Thursday, November 21, 2019

Anniversary Celebration

Today, November 21st, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Our Lady of Hope Province and the 164th anniversary of the Felician Congregation. The Presentation of Mary is a very special day for us!

The children from our Montessori School came to the Mass.
We offered a spiritual bouquet with the offertory gifts.

The spiritual bouquet is in the basket. It's our personal offerings of prayer and service.
The picture of Our Lady of Hope, our patron saint, was in the Mass procession.
We decorated the dining room with flowers for the anniversary.

We enjoyed a delicious meal!
We had two celebrations for the anniversary! This is from the other one.
Can't forget the cake! 











Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Journaling

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher asked us to keep a journal. She asked us to include our thoughts or questions about what we were doing in class or to share as we chose. She would occasionally collect them and read them, answering questions and responding to our thoughts in the margins.

By the end of the year, I was hooked on journaling! I have kept a personal journal ever since, which means I've been doing it for the past 30 years. I occasionally keep one that is dedicated to something specific: a prayer journal, or a gratitude journal, for example. Mostly, though, my journal houses everything from decisions I'm trying to make to to-do lists to venting about emotions to what I'm watching on TV.

My journal serves several purposes for me:
1. It helps me figure out complex situations, how I feel about them, and what I'm going to do about them.
2. It allows me to hear my own voice, my opinion, unchecked and unfiltered.
3. It is a place for wrestling with my emotions and naming them.
4. It helps me realize how God was present in my day and how I responded to Him.
5. It soothes me after a busy day and helps me relax.

Recently, I've begun a prayer journal. In the past, I've attempted this, but stopped because I felt keeping a separate spiritual journal was too compartmentalized. I wanted to integrate all parts of myself together, rather than separating them, so I preferred to bring up spiritual matters as they came up in my regular journal. But when I realized some of my prayer practices were slipping, I knew that I needed to focus more. I thought writing them down would help.

I started with my morning meditation. Each morning, I connect personally to one of the readings of the day. This is done through slow, reflective reading, opening oneself up to a word or phrase that strikes a chord, and praying with that. I'm not a morning person, and my struggle to be alert early in the day was holding me back. I decided to write down that word and what it meant to me in a journal. It made a big difference, helping me focus and reflect better. It's become a part of another prayer practice I have, the examen at the end of the day. Now, when I look back on my day, recalling how God was present and how I was blessed or challenged, I journal about it.

These practices are not only good in the moment. Occasionally, I'll reread the journal, looking for patterns or insights that perspective gives. It's interesting to get a glimpse into myself this way. One of my favorite journaling practices is find the Most Important Part of Today. It doesn't have to be a dramatic moment, or a positive one; it's always the part that means the most to me as I look back prayerfully on my day. It helps me to learn something both about myself and God. I see what I consider important, but I also see how God reveals Himself to me. This is most interesting when I reread entries. I'm finding that several aspects of my life keep coming up: my life with my community, living in a balanced way, and personal growth.

Another practice I've been trying lately is journaling with my emotions, stopping to write what I felt and when. The idea is the same with this, that I'll be able to look back on the entries and notice something about myself and where God is present to me. I haven't reached that point yet; I just started.

My prayer journal is also flexible. When I try a new form of prayer or feel inspired to do something different, that goes in there, too. I write quotes from spiritual books I'm reading. Some practices that I've been consistent about writing about may give way to others in the future. What matters is that the journal supports a full prayer life based on a close relationship with God!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska

October 10 is the feast day of Bl. Mary Angela, the foundress of the Felician Sisters. We prayerfully remember her life and reflect upon how it impacts ours. At one point in the prayers for the occasion, we shared our personal connections to her. At different parts of my journey with the Felicians, varying parts of her life resonated with me. In this entry, I'll share what those have been and why I identified with it. (For more information about Bl. Mary Angela, check out our websites:
https://www.feliciansistersna.org/who-we-are/our-foundress---blessed-mary-angela-truszkowska/our-foundress-blessed-mary-angela.html or 
http://feliciansisters.org/the-life-of-blessed-angela/.)

The call that I felt to be a sister was from deep within. When I read Bl. Mary Angela's biography, I identified with her call. She had been trying to become a cloistered sister, but in prayer, realized that God was calling her to an active life of service, too. She recognized the truth in that and follow it. It reminded me of my own certainty.

When I was first discerning being a sister, I was an enthusiastic volunteer who was eager to help. I hoped community life would be a group of sisters who had similar concern for the world. When Bl. Mary Angela was a young woman herself, she was touched by the struggles of the poor in her town, the widows and children especially, and wanted to help. She devoted herself to helping them, and other women joined her. Both her desire to reach out to those in need and the like-hearted community that gathered around her struck me; it was who I was and what I wanted.

Another aspect of her life struck me when I was a novice. It's a time of intense study and reflection, and as I delved deeper into community life and what I was really bringing into it, I struggled in a lot of ways. I would think of when Bl. Mary Angela was older and her felt sense of God's presence weakened. I found strength in her ability to step forward in faith without the consolations of peace and joy. Despite my difficulties, I knew I was still called, so I continued.

As a sister in temporary vows, I lived in our parish convents with small groups of sisters. There we worked, prayed, and enjoyed life together. It reminded me of how much Bl. Mary Angela loved her sisters. She was their spiritual mother in a lot of ways, giving advice and helping them. She also was a true sister to them, sharing her own problems and asking them to pray for her. She had close relationships with them. That was the kind of relationship I wanted with the sisters I knew.

Sisters do ministry full time, have responsibilities to the community, and pray. These three are all important, and need to be balanced. But the most important is prayer, because it influences everything we do and everything we are. As I tried to keep my prayer life deep and meaningful, I thought of how important that was to Bl. Mary Angela, too. The Felician Sisters, from the beginning, were both active and contemplative. It continues to be important to me to remain contemplative in the midst of busy daily life.

Yesterday, when we reflected on what our personal connection to her was, I asked myself what it was now. Lately I've been transitioning, ready for change, feeling like I'm becoming... something. (Haven't worked that part out yet!) I can feel myself turning towards the future, and I've been discerning what all this means. The question reminded me that I can, once again, look to Bl. Mary Angela for guidance. She experienced many changes in her life. My own situation reminded me of when she got involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Society or became a Franciscan tertiary; she was developing spiritually, realizing her call. I still have many questions, but it feels positive. I'm getting closer to who God has made me to be. Reflecting on Bl. Mary Angela taking steps in her life makes me realize that God was with her, just as He is with me.

Patron saints can be defined in multiple ways. Bl. Mary Angela is a companion for me, accompanying me on my journey. I can relate to her and be inspired by her.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Felician Congregation

The Felician Sisters is an international congregation, with a presence in Poland, Brazil, Kenya, United States, Canada, Haiti, and more. It's something that I know, but recently I got to experience it. The Enfield central convent, where I live, hosted a meeting with sisters from different provinces, about how we train new members and help them become Felician. As a newer member, I was invited to share about my own experience of discerning my call to religious life. I participated in the meeting, but I also got to get to know the sisters when they joined us for meals and fun activities. I also connected with them when I showed them around town. It was a blessing to connect to the larger congregation in such a personal way.

Some pictures!

The sisters had a lot of fun dancing together!


Our group photo 


Playing Bingo together with our visiting sisters


Getting ready for the meeting 


Another table of sisters is ready for the meeting


We were able to communicate because we had a translator. Sister Eliana did a terrific job! 


The visiting sisters enjoyed meeting the chaplain, Fr. Mitchell.