Vacation Thoughts, a reflective prayer by S. Karla, OSF

God of all activity, in your wisdom, you’ve given us a very energetic world.  Our minds and imaginations are all instruments that enable us to find you in quiet, prayer, and activity.  Yes, just now, that gift of imagination took my mind on a ferris wheel ride.  I was caught up in all the times we went round and round, and all the seats held people of various ages, cultures, and life styles.  I wondered why I was a part of this “gang” going round and round, and what this has to do with the quiet I was trying to experience?  Then it hit me, this “gang” symbolizes all who ride the ups and downs of a lifetime, all part of the grand scheme of the adventure we call life.  Give me a clearer vision that the activity that calls for justice, peace, and acceptance is within my reach.  God of all activity, clue me in to how all the ups and downs can bring substance and harmony to life.

 

S. Karla, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

What is Love? by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Flower blooming near our Fatima Shrine on the convent grounds of the Oldenburg Sisters of St. Francis

What is love – really?  If we look at TV’s take on love we will not find it in our own lives except occasionally and briefly.  So it would be well for us to look at what the Scripture has to say about love.

Love is patient.  When the muddy footprints are on the freshly waxed floor or the guy next door returns your mower, damaged.

Love is kind.  To the telemarketer who calls at the worst possible time or the woman whose strident voice grates.

Love is never jealous.  Not even if everyone on the block has a new car or boat.

Love is not boastful or conceited.  Not even when you are the only one on the block with a new boat.

Love is not rude or selfish.  Even if you are snubbed or someone won’t share.

Love does not take offense and is not resentful.  Even when a good friend does not include you in an invitation.

Love does not take delight in others sins.  Not even in a joking way.  Love speaks the truth.

Love is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to take whatever comes.  Even if the whole world is out of step, Love does not come to an end. Not now, not IF, not ever.

You know, love like this is wonderful and beautiful, BUT NOT EASY!

Yet this is how God loves us!

Wishing you God’s peace and love,
Sharonlu, OSF

Washing of Feet, by Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Photograph © Margaret Lois Jansen

Don’t be afraid to let me love you just as you are.

I know the journey you’ve been on.
Every step of it is precious to me.

As I wash your feet, I acknowledge and bless steps taken with courageous stride;
slow, hesitant, barely inching forward steps, and even the dragging of feet.

Your feet tell the story of your journey,
how long you have been on the way; the stumbling blocks you’ve tripped over;
the moments of slip-sliding down some hill you thought you’d climbed once and for all;
and the determined digging in of toes as you learned to begin anew.

In the washing of your feet, I hold your inner journey as well.

Don’t be afraid to let me love you just as you are:
exhausted or exuberant, anxious or peaceful, discouraged or hopeful.

As I bathe your feet, I bless you for every step you have taken,
the ones others have seen and the ones only you know about –
those costly steps toward forgiveness, understanding, or softening of heart.

I honor even the steps that you thought of as missteps
or walking in circles, or meandering in confusion.
Every step you have taken is precious to me.

I bless you for the journey that is still yours to make.
Each step you take, whether bold or limping,
dancing or stiff,
is sacred.

As I wash your feet
and hold in my hands all the stories that they tell,
I silently pray that no matter where your journey takes you,
you will remember that I am with you
loving you
just as you are.

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Washing of Feet © Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Barbara Leonhard, OSF is a theologian, spiritual director, and retreat leader at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She is a lover of scripture and loves to share the Good News with others.

Please contact center@oldenburgosf.com with any requests for permission to reproduce Washing of Feet.
Please visit http://www.smallsmallacts.com for information on licensing of images or purchase of prints by Lois.

Pebbles, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Pebbles ©Margaret Lois Jansen - SmallSmallActs.Com

There had never been a more scorching time.  All animals were suffering from drought because the sources of water had dried up.  Foxes and kittens, raccoons and dogs, all the animals said, “We will die because we have no water.”

When they did find a little water, it was in a tall narrow concrete vase attached to a patio step.  The vase was about 15 inches tall, and there were just about 3 inches of water at the bottom.  “No good,” said the other animals, “we cannot get to it.” And they wandered away.

A sly crow said nothing, but went about picking up little pebbles and dropping them in the vase.  Untiringly she dropped pebble after pebble into the vase.  When all the pebbles in the immediate area were gone, she crossed the road and found more. All were dropped in the vase.

She slept happily in her nest that night and the next day one or two of the animals came back and found the crow rested and fresh while they were on their last legs. “How did you do it?” they asked.  “Well,” she replied, “I dropped enough pebbles in the vase to raise the water level so I could reach it to drink.”*

How many things in your life are little, but gathered together they create a big effect?  There is not too much value in one feather, but a down coat or blanket will keep you very warm!  What about peas, chocolate chips, one piece of popcorn?  What would happen to symphonies if there were just one note?  Or how could we have masterpieces of art if there were just one color?

When you think of something big that needs doing, whether in your own life, or your family’s or in your town, city, or nation, break it down.  Find one thing about that situation that you can do. Do not try to do it all.   Try being a pebble.  Say something encouraging to someone; smile at a downcast face; write a little note; pat someone on the back.  Think of the little pebbles.  The purpose of their existence seemed very limited.  But combined with the wisdom and activity of someone totally unrelated, the pebble became a source of life!  Little things do mean a lot!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
(Tale adapted from Aesop)

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  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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The Oldenburg Franciscan Center and Convent are located in Oldenburg, IN.  Visit our website or call/write for directions!  Individuals and groups are always welcome to make retreats!  Also, you are welcome to join the Sisters for Mass in the Convent Chapel at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday or at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org
812-933-6437 / center@oldenburgosf.com 

Like us on Facebook! 

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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!