Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Oldenburg Franciscan Center

photo: Oldenburg Sunset

Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino

Brother Ruffino was so absorbed in God he noticed nothing external.  He seldom spoke, and even when he did, he never had a gift for speaking.  Even though this was true, one day St. Francis ordered him to preach to the people.  Ruffino, surprised, asked that another friar be sent in his place.

To this St. Francis answered, “Because you did not obey immediately, take off your mantle and habit.” (This left Ruffino in his underwear!)   “Now go to Assisi and preach to the people in the church.  Do this out of holy obedience.”

Ruffino obeyed, and when he entered the church and went to the pulpit, people laughed at him saying, “These men do such penance that they are out of their minds.”

Seeing how quickly Ruffino, one of the noblest men of Assisi, obeyed the harsh command, Francis reproached himself, saying: “How could you, a humble son of a merchant send the distinguished Ruffino to preach as if he were a madman?  You shall do the same thing you have ordered him to do.”  And immediately he took off his mantle and habit, and went to Assisi, carrying his mantle and Ruffino’s with him.  People, seeing him in his underwear, believed he and Ruffino had truly lost their minds through too much penance.

Ruffino was preaching when Francis ascended the pulpit and began to preach on holy penance, on voluntary poverty, and on the nakedness of Christ and the shame of his Passion, so that all began to weep and were edified by the action of Ruffino and St. Francis.

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If you have ever “punished” someone, and realized how out of sync that was with the insult or mistake or… (fill in the blank), you might think how Francis inflicted himself with the same punishment he doled out!

Lent is here. We are asked to find that within ourselves that hampers God’s growth in us, and resolve to erase, scrape or cut it away to make more room for God.  Don’t make the mistake of judging your worth by looking at others who have done less. Remember, of the one who has been given much, more will be required.  And let the cross of ashes put on your forehead on Ash Wednesday be a proclamation to the world that you are getting rid of anything that keeps you from fully relying on God.

Peace in your penance,

S. Sharonlu, OSF

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Take a Lenten Journey with Us!

Join the Oldenburg OSF Sisters in our upcoming Lenten series at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center:

March 1, 8, 15, 22 (Thursdays) 6:30-8pm
Lenten Series: Four Contemporary Stories of Discovering One’s Way
with Sr. Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Re-discover your call to discipleship!  During this Lenten series, we will look to four very real people who were drawn to discover and re-discover what discipleship was calling them to do.  Hearing their stories and the questions that would not let them go can prompt us to listen more closely to the call of discipleship in our own lives.  We will focus on one example per week:

March 1: Howard Thurman – a black minister, teacher, and mystic who established the first radically integrated intercultural church in the United States.

March 8: Edith Stein – a Jewish teacher, scholar, and mystic who became a Catholic and entered a Carmelite monastery.  She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

March 15: Thomas Kelly
– a Quaker teacher and seeker who discovered a mystical depth within himself and set about drawing others to their spiritual depths.

March 22: Jean Vanier
– Canadian founder of L’Arche Communities who has dedicated his life energies to creating homes and sharing life with those with developmental disabilities.

$15/session or $50 for the complete Lenten series. 
Or, come one evening and bring a friend, 2 for $25.
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

We hope to see you soon!

Resolutions? Why? by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Crucifix Statue in the Oldenburg OSF CemeteryEvery month I get a little book called Magnificat.  It is a gift subscription from a friend.  At the beginning of the booklet there is always a short meditative editorial.  This is followed by an essay on a topic that coincides with the month’s Church theme.

The essays are very good, but last year a guest author wrote on why we make Lenten resolutions.  I was floored when I saw myself in the category of the poorest resolutions.

The author wrote that the season of Lent is NOT for self-improvement.  WOW!  That has been my purpose for years.  If I decide to exercise more, to lose weight, to give up desserts, I am doing that for myself!  Strengthening my relationship with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with God, is what ought to be my goal in Lent.

If my resolution were to spend 1/2 hour in prayer every evening talking to and listening to what God has to say about my life; if I visited shut-ins or helped at a shelter so I could see the poverty of Jesus in the people I am with; if I read the Bible or a spiritual reading book for 1 hour each day, or sacrificed an evening out to have a bit extra to give those in real need, I might have a very different feeling when Easter came.

God loves each of us as if we were the only human being on Earth.  If you really believed that, you might find yourself clinging to the idea of God’s presence all around you.  Jesus would be on your mind as much as your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend would have been on your mind during your courtship.  You doodled his/her name on the pad by the phone, you called on the phone daily if not more, and you shared all things with that person.  You were delighted in how this wonderful one was interested in all you had to say or do.

Wouldn’t it be a better resolution if we were to strive to be as close to Jesus as Francis was.  Francis even had the wounds of crucifixion on his body.  We might at least accept criticism, disappointments, body aches or loneliness without complaint.  Jesus loves you so much.  Return that love with all your heart and what an EASTER you will celebrate!

Peace, Joy, and Everything Good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Salt of Earth & A New Morning Song by Angela Roesler

March 3rd is coming around the corner, and our gifted Storyteller and Experiential Retreat Leader, S. Karla Barker, OSF will be honoring us with her reflective program, “What does it mean to be Salt of Earth?”

S. Karla’s retreats touch the soul through her most beautiful ways of helping others integrate beliefs and life experiences with imagery and rituals that enrich our spirits in deep and unexpected ways.

Last year, I posted this poem and reflection (shown below) on my personal blog.  I am sharing it with you today to give you an idea for the profoundly peaceful impact a single morning with S. Karla had on me, long before I worked for our retreat center!

I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I hope you’ll consider joining us on Saturday, March 3rd from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center for a peaceful day of retreat and personal discovery. We’ll discover the ways we can both savor and add zest to the life we’ve been given, and we’ll find encouragement in sharing our distinctive flavor as Salt of Earth so that others may relish our gentleness, creativity, and love of Life!

RSVP to 812-933-6437 or center@oldenburgosf.com!

Peace & joy to all,
Angela Roesler
Oldenburg Franciscan Center

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Dear Shadow, Come Home ~ A New Morning Song

Poet’s preamble:  There is a Native American tradition that teaches its children that when we sleep at night our shadow runs off to chase our dreams.  In the morning before children rise and let their feet hit the floor, they are taught to whistle or sing for their shadow to come home.  Upon hearing the call, their shadow will return and reunite with them.  If they forget to do this, however, their shadow will remain in a distant dreamland, and the person will go through the day separated from an integral piece of their soul, and they will not be whole or fully present to give or receive what is needed that day.

I learned of this tradition while attending a program on Native American Spirituality given by S. Karla Barker, a Sister of St. Francis in Oldenburg, IN, and the story resonated deeply within my heart.  The poem and artwork that you find here are like prayers – calling my shadow home through difficult – and peaceful – times.

Dear Shadow, Come HomeArtwork:  Dear Shadow, Come Home

Poem: A New Morning Song
(Thanks to Sister Karla, OSF – Oldenburg)

Can you hear
The beat of the drum,
Dear shadow?
Come home.

The sun is
Arisin’ and 
I’m on my own.
Come home.

The world’s
Unfamiliar
And we’re full of dreams.
Come home.

Return and
Stand tall as the
New morning gleams.
Come home.

At night while
I’m sleeping,
We’ll ride your white steed.
Come home.

And you’ll
Keep me dreaming
So we’ll never need.
Come home.

But a new day
Is callin’ and
We must be true.
Come home.

You must follow me
I cannot
Follow you.
Come home.

Together we are
And together
We’ll be.
Come home.

And we’ll
Keep on seeking
Responsibly: free.
Come home.

My spirit, my shadow,
My heart,
And my guide,
My presence, my love,
My hope and my pride,

A new day is dawning;
Together we’ll ride.

Come home.

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Artistic notes:   As for the artwork, I created this one weekend while on a mini retreat at a dear friend’s house.  She suggested that we do decoupage – to see through art where the Spirit might be moving within us.  I stayed up past 1am putting mine together, totally into the process.  I still love the images I discovered.  And while it might look like a bunch of random hodge-podge to others, to me, it speaks gently and happily to my soul.  If you want to make one of your own, it’s easy!

  • Paint a background on canvas with 1 or 2 colors… you can do a design, but it’s not necessary.  Pick color(s) that speak to you.
  • Choose a word or phrase that has particular meaning or a ‘catch’ for you right now and paint it on the canvas.  (i.e. Mine was “Dear shadow, come home.”  My friend’s was “Alacrity”)
  • Get out some old magazines and newspapers and start flipping and clipping out images that speak to you.
  • Arrange the images you cut out and adhere them to canvas with Modge Podge (or a similar project glue).  We first painted the surface of our (dried) canvas with the Modge Podge, placed our cut-out pictures one by one on the gluey surface, then painted another layer of glue on top of each picture.
  • Let it dry!  See what you think….. :)

Last but not least, I encourage you to come to the Burg on Saturday, March 3rd to spend a morning of reflection with S. Karla!  Come learn more about yourself and how God created you to be Salt of Earth!  She’s a wonderful retreat director!  Call 812-933-6437 or email aroesler@oldenburgosf.com for more information!

© ~AMNR~ 2011

Plant a seed! – Visual Poem by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Plant a Seed.  Watch it grow.  It will go so much farther Than you'll ever know.  And whether that seed be action or word, whether harsh or kind, its power will be heard.  And whether its fruit will bring joy or distress, you are the one who will injure or bless.

Poem & design by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF. Photography courtesy of Clipart!

Special Invitation!  You are most welcome to join the Sisters of St. Francis for 9:30 a.m. Mass in the Convent Chapel followed by “COFFEE TALK” WITH S. SHARONLU – SUNDAY, MARCH 11:  RESURRECTION MYSTERIES.  10:45-noon.  $ free-will donation, coffee & donuts served.  The resurrection of Jesus is sometimes lost from sight during days of bereavement.  We think even less often of the people who were raised from the dead during Jesus’ earthly sojourn.  During this session, we will look at other resurrections and see how they can help us understand the passage of our loved ones to the Heavenly Kingdom.  These resurrections will be presented as an alternative to other mysteries of the Rosary.

Hope in Diversity – Video with S. Olga Wittekind, OSF

We hope you enjoy our video message from S. Olga!


If the video does not appear embedded in your email, click here to view it:
Hope in Diversity

Hope in Diversity with S. Olga Wittekind– Feb. 18.
Our February workshop was a great success!

This is what people said:

  • S. Olga has expertise, optimism, and organization.  I love her stories and examples!
  • Very knowledgable, organized, prepared, interesting, inspiring!
  • Learned a lot [to help me] understand myself and those around me.
  • Love S. Olga’s enthusiasm and knowledge.  Grateful to learn this information.
  • Wonderful experience all around!
  • S. Olga is a fantastic teacher!

Reminder:

If you missed our Saturday “Hope in Diversity ” program, consider requesting a private Myers-Briggs workshop at the Burg just for your family, church group, or co-workers! Come rest in the peace of the Sisters’ campus and grow in healthy relationship with yourself and those around you!  For information on having a program tailored to your group, write to Angela at aroesler@oldenburosf.com or call 513-543-5368.

Peace, joy, and everything good!

♥ the Crew at OFC

Giants and Children, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Photography © Angela Roesler

Guess what!  Giants are fantasy and children are real!

Saint Augustine was a giant in his day and still is today: brilliant, scholarly, and very wise.  Yet, his mother, Saint Monica, prayed for this child of hers because he could not believe what he could not take apart and prove.  He lacked the trust and faith of a child.  Once Augustine opened the door to truths he could not prove, he found joy.

His faith, newly found, filled his heart and life with childlike joy.  His acknowledgement is summed up in these words of his: “Late have I loved you, oh Beauty ever ancient, ever new.  Late have I loved you!”  The giant had given away to the child within.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was certainly not a giant.  Her life on earth ended after just 24 years.  But she, unlike Augustine, had the trust and faith of a child.  In fact, her entire plan of life was based on things a child could do.  She called it her Little Way.  Things that popped up during an ordinary day became offerings to God.  Just as a child will offer Mother a dropping dandelion with so much love that the simple “weed” is treasured as much as the gift of a dozen red roses, Thérese offered God very little things.

What kind of things did she give God?  Well, when the person behind her in church made a habit of dangling her rosary beads against the bench, Thérèse refrained from giving her a glance of annoyance.  Instead, she offered the clicking of those beads as a musical gift to God.  Tiny penance, you say?  Well, it probably happened three times a day 365 days a year!  She did not have any idea how widespread her influence would be.  To her, that would be a giant thing.  But it was not fantasy.

A reporter who was following Mother Teresa of Calcutta in India as she worked remarked, “I would not do what you are doing for a million dollars.”  Mother Teresa replied, “Neither would I.”  And she frequently told her Sisters, “Do little things with great love.”  That is what children do.  They are real.  The giants you may know are usually fantasy!

What little things could you do for God and your neighbor during Lent?  Try this.  On February 19, 2012, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, make a list of all the little things that annoy you.  Then pick out ONE, only one.  (That will be hard enough to keep!)  Decide how you are going to handle that annoyance in a positive manner, for the love of God and your neighbor, or spouse, or child, or parent or co-worker.

Forget about giving up candy, or beer, or TV, or potato ships.  This will be much harder and much more beneficial to you AND much more pleasing to God.  Notice that the “how” phrase is printed in green above.  It is like a seed planted, and during Lent (40+ days and Sundays), you will have come close to forming a habit of handling that annoyance so that it annoys you less!  It will take root and blossom.  But you have to keep working at it for the 40+ days.  No days off!

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.   Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” ~ Matthew 18:3-5

So, what, on Earth, are you doing for heaven’s sake?

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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Looking for a way to share Lenten resolutions with your children or grandchildren?  Check out this brief article on catholicculture.org – it shares more on St. Thérèse’s Little Way and how to make “sacrifice beads” for children.

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Take a Lenten Journey with Us!

Join us for one of our upcoming programs at our Oldenburg Franciscan Center:

March 3 (Saturday) 9-11am
What Does it Mean to Be Salt of Earth?

With Sr. Karla Barker, OSF

Scripture tells us “We are the salt of Earth.”  How do we savor and at the same time add zest and excitement to the life we’ve been given?  Do we share our distinctive flavor so that others may relish our gentleness, creativity, and love of Earth?  Come learn to recognize and share more of your ‘saltiness’!

$25 for the morning (includes coffee/tea & danishes). 
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

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March 1, 8, 15, 22 (Thursdays) 6:30-8pm
Lenten Series: Four Contemporary Stories of Discovering One’s Way
with Sr. Barbara Leonhard, OSF.

Re-discover your call to discipleship!  During this Lenten series, we will look to four very real people who were drawn to discover and re-discover what discipleship was calling them to do.  Hearing their stories and the questions that would not let them go can prompt us to listen more closely to the call of discipleship in our own lives.  We will focus on one example per week:

March 1: Howard Thurman – a black minister, teacher, and mystic who established the first radically integrated intercultural church in the United States.

March 8: Edith Stein – a Jewish teacher, scholar, and mystic who became a Catholic and entered a Carmelite monastery.  She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

March 15: Thomas Kelly
– a Quaker teacher and seeker who discovered a mystical depth within himself and set about drawing others to their spiritual depths.

March 22: Jean Vanier
– Canadian founder of L’Arche Communities who has dedicated his life energies to creating homes and sharing life with those with developmental disabilities.

$15/session or $50 for the complete Lenten series. 
Or, come one evening and bring a friend, 2 for $25.
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

We hope to see you soon!

Heavens Above, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Sunset over the Oldenburg Hills

Have you looked at the sky lately?  This does not mean glancing up to see if you need an umbrella or sunglasses.  Have you really looked at the sky?

I have a block or so to get to my work, and one day last week, I looked up.  Granted, it was briefly, but I was so taken by the sight, I decided to spend some time (5 minutes) looking at the sky each day.  Guess what I found!  The heavens are a pattern of our own lives.

Today the sky is grey, and it is almost certain that rain will fall before the day is up.  It will get darker and darker, and then the rain will come.

But yesterday we had what in this area is called a buttermilk sky.  Thin and rippled clouds were everywhere– milky white with the blue barely visible behind them.

The day before, soft puffy clouds floated here and there.  Some were rather large clouds with several small and even tiny clouds around them.  They looked like a group of children around their dad, mom, or teacher.

Earlier, there was no cloud in the sky at all.  Pure, bright blue calmed the earth everywhere I could see.  It was a day when the sun was bright and everything looked polished.

Isn’t this a picture of our lives?  We love when all is going so well, when we can feel the love of our God and our family and friends.  Work seems to flow easily and we want to whistle or sing or hum while we work.  Walking almost becomes dancing.  Everything is polished and bright!

Dark skies

Days come when we cannot see the light.

Then comes the day when some setbacks arrive.  They may be setbacks of time, too many people, not enough people, less money than we expected, too many tasks.  You know what they are in your life.  None are so great that they shake your world, but you can feel that something more disturbing may happen.  Clouds are around here and there.  Some are little ones and can be cast off or ignored, but some are big and puffy and we feel trouble is coming.

Sure enough, the harbinger of less happy times comes with the overall feeling that our world is not smooth and silky.  The things we thought might happen seem far from sight and our whole world is mottled with a mild but very real dread.

Soon a heaviness seeps into our hearts.  We can see no light – only a dreaded darkness, and we weep.  Having lost sight of the beautiful things we reveled in when our world was light and joyous, we drag ourselves to what must be done, but we do nothing in the “whistle while you work” mode we had earlier.

We forget that the sun is always in the sky.  We do not see it at night because Earth has turned away from it.  When we do not see it in the daytime, it is hidden by clouds, thick, dark, gloomy clouds.  But it is still there.  And we know the clouds will go away, although sometimes we wonder when!  If you have been on an airplane flight on a dark and dreary day, you will find the sun when the plane breaks through the cloud cover.

The Son is with us always, also.  We revel in His presence when things go well.  We are aware of his presence when small things or even whispers of bad things in our lives come up.  And when we feel the darkness penetrating our very core, we cannot see him.  But He is there, He never leaves us.

When the sun is not visible to us, we turn on lights, burn candles, light the fireplace.  In other words, we use ‘reminders’ of the sun to buoy us up until it shines again.

Reminder of the Son

We can be reminders for each other of the Son!

With the Son, it is similar.  For those times when life seems dark we need a way to keep us connected.  The Son will return to our senses and is imbedded in our hearts even when we do not see Him.  Sometimes a picture, another person’s smile, or a note or email with a cheery word helps us to refocus and let us see the Son in the same way candles remind us of the sun.

Since we are all here to help others, our neighbors, perhaps a decision to write that cheery note, or smile at a downcast face would be a good resolution for us.  The sun always comes back and in the same way, the nice things you do for others will be tapping at your back door.

So keep a smile on your face!  Happiness is contagious.  Spread it around!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

Sr. Sharonlu

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Storms in your relationships?  Come find Hope in Diversity!

Light through the storm

Join Sr. Olga on Saturday, February 18th (9:30am – 2:30pm) to grow in peace and find hope in diversity.  We all face various interpersonal challenges in our daily lives. In this workshop, Oldenburg Franciscan Sister Olga Wittekind (Jungian psychologist and PhD) will give tools and insights – using Myers-Briggs analysis – to help us understand ourselves better, appreciate others more, and strengthen our relationships with God. This is a great workshops for individuals, ministry groups, families, and couples!

$45 includes a delicious lunch by our wonderful caterer, Cathy Kerker!  Call Annette at 812-933-6437 or email center@oldenburgosf.com to RSVP today!

Find the event on Facebook!  Also, friend OFC and share us with your friends!

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