Called to Our Knees

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Special thanks to everyone who sent prayers and good wishes my way last week when I had knee surgery. All went well. God is good!

While recuperating over the weekend I was haunted by the photo of Omran Daqneesh—a 5-year old boy in Aleppo, Syria who was pulled out of a bombed building. He is one of thousands of children who suffer the unspeakable ravages of war. Later that day I read this quote from Pope Francis written to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia who will be joining Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas in directing the Pro-Life activities of the global Catholic Church. It’s a call to all of us.

Clip art Kneeling

To kneel before the wounds of the human person, in order to understand them, care for them and heal them, is the duty of a Church that trusts in the light and the strength of the risen Christ.  ~ Pope Francis

 

 

 

A Knee-ded Do-Over

As many of you read this, I’m undergoing some minor out-patient knee surgery. I injured my knee last spring but didn’t make time to see a knee pain clip artdoctor until July. Crazy, right? The discomfort wasn’t so bad at first, but gradually it’s become worse and has limited my activity. Recently I’ve been counting the days until I can have it taken care of.

If you’re like me, you don’t pay too much attention to your body until something hurts. For the last 5 months I’ve been  increasingly aware of my knees and how I take them for granted. Being both a nun and a gardener I depend on my knees. For me, kneeling is a stance of reverence before the Holy—both in the sanctuary and in the sacredness of earth. But knees are also important when I drop something and it rolls under the desk, or for going up and down steps. It seems like just about everything I do requires knees that bend! Why did I wait so long?????

I tend to be a very optimistic person. If there’s a silver lining in this experience it’s that I have a deeper appreciation for the God-given gift of my body and for doing what’s necessary—in a timely fashion!— to stay in good health. I suspect I’ll be hobbling around for a time while I heal. The optimist in me sees it as a gift from God—a do-over, a second chance, an invitation to begin right here, right now, today to re-commit myself to work daily towards health of body, mind and spirit. You all have permission to remind me!

Company!

UntitledThe Ursulines have company, and I’m excited. As you read this, our visitor might still be asleep, having arrived in St. Louis late last night after a long journey from France. Sister Colette-Marie will be with us the next 2 months.  She wants to get to know Ursuline life in the USA, improve her English, and prepare for her international tertianship (a year of renewal/sabbatical) in Rome next year. I’ve not yet been able to take her photo, but you can see her here with her community in Angers, France.

Untitled2Here’s why I’m so happy about her visit. We Ursulines of the Roman Union serve in 34 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.  We treasure our internationality because it’s rooted in real relationships we have with our sisters around the globe. It’s visits like this one that make it possible for us to really know one another as we share how we try to incarnate the Gospel and St. Angela’s spirit in our culture.  At the same time, we learn what’s happening in other parts of the world.  This stretches us, enriches us, and reminds us that our ways are never the only ways of thinking and doing.  The global reality is filled with the variety of God’s creative genius. And it is good.

I hope some of you, our readers, will meet our French visitor somewhere along the way these next two months. More sisters will arrive from Slovenia in October. Bienvenue, Soeur Colette-Marie!  We’re so happy you are here.

The Look of Love

UntitledI attended an event this week for young people considering religious life.  A good number showed up at our local seminary, eager to learn more about how to discern God’s call.  Some of us Sisters and a few priests and seminarians were on hand to share personal stories and guide small group discussions. The depth of conversation and genuine spirit of discernment in these young women and men was impressive.

Eventually, we all gathered in the chapel for moments of prayer, adoration and a reflection given by one of the priests. It was his message that captured the purpose of the evening.  In the Gospel story of a rich young man who asks Jesus “what must I do to inherit eternal life,” we hear, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” It’s the beginning of every vocation. This particular young man goes away from the conversation sad. Unwilling to admit his dependency on “riches” and incapable of giving up his distracted life, he turns away from Jesus’ invitation.

How does one discover vocation, that unique place and passion in life that brings lasting happiness? The Gospel story shows it.  Know that God always looks on you with love.  Spend time in that compassionate gaze.  Jesus will help you discover your inner gifts and goodness as well as the “riches” and distractions that keep you from fully becoming his disciple. Pray frequently, heart to heart, sharing your desires as well as your needs. At the right moment, you will know how to respond to the call, “Come, follow me.”

Contemplation and Action

Our religious community, the Ursulines of the Roman Union, is an international religious order based in Rome. We serve all over the world—in large cities and small NOLA prayervillages, in long-established ministries and adaptations that meet new needs. Our Ursuline constitutions define our very nature as one in which “contemplation and apostolic life (action) are so interwoven that each gives life to the other.” [¶1]

We grow into this “seamless garment” of contemplation and action over time—as we move through the various stages of formation, learn from one another in multi-generational communities, and simply live Ursuline life day in and day out.Nuns on the Bus STL 2016

For me, I can’t think of a more holistic way to live. It’s a spirit we strive to share with students, colleagues, friends, associates, and all those who desire to deepen their spiritual lives in the spirit of our foundress St. Angela Merici.

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