Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Pre-Christmas

The 'rents were in town for a little Pre-Christmas since I now spend Christmas and Easter with the Sisters. Mom and Dad came in for Janet's birthday and her Nutcracker performances this weekend as well. I still can't believe how amazing it is that Janet and I both live in the same city. That seriously hasn't happened since high school. I think it made for a really nice weekend because when she was in rehearsal or performance, they could hang with me, and when I had commitments at the convent, they could hang with her in her.

They came in Thursday and Thursday night the three of us, minus Janet, went to see Wicked at the Fox Theater. It was such a great show! Really great script, story, and music. And of course, really great dancers (the reason we went is because one of the main monkeys is a friend of the family's :) But it was a late night out and though I told Sr. Carmen not to wait up, of course she did. This would only be the first of a few late nights, though, (unfortunately maybe for her) 'cause parents are keeping it real and keepin' real busy!

Friday and Saturday night Janet had performances. My parents got the sisters tickets for Saturday since Janet was dancing one of the main parts that night. Friday we had our December Faith and Film night here at the convent, so it worked out that I couldn't go Friday anyway. Friday morning I had class and prayer with the sisters, and in the afternoon I met Janet and the 'rents for lunch and then we went to the art museum.

Saturday I prayed and went to Mass with the Sisters, but Sr. Carmen covered my Book Center shift so I could hang with the 'rents. We went to Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville, IL and then to the Anheiser-Busch plant! A little Mary and a little beer- the perfect balance! That's why I love being Catholic! :) It was snowing a lot, and we didn't get the whole tour of the beer plant, so I guess I'll just have to go back!

Saturday night was the Sister's big night out! But the weather was HORRIBLE and I had to put my Cleveland driving skills into action to get us there. Sister Carmen and the other sisters were saying rosaries in the other car :) We made it safely, by the grace of God, and everyone really enjoyed the performance.

Sunday I spent all day with my parents- we met a friend for brunch, went to the history museum (St. Louis has an extensive history museum by the way! They sure love their city around here!), Blueberry Hill for some beer, the mall, and then to Maggiano's for Janet's birthday dinner.

Monday morning the parents came to the convent for breakfast and that was the final event for the very full weekend!!!

It really was a pleasant weekend and a great Christmas before Christmas!!! And I can't wait for the actual day! Come Lord Jesus, Come! It's gonna be great, I just know it.

We decorated the convent last night as a community- put up some trees and wreaths, etc. Today Sr. Jerome and Emily have been baking....yeah, Christmas! It's only a week away!!!

We each picked an "advent angel" to buy a special gift for for Christmas. We can get everyone else something little, but something special for our "angel". I have a feeling I know who has me, and I can't wait to see what they get me!! It's gonna be fun!!!

I hope you all are preparing well and not getting too caught up in the man-made stress of a God given gift of a day! God bless your last week of Advent!



Sunday, December 9, 2007

Glimpses of our day: The sisters coming together for the Baby Jesus Party '07!

Prepare the Way...for Baby Jesus!

Okay, so since Advent has started, Jesus has pretty much told me, I need to completely abandon myself and I will be rewarded. We began Advent last week with a retreat, as we do at the beginning of each month, and again, it was much needed. But this month it was needed in a different way. Usually I look forward to a day to have Jesus all to myself, a day to take a long walk, a day to stay silent and not talk to anyone!

But this retreat was very others focused. Sister Carmen began our retreat with a scene from the Nativity Story- the Annunciation and the Visitation. It was just what I needed to focus on as I had started to become very 'me' focused, as we can all get during this holiday season, even though it's supposed to be the other way around. (ex-What's God going to do for ME this Advent?) Instead, in the movie, I saw Mary receive a message she may not have wanted to hear, was afraid to hear, and say 'yes' for the good of humanity. And then she went and shared it with her cousin, who in turn forgot about her own joy (for Elizabeth was with child too!) and they only focused and shared the joy of the other. Which, isn't that what Christmas is about? Yes, God comes to save US in the form of Jesus, but Jesus wants to rejoice and help each other get to heaven as well.

So my week has been trying to abandon my opinions and my desires to Jesus. If I get mad about something, I tell Him. And I've always done this, but I go through phases where I really have to envision myself letting go. On retreats with some of the teens when I was a YM, I would make them do something physical, to help them visualize giving everything over to God. Like making a cross, and placing it at the altar. Well, now I'm having to do that like every day in my head, but in a good way, with little, little things. Things that shouldn't bother me, but do and may not bother anyone else, I have to accept and then give to Jesus.

One way we are doing this as postulants is kind of what the elementary kids at my old parish would do, but it is helping me so much! We have a little crib set up for Baby Jesus in our study and each time we do a small offering, offer up something we didn't want to do, but did for Jesus, we put a piece of hay in. We joke that Baby Jesus is going to be feeling GOOD when He arrives! He will be sleeping in luxury! But I guess He will be happy with the offerings we made in reality,too.

So one way I can share that I had to make an offering this week- we all know how I feel about small children. They are great for other people, but not really for me :) I recognize they are gifts, but I don't choose to play or spend time with them. I'm much better with teens who I can talk to on a normal level. (And don't have grossness and snot dripping from their faces at all times....for the most part ;)

Well, something each of our Book Centers in the US do is put on a Birthday Party for Baby Jesus. And that was this Saturday! I told God and the sisters I'd do whatever they wanted me to do. And they were faithful! I mainly took care of the volunteers and customers (all adults :) with a little singing with hand motions when the kids started to get antsy waiting for pictures or clowns or whatever. Since I did the singing with hand motions thing with teens anyways, I was happy to oblige. And usually Sr. Carmen or Emily, my co-postulant would come help me, which I am grateful for.

It was overall a beautiful day of community and humanity. Everyone, even those of us who are not "kid people" see the hope and innoncence in kids. I have to admit when they would sing and mainly scream those songs about Jesus we were teaching them, there was a definate sharing of Jesus going on. I wondered, at first, why our community had this as one our major events in all the Book Centers. But after experiencing it, I see that this is what humanity should be. Sharing Jesus with one another. We were talking about Jesus and singing about Him, and thinking about Him all day. And everyone who came into the Center knew that is what was going on. And everyone (except for the occasional crying kid ;) was happy in that place!

For those of you, like me, who have never experienced a Baby Jesus party before, probably the main event is getting your picture taken with Baby Jesus. The sisters have costumes for adults and kids and many families come in to take their picture as their own version of the Nativity (Santa is nowhere to be found :)

We also have birthday cake for Jesus (which I loved calling to order, btw: "what do you want the cake to say? Happy Birthday... Jesus? Like J-e-s-u-s?" haha- we were evangelizing everywhere this week!)

And we have clowns, and crafts, and singing songs...and it brings so many people to shop in our Center, which we have really needed lately.

So it was a really beautiful and blessed day. So many things could have gone wrong, like with the cameras and such, but God gave us His Grace ALL DAY.

I'll leave you with my favorite part of the day:

At the end of the day, Alina- who had been putting together the Baby Jesus party the past few months and my co-postulant- and I were cleaning up and there were just a few kids left finishing the cake while their parents shopped. The other morning after a week of preparing and studying, Alina and I had kind of gone crazy and we started singing and dancing (we kind of make fun of how its a requirement, it seems, for the sisters to 'sing and dance'. We have concerts and they do shows with choreography and we like to pretend we are at the level already or will be one day...I can't explain it) Anyways, we had come up with this little Latin Lounge singer version of "Feliz Navidad". Alina is Cuban and from Miami so it is okay for her to poke fun at the hispanic community :) She has watched all those Latin soap and variety shows, and so our act was something similar to that. Really bad accents, funny hats, roaving guitarists, bells...you get the picture?

So we started doing our act for the other sisters and these last few customers. I played my guitar and she rang her little bell and danced around me.

Then she decided it would be a good idea to go up to the kid eating his cake on the floor, innocently watching the spectacle. She rang her bell in his face and I cannot describe the kid's reaction well enough. His eyes got huge, half excited, half startled, and he just threw his cake in the air. The cake in his hand went FLYING and we all burst out laughing.

Baby Jesus is funny. Baby Jesus is good to us. In the words of Will Ferrell...Dear Baby Jesus, we thank you!

Happy Second Sunday of Advent.



Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Advent!

Happy Advent! We took this pic to put in all our Christmas Cards this year. You will be most likely seeing it soon :) It's only fair since everyone else sends me their pics of their babies and pets and such (not that I'm complaining. I'm just realizing this is now the point we are at in our lives!). This is our version of the "family" Christmas postcard!