Friday, April 29, 2011

Theresa's Birthday Bash

My birthday was Tuesday of Holy Week but I postponed the celebration until last week. I knew the sisters would plan something great and I wanted to wait until after Easter so I would feel at complete liberty to party like its 1999, (Prince reference - had to slip that one in there).

I honestly was not sure how I would feel about turning 30. I have had friends who cried at their 30th birthday parties so I was not sure what to expect. Everyone kept telling me that thirty is a special age because it was when Jesus began his ministry but honestly that didn't make me feel that great - comparing your life to Jesus' never does make one feel like a spectacular success.

But, I was happy to spend my actual birthday in a low-key way. Thankfully, I remained dry eyed; maybe it will be my 40th birthday that will cause the crisis. I happily spent a quiet day opening a box from my family, cards from friends and little presents from the other postulants left in front of my door.

But this Monday, we actually celebrated. And man, these sisters know how to celebrate!

I was so touched by all that they did. The decorations by Cheryl and Erin were so classy in blue and brown, my favorite color combination. My birthday sign was the picture from my blog. Every plate had a prayer by Padre Pio on it, (my favorite saint, don't tell St. Therese).

The meal was Mediterranean style; it was some of the best tasting food that I ever tasted. Erin printed out recipes and assigned a dish to each person. Jackie made a chicken dish with apricots; I know, sounds a little weird but it was great! Erin made tabouli. Sr. Rebecca made spicy lentils - extra spicy just for me. And Cheryl made the best hummus ever, on her first try! Laura made my absolute favorite dessert - strawberry, rhubarb pie. Needless to say, just this meal and I was in heaven.

But then, I also got great presents: a Whole Foods gift card, 2 books by Jacques Phillipe - one of my favorite authors, a little notebook, and a set to make wax seals on letters. I have been showing off every letter I send with a seal on it to anyone who will listen to me.

The thing that made me the most happy though was not the beautiful decorations or the delicious food that I wanted to eat all night or the wonderful presents. It was all the love and thought that went into everything. I was so amazed by how well these women know me after just eight months of being here, (that may be in part because I can be a loud mouth).

I truly felt so loved and understood and that is really the best feeling in the world. No comparison.

So thanks dear sisters in Christ for all that you did on my birthday, and all that you do for me every day. And may God bless all of our readers. May God fill your life with people who truly appreciate and love you for who you are.

In Jesus,


Sunday, April 24, 2011


We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!
-Pope John Paul II

We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus today with a beautiful mass at the Basilica followed by a sumptuous meal prepared by a joint effort. We dined on ham, an Italian meat dish, the name of which I have already forgotten, (prepared of course by Sr. Mary Joan), green bean casserole, potatoes, rolls and salad. Yum! And Sr. Noel prepared a delicious punch as well as three desserts! One dessert was made of rhubarb, my absolute favorite, and it was scrumptious.

And now we are all joyfully playing bowling on Laura's Wii. Or everyone else is while I type away on my computer....

Jesus has risen and the darkness of the Lenten season gives way to joy, a joy that is only a taste of what awaits us in heaven.

May our risen Lord fill you with His light on this blessed day.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Off to Retreat...

We are off to our Holy week retreat until Holy Saturday. You are in our prayers. As you celebrate this blessed Triduum and Easter, may Our Savior's love and joy fill you with gratitude for His presence in our lives!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bebo Norman Concert

Last Friday, we went to Incarnate Word parish for a Christian artist Bebo Norman concert with upcoming artist Chris August. The two artists really made us feel like we were in their "living room" and they shared freely of what God has done in their lives. What a wonderful witness that made the concert quite intimate. Some of the songs that Bebo sang were "I have nothing" (, "Great light of the world" and some from his new CD "Ocean" featuring songs like "God of my Everything" and "The Middle". Chris August sang "7x70" (, a song on forgiveness and "Starry Night" about God's awesomeness and creation. Hearing these songs "live" was simply beautiful but listening to the stories behind the songs was even more uplifting. God was very present there. God really works through our brokenness and life experiences to bring out His glory and presence. His light shines forth from all that to bring many to Him. That's simply what I experienced that night at the concert. It was a wonderful reminder that in case we wonder what will come out of our brokenness and strife...God's light will come shining right through it to bring others to experience Him!

God bless you,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Geek Party!

Who would have thought turning 32 would be one of my best birthdays ever? After living in community for 7 months and celebrating the other sisters' and postulants' birthdays, I really didn't know what to expect. We all seem to be really good at surprising each other. So I had absolutely no clue what they had planned.

It was perfect! I received the sweetest e-mails from my Mom and Dad and siblings and relatives and closest friends. One of my best friends, Erma, made a pink apron that has "All for Jesus" written at the front and sent it in the mail just in time for me to wear it to the Geek Party that my sisters have prepared. The cooks made a delicious meal. They were so creative, each course was personalized to what they knew about me.

And you've seen the decorations from the pictures. I was VERY impressed. I actually think Theresa's geekness is climbing up the charts. She created an XML tag: <party> meaning "begin party" and she made sure that it didn't have an end tag! Even I wouldn't have thought of that! Jackie made sure photos were taken otherwise we won't have much to show on our blog. Laura was such a good sport and willingly played GUESSTURES with us all. Erin made sure I had my traditional rocky road ice cream. Sr. Rebecca planned a wine and cheese + Despicable Me movie night in our home theater.

There is so much more to this special day than what I'm sharing with you here. What is really special about this birthday is the Love that flows from celebrating life. This past year, the Lord has taught me how to look beyond the gift of life so that I can look deeper into the eyes of the Giver of life.

As I look around me each day and interact with my sisters in community and the people we encounter, I am beginning to see the face of God in each of them. It is not easy, especially for someone like me who is still trying to find her place in the world. It is easier to fall into feelings of envy and jealousy, but the grace of God can truly work with those feelings and transform it to joy and a deep appreciation of each person in my life.

You are God's gift to me. I thank God for you. All of you.

Love, in Jesus our Life, Cheryl

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rock Star Philosopher

I became a fan of Peter Kreeft after listening to his podcast on why women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church. He synthesized the issue brilliantly and made clear something that had never really made sense intellectually in my mind. Aside from his brilliance, I also loved the way that he expressed himself - frankly and straightforward without being pompous.

Since then I have been a Kreeft addict.

When I found out that the postulants were reading Kreeft's book Catholic Christianity for our class this semester on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I was thrilled. I even had a dream shortly after getting the book that Kreeft was actually teaching the class. I was overwhelmed with excitement. But when he came in the room everyone was rudely talking as he tried to teach. Finally, I stood up and yelled, "Hey everyone, maybe you don't realize but this is Peter Kreeft, he is like a rock star! I want to hear him teach!"

The next day I laughed every time my dream came to mind, apparently my subconscious was aware that my love of all things Peter Kreeft had become an obsession.

When our real professor, Dr. Gresham, (who is also an amazing professor even though he is not Peter Kreeft), told us that Peter Kreeft was going to speak at Washington University, I almost jumped out of my seat. I looked around excitedly while the other postulants good-naturedly rolled their eyes.

Thankfully, Cheryl also wanted to go to the talk so I had a partner in crime and we set off to see Kreeft speak the next week. When we arrived, the parking lot was overflowing and we were directed farther down the street. Since we were running late I anxiously looked around for a spot and Cheryl said a quick prayer to St. Paul. Within minutes we saw a perfect spot.

Thanks St. Paul.

Then we scurried off to the talk that was being held in the chapel. When Kreeft came out, I actually felt like I was seeing an actual rock star. But forget Beck, Morrissey and Tori Amos. I'd rather see Peter Kreeft any day. All his talk was lacking was the pyrotechnics and dry ice.

Kreeft gave a talk chock full of information and ideas. Breezing through it as if everyone is as smart as him, Kreeft talked about a variety of topics. My pen could not write fast enough.

But, one point he made really stuck with me. He was talking about the need for evangelization by the laity. He exhorted the audience that evangelizing should be the primary goal of the layperson in the Church.

But he cautioned, we are never going to attract people to the Church if we do not know Jesus. Knowing Jesus is the most important key to evangelization. If we do not know Jesus, it is useless. How can we attract Protestants to the Church if we know Jesus less than they do, (which sadly is often the case)? Kreeft said, "If we do not put the fire in the fireplace of our own parishes, people will look for the fire elsewhere." He concluded that the Church will never be one until Catholics grow to know Jesus better so we can attract our brothers and sisters back.

Following his usual method of giving talks, Kreeft skipped from theme to theme, following rough notes but mostly being inspired by the Holy Spirit. He challenged the audience and there were a few moments when I noted people actually squirming in their seats. But by the end, people seemed thoroughly satisfied with Kreeft's breath of fresh air personality, his honesty and frankness minus the negativity that can often come along with that type of personality.

During the questions, I debated whether or not to stand up. In the end, I did not. But if I had, I would have asked him, "How can we become saints?" This in the end, is the most important thing according to Peter Kreeft - to know Jesus and to become saints. The solutions to all of the Church's and the world's other problems lie in that.

I have a sneaking suspicion he is right, (and I am not biased or anything).

For more Peter Kreeft, I recommend listening to his podcast on beauty, it is one of my favorites and very Pauline.

In Jesus,


Monday, April 11, 2011

Back from Denver! Part 2

It's been a month since our trip to Denver, Colorado. If you ask me to sum it up in one word, I'd say - propitious: full of promise; good, favorable; friendly.

First, the Carmelites welcomed us to their home, the Sts. Peter and Paul convent. They were very hospitable and the bonus is that they have wireless in the house! ;-) It was a challenge for me not to stay up too late checking my email and reading facebook updates. When Ash Wednesday came, I gave up going online and aimlessly surfing the web after supper for Lent. And I might even extend this after Lent. Why? Because, time is a gift from God and like every gift from God, time is sacred too. Hmmmmmm... I know it will be challenging but yesterday, I found Peter Kreeft's article on time and felt that I really should be more prudent on what I choose to do with my time.

Second, I get to hang with Sr Donna, Jackie, and Laura. By "hang" I mean I get to see them and spend more time with them than at home in our convent in St. Louis. Isn't that ironic? The nice thing about apostolic trips is that we actually get to work together for the most part of the day. At home, even though we have recreation time together, we take shifts when we work and kinda do our own thing unless we have a project we need to do together. And it's always a joy to discover something new about each other. We had good laughs, awkward moments, a sharing of musical and food preferences, and very encouraging conversations. In relation to this, what struck me also is that we all missed being with the rest of our community in St. Louis. It's nice to be back home. It really is!

Finally, the opportunity to meet new people, bump into familiar faces, and meet up with old friends or family members. Our life, our witness, our vocation is all about "relationship". Building new ones and nurturing the old. And at the heart of each relationship we have is our relationship with God. This is true for believers and non-believers alike - because God is love. What sets us apart is not that we have an "edge" over non-believers but that we have become God's sons and daughters through Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us while we were still sinners. We are given a gift not to keep to ourselves but to give to all. So what really sets us apart is our responsibility, our duty to spend our lives for the Gospel - so that all may encounter Christ and live in Him.

May we never tire of sharing the love of Jesus Christ to every person that God allows to be part of our lives today and always.

Blessings, in St Paul, Cheryl

Do you feel called to share the love of Christ to all? Our founder, Bl. James Alberione, had "One love, Jesus Christ. One burning desire, to give him to others."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Birthday Celebration Plus Plus...

March 26 was was the day we celebrated my birthday! Being the second one around in the convent, I was thankful for God's faithfulness to me in my vocational journey and the ability to celebrate with joy His gift of life to me. We went all out (as we always do here!) that day. Sr. Noel made a gourmet dinner of some African and Asian dishes which were REALLY good. We danced to different kinds of music and had lots of fun playing games - mainly Chinese checkers and the Wii :-) Later in the week, we also went out for some Bubble Tea (which I love!) at a local Bubble Tea place. I am truly grateful for a wonderful time of grace, peace, rest and loads of fun with my sisters. I am also grateful that we were blessed to have two young women with us for a Come and See Lenten retreat that weekend. It was a joy that to have them with us to experience our life. Please continue to pray for them and vocations - thanks! So just in case you are wondering, we truly do "thoroughly" enjoy our birthdays around here :-) May the Peace and joy of Christ be with you always, Jackie.