Life-giving Vine

A couple of Saturdays ago, four of us Ursulines visited a local vineyard for their autumn festival. It was a rustic place with picnic tables set among many trees.  There was good food, wine tasting, and great camaraderie. Having lived in Italy, I’m always  delighted to see grapevines loaded with fruit at harvest.  They remind me of Jesus’ passion for his mission, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” . . . “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you.”  The vines also stand as vivid symbols of how we  are connected, one to another, in a relationship never diminished but only strengthened by struggle, suffering and a share in the Cross.

The Sonoma County fires in California last night touched our Ursuline family.  Ursuline sisters, colleagues and friends in Santa Rosa have lost homes, property and possessions. Recent hurricanes and earthquakes have affected people we know and love.  Illness and bad news continue to break into our lives and those around us.  But these are not the last word.  We, God’s people,  are a community that stands in solidarity with one another.  Those who endure heartache and pain are supported by a communion that gives strength.  Prayer, words of encouragement, and an attitude that no one ever stands alone bring hope.  St. Paul said: “With Christ I hang upon the Cross, and yet I am alive. . . or rather it is Christ who lives in me.” The Vine is our source of life, as we reach out in love to one another.  How marvelous!

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One Day’s Remarkable Links

We recently welcomed freshmen from Ursuline Academy, St. Louis, to our province offices. It’s always fun to introduce them to who we sisters are. After a brief tour, they met with us in small groups, and could ask questions. As always, one asked me what I like about being a sister, and I said one thing I love most is being connected to people on every continent whom I can call “sister” and “friend.”

The international Ursuline links we have are truly remarkable.  In just one day last week, we received photos of children from our school in Jakarta, Indonesia where Ursuline leaders from Rome are visiting. There was news of a new mission school in a rural area of Senegal, with a picture of the Ursulines and their teaching team, dressed in the glorious colors one finds only in Africa. Later that same day, we made contact with Ursulines in Puebla, Mexico, anxious to know they are safe after the earthquake, but understanding how they suffer with their people who have lost so much.

The new freshmen at Ursuline Academy have the whole world of high school ahead of them.  They also have a global network of Ursuline sisters, collaborators, and schools ready to embrace them into this family that is alive and serving every day.

 

 

Finding the Light

Hurricanes, tropical storms and earthquakes have been constant in our lives these last days and weeks.  For those living in stricken areas, it has been terrifying.  How many millions have lived in darkness, without electricity?  And for others, there’s been a sense of helplessness and horror at having to simply watch from afar.

In the midst of all the chaos, we’ve marked two feasts of Mary, mother of Jesus—-her birthday on September 8, and today, the feast of her Most Holy Name.  I learned last week that sometimes Mary is likened to the moon. That’s because the light of the moon is only a reflection of the light of the sun.

Perhaps what we can best do in response to the suffering of these days is learn from Mary to rediscover our light. Mary stands with us at the foot of the Cross. She leads us to Jesus, true Light of the World, and helps us trust at all times in him. Reoriented by that light, we will have all the more to reflect and share with those in need.

Contemplative Spirit Today

It’s a great support to me knowing that St. Angela, foundress of the Ursulines, was truly a contemplative woman. Everything we know about her shows she was able to discover and enjoy God’s presence at every moment of life. She’s a model for all who share her charism and want to grow spiritually. I’m also inspired by what “contemplative spirit” means to some women today:

“. . . living life from a centeredness which comes from a life of prayer.  It gives me the freedom to live with the questions, trusting the answers to unfold in God’s time.  When I experience people and the ordinary events of the day through God’s eyes of unconditional love, I see with more clarity, depth, beauty and understanding.” –Terri Rogan

“. . . God being constantly with me.  The ways are varied, like a friend that you meet for lunch, sometimes talk on the phone or send an email.  When I go to Mass, receive the Eucharist, say a rosary, read some Scripture, or just sit and talk it all out with the Lord, I feel the heart of Jesus listening to me and loving me. . . It’s really an ongoing conversation between God and me that I constantly experience, even if at times I do most of the talking! God really knows how to listen.”  —Michelle Malawey

“Contemplation is a gift of God. In it we experience Being as one.  We stand before it by emptying ourselves of self-aggrandizement, of ambition. The great gift of God to each and all of us is the realization that God loves us unconditionally just as we are. We did nothing to earn God’s love and we can do nothing to lose it.” –Sr. Carla Dolce