prayer - Related Content

Community, prayer, gift

Thursday, June 15th 2017 12:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

With grateful hearts for your prayers, we share a few photos of our recent gathering. Community life is a gift!

 

commissioning-candles-chapel

One by one sisters light candles during a celebration in Mary of the Angels Chapel, radiating vision for the future of FSPA.

 

Sisters-Eileen-Laura-Katie-Kristin

Sisters Eileen McKenzie, Laura Nettles, Katie Mitchell and Kristin Peters revel together in the gift of community.

 

dining-room-group

FSPA gather from as far away as Guam to create ministerial inspiration.

Unplugged

Thursday, September 22nd 2016 3:10 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 


ear-buds-freeimges.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

When was the last time you sat in silence?

Unplugged?

Where were you? In the woods, in a church or perhaps in your living room? Daily, we are encouraged to plug into everything around us so we don’t miss anything. Ironically, we are missing out because of plugging in. A common sight on college campuses is a group of friends, sitting together yet busy texting others and ignoring the people around them. Professors have no texting policies to get students to pay attention to the lectures taking place right in front of them. Many parishes announce before worship begins to silence cell phones. We live in a time in history that is running from silence. When we plug in, are we silencing God? 

I love to pray with music (from classical to contemporary Catholic) and I know I also need silence to hear the inner stirrings of my heart. Music can be both a pathway to prayer and, when I use it to avoid silence and contemplation, a roadblock. Silence brings a second gift of stillness that is not present when I am immersed in the melody of my favorite tunes.

Creating intentional time for silence and stillness becomes a gateway for contemplation. It takes commitment and energy to allow stillness to seep in. Seeking silence requires moving past fidgeting body movements, racing thoughts about work and family and even letting go of the background noises of ticking clocks and air whooshing through vents.

Investing time in relationship with God without expectation of immediate results is countercultural. A relationship based on devotion of time can transform you from a consumer of prayer, only as needed, to a companion—from passive to active in your eternal relationship. Silence may help you hear a deeper answer rather than provide a quick fix. I want answers to my prayers and requests fast and as I continue to learn sometimes the waiting, even when painful and stressful, eventually opens me to a deeper level of trust in my relationship with God.

In reflecting on silence and stillness the Gospel of Matthew 7:13-14 came to my heart. It is the teaching about the narrow gate. I remember learning in my graduate theology courses that Gospel stories are living stories. They serve as timeless portals and allow each of us to continue to learn even thousands of years after they were written. These verses in Matthew remind us how to make daily choices that lead us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Biblical scholars and homilists have helped shape my understanding of such a profound passage. Each time I hear this piece of Scripture I am in a different part of my life journey and something new is revealed.

Today, I am sitting with the core of Jesus’s message. The narrow way is not the easy way. Unplugging in our American culture takes courage. Perhaps in this context of reflection taking the earbuds out of our ear canals—narrow gateways—will allow God’s call to pass through. Seeking silence and stillness to widen the narrow gateways of your discernment makes room to spread out, to sink deeper into your heart. Choosing to make time in your busy life to unplug the phones, mobile devices and other distractions will help you to plug into God.

How do you create time of silence and stillness?

Are you willing to plug into God and listen for guidance in your discernment? 

Will you risk moving through the narrow gateways of your ears and heart?

Prayer anniversary sparks compassion

Thursday, August 3rd 2017 11:30 am
Amy Taylor

For centuries bells have called people of many different faiths to prayer. Long before watches or smartphones church bells marked the hours of the day and served as time keepers of life and routine. On Tuesday, we rang a bell 140 times at St. Rose Convent marking the beginning of our 140th year of perpetual adoration.

Each time the bell chimed, I reflected on the years of faithfulness to prayer of both those gathered in the room and the generations prior. I thought about the millions of prayers for courage, strength, healing, and guidance, for friends, family and strangers. I listened to our sister who shared the story of how years of preparation and sacrifice had finally come to fruition on August 1, 1878, and how that day would forever be a celebratory day in the life of the community. From the countryside of Bavaria, where dreams were first spoken aloud by a few pioneering souls, to the new frontier of the United States and eventually settlement in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the dream of perpetual adoration was finally attained. I imagine all the sisters who have died smiling down on us and celebrating in heaven what has knit us together as a community of prayer.

Adorers in the Adoration Chapel, circa 1906 Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration praying in the Adoration Chapel, circa 1906.  

Praying before the Blessed Sacrament for each intention, we encounter not only the humanity of others but our own as well. Like all ministries our hearts are shaped in the process. I know that my heart has been moved to compassion, empathy, joy and sorrow as I have prayed for each intention. My vision of the world has been widened as I have prayed for people around the globe. I have grown in my understanding of difficult choices and unforeseen circumstances that change individuals forever. We all live on this planet together, and sometimes, even with the best intentions, we fail to recognize the joy and sorrows many carry in their lives. It is a holy encounter each time I cross the chapel threshold whether it is praying on behalf of others or conversing with God about my own life and experiences in ministry.

Today's Franciscan Sisters praying in Adoration ChapelA look at today's Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration praying in the Adoration Chapel. 

As a Franciscan I am called to pray always and in all ways, both inside and outside of our chapel and to serve the needs of our time.

How is discernment leading you to find where your gifts and talents meet the world’s need at this time in history?

Is the practice of perpetual adoration something you feel called to try?  How has praying for others deepened your compassion for others?    

Sister Donna's Six Word Mission Story

Monday, April 24th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Donna Weber, FSPA

Sister Amy: grateful for the ways I'm inspired to pray

Tuesday, August 8th 2017 3:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

open hands

Hands open, ready to receive what God places in them

It is in the spirit of gratitude that I have invited my sisters to collaborate with me in this new series featuring original prayer by FSPA — Franciscan Way — as we celebrate our 140th year of round-the-clock prayer, perpetual adoration. The tradition of perpetual adoration has taught us many things; most of all that prayer has the power to transform our hearts. We become more like Jesus in what may appear to be silence but, just below the surface, is a world of intimate conversation and reverent listening.

We all pray in different ways. Sometimes prayer is communal and has a rhythm and flow to it; praying as an assembly at Mass, the liturgy of the hours or the rosary, and in other ways is spontaneous; a creative pouring forth of adoration like an overflowing faucet from the depths of one’s soul, finding expression in clay, paint, poetry, song or journaling. Prayer is not a one-size-fits-all experience: different pathways to prayer have the capacity to draw us closer to God in our own unique way. 

New ways to pray can be exciting for me, yet sometimes resting in the familiar words of the psalms or a prayer learned by heart refreshes my soul. I also engage in prayer while shaping clay on my potter’s wheel or expressing myself in some other artistic endeavor. I am grateful for all the ways I am inspired to pray.  

The image of prayer that comes to me is one of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-13), each person hearing God in their own language. Their reactions are surprise and pure joy as they realize comprehension is happening in that moment. 

Have you experienced breakthroughs like this — feeling heard, listened to? Are you simultaneously trying to recall the conditions that helped you attain comprehension? 

A turning point came for me years ago when I was just beginning to discern religious life and desperately seeking a sign: proof that one way to pray or the other was right for my life. A wise, elder sister I knew challenged me, questioning "How are you listening?" Her words consumed my heart. She told me to go home, sit in my favorite prayer space, close my eyes and posture myself in a position of receiving by opening the palms of my hands—ready for what God would place in them. “It may take time, but wait for what you hear.” Doubtful, I went home and did just that. The answer I was seeking took months but the practice has become my pearl of great price ... my own treasure buried in a field (Matthew 13: 44-48).

Since then, I’ve discovered that even in conversation with others, I need to listen more than I speak. This is not my natural inclination as an extrovert who loves to talk; characteristically sharing my opinion without hesitation. I used to approach prayer the same way ... talk, talk, talk… thanks God for the chat … goodbye. Then I'd move on with my to-do list. Now I know that extreme chattiness can signal my stubbornness and resistance to listen. 

I have also learned in prayer to listen for council which, for me, means refraining from formulating an imagined response to a thought God has not yet spoken. Council also means that we make decisions together. I routinely sought council from family and friends, considering their thoughts in my decisions. But not always from God. I kept showing up to prayer and metaphorically sticking my fingers in my ears and complaining to others how God wasn't talking. But as I took in the advice I’d received those years ago I realized that the Holy Spirit is really good at getting my attention and inviting me to contemplation. It is powerful to sit in attentive silence — a practice I have incorporated into my life.

And so I ask you the same question I once received: how do you listen? How do you pray? What avenues to communication have you discovered in your journey? What would you like to share with your peers traveling the road of discernment?


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

Photo of the Week - Week 14

Wednesday, April 13th 2022 9:51 am

The sun was hastening to the horizon as the courtyard filled with the prayers of the rosary.

Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo...

Outside, a cool breeze played with skirts, habits and veils and cooled the sisters as their gazes returned to the tabernacle inside the chapel, their lawn chairs facing toward the recipient of their prayers.

Bendita Tú eres entre todas las mujeres…

A pair of pigeons sang their praises with quiet cooing. A hornero announced its joining with a noisy and enthusiastic call. A butterfly gently glided among the brightly colored flowers, dancing to the rhythm of the prayer. A kingbird performed acrobatic pirouettes from the rooftop, catching insects along the way.

y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesús…

As the Rosary continued, the skies filled with sound. The gentle peet of neighbor songbirds and the raucous cries of hundreds of parrots flying overhead. Martins and swallows in large numbers left their perches and danced in the skies above.

Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores…

Outside the walls of the mission and convent, the plaza was filled with the sounds of talking and laughing. Traffic punctuated things with its crescendo and decrescendo as the residents of the pueblo returned from a day of work or school. Music announced the start of dancing outside the convent, and for a few moments overrode everything else.

ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte…

As I prayed and reflected on the sorrowful mysteries, I felt a oneness with all the different sights and sounds. I felt the deep, foundational connection I have with all and everyone as one tiny, but greatly loved, part of God’s creation. And in that, I understood God a little bit more.

Amén

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Sister Katie: ordinary day, invitation to pray

Tuesday, August 29th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Katie Mitchell, FSPA

 

One of my most cherished ways of praying is eucharistic prayer, but lately I’ve been challenging myself to turn the seemingly ordinary routines of daily life into moments of deep prayer. 

invitation

Recognizing and encountering God in my daily life helps me see that intimacy with God is not separate from day-to-day life. Moments of deep contemplative prayer are accessible each moment of the day! The warmth of sunshine, going about my daily ministry, accepting disappointments, listening attentively to another, forgiving someone, experiencing joy and accepting what ought not to be, (as well as experiences of community, family life and friendship) are some of what I’m seeing as places of grace where God communicates in the deepest center of my being. For me it has also meant rereading my past with wonder and new eyes and seeing how God has been there in even the difficult moments. The most difficult of situations, the most humble of tasks, and the most ordinary of days are an invitation to prayer and to knowing the mystery of God at work in my life.

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

Sister Georgia: A morning offering

Tuesday, September 5th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Georgia Christensen, FSPA

 

cup-of-coffee

O my God, I offer you this morning cup of coffee.
As the steam rises upward,
So let all my thoughts, words and actions
Rise in praise of you today.
May the warmth of the cup, 
Transferred to my hands, be a reminder
Of the warmth and love I am to extend to all who I
meet today.
As I drink from the cup,
Let it be a sign of my willingness to share in the
“cup of salvation”
And offer my life to the Father as you did.
When I partake of the coffee
And feel it going through my body,
May it remind me of your constant love,
Ever filling me and giving me life.
Please bless me, my God, and make me good today.
Amen.

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

Editor's note: as published in the "Viterbo University Book of Prayers"

Sister Sue: nature is prayer

Thursday, November 9th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Sue Ernster, FSPA

 

rabbit

Image courtesy freeimages.com

I pray outside when I can. Being in nature is prayer for me. Whatever brings me closer to God — feeling God’s presence and love — is prayer for me. I prefer to take time in the morning to help ground and center me for the day; remembering all is gift from God. Being in nature (creation) is a reminder of God’s omnipotence, grandeur and beauty. The many flowers remind me of God’s love, beauty and fragility. Watching rabbits is always prayer. I am mesmerized by their actions, doing what comes naturally, yet showing energy, joy and beauty. Their twitching noses take me close to God. Instantly, creation is a small footprint of God’s capacity.

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

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.

 

Sister Antona: comfort, joy and security in prayer

Tuesday, October 24th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Antona Schedlo, FSPA

 

hands-lit-candle-courtesy-freeimages.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com
 

Prayer is very personal — it depends upon individual relationships with God. My prayer life changes as I get older. I don’t need so many prayer leaflets. Prayer has become a part of my daily life. Jesus is my constant companion. I speak to Him, question Him, thank Him, ask Him for pardon all day long no matter where I am or what I am doing. It is a tremendous feeling of comfort, joy and security. My life would be dull and lifeless without Him. I thank God daily for His companionship and love.

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

Sister Ronalda: I need to live and love

Thursday, November 30th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Ronalda Hophan, FSPA

 

forest

Image courtesy freeimages.com

Some of my best moments in prayer come when I am walking. Once, I was on a road in the woods.  A grouping of tall pines with branches only at the top brought to my mind those who believe their presence lies “above” others. Another tree, covered in lichen, reminded me that I carry inner baggage that I need to get rid of. And I saw another tree that had been through a storm and the top was torn off.

My heart in the middle of my being is very important.

I need to live and love.

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

Sister Margaret's Six Word Story

Tuesday, September 6th 2016 12:00 pm
Sister Margaret Wenzel, FSPA


What's your six word discernment story?

Bridges of peace built with prayer

Thursday, September 1st 2016 1:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

gap-in-bridge

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

Diversity is one of the greatest gifts we have been given on Earth, but also one of the most challenging. In the beauty of distinction it is often perplexing when we feel misunderstood by another. From the deepest conversations to the everyday moments, relating to one another is where we spend the majority of our life energy.

Reflect for a moment on your morning routine. In configuration there were a series of steps taken to accomplish each task at hand and, over time, your own version of automatic pilot emerged. When living with others, our routines and world views are often questioned and some of the behavior buried in unconscious thought is brought once again to consciousness.

Life in community is a treasury full of relationships. As humans we are naturally drawn to some people. Personalities, viewpoints and generational differences are but a few of the ways in which we are stretched to broaden perspectives and our rough edges are leveled over time. As respect for the other grows so does the ability to let small things go and, when necessary, seek forgiveness when disagreement turns into an argument.  

One path to spanning our differences is committing to a life of prayer. Wrapped in the Divine embrace of prayer, we discover ways to build bridges to common ground that see us through the times of trial. I have witnessed individuals at odds with one another continue to pray together and push through their own feelings to see the situation from the other side.

It is not easy to be open to God and surrender to a time of bridge construction. Bridge building is not an instant process: foundations need to be laid brick-by-brick, and surfaces must be leveled before the decking is ready to span two sides. Sometimes a bridge between two people cannot be constructed. Insight gained through prayer will help one know if it’s time for laying the foundations for a future bridge. Prayer grants vision beyond one’s perception and offers a glimpse of the bigger realities of life.

In your discernment, are you finding any gaps that may need bridging?

Are there different viewpoints you’ve resisted because the leap is too large? No bridge yet exists?

How are you called to be a bridge builder in your life?

Sister Rita Mae: painting as prayer

Tuesday, October 10th 2017 2:30 pm
Sister Rita Mae Fischer, FSPA

 


watercolor-crocuses-by-S-Rita-Mae-Fischer

"Crocuses" by Sister Rita Mae Fischer

At times, my prayer is in humming, groaning, rocking or walking. But the day I received word that my friend had died, my prayer was in painting crocuses. Just as for Christopher Pramuk, music for me is a metaphor for the spiritual life. And that day I found my refuge, my center, a certain kinship and hope, in water coloring. It was powerful. It was transformative. I could live in the liminal space among what was, what is, and what will be. Truly, life reverberates beyond death.

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

Pray as you pray

Thursday, January 18th 2018 10:00 am
Sister Clarone Brill, FSPA

 

hands-rosary-pixabay.com

Image courtesy pixabay.com

I first learned to pray at home and was taught that prayer is important. Then, prayer was often spoken aloud. After entering FSPA, I experienced many prayers said collectively; sometimes spoken aloud together and others among gatherings of us yet prayed, in silence, individually. Early on in a retreat our director advised “Pray as you can pray and don’t pray as you cannot.” At that time, I relied on our meditation book for guidance. I also used prayer books. 

Now, in my ninth decade of life, prayer for me is much simpler. Often, I just relax mindfully in God’s presence and enjoy God with me and loving me. 

Of course, it is reciprocal.

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

A Fiesta! Dancing, Praying and Celebrating Life

Sunday, May 29th 2022 6:03 pm

This week, we celebrated the founding of the pueblo (which is the word for both the town and the people of the town) on Ascension Thursday. The fiesta was much longer than that though. It started on Monday and ended on Friday. During that time, there was no school. Most people had off from work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It was both a surprise and a joy to experience a week of fiesta (party).

I am sure there are some Catholics thinking - but wait - we celebrate Ascension on Sunday! Well, we did too but the actual feast day is Thursday. The church moves the celebration to Sunday. I didn't mind celebrating it twice!

During the days of fiesta, there were Masses each day. The last three days the Mass was followed by a procession of varying lengths. There were two large parades featuring traditional dancing from the different schools. People of all ages participated. The church was decorated in spectacular fresh floral displays. The church was so full, that there were days the sisters had to bring chairs from the dining room to give space to others. On Thursday, there were two bishops and four priests from all over Bolivia. Here at the convent, we had two days of delicious feasts and enjoyed special treats at all of our meals. There was extra time at the meals to have long conversations and enjoy each other's company. There was so much happening, that it would take too long to describe it all. For now, I would love to tell you about the dancing!

Perched high on a balcony, we have perfect viewing of the dancers. Skirts twirling, ribbons dancing, lines and circles formed with feet skip-hopping in joy. Flutes, drums, violins, trumpets, trombones and guitars - different groups but all playing the same song. The dancing continues until each person has passed the church. Full of tradition, stories and love, I am filled with nurturing affection as I embrace the pueblo in prayer for happiness, love and enough of whatever they need. God bless you, Ascención de Guarayos!

I was so impressed by the dedication and joy that was part of the traditional dancing. Both days, it was HOT, in the mid-90s with high humidity, and that didn't stop any of the dancing. Traditional of the area, the dancing was full of energy. I would try to describe the dance, but I would not do it justice, so if you are interested in seeing it, you can follow this link to get an idea of what the steps look like. There is a lot of variation in the different routines.

The dress is usually traditional. The women in some groups wear hats with ribbons woven into them. The most common dress is a simple white or creme with green and yellow woven in. Sometimes there are pictures painted on the front. The men wear simple white shirts and pants and sometimes have patches sewn on them. I noticed that sometimes they cuff their pants a bit higher on one side than the other, but I'm not sure of the significance of it.

The dances tell a story. The most traditional story is of fishermen who are fishing and "catch" the women. I am not sure if the women are representing fish or a maiden of the sea. The women then give the men a gift. After receiving the gift, the dancers dance together, which I am sure is them falling in love. Finally, they dance off together. As Disney would say, living happily ever after. For this dance, the men have fishing poles and the women have woven baskets.

On the second day of dancing, there were other stories being told. Each was a tradition they were handed down through dance. For example, one of the dances featured children planting, harvesting and drying rice, turning it into flour, forming it into bread and baking it in an earthen oven (complete with an actual fire I might add).

I noticed that tradition is very important here. There is a lot of care and attention taken for not just the older generation to be a part of it, but equally important is handing down those traditions to the youngest generations. I saw this in the dancing, where even the Kindergarten age kids participated. It was also in the processions, where the elders of the community knelt next to Confirmation students in prayer.

Coming from the United States, where tradition is many times scoffed at, and new is what matters most, a place full of marketing and promotion, the honoring of tradition is both a bit new, interesting and comforting to me.

Here, I've seen brooms made out of dried weeds, most cars 30+ years old and working well, mended clothes, and old things like chipped mugs not thrown out but continued to be used. I think that there is something here to be learned about living and simplicity. This kind of honor strikes me as being in line with the honoring of traditions.

Yes, there is poverty here, but that's not the point. As I get to know the people more, I start to see something deeper here. Maybe it's an attitude of respect and care that I am starting to understand more. Only time will create a more complete picture. Until then, I will honor the people by loving who they are - and their traditions too!

As I get ready for a visit to the United States in about a week, I wonder what life there will look like after my time here. It will be interesting to see how I've changed. Will I live differently after knowing this life or will I settle back into this pace of the US? We will see!

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Honoring legacy, service

Monday, May 25th 2020 9:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Care for our common good never forgotten

flag-cemetery

Photo by Daniel Foster on Unsplash

Let us take a moment of silence today to pray for peace in our world and to remember the brave military women and men who selflessly lost their lives in service to our country. May their legacy of care for the common good of all not be forgotten.

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

FSPA reflects upon World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Thursday, April 19th 2018 1:45 pm
Sister AmyTaylor, FSPA

 

The Catholic church will celebrate the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Sisters Hennessey-Julia-Walsh-Eileen-McKenzie-FSPA-adoration-chapel

Sisters Sarah Hennessey, Julia Walsh and Eileen McKenzie pray in the FSPA Adoration Chapel at St. Rose Convent.

As we remember in prayer all who are discerning personal vocations, let us also encourage others to consider religious life as a sister, brother or priest and reflect upon discernment inspiration from Pope Francis' Message for World Day of Vocations, “...to be attentive to the details of our own daily lives, in order to learn how to view things with the eyes of faith, and to keep ourselves open to the surprises of the Spirit.”

Who are you praying for?

*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 Karolyne: God's sacred creation in morning and evening prayer

Tuesday, October 3rd 2017 10:00 am
Sister Karolyne Rohlik, FSPA

 

My greeting with the earth each morning is one of gratitude and love for the gift of a new day, and the prayer of Blessing and Goodness in the evening is with the earth’s presence. 


stars

Gazing and listening in the presence of God’s sacred creation — communion and Eucharist beauty, simple and natural and wonderful — create my deepest prayer. 

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

On the road of discernment?

Thursday, April 28th 2016 2:07 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


woman traveling in tour bus

Photo courtesy of www.dreamstime.com

 

Are you willing to go where discernment takes you?

Recently, St. Rose Convent was the unexpected destination for about 100 people traveling on a mystery tour. They arrived for Mass and were given a tour of Mary of the Angels Chapel.

Pondering their presence I began to wonder: “Would I get on a bus with people I don't know and go wherever it stops?"

Discernment can sometimes feel like taking a mystery tour. When I am discerning I’m not always sure where I’m going, and often times someone else is driving. That someone else may be God, driving me along as I listen in prayer, as community members invite me to new opportunity, as family and friends reflect what they have noticed in me. We are all traveling the mysterious journey of life as it unfolds.

As you reflect on your life ... what is your level of trust in situations when you feel like you are not totally in control, or when you can't see around the next bend in the road? Are you finding yourself on a mystery tour of discernment?

Sister Clarone to discerners: '... listen to your heart.'

Thursday, September 19th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

‘God called: I listened and followed’

elderly-woman-white-hair-glasses-white-jacket-corsage

Sister Clarone Brill celebrated her 70th jubilee on April 26, 2019, at St. Rose Convent.

Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Clarone Brill has ministered in Wisconsin and Iowa, spreading Franciscan joy to each person she’s encountered. She began serving as a teacher and later in her life found excitement and fulfillment through her ministry of pastoral care for the elderly. In celebration of her 70th jublilee, Show me a sign asked Sister Clarone to reflect on some of the experiences she has had over the last seven decades as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration.  

Show me a sign:
How did you know that you wanted to be a religious sister?

Sister Clarone:
My older sister, Clara, entered St. Rose Convent around the time I was in first grade. We had FSPA sisters at our parish. I loved my eighth-grade teacher. I felt the spirit calling me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. God called: I listened and followed.

Show me a sign:
How did your family and friends react when you first told them of your desire to become a sister?

Sister Clarone:
I think they were very supportive and happy for me. My dad said he would not stand in the way of my calling.

nun-habit-glasses

Sister Clarone is a member of the Class of 1949.

Show me a sign:
As you reflect on your jubilee, what facets of serving as an FSPA first come to mind?

Sister Clarone:
My delight has been being spirit led to an ever-deepening relationship with God, especially
through prayer, retreats and ministering to others.

Show me a sign:
What has been your favorite ministry, and why?

Sister Clarone:
My two main ministries have been teaching and pastoral care. It’s hard to choose one over the other because, in both, I ministered to many with love, care, and support  — touching lives in ways I may never know and hopefully leading all to a deeper relationship with our loving God.

Show me a sign:
What advice would you give to a woman discerning religious life today?

Sister Clarone:
I would say listen to your heart. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you discern where God is calling you.

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.


 

Sister Rita Mae to discerners: talk, explore, pray

Thursday, October 17th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

"Check out different congregations, and talk with people you love and trust."

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FSPA celebrates 2019 jubilarian Sister Rita Mae Fischer. 

Inspired by stories of heroic missionaries and growing up in a strong Catholic community, Sister Rita Mae Fischer began pondering what could be possible for her life if she too followed God’s call.  She bravely took action by choosing to enter religious life after graduating from high school. Her own adventures have taken her to many new places. As Sister Rita Mae now celebrates her 70th jubilee, Show me a sign has asked her to reflect on her life of service according to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s mission.  

Show me a sign:
How did you know that you wanted to be a religious sister?

Sister Rita Mae:
I had several strong influences that helped me to decide:

  • Reading stories of missionaries.
  • My exemplary Catholic parents.
  • Visiting with Benedictine sisters who taught in my high school.
  • My extended-weekend visit (and traveling by train with a group of friends) with the sisters at St. Rose Convent.
  • Praying at St. Rose in the balcony of the Adoration Chapel.  

Show me a sign:
How did your family and friends react when you first told them of your desire to become a sister?

Sister Rita Mae:
My family and friends were happy. However, since I was the oldest girl in the family, it was my mother who missed me the most after I left for St. Rose Convent.

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Sister Rita Mae, FSPA class of 1949

Show me a sign:
As you reflect on your jubilee, what facets of serving as an FSPA first come to mind?

Sister Rita Mae:
After eight years of teaching in Wisconsin and in the state of Washington, I went to Canton, Mississippi. I taught in Canton in the 1960s and, as the culture was vastly different from the one I’d experienced, I struggled to understand. Eventually, my teaching ministry of seven years there flourished. I treasure the communication I still have with my former students, some whom I taught 40 to 60 years ago.

Show me a sign:
Of the ministries you have served, are there any you hold closest to your heart?

Sister Rita Mae:
I have two favorite ministries: teaching primary grade children and ministering in school libraries.  

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On the day of her jubilee celebration, Sister Rita Mae receives a corsage from FSPA Mission Councilor Sister Karen Kappell.

Show me a sign:
What advice would you give to a woman discerning religious life today?  

Sister Rita Mae:
Pray about it, check out different congregations, and talk with people you love and trust.

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.

Want a glimpse into the lives of other FSPA who share their own discernment stories and answers to questions like "How will religious life affect my relationships?" and "What if my family doesn't agree with my choice?" Check out Show me a sign's discernment video series Meet our sisters

FSPA at RE Congress 2018 ... Rise Up!

Thursday, March 22nd 2018 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

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Sisters Amy and Kathy greeted hundreds of people -- youth and adults -- at the annual congress for religious education in Los Angeles, California. (Photographer Victor Aleman)

Sister Kathy and I would like to send a shout out to all those we met at RE Congress 2018: Rise Up! while we represented the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and vocations there. It was inspiring to see the diversity of ministries represented as we all came to learn and pray together. If you were unable to stop by for a visit and find out more about our community, please send any questions you may have through the comment section (below).

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We look forward to hearing from you!

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

Empowering peace this Fourth of July

Wednesday, July 4th 2018 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

fireworks

Image courtesy freeimages.com

 

Happy Fourth of July!

Today and everyday let us light up the sky -- with bold goodness of prayer -- for peace and unity in our world.

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

 

Blisters, discipline, perseverance and joy

Thursday, August 11th 2016 1:16 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

The spirit of the 2016 Summer Olympics has spread around the world. The opening ceremony’s Parade of Nations brought its vast diversity into our living rooms, offices and classrooms through screens across the globe. For a few short weeks we revel in the gifts of wonder and awe, watching athletes at the top of their fields compete on a global stage in Rio. 


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My favorite part of the games is catching a glimpse of the athletes’ stories, of the remarkable discipline and sacrifice and inspiration they live in their day-to-day lives. Hours of grueling training and coping with injuries are often part of the experience. And competing at this level is not for the shy and timid. Athletes put all they have—and more—into their craft. Resiliency and the ability to adapt are the lessons they continually teach on the long road to reach an Olympic-size dream. Yet for all the hardships behind the scenes there are moments of complete bliss for everyone—the athlete, the coach, the family and friends and their country—as cameras capture extreme accomplishments.

I wonder how many people are there to cheer for them at a 5 a.m. practice or as they attempt perfection on a balance beam, mere inches wide, over and over and over again? Hear their scream of victory as they round the track and beat their own best time? Where do they find the strength to keep going despite pain, criticism and judgment captured on film, in slow motion, for the world to see?

I wonder, too, if they’ve ever whispered “Show me a sign. Show me a sign that I’m on the right path, that I will accomplish what seems to be impossible.” Is their sport a doorway to their own lives of inner contemplation? Are they praying in motion while racing around corners, flying through the air?  If so, how is this a lesson for discernment? Is your prayer life moving and not just confined to time spent in church? Do you recognize God in all parts of your life?

And just like you’ll find in any Olympic venue, event, there is pressure from the crowds surrounding us. Think for a moment of contemplatively praying with a group of sisters, brothers or priests who have been doing so for more than 40 years. Your presence in such silence may feel awkward. You may fumble, fidget in your chair, notice the ticking of the clock and wonder if your experiencing the same feelings they are. 

But you don’t have to be a skilled athlete of prayer. Opportunity arises to practice and build an inner discipline and commitment to time of contemplation. Just like in athletic competitions there are moments in life that feel right, in which we get the results that we’re most hoping for. In prayer, we are not competing with others; rather, we are challenging ourselves. There are no qualifiers or time trials. A willing heart is our admission to the experience. A gold medal is not the reward. A deeper relationship with God is. 

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Will you take the challenge and offer all you have to God?  How will you commit daily to your lifelong dream of a deeper relationship with God? 

What if it's you?

Thursday, May 4th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Every now and then the concept of which came first—the chicken or the egg—pops into my mind, particularly when I am pondering something mysterious. I often allow myself a few moments to think about the possibilities but, as of now, I have yet to come up with an answer. As both are important, does it really matter which one was first? I choose to acknowledge that, in a world of fact finding literally at our fingertips, living with a little bit of the unknown is nice.

As I consider the mystery of how each person in the world discovers their unique vocation, I am intrigued. Almost overnight the world grows in complexity and innovation with new career options to explore, intriguing paths to follow. And within the infinite array of possibilities it’s remarkable each time someone says “yes” to their calling in life. It’s incredible when someone says “yes” to discernment.

One of the indispensable tools to use while discerning religious life is prayer. Praying to God for guidance and inspiration is essential. Friends and family also pray for discerners. The circle gets even wider when you consider that the whole Catholic church is praying for you too.


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Mary of the Angels Chapel (image courtesy of Viterbo University)

It’s challenging to absorb the fact that people you don’t know, who you may never meet, are supporting your discernment through prayer. Each time a petition is read at church, prayer circles meet and parents pray for their children, vocational journeys are in motion. You may be unaware of the prayer surrounding you, but it’s there. 

Formally, across the world, parishes will join together on May 7 and pray for all discerners as we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As communities access the needs in their cities they may pray that you are the one to come and serve; that your specific gifts and talents are the answer to their search for help.

What if it’s you they’re praying for? Are you prepared to say “yes” and choose life as a sister, brother, priest, deacon or lay minister to serve the people of God? Are you willing to also pray for others to join you?

This week, pray for openness to attune to the needs of the world. As you join your faith community in praying for vocations, ask yourself if the petition is spoken for you.

If so, how are you going to respond?

Discerning wisdom in words

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

 

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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.

Discernment and Advent: what are you preparing for?

Thursday, November 29th 2018 10:00 am
Amy Taylor, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration

 

First Sunday of the season shines light on spiritual preparation, reflects discernment

The ringing of the church bell this week not only calls us to Mass but proclaims the beginning of a new year with the First Sunday of Advent. We are roused from our routines of worship and greeted with plumes of incense as we bless the Advent wreath. We are invited to wipe sleep from our eyes to clear our vision and prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of Christ.

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Image courtesy pixabay.com

One of the invitations of Advent is to allow the Word of God to soak into our hearts and create space for renewal and relationship. We are challenged to make time for a spiritual preparation of the coming of Jesus, not just the temporal requirements of the season. Many of us will be easily distracted with concerts, holiday parties, volunteering, meals to prepare and many other things that vie for our time. What could make this Advent different, in terms of immersing yourself in the spirit, than any others in the past? 

Set your smart phone alarm as digital encouragement to celebrate Advent with God by appointment. If you are still using a paper calendar, be radical and schedule time for prayer in purple-marker that can’t be erased. Something as simple as reading the Scriptures of the day or listening to them online is also a great way to welcome the Advent season this year. You can do so on the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website where you will also find a reflection for each day (like Dec. 2).

As we consider the banquet set before us, it is the psalm that serves as a wonderful reminder of the season. How will we make the time to give our attention to prayer, not only during the season of Advent but throughout the whole year?

More questions for reflection:

How will you dedicate time to God this Advent season? 

How have your eyes been opened on this first week of Advent? 

How is this season of Advent mirroring your discernment journey? What are you preparing for … waiting for?

 

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? Connect with membership@fspa.org to be added to our future premiere list. You’ll receive a sneak peek of our future Show me a sign video premieres.

St. Clare of Assisi: model, mentor, friend

Thursday, August 18th 2016 10:17 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 


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FSPA celebrate St. Clare in Mary of the Angels Chapel (photo by Sister Nina Shephard)

Recently FSPA, along with the global Catholic church, celebrated the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi who, after more than 800 years, continues to be a model for all. St. Clare's gentle, loving spirit and care still flow from her deep, contemplative life of prayer. She was a woman of integrity and courage who did not give up when obstacles appeared in her path. She listened in discernment for the voice of God in her heart to provide direction for action in her life. She conversed with royalty, dialogued with bishops and the pope, and protected her sisters when invaders threatened San Damiano. She relied on God in every moment.

Any one of these events would be remarkable for most people to experience and yet St. Clare moved always with grace and humility. Her greatest desire was to gaze on the face of her beloved whether in prayer before the San Damiano Cross or in the faces of the men, women and children who came to her doors for healing of their bodies and spirits. St. Clare of Assisi is a phenomenal model, mentor and friend--a woman who said “yes” to God without contingency. She lived an incredible life and encourages those of us living today to do the same.


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The presence of St. Clare illuminated the vigil (photo by Sister Nina Shephard)

How are the lessons St. Clare teaches present in your discernment?

What could happen if, like Clare, you lived your life steeped in prayer?  

Freezing and thawing: potholes surfacing in discernment

Thursday, February 23rd 2017 12:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

In the last few days we have been experiencing record-setting, spring-like temperatures, welcome gifts in what are normally snowy, frozen Wisconsin winters. Yet what lies beneath the ice-free roadways are side-effects of winter’s ills (seemingly worse this year) uncovered far too soon: potholes. Cavities in the pavement big enough, it seems, to swallow, chew up and spit out the tires on my car.

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Image courtesy of morguefile.com
 

These freezing/thawing streets on which we drive through snow and sunshine exemplify what rapid change brings, and the adaptations that even solid concrete is forced to make. Crews work diligently to fill in large stretches of encumbered roadways in between snow storms and bottomed-out temperatures, securing temporary fixes for much bigger issues: it will take more than a few shovels full of heated asphalt to really fix the breach of the once sturdy concrete.  

This process makes me wonder—in its own way, does a pothole break open greater insight to what we couldn’t see? 

Potholes can also emerge when you’ve just acclimated to navigating the already bumpy road of discernment. You may have become comfortable with your prayer routines, secured support from family and friends and be in great conversation with a community you’re interested in. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a figurative fissure appears, blocking your path ahead. Yet while a void in discernment (or even a series of them) can raise some anxiety it can actually spring forth opportunity for creativity. It may provide an opening for you to find your way around—a challenge that in earlier days would have forced you to make a U-turn. Detours may be necessary but, if you are willing to reflect and not run from a change, there are lessons each choice presents. 

Jesus showed us how to navigate such unanticipated challenges: how many times did he have to find another way to proceed with his message? His roadway of ministry was filled with angry temple officials, jealous rulers and nervous disciples, but also the growing faith of the people he encountered. 

What are the potholes that have surfaced in your discernment? 

Have you found a way around them?

 

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?


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