Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ladybug Nun, Halloween and the Dia de los Muertos





Today is Halloween...costumes filled my day. Putting wings back on, readjusting zippers, hats, helmets, halos and crowns. I am tired!



But it was a beautiful day. The kids were so excited. They love costume day!



I made my costume right there in the classroom, as the children were doing show and tell. As I was there with my kids, I couldn't help but think of the markets in Mexico where the merchants are offer the things needed to prepare for the altar for the Day of the Dead.



In Mexico, this is more than a christian festivity, it is a celebration where the prehispanic culture meets with the catholic religion. This is where the Mexican people kept their ancestral traditions alive.



It is in this tradition where the sorrow of having lost a dear one looses itself in a colorful fiesta filled with delicious aromas and prayers of the faithful.



This festivity is divided in two parts, the first one being All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and the second one being The Day of the Dead (Nov. 2)


On All Saints Day we celebrate the lives of people who lived exemplary lives as well as the lives of children who died young (little angels.) This is a small celebration compared with Novemeber 2. People build altars to the Saints inside churches and many families build altars to thei rdeparted children either at home or at the cementery. The altars are adorned with colorful paper, flowers (marigolds) and they place toys, dolls, candy for their children.



On November 2 many families take flowers to the gravesites, but many others still celebrate the ritual of buiding an altar. The whole family participates and it takes a long time to build. Some of these altars are truly works of art. In some families it is just a very simple altar placed on a table where they put a picture of their deceased relative and it is adorned with flowers and the belongings of the departed one.

The altars built according to the tradition have seven steps that represents the seven levels that the soul has to go through in order to be able to truly rest. This altar is built in a room spacious enough to hold the altar and the whole family. A day before the altar is built the room is swept with aromatic herbs.


This is what the steps contain.




1-The deceased person's favorite Saint or Virgin.


2- This is reserved for the souls in purgatory.


3-This is reserved for the souls of children in purgatory.


4-This is where the family places the "pan de muerto" a special bread made only for this day, adorned with red sugar. it is recomended that the bread is made by the family of the deceased person.


5-This is for the deceased person's favorite food and fruit.


6- This is where the picture of the deceased person goes.


7-This is where the cross of a rosary is made of limes and tejocotes (a yellow fruit like a plum found in Mexico)

The offerings placed at the latar are the following:


Four candles pointing to the four cardinal points. On the side of the altar a pot of clay is placed containing aromatic herbs.


The altar must be decorated with yellow and purple paper reprersenting the union between life and death. "Papel picado" representing the joy of living. (Papel picado is the national art of folding and cutting paper, see picture)

Flowers in white, yellow and purple representing heaven, earth and mourning.

Candles representing the ascension of the soul They also represent light, the guide in the way to heaven.


White cloth representing purity and heaven.



An easter candle representing the soul.



Incense symbolizing the crossing from life to death.


Corn representing the aboundance of the earth.



Fruit representing the gift of nature. It is generally sugar cane, oranges, tejocotes and jicamas.

Sugar skulls (a prehispanic tradition)


Water which gives life and energy for the journey)



The deceased personas favorite dishes.



A crucifix to represent the person's unity with Christ.

A cross made of calcium lime simbolyzing the four cardinal points.


Salt so that the body does not get corrupted.


A way made of marigold petals from the front door of the house to the altar, to guide the soul of the deceased person.



A branch stick to free the person from the demon and evil spirits.



Personal objects belonging to the deceased person.


***********************************************************


This is a colorful tradition in Mexico and in everyplace of the Mexican Republic it is different. If you do a quick search you can find pictures and more information on it.


As a disclaimer: please do not e-mail me to tell me this is the work of the devil. Save yourself some time. This a cultural tradition where people pray and remember their loved ones...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Awaiting New Member!


I am excited to announce the upcoming entrance to religious life of Ms. Agueda Oviedo from Donna, Texas.

Agueda will start the pre-postulancy with us on November 07, 2008. The entrance ceremony will be held at our chapel here in the Motherhouse followed by Vespers.
Please pray for Agueda as she prepares these days to embrace the Incarnate Word and begin her journey to becoming a Sister of the Incarnate Word.
Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Visit our new website


Again, it's been a while since I updated, but I had a reason this time...We had been busy working on the last details of our website which went up today!
Please visit us at www.iwbscc.org
Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Be doers of the word and not hearers only.. ---James 1: 22


Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…
Deuteronomy 11:18


It’s almost a month since my First Profession of Vows. It’s been tough finding the balance between work and prayer, not because of the time issue but because it’s been a difficult transition. School started right away, I only had one day to prepare, well not really because on Sunday I still had family and friends here. So, Monday came and I found myself in a classroom full of three, four and five year olds, a couple of criers and a screaming little darling.

I told the aide, I’m coming right back. I went home (right next to the school) and got my guitar. Back in the classroom I sang to them and they sang with me. It calmed them down. Every kid, and I mean, EVERY kid likes twinkle, twinkle little star. Thank you Lord, for music!

The following days were better, but I went right into work, not having time to write thank you notes, to figure out where I was and what I was doing. It’s all been happening too fast…whatever is happening.

Just this past week, I began to calm down, to figure out where I am and to breathe in between. I have been missing the time I had in the novitiate for prayer and more prayer. But I have been praying, very early in the morning and when I come back from school, then late at night. I mostly pray that God will speed up the “settling” process.

I have been trying to reflect on what it means to be a consecrated woman. When I first became a novice my Spiritual Director asked me: “How is your life going to change now?” and now, as a temporary professed, “How is my life going to change?”

I have been thinking, reflecting on the mission of our congregation which is “to adore and to proclaim the Incarnate Word.” Our spirit calls us in a special way to represent the Incarnate Word before the world as perfectly as possible. How am I growing there? How am I deepening my commitment? How does that translate into my life? What I do, say, think, feel?

And then this morning I read this phrase from Thomas Merton:

“Contemplation is the response to a call: a call from Him who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves are words of His. But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him."

We ourselves are words of his. That is very profound.

In today’s reading, God warns Ezekiel against not speaking up, not being a word of God. The Gospel talks about the same thing, speak up, be a word of reconciliation, a word of God. The problem is that it is hard to be the person who points the finger. No one likes tattlers! It is so much easier to be a consoler, to be a word of love. And yet, we can not fashion a God according to our needs. God just is!

Thomas Merton says:

We ourselves become His echo and His answer. It is as if in creating us God asked a question, and in awakening us to contemplation He answered the question so that the contemplative is at the same time question and answer.

This life isn’t always easy. But I feel that in the midst of the unsettledness God is calling me to grow, to stretch some more. Please continue to pray for me, that God will give me the grace to be a true “extension of the Incarnation.”

Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Profession Pictures






Sr. Michelle Marie: Sister Mary Helga, what do you ask of God and of God’s Church?




















Sr. Mary Helga: I ask to be incorporated into the religious community of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament through the profession of the public vows of celibate chastity, poverty, and obedience. I pray for the grace of perseverance in dedicating my life, through the vows, to the formation of a community of worship and service centered in the Person of the Incarnate Word.






Sr. Michelle Marie: Why do you wish to take this step?

Sr. Mary Helga: In Baptism I have been called to participate in the life and mission of Christ. I wish to respond to the call as a vowed member of this religious community committed to bringing about “a Christian wholeness in each person and Christian unity among all.”


Sr. Michelle Marie: (addressing the religious community)

Sisters, are you willing to incorporate Sister Helga into our community as a Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament?

Sisters: yes, we rejoice in God’s election of Sister Mary Helga, and we pray that together we may participate ever more effectively in the mission of Christ. May our community be an increasingly clear sign of the Reign of God yet to come.

Presider: The Church of Corpus Christi also rejoices in this new strengthening of one of her religious communities and sees it as a manifestation of God’s love and goodness. May the sign of your community be a continuing inspiration to all who witness your life together.

Sr. Michelle Marie: Sr. Helga, may God grant you the grace to fulfill what you desire.

All: Amen.



(The assembly stood while the choir sang Psalm 115 and all the sisters came to greet me and welcome me.

How can I repay You, o God, for your goodness to me?














What can I say? I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of God's goodness to me. It seems like a long time ago that I was 21 years old and discerning. I had no idea that God was going to give me so much more than what I left behind.


I had been waiting to write, to share with you this joy, this wonderful thing in my life, but I can not. I do not have the words to express this feeling, this "knowing with the heart." So, I will keep it and ponder these things in my heart.

Please continue to pray for me as I start this new stage of formation.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!



Now and forever. Amen!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New, more literal English translation of Order of the Mass approved by Holy See

Washington DC, Jul 29, 2008 / 11:20 am (CNA).- The Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has approved the new English-language translation of the Order of the Mass submitted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The Order of the Mass, which is the first section of the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, includes most of the texts used in every celebration of the Mass, including the responses given by the people.

The new translation is more literal at times. For instance, the first line of the Sanctus, which follows the Consecration, reads “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts,” instead of “God of power and might.”

The people’s response at the Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God) is to be “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” which more closely follows the Scripture passage on which it is based.

The response “et cum spiritu tuo,” previously translated as “also with you,” is now translated as “and with your spirit,” while the Confiteor (Penitential Rite) now includes the text “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

A letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said the text is provided now so that there is enough time “for the pastoral preparation of priests, deacons and for appropriate catechesis of the lay faithful. It will likewise facilitate the devising of musical settings for parts of the Mass.”

The new text is covered under copyright law and the Statutes of the International Commission on English and the Liturgy.

The release date of the entire translation of the Roman Missal is not yet available, and liturgists contacted by CNA were hesitant to comment on the new translations until the U.S. Bishops’ Conference offers its explanation, which is expected sometime in early August.

The new translation is meant to give Catholics a greater awareness of the transcendent nature of the Mass, to elevate the language with which worship is offered to God and to more accurately reflect the original Latin prayers.

Bishop Arthur Sarretelli, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, recently described the purpose of the changes, writing, “By the very fact that, in some instances, the new translations require thoughtful and careful attention to pauses when speaking helps to foster and create a less rushed and more reverent way of praying.”

He added that, “Liturgical language should border on the poetic. Prose bumps along the ground. Poetry soars to the heavens. And our Liturgy is already a sharing of the Liturgy in heaven.”

From Catholic News Agency

Monday, July 28, 2008

New English translation for Mass

I read in the news today that the Vatican has approved a new English translation for the central prayers of the Mass in the United States. It also says that it will not to be used inmediately since the US Bishops are directed to begin pastoral preparations for the changes in the language of the Mass.


I like this alot since all of these changes will make the English Mass a lot closer to the Spanish Mass. I supppose it was a lot easier to translate the Latin into Spanish than into English.

The changes will be:

At the Consecration, the priest will refer to Christ's blood which is "poured out for you and for many"-- an accurate translation of pro multis-- rather than "for all" in the current translation.


In the Nicene Creed the opening word, Credo, will be correctly translated as "I believe" rather than "we believe."


When the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the faithful respond, "And with your spirit," rather than simply, "And also with you."


In the Eucharistic prayer, references to the Church will use the pronouns "she" and "her" rather than "it."


In the Agnus Dei, the text cites the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world," rather than using the singular word "sin."


In the preferred form of the penitential rite, the faithful will acknowledge that they have sinned "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." In this part of the Mass in Spanish, the faithful touch their heart three times with a closed fist...as a sign of regret...


Throughout the translation of the Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer, the traditional phrases of supplication are restored, and the Church is identified as "holy"-- in each case, matching the Latin original of the Roman Missal.


I wonder how long it will take for the changes to be used, but I am looking forward to it.




To read full article click here

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dolly Aproaches

UPDATE:

The strong winds cut our beloved pear tree in half. No more pear harvesting in the fall...


There was a small tornado near Incarnate Word ranch in San Patricio County, but other than knocking down an empty trailer house there was no other damage.


Please help me pray this prayer or any other prayer. Hurricane Dolly approaches the South of Texas, where my parents live. We are getting plenty of rain and winds in Corpus Christi, but Brownsville and Matamoros are getting the worst of it.

Prayer for Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.

Originally dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Audrey in 1957.
- Fr. Al Volpe, Cameron Parish, LA

Here's some more infromation from the National Hurricane Center

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

About becoming living altars....


As I sit here, reading the homily of Pope Benedict, on the occasion of the dedication of the new altar at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney during the EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION WITH BISHOPS, SEMINARIANS AND NOVICES, I can't help but be so touched. There are s many beautiful words there that this post would not be enough to express it.

First of all, I loved the image us "being set apart for Christ " like an altar. Because although many religious claim that they are just like anybody else, and try to be like anybody else, the truth is that by our calling, we have been set apart to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pope Benedict is right in saying that
"In the name of human freedom and autonomy, God’s name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion, and faith is shunned in the public square." I, by choosing a clearly identifiable outer sign of my vocation, tell the world that I have been set apart for Christ. It isn't always easy. Sometimes people treat me differently, sometimes they want to pay for my stuff, or expect me to have an answer for every single thing in life...yet, I know that people need God. It is God they see, not me!

"We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment...I do not want my life to be mere sentiment, therefore I have chosen the best part. But I know it doesn't stop there, or with my profession...I know it requires a constant conversion. As the Pope says: It is in this truth – this mystery of faith – that we have been “consecrated” (cf. Jn 17:17-19), and it is in this truth that we are called to grow, with the help of God’s grace, in daily fidelity to his word, within the life-giving communion of the Church. Yet how difficult is this path of consecration! It demands continual “conversion”, a sacrificial death to self which is the condition for belonging fully to God, a change of mind and heart which brings true freedom and a new breadth of vision. Sometimes people think that we pray all the time, or that things work out all right every time. They do not! Religious life is hard. If only it was about donning a habit and singing "The hills are alive..." but it isn't. Sometimes the hardest part is the everyday, realizing that the life, although prophetic is not grandiose, sometimes the sacrifice is staying behind curtains, dying to self and all it entails...not putting on the beautiful habit that will turn heads, being the last...

Then our Pope courageously spoke to the victims of abuse. He called the sin by it's name and acknowledged the pain it has caused in many people, especially the young, the future of our Church. I applaud the Pope for addressing this because it is the only way our Church and the victims will heal. I can sense that the young will transform the Church. I mean, just look at how many people came from every corner of the world. How many seminarians and young religious Sisters and Brothers are giving their lives to God. Our Church has a brilliant future.

The Pope tells us: Do not be afraid! Believe in the light! Take to heart the truth which we have heard in today’s second reading: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever” (Heb 13:8). The light of Easter continues to dispel the darkness! And he also calls us to walk in the light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. I know that it is not easy, but that prayer and the nourishment I receive through the daily partaking of the Eucharist builds me up, prepares me and disposes me for a life of conversion, a life where I can be an extension of the Incarnation or as the Pope puts it to become living altars, where Christ’s sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet.

So, I want to continue on this path. The Pope says that by embracing the Lord’s call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you “signs of contradiction” And of that I am sure. A sign of contradiction is the most appropriate way to describe our lives modeled after Christ. I just pray that God will give me the strenght to continue to spread the scent of my youth and to put it all God's feet.

If you have ever thought of being a Priest, a Brother or a Sister, do not be afraid! This life is worth it. Do not be afraid to be a sign of contradiction, to become a living altar, the love and prayer of the Church is with you.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The song is almost ready...




The song is almost ready. I want to use this opportunity to thank Sr. Rose Miriam Gansle, IWBS, for her amazing talent and patience in helping me to write my song into real music.


This song will be sung before Mass, like a sort of overture because it is not appropriate for Mass (I don't think.)


I do know it will help to prepare my heart for my FIAT. This song was a gift from God and it will be a gift from the Sisters, since it will be sung by them and the arrangements are still a mystery, but I know it will be beautiful.





After I finished writing the song, I looked closely at the words from Scripture. I loved the words: "I will give you back your vineyards and a door of hope."(Hosea 2:15) I was so touched that God is speaking to me directly, as if those words had been waiting for me since the beiginning of times.



Let me explain, I think I have said before that when I was growing up we had a vineyard. My earliest memories were of the leaves shining with the early morning dew...grapes remind me of my Grandmother's love, her Bible reading, her spontaneous prayer, her coffee cup and her mischievous smile...



The door of hope reminds me of the door to the backyard, where the vineyard was, where I could play and eat sour grapes until my tummy hurt, and then I would cross the door again to run to my grandmother, whom I afectionately called Mamá Ofelia (my mother was Mami Ofelia, how confusing can that be for a poor child?)


In this song, the door of hope, tells me that God is giving me back that door, to run back to him. The door of my freedom, the freedom I have found in Christ (See Galatians 5:1)


Please continue to pray for me...


Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Feastday!

Today is a day of celebration for all carmelites! I was remembering yesterday, how when I was younger and I was discerning , I went to several convents (I actually went tramping, traveling by day, visiting convents and churches, a pilgrimage sort of thing, and getting on a bus and traveling by night...) I was about 20 years old. And that time, by myself, allowed me to breathe deeply, to take in all the beauty of our earth, to find God deep within me, and in the people I met and eventually to find my place here.

One of the places I went to was a Carmelite Monastery . The Nuns had two young novices, I think they were around fifteen years old, I still remember their sweet little baby faces, but more than anything, I remember the face of every Nun glowing.

In this journal entry from yesterday (See drawing), I wrote about Elijah waiting for the Lord to pass by, but the Lord is not in the wind, and the Lord is not in the earthquake and the Lord is not in the fire but yet Elijah tunes his ears to listen and he hears the voice of God in the soft, gentle whisper. (IKings 19:11-13)

I was thinking how throughout my life, sometimes I want God to let the heavens loose and to speak to me with a thunderous voice, to be clear and specific...and yet, I have not put my face between my knees, waiting, like Elijah for the rain...

So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. (I kings 18:42)

Through these years in the Convent, I have learned that God does not come with a bang! God speaks to us through the Incarnation, in the day to day, sometimes in the dullness of routine, it is only a matter of being willing to listen. I keep on learning that with God it is never done MY WAY, but God's way, because as St. Edith Stein said "Love is the freer thing there is." I keep on listening. I keep on waiting...

I have alwyas enjoyed this poem of a great Carmelite of our times, Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, also known as Jessica Powers...I like it because this poem is so carmelite and so Incarnational....

Creature of God


That God stands tall, incomprehensible,
infinite and immutable and freeI know.
Yet more I marvel as His call
trickles and thunders down through space to me.

that from His far eternities He shouts
to me, one small inconsequence of day.
I kneel down in the vastness of His love,
cover myself with creaturehood and pray.

God likes me covered with my creaturehood
and with my limits spread across His face
He likes to see me lifting to his eyes
even the wretchedness that dropped his grace.

I make no guess what greatness took me in.
I only know, and relish it as good,
that I am gathered more to God's embrace
the more I greet him to through my creaturehood.

Jessica Powers/ Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit
Carmel of the Mother of God, Pewaukee Wisconsin.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!


A Fathers Mercy - Sr Marie Therese Sokol OCD

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Countdown to profession


It's been quiet around here...I keep on praying, preparing for my First Profession. This waiting is hard to describe, the only thing I can compare it to is Advent...I feel like I'm hosting something inside, something precious that will need all my care...And while I wait, I'm waiting inside the heart of God...


Basically my life looks the same and yet it is not. There is something that happens inside that I can't explain...I think that as my certainty grows that this life is for me, that I could not be anything other than a Sister of the Incarnate Word, there is a soft warm breeze that fills me. I am changing. I am no longer a young girl in love with God, I am a young woman in love with God who knows she is God's beloved! And that certainty keeps on transforming me.

I have so much to say and yet I do not know how. The Sisters tell me I look serious these days, but I feel so full of God that I don't want to open my mouth, I want my eyes fixed on God, I want to enjoy and savor this warm feeling inside!
I was never much for the bridal imagery, and yet, this morning, as I sat in prayer, it came to me...I'm a bride! I'm giving myself totally to God.. it's for real....I'll be the Spouse of the Incarnate Word! (and the warm feeling gets warmer)
Please pray for me these days as I stand with my oil lamp, waiting......

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sr. Elizabeth and her mischief

Well, we're finally finished with Chapter. It was truly a gift and a blessing to be able to be present (even if I can not vote because I'm not finally professed.) The days were long (and there was lots and lots of sitting) but the conversation was good and just being there, with my nuns made the sitting seem like less.



One of the highlights of the week was Sr. Elizabeth playing a joke on Sr. Emma Marie. It all started because someone found an orphan rosary and Sr. Emma Marie said: "Oh, can I have it?" Some times I am outside or in a different placeo f hte house and I do not have my rosary with me..." So, Sr. Elizabeth, being so clever, went around the house, gathered A LOT of rosaries and taped them to her door with notes:


For 1st flor, for 2nd. floor, for 3rd floor, for laundry room, etc.



Of course, she was caught in fraganti by yours truly...and I happened to have a camera to capture her Irish humor...

Who said life in a convent was boring?
The prankster

Monday, June 23, 2008

The gift of a song...

The retreat is over! It was wonderful. I loved having complete silence in the house!

During the retreat I prayed before choosing the Readings for the Mass of my Profession day. Then, another day I was tring to choose the music. One of my readings is from the Book of Hosea. I did not want the song we all know..."Come back to me, with all your heart.." I feel it is too sad. So, half joking, half hoping I asked God before going to bed, "Could you gift me with a song tomorrow?" and then went to bed. The next day, the song came. The words and the music for it. Right now it has been recorded and Sr. Rose Miriam will help me with the notation. Then Sr. Therese Ann will help me with parts for clarinet and flute. I love community! There's always someone who knows how to do what you don't know how.

Here's my song:

******************************************************
Remember

SPOKEN:
Remember, oh Israel, I am the Lord your God, there is no other.
You shall love your God with all your heart ,with all your soul, and
with all your strength.

When you were a child, oh Israel,

I taught you how to walk,

I took you in my arms,

I wrapped you in tenderness.


How could I leave you? How could I abandon you? Oh Israel

It isn’t by chance,

it isn’t by mistake

That I love you,


Refrain:

Get up, then, my love! (the time is right)

It is time for singing, (sing with me)

The song of doves is heard in the fields.


Come out of your hiding, (come with me)

Let me hear your voice, (speak to me)

Let me see your face, my little dove.



Because I will win you back, oh Israel

I’ll take you to the desert,

I’ll speak to your heart.

And there you’ll respond to me (as in your youth)


And I’ll make a covenant with you,

I will espouse you in love and in mercy,

In faith and truth, in tenderness and justice.


I will espouse you in faithfulness today

And you will know that I’m your God,

And you’ll belong to me forever.

Refrain:

I will make rain fall on the earth,

I will gift you with abundance,

I will give you back your vineyards,

And a door of hope.


And in those days, people will say:

Let us rejoice,

Let us be glad,

Let us give him glory!

For the wedding Feast of the Lamb

Has just begun,

And his bride is ready to welcome Him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The denim Quilt

The quilt for the brother has been finished! I am so excited that I finally made something that looks boyish. I have been acussed in the past of making girly stuff only. So, there, a quilt for a brother!


I am so glad I finished this last night because we start retreat on Sunday and then we have Chapter. That will leave me very little time to sew my black veil for my profession in August. I am so excited.


Among other good news, my friend Adriana will come from Costa Rica for my profession. Adriana and I have been pen pals since middle school. We have actually never met face to face. So, finally, after a little more than fifteen years we will meet. Please pray that Adriana does not have any trouble getting her visa to come to muy profession.


I will not be updating in the next two or three weeks, maybe four. I will be busy with the things of the lord.


I will be praying for all my readers during retreat.


Praised be the Incarnate Word!

(Now and forever more, amen.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

A few aprons...



Well, these days I have been working in the afternoons, trying to reduce the stash before I start teaching in August.


I made a few aprons from some denim garments that my friend Águeda brought me (in hopes of them being used for my brother's denim quilt) but they were so pretty that I decided to make parons instead.


I put these in our arts and crafts in the front office. One already sold.

I am also going to make a few for my classroom (little ones for my three year olds) in the practifal life section.










Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Denim Quilt for my Little Brother

Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face. ~St Francis of Assisi


God did not allow us to grow together, I know,
But yet, I’ve seen you grow and I’ve grown with you,
Wondering about the great things that God
Had in store for you.

Will you be a doctor? Will you be a soldier?
Will you be a priest? Will you be a good man?

There are so many choices, little brother, big soul,
And many times we make mistakes that we regret
And yet, God always allows us to come back,
In a big, fancy way, like that prodigal son.

Someone said we’re all tied to God
With a string of yarn,
When we sin, the yarn is cut
But when we come back to God,
He ties that yarn, getting you a bit
Closer to Him.

Before you were born, God chose you,
Before I was born, God chose me,
We were meant to be born
From the same womb,
Meant to be born
Of our parents great love.

I remember you as a baby,
So delicate and frail,
A tiny, wrinkled thing
Who held my finger
With his whole hand
And wounded my heart
With a love I can not explain.

Brother, coat of many colors,
Child of dreams
Like Joseph of Egypt,
You are becoming a man,
And I need you a child.

You’re growing up so fast,
What’s the hurry?
Wait for me, the one who
Grew up too fast to play with you
And who now walks at your side,
Rejoicing at every step you take.

I can not protect you anymore,
Or kiss your pains away,
What can I tell you?
Life is this way.
I wish I could give you more certitudes
Than uncertainties,
I wish I could give you
A firm ground, to stand on,
a good world where you could do and undo.
But yet, I can only give you my hand
And my love.

Brother, my little boy,
Become the best you can be,
Whatever profession, it doesn’t matter,
Whatever makes you smile.
Become the holiest, happiest man,
I, as always, will be by your side.

I love you, brother!
Your Sister Squared
*************************************
The pictures are of a quilt I am making for my brother Manuel (the Spanish word for Emmanuel.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goods 4 Girls

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:24-29

The story of the woman with the hemorrhage has always touched my heart. First of all because I think that the woman was very gutsy. She dared touch a man, when her bleeding rendered her unclean, more than that, her 12 years of bleeding had turned her into an outcast. But she pressed through the crowd and touched Jesus who felt immediately that powered had gone out from him. When he starts asking, "Who touched me?" The woman must have been petrified. She was not supposed to be out in public, she was not supposed to touch anybody, much less a rabbi!

But Jesus kept asking. He wanted to know who had had such faith. He forced the woman to acknowledge her act. I think Jesus wanted to make sure that it was her faith which had cured her. Perhaps to give her back the dignity she had lost many years ago when she had been ostracized from society.

She was healed! But she was terrified. And even trembling, she fell at the feet of Jesus and told him the whole truth.

I wonder how many of us are afraid not of looking for healing but of actually being healed? How would our lives change?

Jesus then says: "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Freed from suffering! Not only of the physical suffering, but also of the emotional and the social, I imagine the spiritual (since she couldn't attend religious services.) She was free! But now her life had to change.

Jesus know, of course who it was that touched him. But He wanted to make her stronger, to heal her publicly, to restore her dignity publicly.

In our days, these things are still happening. I keep on seeing these TV commercials where we're told that girls in Africa can't go to school because they do not have menstrual pads. These girls also suffer because it's a social and public humiliation. And there are many more women throughout the world who suffer like the woman in Jesus' time.

(The following is taken from http://www.goods4girls.org/)


"In many areas of the world, access to adequate menstrual supplies is difficult to come by. Many women and girls rely on rags, newspaper, camel skin or nothing at all for their menstrual needs. A lack of sanitary pads can be a big barrier to a girl's education.


It may seem difficult to comprehend for many women who have easy access to a varied source of supplies, but we can all appreciate how difficult life would be without them. Imagine trying to go to school or work without protection. For many, it brings life to a halt.

Providing disposable supplies creates an additional burden on some communities where solid waste disposal consists of burning the garbage. Since many disposable feminine hygiene products contain plastic, incineration potentially creates an environmental and health hazard.
Goods 4 Girls was started to seek out donors to sew or purchase new, reusable menstrual pads for donations to areas of Africa where these products are needed most. Providing reusable supplies not only provides a more environmentally friendly alternative for these young women (in areas of adequate water supply for washing), it reduces their dependence on outside aid organizations to continue providing for their monthly needs.

It's easy to donate, even if you don't know how to sew. For more information about why you should donate, read the About Us page. For more information on what agencies we (they) are working with, please visit the News page."

So, I started sewing to contribute a little bit to give women some dignity. The other night I was watching a PBS program about Fistula Patients in Africa. Well, basically this women have a ruptured birth canal because of difficult births which leaves them unable to control their bladders. Often, in their small villages, they suffer humiliation and become outcasts. It is very prevalent, the most common estimate is that 100,000 women worldwide develop fistulas every year, though some estimates put the number closer to 500,000.

In Africa, after a difficult labor (in most cases the baby is stillborn), the woman is left with constant leaking of urine and, in extreme cases, feces, and she is often abandoned by her family and community because of the smell, which is sometimes linked to superstitious beliefs.

One girl, seventeen years old, said that she was in labor for a week and then finally the baby was yanked out of her and since the baby was born dead, her husband left her. She was no longer a woman. You can read some more about the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and the Fistula Foundation.

It is incredible what one simple operation can do. It is incredible what a well made pad can do for a girl's dignity. And it is incredible what the waste of disposable pads can do to people's health (especially in Africa where they incinerate because of lack of landfills, exposing the community to the breathing of all those chemicals and toxic materials.)

In the United States we do not have that problem. I can not help but be so full of gratitude for all the privileges we have in this country. So, let us continue to pray for all the people that suffer around the world. Especially the victims in Myanmar and in China and here in the United States. And let us pray for all the women around the world who do not even have the dignity of protection for their periods. And if you can, please donate to either foundation so that they can also hear:
"Go in Peace and be freed from your suffering"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

¡Sin rama no hay uvas!

El evangelio del miércoles nos presenta la imagen de la Vid. Jesús dice: "Yo soy la Vida verdadera, y mi Padre es el que la cultiva." Esta imagen me remonta a mi infancia, a la viña en el patio trasero de mi abuela. Las uvas eran verdes y tenían un sabor agridulce.

De niña, el proceso de podarlas siempre me causaba tristeza. No podía comprender por qué si mi abuela quería que la viña diera uvas, podaba las ramas. A mí me gustaba ver la viña, creciendo a lo salvaje y enredada en las rejas de la ventana. Me gustaba ver sus hojas grandes y sus ramas de resorte. Mi abuela me explicaba que a la viña no le dolía cuando la podaban sino que al contrario de esta manera ella se sentía más libre y podía concentrar sus nutrientes en producir fruto.

Después, separaba las ramas que había cortado. Algunas ramas iban a la basura (siempre me daba mucha tristeza ir a tirarlas) y algunas otras, las más sanas, pasaban a su labortatorio-vivero-cocina donde las embolsaba con un poco de tierra, un poco de agua y un poco de aire, esperando que le crecieran raíces para así plantarlas o regalarlas plantadas en latas de legumbres decoradas.

Después de la muerte de mi abuela vendimos la casa y las viñas se quedaron atrás pues pertenecían ahí. Yo no tengo mano para las uvas como mi abuela pero soy aficionada a las rosas. Gracias a mi abuela sé como podarlas para infundirles vida nueva.

Así mismo nos dice Jesús: "Si una de mis ramas no da uvas, mi Padre las corta, pero si da uvas, la poda y la limpia para que dé más. Ustedes ya están limpios por las palabras que les he dicho. Sigan unidos a mí, como yo sigo unido a ustedes." (Juan 15:2-4)

Que el Señor me permita la gracia de producir fruto y que cuando el Jardinero necesite podarme, que pueda yo aceptarlo como parte del proceso de amor para ayudarme a crecer y a producir fruto.

¡Alabado sea el Verbo Encarnado!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

To pray unceasingly


I watched half of the youth rally on TV yesterday. I wanted to read the Pope's talk to the young and went to the Vatican website. It's already there. How cool is that?

I liked the following part:

"There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness."

I like what he says about first listening, then responding by proclaiming what we have heard and seen. "Let God's Word boil within before it boils over. " That image is going to be with me for a long time.

But what Pope Benedict says is so true, it does take some courage to be silent and still. When I first came to the convent I already had a history with God. I always prayed but my prayer was this ongoing conversation...while driving, while working silently... (O.K, it was more like me talking at God.) I was not used to Adoration (which is very important for us as Sisters of the Incarnate Word AND Blessed Sacrament.) The stillness made me feel uneasy. I had no problem talking to God, but I don't think I was listening long enough, lest He thought of answering. He might have even told me He wanted me to become a nun, no way!
After I came I started to get more used to it...Praying to God helped me with my prayer to God, if you know what I mean. I keep on keeping on and God's word has helped me...softening the process, and now I know I couldn't be without Adoration, without the privilege of sitting before Jesus. Reading scripture, listening to God, all these things are necessary in my life.

Through this listening, through the prayer life, personal, communitarian and liturgical, I am nourished, and like Pope Benedict says I "find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord." May others in the United States and throughout the world be encouraged to pray and to trust that God will show them the particular vocation he has for each one.

Meanwhile let us continue to pray unceasingly.

Thank you, Pope Benedict!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Poverty, the border and Psalm 8


I just came back from laredo, Texas where I attended the last meeting of the Inter-Congregational Novitiate. This last meeting-conference was on the Vow of Poverty. The presenter was Fr. Don Goergen, OP.

The Inter-Congregational Novitiate this year included the Dominicans Friars of the Province of St. Leo the Great, The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the Cordi-Marian Sisters and us.

Of the many wonderful things Fr. said, I picked one that remained with me. He said that to truly live out the Vow of Poverty one must become a contemplative to let God "boil within" before it "boils over." I find this very touching, very close to my experience because as I said in the previous post, it's been almost ten years sice I first met the Sisters...I think if anybody would have said to me that it would be ten years before I made first vows I would have gone to look somewhere else, but nobody did (here I smile.)

I believe that God wanted to use this time to "boil within me," to prepare me, to whisper to my heart before sending me out to extend the wonderful mystery of his Incarnation, before His love would boil over...but I am such an impatient creature! It is easy too see it now, but it wasn't so easy then...Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7) Easy to say, not easy to do...

Fr. Don also used the Beatitudes in his talk about Poverty. "Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:3) Fr. then also asked us to write one Batitude according to what we were learning and where we were at this time. Since waiting has been my theme these last days my Beatitude was: "Blessed are they who wait in darkness for God will arrive and shed His Light on them."

Poverty was experienced first hand during this time. on Thursday morning we went to the border between Mexico and the Us to pray for the immigrants, the ones who have died, the ones who will, the ones who have crossed, the ones who will, and while we were praying we noticed two men who were swimming to the American side. The waters were very high and very strong. The river is known in English as "the Rio Grande River" in Spanish is known as the "Rio Bravo" which means the "Fierce River." Many people have died trying to beat its fury, trying to find a better life for their families. It's a sad story. So, the two men, either because of the fury of the water or because they saw us and got scared swimmed back to the Mexican sad. The whole experience left a wound in my heart. This is the kind of poverty that's hardest to live. There's nothing I can do for them.

So, I prayed. I prayed. I prayed. I wished God would part the waters for them like He did for the Israelites. But God calls me to something else. "Trust me", He says, "for I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD...

And although my heart is still unsettled and rowdy over the border scene I pray that God allows me to continue to trust, to tame the high and fierce waters of my heart.

Meanwhile, I leave you with Psalm 8, written and sung by my own Sisters.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Big, Big News!


I had been impatiently waiting to be able to give you my big news. I have been accepted to profession and I have a date!

I am so full of gratitude I could not fully express it. It has been a long time. From the time I met the Sisters (May 1999) to the time I entered (Jan. 2004.) It's been long and throughout that time I often asked God, "Lord, how come other people get to enter, how come other people seem to have what I don't?" I had college loans and was supporting my family, I had a few things to work through. It seemed like I just couldn't enter.

My mom told me if I wanted to enter I needed to finish college first. That was something I didn't want to do. Like other people in this crazy "instant" age, I wanted to drop everything and enter (I coined it "giving everything up for the Lord") truth is, I didn't want to wait. It is true I wanted to give God the best of my years but God was also preparing me, teaching me patience and surrender.

The day I finished college was a happy one. The Sisters went to my graduation.
They sat for the 4+ hours. I even had a bishop there for me! The wonderful Bishop Fitzpatrick who has gone to heaven since. Some of you may know that I have a sick addiction to dictionaries, well, Bishop gave me a Merriam-Webster 11th edition as a graduation gift. Another group of friends (band directors and self-appointed young-nuns' cheerleaders) gave me the two volume Diccionario de la Real Academia Española 22th edition. It was a happy day, more than anything because I was getting closer to my dream (the dictionaries are great too.)

Even when I entered, I was still helping to support my mom's studies. My mom is a registered surgical nurse in Mexico. She had been studying English to be able to become an RN here. My mom is now working in the United States, in nursing, though she's not an RN yet but continues to study to achieve her goal. She's working, enjoying it and I see her happy, healthy and fulfilled. God couldn't have given me more.

The college loans are gone. I had an angel to help me finish paying them off, or rather, many angels. Then, there was the question of certification. Some of you know that I have a degree in Spanish Literature with a minor in Translation Studies (big deal, what can I do with a degree like that?) So, I needed to study more in order to share in the ministry of my Sisters. Pope John Paul II has been instrumental, every step of the way, his words:

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

have always been with me. Do not be satisfied, God wants more!

So, I went back to studying. I am now a certified generalist teacher with a kinder endorsement and a bilingual certification. I am halfway through a masters in theology and will become certified in Montessori Education. I am prepared for ministry, I am ready and willing. I want to give it all to God and He is taking my word.

I no longer look at other people and ask, "why can't it be me Lord?" My time has come. On Agust 9th, 2008 I will say YES! to God. I will say like our Foundress Jeanne Chezard de Matel:

"O my Gentle Love...choose me as your friend. Make your intimate hiding place in me, as I do in You. Make me a chanel through which You can pour out Your graces on all those whom You want to favor."

Today's readings speak to me greatly. When I was a child my grandmother had me memorize the Psalms to repeat in moments of anguish or fear. Psalm 23 was the first one I learned; "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..." Today, I can say that I recognized the voice of the Shepherd and I follow Him. My cup is overflowing. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the day of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER! My grandmother is surely smiling down from heaven.

Praised be the Incarnate Word! Now and Forever more. Amen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter updates


It's been a long time. It has been busy here at the house these days. I did not post much during Lent. I wanted to keep more silence than usual, saving my thoughts for God, trying to hear Him more. Then the Triduum came and there was a lot of work at our Chapel, linens, ironing, flowers, Cross, etc.




Our services were beautiful. On Thursday the Superior General and her council washed feet before the Agape. It was a beautiful experience, not only the washing but the experience of family, the intimacy of washing feet and breaking bread together, as Jesus and the apostles. Then, after the supper, our Triduum retreat started. We had Mass, the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament and adoration.


Friday was a sad day. Even knowing that Saturday night the world will resound with Gloria's and Alleluias, the day is sad. I have a tape of the Stations of the Cross. It really is poetry, a romance, depicting Jesus' great love for us. It was written by Fr. Benjamin Sanchez Espinoza, a Mexican priest who first published his poetry under the pseudonym of Fra. Asinello (which I believe it means little donkey in Italian) I used this tape for meditation often during Lent and Good Friday. There is a frase that says in the first station: "You were condemned by two silences, one a silence of fear, one a silence of love" ....) I had a hard time moving on to the second station because the great love of Christ for us becomes so much more evident on Good Friday.



Saturday was again busy with preparations for Chapel. This year it was my honor to glorify the Cross. I chose to use birds as a theme for resurrection because to me they represent the freedom that through his death and resurrection Jesus gifted us with.



The music for Saturday night and Sunday was beautiful thanks to Sr. Kathleen, our choir director. One of these days I'm going to learn how to record digitally and how to upload so that I can brag about the beautiful voices of my Sisters.



Easter is here! Happy Resurrection time! May the words of the Exultet continue to make our hearts dance and to make us free to love and to serve our living Lord!

Happy Easter!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Incarnate Word Formation Symposium 2008

I have been away for quite a long time. I had been busy preparing for our annual formation symposium. This is a gathering of all the Sisters in formation in our order.


This year the symposium was held in Mexico City. Some of you may have read a post from August of last year where I speak of spending a whole month in Mexico City studying at the Center for Incarnation Spirituality in conjunction with the Pontifical University of Mexico City. So, this year the symposium was held at the same place, the Retreat House of our Incarnate Word Sisters of the Tlalpan Generalate.


The Symposium opened February 15, 2008 with Vespers.

If there is something our Sisters are known for that is being great teachers and great singers. The music for liturgies was awesome! I had such a warm feeling being in chapel, praising God with some many other Sisters. I can not do a good job of describing the experience.


We arrived in Mexico City on Thursday to have some time before the opening. I have a cousin who lives in the city but unfortunately I wasn't able to see her that morning due to her work schedule. However, the Sisters took us for a tour of the City in one of these "turibuses". We all went to the second floor to be able to get some sun and feel the cool breeze and watch everything. The buses provided each person with these cool earphones which we connected to the back of the seat in front of us to hear a narration of the places where we went by. The city is so large that I believe the bus takes eight hours to show you the whole city. We only rode for about three hours and then had lunch and headed back to the house for the opening.


One of the places we visited was downtown Mexico City. I love the old buildings with their baroque beauty (they might be older than that, though.) Right next to the Metropolitan Cathedral there are the ruins of the ancient "Templo Mayor." In that place, last year, sometime in August a group pf Mexican archaeologists detected the presence of a sort of funeral chamber that could contain the mortal remains of Emperor Ahuitozl, who governed the Aztecs when Christopher Columbus came to the New Word. If they can prove that then it would be the first tomb of an Aztec governor ever found. Anyway, I find these things very interesting.

While at the Zocalo, I saw this organ grinder
(is that what they're called?) I saw some others in the city
dressed just like her. I snapped the picture before thinking of asking her, and then her assistant came immediately to ask for the "picture fee." That was cute. I gave her a good tip.


On Saturday we started with the recitation/ chanting/ singing of Lauds. Then we had breakfast and then moved into the morning work. We had a wonderful conference by Fr. Alex Zatyrka on being Mystics. Then after some process we had Mass, lunch and then the afternoon session was on being Prophets. That evening we presented our theme. Each congregation had to prepare either a PowerPoint, talk or some other creative way to speak of how we are Mystics and Prophets: Disciples of the Incarnate Word in our congregations. We chose to prepare a PowerPoint. I had been taking pictures of the hands of my Sisters for a couple of years. This was the time to use those pictures! So, using only pictures of their hands I showed how we live our call to Discipleship in Corpus Christi. If I find out how to put it here I will. Does anybody know? I know I can put post videos, but, how do I make a video out of a PowerPoint? Any help is appreciated?
On Sunday we were divided by stages. I went with the other novices to pray and reflect on our call to Discipleship. At the end of the time given, we came all went back to the conference room and spoke of our understanding, our hopes and dreams for our life as Incarnate Word Sisters. It was very inspirational. I must add that those of us who were bilingual helped with the translation. At some point I started talking a thousand miles a minute to this Sister who kept on staring at time with her bright blue yes. It happened to be one of our American Sisters and she did not know ANY Spanish. But at that point my cables were more than crossed.


After that we had some pictures taken. I took a picture of the picture takers (here they are pretending to be models, aren't they cute?) Then we closed with a Mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe. The frunny thing is that they have this little chapels on the second floor looking into the main Altar but they are not divided by walls (sort of like a VIP box at the theater.) So, when we were having Mass we were looking into a different Mass. It was hard to concentrate but it was beautiful.
I think we all came back energized, full of life and hopes for our future as Sisters of the Incarnate Word. What a beautiful experience that was.
On a side note I want to ask for prayers as I prepare to ask for First Vows in this congregation. That God may allow me to fall more and more in love with Him and as our Sister of Cleveland say, may I become a Gospel of Love.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!