Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they appear to be dead;
their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us as disaster.
But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may be punished,
they have a sure hope of immortality.
Wisdom 3:1-4

I'm sure you're thinking, "That's a random quote." Especially since I haven't been posting as regularly as I once was. Well, allow me to explain... (as if you could expect anything different!) *smile*

Last week one of our Sisters passed away - Sr. Rose Marie Eggleston. She was close to 96 years old and was the oldest Sister in our international congregation (for about 2 weeks, since a 99 year old Sister in France passed away shortly after the New Year).

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of what that looked like for our community... with the late night phone calls and the planning of the rosary and the funeral Mass. However, I do want to say a bit about what I learned through this experience.

I'm going to start with a bit of history (not much!). In my family, death was always feared... or at least dreaded. No one "celebrated" a death. I've been to funerals where some people literally throw themselves down onto a closed casket crying for the person who has died. I've seen people pass out from grief and wail from their deepest core. Needless to say, I've never been one to react quite like this. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but in my time with the Marianist Sisters, I have seen a different way of dealing with the death of a loved one - with prayer, with gratitude for the gift of someone's life... by telling stories, laughing, reminiscing.

Last week, while preparing for the rosary and funeral (which took place Friday evening and Saturday afternoon respectively) that's what we were doing. Sharing stories about our Sister, Rose Marie... thanking God for her life... and asking for prayers from our newest heavenly intercessor.

Since I've been with the Marianist Sisters, this is the first time I've experienced a Sister's death. However, I have been to several funerals and rosaries for our Marianist Brothers/Priests. And, it's all been with the same spirit - gratitude to God for the life of one of God's servants. How beautiful...

Hence, the quote that began this post...

So, what else have I been up to???

I think right now what I spend most of my time doing is studying. Sr. Gretchen and I have started a new set of courses for the semester. And I have to be honest... I'm really excited about what we're doing. Nerd? Sometimes I am... sometimes not. It just depends. *smile*

Anyway, as you may remember, Sr. Gretchen and I meet 3 times a week for class and once for direction. This semester we've started looking at what can be called the theology of consecrated life - what is this life all about? Why would someone choose to live this life? What goes into making a decision such as this? And what are those vows about, anyway? Not that we ever phrase the questions quite like that, but basically that's what we're delving into. It's exciting stuff. With each "topic" (right now we're on choice/freedom/discernment) we start our set of readings with something written around the time of the Second Vatican Council - late 60s. Then we work our way up to contemporary theologians and those who write about religious life.

I wish I had time to share with you some of the things I've read. But I've learned enough to write a book. However, I will say this... the book By Way of the Heart by Wilkie Au is a great book about making choices and discernment. I'm really enjoying that one. Anyone trying to discern their path towards God (whether it be as a religious, married lay person, or single) could benefit from a prayerful reading of this text. Well, in my humble opinion.

In addition to my "in house" courses with Sr. Gretchen, I am auditing a Christology course at St. Mary's University here in town. That class... is going to be quite challenging (I had to keep a dictionary next to me as I read the last assignment!). However, I'm very excited about it. It'll be good for me to use some of my atrophied intellectual brain cells, so to speak. It's nice to be stretched every once in a while, I think.

I am also working on our province website. I'm working with a student from St. Mary's (because heaven knows I don't know how to design a website!). I'm working on the text and pictures while she works on layout, color scheme, font and actually getting it on line. When it's finished, I'll let you know.

This post is getting rather lengthy... I suppose I should post more often. *smile*

Next time I post, I'm going to write a little about another one of our founders Blessed Father William Joseph Chaminade whose feast day we celebrated yesterday (Jan 22). I didn't want to write about him today, though, because I felt the need to give you a personal update instead.

Many blessings to who ever reads this...

With prayers,
Sr. Nicole

4 comments:

Christine said...

Dear Nicole, I had that same experience in funerals here in my community. It's such a blessing to be able to rejoice for the sister who has gone to be with her dearest. I find our funerals to be such beautiful celebrations.

Natty said...

I was going to say the same thing. In response to,

I have seen a different way of dealing with the death of a loved one - with prayer, with gratitude for the gift of someone's life... by telling stories, laughing, reminiscing.

My "favorite" part of the rituals we observe when a Sister in our congregation dies is the Remebering Ceremony. Sisters, friends, Associates, family members, former students, whomever, come up to a microphone and tell stories about what they remember of the Sister's life, experiences they had together, touching moments, etc. There is almost always hysterical laughter involved at one point or another. It seemed so odd to me the first time. Walking in late to a Remembering Service for a Sister I didn't really know... everyone was in stitches, laughing so hard there were tears in their eyes. It's been a way to get to know the humanity and aliveness of Sisters who have gone before me. Also, the Remembering Services are typically in the evening, whereas the funeral mass often begins at 4:00 the next day, when I'm still at work. The Remembering Service has been infinitely more meaningful to me. I can only hope that one day mine will have them rolling in the aisles with laughter! (And that there be a "they" around to do the storytellinig and laughing!)

Chris Scheer said...

Marisol went to a wedding last year, and the priest said something that niether one of us have forgotten. He said that when they came back to that church for one or the other's funeral, it should be time (in a way) of great happiness, because they will have fulfilled their vow of "till death do you part". That is a striking way to think of that time of life.

Hope all is well!

Chris

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