor of Saint Mary’s Convent before moving to housekeeping in October 2016. But every other Friday, two hours before her shift begins, Deb tours the 2nd floor, stopping in to share a visit with her sister friends.

Deb had worked 10 years in her resident assistant job when she learned she would need to serve as both her brother’s in-home caregiver and her father’s end-of-life caregiver. Sadly, she lost them both.
When she returned to work she discovered she had a compression fracture. Her doctor suggested she find different work, which led her to the housekeeper position. From the start, Deb enjoyed her new role, she says, but she missed seeing the sisters she’d gotten to know so well.

She signed up to work PRN, or as an on-call caregiver, once or twice a month, and started coming in every other Friday to lead a group of sisters in craft activities. But the quality time just wasn’t there, she says, so she asked if she could start dropping by their rooms instead.

During her visits, she says, “I’ll do anything the sister wants to do. I’ll make suggestions, but they can choose. Really, it’s just the chance for us to have one-on-one time, without me having to focus on work. And it’s an opportunity for them if they want to talk or vent.

“It keeps me in touch with them. There are so many of them that I love.”

“And they love her,” attests Lee Ann Moore, director of activities and volunteer services. “When sisters find out Deb is on the schedule, they’ll book her ahead of time, to be sure they get in their visit.”

Deb credits her good relationships with the sisters to how she regards and approaches them. “You have to have empathy and compassion. If you dictate to someone how things will be done, that will make them unhappy and standoffish,” she says. Instead, “You ask, ‘What can I do for you today?’ That gives the sister the opportunity to express her needs.”

“Deb has a magical way of relating,” Lee Ann adds. “It’s very special when you have an employee who works her shifts and then says, ‘I’d like to volunteer some time,’ or when an employee comes in for an event or outing on his or her day off, or when a staff member shares their gift or talent, such as playing the piano, with the sisters.”

While organizing in Sister Anna Mae’s room, Deb notices that one of the closet doors is off track and promises to report the needed repair. “I used to try to keep up on these things when I worked on the floor,” she says. “I had to intentionally make the time to do it.” Before she leaves, Sister Anna Mae’s closet is all is in order: Pants to the right, sweaters and long sleeves to the left, short sleeves in the middle. “That makes it easier for sister to find what she needs,” Deb says.

“That’s one of the nice things about getting such a nice person,” answers Sister Anna Mae. It doesn’t matter what they do together, she adds. “I just enjoy being with her.”

Earth Day

Saturday, April 22, 2017

 
 
All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

— Pope Francis, Laudato si'
 
We invite you to pause in gratitude for God’s gift of our planet home and to savor the beauty of all creation with this Earth Day Prayer, "Show Mercy to Our Common Home."

What satisfies you?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC




The lyrics of popular songs are often something that spars a reflection for me. A few weeks back I heard a homily on “satisfaction” and my mind drifted to a song that was a big hit when I was younger. It was called; you guessed it, “Satisfaction.” The same line was repeated over and over. It goes something like this: “I can’t get no satisfaction, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried. Can’t get no satisfaction.”

These words stir up a lot of thoughts for me. As I reflect on life it seems to me that so many people are in constant search of satisfaction. They focus on trying to find what will satisfy and make them happy. They think, “I’ll be happy when I graduate or get married or find that perfect job.” They are always looking for something more.

Some people try all kinds of things to satisfy the deep longing inside them. Some think alcohol and drugs are the answer, but that high is temporary and life hits them right in the face when it wears off. Others look for love in all the wrong places. Accumulating money and all the latest gadgets does not seem to bring much happiness either.

So, what do you think the problem is? What prevents so many from getting satisfaction out of life?

I think I know the answer. I believe genuine happiness comes when we give of ourselves in love. Think of the people in your life who are joyful. They usually go out of themselves to meet the needs of others. Relationships are important to them.

Happy, satisfied people are usually positive and try to say only the good things people need to hear. They don’t drag others down with their constant negativity and gossip. They feel good about life and bring the best out in others.

A good way to fight our feelings of “not enough” is to do something for someone else. You would be amazed how much happiness and satisfaction can come from getting our minds off ourselves and reaching out to others! I think the key is that satisfaction comes only when we don’t spend all our energy looking for it.