Doing Something New

Spring has finally arrived—TODAY—and even though it’s only the 2nd week of Lent, Easter joy begins to seep into our souls. “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” we read in the Scriptures.

Aware of our need for repentance in this holy season, we must also listen to the God who makes all things new.  It’s good to consciously let go of shallow concerns and self-centered fears and recognize our creative God.  The signs of spring— in nature as well as in ourselves–show how God’s love brings renewal and growth, slowly but surely, like seeds that grow in the earth.

It’s spring!  Find your sacred space. Try new ways to pray. Reflect on what is changing in you that is life-giving and good.  Simply listen and be grateful. You will surely discover something new.

 

 

 

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To Find You Again

An Ash Wednesday prayer by the Dutch priest/spiritual guide Henri Nouwen says: “O Lord, make this season different from the other ones.  Let me find you again.”  LET ME FIND YOU AGAIN!

Is God hidden from us?   In the Book of Isaiah it says, “Indeed, you are a hidden God.” This brings forth images of the sun behind dark clouds, a veiled painting,  or secret passageways in a castle. I don’t think God is like that.

Are we maybe the ones who hide?  Do we get buried under so much other “stuff” that we can’t recognize the God right before us?  In St. Angela’s own prayer, she says, “My Lord, light up the darkness of my heart. Strengthen my affections and senses so that they do not turn me away from that dazzling face of yours.” Perhaps it’s that we turn away.

In this new season of Lent, do we need to find God again–in the beauty of creation, the goodness of persons, or the grace of sacrament and celebration?  A gentle, prayerful look at what exhausts and consumes us might free us to find God in ways and places we least expect. May this holy season of Lent be a time of holy discovery!

Service–Not Just a High School Thing

Last week, I was in Wilmington, Delaware for workshops with the sophomores at Ursuline Academy.  What a lovely group of young women!  We talked about discernment, God’s gifts, and the call from Jesus to use what we’ve been given to make a difference in this world.  Serviam– “I will serve”–is not, we agreed, only for high school.  It’s for all our lives.

In that spirit, for those of you no longer in high school, here’s a great opportunity to serve. We, Ursuline Sisters, offer a week of service in McAllen, Texas, June 23-29, 2019 for women ages 18-30.  We will work with immigrant families at The Humanitarian Respite Center of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.  We’ll prepare and serve food, organize clothing and showers, help with transportation, and learn a lot about the struggles of immigrant people in the process. Housing will be at the San Juan Basilica Hotel.

For more information or an application form, contact me, Sr. Elisa Ryan (elisaosu@gmail.com).  It promises to be a great week of service, community and fun in the spirit of Serviam!

 

 

Celebrate Enthusiasm for Christ

It’s 88 degrees in Panama, and half a million visitors are expected there today for the opening of the International World Youth Day.  When I passed through the airport there recently, on my way home from Guyana, I could see full mode preparations for the arrival of Pope Francis and a great celebration of youth.

If you’re wondering just where Panama is, take a look at its spectacular beauty in this l minute video.    Then see what’s in store for World Youth Day in the Official Promo 2 minute video here.

Finally, check out the schedule of papal events from January 22-27.  Yes, it will end on January 27, feast of our own St. Angela Merici.  So if any of you, our readers, have the joy of being in Panama, please send comments, photos, videos.  We’d love to see and share them.  The rest of us will have to follow events in the news and on TV.  We’re with you in spirit!

 

This Amazing Ursuline Family

The worldwide family of Ursuline sisters and all who share with them the charism of St. Angela never ceases to amaze.  Stretching to every continent, it is rooted in local cultures, engaged in mission, and always seeks to embrace the Gospel with new life and energy.

This was so very evident to me these past 2 weeks as I assisted with the provincial chapter of our Caribbean Province. Coming together from Barbados, Venezuela and Guyana, the sisters met at our community house in Georgetown, at the northeast tip of South America. They serve in schools, have an orphanage for girls, and minister to the poor in all three regions.  Centered on the theme of our approaching general chapter, A Global Community Moving Into New Life, and like every other province in our Roman Union Ursulines, they looked together at their life and mission, discerning what to deepen, what to let go of, and what part they play in the global Ursuline family.

Our sisters from Venezuela shared heartbreaking stories of the situation in that country, where people wait in long lines outside grocery stores, only to arrive and find no food left. Concern  for justice and peace becomes all-encompassing when it’s friends and neighbors who are starving and leaving their homeland.

There is nothing like the beauty of this region.  Calypso music and the cadence of Caribbean accents blend to fill the soul with joy, especially at Christmas time!  Orchids in the garden, rain forests and rivers observed from on high—all are gifts of God’s creative genius.

We celebrated the end of chapter with Bajan songs and jokes, rhythmic dancing and a little good wine.  The commitment of our Ursuline family in this little province and around the world makes us realize how very blessed we are!