Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Orange Exchange


One afternoon, I brushed my teeth after lunch and then walked back into the dining room. (Not the most brilliant idea.) I had a few minutes before my shift at the bookcenter so I decided to have an orange. Have you ever eaten an orange after brushing your teeth?

toothpaste + orange = Not(a_good_combination)

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. I wonder if toothpaste was made to taste the way it does to prevent us from eating anything after brushing our teeth. Hmmm... Anyway, after eating that first piece, I didn't think I could eat any more of it. I thought about throwing away my orange but that would be wasteful. So I asked Theresa, who saw the disgusted face I made, if she wanted to have some of my orange. Now, I wasn't really being nice by sharing my orange with her as you can tell. Nevertheless, she had just finished her lunch and was kind enough to “consider” relieving me of having to throw away my orange.

But then she comes back to table with a tangerine (or was it a clementine?) and started to peel it. I was a tiny bit disappointed and expressed it in all honesty. She commented on my pale looking orange - that she thought looked sour to begin with. Sigh...

And then she says, “Here, try a piece of my tangerine and I'll try a piece of your orange.” I was surprised not by her gesture but how I felt much joy from her simple act of kindness. And she didn't stop there. She broke her sweet tangerine about half and with a smile on her face said, “There, you can have some of my tangerine and I'll have some of your orange.”

Believe it or not, I started to feel teary-eyed as I expressed my gratitude toward her. And I thought to myself, “What was that all about?!” For a few days, I let it sink in and I pondered why I felt so strongly about it. Was I just being overly sentimental? Or is there something else there?

On our retreat day, I began to pray with Mary as she received the message from the Angel Gabriel that she would conceive in her womb the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and towards the end of the day, I continued to pray with the beginning of Mark's Gospel where John the Baptist proclaims to all, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” As I was meditating on this, I suddenly felt a joy that seemed familiar. Aha! Jesus became human so that we can share in his divinity. Just like Theresa took some of my sour orange and let me have some of her sweet tangerine. Our “orange exchange” was very much like Christmas and Easter Joy! The joy that comes from giving and receiving unconditional love.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there is a section on The Christmas mystery that talks about what is called the “marvelous exchange”.

(CCC 526) To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Jesus, open our hearts to see you in the face of those around us. Open our hearts to see you also within us. In this season of Advent, may we wait with expectant joy for your coming and may our eyes be open to the empty mangers in our lives, disguised in the simple, the meek, the humble ways that you want to let us experience your extravagant love.


Have a blessed Advent!

Peace,
Cheryl


Monday, November 28, 2011

Postulancy is like...a ton of bricks?


Sometimes it just hits me. BAM! Right on the head. Like a ton a bricks. I’ll be mopping the floor on a Tuesday morning and BAM! …Ton a bricks.  All of a sudden I think to myself: I’m a postulant. A REAL postulant with the Daughters of St. Paul.
            Let me explain: My entire teenage life I’ve known the Daughters of St. Paul. I remember being 14 and meeting my very first Pauline Sister. (Who was Sr. Rebecca Marie, who now happens to be my postulant formator! Don’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor!) Ever since that day I imagined what life would be like as a postulant.
            Granted, I DID make it sound super glamorous in my head. For example, I thought that once someone entered Postulancy they automatically loved getting up early and praying at the crack of dawn. I thought postulants always had a cheerful and sweet disposition that never waivered. I thought they were never tired or lazy or irritable. I distinctly remember mopping my kitchen floor one day and thinking, “If I were a postulant I would love mopping.” (Ha…) Not to mention the fact that postulants were “super kneelers”! These "kneeling powers" allowed them to kneel for hours at a time in deep prayer without pain or fatigue. I couldn’t wait.
            … I remember waiting and daydreaming about Postulancy
 and waiting….
            And now, I find my self here. I’m a postulant. I live in Missouri and I’m a postulant with the Daughters of St. Paul. Sometimes I’ll just be mopping the floor and BAM… it hits me. "I AM A POSTULANT…and I’m mopping the floor at the convent…the convent where I live. ohmygoodness… I’ve been waiting for this for so long and now I’m here." It's in these moments that I can’t help but smile in bafflement at God’s mercy.
            It’s definitely not a glamorous life…but it’s definitely a beautiful one! It’s one that requires sacrifices and a lot of love. Being a postulant doesn’t mean that I LOVE waking up before it’s even light out, but I do it because He called me here out of love and it’s only because of those early morning conversations with the Lord that I get through the day. Being a postulant doesn’t mean that I’m never tired or irritable, but when those problems arise I am reminded to ask for strength, endurance and patience. He is always there for me. Oh and believe me…there’s no such thing as “kneeling powers”. It’s all offered up for the sake of the Kingdom.  ;)
            Wow. I’m having a brick moment right now…BAM! I’m writing a blogpost and I’m a postulant. BAMMM!

Praise God!



--Chelsea 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Breaking Dawn: Cotton Candy for My Soul

In sickness and in immortality... 
Last weekend, I snuck off to the movies with Sandy and Carly. Well, we didn’t exactly sneak off – Sr. Rebecca, Cheryl and Chelsea were out of town. But it did feel a bit like we were sneaking – probably because we were watching the most recent movie in the Twilight series: Breaking Dawn.

I must sheepishly admit that I am a Twilight fan. Actually, I can honestly say that I have been a fan of all things vampire since I read several books in the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles when I was in middle school. I have not read the Twilight books, but I enjoy the movies – they are cotton candy for my soul. Of course any good dentist of the soul will point out that souls do not profit much from cotton candy; However, I do think there are redeeming qualities in this movie series. And as I watched Breaking Dawn this past weekend, I began to recognize some of the strong undercurrents pulling me in.

When I was in college, I vividly remember a debate I attended between an atheist and a Christian. The first argument that the atheist brought up was that pagan myths, far before the time of Jesus, spoke of virgin births. He argued that Christianity was just another concocted story that belonged in the pages of pagan mythology. I was a bit shocked at this argument at the time. I myself was an atheist but I had always thought the Christian “story” was at least original.

Now, as a Christian, that argument does not faze me at all. I am a Christian Catholic: Catholic meaning universal, all embracing. I do not believe that God only speaks to Christians or, in the time of pagan myths, only to the Hebrew people. Rather, I believe in a God who speaks to everyone. In ancient times, God may have revealed more of himself to the Hebrews than to the pagans but he did this because he ultimately planned to make himself available to all human beings. And this is seen by the glimmers of foreshadowing in other cultures and religions before the time of Jesus – God was setting the stage.

I actually think that most things in this world are like those pagan myths. If we hold them up to the light, we can almost always find traces of God. This is true for some of the most disturbing aspects of our culture, as well as the "cotton candy for your soul" phenomena that cause people, including myself, to go a little nuts - like Harry Potter or the Twilight series. If people are going a bit nuts over something, there is usually something deeper pulling them in, something that they are not usually consciously aware of themselves.

God’s Love

Every woman dreams of being pursued, desired and loved into eternity like Bella is loved by Edward.  And every woman wishes they had the awful dilemma of being pursued by two men who are willing to love her until the ends of the earth, even if she chooses the other guy. Of course these relationships point to the ultimate relationship that we are meant to have - with God. God pursues us like a gentleman. He is always there, ready for us to reach out to him, and even if we do not love him, he does not stop loving us. It may be hard for guys to relate to this analogy but that’s why most church pews are filled with women – men aren’t always into the idea of being romanced by God. But that is what we all are called to – men and women. We all have to become receptors of God or “feminine” (in a sense) to enter into relationship with God.

Immortality

Edward’s family is filled with gorgeous people who will be young and attractive forever. Don’t we all dream of being young and beautiful forever? 

After reaching thirty, I have been on the lookout for wrinkles and grey hair. I know old age is in my future and if I get old I will die. Despite this obvious fact, I would like to stay young, or at least look young, for as long as I can. Why? The same reason our entire culture is obsessed with youth – I may know intellectually that I am going to die but I am in denial.

But immortality for vampires is not all it is cut out to be - Edward tries his best to dissuade Bella from becoming a vampire. For a human, the idea of literally living into eternity is excruciating – wouldn’t it be boring after all, after a certain amount of time? But that is the beauty of Christianity – we are promised not only immortality, but a life where boredom is impossible. God is all that we are made to live for – Beauty, Truth, Justice, Love. And exploring God is like a never-ending adventure. God is like a diamond with infinite facets or a world with an infinite number of countries to explore. 

Boredom is impossible with God.

Resurrection

Although there are differences, there is something in the immortality of the vampire that points to our resurrected bodies. Edward’s family is full of good looking people who will never experience the evil of death, will always be young and they sparkle in the sunlight. It sounds silly but this is not so far from Christian teaching about our resurrected bodies. 

We believe that at the end of the world, we will all be reunited with our bodies. Thomas Aquinas hypothesized that our resurrected bodies will look like our bodies when we were thirty-two or thirty-three years old, the perfect age apparently (I am quickly headed downhill). C.S. Lewis said that we will not be able to discern the age of our resurrected bodies, but, rather, we will be full of light and almost unrecognizable. We see this in the Gospels after Jesus returns from his resurrection – it takes his disciples time to recognize him.

In conclusion...

Suffice it to say, Breaking Dawn is not a film masterpiece. It will not go down in history for its acting. But there are themes in it that pull at our soul strings – which is the reason why anyone who is honest will shamefacedly admit that they enjoy the movies. 

Of course, our souls can only take so much cotton candy – we can’t survive spiritually on this stuff! But if we are discerning and thoughtful, we can all learn from movies like this. So next time you find yourself enjoying something you know is cotton candy for your soul - look a little deeper, it just might lead you to a greater understanding of God and faith.

Peace,

Theresa

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Postulant Surprise: The Joy of Cooking

My life as one of the newest members of the FSP postulant community has called for many adjustments on my part. 

I suddenly went from being an only child to having a houseful of sisters.  When I left my job this summer, I was one of the “younger” people at my firm.  Now I’m the oldest of the postulants.  My wardrobe has been transformed from a nice selection of business casual clothes and suits into a small collection of blue skirts and sensible shoes.  As a native of Cleveland, home of perpetual heartbreak for sports fans, it is even hard for me to comprehend that my new “home” team, the Cardinals, are actually this year’s World Series champs!
To top it off, as a former estate planning lawyer, I know the ins-and-outs of drafting wills and trusts, but most of that knowledge has no direct application to what I’m doing now.  This means I’ve spent much of the past two months learning entirely new sets of skills.  One of these is cooking dinner for ten people on a regular basis.


To say I didn’t feel up to this task at first would be an understatement.  Sure, I’ve heated up many a Lean Cuisine dinner in my day, and I can microwave bags of popcorn with the best!  I’ve even scrambled an egg or two from time to time.  But cooking for ten people?  That’s a whole new ballgame.

Fortunately, my family and friends heard my desperate cries for help and generously responded by sending me their favorite recipes and even a subscription to the Food Network Magazine.

Armed with these valuable resources, I marched into our kitchen.  Fortunately, I was not marching alone.  The postulant community is divided into two teams who take turns cooking on alternating Mondays.

My cooking team consists of Cheryl, Carly and me.  While Carly has a lot of experience in the kitchen, Cheryl and I are still learning the ropes.  Our combined efforts would make for some interesting reality TV.
Our most memorable adventure in the kitchen was our attempt to serve Easy Cajun Jambalaya to our community and our special guests, the two sisters from our provincial government who were visiting us that Monday.  We were determined to impress (or at least not induce food poisoning).

To our dismay, as my team began preparing the meal, we discovered that most of the ingredients called for in the recipe were not in our fridge or pantry.   Bravely attempting to stick to our planned menu---  and with little time to spare--- we put out heads together and swapped almost ALL of the ingredients called for in the recipe with something else.
The result was a unique culinary invention that could never be mistaken for the original Jambalaya recipe.  Gazing upon our masterpiece, Cheryl suggested adding one final “special” ingredient: turmeric.  This transformed our dish into the most beautiful shade of yellow (an improvement over the original hue), and our meal was complete.  We lovingly named our concoction “Postulant Surprise.” 


Our "secret" recipe
I’m happy to report the meal was tasty and earned rave reviews!  More importantly, it was an experience of the challenges and joys of living in a religious community.   
With each turn in the kitchen, I am learning to let go of my desire to be “perfect.”   I am loosening my grip on my past successes and starting to live in the present.  I am being stretched and learning to adapt in stressful situations.  I am experiencing the benefits of working together with Carly and Cheryl to create meals that are not only edible, but enjoyable.  One of my cooking team members (who shall remain nameless) summed it up best, as she shouted out in one of our more frenzied moments: “I am dying to self!  I am dying to self!”



Despite a few close calls, we haven’t ignited any grease fires on our gas stove.   No one has been rushed to the emergency room after one of our meals.  Cheryl, Carly and I are still speaking to each other.  Those whom we’ve fed haven’t kicked us out.   Though you won’t find “Postulant Surprise” in any cookbook, life is good.
And who would have guessed I would grow to like this community cooking gig?  As a matter of fact, if I’m not in the chapel or Book Center, you might very well find me in the kitchen frothing eggs with some of my fellow postulants.
Illustration: the effects of turmeric on white rice

God bless,
Sandy

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Catholic New Media Conference 2011 - People of Good Will


Chelsea, Cheryl, Theresa and Sandy with our new friend Jack
(Carly and Sr Rebecca are keeping busy behind us)

Media is not my thing. 

I know, I know I am thinking of becoming a Daughter of St. Paul so that may be a problem.

I even worked in Technology for several years but I was always the odd person out – I never cared for or wanted the newest phones or technology. I actually refused to get a cell phone until after college when I was a teacher in a not-so-good area in Miami and someone was held up at gunpoint near my classroom, (my door faced the street). I realized it just might be idiotic for me to continue playing the anti-technology card. But I have always been a technology skeptic. 

However, God always has different plans for us than we expect. 

So, when I was told that the postulants were going to the Catholic New Media Conference in Kansas City I was not exactly jumping up and down for joy. I honestly expected to be bored out of my mind with technical gibber gabber. But I ended up finding the conference based more on spiritual matters than minute technical details. The issues that I think are the most important in evangelization were highlighted by all who spoke. First, if the messenger is not fully rooted in Christ, then our Gospel message will be lost in the noise or contribute to the noise on the Internet. And second, even though we all use different mediums for evangelization, it is still of vital importance to develop real relationships with the people we are trying to help bring to Christ. 

            But the thing that moved me the most were the people I met and observed. As I listened to other speakers and attendees at the conference, I realized that many other people working in the new media for the Church have a heart for evangelism, hearts very close to the Pauline charism. In the early 20th century, in a time when thinking about using technology for evangelization was not even in the Church’s mind, Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, knew that people in the future would unite together to use technology to evangelize the world. This premonition of the founder is found in one of the common prayers of the Pauline Family:

God, to communicate your love to everyone,
you sent your only Son Jesus Christ into the world
and made him our Master,
the Way and Truth and Life of humanity.
Grant that the media of social communication
press, films, radio, television, records and all audiovisuals
may always be used for your glory and the good of all.
Raise up vocations
for this multimedia apostolate,
and inspire all people of good will
to contribute with prayer, action and offerings,
so that through these means
the Church may preach the Gospel to all peoples.
Amen.

(Blessed James Alberione)

Seeing these people of good will who are already involved in the apostolate that Blessed James Alberione knew would become a reality was truly an inspiration to me. As I listened to them, I realized that although I still can’t relate to wanting the latest iPhone, these people are my brothers and sisters in the heart of the founder. These are the people of good will that Alberione knew would spring up in our time to bring people to Jesus through media. 

I know that Blessed James is up in heaven praying for all of the Pauline family. But now I know he is praying for these people “of good will” who recognize the many souls who are thirsting for God and are in need of the Living Water that we can carry to them so effectively in the 21st century through modern technology.

And now all the postulants will be praying for the wonderful people we met at this conference - that their words and outreach through modern technology will touch the hearts of people all over the world.

Peace,

Theresa

Thursday, October 27, 2011

St. Paul meets St. Benedict

Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Benedict of Nursia lived very different lives. And historically speaking, they could not have met since they lived centuries apart. After Saint Paul's conversion, he proclaimed the Gospel by traveling far and wide. He was martyred in Rome. Saint Benedict on the other hand lived as a hermit in a cave for three years before becoming abbott of twelve monasteries in Subiaco (south of Rome). Both of them are great models of holiness and have changed the world by following the footsteps of Jesus each in their unique way of life.

St. Paul's motto: "that Christ may live in me" and St. Benedict's: "to welcome each person as Christ" are very  complementary. And I believe every Christian already embody both of these spiritualities in varying degrees and we are called to both in different ways.

Through the years, their legacy have been carried on by many religious communities. Two of which happen to be in the state of Missouri: The Daughters of St. Paul community in St. Louis and The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde.

So why am I blogging about this? I have a good reason, I promise. ;-)

Cheryl, Erma & Sr. Maria Victoria
When I (Cheryl) started discerning religious life, my housemate and bestfriend, Erma, supported me by helping me look at different religious communities. And so when I came home from a 10 day live-in experience with the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, Erma was eager to show me some websites of other communities that she thought I should check out. One of them was the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde. She was so impressed by them and I sensed that she might be interested in checking them out herself! And after a few months, she did visit them for 5 days of retreat and monastic experience. I almost didn't recognize her when she came back! I mean, she was so full of joy telling me all that had transpired in those 5 days. And that she wanted to visit them again as soon as possible!

Pause. Fast forward...

In August 2010, Erma entered the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (in Tucson, Arizona) while their Clyde Monastery was undergoing renovations. That same month, I entered the Daughters of St. Paul here in St. Louis.

This summer, Erma moved to Clyde to continue her formation there. And so when I found out that our postulant community will be attending the Catholic New Media Conference in Kansas City, I went on Google maps to check how far the Clyde Monastery is to our conference venue. It was almost 2 hours away, close enough to make a quick visit!

We arrived at the Benedictine Monastery just in time for lunch! Erma and a small group of the Benedictine nuns welcomed us and joined us for lunch. Then we had a tour of their Altar Bread department, the Soap department, and their grounds via golf cars. Some of us even paddled around their pond. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was such a blessing that my sisters got to meet Erma and her sisters. Even though we could only stay for a couple of hours, it was all worth it!

Sr. Ruth and Sr. Rebecca
Even in today's day and age, where we have Facebook and Facetime, most of us (and I want to say all of us) would still prefer a "real" visit; just like the Incarnation, Jesus - the Word of God made flesh. He came to visit us and then sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us while He prepares a place for us in heaven.



Our visit to the Benedictine Monastery made me see more profoundly how our Church is really one big family; God's family. And while we are all united in prayer and through our Eucharistic Lord, nothing can be compared to seeing each other face-to-face. This includes all who have gone ahead of us to our heavenly home. As a postulant and future religious, I feel an ever growing desire to see Jesus face-to-face. Some days, I find myself in tears not knowing when this time will come. Thankfully, other days it brings me hope and joy. St. Paul and St. Benedict never met on earth but they now enjoy their face-to-face visits in heaven. And once in a while, my guess is that they conspire with God to set up visits for those of us who follow in their footsteps here on earth.

Benedictine Monastery

"You, yes you, O Lord, my God, have done many wondrous deeds! And in your plans for us there is none to equal you." 
Psalm 40:6a


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finally....Carly is here too!


Hey ya’ll I am Carly Arcella a brand squeaky new postulant with the Daughters of Saint Paul.  I am super excited about being a contributing writer on this blog and share some of the insights and stories of the beginning steps of my walk with the Lord and the many adventures of postulancy. Believe you me, there have been quite a few already! –and its been only a few weeks since I first arrived in the vast  middle land of the US, the locals call Missouri. 

So maybe I am mourning the loss a bit of the tropical paradise I left, Lighthouse Point Florida ( 15min north of Ft.Laud) :)  Where is the beach around here anyways? All for Jesus!—No… ONLY for Jesus! There are many wonderful people I have met here in MO. (pronounced: "Moe".) All of who, give a priceless reaction when I tell them where I am from. Which I’ve found is a  crazy witness all by itself.  

So how did a Florida native end up in the mid-west?  Well, it didn’t happen over night. I just graduated in May from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Radio Television and minors in Film and Psych.

That first struggle respond with a generous yes to the Lord started in high school.  In less than twenty-four hours after the day I turned sixteen, I found myself on my first retreat in front of Jesus in the Eucharist and hungry to know Him and share him with others.

In my prayer that night, I went from a desire to write a news story in the school newspaper about who I had encountered, to starting my own newspaper, to something I felt was much much bigger. As it turns out, there was another 16 year old that felt the same way Blessed James Alberione .

The next morning I was glowing. Jesus had totally captured my heart. He had asked me to be His and I couldn’t help but say Yes.  That night the idea of being a sister was put on my heart. It was totally out of the middle of nowhere! Nonetheless, I very deeply desired to respond with full “Here I am Lord” to whatever He desired as day-to-day life set in.  My prayer life grew—I started going to daily mass and adoration (both on accident--classic stories:).  I discovered scripture in a new way and I just wanted to sit with Him in quiet any chance I had. I was trying to listen up; I knew I was preparing for something big.

I became editor-in-chief and lead photographer (only a crazy person would attempt both…) at Cardinal Gibbons HS and a teen writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel; I quit my varsity soccer team and took up drama. Jesus was challenging me to explore gifts I never knew I had. Soon, I started dreaming of taking Katie Couric’s place at the news desk of the Today Show and be super catholic.

This struggle between wanting to be a catholic gutting it out in cut throat the media world and wanting to be a sister (which was hopelessly on the other end of the spectrum) became super intensified. Right in the middle of all that, a priest mentioned to me the Daughters of Saint Paul.  Ha! I thought, no way! Media and nun was not fitting together---and there is no way they made it work.(lol)  But the thought of Saint Paul stuck. Paul was just the dude I knew I could go to.  And I did...

...................................So how did I meet the Daughters of Saint Paul??........................................................
Less than a year later (2006) I ran into Daughters of Saint Paul; or more like they ran into me... and shook everything up:)  They randomly swung by parish for an hour to see how our event “coffee nite” was going.  (The sisters had recently started Coffee House in Miami and my parish hoped to start one farther north in the diocese because of the amount of people that were traveling pretty far to attend.) Anyways, I walked into the event that night, saw them, turned around. And walked right out. No seriously, I walked right into the bathroom without missing a beat and "had it out" with Jesus asking out loud, “Who is that!?.”  I immediately was drawn to them, which was pretty scary... Thankfully, Jesus convinced me to leave the bathroom, and the courage to walk right over and meet them:) They left not too much later—and Jesus gave me this beautiful gift – to let them go.  I wanted so bad to run after the car, but in that moment Jesus asked me-- to trust that this was a gift, that He wanted to give me. I didn't have to grab at it.

I graduated high school, moved four hours away, and started college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando...and I still was trusting! That night never left me. My freshman year of college I was invited to a "come and see" down in Miami. And I began to make the four hour trips to visit the Daughters of Saint Paul---each time I made that trip something grew in me ( 4years of college x 10-15visits a year x 4hrs there x 4hrs back...Jesus  had lots to let take root in me). I fell in love with lectio divina, started to make sense out of my catholic media-ness, and brought  everything to Him in the Eucharist. 

It is such a huge blessing just to be here! Woah, reality check. (pause)...
--- Right, when I think I've ripped a good chunk of the paper off this gift --there is still sooo much more to unwrap!  "May the Love of Christ Lead Us and Push us on!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing Chelsea!


Hello friends! As a brand-new postulant, I was asked to introduce myself to you. Sooooo here we go:

My name is Chelsea Moxley-Davis. I officially entered the Postulancy of the Daughters of St Paul on September 21, 2011.

As a native “Maryland-er”, I’ve lived in Mount Airy, Maryland my whole life. (Which is about an hour North of Washington DC.)

I just turned 20 in July… and I’m the oldest of 6 kids. Which is ironic, because I’ve been the “Big Sister” my ENTIRE life, and now I’m very much the “Little Sister” here at the convent. (Talk about role reversal!) My siblings range from 7 to 18, and we often get asked if we’re the Brady Bunch because we’re three girls and three boys! :)

I was Homeschooled from pre-K to 10th grade. Then I went to Sacred Heart Tutorials for a year, where I combined 11th and 12th grade. I graduated high school in 2008.  I then studied at Frederick Community College for 2 and a half years.  

I guess you could say my “professional job” before I entered was “full-time college student”. Besides that, I was also a part-time nanny for two families and a piano teacher with 9 students.
In my free time, I like to listen to music, or read, or play around with electronic equipment…. :) If you can’t find me, you’ll usually be able to find me with my guitar or at the piano, OR just stop and listen, and you’ll be able to locate me by my humming of whatever song is stuck in my head that day. I also REALLY enjoy photography! Directly before I entered Postulancy, I was in the process of transferring to Shepherd University to major in Photography and Computer Imagery. My co-postulants and the other sisters are quickly finding out that it is a rare occurrence for me to leave the house without a camera or two… :)

People always ask how I met the Daughters of Saint Paul….
I was in 8th grade when I took a class through my homeschool group called Men in Black and Beyond. This class brought in priests, brothers and sisters to talk about vocations. I really hadn’t seen very many religious before, so I was surprised and intrigued by these “holy people” who were very real. I remember the first sister to come and visit our class was a Little Sister of the Poor; she was so open and authentic with us. I was amazed that this woman who prayed (ALOT), wore a habit and worked with old people all day… could tell us that her favorite food was French Fries, and that she was madly in love with Jesus! It was super inspiring for me. At the end of the 6-week class, I was handed a small booklet by one of the moms who ran the class. It was “50 active woman’s religious orders in the United States”… out of the whole class, she only handed one to me. So I did what any other 13 year old would do…. I made a quick exit, and shoved the booklet as far into the bottom of my bag as I could. However, as soon as I got home, I ran up to my room to look at the booklet. As I flipped through the pages, I saw images of nuns, praying, laughing, teaching, praying, walking, and… praying. ;) Then, a nun, dressed in blue, manning a video camera, caught my eye. “How cool is THAT???” I thought to myself. So I sat down, wrote a letter, and addressed the envelope: “Sr. Margaret Michael FSP, Vocation Directress, Daughters of St. Paul, 50 St. Paul’s Ave…”
The rest is history. :)

I visited the Motherhouse in Boston for the first time, when I was 14. Even as a freshman in high school, I was struck by the importance of using media to spread the Gospel. I knew that my generation placed such a high priority on media, especially the Internet. I loved that the founder, Bl. James Alberione, “got it”. He understood and lived the call to meet people where they are. If most people are on the Internet, we should be too.  I loved that the Sisters used as many modes of communication as possible. I also was so impressed that despite their extremely busy and demanding apostolate, they remained firmly rooted in prayer and in the Eucharist.

As I have begun this journey, I am seeing more and more, the importance of prayer and contemplation. Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family said something to the effect of: “The more you have to do, the more you should spend time in prayer.” He really made prayer a part of everything he did and encouraged us to do the same, “…just as we constantly take food and constantly breathe, all of us, everyday of our lives, must really pray.” –Bl. James Alberione

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Introducing Sandy

I’m Sandy Lucas, one of  the new postulants.   I’m an only child who was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.  I first met the Daughters of St. Paul at their Bookcenter in downtown Cleveland when I was a little girl.  Though the Daughters of St. Paul are no longer stationed in Cleveland, they came back into my life as I began to discern religious life.

My journey to religious life has been a long one.  I first thought about religious life while in high school, but did not begin to actively discern until after I had practiced law for several years!   After graduating from John Carroll University with a degree in English and History, I obtained a law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.  I spent my entire legal career at the same downtown Cleveland law firm, where I focused on estate planning and estate and trust administration.  I helped individuals and families with their financial and legal matters following the death of a loved one and during other difficult times in their lives. 
When I wasn’t at work, I spent much of my time volunteering and serving as a trustee on various Diocesan and other Catholic non-profit boards.  I was also active in Catholic young adult groups in the Cleveland diocese.  As a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, I served on parish council and as a lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.

Though I had a successful career and devoted a lot of time to church activities, I still felt called to give more.   A few years ago, I finally began to contact religious communities for more information.  The Daughters of St. Paul came up during an internet search and in conversation with others.  I am particularly drawn to the challenge of communicating the Gospel using all forms of media, as well as to community life and spirituality lived by the Daughters of St. Paul.   I’m excited to be part of this community and to continue my discernment.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's a Full House!


Carly, Chelsea, Sandy
I'm sure that you have noticed the new faces on our blog recently.

Chelsea, Carly and Sandy entered the community on September 21st, the feast of St. Matthew. We had a special morning prayer and Mass in which we prayed especially for each of them and their families.

I am feeling so blessed by God to have the priviledge to walk with our five postulants in their first years of Pauline life.

It has been wonderful welcoming these three women. They bring a great deal of enthusiasm and joy to our community here in St. Louis -- Lots of energy!

Theresa and Cheryl are showing them the ropes getting around St. Louis, cleaning the house, cooking for the community, running Book Center events and fun things to do in St. Louis. All in all, it's a good thing. The second year and first year postulants are keeping each other out of mischief (I think).

The house is full again and so are our hearts as we enter into another year of Pauline Formation.

Now I'll let each of them tell you a bit more about themselves.

God bless you,
Sr. Rebecca

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Catholic New Media Conference

Here we are at the conference with our new friend, Jack!

Here we are! All five of us, along with Sr. Rebecca, headed out in the wee hours Friday morning to journey to Kansas City, Kansas where the Catholic New Media Conference is being held!

Pen and paper are definitely a minority here, as we are surrounded by lots and lots of laptops, iPhones, etc. There are so many people running around with laptops and streaming at the same time.... If you really want a first hand look at what we're doing, you can find the live stream here!

We hope to update you all on our adventures when we return home. Until then, pray for us, and we'll be praying for you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beautiful Vermont



Just a month ago Sr. Rebecca, Laura, Theresa and I drove from our motherhouse in Boston to Vermont for an apostolic trip. We had parish exhibits at St. Ambrose and St. Peter's Catholic Church. On our free time, Laura toured us around and showed us the University of Vermont, where she studied Nursing and their Catholic Center where she met Fr. Yvon who is now the pastor at St. Ambrose and St. Peter's. We also had a wonderful time visiting with Laura's mom and hearing stories from her childhood.



This morning, I just viewed a youtube video on Laura's facebook wall showing the flooding of Vermont because of Hurricane Irene. Being there for a few days last month makes me feel very sad for the people in Vermont who have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihood. Vermont is such a beautiful state - because of the wonderful people that live there. I have no doubts that the people of Vermont will recover from this tragedy. Please join us in prayer for all who were affected by Hurricane Irene in various parts of our country.

Hear, O LORD, have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing; 
you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.
With my whole being I sing endless praise to you.
 O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
                                          - Psalm 30:11-13

God bless you,
Cheryl


Monday, August 22, 2011

Meeting YHOPE


While we were in Boston, we also met with a group called YHOPE which stands for "Young Heralds of the Pauline Evangelization" led by Fr. Mike Harrington. Fr. Mike belongs to the Institute of Jesus the Priest, which is part of the Pauline Family. We joined them on a Saturday morning for some time of fellowship, Eucharistic Adoration, and faith sharing. We were very impressed of how Fr. Mike led the "visit" following the Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life method. After our visit with Jesus, we got acquainted with everyone and Jackie, Theresa and I shared with them our vocation stories.

Once in a while the YHOPErs also get together to lend a helping hand to those in need, like cooking for a group of Sisters. ;-) Recently, about 13 of them went to Madrid, Spain to attend the World Youth Day. You can read about it on their blog. How we wished we could join them. Now, we are praying we are able to go to WYD 2013 in Brazil!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Highlights Part II

Moving on. Summer is a time of transition for most of us. For students and those who work in a school setting, summer marks the end of the school year and the beginning of another. The rest of the world experience this transition too in their own way.

Laura
For us, much has changed and will continue to change. Part of our trip to Boston as a postulant group is saying goodbye to Laura and Jackie as they move on to the next stage of formation as Novices.
Jackie

Hopefully, they will have time to be our guest bloggers so you all can be updated on their life at the Novitiate. This invitation goes to Sr. Emily and Sr. Sylwia as well (and Sr. Carmen too). It would be nice to hear from you all from time to time.

Scripture class. We also had Scripture class with Celia Sirois. Our focus was on the four Gospels and one of the objectives of our class is "to discover the theological/pastoral message of each of the four gospel writers and discern their meaning for today".  Celia Sirois has been teaching for the Daughters of St. Paul for many years. If you wish to hear her speak, you can watch one of her talks on Catholic TV.


Alright, it's time to study. Sr. Rebecca gave us our first reading assignment today!

Thanks for your continued prayers and know that we are praying for you too!

in Jesus,
Cheryl

P.S. Fill in the blank.
Our founder always emphasized that we, the Pauline Family, should have an attitude of _________. Which means we are to learn from everything. Throughout the day, like students in a classroom, we "sit" at the feet of Jesus, our Teacher, our Divine Master.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Highlights Part I

As Theresa was saying last week, we are sooooo happy to be back in St. Louis! I arrived from my family visit on Saturday night and Sr. Rebecca arrived from Boston on Sunday afternoon. Our summer was packed! I was going through our pictures and I couldn't believe we did all that in the month that we were away.

We arrived in our motherhouse in Boston on June 29 and throughout our stay we met many of the Sisters stationed in Boston and those visiting from our communities around the US, Canada (Toronto), Argentina, Brazil, and Korea. (And I could be forgetting some more!)

We spent our first week getting to know the different departments where our Sisters work in our Boston community. It is so inspiring to listen to the Sisters talk about their "job" with a lot of passion and share with us their love for our mission and the people they hope to touch. There is so much love, prayer and help from above that goes into our apostolate, you can smell it in the air.

It was also my first time to celebrate the 4th of July. A bunch of us walked to Lars Anderson Park to watch the fireworks. We were there early to save a spot and played some games while waiting. If you ever played Pit, you know that part of it is yelling out the number of cards you want to trade with another player so we were learning how to count from 1 to 4 in many different languages: Polish, Italian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Swahili. It was fun! I really appreciate the multiculturalism of our community. 

This was just the beginning of our visit to Boston. I will be posting again soon so stay tuned!

Peace,
Cheryl




Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Alone II

Well, here I am again - home with Sr. Noel and Sr. Assumpta for a couple days with no other postulants around. Cheryl is in NJ visiting family for a couple days. Laura is in Virginia helping out at the bookcenter until she begins novitiate and Jackie is in Kenya on a long overdue visit home. And Sr. Rebecca is in Boston for a couple more days. God willing, we will have three new postulants in the middle of September, but for now I am enjoying this down time after a busy time in Boston.

You may remember the trouble I got into while home alone last time. This time I am happy to report that I refrained from going on Mormon.org and trying to chat with a missionary about the Trinity. I have been helping out in the bookcenter, praying, (of course), ironing my laundry and catching up with friends.

Cheryl and I returned from Boston this last Tuesday full of new information from taking a class on the gospels over the summer. We also helped out in the apostolate. We both were in the Digital Department, where all the newest cutting edge work is done. This is where Sr. Kathryn pulls her hair out making our iPhone and android apps and where the digital artists in residence, Sr. Ann and Sr. Sylwia, work on many of the banners for our web site, videos and signs for our bookcenters. Cheryl and I helped out with the web site, giving our invaluable advice (hehe) and doing various other things to help the sisters get the web site up and running. Check it out, it just went up! It is majorly improved, but the sisters are still working out some kinks so don't be surprised if some of the links don't work yet.

We also went to Vermont, Laura's home state, for some exhibits and lots of fun (i.e. tour of Ben and Jerry's, tour of a cheese farm, hanging out with Fr. Yvonne and Laura's wonderful mom). It was fabulous. Did you know Vermont is gorgeous? Now I understand why Laura has a superiority complex about Vermont. Now I do too. I think I will start telling people I am from Vermont. Hopefully, when Cheryl gets back she will share with you more about that trip because I am running out of time. Gotta run to the bookcenter to give the sisters their break!

Oh by the way, we are super happy to be back in St. Louis and not just because we have air conditioning in our rooms here :) We love the people here and are so happy to spend another year here in formation.

Lots of love to everyone,

Theresa

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Chance Meeting in the Holy Land

View of Jerusalem from Mount Scopes
I never really considered going to the Holy Land. It was always a far away place that I figured I would make it to sometime - maybe.


Before my conversion I did not consider going because it just was not the place to travel if you do not have sufficient motivation. And after my conversion, it just seemed like too much, like something that I should put off as much as possible in much the same way that early Christians put off their baptism until their death bed. It was just not something that I felt I was ready for or deserved.

But thankfully, despite my misgivings and doubts, I made it to the Holy Land. This summer, during my vacation home, I went with my parents and my parish to a land that St. Jerome calls the "Fourth Gospel."

I had many adventures on my trip and learned so much during this life-changing journey. I am sharing my experiences on my blog, if you are interested in learning more about the places that I visited and the teachings that Tim Gray, our tour guide gave, (I cannot speak more highly of Tim, he was so amazing). So far, I have written about Capernaum, The Sea of Galilee, Gethsemane, and several other places. You can visit my blog and check out my posts for June and July for all of the places I have blogged about.

But I wanted to share specifically with the readers of this blog about a particular surprise on the trip. When I was at Ein Karem, the place of the Visitation, I walked up the stairs of the church with my group and noticed a group of sisters with Italian flags. It crossed my mind that I may see some Daughters of St. Paul but I thought it would be unlikely.

As my group prepared to leave, I noticed a sister with a habit that looked like the Daughters of St. Paul's habit. I crept closer and noticed that the sister was wearing the emblem of the Daughters of St. Paul, seen below.

I immediately got the attention of the sister and told her that I was a postulant with the Daughters of St. Paul in the United States. The sister, Sr. Auxiliadora, was so thrilled to meet me. She immediately rushed over to two other sisters from Pakistan and the Philippines and introduced me to them.

She held my hands in excitement and told me that it was very special that we met at Ein Karen, the place of the Visitation because our founder, James Alberione, always told us that we are like Mary bringing Jesus to Elizabeth, because the Daughters of St. Paul travel to bring Jesus to the world.


As I walked away with my group after taking some picture with the sisters and my parents, I was in utter disbelief that I would have happened to see the sisters so far from home. I knew in my heart that it was a gift from God, a wave from heaven, letting me know that He was blessing this trip and would continue to bless me through the Daughters of St. Paul.

Daughters of St. Paul with me at Ein Karem.
Sr. Auxiliadora is the sister to the left,
(I did not catch the other sisters' names)
Discerning is always a tough process but the Lord showers blessings upon those who try their best to follow Him. As I get further in this process, and close to beginning my second year of postulancy, I thank the Lord for all of the blessings He has showered on me. 


He is so generous and full of love! 



Friday, July 15, 2011

Our Future is Bright...Thanks be to God!

















Greetings! It's been about 2 weeks and we are settling into our life at the Mother house which has been anything but dull! One of our sisters, Sr. Margaret Joseph, did a great job at writing about our time here and experience in postulancy. Just in case you are curious about our reflections, check them out on our Pauline Faithways blog...

Peace,
Jackie.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Give to the World Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life...



We are finally in Boston for our summer experience! It's been a great time to see and visit with our sisters from the US and around the world! Summer is a time when many of our sisters are "passing through" our Motherhouse as they make their annual retreats, attend meetings and take their vacations. So, the house is full - in capacity and with joy!

Part of our settling in has involved taking a tour of our Publishing house and visiting the various departments. We are getting ample opportunities to learn more about the creative work of our sisters and the many prayers that go into the production of all the books and media. As we were making our rounds, I couldn't help but notice a quote from our Founder, Blessed James Alberione: "The wise and holy apostle gives what is more useful for eternity".

What better gift can we share with our world than Jesus Christ? As Paulines, this is precisely what we are called to do. Thanks be to God for our brothers and sisters who are doing just that! Here are the words for the video...

God bless you,
Jackie.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Celebrating Good Old Times :-)





Hello everyone!

I know it may seem like I've been MIA since I haven't posted on the blog lately, sorry about that! But have no fear, I've been keeping myself busy. These days, I've been busy packing boxes for my move to Boston where I'll be entering the novitiate, the next step in the formation process. My parting from St. Louis will definitely be bittersweet. I'm very excited to begin the next step in this journey that I feel God is calling me to. I'm curious about what it'll be like to live at our Motherhouse, to see what the classes will be like, and I'm happy to be closer to home where my family and friends are. However there's a lot I'm going to miss about St. Louis. It's such a great city, I really do love it here. The people are so friendly! It's wonderful having the seminary so close and there are so many wonderful priests here in the Archdiocese (http://www.archstl.org/). I've had so many great experiences and have learned a lot during my time here. Thank you all so much, both St. Louisans and our blog readers, for all your prayers and support. It is truly appreciated. Please continue to remember me in your prayers as I take this next step and know that you'll remain in my prayers as well :)

God Bless you :)
Laura.

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Greetings y'all!

Words aren't enough to express the gratitude that fills my heart for the grande time that I've had with you all while in St Louis. Of course, you have been a BIG part of it, and I want to say - thank you! From the sisters in our community to the people we serve here in St. Louis, I have received blessing upon blessing and graces galore to grow, stretch and leap in my vocation and call to follow Jesus more closely in the Pauline way. Thank you for your love, prayers, encouragement and support in my journey here. As I move forward to the novitiate, I carry you all in my heart and prayers. I believe we will meet again (obviously, because its such a small world these days!). Please pray for me too and who knows, we may make "guest appearances" on the blog in the future :-)

God bless you!
Love and prayers,
Jackie.


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