December 22, 2008

The last week of Advent. How fast it has gone. “Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.” These are the words to a Taize refrain we sang at Mass this morning. The Lord is already here, but comes to us anew again each Christmas. My prayer is that we can see and recognize how and when the Lord enters our lives each day. God often comes to us through others who are part of our day, if only we have eyes to see God’s intervention in our lives.

Our first news is that Sr. Ramona Johnson very quietly went to heaven Saturday evening, December 20th. What a wonderful example to all of us of patient acceptance of her suffering of Lou Gehrig’s Disease these past 5+ years…to have such a keen mind and have such a hard time communicating her thoughts and desires. May she live in the joy of the Lord.
And now she can celebrate Christmas in heaven!

Another of our Sisters, Sister Susan Schik, is very near to death. She is my classmate. We are in the Reception Class of ’53 I and many Sisters have spent many hours sitting with her these past days. Sister Baptista, her sister, also appreciates having Sisters coming to be with Sister Susan. It is a consolation to know that someone is with the dying person.

Last Thursday we got a new postage machine in the convent mailroom. So far it is not much of a friend of mine…until I get used to it, and learn better how to use it. This afternoon we were putting postage on boxes of Altar Breads. It took two of us a while to figure out how to weigh and postage the boxes. But eventually we got the hang of it. (That little paper pad of our own written directions will be a constant companion for me for a while. Reading the directions from the User’s Guide seemed quite complicated.)

Last Saturday we had about seven inches of new snow. And more is promised for tonight and tomorrow. When it gets too deep for me to feel safe driving the car, I just stay home. I don’t like to get stuck as I’m not much good at shoveling or pushing!

One thing with all this cold weather, the ice is deep so the fisher people can safely play their trade. I know of several people who have been out trying their luck

A couple weeks ago, they had a blessing for our new house in Mexico. Sr. Janice told me the house was duly blessed with about 300 people in attendance for the event and the goodies afterward.

Christmas Eve we will be singing carols for half an hour before the 7:30 p.m. Christmas Mass. All are invited for refreshments afterwards in St. Francis Hall.

Our Mass on Christmas day is at 8:30 a.m. Again, all are invited to attend.

Sunday, December 28th, is the Feast of the Holy Family. My prayer is for all families that there be peace and harmony. I pray for all families that struggle because of addiction, mental illness, chronic sickness or ongoing trials of any kind, that they will be fortified and blessed with God’s special love and favor.

I wish you a Merry Christmas. May the Lord give you special blessings of peace and joy as we celebrate the Birth of Jesus. It was St. Francis who wanted to see with his own eyes what the birth of Jesus would have looked like. So he gathered shepherds and animals in a cave and read the Gospel of Luke and then preached to the people of the wonder of the event of the Birth of the Son of God in such humble circumstances.

Pax et Bonum
Sister Mary Lou


December 16, 2008

Tuesday of the third week of Advent…and Christmas is only nine days away. Three candles on the Advent wreath are lit each day during Mass at our Motherhouse. Last night I was looking at the reflection of our candles. I so enjoy seeing the differing heights of the burning candles as the weeks go by. Today another sign of approaching Christmas appeared in Chapel. Two great big trees are standing one on each side of the sanctuary. Each day an added piece appears until the whole Christmas Crib is in place. To think that God sent His only Son to be with us. What an awesome gift. What awesome love God shows and shares with us.

Sunday we had an old-fashioned blizzard. After we got home from Mass, we all just stayed inside and watched the snow fall and the wind blow. According to the newspaper we got 8 ½ inches of new snow. (I always wonder how they can figure that out when it is moving around so fast.) I hope the homeless can find appropriate shelter in this frigid weather. And God bless those who provide shelter to those in need.

I never like to hear sirens any time. In winter, I always pray that someone has not been in an accident or their home is on fire. Check the smoke detecters and carbon monoxide detecters so you are safe, too.

This morning it was 18 below zero. That’s cold. When I was teaching, I always liked it when we got a few really cold days. It seemed to kill all the “bugs” and the children were healthier. But when they had to stay confined too long, they just passed the germs around from one to another and that was not good.

Last Friday I spent a couple hours at the Coborn’s Superstore “Making a Joyful Noise” as part of the Food Shelf fund-raiser. We collected $187.00. I thought that good in light of the bad economy and the cold night. We were set up next to the Lion’s Club fund-raiser. When people came and gave them a donation and they didn’t want their name on a slip for a chance, the guys would ask if it was OK to put “Food Shelf” on the slip. So the Food Shelf got their name in the Lion’s Club box quite a few times. I guess that some years back, the Food Shelf was winner of a $400 gift certificate for groceries. What a blessing to receive a gift like that. I was also touched by a couple ladies who made a donation and said, “I’ve had to use the food shelf this year. So I can help a little, too,”

Thursday noon we are having our Sister/Employee Christmas pot luck noon luncheon. There is always so much good food. One really has to make choices! We will bring fresh cooked squash.

Friday morning three of us Sisters will be guests on the KLTF radio Party Line program. We will talk about some of our Christmas memories. I am sure there will be some good stories.

May your days be “merry and bright.” It will be a white Christmas in this part of the world!

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


December 10, 2008

The first words I read this morning after I got up were, “Sometimes it seems as if everyone I meet is tired…tired of working, tired of their daily grind, tired of boredom, tired of loneliness, tired of financial pressures, tired of stress, even tired of being tired.”

It almost made me want to go back to bed again! Next I read from the Gospel of Matthew (1:28-30) “Jesus said to the crowds: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and my burden light.’” That lifted my spirits. Christ offers Himself, opening His arms wide, and inviting all who are weary to come to Him and to find rest. When we are “yoked” to Jesus, we can be assured that the Lord will do the heavy lifting and will be our Guide as we move through the day. So the day has moved along nicely and there have been no burdens that I can’t handle. Thank you, God.

The concert last Friday was beyond words to describe. The Strings players were superb and then the Chorale joined them to do the “Halleluiah Chorus”! It was a spiritual experience that brought the audience to their feet. Thanks, Celo.

Sr. Rosaria just came back from her Mother’s funeral. She said it was beautiful. To think that her Mom lived to the age of 114 years. Think of all the changes she had seen in her lifetime. Wow!

Monday we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception. None of us will soon forget that feast day Mass. Just at the Consecration, the fire sirens started blaring and kept it up until Father said, “Now offer one another a sign of peace.” We had quiet for a short time and then the noise all began again, but for a shorter time. My thought was, “We are all in Chapel and in what safer place could we be?” A sprinkler system head froze and broke and water was coming down the steps as the men ran up the steps to find the problem. One thing we know for sure is that one cannot ignore the fire alarms!

Various departments are having their Christmas parties. Last night I worked at the Convent Switchboard while the regular workers had their party. Today the Community Relations and Development Department had their party and I was invited to that one.

Good food. Good company. Good visiting and sharing. Next Sunday we have our SFO Christmas party in Brainerd. On Sunday, also, is the Heartland Orchestra concert at the Charles Martin Auditorium. Since I don’t yet have bilocation, I guess I will need to give my tickets to someone else to use.

This Friday afternoon/evening I will be going out to the Corborn’s superstore to “Make a Joyful Noise.” This is a fundraiser for the local Food Shelf. I recruited a helper to join me in my four-hour shift. We will make joyful noises and invite people to help our cause.

Winter has definitely come. Between Saturday and Tuesday we had 5 inches of snow. And the temperatures have stayed cold. I don’t mind the cold and snow so much, but I don’t like freezing rain and ice.

God bless and continue to care for you. I’m off to writing more Christmas cards and letters. The second batch went out this morning. There are still more to go!

Sister Mary Lou


December 3, 2008

Welcome to the first week of Advent. I am happy to see Advent Wreaths here and there around campus. It is such a wonderful symbol of waiting for the coming of Our Savior.

Sometimes a day doesn’t go the way one expects it to go. My intention was to write this Monday morning after I got my date pinwheel cookies mixed up. I got half through mixing the cookie dough and got the call asking me to go to Perham to pick up Sister Sylvia to bring her to Little Falls as it seemed that her sister, Sister Susan, was soon to go to heaven. Three hours later I was back here in Little Falls. {Sister Susan is still with us. She is my classmate in Community—the class of ’53.} Anyway, I got the pinwheel cookies put together Monday night. (The recipe is one that Mom got in 1935 from our neighbor on the farm.) The recipe says “to put the rolled up dough in the icebox overnight.” Since we don’t have an icebox anymore, I decided to put the cookie rolls in the trunk of my car until the next day when I’d take it to the Motherhouse to bake as part of the cookie making/baking project Terry had organized. The cookies are now baked and there are lots of containers of goodies ready for the Christmas holidays.

Sunday night, November 30th, the St. Francis Community Chorale put on a wonderful concert, “Oh, What a Wonderful Child.” Our St. Francis Chapel was full of listeners who appreciated the beautiful Advent and Christmas songs. Barb Stumpf is a great director who really knows how to get the music out of the singers.

This same group will sing again this Friday night when they join Celo V”ec and the sfz String Orchestra and the Beginning String Orchestra in the performance of Hallelujah from Handel’s Messiah. As always, I expect the Chapel to be filled to capacity for the Christmas Concert by the String Orchestras…and the Community Chorale.

Saturday is the Feast of St. Nicholas. He always comes with treats to us at the Convent. I hope he brings treats to you, too. I will never forget the great times we had when I was teaching and St. Nicholas came to visit the classrooms. For those who were not good, they got a stick or a lump of coal.

Saturday we have our Advent Reflection Day. Our speaker for this retreat day is Sister Joann Haney, OSF. I think she is a Rochester Franciscan Sister. I am looking forward to a day of quiet prayer and reflection after all the business of this first week of December…and things will only get busier s the weeks to Christmas fly by.

Next Monday, December 8th, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. For us Little Falls Franciscan Sisters, this is our patronal feast. And then a few days later, on December 12th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron of the Americas.

Take some time to be aware of Who we celebrate at Christmas. And keep in mind and prayer those who will have a tough time in this time of our bad economy.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou