Monthly Archives: April 2016

Our Garden Blessing

Processing out singing "Canticle of the Sun" and the Garden Blessing: S. Katherine tossing earth, S. Suzanne reading the prayer

Processing out singing “Canticle of the Sun” and the Garden Blessing: S. Katherine tossing earth, S. Suzanne reading the praye

Blessing Prayer for a Garden

Lord of Creation,

who planted Your own garden called Eden,

come and bless this soil which is to be our garden.

All that dies becomes earth,

and so it lives again.

May this garden soil

be both womb and tomb,

a home for death and life,

so that seeds of living things—

S. Mary Margaret sprinkling the holy water around our flower gardens

S. Mary Margaret sprinkling the holy water around our flower gardens

of plants, of food and flowers—

may die and resurrect

here in our garden.

Ancient earth,

our mystical mother,

teach us, your children,

that all things die

to nourish life.

Gentle earth,

be blessed with our love

as we work in you.

Make us mindful that one day

you will be our final bed

of love and ecstasy.

Amen

From Prayers for the Domestic Church by Ed Hays

Brenda Lisenby

Brenda Lisenby

 

We used this text for the Garden Blessing we had earlier this week–related to “rogation days” –but also in preparation for the upcoming Eagle Scouts who will be providing some new landscaping around the monastery. —Brenda Lisenby

Praying with Art: An Invitation to Encounter Love

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Inspiration by Anne Goetze

“Inspiration” by Anne Goetze

I’ve never been to Annecy, France.  But I can imagine it. Cobblestone streets. Turquoise winding river. Stone arches bridging water. That pristine lake.  The Alps. The 14th, 15th, 16th century architecture: stucco and brick exterior walls, some vine-covered in my mind’s eye.  A red door here. Tiled roof tops.  All buildings close-pressed to one another. If I squeeze my eyes closed tightly, I imagine hearing the buzz of cafe chatter; I feel the Lake Annecy breeze on my face and note the click of heels on narrow paved walks. Perhaps an echo of chapel bells rings off of the mountains. There is a calling to this city, to this landscape, that I know in my own prayerful meditation.

Artist Anne Goetze knows this calling. She has made it part of her life’s work to bring the beauty of not only this place, but of a particular community of people, to all of us.

In her mixed media art form, combining photography, ash and oil paint, Ms. Goetze brings alive this landscape of our founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. In addition, she has captured the community of Visitation Sisters living there cloistered in our Order’s first monastery.

Praying with Art:  ‘Confering’ /’S’entretenir’ by Anne Goetze

"Confering" by Anne Goetze Annecy Nun Series (with permission)

“Confering” by Anne Goetze Annecy Nun Series (with permission)

When I look on this particular photographic art piece, ‘Confering’ /’S’entretenir,’ by Anne Goetze, I’m struck by the two central figures, clad in all black. Their back sides to me, they are shrouded by veils and near-floor-length skirts. They seem to be leaning in, and as the title suggests: conferring.  I notice my own impulse to lean in. I want to hear them.

On either side of this path, I note the grey and brown hues that frame them, flecks of blue and green pepper the wall and walkway. A stone building with high windows is ahead. The burnt orange of fall foliage appears, too, dusty, cloud-like in the background. My eyes return to the central figures.

Two Visitation Sisters conferring.

For a split second, I think about my mom, in Nebraska, standing at her sink, perhaps contemplating the fullness of the day. My mind darts back to north Minneapolis, to S. Mary Margaret McKenzie and the last time I saw her at Girard House monastery. A fleeting smile on her lips, her downward gaze as she chimed the bell announcing the start of Salesian Monday night. I see S. Mary Frances, then, in the Fremont chapel, it’s Saturday morning prayer and we share raised-eyebrow-smirks, and suppress giggles –some line catching each of us during the chanting and reflection on psalms.

Images of each of these north side Visitation Sisters rush into my mind. S. Katherine, in her swivel chair in the basement office, ever intent and sweet-spirited, as we review engagement efforts and our social media work. S. Karen, post-prayer, coming into close proximity to whisper or share her own fervent noticing of Love at work. Sister Suzanne on a shut-down Thursday, breaking bread with me at the north Minneapolis cafe that goes by this same name, and detailing a moment from her winter journey to Rome. I can see S. Mary Virginia in my mind’s eye, smiling as she comes in to kiss my cheek and offer her ever ready embrace of me, my daughter, husband, following mass at Ascension. And there’s my new friend, Brenda, walking me to the door after a visit to the community, to hug me out, and bid me a warm good bye until we meet again.

Ms. Goetze’s image depicts our religious counterparts an ocean and continent away, but the Sisters’ activity connects here, in the intimacy of my own heart and lived experience – locally. I know this encounter of conferring,  of being companioned and companioning. Despite their faceless presentations, these Sisters come to me fully imaged, featured, in my own holy encounters with northside nuns — with members of my family and local community.

As I pray with this image this day, I invite you into this kind of contemplative stance. I encourage your own close encounter, conferring with the art, taking note of what it stirs in you. How does this Visitation depiction speak to you? What does it say to your longing, to your own lived experience encountering Love?

****

See this work at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series

Photographic Paintings by Anne Goetze
Exhibit:  April 9—May 22, 2016
Reception: Sunday May 22, 4:30pm with talk at 5:30pm
For more information: Basilica of St. Mary event listing

Pray to Love: The Annecy, France Nun Exhibit Opens at the Basilica

Pray to Love: The Annecy, France/ Nun Series

Pray to Love from Anne Goetze on Vimeo.

In her video, Pray to Love: The Annecy, France/ Nun Series, Artist Anne Goetze shares with the viewers the story of her journeys to France, her love for the community of Visitation Sisters that her Aunt Helen/ Soeur Margarite Marie was a part of; and the ensuing call to create this series of photographic art depicting this holy place.

Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series Opens Today

Photographic Paintings by Anne Goetze
Exhibit:  April 9—May 22, 2016
Reception: Sunday May 22, 4:30pm with talk at 5:30pm
For more information: Basilica of St. Mary event listing

The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis is happy to partner with the Basilica of St. Mary in bringing this collection of artwork to the Twin Cities.


 

The Distress, the Kingdom, the Endurance|A Homily after the Jamar Clark Verdict

Officers cleared in Jamar Clark Case - KSTP news report

Officers cleared in Jamar Clark Case – KSTP news report

by Fr. Dale Korogi, Church of the Ascension

“I John, share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus.” – Rev. 1:9

The distress, the kingdom, the endurance: from today’s reading from the Book of Revelation.

I. THE DISTRESS

There is a serious racial divide in our neighborhood, our city, and our society. How differently we, with our different histories and different ethnicities, see and interpret the world. Who do we trust? “Black men are thugs.” “The cops are thugs.” We have deeply embedded perceptions and presumptions and prejudices. All of us have blind spots that result in racial profiling: the demonization of individuals and classes of people. We need to recognize and challenge our conscious and unconscious biases.

One of the most haunting facts in the report on the death of Jamar Clark were Mr. Clark’s words, “I’m ready to die.” He was 24 years old. What led him to so disvalue his life and dignity? He, like all of us, like it or not, was shaped to a greater or lesser degree, by the experience of his ancestors many generations removed. African-Americans live with the legacy of families who suffered the legalized discrimination and segregation in so-called modern times, and the history of their forebears who first came to this country in chains and shackles. Fear, hopelessness. No wonder we see the world differently.

II. THE KINGDOM

As a white male, I don’t see my privilege because I’m too close to it, habituated to it. There’s so much I don’t yet get. We need to work on this together. In our multicultural parish and school, we have the rich and uncommon opportunity to know what it really means to be Catholic, to be really Catholic: that is, a diversity of people united around one Lord, a broad and inclusive collective. While it’s nice to all be in the same room getting along, we need to move beyond superficial relationships and our sketchy knowledge of one another’s histories.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1603 by Caravaggio.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1603 by Caravaggio.

The apostle Thomas is forever saddled with the title, “Doubting Thomas.” He gets a bum rap for his behavior, but it’s understandable and even commendable. He’s not content with what everybody is saying about somebody else. He’s not content with hearsay. Thomas wants to get Jesus’ story from Jesus himself.

Like Thomas, we need not rely on what others say about others. We have to listen to and hear the stories, in particular, from our brown and black brothers and sisters themselves, and come to know the challenges that they face every day because of the color of their skin. We need to put our fingers into their wounds, our hands into their sides. That’s risky. Because once we know their suffering, we must help to absorb their suffering. We need to be more fully engaged as an intercultural parish, and more integrated into our multicultural neighborhood. We need to be willing to go out and stand with others and act to bridge racial divisions and disparities—because that’s what Baptism and Christian discipleship require.

III. THE ENDURANCE

The spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, points out that, even though Thomas didn’t share the faith of the others in the room, he was there with them, nevertheless: he stayed among the community of believers. Nouwen says,

I find this a very profound and consoling thought. In times of doubt or unbelief, the community can “carry you along”; it can offer on your behalf what you yourself overlook, and can be the context in which you may recognize the Lord again.

Let’s commit to staying among the believers, working together, loving one another for the long haul, united in Easter faith that there is no despair, no division, no evil, no death that is beyond God’s power to repair. Let’s share the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Hat tip to Edward Braxton. Bishop Braxton Writes a Letter on Racial Divide in the United States

Fr dale

Fr. Dale Korogi is Pastor at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis and says mass at the Visitation Monastery most Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8am. This homily is reprinted with his permission.

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Our Friend: Wazeer Brown

Meet Wazeer Brown

Meet Wazeer Brown

by Dave Nimmer, Guest Blogger

Wazeer Brown, and his brother Emmanuel, are the first youngsters the Visitation Sisters “met” after they decided to locate their monastery in North Minneapolis in 1989.

The two boys, about three and four years old, were standing on the street corner at 16th and Fremont as the Sisters were driving by.  “Here are these two kids waving at us like crazy,” recalls Mary Frances Reis.  “They had a big smile on their faces.  We couldn’t help but noticing their pure joy and excitement.”

In fact, the brothers got so close to the Sisters they had to start a special time – Windsock –  for neighborhood children to come by the Fremont house.  And come they did – for time, treats and attention.

“The Windsock time was really good for me,” Brown recalls.  “It was different from the rest of my life.  It was cheerful and stress free.  I didn’t find that at home or on the streets.  The Sisters were just there for me and brought peace into my life.”

Wazeer and Emmanuel brought their presence into the sisters’ lives, sometimes sitting on the retaining wall in front of the Fremont house.  When they felt it was needed, they’d offer a little advice to  prospective visitors:  “You can’t go in now because the Sisters are prayin’.”

“I’d tell all who wanted to better themselves and change their lives,” he says, “they ought to get to know these women (the Sisters).  They shaped who I am as a person, the person I wanted to be.  I think they kind of put the spirit of the Lord in my heart.” –Wazeer

The Sisters have prayed for Wazeer since those Windsock days two decades ago. Over those years, they’ve read to him, found a mentor for him, promoted a scholarship for him and stood by him through the speed bumps, potholes and sharp curves along his way.

Today, at the age of 29, Wazeer is studying to get his GED diploma, helping raise his two daughters, Destiny, 9 and Serenity,5, holding a full-time job at Walmart and staying in touch with the friends who helped him get this far, including the Sisters.

“What I’m really impressed with,” says Mary Margaret McKenzie, “is how much energy and enthusiasm he’s putting into getting that GED.  A while back, he told me, ‘I’m getting fractions.’  He is actually into his mathematics and, yes, he’s understanding fractions for the first time.  I think that is remarkable.”

McKenzie says she remembers years ago when she helped him and Emmanuel work on a science project to make and inflate a hot-air balloon.  “I don’t recall exactly how that turned out but I do recall thinking that Wazeer was really smart.  You only have to show him or tell him once, and he gets it.”

He “got it” about the importance of going back to school, this time at the Adult Education Center in Minneapolis.  “I think I just realized it’s time,” Brown says.  “My mind is ready for it.”  Once he gets the GED, Brown says he might think about going to a two-year or community college, to help him land a job that makes him joyful and useful.

He already knows how to work hard, according to Jeff Pearson, who, along with his wife Maryann, has been long-time friend and supporter of the Sisters.  They enlisted Pearson to be kind of a mentor/father figure for Wazeer.

“I used to have him come over to my house on Saturday mornings and we’d work in the yard,” says Pearson.   “He hadn’t done a lot of yard work but, I tell you what, he worked hard.  You know, I feel I have a life-long friendship with him.”

The Sisters feel the same way and they haven’t hesitated to call on him to do a favor or two, like talking to a group of seniors at Visitation High School who are spending a week at the monastery, getting immersed in life on the North Side.

“He got up in front of these young women,” says Mary Margaret, “and talked confidently about the value of being grounded when they go away from home to college.  His talk, and his message, were really quite wonderful.”

Wazeer got up in front of another group at his grandmother’s funeral, to talk about who she was, what she did and how she lived.  He has developed this kind of presence in his life and the Sisters have been there to nurture it and, now, to feel it.

Wazaeer in Arabic means “minister.”  Brown is not given to preaching but he’s accumulated enough wisdom for a homily: Change is inevitable.  Get used to it.  Being positive is always a key.  Keep busy in life and work on being a better “you.”  And one more thing.

“I’d tell all who wanted to better themselves and change their lives,” he says, “they ought to get to know these women (the Sisters).  They shaped who I am as a person, the person I wanted to be.  I think they kind of put the spirit of the Lord in my heart.”

 

* This is the sixth in a series of profiles by journalist Dave Nimmer featuring Visitation 
Companions and northside neighbors. We hope you enjoy these stories of our dear friends -- 
as they reflect the blessed community that surrounds the monastery and sustains us
 in our ministry of mutuality. 
LIVE + JESUS!