+ J.M.J.A.T. +

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today I am giving thanks for the gift of community.  On Tuesday the kids asked me where I would be going to Thanksgiving.  While my convent is going to the convent down the street for our Thanksgiving dinner, I told the kids that the sisters celebrate all holidays together before doing any personal visiting of family and friends for the holidays.  My kids were upset and asked why we couldn't go home for the holidays.  I told them that some sisters don't have anywhere to go and we would never leave a sister alone.

They don't know this, but I am one of those sisters who doesn't have anywhere to go for the holidays.  I think a lot of people still take for granted that sisters come from wonderful Catholic families full of love and joy.  While I guess that seems to be true for the majority, for me it isn't.  It makes the holidays very difficult at times.  If we didn't celebrate together, I would be alone.  My parents are divorced and I don't have a family home to stay in.  I depend on community for companionship and that truly Christ-centered family love.

Our visit to the convent down the street for Thanksgiving was so lovely.  When we arrived the sisters stopped what they were doing to talk and chat in the community room until dinner was ready.  All was being kept warm in the oven when we went together to Chapel for prayers.  We got together to "swell the crowd" and we certainly were stuffed in together in Chapel.  It was such a nice way to share faith and community.  There was a beautiful prayer waiting at our spots in the dining room which we said together.  Then the feast began!  Laughter, tears, stories, fun, and joy flavored every minute of our delicious meal with one another.

It was also a gift to be with sisters I know well and sisters I've never met before and still feel welcomed and at home.  After all, our hearts and minds are one and no matter what we belong together to walk this journey to the Lord.  I can't help but think that our little gathering was a small beginning to "Preparing the way for the Lord." as we enter into Advent.  Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there and tonight was a wonderful example to me of that true Presence.

So thank You God for my vocation, my community, my friends, my sisters, my consecration, my vows, and the love you have put into my heart.  Amen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chastity and Community

Well, believe it or not, I'm actually posting two days in a row.  This is just a super honest post about something I've been thinking and praying about lately.  I'm going to be totally honest.  Chastity is hard.

The tough thing about living with women much older than you is that they love love stories and romances.  There's nothing wrong with those beautiful hallmark movies about families and love and children and marriage and all that wholesome goodness.  However, when you come from a broken family and you've sacrificed that part of your life for the Kingdom, it does start to wear on you during the Christmas love story season.

On top of that, it is difficult at times to see children come in and out of your classroom where you love them with all your heart and  they don't realize it.  It is increasingly difficult I think for young women entering religious life to reconcile their lived family situations, which are increasingly difficult, with the experiences of many sisters with whom they live.  It is painful for me sometimes to think of the idea of family because of my own family experiences.  I've been wallowing in it a little bit these days.  I know that isn't the best or correct thing to do but it's just where I've been.

Anyway, tonight when I was wallowing, I got a phone call from a friend.  It is amazing what friendship in religious life can really do for you.  I became friends with this sister who is about 40 years older than me, when I took care of her sick sister, who was also a religious sister.  I only talked to my friend for ten minutes, and not about chastity; however, I left the call feeling loved, strengthened, and ready to continue on my way in spite of the sadness I've been feeling.

Community can both be a challenge and a blessing in trying to live the vows.  Sometimes we are so worried about being "holier than thou" that we shy away from challenging one another to live the Gospel more radically.  Sometimes we are so concerned with keeping up appearances that we forget to share with one another our struggles and needs, especially when it comes to chastity.  Sometimes we get so defensive we lose the freedom to be obedient.  In short, humanity comes in and makes things confusing and hard.

God is so good though because just when I think it is too difficult He takes care of me through the sisters He has chosen for me.    His ways are mysterious and as I told my kids recently, you can't find a better man than Jesus.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Sometimes I feel like Super - Nun.  This is not one of those times!  

Nothing really has happened to make me feel so 'bleh'.  It is just difficult being a religious, a teacher, a blood sister, a daughter, a friend, and a speaker.  In each of those categories a million other things are required and they never fit into the twenty four hours I'm allotted each day (which is something I've been meaning to ask God about!  Why such short days?! :) )  

As a religious I spend about two hours a day in scheduled prayer.  I live in community where I have charges to do and common life to participate in through meals, prayers, friendship, and chatter.  As a teacher I am counselor, friend, parent, confidant, grader, planner, and a million other things.  I still have a family that I never talk to and wish I could.  My friends are getting engaged and married and sometimes I can't even keep track anymore!

I love my life, but sometimes I live it better than others.  Sometimes I have so much energy and I get that balance so right and I feel like a million bucks.  Those are the times when I feel like super - nun.  When it all doesn't quite come together; when my emails are busting my inbox seams, when the papers, tests, and homework assignments are up to my eyeballs, when I'm running in the door just in time for prayers, when I'm going to sleep at midnight, and when I'm forgetting everything not attached to me... I wonder if I can actually do it!

This is one of those times... yet here I am blogging.  Maybe not the best use of time, but it does help put a name on this lack of "super-nun" feeling.  And it has given me some perspective.  Jesus didn't call me to be successful and to be super-nun.  He called me to be the woman I am in the life He chose for me in relationship with Him.  I have to learn to be humble enough to accept my shortcomings and failings.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


So often as a young woman religious I think of the future of religious life.  What will it look like if we can't live next door to the parish school?  What if there is no parish school?  What if there are no priests to say Mass for us?  What if we live in a faithless world?  Will we fail to persevere?  Will we be faithful to what our sisters have left us?  Will the Church still want us?  How will we take care of our elderly sisters?  How will we serve God's people?... When will we sleep while were doing all of this???  :)

It is overwhelming and humbling.  I have no answer to any of the questions above because they aren't happening yet.  Right now, my job is to grow into the religious woman God has called me to be and all I need to do is stay focused on that one thing.  Prayer, community, and ministry will all come together the way He has planned in each moment.  I truly believe that what is happening to us through closures, financial problems, and lack of vocations are God pruning us and preparing us for a future that He has in mind, not the future we've been thinking of.

That's what makes me sure it will be wonderful, it is His and not mine!

Pray for us that we follow His will!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How do you know?

The top most asked question of high school girls about vocations is, "How do you know?"  I answered quite a few of those questions this weekend at a retreat for young women discerning religious life.  However, I also received a question that I've never been asked before, "What if it is all a waste... what if God isn't real and you've wasted your life for no reason?"

I guess people have eluded to that question at times and I've answered that I'm happy in my life and I'm doing good so it really isn't a waste... at least it isn't a waste any more or less than anyone else's life in those circumstances.  However I answered a little differently this time around.

So far, what I've come up with is more of a conviction than an answer.  Intellectually speaking, sure, it could all be a mistake.  God could not be real, He could not exist.  I'm not going to argue the possibility, although I know there are wonderful theological proofs!  My answer is that I love Him enough to take the chance.  I'm willing to lay down my life for the very possibility that the love of Christ exists.  Let's be honest, as human beings sometimes belief seems to be more about how we feel than what we know.  I've decided to commit myself to the hope of Christ's love whether I feel it or not.

There are many times when I don't feel it.  There are a lot of times it doesn't all make sense and yet again I remember that I made vows to that which I know only by faith.  I pray that God continues to bless me with that gift and that He continues to call out generous, self-sacrificing women to carry that gift as well.    

Friday, November 5, 2010


My kids are preparing to receive Confirmation this fall and I'm starting to get nervous.  Basically, I had three months to prepare them for this wonderful sacrament but there are so many things I feel like I haven't even gotten to yet.  It is such a responsibility and I frequently find myself feeling overwhelmed by everything I want to share with them.  However, a little victory this week made all the stress and rush of it seem worth it.

The students were writing their letters to the bishop who is going to confirm them and as they wrote their rough drafts they asked me to read them before they wrote them on the paper with the school seal on it.  As I read each of their letters I was so touched by their words to the bishop and I realized a) that they really do listen when I talk to them and b) that they really do care about their faith.  The most beautiful of the letters was one by one of my boys.  He wrote that he was choosing the name Joseph because "Joseph took care of Mary and Jesus and I admire him for that."  No matter what I do, God has obviously touched his heart and brought him to that beautiful desire to be like the foster father and mother of God.  We had first Friday Mass today as a school community and all of them were their beautiful selves but as I watched their faces and their movements I was so proud to be their teacher.

At Mass, Father spoke about praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and as I looked at my boys and girls I remembered what a student said to me when I was giving a vocation talk one time.  She asked, "Sister, can you tell when you look at us?"  My answer was, "yes."  It is amazing the look in a child's eyes when it dawns on them that a) it could be possible that God is calling them, and that b) they feel something that they haven't noticed before.  Well, we were talking about the will of God when one of my dear boys stated that it must have been the will of God that our classroom pet died.  (Nothing is theologically sophisticated with sixth graders.)  It was off-topic and meant to throw me off onto something "more interesting." (I know their game :) )  Anyway, I responded by asking this child if he was asking God what His will was for him.  He answered, not to be a priest sister... don't even try!  Now, he is a sweet heart so it wasn't meant as a dig.  But my answer was, "You said it, not me!"

Tomorrow I will be part of a vocation day for my community.  I'm excited to be able to offer my Saturday (which I love because it is great to catch up on schoolwork) for potential vocations to the religious life.  It's a great life!!  Please pray that God's will be made known to the young women who will be joining the sisters for a day of prayer and discernment.  Lord, grant us more vocations!

Monday, November 1, 2010


This has been such a great weekend for me.  It was even better because my principal gave us off from having a formal plan this week and I got to hang with a nun friend (without having to worry about school!).

I started my Friday night with 2 hours of soccer games in the freezing cold.  All my kids play soccer and when they invite me I just can't say no so I worked after school and then drove over to the fields to watch the girls lose and the boys win.  It didn't matter though... they really don't care.  They just love to have fun.  

On Saturday I went and picked up my sister friend.  We went to visit some of our sisters at our infirmary and then went to a vigil Mass on our way back to my convent and to dinner.  I didn't realize that we were dressed in our habits and it was the night before Halloween so we had quite the interesting reception at dinner.  On Sunday we ran errands and just hung out which was really nice.  There aren't a million young sisters out there so when you have the time and opportunity to just spend time together it really helps.  We can talk about the struggles of juggling community life, apostolate, and prayer and just enjoy one another's company.  

So, tomorrow I still won't have my little saints at school, but I will be back.  There is still too much to do before I get there though!  Goodnight!