Friday, December 28, 2007

First Christmas in the Convent!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!!! Blessed Christmas to all of you! Our last days of Advent were spent eagerly preparing our hearts for Baby Jesus' coming – and preparing our gifts for our "Advent Angels"! On the last Sunday of Advent we went to St. Raymond's, a Maronite Rite Catholic Church (one of the Eastern rites of the Church). It was a very beautiful liturgy.
Christmas Eve we spent helping in the bookcenter, decorating the chapel, and practicing our Christmas Mass music one last time! We also went to a Christmas Eve Vigil Mass. That's one of my favorite parts of Christmas: to walk into church on Christmas Eve, when the lights are dimmed and the church is decorated, and to know that Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us at last!
Christmas Day was very beautiful as well. While it was difficult for all of us not to be home for Christmas, it was clear that God always gives us more than we could ever ask or imagine. Our many weeks of choir practice made for a beautiful Christmas morning Mass. After Mass, the sisters prepared a great meal, and after our meal, we provided the entertainment: a choreographed dance routine to a song on one of our Christmas CD's. Then, we opened presents! Each one of us bought/made a gift for each member of the community, and it was very exciting to see how creative everyone was! It was truly a beautiful celebration of Jesus' birth that made us very grateful for all God has given us and is to us.
The day after Christmas, the bookcenter was closed, so we went to the "City Museum of St. Louis." This is a very interesting place that has just about everything: arts and crafts, a circus, a "skate-less" skate park, caves, architectural displays, and stairs and slides and tunnels everywhere, indoors and out – all made from recycled materials! Fascinating! We spent the morning there with the sisters.
Enjoy the pictures: Julia, Sr. Jerome, Alina, and Sr. Carmen singing at Christmas morning Mass; the community with Fr. Edwards, the pastor at St. Elizabeth's; and Alina, Sr. Agnes, Sr. Jerome, Emily, Sr. Caritas, and Sr. Carmen at the City Museum circus!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Prepare the Way!

This week went by really quickly! We last left you with our Faith and Film night, which was a success. We had our largest attendance yet! The movie was The Christmas Shoes, and it seemed the people who came really enjoyed it. We even split up into two groups because we had a number of young people. God is good to bring us so many people to share the Gospel with!

Last Saturday we had a lot of snow. Alina had her second taste of real snow, complete with snow angels and snow men. My parents were in town last weekend so I spent the majority of the weekend with them. My sister lives in St. Louis too, so we got to be together as a family before Christmas! Such a blessing! My sister is a professional ballerina for the St. Louis Ballet, so the whole community got tickets to see her perform in the Nutcracker! The Nutcracker has been such a part of mine and Emily's growing up (Emily's sister is also a ballet dancer) so it was beautiful to be able to share that tradition with my parents as well as the community. It was a great night out for all of us.

Alina's parents are coming next week, and Emily's sister is coming in Jan. to visit. It's so nice that our families get to come around Christmas time and share this joyous season in some way with the community. I know my parents really enjoyed time with the sisters.

We finally decorated our study and the living rooms for Christmas! We are preparing the way for the Lord around here through baking, gift wrapping, and decorating. Christmas trees, goodies, lights, and wreaths abound. We also are making time to get gifts for our "Advent Angels" this week. We each picked a community member's name to buy a special gift for. I can't wait to see who everyone got!!!

Jesus is coming very soon! Let us ready our hearts! God bless your last days of Advent. We will write again after Christmas, so until then- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

From top to bottom: a sample picture with Baby Jesus (taken the night before the party); the coloring wall where the children could write a birthday message to Baby Jesus; Emily answering the phone; Alina taking pictures; and another sample picture with Baby Jesus.

A Birthday Party, "Mananitas," and More!

It's been another busy week here in the postulancy of the Daughters of St. Paul! The biggest thing that happened this week was the Baby Jesus Birthday Party that took place this past Saturday, December 8. The Baby Jesus Birthday Party is an opportunity for children of all ages to come and celebrate Jesus' birth. They can dress up as Joseph, Mary, shepherds, or angels and have their picture taken with Baby Jesus. There's face-painting, coloring, clowns, music, and birthday cake. This year we estimate that we had over two hundred kids who came to celebrate with us.
We all played a different part in the day: Alina took pictures of the children with Baby Jesus; Sr. Carmen and Julia, among other things, played guitar and sang Advent and Christmas songs with them; and I helped to dress them in their costumes. We also had many wonderful volunteers who came to help us. It was a beautiful way to share with the kids the real reason for Christmas, as well as to expose them to the life of Sisters. We are grateful to everyone who helped with the party, and especially to our dear Baby Jesus and His Blessed Mother who kept the day going for us! (And we hope you enjoy the pictures above!)

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was this past Wednesday, and we celebrated in two ways. On Sunday we went to a Mass at one of the Hispanic parishes here. They had a beautiful bilingual Mass with dancers and a man dressed as Juan Diego. After the Mass there a "fiesta" including lunch (tamales!), dancing, and a pinata!
Then on Wednesday, some of us went to St. Cecilia's, another Hispanic parish, to participate in the "mananitas" to Our Lady. The mananitas are a tradition, especially prominent in Mexico and Latin America, where the people honor Our Lady by serenading her. At the mananitas we attended, there was an altar with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe beautifully decorated with roses that the people brought for her. They sang touching songs to her and prayed the rosary. It was a new experience for me, and a very beautiful one.

Also on Wednesday, we had a lecture night here at the bookcenter. Fr. Lockwood from nearby Assumption parish came to speak about Catholic apologetics. It was very interesting: he really delved into the history of apologetics in the Church, and what it means to be a Catholic apologist.
Tonight is our Faith and Film Night, and our last bookcenter event for 2007! Pretty soon you'll be hearing about our plans for 2008!

We continue to celebrate the Advent season in a spirit of waiting and anticipation of the coming of Jesus. I'm currently reading a book called Mary, Human and Holy by Antonio Bello, and I was struck by the chapter in which the author described Mary as a "woman in waiting." He says, "'To wait' is the flip side of the verb 'to love.' In Mary's vocabulary, to wait always meant to love.... Accepting is sometimes a sign of resignation, but waiting is always a sign of hope" (p. 25-27). Let us remain united with Mary and with one another as we wait during this holy season.

Mary, Queen of the Apostles, pray for us! See you next week -- may God bless you!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

¡Saludos! Espero que ustedes sientan la presencia de Jesús como nosotras sentimos aquí. Fuimos bendecidas en empezar esta semana con nuestro retiro mensual y el comienzo del período del Adviento. Para preparar los corazones para la venida de Jesús, nosotras tenemos un pesebre vacío donde cada una puede agregar un pedazo de paja cada vez que hacemos un acto de amor para Jesús. Por la noche oramos con imágenes recortados del periódico que muestran cómo el mundo espera la venida de Jesús. Tendremos momentos especiales de oración con las hermanas y participaremos en la novena de Navidad en el seminario. Ha sido un tiempo hermoso para preparar nuestros corazones cada día para la venida de Jesús. El miércoles tuvimos nuestra primera caída de nieve. Fue poca, pero cayó. Estaremos sacando los sombreros que Sr.Augusta nos tejió muy pronto. También San Nicolás nos visitó y dejó algo especial en el zapato de cada una. ¡Y Sr.Jerome volvió de vacaciones con libras y libras de nueces y naranjas del jardín de su familia! Todas estamos anticipando con alegria la fiesta del niño Jesús este Sábado y orando que no nieva para que todos los niños puedan venir. Ustedes tendrán muchas fotos que ver la semana entrante. ¡Hasta nuestro proximo encuentro permanecemos unidos preparando el camino del Señor!

Friday, November 30, 2007

To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King

What a week to end the liturgical year! The feast of Christ the King is a great feast indeed. We celebrated by going to Sunday Mass at Mary Mother of the Church parish. (We try to go to different parishes in the diocese on Sunday...maybe you will soon see us at yours!) The Mass had combined contemporary, teen, and children's choirs and added the joy and regality that the feast deserves!

I was personally truly struck this year by the Cycle C Gospel reading on Sunday. As postulants, we've been learning about our foundations as a Congregation and about our Lord Himself. We listened to tapes earlier this year of one of our (now deceased) sisters, Sr. Veritas, speaking of "Jesus, Our Divine Master". This devotion to Jesus is particularly Pauline, given to us by our founder. In hearing the Gospel reading this year for Christ the King I recalled what we discussed in our Divine Master sessions: that we have a King who uses His power to empower the powerless. Our King is the suffering servant on that cross in the Gosepl reading, giving His promise of the kingdom to a thief in one of His last breaths. It is moments like these in Jesus' life that make me fall more in love with who He is.

The feast that followed on Monday is lesser known by the Church liturgically, but an important feast for us as Paulines: the feast of Blessed James Alberione, our founder. He passed from this life to the next on Nov. 26, 1971 and we commerated and celebrated him and his place in heaven this past Monday; so beautifully after just reflecting on Christ's kingdom. We did this by doing what we Paulines seem to do
best- a multi-media, power point prayer reflection for Morning Prayer- and remembering him throughout the day.

Wednesday, we had our last Sacramental Theology Class at the Seminary with Father Keller through the Paul VI Institute. We enjoyed the class so much, not only because of the beautiful content shared about the Sacraments, but Father Keller's style of wit and humor showed the Sacraments and the Church in a way I'm sure not many have experienced before :)

Finally, last night we prepared for Advent by sharing with over 100+ women from the diocese an "Advent Tea" at Assumption parish. We provided music for the beginning of the evening, and then got to hear a very devoted (and funny :) lay woman and author- Teresa Brotherton- speak on her preparing of her heart for Advent. It was a beautiful evening and we were glad to be a part of it!

For those of you reading who found out about us in the St. Louis Review this week- welcome! Please feel free to leave any prayer requests, comments, or questions for us by either email or by leaving a comment. And for those of you not from St. Louis, here is the link to the article in which we were mentioned this week (you may have to copy and paste it into your address toolbar):

May God bless you as we enter into the season of Advent!

Peace in Him,

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been another full week! This week was highlighted by our Thanksgiving celebration and preparations for it.
Everyone played an important role in preparing our meal: Sr. Jerome and I made pies, Sr. Agnes cooked the turkey, Sr. Caritas and Julia decorated the table and Julia also made the stuffing, Sr. Carmen made a beautiful salad, and Alina made cranberry sauce. We were blessed to have Julia's sister, who lives in St. Louis, join us for our meal.
In the evening we invited the sisters to our postulant study to play a game. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful experience of community and true gratitude to our good God. We hope your Thanksgiving was equally blessed!
We had a couple opportunities to reach out to young people this week. On Sunday, Sr. Carmen and I participated in a "Nun Run" at a nearby Ursuline convent. Four young women from two different colleges spent the weekend in St. Louis; they met eleven religious orders, and we were blessed to be one of them. We spoke to them about the charism of the Daughters of St. Paul and afterwards we had lunch with them.
On Tuesday, all four of us headed to a little cafe where they have a Christian music night once a month. We knew one of the singers, so we went to hear him, and it was a good opportunity to meet some young people (as well as try some gelato!).
A thought for the week ahead, inspired by the feast of Thanksgiving: "If the only prayer we ever said was, 'Thank you,' it would be enough." (Meister Eckhart) See you next week -- may God bless you!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

nunca un momento aburrido...

¡Qué semana ocupada! Pero comenzó con un poco de descanso. El domingo finalmente tuvimos una oportunidad para visitar Forest Park. Pasamos la mitad del día en el zoológico y la otra mitad en el museo de arte. Fuimos bendecidas con un día soleado y hermoso. El resto de la semana fue asi…tuvimos que presentar reflexiones sobre el Divino Maestro, como culminación de nuestra clase, trabajamos en la librería, continuamos preparando la fiesta del niño Jesús y comenzamos a practicar la música para la misa de la Navidad. Las postulantes y las hermanas formarán el coro de la misa el 25 de diciembre en nuestra parroquia, Santa Isabel de Hungaría, y ya comenzamos a practicar los cantos. Además de estos momentos más apostólicos, tuvimos también oportunidades para reflexión y formacion: nuestra clase sobre los sacramentos que se realizó aquí en nuestra librería, dos talleres presentados por nuestra hermana Rose sobre “la espiritualidad de la comunicación y el catequista”. Éste fue nuestro primer encuentro con la hermana Rose. Estuvimos agradecidas por pasar algunos momentos con ella. Esa misma mañana también participamos en una feria vocacional. Adivinen cuantos jóvenes participaron. ¡Fueron más de 2,000! Esa misma noche animamos nuestra grupo de Fé y Film. ¡Tuvimos nuestra audiencia más grande hasta ahora! Esta semana también vimos algunas películas: una sobre la vida del Padre Pio y Evan Almighty. Verdaderamente ha sido una semana fantástica y hemos recibido tantas bendiciones del Señor que nos prepararán para una linda Día de Acción de Gracias. “Por todo lo que vivimos decimos, ‘Gracias. A todo lo que viviremos diremos,‘Si’”. (Dag Hammerskjold)
¡Como ven la vida de una postulante Paulina jamás es aburrida! Vale la pena seguir a Jesús. ¡Las esperamos!

Friday, November 9, 2007

la vita bella

So I don't know about where you are, but the new movie "bella" has been all the talk here in St. Louis recently. We finally got to see what the buzz was about last Friday night. I think we all liked the movie, and of course, the movie's message, which is a pro-life one. It presents the issue in an interesting way. The movie follows the friendship of a guy and a girl, the girl who entrusts to her friend that she is pregnant. He in turn shares a secret with her and they help each other deal with their pain in a healthy way. Though produced by a small production company, it has a professional feel to it. That is to say, it doesn't seem like a small production. So anyways, I offer that to you and we would love to hear what you thought about the movie too!

The best part about the night, however, (aside from witnessing the Gospel proclaimed on the big screen, of course ;) was the ARCADE in the movie theater! :) The three of us rounded up our change (and Sr. Agnes generously gave us some of hers ) and were on a mission to win tickets and toys for the community :) We found skee ball to be our greatest source for this. So a few rounds of skee ball, a couple shots at basketball, and even a fly-swatting game later...we had finger puppets for all! :)
Ah, the joys of community life!

This week Sr. Mary Mark and Sr. Joan Paula are here to share their stories and information from the General Chapter. While the sisters are in meetings, I must say that us postulants are "holding down the fort" pretty well :) We are in the Book Center every day! And we also each have our own apostolic responsibilities. Emily is working on our next exhibit (which Sr. Rose will be speaking at) next week. Alina is working on our fast approaching Baby Jesus party. And I have been entrusted with researching for our Faith and Film nights as well as advertising our events. I got to go to Saint Louis University this week and met a bunch of awesome campus ministers who were very eager to collaborate with us in our mission! Hopefully we'll see them at our Book Center soon!

Thanks to all who read this, especially our aspirant friends in Argentina!!! We are united with you in prayer and discernment!!!

God bless!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Celebration and Mission

We started off this week with our first celebration of the feast of the Divine Master. Jesus Master, Way, Truth, and Life, is the center of our spiritual life as Paulines, and the feast of the Divine Master is on the last Sunday of October. We began our celebration on Saturday evening with an Hour of Adoration together. On Sunday we celebrated the Master by bringing Him to the people. We had an all-day book exhibit at the archdiocesan pro-life conference. Fr. Frank Pavone was the keynote speaker and we were blessed to listen to his presentation. We met so many wonderful people at the conference who shared their stories with us.
Another highlight of this week was...Halloween! The Sisters prepared a very fun evening that included supper together, sharing stories and laughs, and discovering all kinds of costumes! Apparently our basement holds more "treasures" than we ever thought! As a result, here is the much-awaited picture of the three of us with Sr. Carmen Christi, our formator. Enjoy!
We are continuing with our classes and our apostolic activity. Please keep us in your prayers as we journey forward. And feel free to post any prayer intentions that you may have. See you next week -- may God bless you!

Friday, October 26, 2007

postulants- en espanol !

Estos días han estado repletos de visitas de otras hermanas. Algunas vinieron de nuestra comunidad en Chicago y una vino de Boston. Todas hemos estado agradecidas de conocerlas y pasar tiempo con más miembros de la familia Paulina. El viernes nosotras tuvimos nuestra primera Noche de Fe y Film. Vimos la película Hotel Ruanda y discutimos lo que podríamos hacer para estar más unidos a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en otros países. El próximo mes nosotras estaremos discutiendo el film Spiderman 2. Hemos empezado también la planificacíon para la fiesta del cumpleaños del niño Jesus. Hemos terminado nuestra clase sobre el Divino Maestro y celebraremos la fiesta del Divino Maestro este domingo el 28 de octubre como familia Paulina en todo el mundo.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Praise Jesus!

Let Jesus be praised! You have found the U.S. postulants' blog for the Daughters of St. Paul! There are three of us and we just entered on the feast of the Queenship of Mary on Aug. 22, 2007.

Julia is 26 and entered from Northern VA, but is originally from outside Cleveland Ohio. Alina is 23 and from Miami, FL. Emily just turned 21 (we celebrated only a few weeks ago with the community!) and is from Buffalo, NY.

We have so much to share and can't wait to get started! This blog will be a place for us to share about our new life and things we are learning about the Daughters of St. Paul! Please feel free to leave any comments that you might wish. We pray that this blog would be a forum to share God's love and glory in true Alberione fashion- through means of the media!

We thought "Let Christ be formed in me" would be an excellent title for our blog. This is one of both St. Paul's and our founder, Blessed James Alberione's, mantras. As women in formation, we are truly trying to keep this in our mind and prayer. But even more so since we are women seeking a Pauline charism!

Please keep us in your prayers! Feel free to leave us your prayer intentions as well. We will be updating this blog (God willing!) weekly, with each of us (Julia, Alina, and Emily) taking a different week. You will be able to get all of our perspectives on our new life. God bless you for reading!

Peace in Him,