Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Light of Christ

    Recently, the theme of Light has been coming up a lot in my prayer. It’s a natural advent theme as we reflect on the Incarnation, the moment Divine Light took flesh. During this season, we are invited to allow the Light of Christ to penetrate our hearts and lives in a new way. 

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life." - John 8:14-15
    The convent here in St. Louis is still under construction, but (thanks be to God!) our chapel is pretty much finished. Last week, we had two new stained glass windows installed and I have been mesmerized with them. The windows themselves are nothing too striking; they are rather plain - one is the image of a chalice with grapes around it, and the other is a host surrounded by stalks of wheat. I love the simplicity of them, and I have been captivated by the play of light in our new space: The warmth of the light as it passes through the windows, the reflections it creates on the walls, and its movement over time. I can remember, as a kid, lying in the patches of light created in our living room as the afternoon sun set in through the front windows of the house. I would bring a book with me, and as the light moved I would scooch over accordingly. I remember those as some of the most calm, tranquil moments of my childhood - but, I guess that’s to be expected in a homeschooling family of 5 kids! This peacefulness I experienced as a child is the same feeling I often get in front of the tabernacle. No small coincidence; for, in an immensely truer sense, it is Light that dwells and emanates from that space. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, speaks about this in his own experience of the spiritual life: “Here was a half-blind man being guided. With the passing of time, light came little by little so that progress could be made. God is the light.” 

"From the Tabernacle, everything; without the
Tabernacle, nothing." -Blessed James Alberione
    In recent days, it has been consoling for me to read this. Alberione’s humility and recognition of his need for Christ, the light, is so beautiful. It can be easy for me to become discouraged in the little progress I make, or the times I fall back, but it is consoling to remember that real progress is made little by little. We cannot understand everything at once, but the Lord enlightens us throughout our journey. Mary said yes to becoming the mother of our Savior, but she did not fully understand what that meant; in fact, she listened to the word of God and “pondered (it) in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She allowed the Lord to slowly reveal His plan to her, and renewed her yes throughout the journey. As I journey through this Advent season, I pray that I can continue saying yes to the Lord’s plan for me, even when things are not totally clear to me. Last Sunday - Gaudete Sunday - I was particularly struck by the words of St. Paul in the second reading. He writes to the Thessalonians, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will accomplish it” (1 Thess 5:24). I take great heart in knowing that God, in his steadfast love, will accomplish the work he has begun in me, enlightening my path day by day. 

    So, as I sit before the Blessed Sacrament everyday, basking in the Divine Light and watching the sunlight pass through our stained glass windows, I recall that even though the reflection of the glass onto the wall is blurry, it is truly beautiful. Likewise, our messiness can be beautiful when we allow Christ to shine through it. This Christmas I will be exclaiming with Isaiah (and singing with The Roches), “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone...For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:1,5). May the light of Christ rest upon each of us this Christmas, as we embrace the true joy of our salvation. 

"And night shall be no more; they will need no light of lamps
or the sun, for the Lord God will be their light." - Rev 22:5

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First Thoughts

    Five days before I entered as a postulant in St. Louis, one of my older sisters, Emma, got married. It was the first wedding in the family, and it was a beautiful day. I was so blessed to end my time with my family celebrating a joyous occasion. I had been away from home, living and working in New Jersey, so I truly relished the 2 weeks I had in California with family and friends. I was maid of honor so, as part of my duties, I gave a toast at the reception. Recently, I realized that my speech was meant as much for this new couple, entering the honeymoon stage of their marriage, as it war for me, entering a new chapter in my life and discernment process. 
      I wish I just had a digital copy of the toast to share with you - that would be so much easier, - but I guess I’ll try to remember it and relay to you the important parts. One of the readings at the wedding ceremony was the somewhat trite passage from Corinthians 13 on love. St. Paul’s treatise on love is absolutely beautiful and poignant, but tends to be overused to the point that I think most people have grown deaf ears to its true beauty and sense. We all have these verses memorized to some degree: “Love is patient. Love is kind...Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This sounds so warm and quaint, but what I highlighted in my toast was that St. Paul never says love is easy. In fact, living in love is a difficult thing; it takes work and perseverance. Love is not just a happy feeling that comes over us and stays with us for eternity. True love calls us out of ourselves; it means sacrificing our selfish desires for the good of another. It is, indeed, strikingly beautiful but is certainly not all rainbows and butterflies. 

My sister and me at her wedding

    Since arriving in St. Louis two months ago, I have often thought back to my toast and how poignant those words, meant for the newly married couple, are in my own life. Love is not easy and in fact, it requires constant attention to keep fortifying, but it is worth chasing after. Love brought me here; it was love I was chasing when I applied to join the Daughters of St. Paul. Life here is not always easy. I am constantly challenged to let go of my selfish desires and be purified by Love. 

My brother in law and sister's reactions to my toast. Killed it! ;) 

     I am not a morning person, but my alarm continues to beckon me out of bed at 6 am everyday - yes, even Saturday. Living in community with such beautiful, faith-filled women is such a joy, but it also takes sacrifice to communicate well with one another and make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Giving up much of my financial freedom and the freedom to make my own schedule has challenged me. I can no longer purchase things on my credit card and then babysit on the weekends to pay it off. It can be frustrating at times, but at the bottom of everything, I am filled with peace and exceedingly joyful. Why? Because Love has followed me here. I was called by love to give up the life I was previously pursuing and come here, and I have not been disappointed. The Lord blesses our sacrifices, big and small, and loves us immensely through them. So, the next time I want to grumble about the latest thing I have to give up, I will try to remember these words spoken by Pope Francis: “Difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged!” (4/28/13- Homily during Confirmation Mass at St. Peter’s). And for all those times that I do grumble, I thank God for his patience, his kindness, and his faithfulness in loving me through it all. 

The St. Louis community on the day I entered. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Media Nuns go to the National Catholic Youth Conference!

Hello, again everyone.

We have been busy over the past couple of months, and thought we'd share a little of what we've been up to. 

A major event that took up quite a bit of our time was preparing to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis. Two of us (Julie and Danielle), along with Sr. Rebecca and Sr. Laura got to attend as vocational witnesses. We were so excited for this opportunity, that we made a video so that people would know that we were coming!

We had a ton of fun making it, as you can probably tell. We took those "Special" stickers with us, along with some other goodies, and got involved in the NCYC tradition of "trading" items.

Another fun project we did in preparation for the convention was to create some amazingly awesome cardboard cutouts. Danielle and Putri got Sr. Laura and Sr. Rebecca (and a statue of St. Paul) to pose for some photos. After a few hours of editing, some confusion at the print shop, and a case of X-Acto knife blades, we finally had our finished product:

Putri and Julie try out the new cutouts.
Everyone wants to hang out with St. Paul!

Julie peers over the cardboard
in the back seat of the van.
Then, it was time to head out. Of course, we didn't quite realize how much of the car these things would take up, so conversation in the backseat was a little...strained. 

It didn't take too long, though, and we were there!

It was a blast, hanging out with 23,000 excited teenagers, 13 bishops, over 300 priests, and who-knows-how-many seminarians, nuns and religious brothers.

Sr. Rebecca and Sr. Laura got to spend time with young people discussing discernment and religious life, and Julie and Danielle got to spend time passing out Special stickers, checking out the booths, and even answering questions on a Q&A panel for young girls open to religious life.

Danielle, Sr. Laura, Julie, Sr. Rose, and Sr. Rebecca
Srs Laura and Rebecca are wearing the Vocations Team shirts.
We ran into Sr. Rose, who was there to give a couple of workshops on Jesus on the Silver Screen. Several kids came to find us afterward and told us how awesome her presentation was. Yay, Sr. Rose!

When we weren't assigned a place to be, we took our cardboard cut outs to a busy place in the hall, and let people go nuts. It was so much fun to see people's reactions. Some of our favorite responses were from parents: as one girl posed in the tall stand-up with the tech symbols and Media Nuns hashtag on it, her mom exclaimed, "Oh, look! My girl's a Media Nun! I'm so proud!" Ha!

While we were there, some of our peeps back home were doing long-distance support work:

And we may have spent some time with a VIP.

In all, it was a blessed, fun, awesome, and exhausting experience! Have you ever been to NCYC or a similar convention? What was your favorite part?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Changing of the Guard

Well, hello there! It's been an inexcusably long time since this blog was updated. But, perhaps you'll excuse us, anyway. See, the old postulants have moved on to the novitiate, and there are are now three of us brand-new baby postulants! We got here about 6 weeks ago, and began our postulancy on September 8th.  It might be a little while before we really get to introduce ourselves, but we wanted to say hello, and to ask for your prayers as we embark on this awesome Pauline Adventure, as well as your prayers for the new novices, SISTER Chelsea and SISTER Carly, as they press onward in their vocations.

For now, here are a few photos. Love and prayers! God bless you all!

Danielle, Julie, Putri, and Sr. Rebecca on September 8th,
the day we officially entered Postulancy!

On the day we entered, we were blessed to visit the
Cathedral Basillica in St. Louis for Mass.

Danielle, Putri, and Julie with the Queen of Apostles.