December 21, 2009

As of 11:47 this morning, winter is officially here according to the calendar. From the looks and feel of it, winter has been here for about a month already.

The fourth week of Advent is here and Christmas comes on Friday—the day we’ve been preparing for all Advent. All four Advent candles on the wreath are now lit. Most of the Christmas cards and been sent and MANY received. God bless all our relatives and friends who take the time to reconnect or connect. Building relationships is such an important part of living and being Franciscan.

Music. Music. And more music. This is what St. Francis Music Center has provided for us. December 11th, Celo V’ec directed the two Sting Orchestras for our entertainment. And at this concert, the St. Francis Community Choir joined them for a beautiful rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Then on the 13th the Community Choir had their own inspiring and beautiful concert. Then yesterday a group of six Senior High School girls provided us with another marvelous musical experience. These six girls, the Senior Ensemble, entertained us by singing beautifully twelve Christmas songs. And as part of this concert a String Trio, Students of Celo V’ec, played six numbers for us. What marvelous talent these young people shared with us! Thank you, ALL you musicians, for sharing your gifts with us. We were appreciative audiences.

I hope you weren’t planning on traveling to the east coast the next few days. It sounds to me like moving around there can be a big problem. And now it sounds like we could have our own bout with new snow before Christmas. My two brothers and their wives are planning on snow-birding in Texas the next three months. As each round of snow comes, they say, “Texas is sounding real good right now.”

Last Thursday we had our Sister/Employee Christmas pot-luck meal at noon. After the meal, the drawings were held to give away many items. These items were donated by employees and Sisters as a way to raise some money for Caring by Sharing. This year the funds were donated to the Boys and Girls Club and Hands of Hope. I am so proud of how generous folks were. A total of $1,117 was divided between the two groups. Many people went home with lovely gifts. I didn’t win anything, but was gifted with a pair of home-sewn mittens—the only thing I really wanted. Oh, lucky me!

Many, many generous donors are returning one of the two paper ornaments we sent to them in our Christmas appeal letter. These ornaments are now gracing two large Christmas trees in chapel. After Christmas these ornaments will be divided up among all of us Sisters and these will be our special people to pray for each day of 2010.

I wish each of you, my blog readers, a very Happy and grace-filled Christmas. May the love of Jesus fill your hearts and overflow in the good you do for others.

Peace and all good. (Pax et Bonum.)
Sister Mary Lou



December 7, 2009

We’re into the second week of Advent and the second week of December. Winter has come. Time for the heavier coats, hats and mittens! About 8 a.m. the “radio guy” said, “We are already up to 15 degrees.” I said to myself, “What is so great about that?” We have just a light coating of snow on the ground. Sounds like parts south of here will have lots more in a couple days.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Brainerd to help fill 1,200 little bags with birdseed—an SFO project. Our Fioretti Fraternity distributes these little gifts to the members of the five parishes from which our membership comes. Why do we do this? “St. Francis wanted all creation to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It was his desire that all mayors and Lords of Castles issue a decree that would require the scattering of grain on the roads on Christmas so that our friends the birds might have something to eat.” We ask that the receivers of our little gifts feed the birds on Christmas Day.

Saturday, Dec. 5th we had a wonderful Advent Day of Reflection. The presenters were Sister Michelle and Brother David. They gave thoughtful and prayerful presentations based on St. Bonaventure’s “Five Feasts of the Child Jesus.” We were about 60 participating in the events of the day. Thank you to all who helped in any way with this day.

At noon lunch on Saturday St. Nicholas came with treats for everyone whether they were “naughty or nice.”

Wednesdays, every other week for the past several months, Sister Maristell has been giving a series of talks on Jesus as we know Him fro Sacred Scripture. What a marvelous lady she is to prepare and present such good material. Adult education to the finest degree!

This Thursday, December 10th, the local Lions Club will be coming to sing Christmas Carols in Chapel and then afterwards we will share pizza in the dining room. Sounds good to me!

Remember the two great concerts coming up this weekend. On Friday (7 p.m.), is the Christmas Strings Concert in Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse. And then on Sunday (13th) at 2:30 p.m., is the St Francis Community Chorale Concert--also in Chapel. Both concerts are well worth attending. I hope you can come.

May your Advent continue to be blest.
Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou


December 2, 2009

The first week of Advent is almost half over. How can it be? The Little Blue Book reflection for Monday said:

“God does things through us that we ourselves cannot do, or even measure. And God does them often in ways we don’t understand…Let God do what God wants to do through me. That is the path to greatness—no matter what my age, no matter what my condition. O Lord, let me let You do what You want to do through me today”.
We wait for the coming of Jesus. And God waits for us, too. May we recognize Jesus when He comes to us…and may we let God’s work be done through us.

Sister Fran made the lovely ceramic Advent Wreath that we have in the Motherhouse Chapel. It fits perfectly inside the green wreath.

When visiting on second floor in Clare Residence yesterday I saw a most unique Advent calendar in their dining room. It is a tree made up of little bird houses. And in the hole of each birdhouse is a piece of paper with an Advent reflection for that day. After the reflection is read at breakfast time it is posted near the dining room door so it can be read and pondered on during the day. The bird house for December 8th is painted blue in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast of our religious community. Thank you, Elizabeth, Rita, Cheryl and all who helped make this unique calendar. I also notice that Sr. Antonette has been busy painting lovely Christmas designs on the windows. Today the little gingerbread people that I talked about last week are part of the decoration near each door on the floor…and the Christmas tree is full of white lights and little gingerbread people—really cute. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

This week, too, the housekeepers decorated the outside poles with green garlands and red ribbons. I hung a couple strings of lights outside our house yesterday, too. Now, let it snow!

We had a bilingual Mass this morning—part in Spanish and part in English. Today is the anniversary of the deaths of Sister Maura Clark, Sister Ita Ford, Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, who were martyred in El Salvador in 1980. Nine months before this Archbishop Oscar Romero, also of El Salvador, had been assassinated. Martyrdom is not a thing of the past. It happens now-a-days, too. God, give courage to those who bear witness to their faith by giving their lives.

On Sunday I went over to Linden Hill’s to tour the Musser and Weyerhaeuser mansions. What wonderful history of our town in these two buildings. This year’s theme continues to follow the Wizard of Oz connection between Laura Jan Musser and Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie. A Christmas tree in the Weyerhaeuser House was decorated with items made by Sisters Marguerite, Loretta, and Bernita. And under the tree is a little two-car wooden train made by Sr. Sharon. I looked only at items on the first floors, but all floors were open to visitors. What a treasure these buildings are to Little Falls.

Last week I mentioned the trees that we could fill with leaves mentioning the things we are grateful for. Here is a picture of two of the four trees that were in the sanctuary at Mass last Thursday.

Happy Advent and God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou