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!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

World Consecrated Day, Jubilarians and a batch of marmalade

Today is the World Day of Consecrated Life. In our Diocese, here in Corpus Christi, we had a Mass at the Cathedral. I always dread this because we have to process in and I feel the whole world is looking at me (it's also televised....) Well, it's a bit prideful to think they are ALL looking at me since there are many, many other religious, but being a bit on the shy side, well, I can't help it.

During the Mass, the jubilarians in our Diocese were recognized for their years of service.

Our jubilarians were:

6o years

Sister Mary Stella Barrientes

Sister Margaret Patrice Bradley

Sister Mary Christina Bradley

Sister Mary Lucy Garcia

50 years

Sister Denise Cassidy

Sister Brenda Thompson

40 years

Sister Barbara Marie Netek

Congratulations to my nunnies! May they continue to serve the Incarnate Word and to be gospels of love.

I guess to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Lilfe, I put out the February batch of marmalade and jelly. This month I made Sweet Carrot Marmalade and Apple Jelly.

As soon as I put them out today, the apple ones were gone. Thank God I took the picture before I put the note on the door. I was expecting people to buy marmalade tomorrow when they come to Mass but some of the nunnys bought the jelly to give to friends.

Back in the day when the Sisters were building this Convent and trying to raise the money to pay for it, Sister Raphael Bartosh and Sister Anselm Till stayed up late many nights to make jellies to sell. We used to have grape vines. They would tend the vines, pick the grapes, make jelly and then they would go sell it. It was a lot of work (I bet they made it in industrial amounts.) The very first time I attempted to make grapefruit marmalade I got stuck. I had put too much water and it wouldn't gel. Then the jars would not seal. I started then asking Sr. Raphael to be a guardian angel (she has gone to heaven now.)

So, this marmalade is in honor of those Sisters who worked hard, played fair and loved much. May God bless us and allow us to follow the wonderful example of the many who have gone before us and who wait for us in Heaven.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When I'm an old lady....

The Sisters of the Incarnate Word of Corpus Christi really know how to have fun together! Today we had a meeting at the motherhouse where we took the opportunity to dress silly. We laughed and talked and enjoyed being together.

Some of the Sisters prepared a display with pictures of us at a youger age. It was a lot of fun to guess who was who. Some were pretty easy since they haven't changed much. Others were a little tougher, I thought mine was pretty obvious but still some people took a long while to figure me out. It was cute to see how most of us look the same.

Doesn't our Superior, Sister Irma looks just the same?

After the meeting was over we had a delicious merienda (afternoon snack) provided by our three kings (queens, really.) These are the three Sisters who found a baby Jesus inside the Kings Cake (Rosca de Reyes) on January 6 (they come with three Baby Jesus' inside.)

After the merienda we just sat and visited. Yours truly kept on taking pictures of everybody. It isn't everyday that we see each other wearing purple.

And why were we wearing purple? No, were not celebrating Mardi Grass ahead of time, we were just being more spontaneous, more playful. We are moving into the future with a child's playful heart and the wisdom of an old lady. We are going back to the heart of our Mother Foundress who said: "Since this Order is protected by God, the Sisters will play in this world of happiness which is preserved by heaven. It will be a heaven on earth where the King of Heaven will be honored and adored." Writings, Vol. 7, p.46

With that in our hearts we remember that when we gather in His name, he is there in our midst (Mt. 18,20)

And well, I can not describe the spirit of the day better than posting Sister Ann Brigid's version of the poem "When I'm an old Lady" by Jenny Joseph.

When I'm an old lady I will wear purple with a crazy hat which may or may not match (it won't matter.) And I shall spend my allowances in trifles and share them with great laughter and joy.

I will take wonderful delight in the rain and marvel- with new companions- at the sunsets in other places. The beauty of children will still warm my heart but I will be sharing it with newly-found friends.

In my older age, I just might take up a second language for my new place in life- Swahili, perhaps French, maybe Vietnamese or even Chinese. The possibilities are dazzling. I will always stop to smell the roses but I will be on the way to somewhere new.

Why, in a few years, I might be living-near the eastern hills of Africa. I could be teaching in Ohio, working in California or Guatemala or learning a whole new skill in the heart of Mexico. Can you see me sitting at a computer in Roanne with the French breezes wafting through the room? I can! Will I be able to walk in the shadow of Jeanne herself? I think so.

Who knows, in 2013, I might be flying to Saigon City to open a formation house for twenty postulants. Someone might ask me to build a new garden; imagine starting one from scratch.

In any of these futurings I will be following in the pioneering steps of those who came before me. They answered a call and went where none had gone before- secure in the arms of He who had whispered to them.

Do I- in this age of purple and unmatched hats- hear those same whisperings? Do I slink back into my security or do I throw it all to the spirit in my old age and say, why not Lord!

I took this last picture at the last moment, inspired by the power of community. We are so diverse, so different and yet we all love God, we all love the Church and we love each other. May God help us all to have more purple in our lives.