Jesus - Related Content

Felices Pascuas! Leaning into Different Pascual Traditions

Sunday, April 17th 2022 10:30 am

Felices Pascuas! This is short because I am still in the midst of celebrating this Holy time with the sisters here. I have had a range of wonderings this week, enjoying new traditions, spending time with Sister Katie who was visiting from FSPA and admittedly missing the traditions I've enjoyed in the states. I was just thinking, I wonder if I would have realized how important those traditions were if I hadn't been here? God's blessings to you today and every day!

On Good Friday, the morning was spent re-enacting the end of Jesus' life, beginning with the last supper.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

We walked with Jesus as he carried the cross. The morning was about 3.5 miles and went from about 8:30 to 11:30. Many people joined.

 

 




The jovenes (youth) from the parish performed the reenactment, but I heard from Sister Yanira that the young man who was Jesus has been doing it for many years.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

We circled the pueblo and returned to the church where the crucifixion was re-enacted.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


After Jesus' death, he is lowered and held by Mary. It was very moving, and a little bit nerve-racking for the young man who climbed a ladder supported totally by other people holding it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In the evening, we traversed the same route, just about 12 hours later, but in reverse. It was a time to carry Jesus' body to the tomb.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The coffin for Jesus is lit, so people can see and follow. I think there were more people at this procession than at the first. There were also women who carried the Pieta, shouldering the sorrow of Mary at the loss of her son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Saturday is "the Day of the Tomb" here. We needed to travel to Santa Cruz on Saturday because Sister Katie will be leaving tomorrow. I attended the Easter Vigil, which is more subdued than what we have in the states, but there were still extra readings, the blessing of the Easter candle and the blessing of the water. I got a good helping of blessed water on me during the sprinkling, which made me smile!

When we returned to the house, we had a lovely little meal with colored eggs (sorry I ate them so couldn't include them in the photo!) and candies.

 

 

 

 


May God's blessings shower you with the love of Jesus today and every day!

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The chronos and kairos of our lives

Thursday, May 19th 2016 10:10 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


park-bench-overlooking-water
Photo credit: Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Many of us live with calendars that are full. Even on the rare occasion that a meeting gets canceled, another task usually arises before there is time to celebrate the possibility of moments to breathe.

Long before smartphones beeped to make us jump from one moment to the next, Jesus knew what it was like to feel pulled in different directions. He could recognize the effects of over scheduling in the lives of his apostles ... could see, as in Mark 6:30-33, when it was time for rest.

Like the apostles, we often have lives that do not stop. And when such rare free time comes along, someone is always waiting to fill it. It’s important in life and in times of discernment to make moments for stillness. It may be choosing quiet while commuting to work; going outside to take a break, eat lunch. Time allowed for rest and renewal of our minds and of our souls helps us and, ultimately, those around us. We all need those crazy moments that burst from our calendars (chronos) slowed down and transformed into contemplative, rejuvenating time (kairos). It’s amazing what God can offer in even the smallest of minutes!

How does your calendar tell the story of chronos and kairos in your life? If someone were to read it like a book—moment-by-moment—what would they learn about you? Is God mentioned from time-to-time?

Sister Lucy Ann: expression of my time with Jesus

Tuesday, September 19th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Lucy Ann Meyer, FSPA

 

Prayer is the personal expression of my time with Jesus. I have found through the years that I move in and out of various expressions/activities that nurture my relationship with God. Scripture, music and movement remain my steady and usual practices. 

dancers-shadows

In recent years, poetry has taken on greater significance and challenged me at a more basic level. I have experienced deep and profound insights about “who” I am and “how” to live more fully into the mysteries of life. This poem by Hafiz, “Know the True Nature," reminds me of being surrounded in God’s love and the importance of forgiveness: 

Know the True Nature of your Beloved.

In 

His loving eyes

your every thought, word, and movement

is always, always, 

beautiful.

 

Franciscan Way is a series featuring prayerful reflection by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

 

Mary and our "Yes" to mystery

Thursday, March 23rd 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

This Saturday is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. As I prepare for the celebration I’ve contemplated the Gospel we'll receive that day and thought about all the announcements made over the intercom I hear at St. Rose Convent in the course of a day. From the speaker just outside of my office I hear receptionists paging employees and sisters; reminders about Mass, committee meetings (even exercise class) and other activities beginning soon. I’m able to block out most of this background noise as it’s rare such announcements are personally meant for me. On the sporadic instance it is, I have a community filled with helpful sisters who diligently make me aware of what I may have inadvertently tuned out.


microphone-freeimages.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

In the Gospel, Mary encounters and responds to a life changing annunciation. This is not a vague message. It is specific. She is called by name, reassured of her goodness, provided with initial details of what is to come and given an opportunity to respond. Finally she makes a choice. She says ”Yes” to be the mother of Jesus. No instruction book is given, no promise of happiness, yet she says ”Yes.” When we say "Yes" to vocation we—like Mary—must walk the road, learning as we go, trusting God is always there.

This is one of several call and response stories we have in our Scriptures but Mary, in particular, is a model for discerners. Mary’s experience is a snap shot of what most of us experience in discerning religious life—movement towards making a choice. Gabriel may not be the one delivering the invitation but in many ways—when our worlds are changed in an instant—we can feel like Mary. The potential of the trajectory of our lives is laid before us and God waits for our "Yes."

God knows our hearts and understands how to communicate with us. The magnitude of our circumstance may draw messengers—delivering personal, divine requests—directly to us. The longer I live the more I doubt there are mere coincidences.  

Through the season of Lent we have been following the journey of Jesus to the cross. The annunciation story reminds us where and how it all began. Each decision about and response to God’s invitations has bearing on the future. Both stories convey the love God has for us. Love in action; in different moments of the unfolding narrative beginning with the very first moments of being through the maturation and insight into life choices made. Mary and Jesus choose love no matter the consequence for their lives.

This reading in the middle of Lent invites me to ponder loving more and worrying less. How can I let go of the need to know what to expect when love has a different answer? Always provides a way?

Is your discernment journey leading you to a “Yes” to love like Mary?

How does your life announce to the world your commitment to God?

Photo of the Week - Week 11

Thursday, March 24th 2022 1:44 pm

This week's photo is from the convent in San Miguel where I spent some time last week. I have seen different art like this here in Bolivia, but the imagery in this one struck me more than the others. This type of art serves as a reminder of the history of the place. In here you see Jesus front and center surrounded by indigenous people, priests, workers, poor children and freed slaves. Behind it you can see some of the historical events that happened like the arrival of the Spanish, military oppression and protests. I don't know the specific historical stories depicted in this painting, but it moves me. It reminds me of the history we are exploring anew in the United States connected to historical trauma and systemic racism (and other "isms") and I wonder what art is being created back in the states that will tell the story of our history. It will be good to see the images the future brings.

I realized that it is difficult to see all the detail in this photo so I have made the original available here for anyone interested. 

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"Yes" to God's invitation

Thursday, June 22nd 2017 3:05 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Over the course of the last several weeks our congregation has celebrated the commitment of “yes” to God with the vow renewal of Sister Laurie Sullivan, profession of perpetual vows by Sister Kristin Peters, and Golden Jubilee celebration for Sisters Romana Klaubauf and Esther Leis. We all experienced religious life unfolding before our very eyes; witnessed what it means to walk on the Gospel-centered journey of life as a religious sister—all on different stepping stones marking the way.  

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Sister Karen Lueck (left) calls forth Laurie Sister Sullivan (right) to renew her vows. 

Sister Laurie opened our season of celebration by renewing her vows for three years at Villa St. Joseph surrounded by FSPA community members, many of whom she ministered among during her early formation days volunteering in spiritual care. For her prayer service she chose a Gospel reading about love. Sister Laurie has shown love to others guided by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy by accompanying patients in hospital rooms, feeding the hungry at food pantries, visiting the elderly in their homes, and nurturing spirituality as the coordinator of youth in a parish—each new place and ministry a reflection of her deepening commitment to religious life and her “yes” to God. Sister Laurie is following in the footprints of Jesus and St. Francis, moving to serve where she is needed. For her the Franciscan Gospel life has been eyes and ears open for the call to where God invites; feet ready to move. 

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Sister Laurie, pictured here serving those in need at a food pantry.

 

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From left to right, Sisters Laura Nettles, Eileen McKenzie, Katie Mitchell, Kristin Peters and Julia Walsh stand together on their Camino pilgrimage (photo courtesy of Sister Katie Mitchell). 

The open road has also been a call to Sister Kristin Peters who just returned from a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. As on some legs of her journey she was accompanied by her FSPA companions and on others she hiked alone, she discovered that her Camino experience mirrored religious life: you may walk with others but you also have to walk your own journey. Each step reveals insight. No one can walk for you, live for you. Sister Kristin's “yes” to religious life over the past 10 years has taken her to discover diverse paths to serve those with substance addiction and mental illness; to deliver, in ministry, help and compassion. She has ministered to many who others step over, walk past. It is no surprise that the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd inspires her and is what she chose to guide her final vow liturgy. Sister Kristin listens and reflects the knowledge each person gains as they find their own way back into the sheepfold of our civic communities.

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Sister Kristin receives her FSPA ring from Sister Blanche Klein. 

 

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Sister Romana Klaubauf receives her 50th Jubilee celebration corsage from Sister Karen Kappell.

A bit further down the road of religious life, Sisters Romana Klaubauf and Ester Leis shared their travel stories—their individual ministries—at a pre-jubilee pizza party. We watched a slide presentation of the sights they saw along their professions of 50 years, glimpsing decades of serving God's people and meeting new challenges in the changing landscapes of religious life. Mary of the Angels was filled to capacity as community members, family and friends gathered to witness their ongoing commitment. The readings they chose (Isaiah 43:1-10Micah 6:8 and John 10) tell their stories of faithfulness to God.

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Sister Esther Leis processes into Mass held in honor of her Golden Jubilee.

These three celebrations were each unique in time and experience yet all pointed to the goodness revealed through the faithfulness of “yes.” The song “I Say ‘Yes’ Lord/Digo ‘Sí’ Señor” by Donna Peña and Marty Haugen has been moving in my heart and mind as I ponder the blessing each of these celebrations have been. They are witnesses to our world of faithfulness and commitment in good times and challenges. We all walk terrain smooth and bumpy; mountainous and flat. God is with us in each step, and every breath of life. 

This week as you consider your own location in discernment ask yourself ...

What are the celebrations marking my journey?

Is there a theme to my experience so far?

How am I relying on God?

Peace in the midst of unrest

Thursday, July 21st 2016 12:10 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 


Jesus-boat-sea-storm

Photo courtesy of Lisa DeLay

Through the screens of our televisions and computers and smart phones we are facing increasing violence around the world. Full of humanity, pain and sorrow for the hurting world, each interview we watch is more than a story. It’s heart wrenching to witness the tears of my brothers and sisters. How do we hold on to hope for peace in a time overflowing with so much unrest?

My heart circles around Scripture—Luke 8:22-25. It reminds me how fear can overturn with a blinding force. In a boat on a lake in a squall Jesus’ disciples panic, let fear steer them to see only the storm. Discerning a certainty of drowning, they choose to react rather than respond.   

Jesus calms the storm: goes to the root of the experience; probes the hearts of his disciples to gain insight; asks open-ended questions and pauses for reflection; invites dialog to stimulate discernment of the source of turbulence. He calls for them to develop skills to deal with stressful experiences and strong emotions in a new way.

Jesus is a model for us: observing and pondering the environment before taking deliberate action. He demonstrates that complex situations call for a commitment to examine beyond the surface. We have the ability to learn from difficult experiences when our faith asks us to look again.

In discernment of religious life, in times of conflict and unease like facing reactions from family and friends, it’s instinctive to seek shelter, to immediately get away from the storm. But taking time to entertain curiosity—to examine your heart even if it feels immersed in a squall—can bring about the respectful response to the call you are sensing.

How do you respond to the storms in your discernment?

What questions is Jesus asking you in the midst of unrest in your life?

Sister Kathy: The cup and the tube

Tuesday, August 22nd 2017 10:00 am
Sister Kathy Roberg, FSPA

 

Morning breaks and the routine begins. Sip your cup of coffee and tune into “Good Morning America.”  Both stimulate the body and mind in their own way and can become habit forming – a must before one can function.

I personally have not adopted this habit but, really, I could say I have … a cup and a connection.  My cup of coffee is symbolic, as I sit with Jesus and taste and absorb his goodness and wonders. I routinely but purposely sit in my sacred space, away from the tube world of distractions, tuning in to an unseen world of “Good Morning Jesus” – my soul’s connection with the presence of God. The living Word stimulates my day, inspiring me to heart listen, carrying me into whatever may be. This routine is a must before I can begin to function.

window and rocking chair

Photo by Sister Amy Taylor

Yes, this prayer routine has become a habit but I know when I skip it, it feels empty. So each morning I take up this cup and carry it – knowing it will never be empty – and tune into “Good Morning Jesus.”

And I am energized.

Franciscan Way is a series featuring original prayer by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

'Christ is among us and in each of us.'

Monday, April 13th 2020 9:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

 

"It is not the end ... it's a new beginning."

lights-hope-trees-darkness

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

Our faith beckons us to remember that hope and joy can prevail where once only terror and death reigned. We are an Easter people, called forth to continue to proclaim the good news and to search for light where there is temptation to perceive only darkness, especially in a world held hostage by COVID-19. Our hearts are breaking for those losing their lives without the comfort of their family, friends and faith communities. Our prayers are with the healthcare providers who are risking their lives with compassion. We are given statistics and brace ourselves for the wave that is gathering energy here in the United States. We prepare for possibilities and pray for miracles. This is an Easter season markedly different than most others. 

As we prioritize prayer and pause, we remember that over 2,000 years ago, another community much like ours was also struggling with death — the death of Jesus whose body was placed in a tomb. There was no funeral celebration, no gathering by the thousands of people he once served, led, healed and, most importantly, loved. Worlds were turned upside down as friends, family members and one-time mission partners sheltered in place, weathering the storm of loss and the danger of their own possible death. Not death from a virus, but through relationship with Jesus.

From the Gospel of John, we hear the story of Mary Magdalene who goes in search of her beloved friend and mentor, Jesus, but cannot find his body. She rallies fellow disciples Simon Peter and others, explaining her discovery of an empty tomb and the visceral desire to take action. Grief, pain, worry, and anger are just a few of the emotions coursing through their hearts as they struggled to make sense of the scene before them. Navigating uncharted territory, the community does not yet realize the meaning of what they are witnessing.

Today, our struggle to understand the meaning of the times we are facing echoes this recounting.

With hearts broken, in the depths of despair, we cling to the words in Matthew’s Gospel that widen our vision. The angel of the Lord’s words are like balm restoring joy to our ailing souls. The tomb is transformed from a place of ultimate sadness to a space in which we can begin to understand eternal life. The tomb is empty. Jesus is not there. Tears of pain turn to tears of joy as they sprint to share the good news. But before reaching their destination they encounter Jesus who encourages them to keep going, to go tell the others and to know that they will meet again. It is not the end. Instead, it’s a new beginning.

And so, as we scour the news for stories of recovery and inspiration in the midst of widespread loss, we too are watching the tomb. I have found two such stories that radiate hope: one of a 90-year-old woman and the other about a 101-year-old man. They are the human proclamation of joy. Reminiscent of Mary Magdalene’s haste, their stories race towards the world with hope!

As we socially distance and follow the mandates of the CDC, let us also look for the signs of hope and joy in our midst.

Christ is among us and in each of us.

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

A promise to build a new life upon

Thursday, April 6th 2017 11:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

I am fascinated by “Who Do You Think You Are?”, a cable television show on the TLC network. Each episode features a media icon who, through the assistance of genealogy experts, professors, librarians, historians, Ancestry.com and others, delves into their family history. No stone is left unturned as a camera crew follows the individual searching for their roots throughout the United States and, in some cases, around the world. Narratives of long-forgotten relatives leap from pages of documentation, becoming next clues in the ongoing quest for information; identity.

Story-by-story, the truth is revealed. While not all chronicles are happy or full of pride, knowledge of where they came from—documented on paper—gives a sense of connectedness far beyond a code of DNA.

Today’s first reading recalls one of our familial stories of faith; a touchstone of generations that came before us. Through other stories of Abram (who is renamed Abraham) we know he is advanced in age, at what seems to be the end, when he is promised generations and land. From this, a new life emerges for him. This is not a one-way contract: Abraham is asked, on behalf of himself and his descendants, to uphold the covenant—placing God as the center of his life and for all those to come.

It is in the quiet moments of prayer that Abraham receives the news that shapes not only his living years, but those spanning far beyond his death as well. And God keeps his promise: we see the fruits more than 2,000 years later each time we hear the genealogy of Jesus proclaimed from Matthew 1:1-17.

Deep moments of prayer are crucibles in which we enter into conversation with God about our life’s direction. Discernment calls each of us to make God the priority in our lives and to listen. Our covenant with God requires focus and determination to set aside anything that will distract or become a stumbling block to our full attentive presence. By choosing to distract ourselves from listening—particularly when we are called to rise to the potential already within us—we can hide from God.

As we prepare for Palm Sunday and the liturgies of Holy Week, may we remember our commitment to prayer and presence. Placed before us in the next few days are the stories that form who we are and what we believe.

In your prayer this week ponder …

What is the everlasting promise God is offering as you discern?

What will your “Yes” mean for you and generations to come?

Discerning wisdom in words

Thursday, July 19th 2018 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

gate-woman-ocean

Image courtesy pixabay.com

There is a phrase my parents share with me every single time I go out the door: “Be safe, have fun, you know the rules … love you.” Whether I was a young girl heading to a friend’s house, a teenager dangling the car keys in my hand, a college student leaving for campus or an adult moving across the country to enter my religious congregation, I’ve consistently carried these sentiments out into the world with me. It has also inspired me to incorporate my own addendum — “make good decisions” — when bidding goodbye to family members and friends.  

Biblical scholars spend their lives parsing out the significance of each phrase and individual word of Scripture; reflecting on history, linguistics, cultural layers, intention of the text and for whom it was written. This intrigues me: since grad school I have enjoyed reading scholarly research as I find it opens new doors to my own understanding (and I challenge you to consult commentaries and make your own discoveries).

In Matthew 7:6, 12-14, I find that Jesus also offers his disciples rules for the road in diverse denotations of his words; perhaps lessons offered at different times yet gathered neatly in the Gospel into verses (passed down initially in the oral tradition before written and organized) for our reflection over 2,000 years later. You’ve probably all heard homilies on each of the individual verses but when we think of them together, they offer wisdom too. I’ve pondered in prayer what it all means to me in this moment of my life journey, and invite you to your own prayerful discernment.

In verse 6, “Pearls Before Swine,” what insight do I have to share with others who do not have my best interest at heart? Am I giving fuel for arguments rather than striving to find common ground?  

How am I abiding by “The Golden Rule,” not only because I want others to treat me nicely but to understand that we all walk on the earth together?

Looking through the famous “Narrow Gate” ask yourself, “how am I discerning the decisions I make rather than just blindly following others down the path?    

Discernment is about listening to God and also making a series of what you believe to be the best choices in light of what you are learning and value, asking questions as you go.

This week I offer a few more questions for you to ponder:

What phrases have become important on your discernment journey?

What rules you have learned or created on this path?

How does Scripture guide you as you discern?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

Unpredictability, overwhelming beauty coexist

Thursday, April 27th 2017 12:05 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Sometimes we are like spring: indecisive and moody. In one moment calm breezes and blinding sunshine soak into our winter-weary bones. In the next, peals of lightning and ear-splitting thunder rumble through as rain pelts blossoming flowers and awaiting garden plots. I’m overwhelmed by scents of pungent earth, pollen-producing flowers and trees. It is a season when our renewed senses merge as if on cue from some distant stage director for the grandest play opening on the world stage.

Each new bud of life offers a gentle invitation to reflect on the ways in which we are all called into renewed being this Easter Season.

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As I take in the beauty of the beginning of the daylilies in the yard, I am reminded of Jesus’ message to depend on our God who presents the flowers as teachers who don’t “toil or spin.” This, for me, is the essence of not only spring but of discernment—trust in God’s providence and stillness of heart. Discerning religious life can’t be rushed for the risk of impulsive decisions possibly destined for regret. The process must take time to unfold. We do not need to funnel our tornadic drive to get things done to the abundance of springtime storms; in the atmosphere inherently unstable. There are moments, in the lengthening light of evening, meant for sitting on the front porch and taking in the greening world around us. There is room for both unpredictability and overwhelming beauty to coexist. It is a time full of discovery and awe.


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St. Rose Convent in spring (photo by Nancy Chapman)

As you ponder your own growth in this season of your discernment, take time to celebrate the new life that is emerging.

Where do you see roots taking firmer hold?

What new shoots of life are visible to you now?

Discernment and Advent: is your heart ready for the celebration?

Thursday, December 20th 2018 10:00 am
Amy Taylor, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration

 

"... a visual sign of what was to come."

 

red-green-paper-chain

Image courtesy of Daisies & Pie

When I was young child, we began the month of December at school by making green and red construction paper chains — learning how to mark time link-by-link until Christmas. We arrived at the classroom each morning ready to tear away another slip of red or green and inch closer to the big day. I imagine the ritual, a visual sign of what was to come, curtailed our continual Christmas count-down questions for the teacher. It was a reminder — a connection of our fervent dreams to the special time to come. Looking back at the experience I realize it also helped us learn how to wait for something together, as a group. Without fancy theological concepts in our seven-year-old brains, we became a community of believers. 

Now, in our fourth week of Advent, the readings serve as a link in salvation history. The Old Testament prophet Micah is the wise teacher reminding the faithful of a time to come. They too struggled with how long the wait would be. But hope withstands like a long, invisible chain, linking the moments until the celebration can begin.

In the Gospel, we skip ahead in time to beyond the angel’s visit to Mary and her “yes” to becoming the mother of Jesus. She wastes not a moment; runs straight out the door, bursting with excitement to share the joyful news with her cousin Elizabeth. And in nine short months, Mary beholds the face of God in the birth of Jesus. 

Each Advent, over 2,000 years after Jesus‘ birth, we recall this story and challenge ourselves to make room for Jesus in our hearts. Time is of the essence as this year the day of is just a mere 24 hours after the fourth Sunday of Advent. The moment is now upon us. Is your heart ready for the celebration you have been anticipating?

For additional pondering this week ...

How will the celebration of the birth of Jesus change your life, not just a month in your calendar of events?

How does Mary’s example of moving on God’s invitation without hesitation inspire you to take the next step in your own vocational call?
 

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. And, stay tuned to Show me a sign for new videos in the FSPA discernment series!

Journey of Advent

Thursday, December 7th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

suitcase-scarf-camera-pixabay.com

Image courtesy pixabay.com

Do you like to travel? Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? A pilgrimage is a journey on which the participant commits to growing in faith, discovering lessons along the way and depending on God and the kindness of others to provide. This Advent season, I invite you to consider making your own spiritual pilgrimage, exploring the inner landscape of your heart in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It will require making time in your life to explore the questions that are most important to you; those that can serve as a map through your heart. What do you most need in your life of faith this Advent season? How is your journey of discernment part of the pilgrimage experience? The journey inward has the power to shape how you encounter the world around you. The Scriptures of Advent are rich sources of inspiration and food for the journey. Are you willing to enter the passage?

Two experienced guides of navigating inner terrain are Mary and Joseph. Faced with a decree from Caesar Augustus to fulfill the mandatory census in Bethlehem, they began a physical journey. From the vantage point of over 2,000 years later we can also imagine that the trip would spiritually transform their lives. I imagine many miles punctuated with conversation about their dreams for the future and periods of quiet reflection to gather the vastness of what may lie ahead. Many prayers formed the ground on which they walked. They were dealing with big changes — a new marital relationship, preparation for a baby like no other, and the danger of travel. I wonder how vividly they recalled each of their experiences leading to the road: Mary and her encounter with the angel and Joseph’s dream that changed his mind.

Mary-and-Joseph-traveling-freeimages.com

Image courtesy freeimages.com

They chose to rely on God in all the uncertainty and challenge of not only this new spiritual pilgrimage, but also the realization of their unfolding pilgrimage of life. And watching Mary and Joseph each day, Jesus would grow into his own awareness of his humanity as they traveled.

In the first Gospel reading of Advent we see Jesus, on his own pilgrimage, taking a moment to pass on to his disciples the wisdom of cultivating watchfulness in their lives. He uses a story to try to get his point across. While they do not fully understand the journey that lies ahead, he advises them to be on guard; to know what you are about and what others around you are up to.

For us in our time, His wisdom continues to ring true. It is dangerous to be lulled into acedia; to think we have all the time in the world to be watchful … until we don’t. Pick up any newspaper or skim articles online to see stories of lives suddenly shortened. Time waits for no one. During the holiday season there is additional pressure and expectation and it's easy to see how the lure of inattentiveness beckons as an easier route; to let things go, put off until another time. Well, there may not be another time. What happens then? How can you take time now to be watchful, not only for the bad but for all the joy around you as well? Will you miss an experience simply because you were distracted?

What do you need to do in order to begin a four-week pilgrimage of faith this Advent season?

How will you be ready to begin the journey?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. 

Temptation and transformation in the desert

Thursday, February 22nd 2018 10:30 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent makes me imagine a movie trailer for a film directed by Mark. He sets a pithy scene in the desert, features a cast of characters that include Jesus, beasts, angels and Satan. Jesus is on the cusp of an encounter with temptation as the teaser abruptly ends. The scene that fades to black is literally and figuratively bleak, leaving viewers to anticipate a film with a gut-wrenching ending.

But of course we are met with a plot twist when the rest of Mark’s story comes out: the desert doesn’t really lead to nothingness, it’s actually lined with steppingstones to discovery. His time in what seems like a wasteland strengthens him and, in a surprising turn of events, leads to emergent momentum of his ministry.

desert-trail-by-sister-amy-taylor

Image by Sister Amy Taylor

Discernment of religious life invites each of us into our own metaphorical and perhaps even physical desert experiences. It’s a place of quiet austerity and simultaneous beauty, calling for revelation, commitment and creativity in a setting assumed to be isolated and daunting. Desolation can allow too much space in which temptation and deprivation can be found, but also make room for grace and gift.

As I prepared for my final vows, I found the desert was the perfect place to go on retreat. Walking in the dry climate, I was invited to be present in each step; cognizant of where my feet fell; watchful of snakes, scorpions and other desert wildlife that I don’t encounter in Wisconsin. Slowly, as I pondered the spectrum of colors that at first I only perceived as beige, the desert revealed some of its bright secrets. My fear of such “beasts” was transformed as I learned how these creatures help sustain the environment. Beauty of life, like the tiny flowers I discovered, flourished in what appeared to be a hostile climate.

desert-rocks-flowers-by-Sister-Amy Taylor

Image by Sister Amy Taylor

Jesus demonstrates that God guides us to explore the depths of a vocational discernment even in the most dreaded circumstances; is with us as we confront the temptations that threaten our fidelity to live in communion with God.

How is your fear or preconceived notion getting in the way of intentional discernment?

How has God surprised you and provided in your own “desert times?”

 

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. 

Sister Celesta: Prayer

Tuesday, August 15th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Celesta Day, FSPA

 

“Yipes! What’s happening?”  

Startling, surprising and scary … that’s when I pray fastest. I make a fervent request to get me out of this. I’m counting on a presence that I know is there, but I don’t always pay attention. When the helping hand comes, that’s my answer.

 hand-sky

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

It is the reality in which I am surrounded. It’s the community I am a part of. Scripture says that when Jesus was touched, power went out from him. It doesn’t make things perfect but it sure helps and I am a part of it.  

That’s how I pray.

Franciscan Way is a series featuring original prayer by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

 

Service Saturday: mutuality at its core

Thursday, January 26th 2017 2:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Most Saturdays, especially those overshadowed by rain and cold, are prime sleep-in opportunities for college students. Yet at 8:30 a.m. last weekend more than 60 from Viterbo University came through doors of St. Rose Convent with light and joy to join FSPA in a day of service projects. The energy and excitement was contagious as participants eagerly grabbed fabric to make blankets and dry ingredients to package instant soup in jars, ready to share their joy of life with others.

student-volunteers

Service Saturday students from Viterbo University at St. Rose Convent

Collaboration between the Viterbo community and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration on behalf of serving others was the theme dubbed Service Saturday. As FSPA director of membership I co-coordinated the event with Kirsten Gabriel (director of Viterbo's service learning program) who reminded everyone of the mutual transformation that is possible when we enter into service with open minds and hearts.

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A Viterbo student makes valentines for veterans with Sister Esther Leis

Sister Antona Schedlo reiterated the importance of service as it contributes to mission. Sharing her vocation story and commitment to the mission of FSPA, she challenged everyone to follow their dreams and take time to ponder how far they are willing to go to reach them. Her goal as a young sister was to serve as a missionary and, although it took more than 17 years, she did make it to the mission fields of her dreams in El Salvador. She invited participants to look beyond the projects of the day into the deeper reality of serving others throughout their lives. The activities are more than tasks to complete: sewing mittens to donate to The Salvation Army is a way to stitch together the stories of those in need and letting their lived realities change your outlook.


students-with-mittens-made

Two of the many pairs of mittens knitted that day

Heads nodded as the wisdom of Sister Antona’s thought-provoking statements took root. More than hands were busy later that morning as students pondered the deeper meaning of packing hygiene bags for homeless, frosting Valentine cookies for a local shelter, writing letters of care and encouragement to people they don't know nor will see face-to-face.

You could almost hear them wondering what it's like to walk in the shoes of someone in need. What lessons do they teach? How are both parties changed in their awareness? The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus accompanying others in good times and challenging ones, inspiring the disciples not to impose power but to walk with the people. St. Francis of Assisi learned this lesson by taking time to accompany the lepers; observing and then taking action.

Discernment has such mutuality at its core.

It takes the willingness to learn and grow along the journey of life. Sometimes it means relinquishing control and letting God provide the lesson—vulnerability offered for those willing to let the experiences of service sink in.

How can the idea of collaboration shed light on your discernment journey?

Are you open to the idea that God co-creates with you the future?

Want more inspiration for service and discernment? Check out the recent Global Sisters Report article "Oh, the places you'll go if you collaborate."

Celebrating the work of making room

Tuesday, December 3rd 2019 4:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

"Each moment that God is at our sides, the light grows."

flaming-match-darkness

Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

As millions around the world observed the lighting of the first Advent candle on Sunday, hope and change are in motion. It’s an invitation to a season of preparation that we receive every year. How will this year be different for you? How will we all see that this year is ripe with opportunity to cultivate the best in all of us? How will we become the light of joy, hope and love blazing against the darkness of violent death, famine, war and destruction. 

Throughout the season of Advent, we have the chance to encounter God and encounter one another. By opening our minds and our hearts we can:

  • Look for opportunities to risk the unknown and discover the light that some will try to snuff out. 
  • Start conversations of depth with the commitment to taking action.  
  • Risk comfort for the sake of reaching out to another. 
  • See our differences not as liabilities but as avenues of learning and appreciation of diversity.  

As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, it will mean not just going through the motions of another season, leaping forward to celebration, but making room.

Isaiah sparks our call to imagination by sharing a vision of unity and peace with God as our leader and loving one another as the litmus test for action. Do you see his vision?

Each time we encounter the light of God we are changed. We choose to be open to risking the known for the unknown, to take action when it would be easier to maintain a routine, to be a witness in times that try our souls. Each moment with God is at our side, the light grows. Preparation for the kingdom of God is not confined to four weeks on a calendar but continual. We are meant to be light all year long! 

The wisdom of Scripture continues in the first week of Advent in the words from the Gospel of Matthew. Time is short, we cannot afford to be lazy or to be lulled into a false sense of security of endless days. We are called to keep our eyes on God. To remember that we will one day be asked how we loved. 

Discerning religious life will pose hard questions for you. Advent is a great time to ask yourself if you’re willing to make room for Jesus and the world in your life Are you called to the prophetic life as a vowed religious?  

Advent in action:

What are you noticing in the world around you?  

What are you committing to do for the good of another this Advent season?
 

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

Love beyond measure

Thursday, February 16th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

This week I have witnessed traditional signs of love with Valentine’s Day as flowers were delivered to St. Rose Convent for employees; their spouses taking time from their busy lives to pause and send a symbol of their love. From my office window I’ve seen many women, fighting the strong breeze with smiles on their faces, carrying blowing balloons and other gifts from their jobs at the hospital where every day they show their love and care for each patient in pain. Viterbo University students have also drifted by, proudly toting tokens from their significant others (or those who long to be).


heart-candle-freeimages.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

It is the time we are reminded, especially commercially, by the idea of love in our world. But this impression must also exist beyond the gifts, outside these celebrations, in the reality of everyday life. From moments of elation to those heavy with grief, love is present always.

Do we see it in all its forms?

Today I sit from another vantage point inside our convent—the Adoration Chapel—watching as adorers (who pray forward the FSPA ministry of 24/7 adoration that began in 1878) offer their love to a hurting world. Each one allows the intention to move beyond their earnest eyes and folded hands into the recess of their hearts. The love poured out desires healing over injury, common ground over fighting, friendship over division. This kind of love requires laying down one’s own preconceived notions and personal agendas to allow the heart to awake to needs far beyond the doorway of the chapel.


lard-light

A candle, made by FSPA hands with lard, lights perpetual adoration in the chapel. 

It is this Gospel love for others that is at the very heart of discernment. Are you willing to allow the needs of others to enter your heart? Are you willing to choose to be an advocate for your brothers and sisters who are in need? Are you willing to allow the encounter to stretch your heart, open your eyes and grant you new vision? These are the transformational questions at the core of discernment. 

There is a story from the Gospel of John that is circling in my heart as I write this post; just as it did when I imagined what my own religious life could feel like. It is the pinnacle of Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches; Jesus’ request to love others. Love is what it is all about. It’s also what discernment—and religious life—are all about.  

What is in your heart this week full of Valentines?

Who, or what, are you in love with?


 

Mantle of grief

Thursday, April 20th 2017 2:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

In moments of despair and grief in my life I have longed to hear the words “It’s going to be okay;” okay meaning others will walk with me through times of pain and loss (although not everything will be exactly like it was before, even when my heart longs for the way it was). Affirmation and assurance of care and concern have been like balm for my soul, in my own experiences of loss.

In the Gospels this week I have found companions in the lives of the disciples. Pain and sorrow shroud their vision. The mantle of grief is so heavy on their shoulders that they could not recognize the risen Christ. Through tear-stained, bleary eyes each one encounters transformation and deeper faith as they recognize who stands before them. Patiently Christ extends love and compassion to each one, revealing the truth of his resurrection to be more than a prediction. With renewed energy and purpose the disciples hasten to share the news of the resurrection. These stories stand as not only testimony to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus but also as encouragement to face our own moments of crisis; when the death of someone we love or the loss of what we thought was our direction in life suddenly shifts.

chapel-easter-cross

We stand in the grace of time as we know that Jesus has risen redeemed as the Christ, journeying together through the church year as we celebrate the events of the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is difficult to see this same cycle at work in our own lives as we experience our own grief-stricken moments; situations in which the grace of time has yet to be revealed and our faith is stretched nearly to its breaking point. Like the disciples, we have to learn from the events of our day. We cannot fast forward our lives and look back from the future, expressing to our past selves that what you’re experiencing now is going to help you in the long run. We must rely on our faith in God and know that when we need it most, we'll recognize Jesus standing before us with our own resurrection moment in hand.

There are times in discernment that grief will be a part of the journey; where you may feel all is lost and the happily ever after you long for is not yet on the horizon. Remember the disciples; remember that the transformation is just a few dark nights away. Easter alleluias always come; God will not abandon you on your discernment journey. As in the Gospel you will be renewed, transformed and then sent forth to help others in their own passages, singing your irreplaceable alleluia as you go.

This week, ask yourself …

How have your worst experiences transformed into new life? 

What barriers did you have to break through to come to this realization? 

Who were the agents of transformation—those who helped you open your eyes to the reality in front of you?

 

 

 


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