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!