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!