Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Arrivals

This weekend we welcomed two "visitors" the Vigil and First Sunday of Advent and, yes, the first snowfall of the year here in Erie. This photo was taken right from my bedroom window at 7:00 am Saturday morning! The second photo is of one of our four Advent "wreath" candles that frame the front section of our chapel. And if these two events weren't enough for one day, Saturday was also the day of our four birthdays: four of our sisters all share November 27. Lots of desserts will be coming this week!

This year I thought I'd list the reading we're using at our Advent Morning Praise for any of you who would like to read them along with us:

Monday, Isaiah 40: 1-8
Tuesday,(St. Andrew) Phil 1: 13-20
Wednesday, Isaiah 40: 9-17

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving gratitude

For over 30 years the Emmaus Soup Kitchen has served the poor and hungry of Erie. Four of our sisters, a number of our oblates, and numerous loyal volunteers work there to provide these meals. A little slideshow of their Thanksgiving Dinner this week is here.

Our own Thanksgiving meal will be attended by sisters, some of their family members, and others that "just get invited along the way." Our tables this year:

Philip's Birthday

I gave,
to a friend that I care for deeply,
something that I loved.
It was only a small

extremely shapely bone
that came from the ear
of a whale.
It hurt a little

to give it away.
The next morning
I went out, as usual,
at sunrise,

and there, in the harbor,
was a swan.
I don't know
what he or she was doing there,

but the beauty of it
was gift.
Do you see what I mean?
You give, and you are given.

Mary Oliver

Monday, November 22, 2010

Balancing Act

As the "rest of the world" gears up for Thanksgiving--amidst the Christmas hoopla--we are doing a balancing act this week for both Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent this weekend. As a community we are reading this little booklet by Fr. Edward Hays: Meeting Christ at Broadway & Bethlehem.

If you live in the Erie area and are looking for something a little extra for pre-Christmas days, you are most welcome to our Saturday night vigils at 7:00 pm. They are about 30 minutes in length and are very nice prayer moments. "Come as you are" and join us: Nov. 27, Dec. 4,11,18. Sunday liturgies remain at 9:30 am.

All of us here love Advent, as can be seen from the outstanding job our liturgy and prayer planners do during these four weeks. It's very special and we are grateful for the creativity in music, prayer and liturgies that come out of all their efforts.

Some Sunday afternoon scenes at our Presque Isle State Park. Yes, those are swans...migrating through, I guess, but they've been here a couple weeks. Just beautiful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Variety is the...

A variety of recent happenings to share today: four of our sisters are returning from recent trips out of the country. Two sisters went to visit a sister-friend in Honduras and experienced her life and ministry in this Central American country. Two others spent 10 days in and around Merida, Mexico visiting the Mission of Friendship, an Erie diocesan-sponsored mission. All came home with new experiences to share with all of us.

Meanwhile three sisters "back home" are in the news. Sr. Annette and Sr. Pat received a national award from the Wildlife Habitat Council. Sr. Pat was able to travel to Baltimore to accept it on behalf of the EarthForce staff. Sr. Ann M., a social worker specializing in trauma in young people, gave a presentation this week to an Adoption Conference in the area. You can read more about both of these here.

Meanwhile, "on the home front," a half a dozen guests are still in our guest hall this week and all three hermitages are full. This Sunday will bring more visitors as we have invited our November Community of Life participants to liturgy on the feast of Christ the King. Big crowd expected.

Fall weather is holding strong. No snow clouds on the horizon....yet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Future Church

Had the opportunity to spend a day in a seminar with John Allen, Vatican correspondant for the National Catholic Reporter and author of the 2009 released book, The Future Church.

I had always wanted to hear him live, as I've read his columns and analyses for years. Here. He seems like a great guy and fine, fine journalist! Here are just a few of the "sound bites," as he calls working on TV for CNN...get the book if you want a good read on his ideas of the 10 global trends that are changing the church right now.

* Only the West has secularism as a threat. In the southern hemisphere, if you ask them what is the greatest threat to religion, it is other religions--not secularism.

*20-30 year old Catholics in the West: 30% are baptized but are totally unchurched. Wouldn't even check Catholic as their religion; 30% would check Catholic as their religion, but not practicing; 20% are into social justice issues and involvement; 20% are evangelical Catholics=searching for signs and symbols and public acclamation of their Catholic identity;

* World Catholics do not understand the splits/in-fighting and divisions within American Catholicism;

*We need to create "a place at the table," become friends with different ideaologies within Catholicism. No one else is going to do it, especially from the top down.

*An important reference book for him is The Big Sort by Bill Bishop.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Autumn Days Continue

As another beautiful autumn week comes to a close, I can report that our stained-glass window restorers remain hard at work--a side benefit of the good weather. Here's what it looks like when they work on the inside of the small chapel:

This weekend we're hosting the fall edition of the Seasons of the Spirit retreats. The retreatants should have a glorious time, as our grounds are so nice to walk through....real leaf-covered walkways and lots of naturally drying bushes and flowers of all sorts.

I was walking by our gift shop yesterday afternoon and poked my head in to see their latest wares--here's a beautiful arrangement of wood-turned candle holders et al--very striking "in person."

And, not immune to the early season customer demands, a selection of Brush Dance Christmas cards. Don't know Brush Dance? Click here. Also, click on any photo to enlarge it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Windy Days

Life in Erie, PA: average snowfall in November is 10" So far this month: 0" But, over the last week the days have gotten noticeably chillier and more winter-like ...though this upcoming week's predictions are back in the 50s--Go figure! Sunday afternoon was so sunny and clear we decided to take a trip around our Presque Isle State Park and lo and behold a kite flier was out at sunset beach--the best kite flying spot on the whole peninsula.

Here's a link for your browsing pleasure, our diocese's November-December issue of Faith magazine. My column is on page 6, but you might enjoy paging through it generally. It's quite a step up for our little diocese and is quite well received from what I hear.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just Having Fun

Tonight while I was sitting having dinner in our dining room I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a chair passing by! What was this, I thought? I guessed what it might be and sure enough it was what I thought: one of our new electric chair "drivers" had (very quietly) hooked a dining room chair in her passing and, since we have carpet in our dining room, didn't even hear her own newly-attached sidecar traveling behind her.

This sent me into gales of laughter inside as I remembered a much louder and more dramatic sidecar adventure a dozen or so years ago when the (in)famous electric chair driver, Sr. Anne Marie, hooked her chair (which she drove like a maniac) onto a little old-fashioned desk that was in our front hall---dragging it, not quietly, about 20 feet across the tile flooring, until we could get her attention to stop.

It's no wonder many of our visitors are so attracted to our senior sisters. First, they are most willing to sit and listen and talk with our guests, especially at breakfast and lunch--while the rest of us rush here and there from point A to point B in our "busy" jobs. Second, they're interesting--they talk about life here, spanning 50+ years most often, giving a kind of first-person history of our community--always punctuated with personal opinions and madcap adventures of the pre-Vatican II days and "survival" in religious life.

So, next time you come, don't sit with me--pick one of these great seniors, they're much more interesting----and fun!

Here's a link to our ceremony last Saturday for new and renewing oblates. And here's one from our prioress Anne--November reflections.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Community Weekend

New oblates, a wonderful guest speaker and a sad goodbye came to us through this weekend's Fall Community Days. The speaker is worth a special mention: Sr. Amata Miller, IHM...surely one of the premier Catholic economists (of all things!). What a marvelous presentation she gave us, with a look at economics from the perspective of a life following the Jesus of the Gospels, the Vatican II documents and contemporary world realities.

Check out our website here for photos I took of "little saints" that attend our St. Benedict Child Dev. Center as they trick or treated in our offices Friday. Photos of our new oblates and our departing Benedicta Riepp participant will be there soon if not already.

Happy All Saints Day....hope you have access to some special prayers as we do.