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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Can there really be more?

I have already lost count of how many snow days we have had here... but it seems like each week we are off from school once again because of a freak snowstorm.  Today was another day.... tomorrow will be another.

Today I spent about three hours with some of the boys trying to dig the convent cars out.  They are adorable but I'm not sure if I will be able to get out of bed after shoveling for so long.  We only got one car out!  One car after three hours of work.  I can't believe it!  Also after the three hours of work we had hot dogs and a snowball fight.  That was their pay for all their hard work!

This year I chose as my yearly intention the survival of Catholic Education.  However, I am wondering more and more about the survival of education period if we are never in school!  Now again we are hearing that there will be another storm next week.  The kids are loving it, but as a teacher, I am exhausted with the lack of instructional time.

I love being a teacher and being in school.  I wonder all the time how we can respond to the needs of young people through Catholic education.  It is getting more expensive, enrollment is going down, we are losing our ability to be in the worst neighborhoods, discipline is lacking because of family dynamics - and we have more and more students who are non-Catholic (not a bad thing because it is evangelization, but we must educate our own children.)  Another struggle is forming young men and women into the adults God has made them to be when their lives are filled with over-sexualization, partying, lack of self-discipline, and lack of motivation.  We have to be everything to them and there are less and less sisters teaching in schools who can be available all the time for our children.

Just some thoughts on the situation as we approach Catholic Schools Week next week - if we are ever in school again!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Germs and Community

Sometimes it is good to take stock of life... almost always it doesn't measure up to expectations though, haha.  These past few days I have been at workshops and I have a wicked cold so I have been like a ghost in the convent.  They see my shadow move around... to get tea, sometimes venturing to get food... but not much else.  To be honest... I miss the nuns!  I miss Jesus in Chapel!

Now, I wouldn't be such a ghost if the circumstances were not out of my control, however, it does make me realize how important those parts of my life are... and how easily I can forget them.  Tonight when I ventured downstairs out of my bedroom to get some tea for my cough I thought... how long has it been since I've been in the community room?  The answer is a few days.  I hate that!  But I've been sick and leaving early and coming home late from workshops.  It isn't always like this.

Tonight though I found myself thinking... is there anyone out there?  It felt quite lonely to not have seen anyone in a few days.  I don't know how some sisters do it; living in apartments or doing jobs that keep them travelling frequently.  I would find that so difficult.  I love my nuns.  I love living in community and I love living with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

We always joke.  When someone is sick the nuns always say, "Stay in the same temperature."  It really translates into, "Please stay in your room... we don't want your germs."  That's where I am right now... I've been exiled so I'll just have to wait it out.  I know the nuns will welcome me back without my germs as soon as I get rid of them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vocation Awareness

Well... I just wanted to say I was grateful for the comments on my last post.  I'm going to put it on the side burner until I get a little perspective... or distance, from this strange encounter I have had.  In other news... it was vocation awareness week this week and I tried to make my dear students very, very aware.  I know, I always say it, but, they are the best kids in the whole world.

Many of them, as their hormones rage in middle school, say that they would not want to be a priest, sister, brother, consecrated virgin...   I love their honesty and questions and I want them to feel like they can talk to me about anything in their hearts and minds.  It is interesting to me that the sixth grade boys tell me everything, the eighth grade girls tell me everything and seventh grade, boys and girls, can't keep a secret to save their lives.  It makes them all the more endearing to my heart!

Anyway, the other day, one of the girls in eighth grade was giving me the update on the two boys who are both attempting to win her affections these days.  She is just a beautiful girl who has had a very difficult family life but has matured with the help of God's grace.  I listened as I always do and gave her my advice... (one of the boys seems much nicer than the other!).  Her homeroom teacher came to me at the end of the day and told me that she said that I was the "perfect nun." HA!  Her reasoning was that I "was holy, but still understood the business..."  It made me really happy to hear that - even though I'm not holy... she is right that I understand "the business."  It isn't that long that I have been out of the dating scene and I think I do "get it."

After that, one of my boys came to talk to me about something I told him the other day.  He was goofing off with one of the other boys.  They really are good kids but it certainly wasn't the most respectful conversation as far as women go.  I said to him, "If I were (the girl he liked), my feelings would be hurt right now."  He said to me, "Sister, you were right.  I talked to 'Mary' last night and she was upset about what I said.  I said I was sorry and it's alright now."  I won't lie... I definitely was happy to hear I was right! haha.  But I was happier that he learned something about how much it matters how he acts.  He is really a leader among his peers and if he knows how to behave, he can influence many of them to behave like young Catholic men.

No matter what my girls or boys choose to do with their lives, although I hope and pray that they follow God's will for them, I will be proud of them for their decisions.  I know that they are growing into mature and responsible young men and women.  I thank God so much for the opportunity to walk with them.  It is such a gift to me to be able to see His grace operating in their lives.  It fills my heart with gratitude and love as I watch them grow into God's own special gift to the world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Religious Habit

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about the habit.  I've had some uncomfortable experiences in the past few months regarding my habit and so I have been trying to work it all out in my head and heart and for some reason, I feel like sharing.

My take on the habit is that it is absolutely necessary.  My community has some options and to be completely honest - I hate it.  I wish we all wore the same thing all the time.  However, we do wear a habit and for that I am grateful.    The style of habit I wear is definitely in my opinion - "poor, modest, and becoming."  It is practical for the work I do and the place I live and it certainly offers a witness to the people I meet.  

However, my recent experiences have left me questioning my attitudes about the habit and the attitudes of others.  It doesn't make me uncomfortable when people point out how happy they are to see a young sister in a habit - it is a normal and appropriate conversation piece.  However, when a grown man tells me that I'm too young and beautiful to be a sister - a red alarm goes off in my mind.  When someone stops me in the store to ask me where I work and what community I am in - I happily answer, with as much information as I can safely give.  However, when someone asks to touch me (yes - I'm not joking - this did happen) I am extremely uncomfortable.  I mean - how do you graciously answer that question?!  

The above examples being strange - I would also add that others are just plain scary.  While I love that the world knows that I am a spouse of Christ because of my habit - because of that witness I can also become an easy target.  I didn't realize this until very recently when a man (a man who should have known better by his state in life than to say this to me) stated, "You should be careful, many men will find you attractive because you are young, pretty, and in a habit."  (His intention was not to honestly warn me.)  

Since then I have found myself extremely uncomfortable in a few situations and I have been asking myself a few questions to which I still have no answers.  Should I stop wearing the habit I now wear in favor of a less feminine version?  Does the veil always incite this type of attention?  Are there times when it is appropriate, prudent, and justifiable not to wear the habit for the safety of oneself?  Would people identify me as "less of a nun" if I wore a habit that was not as traditional as the more feminine one I wear now even though it is still blessed?  How do I continue to give an open, approachable, and honest witness while still guarding myself from the inappropriate comments of others?

So those are my thoughts at the moment on the habit - not the most religious and inspiring, but a struggle that I'm sharing for now.  I hope it wasn't too much to share, but I do feel like sometimes the issue of the habit isn't talked about with a lot of openness and understanding and I just wanted to shed another light on it.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Panic and Peace

Well... here is the update... I've lost it all.  There is no retrieving any of my information on my broken flash drive. I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to make up for so much lost work so I haven't been writing too much.

I bet many of my kids had a little breakdown before they had to come back to school after a whole week off.  I mean, it's daunting to have time to be free and then know how much work is ahead of you.  I had the same experience right before school started back up again this week!  While I stayed pretty calm for a few days after the flash drive incident when I went to school to get prepared to teach this past week I was very very upset.

When I told the kids what happened their first question was, "Did you cry, Sister?"  The answer is YES.  It was so overwhelming to lose so much work.  I didn't even know where to begin again.  I had everything planned for the year.  What I realized though was that God was shaking me up a little bit.  Everything has been going to well for me but it has been due to my reliance on myself and not on Him.  I don't think HE broke my flash drive, haha, but He did use it for His own purposes.

I really think that feeling uncomfortable is a sign for me of God working in  my life.  Anytime I get too comfortable with myself, my apostolate, my prayer, my community; I see God throw some loops into my perfect world so that I can practice trusting Him and allowing Him to be in control of my life.  I have a really hard time doing that.  Discomfort lets me know that I'm on the right path.  That discomfort forces me to be more intentional in the way I live religious life and the way I serve God's people.  It's a great tool for me to grow.

So, while my lost flash drive is a huge setback in my schoolwork, it is a forward movement in relationship with God.  I'm trying to remind myself of that as I work through the weekend.  Thank God it snowed and I wouldn't have been able to go out anyway!