Friday, January 25, 2008

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul!

Today is the Church's feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It's not a big feast like Christmas, but today feels like Christmas to me!

For the Daughters, of course, this is a big feast for us. Not quite as big as St. Paul's Feast Day (the Church celebrates it on June 29 I believe), but for me personally, I hold this day near and dear.

St. Paul and I have a lot in common, I'm finding. Which is most likely why God led me to this order. We like to give people a hard time, Paul and I. We like to think that we are right. And then tell people we are right. And then God knocks us off our horse. And then that makes us fall in love with Him, because we see the Light, which is Him.

Last year this time, I had returned from a postive, enlightening experience of retreat with the Daughters in New Orleans. It was decision time. Was I going to let this positive experience change me? Was I going to take action on it? God made it clear that I had to. I couldn't let the opportunity pass by. His Light was too strong and too loving to turn away. This is what happened to Paul. He simply could not go back to his former way after he knew what he had seen, and that was Jesus.

We have all had these conversions in our life, I'm sure. I encourage you to reflect on moments Christ changed things for you and you could no longer go back- you were forever changed. Let us thank Him for these moments.

And so here I am today. A lot of dying to myself has had to happen these past 5 months, and I'm sure this is only the beginning. Things I thought I knew- like Paul- I had to have transformed by Christ's Light. And once again God helped me surrender, only to be filled with a renewal of His Light!

Thanks, St. Paul, for your witness of conversion and transformation! I am learning that we are never done being formed. We are constantly dying and rising with Christ. And it can be very painful, but ultimately very beautiful. That is why this day is so beautiful to me. It reminds me of all the conversions I have had so far in my life, and all the ways Christ has shown His Light and Truth to me. And also it reminds me of the conversions Christ has allowed me to witness in others. And that makes me want to "press on" and bring Christ's Light to all His people!

I pray you all will continue to see Christ's Light in new ways. May we all die and rise together with Christ like St. Paul!

Tonight we are having a Mass with our some of our local benefactors, family, and friends. I think my sister is coming as well as my friend from CUA who is now with the Jesuits. You will be in our prayers! Thank you for keeping us in yours. We are united in Him!

Peace in Him,

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Faith for Thought

We just had a Scripture class and it has given me new insights for the new year that I wanted to share with you all. It gives insight to our mission as the Daughters of St. Paul but also ALL of our mission as Christians overall!

The Scripture scholar who teaches the class (we listen to her on tape) knows everything about tradition and history. She has been breaking apart the Penteteuch for us and teaching of the different authors who were trying to share to their audiences back then about God, but also trying to make sense of their world. The first weeks of these classes kind of shook my faith a little bit, because if we are not careful, we get caught up in the human-ness of the works and forget they are divinely inspired and trying to show the action of God in our lives. But today in class, the lesson brought back the faith element for me and so I wanted to share with you the Good News :)

She said our job as evangelists and catechists is to come up with NEW metaphors and images to talk about Jesus. In other words, to put the Good News in the context of how people today will understand. When the authors of the Old Testament were writing, they were writing to a specific audience- people in exile. Of course we are still in exile today and the words apply, which is why the Bible is the basis of our faith. But we still need to explain, as Christians, how Jesus saves us TODAY in new ways. ESPECIALLY to a people whose world is changing so rapidly.

I share that just because I think that explains alot about the problems in the Church today. Some people are trying to speak about Jesus as we did as a Church 400 years ago. And while that is a part of our history, how are we going to praise and worship Jesus TODAY? Some of it is still relevent, but not all of it. It is more a preservation of history and old traditions, it seems, than moving towards what Pope John Paul II taught: the NEW EVANGELIZATION.

Pope Benedict's encyclicals, so far, I think, have been in tune to Pope John Paul II's message. I think the current pope speaks very much in our language and the encyclicals are easy to read. His latest one is on HOPE which definately what we need to look at as many of us look at the world in dismay.

I am reminded that the reason I entered this order is because our mission here is to come up with new ways to share the Good News of Jesus. But that is ALL of our mission as Christians. Let us in this new year come up with new ways for us to share our ever-changing encounters with Jesus! But always remember the history with love and respect as well. And look towards the merging of new and old with HOPE.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

City Museum Pics

Above: The Awesome City Museum, Emily and the nuns discovering Ms. Pacman, Watching the 'Circus', and the reason we are not cloistered ;)

2008 is great.

Happy New Year! I rang in the New Year in front of the Blessed Sacrament last night along with Sr. Carmen, Alina, Emily, and my friend Cathy from home who was in town and staying with us.

We began with a community Holy Hour at 7:30pm and seriously, we stayed for four and a half hours. The time actually went fast. We could've left if we wanted to, but when Jesus is staring you in the face for the New Year, how could you say, 'See Ya later?' :)

Plus He was just saying all kinds of nice, good things :) 2007 gave me much to reflect on, and I am very grateful for all the ways the Lord used me and so many of you last year. He also gave me much inspiration and a spirit of Hope of much more to come in 2008. He reminded me there is much work to do and it won't always be easy, but He will always help me and give me the desires of my heart.

And so we prayed, and if I didn't mention you by name, know that you were definately covered in one form of petition or the other :) We always remember our families and friends and all those we promise to pray for in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Last Sunday was the feast of the Holy Family and Alina's family was in town from Miami. My friend Cathy was also here. We went to a Gospel type Mass at a largely African American parish and it was AMAZING. When there are times that I question, I pray I will always think of that Mass. I really think it is what heaven will be like: peoples of all races just praising God in the Holy Spirit with true joy and happiness. Singing their little hearts out, not caring about anything else or anyone else- just God- and happy to do so. The Holy Spirit was truly present and I know He always is, but we don't always allow ourselves to be channels. I pray to be more of a channel for the Spirit like the people of that community were.

I realize I also didn't share with you about our Christmas! We provided the music for the 9am Mass at the parish we go to often. Emily played piano, I played guitar and cantored. Sr. Jerome, Sr. Carmen, and Alina sang as well. We had rehearsed for about a month, and I must say our work paid off. Jesus blessed us with a beautiful Christmas morning Mass.

That day we had a nice lunch together and then, in true Julia style, I had to provide our new family with some entertainment. So I called upon the ghosts of Christmas past when my sister, cousins, and I would perform our own skits, songs, and dances for our family. I made Alina and Emily help me choreograph a dance to one of our crazy Christmas songs from one of our Daughters of St. Paul cds. I can't describe to you the music that our Sisters record. Most of it is very beautiful, but there are some songs that just beg for cheezy, showtune choreography. And so, I took it upon myself to give my gift of cheezy choreography to the sisters. I wish I could post the video (yes there is a video, naturally. All my genius, geeky efforts are always captured on film or now digital it seems) but I wouldn't want to put the Daughters at risk for any critcism or chastisement for allowing such silliness to occur :)

And then there were presents!!! My advent angel turned out the be Sr. Agnes. Alina and I were pretty sure Sr. Caritas and Sr. Agnes had us, but I thought mine was going to be Sr. Caritas. I've always admired Sr. Agnes for her savvy fashion sense (the woman's got some cute shoes and sweaters for 74) so I'm glad that she had me! God is good! I got a nice bathrobe and we each get each other little things, so I got two miniture baby Jesus', a handmade pillow, pillowcase, and apron out of the deal as well :)

The day after Christmas was crazy fun. We went to this awesome museum in St. Louis called the City Museum. Once again, words will only fail me, so I'll post some pictures of the place. It's got a skateless skate park, tons of chutes and ladders for kids and parents alike, and a circus inside! And much of it is made of recycled materials. We all had an awesome time.

Speaking of recycled materials, I was inspired to start a new hobby and make things out of recyclables as well. My first project has been a gift for Sr. Caritas birthday today. My friend Cathy introduced me to Mod Podge, so I'm honing my skills. I"ll let you know how it works out. You may see my work in a museum someday.

God bless your NEW YEAR!!! Hope to see you in 2008!!!