Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Francis Effect: Guiding Us to Bright Years Ahead!

Pope Francis smiles during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

by Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion, Guest blogger

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.”

As a relatively young student with a Catholic school education, I can tell you about the state of the Church today and about the state of the Church 500 years ago, but I would be hard-pressed to tell you about its state 10 years ago. We didn’t study Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI in our history books, so the little I knew came from the scandals reported in secular newspapers. I knew very little about the context in which Pope Francis first came to lead our world.

The Francis Effect, shown in our “Movies with Jane” series at St. Jane House, was an enlightening experience about just how profoundly Pope Francis is transforming the papacy. I got to learn about Pope Benedict XVI, about why he retired, and about how the pope no one expected to be elected came out of the conclave to the people in St. Peter’s Square and, kicking off his radical departure from tradition, bowed to them for their blessing on him. I learned how he communicated with the media and with the world far beyond what his predecessors had, not only in quantity but also in quality: he said things that no one had said before. Now I understand what he is doing and why it is so shocking.

Others who watching the movie with me—Sister Karen, Sister Mary Margaret, Brian Mogren, and Aimiee Fritsch—were much more deeply acquainted with Pope Francis than I was, and from them I heard murmurs of appreciation and tears. To them, the documentary was a testimony to a trusted shepherd.

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.

 

Anna is a Visitation Companion and is currently studying Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

In Solidarity with the Sisters: Silent prayer

S. Katherine on Retreat at ARC

S. Katherine on Retreat at ARC

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion 

“There is a healthy silence that heals and bonds us all.” — S. Mary Margaret McKenzie

The Burkinabe freedom seeker with his fist in the air. The Syrian mother lowering her babe into a boat. Pope Francis lifting the Eucharist at mass in Cuba. The police officer turning on his siren and lights just a few blocks away. The principal at my daughter’s school reaching for my kindergartner’s hand to walk her inside.  A quiet woman standing before a slow moving stream. These are images that come to mind in my prayer this day.

Sitting on the front porch of my Selby Avenue home in St. Paul, I hold a prayerful space alongside and for the Visitation Sisters who are on retreat this week. I’m in silent solidarity with all. No matter the distance, or circumstance, we are all bound up in this mystical body of Christ – in our common humanity, with our beating hearts, breathing bodies, seeking spirits. And it is a loving silence which unites and heals us all.

“Silence makes us whole if we let it.  Silence helps draw together the scattered and dissipated energies of a fragmented existence.”
– Fr. Thomas Merton Love and Living.

In a prayerful meditation on silence last spring, S. Mary Margaret described a quiet that unifies and bonds us; a silence where wholeness is revealed, compassion and reconciliation germinate.  I was in the living room at Fremont House with a group of other lay men and women discerning community life alongside the Visitation Sisters in North Minneapolis. S. Mary Margaret’s meditations struck a deep chord in me. I scribbled her words onto a slip of paper: “There is a healthy silence that heals and bonds us all.” 

The Visitation Sisters’ community is immersed in quiet this week: on the second floor of Girard, on the back porch at Fremont; up at the ARC retreat center; over in Collegeville; lakeside at a friend’s cabin; down in Fairbault. Each sister is entering into the fullness of silence — in that echoic room of her heart where God’s voice booms, Love pierces and connects all things — and softens all stances into a compassionate embrace.

In my own attempted practice of daily silence or stillness on my front porch, I have these fleeting glimpses of unity. I can travel around the world, into the darkest corners of my own neighborhood, contemplate the warring factions of humanity riddled by poverty and hunger, a desire for power, or freedom. I can see these across the river in Minneapolis, in my husband’s home country of Burkina Faso, in the headlines reporting on the Middle East, and inside my own beating heart.

The silence doesn’t scare me. It’s a silence that invites me. It’s a silence that contains all the ills and joys of the world, and melds them into a wholeness, a reconciled beauty that I have few words for, save Love.

I invite you into this meditation today, into solidarity with our Sisters on retreat. Can you carve five minutes of quiet in your day?  Find a spot in your home, in your car, on your block; in your church, temple, mosque, in a park, in a space you might claim as sanctuary? Go inside your heart. Find the beating, pulsing reality of your interior being. Ask for God to show you Love’s peace, Love’s will, Love’s desire for you this day.

Will you join me and the Sisters in prayer?

The Francis Effect – Reflection

Aimee Fritsch, Visitation Resident Lay Community

Aimee Fritsch, Visitation Resident Lay Community

by Guest Blogger Aimee Fritsch*

Oh my goodness, why does the Pope make me cry?

That crossed my mind more than once as my eyes watered up, sitting in the St. Jane House, watching the documentary “The Francis Effect”. The eyes of the world are on him, and I think what keeps us entranced, what fills my heart and my tear ducts, is the love with which he moves through the world.

Pope Francis has the heart of Christ, bringing love and tenderness to people around the world, especially those who are typically unloved. He is living the story of the Gospel, light breaking through into darkness, in a fresh, new 21st century way.

It is so beautiful, and so needed, so to see this loving light, well, it brings me to tears.

 

*Meet Aimee Fritsch

My name is Aimee Fritsch, I’m a graduate student at U of M in the Masters of Urban & Regional Planning Program, and a founding member of the Visitation Lay Residential Community. I first met the sisters when they showed up on my doorstep with peaches & brownie mix when I was a Jesuit Volunteer.

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Join the Visitation Sisters and Lay community for this Fall’s Salesian Monday series focusing on Catholic Social Teaching and the Two Francises: Pope Francis and St. Francis de Sales!

Day of Prayer: Sunday, September 13, 1-4:30pm

JOIN US!

Br. Mickey McGrath OSFS

Br. Mickey McGrath OSFS

This Sunday, September 13, 2015, from 1-4:30pm, our good friend and Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, Brother Mickey McGrath will be leading a Day of Prayer as part of the celebration of 2015 Year of Consecrated Life.

You know Brother Mickey McGrath as the artist who painted the Windsock Visitation which hangs at our monastery and anchors our webpages. He is as an award-winning artist and author who speaks on the connections between art and faith.

This Sunday’s Day of Prayer event is sponsored by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and local religious. Please join us! All are welcome!

WHAT: Day of Prayer with Members of Consecrated Life

WHEN: 1 to 4:30 p.m; Sunday, September 13, 2015.

WHERE: St. Mary’s University Center, 2540 Park Ave., Minneapolis, MN

RSVP: Registration is not required, only requested for help with planning. RSVP online. This event is FREE.

This event will include a panel response, small group sharing and prayer.

More information: Find more resources on the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life

Nativity of Mary

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion 

“Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.” — Entrance Antiphon for mass, September 8, 2015

Today, we mark Mary’s nativity, the birth of the mother of Jesus. Pausing to consider her life, her arrival to Anna and Joachim, her own humble journey and response to God’s call, I think about all of our mothers — all whose arrivals have precipitated our own and made our lives possible. I wonder: What does the path toward parenting look like? What is the journey that informs a mother’s “yes” to life? What, in Mary’s life, cultivated her capacity to respond to God’s invitation to bear Jesus? What, in our own lives, nurtures love and allows us to be present to the call to bear life in our unique ways?

It’s like Mother’s day, this feast day,  this invitation to meditate on Mary’s birth. I think about my own mom, and the mother that I am coming to be. I think about my child and her role in shaping my call and response to God, daily, in saying “yes” to love. To Nurture. To be here.

***

Rising late and dressing for school this morning, my five year old kindergartner stopped to sit cross-legged on her bed.

“Mom, can you do this?” she asked, bringing her hands to her heart center.

I told her, “Yes!” and sat opposite on another bed. Then she started “omm-ing.”

The principal at our daughter’s school told us our job as parents was to bring our kids to school calmly. So, even though we were running late, I joined Marguerite in her “omms.” I copied her posture, brought my hands to the center of my chest, closed my eyes, and I breathed deeply.

Then, my five year old said, “Now imagine you are flying in the sky.”

It was a moment we both shared –where she lead. She walked me through this way of being still, if only for a few seconds, but that helped ground us, her, our day. 

***

I return to Mary’s birth. I imagine Anna and Joachim’s great joy at her arrival and the outpouring of love for their daughter. I try to imagine Mary as a kindergartner, leading her own parents through rituals of calm and postures of meditation. I think of God delighting, too, in this child, this girl as she grows and becomes a woman.

As this day unfolds, and this feast of Mary’s birth makes its way into our own rhythms of life, I invite us to note the way Mary arrives, stirs, interrupts, and inspires our paths. How do we know her birth? How do honor our own becoming? What ways can we mark, now, and in days to come, this feast of her nativity and the ultimate birth of Christ among us?