Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Bustle….Blessings!

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

“Those who can preserve gentleness amid pains, and peace amid the worry and multitude of affairs, is almost perfect.” — St. Francis de Sales (LR II 25)

Over the course of the last three weeks, in the midst of holiday bustle, I lost two different wallets. The first slipped out of my pocket on December 5, after volunteering at a food shelf,  somewhere between Cesar Chavez and Selby Avenues in St. Paul. Gone was the slim green single-fold case along with my driver’s license, credit cards and newly purchased museum membership card. I was bummed! After retracing my steps, saying my St. Anthony prayers and waiting three days, I gave up the search and cancelled everything, going to the DMV to get a duplicate license and my credit union to get a new debit card. I made jokes about the experience being one that “humbled me”, brought me into my own literal and figurative poverty, which invited me to lean further into the miracle and mystery of the Incarnation. (I celebrated that the cards were never used by any “finder”before I cancelled them).

On December 25, twenty days later after I lost the first billfold — and in the midst of celebrating Christ’s birth, I lost the second one. This time my wallet with the replaced credit cards and drivers’ license slipped out of my grasp on a Delta airline flight somewhere between Omaha and the Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport. I did not realize it was gone until the next morning when I went to run errands and discovered the black wallet wasn’t in the big brown bag I had been toting it around in.

The light-hearted attitude I adopted during the first loss, disappeared. This go round, I thought I was losing my mind! I called my parents. I texted my friends. I rang the airline. I filed online claims stating where and when I believed I lost the billfold, with a complete description of it and its contents. I drove to the airport and beseeched every Delta airline employee I met to help me locate the lost item. All to no avail.

I woke at 5am this morning beside myself. Every thought and fear about what might have happened to the wallet came flooding into my busy brain. My heart raced. Not only did I replay the possible scenarios of the item falling out of my possession, I started to think about what this said about me —  about my lack of responsibility, and how I don’t take care of things, and maybe that I don’t really deserve to have them. It was a dreadful rabbit hole of debilitating thought, let me tell you!

In the midst of all this mayhem, a few things really struck me: 1) my husband, Francois, inviting me to pray and trust the season we were in the midst of; and 2) the flurry of St. Anthony prayers that were shared with me via social media and text messages; and 3) the presence of Visitation friends Sonja and Fabio, who reminded me of how Francis and Jane might act in the midst of such circumstances: ever gentle and re-assuring, kind in their compassionate acceptance of my frustration and anger.

I’m happy to report that at days end, both of these missing items have been found! (Which is why I believe I can even reflect on this tale in such a fashion.) My husband found the first one in a crevice between the driver’s and passenger’s seats in our Honda, and the second was discovered by some unknowing Delta Airlines employee on the aircraft I traveled on Christmas day.

My questions for you this day:
What have you lost in the course of this busy season? (Literally or figuratively?)
What has shown up in a surprising or gently reassuring manner?
What has given you angst or inspired doubt in your very being?
How do you return to center, to Love, to trust, to the Divine in our midst?
Who accompanies you on your journey this season?
Can you see the Christ child, the holy family alive in your own narrative of woe and wonder?

Christmas blessings!

Madonna and Child Advent Reflection featuring Br. Mickey McGrath’s Artwork

The following is the fifth of six video blogs that we are offering here this Advent season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season!

1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany

Prepare, prepare for Christmas!

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

O What a Morn! Christmas brings out the child in each of us. May you know its wonder, feel its warmth, and share its love. Christmas Blessings! By Brother Mickey McGrath

O What a Morn! Christmas brings out the child in each of us. May you know it's wonder, feel it's warmth, and share it's love. Christmas Blessings! By Brother Mickey McGrath

Each Christmas it becomes more clear to me that this holiday is all about relationship, much like Elizabeth and mary’s Visitation!

Christmas is about remembering, about thinking, about preparing for those we love near and far, those known to us, our neighbors, our families. The “stuff” that surrounds Christmas, if done at all, is about saying “I know what you like and because I love you I have taken time to think about what you might derive joy from and prepare it for you to receive.”

So Christmas is both about giving, and in giving, we empty our hands to receive what others prepare with us in their minds and hearts. Therefore Christmas becomes a true discernment of our relationships with others. And whether or not material gifts are given, when we approach Christmas with the Visitation Spirit of relationship the joy and spirit of the holiday leaps from our hearts much like Mary and Elizabeth felt their babies leap in joy at the recognition of one another! May we approach the Christ child with such recognition, such relationship and such joy as we wait in excited anticipation of his birth this week!

  • What relationships are you cradling in your arms this Chirtsmas?
  • Who are you preparing for?
  • How does this prepare your own heart for the Christ Child?

Joseph’s Dream Advent Reflection

The following is the fourth of six video blogs that we are offering here this Advent season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season!



1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany

Visitation Interns in Catholic Spirit

Check out the article on Visitation Interns Beth Anne Cooper and Kelly Schumacher in today’s Catholic Spirit. We are so blessed to have them among us!

Visitation interns learn about service, sisters’ lives (click to read article)

Visitation Sister Mary Frances Reis, left, Beth Anne Cooper and Linda Goynes fill Christmas gift bags for teens at the Visitation Monastery in north Minneapolis. Cooper is participating in the Visitation Internship Program, which involves service, fellowship and spiritual life with the sisters. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Visitation Sister Mary Frances Reis, left, Beth Anne Cooper and Linda Goynes fill Christmas gift bags for teens at the Visitation Monastery in north Minneapolis. Cooper is participating in the Visitation Internship Program, which involves service, fellowship and spiritual life with the sisters. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Let’s keep them, and the larger community, in our prayers this Advent Season, as we lean into the ways we have all been called to love and serve. Yes.

Peace,
Live + Jesus!
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Go Humbly Toward the Creche

Shepherds and the Star of Bethlehem

Shepherds and the Star of Bethlehem

“The Shepards are the poorest ones, yet they are the first to arrive at the creche. They show us that Jesus is not counting on our wealth or our strength, but rather on our simplicity.” -Taken from Magnifikid!

  • How can we use the Christian and Salesian virtue of simplicity to humble ourselves before God?
  • How can we simplify our Christmas so that prayer is at our center?
  • How can we take notice of the simple joys in our lives so that we feel our abundance?

Please share how you hone the virtue of simplicity in your life around the holidays.

We Wait in Joyful Hope

Words of wisdom from Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic Priest and Writer

Guadalupe and Juan by Brother Mickey O'Neill Mcgrath

“Waiting is active. Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands. The bus is late. You cannot do anything about it, so you have to sit there and just wait. It is not difficult to understand the irritation people feel when somebody says, “Just wait.” …  The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening. A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the fullest in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there.”

Mystic Rose Advent Reflection

The following is the third of six video blogs that we are offering here this Advent season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season!


Advent Paintings

1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany

Lectio Divina for Advent

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

This Saturday, December 2, 2011 at the Monastery, the Visitation Companions will gather with the Sisters for our annual Advent Retreat. This year Sr. Suzanne Homeyer is leading us in a Lectio Divina experience –

LECTIO DIVINA is “a traditional Catholic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word.  It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.[1]

In Sisters’ explanation of this prayer process, dating back to St. Benedict, she outlined the following two ways into the scripture:

  1. Read the text. Ask yourself: What images stand out to you? What message exists for you in this imagery? What action does the text inspire in you?
  2. Become a character in the text. Take on the perspective of the person or thing in the text. What ideas or questions or feelings come to mind?

The following is my attempt, then, at Lectio Divina for this Sunday’s first reading. I hope it inspires you as you enter more deeply into the season. I welcome any and all responses of lectio divina that you have!

Dec. 4, 2011 — SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
1st READING:  ISAIAH 40: 1-5, 9-11
2nd READING:  II  PETER 3: 8-14
GOSPEL:  MARK 1: 1-8

REFLECTION:

Prepare the way of the Lord! … Every valley shall be filled in, ever hill be made low; …in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom.”

  • When I read this first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the above lines and images stand out to me. I hear this booming voice, singing “Pre-e-pare Ye, the way of the Lord.” And I’m back at Norfolk Catholic High School, in a darkened gymnasium; Shane Hughes is walking in without any spot light; I can just hear his voice singing. He is playing the role of John the Baptist in Godspel at our Nebraska alma mater.
  • The next image that stands out to me is this leveling of the earth. I see plate tectonics at work, a shifting in the earth’s layers, and imagine God easing the path for people in their journey. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of a sort. Uphill battles are lessened, and steep descents rise so that those with ouchy knees find it easier to move forward. Flashes of Occupy Wall Street protestors come into my mind, as they inhabit the lowly spaces around tall towers in Lower Manhattan, reminding us of their message of economic justice…..
  • Finally, this image of a shepherd holding his lamb, holding me, inspires my reading. I feel taken care of, watched over, protected and nurtured in my small stature. I think of a blog I posted recently on this very idea.  I think of the Christ child entering our midst, preparing a space for this babe to enter, and be realized again in my own body, in this midst. I want to sing.

PRAYER: Loving God, please make a level, open path into my heart this Advent season. Help me realize the way my own being carries the light and love of Christ; help me forge a path for other friends, family members to tune into their own beauty, the Divine Indwelling. Make my Advent journey a continuous song of your praise.

POSSIBLE ACTION/NEXT STEP: I will write an original simple song to sing as a prayer as I make way for Christ’s birth.

Footnote:

1. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer by David G. Benner 2010 ISBN 0830835423 pages 47-53

Mary’s Yes: Advent Meditation Using Brother Mickey’s Art

The following is the second of six video blogs that we are offering here this Advent season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season!

Advent Paintings

1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany