Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Alright everyone, I have a confession to make: I do not particularly feel that God has destined me for a ministry in or around or near the kitchen...  In other words, I don't like to cook.  Fortunately, the Sisters have not allowed this to keep me from the monthly schedule of kitchen duty :)  And now at Christmas, it has not kept me away from the privilege of baking.  We are baking dozens and dozens of cookies so that we can give them to all those who have contributed to our well-being throughout the year.  It's a wonderful plan, but what do I contribute when I have no clue what kind of cookies I could make or what the recipe would entail?  Well, I can be the help.

So on Saturday the 17th I went downstairs promptly at 1:00 p.m. to assist Sister Angelise with her Mexican wedding cake cookies (also known by several other names that I am unable to remember at this time).  Sister Bridget was also in the kitchen preparing to make three different types of goodies herself: chocolate drop cookies, twice-baked biscotti and something else that tasted really good.  Here we are, then, two experienced kitchen people and one not-so-experienced kitchen person who is wondering just when it will all end even though nothing had actually started.  On goes the apron as I prepare to engage in my first task: making balls of the cookie dough.  Alright, not so bad.  Things are going smoothly as we put our cookies on the sheets and into the oven to later cover them in powdered sugar.  In between all that, Sister Angelise and myself begin to help Sister Bridget with her cookies, too.  We put cherries in the chocolate drop cookies, crunch up some walnuts, and I get to free all the utensils of their delicious batter.  None of us had looked at the clock during this time and the next thing we knew it was 3:00!  What was I doing in the kitchen so long!  Two hours!  Impossible.  Should I leave?  Do I panic?  I don't understand!  And yet, I'm still having fun... Wierd.  But I stayed!

The Final Product of Cookie Week

We were all three in the kitchen together until 4:30, but for about an hour or so in that time, Sister Angelise and I had brought up our instruments -- she strummed some Christmas carols as I did my best to accompany her with the flute.  Sister Bridget whizzed around, feeding us broken cookies, exclaiming, "I'm being serenaded!  This is already my favorite Christmas!"  Then she started telling stories and Sister Angelise, with her wonderful gift of improvisation, began to turn the stories into hilarious songs as I did a little jig or two for added effect.  We had such a wonderful time, we decided to stay in the kitchen a little longer and put some frozen pizzas in the oven for everyone.  We even whipped up some nacho cheese to satisfy our chips and queso craving.  By the time we were done, it was a little after 5:00 and I felt blessed to spend my entire day in the kitchen.

Lord, I am amazed at the wonders You work in us.  You can take the simplest task or the heaviest burden and turn it into a song of praise that even You are pleased to hear.  You do this not for Yourself, but for us -- to give us a life that is worth living, a life that brings joy to us and to others.  Thank You for loving us so much.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Franciscans Are My Favorite

Sister Clare and Myself
I was recently given the opportunity, along with my three of my fellow novices, to go with our Assistant Director to four days of Franciscan wonderment in Graymoor, NY.  From Tuesday, November 8th until Friday, November 11th we enjoyed the fellowship of other novices and the like from several different Franciscan communities.  The speaker, Sister Clare D'Auria, OSF, shared her wisdom on discernment and what it means to be a part of the Franciscan family.  The photos and links offer you a little window into the time we spent there... The videos are skits or parodies performed by several of the novices and postulants who attended the conference that week.

Our dear TOR Sisters did a wonderful parody to "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" -- it was fantastic.  They're included in our plan for the next skit, of course.

We can't leave out our TOR Brothers who did a hilarious sing-a-long song!

And the OFM Brothers put on the best magic show I've ever seen.
Some Franciscan Fun -- TORs and Felicians!

I learned so much, not only from our speaker, but also from my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  I learned that not only is it possible to "put yourself out there" -- talents, non-talents and all -- but it's possible to be accepted for these things as well.  I felt so comfortable with these people that I knew even if I had done a solo and sang something in my toneless voice, I would've walked away receiving plenty of honest encouragement.  These people are real: They're genuine, they're humble, they're loving... I was blessed first with my biological family, but it seems I have been blessed also with the best extended family anyone could ask for.  I only pray that I may fit right in and be able to accept not only myself with all of my imperfections, but others with all of their imperfections as well.  Sister Clare reminded us during the week that, "God is always with us.  Whether we go to the left, or go to the right, He's right there, telling us, 'This is the way, walk in it.'  Even when we choose the wrong path or make a mistake, He's still with us."  Should we not, then, be ready to always accompany our neighbor no matter what journey they are on or where they are at in that journey?  In doing so, we would give each other a better idea of who God truly is.

Our Great Franciscan Group!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Come and See Weekend in Enfield, CT

Woo Hoo!  We had quite a group of women come to visit us in Enfield, CT: Anna, Aubree, Caitlyn, Holly, Jennifer (not pictured), Lauren and Shannon came from all over the U.S. to spend a few days in our central convent.  We enjoyed prayers together, pizza, music, dance, exercise, and vocation stories.  The women were able to ask questions about religious life, see what it was like, and take part in it, too!  We will be sure to keep them in our prayers as they discern to which vocation in life God may be calling them.  There are three choices, afterall; have you ever thought about where it is that you will love God and neighbor best?  Maybe as a spouse and parent, or a single person living in chastity; what about as a religious?  Sometimes it's where we least expect it, but never be afraid to take that leap.  When I jumped, I never actually fell; instead, I keep going up and up and up... Each day I find I am being pulled closer and closer to God, but this wouldn't be the case if I hadn't jumped.  Just take some time to think about it, pray about it; it couldn't hurt.

If anyone has a vocation story, question, or comment, feel free to leave it below by simply clicking on "comment" and typing in your thoughts!

May you be blessed by the Lord God who created Heaven and earth :)

Sister Desire' Anne-Marie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Living the Exodus

I have to admit, when the Sisters told me that the novitiate would be a nice, quiet time, I was expecting something other than a double dose of classes four days a week, along with chores, grocery shopping and ministry… But I cannot deny that I am constantly learning something, either through prayer, class, or experience, and I am so grateful for the insight I’ve gained thus far.  In fact, why don’t I share some of it with you now!
To refresh your memory, I am a newly invested novice with the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis – or for short, the Felician Sisters.  I am 48 days old in Sister years and feel as though it’s already been 48 months.  So, what have I learned that I can offer you?  Well, this weekend I went to a healing Mass where Father Bob Lombardo, C.F.R., explained that healing doesn’t mean we ask for change in another person, it means we ask for change in ourselves.  If we want healing, it has to start with the Lord first and take root in our own being before it can ever take place in another.  “Situations hardly ever change,” he said, “but what is it that changes instead?  You.  God changes you.”  When in your life have you asked God to change a person or a situation, but instead, the change ultimately took place in you?
My T.O.R. Friends!
I have a story about that.  We are currently reading the Book of Exodus – “Let my people go” –  I’m sure you know it.  Well, each time Moses requests this of Pharaoh, Pharaoh refuses.  Sometimes we become Pharaoh and our souls cry out as Moses did: “Let me go to worship my Lord!”  And what happens each time we say, “No, I need you to do MY work, not the Lord’s, forget about worship”?  Just as in the case of the Exodus, Pharaoh is inundated by plague after plague, so, too, do we experience darkness and storms and death when we deny ourselves the privilege of giving our lives to God.  The story I have, which relates to this, is one I heard from a friend who is a Franciscan T.O.R. Brother studying for the priesthood.  “I have a really good friend who paints with his mouth,” he began, “He’s actually paralyzed from the neck down.  He was an alcoholic, had a wife and kids, but was always in and out of bars.  His license was revoked for DWI, so he would ride his bike instead.  While riding his bike home one day, he was hit by a car and ended up in rehab.  He had intense physical therapy, even though the therapists weren’t sure if he’d ever walk again.  ‘If you give me my legs back,’ my friend prayed, ‘I’ll never drink again’.  Well, he walked out of there with full use of his legs and soon returned to his old ways.  His wife left him, but not even this changed his behavior.  Now he walked to and from the bars, so when he was on his way home one night, completely drunk, he climbed over a fence, fell, and broke his neck.  He’ll never walk again, but he says it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to him.  Now his art and his life are dedicated to the Lord.”  Like Pharaoh, who refused the freedom for worship, this man brought plague after plague upon himself – the car/bike accident, his wife leaving, paralysis – until finally he handed his life over to God.  For some of us, it takes that much; how much will it take for you?

Remember, God's grace, love and mercy are infinite – they could never possibly run out! 

Love always,
Sister Desiré Anne-Marie

Through what desert will you wander?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Novices United

We're finally complete -- Sister Heather Marie is on the far left and Sister Mary Rita is front and center.  After Sister Rita obtained her VISA, she joined us from Canada via Poland!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Three's Company -- From Postulancy to the Novitiate

Sister Bridget Mary is on the left, I am in the middle, and Sister Mary Angelise is on the right - this was taken in Pittsburgh before we made our way to Enfield, CT.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hello, World!

Days of Being a Novice: 24

Today, I, Sister Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay, am taking over the novitiate blog for the next two years J  It is a great honor and, so far, a great joy to assume this role.  (I say “so far” because I have not yet encountered what writing a blog will be like under the full-fledged force of “novice-ness”.)  “Novice-ness” is a new word; let me tell you about it, as this may lead me into more substantial mumblings later on…

Spanish Teacher for a Day!
I went to Pomona, CA for my apostolic ministry as a postulant during the month of February this year.  I spent time visiting with families, feeding the homeless, and talking to young women at the Pomona All-Girls Catholic High School.  I spoke with many of the classes and all of the girls were welcoming and kind; they were eager to talk with me about religious life and listened attentively to what I had to say.  Upon my pending departure, the girls encouraged me to “Come back!”  “We’ll be sure to visit you when you teach here,” they said, but I wondered when I’d ever see or hear from them again.
On August 14, 2011, I celebrated my Mass of Thanksgiving and entrance into the novitiate with my family and friends in Rio Rancho, NM.  A package from Sister Feliz was among my gifts and inside was a stack of papers.  Pulling them out, my eyes widened and almost started to leak – this “stack of papers” was a bundle of cards the girls made to congratulate me on becoming a novice.  “Whoot!” and “PC is proud of you!” they said.  Nina gave me the new word; she said: “I’m sure you will make a fabulous nun (at the end of your novice-ness…)  “Huh,” I thought to myself, “novice-ness.  It’s perfect!  All of novitiate – the homework, ‘formation moments’, excitement, transition, everything – it can now be summarized into this one word.”  So when you see it in my future blog antics, you’ll know just what it means and where it came from.  Fancy that!
Mass of Thanksgiving
Now, “what does this have to do with prayer?” one might ask, since this is the blog of a young woman pursuing religious life.  I’ll tell you.  In response to their thoughtfulness, I am making each of them a knotted chaplet.  On the knots of each decade, I recited either 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be’s, Jesus prayers, or prayers to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the student and her intentions, or the student and her family.  On the cross of each chaplet I sprinkled 1) Holy Water from the Shrine of Divine Mercy, 2) Holy Water from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, or 3) blessed soil from the Marian Shrine in Chimayó, NM.  As you can imagine, this was (and still is) a lot of work.
I began making these chaplets just after I’d been thinking about what it meant to “pray always.”  When I looked for this verse in the Bible, it appeared in 1 Thess. 5: 16-18; Lk. 18:1; Eph. 6:18; and Lk. 21:36.  I’m sure it appears much more often than that, but to find it in four different places so quickly shows us how important an instruction it is.  So as I worked on these chaplets, the words “pray always” came to life: instead of simply making chaplets, I asked Christ to turn my activity into a prayer.  There are plenty of things in our lives that can become prayer, like cooking, or dancing… Even cleaning!  We know we can offer up our joys, our chores, and especially our sorrows, as prayers for others to our Heavenly Father.  I think that’s what it means to pray always – when we learn how to sincerely be in prayer during times of solitude, conversation, ministry, or wherever else the Lord beckons us to be at the moment.  See, I told you my story would lead us to some substantial mumblings...  I praise God the Holy Spirit for that!  Amen.

With Much Love and Many Blessings,

Sister Desiré Anne-Marie J