That’s the Spirit! by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

A most wonderful insight came to me as I listened to a man with PhDs in Philosophy, Theology and Psychology relate the intricacies of the human being.  I was lucky in this.  With all his degrees, he still spoke in the words of the neighborhood, not the classroom.  It was easy to understand.

One of the things he said was that we separate things too much.  We try to categorize and sort things that should not be separated.  Then he went on to explain.

We believe that God created the Earth and all that is in it.  We also believe that God is everywhere…in the farthest reaches of the universe, in the deepest cavern or tunnel, under the highest mountain.  More importantly, God is all around us at every second.  That will never change.

The expression of God’s presence is made visible through our own human experiences.  We do not have to look for visions or miracles.  In fact if we just look, we will see visions and miracles every day.

Let’s take the truth of the Spirit.  We use the word in many ways.  When we speak of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, we usually capitalize the word Spirit.  But we also use the word in the small “s” sense.  “Her spirits are down today.”  “School spirit is at an all time high.”  “That’s the spirit, Anna!”  “Let’s try to raise the spirit of hospitality in our parish.”

My friend the professor would say, “There is no such thing as a small “s” Spirit.  If we think about what we are saying, we will soon recognize that fact that all the small “s” spirits are simply an expression of the capital “S” Spirit.

It is only a tiny amount, to be sure.  But it brought home to me how small I am, and how insignificant my actions.  Some people may say that we are reducing the Spirit to the human level.  I turn the telescope the other way.  I think we are looking at human activity from God’s point of view.

This means that something in the school spirit we feel is part of the Spirit of God.  Raising the spirit of hospitality would surely lend itself to opening ourselves to the Spirit, since Jesus told us, “Whatever you do for the least, you do for me.”

And if “my spirits are down” isn’t it possible that the Spirit is what is missing in me?  And when we say “That’s the spirit?” is it not the Spirit that energizes all we do?

For myself, I have too often focused only on the Father and the Son.  Now I am awakened to the constant activity of the Spirit in my life.  In fact I see more clearly: the whole world is under the Spirit’s wing!

God bless my friend, the professor!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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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 

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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.

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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Do you have feedback about our blog?  Comment below, or send an email to aroesler@oldenburgosf.com. 

If you haven’t participated in our POLLS yet, please do!  Click here!

Snowflakes & Prayer by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Snowflakes are usually a large part of our lives during January and February. They are the most delicate of objects. Alone they last only seconds here on earth.  But together they can bring an entire city to a standstill.  That surely gives us some idea of how community prayer can be very strong.

Scientists tell us that no two snowflakes are alike.  They are as different as our own fingerprints.  We know each of us is unique. But sometimes we forget that our uniqueness does not stop at our fingerprints.  Each of us is truly one-of-a-kind.   And that includes our relationship with God.  The best way for you to pray is deep down, who you are.

As a child I wanted to BE the Little Flower of Jesus or St. Francis.  I cannot BE them.  I can admire them, but I must be the best Sharon I can because no one else can do that.

To use a theatrical example, there was only one Elvis Presley.  Like him or not, there was only one.  Today there are conventions of Elvis look-alikes, sound-alikes, move-alikes.  Hundreds of people there try to BE Elvis Presley.  It just doesn’t work!

How do you talk to God?  Do you always use someone else’s words? Are you like John Alden, who was speaking sweet words to Priscilla Mullins for his friend, only to have her say to him “Speak for yourself, John”?

Rogers Group, depicting the courtship of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins: "Why Don't You Speak for Yourself, John?" (1885) -- linked from Wikipedia

Open your heart to the One who loves you as if you were the only person on the earth!  Just talk to God.  God is waiting for your unique words.  It doesn’t even have to make sense to anyone.  God knows,  understands and delights in what you say.  And you will grow in knowledge of the love God has for you.  Yes, join others in prayer, but be sure to keep your very personal relationship with God strong by personal prayer.

Peace, joy, & everything good,

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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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Sr. Sharonlu will be presenting a Coffee Talk about Resurrection Mysteries on Sunday, March 11 after 9:30 a.m. Liturgy in the Convent Chapel.  Mark your calendar and come spend a morning of prayer and inspiration at the Burg!  We’ll have coffee and donuts.  There is no fee, but donations are appreciated!  Please do RSVP:  812-933-6437 or center@oldenburgosf.com.

Here’s what the talk is about:

Resurrection Mysteries: New Prayers for the Rosary.  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 the other mysteries of the Rosary.

That’s not all!  On Sunday, February 5th, Sr. Patty Campbell will lead a coffee talk about Noticing Our Guardian Angel!  Follow this link for more information on our Coffee Talk Series!

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Do you have feedback about our blog?  Comment below, or send an email to aroesler@oldenburgosf.com. 

If you haven’t participated in our POLLS yet, please do!  Click here!

Coffee Talk: Wise Men & Women Following a Star: Epiphany 1851

Stushie Epiphany

King of Kings - artwork shared with permission © Stushie

Epiphany tells the story of three wise men from the East who followed a star to find the newborn king of their hopes and dreams. For Sisters of St. Francis, Epiphany is celebrated again in a similar story – that of Mother Theresa Hackelmeier’s arival in Oldenburg on January 6, 1851 in fulfillment of her hopes and dreams and those of Fr. Francis Rudolph, pastor of Oldenburg.

 

We invite you to come hear their miraculous stories and be inspired by these wise and courageous individuals whose hopes, dreams, and faithful journeys founded the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg.

 

As we enter the new year, we might all reflect: what hope/dream/star is God beckoning each of us to bravely follow in 2012?

 

Our speaker, Sr. Rachel West, OSF, is a community historian and archivist for the Oldenburg Franciscan Sisters.

 

Cost: freewill offering.

Date: Sunday, January 8
Time/Place: Sunday Mass is celebrated at 9:30 in the convent chapel;
the coffee talk will follow in the convent’s OA dining room.

Coffee & donuts will be served!

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

Note: You are welcome to make a private retreat for the weekend! Come in on Friday, January 6 or Saturday, January 7th and enjoy a peaceful retreat at our Oldenburg Franciscan Center. Spend time in private reflection with God. You may even arrange to meet with one of our spiritual directors for retreat guidance and inspiration. Retreats are available year-round. Private and shared rooms are available. Now is a great time to come! Click here or call 812-933-6437 for more info.

(Artwork courtesy of ©Stushie!)