Sunday, May 24, 2009

Catching up

It's been a long time since I've looked at some of the blogs I like to follow, and so I thought I would throw in a couple of recent highlights here.

A Nun's Life talks about adopting a religious--what a great idea! It seems like an innovative way to get the word out about what it means to be a religious or a priest.

There is a lovely comment about the peace of the Benedictine monastic routine at Colwich Novitiate's blog.

The Sisters of the Holy Family's blog led me to the Women & Spirit website. They are presenting a traveling exhibit of artifacts about the history of women religious and their impact on American history in general. It looks fabulous! I think I need to try to get to it at some point.

Exciting things are going on in our world!


Well, I move in less than 6 weeks. It's amazing how fast the time goes.

Most of my furniture has been claimed, along with some of my kitchen stuff.

The first of at least three goodbye parties is on Tuesday.

Since classes are over, I've been working more on the moving thing--going through the stuff that I've been hoarding for the last 10-15 years. It feels really good to be cutting the strings, in many ways, but it also means leaving part of me behind. I've found letters from old friends, pictures, books, journals, calendars.... all sorts of things that I really don't need, and really never intended to keep forever anyhow.

Why do I say that it means leaving part of me behind? It's not that I will forget any of these things. It's just that, when I look at the old pictures and read the notes from friends, I realize how our lives have moved on. I think that's a good thing, really. We've all "grown up" a bit, become more who we are and who God wants us to be.

Seeing the old photos and notes also reminds me of how blessed I have been, how I've always had friends who loved me, and whom I've loved. I feel very loved.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation reflections...

I'm preparing a short reflection for our graduating students, and I thought I would share part of it here. The graduation ceremony takes place in the context of Evening Prayer, and the reading is Colossians 3:12-17.

Love, says the reading, is the "bond of perfection." Love is the one thing that will improve all other facets of our lives, the one thing that can bring us into unity with each other.

With that LOVE in mind, Colossians says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another..." It seems to me that no one here is studying theology for their own edification. Each one of us -- in being called to service -- is here to become a better servant to others, to offer God's LOVE and WISDOM to those we serve. We have been transformed by our knowledge, and we continue the transformation in our ministry to others.

My little bit of advice today is that you remain open to the transforming power of God. It is only when we are open to receive love, and to share our love with those around us, that we are able to transform and to be transformed. I never dreamed that I would be called to study theology, or to teach it. It never crossed my mind that God would call me in the direction I now turn.

But if each of us remain open to God's transforming love, the world itself will be transformed by love.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A beautiful experience

I was talking with my last class today, and I told them about how I was leaving the area to join a religious order. They were all really happy and supportive. I told them a little bit about the Society, and about why I chose the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Afterward, one of the women came up to me and showed me a bookmark, asking me if the picture was of the foundress--the text was all in Chinese.

It was St Madeleine Sophie Barat, much like the one above. It turns out that the student went to a Sacred Heart boarding high school in Taiwan. She had tears in her eyes as she told me about how she remembers the love of the sisters, and that she still goes back to visit the school when she's in the country, even taking her grown daughters.

It was deeply touching.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Five: Bugs

From RevGalBlogPals:

As I was walking the beach today, I was surprised and delighted to find it swarming with ladybugs. The sweet little red beetles are one of my favorite insects and also my daughter's blogname--though as of this morning she was thinking of changing it to Butterfly. I'll keep you posted.

This got me thinking about spiritual insect trivia: Did you know that medieval mystics and theologians esteemed the bee for its dedicated work and transformation of ordinary ingredients into sweetness? That Spider Woman is an important creator Goddess to many Native American tribes? Or that Francis of Assisi was reminded of Jesus not only by lambs being led to slaughter, but also by worms (think "I am a worm and no man" from the Psalms)-- so he picked them up and took them out of stomping-vulnerable spots?!

In that spirit, this week's Friday Five is a magical mystery tour through God's garden of creepy crawlies!

1. Ladybugs or ladybirds? Pillbugs or roly-polys? Jesus bugs or water skeeters? Any other interesting regional or familial name variations?
Ladybugs and water skeeters. There aren't any pillbugs or roly-polys where I grew up, so I don't know what to call them!

2. Stomp on spiders, carry them outside, or peacefully co-exist?
Depends... but usually stomp on them. Though I once had one living on my window sill that I didn't mind--but I knew where it lived, and it didn't wander around the house scaring me.

3. Favorite insect?
I'm not a big insect fan. But maybe a ladybug or a butterfly. We had a ladybug wandering around the choir at church one Sunday. We kept putting her to the side, and she kept coming back to hang out on our clothes. We were all a bit amused.

4. Least favorite?
Almost anything else! I have to say spiders and cockroaches top the list.

5. Got any good bug stories to share?
One very weird one. I was at an odd Catholic celebration of Mary--I don't remember exactly what it was (it wasn't a holy day or anything), but there was a speaker, and the church was really packed. I was there alone, sandwiched in a pew between people I didn't know. And I was tired and feeling a little sick. At one point, I think I fell asleep, which I never do--so I was really exhausted. But the buggy part freaked me out. I felt something on my head, and so I scratched it, and found a bug on the very top of my head! I didn't know what it was--not huge, and sort of like a beetle. So, I grabbed it and flung it away, somewhere under the pews. But then, it happened again, another bug, same spot! It was very surreal, and made the whole experience very uncomfortable for me. I left as soon as I could, but I had to wait for whatever it was to finish because I couldn't easily get out. And another strange thing (not buggy) happened on the way out--a lady handed me a pin of Our Lady of Guadalupe and said that she just knew I was the one to give it to. Huh.

Bonus question: share a poem, song, quotation, etc. about insects.
I got nothing! It could be the early hour...

Everyone has a vocation

Lately, my mind has turned to the broader question of vocation, and that we need to talk more about it.

Most especially, I think we need to talk about a vocation to single life. Some don't believe it is a vocation, but it certainly is.

Some say it's not a vocation because it's not a permanent state, but a temporary condition until someone makes a commitment to another person, or to the priesthood or religious life. But there are single people in the church of all ages, some of whom will never make that kind of a commitment. Additionally, I don't think it needs to be permanent for it to be a vocation. Vocation simply means "calling" -- and our calls change throughout our lifetime.

How can single life be considered a vocation? Think about the faithful single Catholics you know--do they live lives grounded in Christ? I once had a student say that "all single people are selfish." It inspired me to post this prayer for vocations from the USCCB, which includes a section about single people who are able to offer so much of their lives in service because they do not have the obligations of (for instance) someone with a family.

Lucky for me, another student answered that single people are no more selfish than anyone else!

That's key, perhaps. The single person who is not part of the church, who does not uphold moral standards, and who does not offer themselves in service to others, is not living out a vocation to the single life.

But there are so many who live it beautifully. We can't say that there isn't such a vocation just because some people are self-centered.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Less than Three Months

Yes, there are less than three months until I enter the community.

I am so glad that it is coming soon, and also happy that I have some time to prepare. The semester is ending this week, and so I will be working on my own projects as well as the Big Move.

I'm trying to be more conscientious about this blog, but I really don't have a lot to say! I am at peace--and maybe that's the biggest thing I can say. My heart is peaceful. There seems to be so much to do before I'm ready to go, but I'm happy that I will be entering community, and the details seem pretty insignificant right now. Perhaps complicated, but insignificant.

The picture above is a stained glass of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, from the chapel at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston, where I visited last week. The chapel is lovely, and this window is the highlight. There are also windows there of Philippine and Mater Admirabilis.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This weekend.

I spent the weekend with the RSCJ community in Houston--and had a wonderful time.

One of the challenges over the last few months has been the separation from the community. I know I will be entering the Society this summer, but right now I live far away from the sisters. The weekend with them was just what I needed, a little reminder of why this is so important to me.

Thank you!