Saturday, December 25, 2010

What good is it that Christ was born 2000 years ago, if he is not born now in your hearts?
Meister Eckhart

Forgive me, friends, for I've been absent. It's been four months since my last post... FOUR MONTHS! Goodness! Time flies...

First things first - MERRY CHRISTMAS! What a blessed day today is... God took on our human condition... God took flesh in the womb of a woman who believed and loved enough to say yes... God entered our world for love of us. And how blessed are we because of that. Today is a wonderful day for reflection... for gratitude... for rejoicing in the grace of God. At least, that is true for me.

On this Christmas day I find myself grateful for so many blessings. It's been a very full few months since my last post. It's been an incredible time of grace. How could it be otherwise? For the presence of God has been so evident...

For some students at UD it was the most painful semester they've experienced because of a parent's death or other situations that were trying and heart wrenching. Sitting with them, never having the appropriate words, but being present... difficult... But, Christ was made present in those times - in the midst of tears and confusion. God took on flesh.... In the craziness of balancing academic work, community life, and ministry... Christ was manifested. In discernment about the future... confusion in times of decision... Christ took on flesh. In the quiet of an Advent retreat at Gethsemani... the hush of snow... the sacrament of reconciliation and praying before the Blessed Sacrament... Christ was manifested. In times of loneliness and the instability of human friendship... God was enfleshed. In the call to simplify and let go... in the seed of justice and peace taking root within... Christ is made present.

And that's the beauty of this day. God is made manifest. Not only 2000 years ago, but each day and in many ways. It is a cause of joy, indeed!

May this Christmas season bring each of you peace and joy... and the ability to recognize the incarnation of God with each day.

Blessings to all who read this,
Sr. N

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I fasted in order to set my heart at rest.
"The Woodcarver" by Thomas Merton

Yesterday and this morning I had the great pleasure of being on retreat with my coworkers in UD Campus Ministry. We discussed and prayed about our true selves... the love of God... and creating safe space for students and others to be their true selves. To say that there was a lot to ponder is an understatement!

Today at the end of our prayer time together, we read a poem by Joyce Rupp called "Prayer for Openness." It struck a chord with me and I wanted to share it with you...

Spirit of freedom,
open my mind and my heart.
Lift the barriers,
unbind the strong grasp of my demands
when I want everything to go my way.

God of spaciousness,
reach into my inner space,
sweep out all the old clutter,
enlarge my capacity to receive.

Bringer of truth,
empty me of whatever impedes
the growth of our relationship.
Help me recognize and accept
your sources for my growth.

Creator of the seasons of life,
soften my resistance to emptying.
May I welcome each inner season
as a catalyst for my transformation.

Faithful Friend,
deepen my trust in you.
Ease my doubts, fears, and discouragements.
When I am feeling vulnerable,
remind me that you are my safe haven.

Divine Mystery,
may I be ever more rooted in you.
Draw me into solitude.
Entice me into endless encounters
where I experience oneness with you.

Holy Whisper,
open the ears of my heart.
May I hear your voice within the silence
as well as within the noise of my life.
Re-awaken me
so that I can listen to you wholeheartedly.

Bringer of Good and Giver of Growth,
we yearn to be open and receptive
to your generosity.
May we trust your presence amidst the cycle
of emptying and filling.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Friday, August 06, 2010

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
"Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents..."
Luke 9:32-33a

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration!

Ah, Peter. Do you sometimes think that when you read Scripture or hear a story about Peter proclaimed at Church... Oh, Peter... Today is one of those days for me. But, in the same breath I also see that Peter and I have A LOT in common!

This summer I had the great blessing of having many experiences like that Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration... having a sense of closeness with God, coming to know Jesus more deeply, and of waking up to seeing reality in a different light. And I too often said, "Oh, it would be great just to stay here..." wherever "here" happened to be...

That is not the call, though. Today's feast is a great reminder of that. It's a reminder, for me that life is full of "mountain top experiences"... and that's not a bad thing! But life is more than that... and God is part of all of it. It's all part of our process of growing into the image of God we are created to be.

So, as the summer draws to its close (for me anyway) I am reminded on this feast to be thankful for the transfiguration experiences of the past few months... and let those feed me when the valley moments come (because they will...). That's life. And what a graced life it is.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Remember the love (Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love (You know that life is a gift from up above)
Remember the love (Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love (Measure, measure your life in love)
Seasons of Love

How does one measure moments in one's life? How do I measure what my life has been thus far? The song "Seasons of Love" states that one should measure one's life by how much love is shared... I tend to agree.

I've heard this song many times over the years. In the past 2 weeks, though I have heard it at least 6 times ~ and sang it at the top of my lungs. It's a good thing I enjoy it! I quote it now not just because I like the song, but because it seems appropriate at this point in time.

I have just completed my last year working with the Marianist LIFE South program. I cannot begin to put into words what this program has been for me over the past 9 years. It has helped me to become the person that I am. It helped solidify my commitment as a Marianist years before I entered the Sisters. It has also introduced me to many incredible people - who have left their prints on my heart. Lastly, it's a faith formation/leadership program in the Marianist charism that has changed lives... and that I believe in a great deal.

And so, as this chapter of my life closes, I find myself with a mix of emotions. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an incredible program. I've learned A LOT... about leadership, about myself, Marianists, and about high school students. I am also a little sad. I'll miss the place (TECABOCA - TExas CAtholic BOys CAmp - a Marianist Center in Mountain Home, Texas). And I will miss the people more than I realized I would.

And so, here's to Marianist LIFE - celebrating 40 years this year. Thank you to the people and the program for loving me into the person I am.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Thursday, July 08, 2010

There is gift in the gathering.
Brian Reavey

Hi. Here I am... still around... still not blogging very often. :) Again, it's been nearly a month. There's been a lot happening in the month gone by... Suffice it to say, this is one whirlwind summer!!! Where do I start? Well, I'll give you a brief synopsis of what's been going on... then a few reflections...

In the 2 weeks following my last post, I started an independent study in canon law... turned 35 (!)... traveled to north Texas for a wedding... traveled to the Woodlands, TX to visit with a friend... and renewed my vows. I've never seen 2 weeks go by so quickly!

The canon law course was a complete surprise for me. I came to Texas expecting to take a 2-week long Scripture course on the Synoptics. Well, that was not to be. Last night I completed a 23 page rough draft of a research paper. The paper is due in August. ... My birthday was pretty low-key. I had dinner with a friend (with whom I've been friends since we were 14), his wife and their two children. The Sisters and I celebrated the night before with a nice seafood meal and lots of laughter. I celebrated the day after my birthday with the Casa Maria Marianist Community... Then, the next day, I was off to the wedding. I traveled north about 5 hours from San Antonio with a good friend who is a Marianist brother. We had a fun and completely
unproductive few days. The wedding was beautiful and the reception was fun. ... Then, it was San Antonio for 1 day and off to the Woodlands to visit another friend with whom I've been close since we were 14. She was there for a conference. So, I kept her hotel room company (working on readings in canon law) during the day and we spent time together in the evenings. I got back to San Antonio just in time for a conference call for Marianist LIFE, a working dinner (for LIFE) and then the renewal of vows on June 26.

On June 27 I traveled to Louisville, KY... I was there until July 4. You may ask, "Why Louisville?" And why was I there for an entire week??

Sunday June 27 - Tuesday July 29 was a program called "Stella Maris." It is a formation program for those of us who are temporary professed Marianists. We were assigned some readings prior to our gathering - readings on our charism, history, mission and life in Marianist community. During the days that we were together we shared with each other the fruits of our reading and prayer. We talked about community life... our mission as Marianists... the role of Mary in our lives... We shared prayer... and we had a lot of good conversations.

On Wednesday July 30 approximately 300 Marianists brothers & priests, 20 or so Lay Marianists, and 2 other Marianist sisters descended upon Louisville (and our barely large enough hotel) for the brothers' assembly - "Gather at the River." The assembly had many purposes. One purpose was to install the new provincial council. Another was to embrace the new strategic plan for the province - Vision 2020. Lastly, it's good for this group to gather - to share conversation about important things (and some not so "important") - to pray together - and to celebrate together.

You may ask why I was present for the brothers' assembly. Well... back in April the planning committee for the gathering asked me to be on a panel that would address the group. Each day during the assembly there were two panel presentations about different elements of Vision 2020. I was part of the final panel on partnership within the Marianist family. That was daunting! Luckily, several of my friends were on panels in the days prior and helped me feel a little more okay with it... and I think it went okay.

These few days since I've been back in San Antonio, I've been holed up in my room working on that crazy canon law paper. The due date on the rough draft is next week. Luckily, it's done. This afternoon I am going to Austin to visit with family. I finally get to see my dad, older sister, niece, nephew etc. When I get back, it'll be 3 days before work for LIFE South begins... Then, back to Dayton 3 weeks from now!

Okay. That wasn't exactly a brief synopsis of anything, was it. :) It's so hard to be brief when life is so full! I'll try to be brief in my reflection...

I've been thinking a lot lately about friendship... and about the vows I renewed last month. If a person is called to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience (and stability, in my case), then the vows allow the person to grow in the capacity to love - love God, others, and self. However, the paradox of that is that it is a somewhat solitary life. When it comes to building and sustaining relationships, a vowed religious is called to love broadly... not exclusively any one person or group of people. So, what does that mean practically???

Well... if this summer is any indication... for me it means that relationships - even close friendships - will always be in flux. I may live in the same city as a close friend for a while, but then ministry calls me or the other in a different direction. Or, perhaps, I might think that I'd like to chat with a someone, but time zone differences are too great for phone conversations or the demands of ministry/community schedule do not allow for lengthy conversations. ... I am blessed to have friends spread all over the country... which, really is a cool reality. But how does one maintain those relationships? Patience, I think, is pretty important.... Enjoying the few times you can be physically present... and the occasional phone call/e-mail/facebook update...

And so, relationships are built with the people around at the time. This does not diminish in any way the relationships with people far away. But, one cannot become so dependent on any friendships (near or far) that it leaves the person closed to other possibilities.

There's more that I could say, but I think I've rambled enough. :) I started this blog with a picture and a quote - both from the time in Louisville. I am grateful for the time with good friends... for the conversations on community, mission, and partnership... and I look towards our future with a great deal of hope.

Many blessings!
Sr. N

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Go placidly amid the noise and haste
and remember what peace there may be in silence...
Max Ehrmann

I've always had an affinity for the poem quoted above... So much so that I memorized in high school and did a "dramatic rendering" of it in my freshman English class... When I graduated from 8th grade our language arts teacher gave each of us a copy of it and said that it as good advice as we moved on from St. Mary's. How right she was... wise woman.

So, I've been thinking about blogging for a while - more than a month to be exact. Every time I thought to myself, "I'll blog later today" or "I'll blog tomorrow morning" things never went the way I thought they would. When do they ever?!

It's been a good month. Time seems to go a little too quickly, however. In order to try to capture the events and learnings since last I wrote, I thought I would use "Desiderata" to frame things... instead of writing about what's been happening in life in chronological order... (yes, I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something new & different! Hard to believe, I'm sure!)...

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, a remember what peace there may be in silence."
This summer began with my annual retreat. 8 days of silence in the hills of West Virginia. I went with a group from UD - all theology or pastoral ministry grad students or PhD candidates. There were 10 of us on retreat together with 2 spiritual directors. It was a fantastic way to begin the summer. The sunsets were phenomenal... I saw many deer, turtles, rabbits, and fascinating birds... God and I had many good conversations as I took my morning and evening walks. There was a room called the "listening room" at the retreat center. In that room there was a cd player and classical cds. I listened to hours of Chopin and Mozart as I wrote in my journal and drew mandalas. It was a very creative retreat for me. Any of you who have met me or know me personally know that I am no artist. I get too frustrated because my creations aren't perfect. But, for some reason I was much more free during this time of retreat - I sat with a huge box of Crayolas (did you know they come in insane numbers like 124?!) and paper and just colored... and drew... with no plan... no sketching... and no self-judging. That in and of itself is a grace!

There were many quotes from Scripture on which I meditated on retreat. But the one that stands out most to me as being particularly significant was "I have told you this that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete." from John's gospel. It's part of the last supper discourse when Jesus is teaching about remaining in God's love. Joy... the result of remaining in union with God and living a life of love. Joy... the result of living the life you are called to live and doing it with abandon into God's love. Why I had never really thought about things that way or from that perspective, I will never know. I am certainly glad that it was one of the graces of the retreat, though! As St. Iraneus said, "The glory of God is the human person fully alive."

"As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story."
Coming off retreat I was filled with a sense of understanding what it might mean to love... even in situations or with people that I don't particularly care for. I am constantly learning how to love. It's the lesson that community and religious life in general teaches over and over... which is good, because I think I must be a slow learner! What catches me about this part of the "Desiderata" is the idea of speaking the truth... and being on good terms with people. When I first arrived in San Antonio I had two experiences of friends who are typically positive, upbeat people... however, both were not necessarily in "good space" and so were almost cynical. It took me by surprise in both situations. My typical response would be to respond by being brought down and thinking that I had done something to cause the negative dynamic. This time, though... I was able to maintain my slightly more optimistic-realism and realize it wasn't about me. There's a novel idea... it's not always about me. :) And I pray that joy might be theirs again.

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
This statement is so true... and yet, how does one actually do that? I'm not sure, really. Although, I do think it's important to pay attention to the attitudes of the people with whom I spend time... which relationships encourage love, faith, prayer... and which don't?

Recently I was in Chicago for the Catholics on Call young adult conference ( No worries... I know I'm not a "young adult" anymore. I was there as a mentor/small group facilitator. I came away from that experience with a lot to ponder... to pray about... and a very long list of books I "should" read. However, in relation to this part of the "Desiderata" I remember something that the founder of "Harmony, Hope & Healing" ( said to us. We were talking about how she understood her ministry as her vocation and she came to found this fantastic ministry. She talked to us about the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who support us. When she first started thinking about how she could use her musical talents to serve the needs of the poor/homeless in Chicago, she met with a lot of resistance and questions from members of her family. But, she felt called to this... so she surrounded herself with supportive people... And eventually... she was able to found this organization.

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time."
This particular line... while not exactly my perspective (Career?... nope. Vocation? yes!) I do think it's true that comparing ourselves with others can be damaging....

"Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass."
I'm not sure why this particular sections starts with a statement about business. But... in a world where the news is filled with evidence of sinfulness, injustice, and selfishness... it's easy for me to get overwhelmed with grief for the state of our world. Or on closer to home, inequity all around in the educational system... the division in the Church... It could be easy for me to become cynical or jaded. But I've realized over the years, and especially in this summer, that my initial attitude is typically one of trust in the goodness of the other. Yes, it's caused me pain through the years, but somehow I think I'd rather go through life being who I am rather than a cynical shell of myself.

"Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness."
Next week I will be 35. THIRTY-FIVE! That almost seems impossible. I realize that 35 is not that old. In fact, in the grand scheme of life, it's still fairly young. However, I also am starting to grasp that maturity and wisdom are good things to continue to grow towards. Mind you, I realize that I'm not always the most mature person in a room full of peers. The thing is that now I recognize that fact, whereas I think I've been oblivious to it. I also am coming to understand that there is an important distinction between youthfulness and foolish immaturity. It's taken me a long time to understand that. It's about time!

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
How many times has a spiritual director told me, "Be gentle with yourself" or "Nicole, you're too harsh on yourself." Indeed! It's hard to change a way of thinking if it's how you were raised or how you've always understood life to be. Another grace of my retreat in May was coming to a clearer understanding of what it means to be gentle with oneself... without being careless. Aristotle once wrote that virtue is the mean... or some people have translated it as "virtue lies in the middle between extremes." An insight into myself this summer has been that I am a woman of extremes... all or nothing type of mentality... in most things. Not a healthy way to be! It's funny how I came to understand this. One morning on retreat I was out for a walk. All of a sudden I had an urge to run (those that know me know that I don't run). So... I ran... for a little while. It was almost a sprint. Then... I couldn't go anymore so I started jogging more slowly, but I didn't like that. So, I started walking. And I thought to myself, "Either I sprint or I walk, there is no in between. That's why I never run." Then in dawned on me - I'm like that in everything! Funny how God brings things to light in unexpected ways. I should repeat to myself every so often, "Virtue lies in the middle..."

The end of the "Desiderata" goes like this...
"Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."


Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Early in the morning, it's the dawn of a new day
- new hopes, new dreams, new ways.
I open up my eyes and I open up my mind and
I wonder how life will surprise me today.
A Beautiful Day ~ India Arie

Where has the time gone? How is it that I haven't blogged since Palm Sunday weekend? Craziness...

I suppose it's time for an update on life. My sister said to me not too long ago, "I didn't know sisters traveled so much." My response? "Well... this one does." And that's the story of my life, my friends! :)

Let's see. What's been going on since Palm Sunday... It's sad. I just had to reach for my planner....

The Triduum was beautiful as always. I won't tell you all the details of each day, but we celebrated the beauty of this short liturgical season very well. The Vigil on Holy Saturday was fantastic. Two students were baptized and another was received into full communion. It was such a joyous occasion for the UD community.

In the midst of such joy, however, the UD community was hit with 2 tragedies during Holy Week. First, a graduate student and teaching assistant took his life. It was a difficult time for many people on campus. I believe that happened just before Holy Week. Then... on Holy Thursday, a junior volleyball player and her father were killed in a plane crash on their way to pick up her sister at another college. That was very difficult also. The compassionate response of the UD community was wonderful, but the loss was just so great.

It was odd to have these tragedies in the midst of Holy Week. Perhaps, though, the timing allowed everyone some time to reflect on the Paschal Mystery... and the fact that death does not ever triumph. But it's not realistic to expect that people can ponder theology in the midst of such loss.

And then... it was April...

April was a PACKED month for me. With two weekends in a row spent out of town for Marianist LIFE planning (one weekend in Philadelphia for 4 days followed by a weekend in San Antonio for 3)... one weekend spent celebrating the jubilee of 4 brothers in Cincinnati... one weekend visiting with friends from out of town (one from LA and another from Fort Worth)... AND... finishing 2 14-page research papers for my class. No wonder April flew!

While I was in Philadelphia I spent every free second writing. The two papers that were due the last week of April were 1) an integration paper (prompt - what did you learn this semester? What new insights did you gain into spiritual direction or pastoral care?) and 2) a topic of our choice. I chose to do something on how the Marianist charism influences the way a person does spiritual direction. We didn't get page parameters for either paper. I was shooting for 12-15 pages. The first one ended up being just shy of a full 15 pages. The other was just barely 14. But... they are done. I did well and the semester is over.

So, the last week of April was finals week at UD. Many stressed out students getting very little sleep and drinking energy drinks. There were many interesting conversations happening in the Campus Ministry office of Marycrest residence hall! I'll miss the energy of the first year students I got to know this year. But, a new group will be here before I know it!

Graduation was the first weekend of May.... another busy weekend!

Now... since the students are gone (except the summer employees and those in summer courses), you'd think I'd have more time. FALSE! :) With end of year meetings, lunches, dinners, receptions, awards, recognitions... I've spent the better part of the past 5 days eating! Or... that's what it seems like and that's how my clothes feel! Things will slow down next week, though... which is a good thing.

Then... I'll be off to an 8-day silent, directed retreat (May 17-26) and thus begins my summer adventures! I'm heading back to Texas at the end of the month... Then to a 4-day conference in Chicago... a 2-week Scripture course at Oblate School of Theology... a wedding in Fort Worth... Marianist temporary professed formation gathering in Louisville followed by 3 days of meetings with the Marianist brothers (also in Louisville)... 8 days to visit with family/friends in Texas... 16 days of Marianist LIFE (program and meetings)... and then I'll be back in Dayton to start all over again. Whew! It'll be quite the summer!!!

So... it's the start of a new day... new things... life is full of surprises and blessings. I hope that you are able to count many blessings at the start of your days, too!

Many blessings,
Sr. N

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Last words of Ven. Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon
Foundress of the Marianist Sisters

Blessed Palm Sunday to you!

As we enter into Holy Week - my favorite part of the Liturgical Year - I am struck by the beauty of the Paschal Mystery. It's completely incomprehensible, and yet integral to who we are and who we are called to be. The call - to die to self and to obstacles in our path - so that we (and others) might have life - and have it abundantly. Paradox of paradoxes!

As you may recall, last weekend I attended the LA Religious Ed Congress. The theme of the event was "Incredible Abundance." The prayer services, liturgies, and sessions called us to recognize the abundance of God's grace - God's mercy - God's love. What a wonderful way, great thought with which to close Lent and enter deeply the mystery of the coming week. It reminds me of a song that we used to sing on retreats in college ... "Your love is extravagant. Your friendship is intimate."

This morning at the 10am Mass, we sang "Unless A Grain of Wheat"... I used that Scripture verse and song as the theme of the prayer service marking my entrance into the Marianist Sisters. I remember some thought it was a grim song to use. On the contrary! It's the call of the Christian life. That's what I say, anyway.

Yesterday I wrote a letter to our provincial requesting renewal of vows. Funny, but this idea of dying in order to bear fruit came to me again as I wrote the letter. I didn't quote it, but I was singing the song in my mind as I typed. Then to hear it again this morning was quite fitting. It's a constant in my life... the Paschal Mystery, that is.

Those are my random reflections for today. I hope that each of you has a blessed week as we celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lover of our hearts.

Sr. N

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

... in everything, we commend ourselves as ministers of God...
2 Corinthians 6: 4

Our Sisters send out an e-mail newsletter each month. It has been a LONG time since I submitted something for the newsletter. This month, though, I actually sent something in! I thought I would share with you...

There is so much to say, that I hardly know where to begin! I apologize for not keeping everyone more up to date with what’s been happening. The days, weeks and months pass so quickly. Life has been busy for me, but good. Here are a few highlights from this semester:

  • In January I had the great blessing of attending a Giving Voice gathering in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a gathering of women religious under 40. There were approximately 20 of us from all over the US. The theme of the weekend was based on Hosea 2:14 “I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.” It was good to reconnect with people I had met at an earlier Giving Voice gathering, as well as meet other young women living religious life. We prayed, shared, and had a lot of fun, too! I played my first game of croquet… I didn’t do so well...
  • February brought me the good fortune of flying back to San Antonio twice! Both trips were shorter than I would have liked, but both were good. Marianist LIFE is moving right along. I will miss it when I am finished with my term – especially the frequent trips to San Antonio – but I will be happy to have some of that time for other things.
  • March 2 – 5 I had the privilege of being on a Marianist committee visiting Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati. The team was charged with ascertaining the integration of the Marianist charism in the school. It was truly a wonderful experience. We met with small groups of students, faculty, parents, alumni, staff, and administration. We asked questions about mission, charism, the “Characteristics of Marianist Education.” I left absolutely impressed with the school. They are doing amazing things – with very little resources.
  • In two weeks I will set off for the LA Congress (March 18 – 22). I am flying out with one of the SM Aspirants to work the vocations booth for the Marianists. This will be my second year to do this. I’m looking forward to it. It was a good experience last year.

Other than these highlights, everything else is pretty much the same.

I continue to serve as a spiritual “companion” for three students. They call me their spiritual director, but I keep telling them that I have no training! I continue to enjoy that immensely. It is good that I am currently taking a course in spiritual direction at UD. My final project for the class is a paper and presentation on Spiritual Direction in a Marianist Context… or Spiritual Direction Informed by the Marianist Charism. I haven’t yet landed on something specific, but I’ve been reading some great things in my research.

Lastly, you may be happy to know that there is a new FMI website up and running. It’s at the same web location ( A UD student helped redesign it. There are still a few small kinks to work out, but I think the design will stay.

So, that's my update on life...

I hope that your Lent is abundantly blessed!
Sr. N

Monday, February 22, 2010

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.
Luke 10: 41-42

Some lessons are difficult to learn. It seems that there are some things about which we have to be reminded over and over again. A light goes off... we get it... and then maybe a few weeks or months later ... we head right back down the same road that does not lead to life. And the cycle starts over again. At least, this is the case for me.

This Lenten season I find myself coming back to a realization I've had many times over. There is need for only one thing. Like Peter who tries to walk on water, unless you keep your eyes (and heart and mind!) focused on God... you're sunk, so to speak.

Lent has always been a time for me to re-evaluate my relationships - with God, others, and myself and to be open to the grace that can reconcile relationships that are wounded by my short-sidedness. Lent has always been a fruitful time for me. So, as Lent began this year so did my typical self examination.

And what did I find? Well, to put it briefly, I found that I have been living in a constant state of self-evaluation (self focus) these past months without being centered or focused on God. In other words, I had become self-absorbed. I had become so wrapped up in noise and recognition of personal faults that I lost sight of the one necessary thing. Some people call it naval gazing - when a person is so focused on what's "wrong with me", that the person can't see what's Good and right with the world nor the hear call to respond to what's not right with the world. *sigh* This is not the first time. Thank you to my spiritual director for pointing out the obvious!

Hince, the real cause of my blogging absence... truth be told.

Therfore, this Lent I am responding to God's call, "Come back to me, with all your heart..." And that call is the source of Lenten joy for me...

Until next time...
Lenten blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

P.S. ~ Next time I blog, I will fill you in on the exciting things that have been happening in the life of this Marianist sister... a gathering of women religious in Phoenix, celebrations of Marianist founders & Marianist charism, the chapter meeting of our province, an open letter to Oprah written by young women religious... Wow... there's a lot!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The soul craves experiences that offer it the rich depths of God.
Silence, solitude, holy leisure, simplicity, prayer, journaling,
the Eucharist, rituals that touch the space of Mystery,
symbols and images, the Bible,
laughter, delight in the divine Presence, deep encounters with creation,
and the merciful coming together of human hearts.
All these feed the soul, producing energy for living the transformed life.
Sue Monk Kidd
When the Heart Waits

Happy New Year!

Today begins the new semester at the University of Dayton. Students are back... most not exactly ready to start again into the hectic pace of being a student.

This semester I am also a student once again. Unlike many of them, however, I'm ready.... at least I think I am. I'm only taking one class, but I'm very excited about it. It's "Intro to Spiritual Direction" with one of our Marianist priests as professor. We had an assignment over the Christmas break - 2 books and a paper. I finished both books and am nearly finished with the paper... One of the books is the one quoted above by Sue Monk Kidd (yes, the same person who wrote The Secret Life of Bees.

I highly recommend this book. It's not a text book in the classical sense. It was more of a good book for spiritual reading. I laughed a little and cried a little while reading this one. I also contemplated, prayed with it and journaled about it. Now, that's a book I can feel good about recommending!

Class is on Tuesday evenings starting tomorrow. I couldn't be more excited about it. Nerd? When it comes to this, yes!

It'll be good to see the students again and get back into a routine. I've learned about myself that I don't care too much for unstructured time. Sure, it's good to relax and rest. But sometimes if there's absolutely no structure at all, I can get a little bored. One would think that I would create the structure that is best for me if it's not already there. Nope... not so much. Isn't it interesting that sometimes we know what's best, but we do something completely different? Human nature can be such an enigma!

Anyway, the Christmas break was good. It was short, but good. Filled with MANY Marianist parties and gatherings... way too much good (but terribly bad for you) foods... special prayer services and beautiful Masses. I absolutely love liturgy... especially for big Church feasts. Christmas Eve Mass - not midnight, but 10:30 - was wonderful. There's something about the ritual, symbols, Eucharist and a community gathered that is just so moving. I especially enjoy the privilege of singing in the choir at such celebrations.

This was the first year as a resident of Ohio, however, that I did not go down to Texas during the holidays. There was another year that I was visiting Ohio during the holidays... but at that time I actually lived in Texas. I talked with my family in Texas on Christmas day, but it's not really the same. That was difficult... especially since the days between Christmas and New Years were terribly gray and cold.

So, there's a small update in the craziness that is life. I felt it appropriate to begin with the quote above from Sue Monk Kidd. It's a good thing to keep in mind as the new semester kicks off. Sometimes "unproductive" time is the most productive... if one has an openness. I am hopeful that I can keep that in mind as life gets more hectic...

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N