So we’re back to Ordinary Time. But it took us a while to get here. These first few “ordinary” Sundays have their own solemnity–Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi (this past Sunday and the week before, respectively). It’s not until we’re well into the month of June that we see an “green” Sunday.

The chapel here in our Juniorate House is back to green. Same with our yard and the trees in the neighborhood. I enjoy this long “ordinary” time of the liturgical year. If my summer is anything like yours, it’s busy, full of exciting happenings and travels. Amidst all these changes and differences, the liturgical year beats a steady beat, a constant rhythm that reminds me of what’s truly important–praising God, growing closer to Jesus, and sharing the love of his Sacred Heart.

Earlier this year I painted a liturgical calendar for the atrium. (Very well made by Ken Wood–thanks Ken!) In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the materials we use are to be “simple and poor” and are preferably made by the catechist’s own hands (see Points of Reflection #18 and 25). Some of the fruits of creating this calendar came in sharing the process with my sisters in community, some of whom are not familiar with CGS. There was great joy in watching the colors come to life before my eyes and gradually come together into a recognizable whole. I also have tremendous appreciation for my parents who served as benefactors in donating the material to the atrium.

So, as summer days lengthen and we enter the longest season of the Church year, may your faith deepen and grow. May it be a time of blessing and renewal. May these “ordinal Sundays” teach us to “number our days aright… and grow in wisdom of heart…” (Psalm 90:12).

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Wood burning of the Year of Faith logo in our convent chapel.

We’re just past the halfway point for the Year of Faith (October 2012 to November 2013).

The sisters of my local convent just finished reading and sharing our thoughts on Porta Fidei. We used a faith-sharing guide from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The reflection questions provided great food for thought.

Let us continue to pray for Pope Francis during this Year of Faith. I wondered what his thoughts on the Year were and came across his pastoral letter he wrote as Cardinal of Buenos Aires. It’s been translated for us by Zenit. Although then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote the letter last October, it strikes me as having a deeply Easter message. How fitting, as in my last post I wrote of how we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!

What are you doing to renew your faith this year?

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“There are Alleluias everywhere!” exclaimed one student upon entering the atrium. Indeed, there were! I know we’re four weeks into Easter now, but it’s still going on–we can still shout ALLELUIA! After burying our Alleluias on Ash Wednesday, some of my younger students struggled to not proclaim the “A-word” when they came to the atrium. Some kids even stopped by to check on the wicker basket under the prayer table to make sure they were still there.

Then, after a long spring break, we returned–almost 50 days after we had turned our prayer table purple. We processed in, carrying beautiful objects to add to our prayer table. And yes, we sang a lot of Alleluias. These photos feature the banner I made above our prayer table, as well as our Paschal candle. Ours was generously donated to us by our pastor. The cross is actually a monstrance, with the alpha and omega at the bottom. I added in the numbers for the current year. It’s a beautiful and striking addition to our prayer table.

I can’t find the exact citation, but I’ll give him credit anyway. St. Augustine summed up the Christian life well:

“We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”

As we begin Holy Week, we pause to look back on what the Lord has worked in our hearts these past six weeks. And we look ahead to the Triduum, the sacred days of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. Please allow me to offer a short reflection on the beauty of Lent, the inestimable value in meditating on Scripture, and a bit of encouragement for the days to come…

(The following event occurred at the parish where I volunteer in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program on Sundays. I had the privilege of reading Luke 15:8-10 with two seven year-old girls. This is some of the fruit of that morning’s reflection.)

After great excitement at learning a new parable, the three of us sat down to reflect on the actions of the woman and her pursuit of the Found Coin. First, we wondered why our booklet was titled the “found” coin and the Bible had it titled the “lost” coin. Certainly, the girls agreed the woman was truly happy when she found her coin. I invited them to bring over the Maxims cabinet to follow up with a previous conversation I’d had with them. (The Maxims are a collection of approximately twelve sayings of Jesus from the New Testament. They help us live the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor.)

One girl eagerly read them aloud while the other made two piles–those that fit this parable and those that didn’t. In they end they came up with three connections that seemed to expressed how the woman lived:

  • “Ask, and you will receive, seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.”
  • “Always treat others as you would have them treat you.”
    [The child commented: “Because she was nice to the coin.”]
  • “When you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father in private.”
    [The other added: “She was looking behind all the closed doors, praying the whole time.”]

Earlier this Lent I read a reflection by the late John Kavanaugh, SJ, who said that “Lent requires a tremendous psychological disengagement from our earthly prejudice.” My two young friends do not seem to be burdened with this earthly prejudice the way I am as an adult. The woman’s pursuit of her coin–seemingly worthless in value and certainly worth far less than the extravagant party she threw upon finding it–seemed entirely natural. So too is God’s pursuit of us. A few weeks ago we heard in the Gospel, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” This is how the woman in the parable lived. My first grade friends connected that in the Maxims they selected. They invite me to shed my preconceived prejudices and hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling me to remain in Him and bear great fruit. He calls us to the Cross. With death comes new life. It is in dying with him that we can rise to new life and truly bear great fruit.

Let us pray together and may you all have a blessed Holy Week!

Trust God and miracles will happen.

As you know from my previous post, this year our sisters celebrate 100 years of ministry to the people of St. Louis, Missouri. Our upcoming centennial would not be possible if not for an event 52 years earlier–the birth of our foundress, Mother Clelia Merloni.

Clelia Cleopatra Merloni was born in Forli, Italy on March 10, 1861. For a creative presentation on her life and the foundation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I highly recommend the great video “Oh The Places She Goes” put together by two graduates from Sacred Heart Academy (Hamden, CT).

She is for me a model for living life with total trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She believed in God’s plan for her life and for her Congregation. I pray that will continue to lead me to the fount of life and holiness that is the Sacred Heart so I can share the riches of His love with all those I meet.

This was *the* burning question in 2nd grade this week. Teaching current events is a BLAST! And in order to help my students understand the significance of Pope Benedict’s resignation and the magnitude of the upcoming conclave, we made a timeline.  The lesson also connected to math when we looked at fractions and percents: two thirds of the students were born while Bl. John Paul II was still pope. One third was born during Benedict’s papacy–and one student was born between popes!

Thanks to www.happysaints.com for the John Paul II and Benedict XVI “head shots”!

The Question of the Day

The Question of the Day

Students wrote their name under the name of the pope when they were born.

Students wrote their name under the name of the pope when they were born.

God iFriendship with Jesus- Covers very good! As providence would have it, my second grade classes just finished reading/studying Amy Welborn’s book Friendship with Jesus. What a better way to connect with current events than to have just wrapped up two weeks of reflecting on the Pope’s wisdom?!

Friendship with Jesus is a beautiful dialogue between Pope Benedict and children preparing for their First Communion. Amy Welborn is the editor and Ann Kissane Engelhart is the illustrator. (Great interview with Ann Engelhart here!) First I read the book aloud the children and then they went back and reread it on their own. We made our own journals of our friendship with Jesus, comprised of reflection questions, illustrations, and scripture quotes.

My favorite part of the book is when Pope Benedict describes Eucharistic Adoration as “an embrace with Jesus.” I am very blessed to have a weekly hour of Eucharistic Adoration as part of my community prayer. Furthermore, it’s a gift to teach in a school where we have Exposition and a time of quiet in front of the Blessed Sacrament each week. For the second graders, this is an especially powerful time of prayer as they look to deepen their friendship with Jesus and look forward to their First Communion in a few months!

Please pray for us and know that we’re praying for you!  And certainly hold in prayer our beloved Holy Father and his successor!

Apostle News

The latest Women of the Heart newsletter has been published! You can find it here. This addition offers reflections from our novices “on mission” (engaged in part-time ministry and living in community). It also includes a picture of our postulants at Mount Sacred Heart.

And, I’m a little late–but better late than never–in celebrating the kick-off to our Centennial Celebration in St. Louis.

Five Sisters (Mother Hildegarde Campodonico, Sr. Berchmans Oliva, Sr. Marie Citterio, Sr. Emilia Bove, Sr. Margaret Fazio) journeyed from Connecticut to this Midwestern city for the same reason the Apostles had already travelled from Italy at the turn of the century. They came first to Boston and then to New Haven in order to serve Italian immigrants who were struggling and to preserve their Catholic, moral and cultural life in the “New World.” Fr. Cesar Spigardi, pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians or “the Italian Church”—as it was deemed—reached out to the Apostles whom he had met in 1912 while in New Haven giving a mission. He saw in the Sisters the zeal and charity necessary to help him renew the faith of his flock. The Apostles arrived in St. Louis on January 24, 1913 and began teaching in the new parish school almost immediately. From downtown, the sisters’ mission expanded to the Hill in 1940 at Sacred Heart Villa and 1941 at St. Ambrose School. The Apostles went to Our Lady of Good Counsel in North County in 1953 and built Cor Jesu Academy in Affton in 1965. For the past 100 years, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have served in more than 35 schools, parishes, and other ministries in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Generation Life

Happy New Year!

I’m a day late in posting on the 22nd of every month (as was my Year of Faith “New Year” Resolution). Things have been busy since the start of 2013. And I have a prayer intention to ask… Please pray for all participants in the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C–especially the Generation Life pilgrims traveling from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Holy Father has encouraged pilgrimages during the Year of Faith–first and foremost, to Rome, but also to Marian shrines and important places in your own country.

This will be my first time on the March for Life. I’ve been invited to journey with 120 young women from our high school here in St. Louis–Cor Jesu Academy–plus 1400 more young people from all over the diocese! Please pray that we can journey safely, witness to the beauty of human life, and grow in our faith. Through the intercession of the patroness of North America, please consider praying this beautiful prayer from the USCCB website.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

“Purple is for preparation…” so goes our song about the liturgical colors. Preparation–a big word for “getting reading”–describes the seasons of Advent and Lent. In the atrium at St. Ambrose School we’ve been preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus. The prophets leave us a great many clues about the Messiah that we can ponder and meditate about. Here are some of the “prophecy cards” I made for the atrium:

Many first graders were delighted to revisit these prophecies–as half of my students have previous atrium experience. Quite a number of children chose to copy these words to make prophecy cards of their own.

In second grade, every child created their own prophecy scroll to add to their Advent triptych for their family prayer table. I modeled this project off the idea of an Advent lapbook. (Thanks in large part to That Resource Site and Three Sided Wheel.)

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” ~ O Antiphon for December 21.

Advent blessings and Christmas peace to all..

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