Wisdom’s Elbows…

Sr. Katherine reads from the Wisdom of St. Jane

Sr. Katherine reads from the Wisdom of St. Jane

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Send Wisdom from heaven to be my companion, to teach me your will.”

These words, chanted during morning prayer, inspired our communities’ intentions this morning. As Sr. Mary Frances underscored their personal resonance, she named a universal condition that invites our care and attention, asking: How do we let the spirit of Wisdom in? In Frances’ reflections, I heard:

Certainly Wisdom companions us daily, but how do we acknowledge her? What prayerful patterns do we practice that invoke Wisdom’s presence and guidance in our lives?

Sitting next to Sr. Mary Frances on the bench in the chapel, eyes closed, I tuned into her spoken reflections and had this flash of Wisdom come into my mind’s eye. She was a fully formed woman with elbows. She appeared as a buxom female — draped in gleaning white fabric, like a choir robe — maneuvering into my heart space. “Let me speak!” she said, “Listen!”

***

At the breakfast table, following morning prayer, I heard Wisdom coming through the words of St. Jane de Chantal.

On this day following Jane’s feast, Sr. Katherine and I were reflecting on our co-foundress’ spiritual life, her grief and dryness in prayer, as well as her qualities as a leader: her compassion, empathy, and encouragement of others.  Over a plate of sliced mango and a cup of coffee, Sr. Katherine read to me from our founders’  Letters of Spiritual Direction.

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

In a letter dated July 22, 1619, Jane wrote from Paris to Mother Péronne-Marie de Châtel, the Superior at Grenoble:

“Don’t worry about your way. I see it and I know better than you do that it is a very good one. Trust me in this, I beg you, for God has given me enough light on the matter. Wasn’t His infinite goodness our only aim and rest? What further assurance do we need? Dearest, let us stay right there in complete self-effacement. We ought to be content to go on blindly, without knowing anything; it is enough for us that God is our God, our hope, our desire.” 

As Sr. Katherine gave life to Jane’s words, I saw Wisdom’s elbows make her way to us at the table. “Take note!” The spirit of Love poured forth through this letter from across the centuries.  Over fresh fruit and  a caffeinated beverage, I heard Wisdom’s guidance echoing through these compassionate and affirming words of our Co-foundress. “Be gentle with yourself. Trust. Listen. Don’t worry.”

***

For whatever perplexes you this day, challenges your heart or mind, I invite you to pause, and take note of the spirit of Wisdom companioning you. How do you notice her gentle encouragment showing up?  Anchored by the rhythms of prayer from our monastery to the cloister of your own heart, we invite you to be still and know that that you are companioned by God. That Wisdom, like our co-founder Jane, has elbows making their way into our contemplative hearts. We can trust that the spirit of Love, Hope, and Wisdom surrounds our deepest desires in doing God’s will.

Live+Jesus!

Breaking Bread Visitation

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

How many ways are there to make community?

How many ways are there to be community?

Cheesy grits topped with cajun shrimp. An herbed biscuit paired with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Fruit, yogurt and granola parfait next to a side of over-easy eggs. All served on an outdoor patio along West Broadway in North Minneapolis. It’s not the usual scene for our communion table, nor typical Eucharistic feast — but it is where I experienced a sacred meal this past Monday morning that took me into the heart of a Eucharistic celebration. Together, with members of the Visitation Community, in the heart of the northside community: we broke bread; we enacted a sacred ritual.

As riots were breaking out in Baltimore last week and protest marches were held across our nation, a northside organization called Appetite for Change held a grand opening for its latest operation called “Breaking Bread Cafe.” With its mission to “use food as a tool to build health, wealth and create social change,” the cafe opened just three blocks north of the monastery — almost like a prayerful response to the unrest in our world. This is where Sr. Katherine Mullin, our monastic immersion resident Brenda Lisenby, Visitation intern Cody Maynus and I dined on Monday morning.

We sat outside on the patio facing west Broadway,  our dining area sharing a border with the headquarters for Minneapolis Public Schools — situated across the street from Shiloh Temple — where Barway Collins’ funeral service was held two days prior. Together, in this space, we broke bread.

Breaking Bread Cafe: serving "Global Comfort Foods for breakfast and lunch."

Breaking Bread Cafe: serving “Global Comfort Foods for breakfast and lunch.”

In the literal sense, we split an herbed biscuit and savored bites of the comfort food. In the figurative sense, we became Eucharist for one another– sharing stories, our joy, our heart’s questions and longing. We talked about poverty and violence. We mused on missionary work and ministry. We reflected on sustainable programming and our roles in service work. We wondered about past, present and future vocations.  We laughed at ourselves and said “Amen” — all in the space of an hour spent leisurely lingering over our communion food.

It makes me wonder: How many ways are there for us to enact the Eucharist?  To be the body of Christ — communion, community,  food –for one another? As we go about our respective days, in what ways do we consciously “LIVE+ JESUS” – as our co-founders St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal urged?

And: when Appetite for Change’s founders had the vision for “Breaking Bread” as a youth training and employment program, who came up with the name? How many religious and secular traditions have bread at the center of transformation and healing? These questions, this meal, still continue to feed me and inform my prayer. I encourage your own contemplations of holy dining experiences, at this new northside cafe, and at your own local tables.

Snapshots from the Sisters: Title This! (Meeting Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harold Brown)

Tuskegee #2

Care to provide a creative caption? Leave it in the comments section below!

A Post from our FaceBook page:


“We took teens to Flying Cloud airport on Saturday- Steve, Detrice and I. It was all about the history of the Tuskegee airmen in WW ll. Amazing men who escorted fighter planes as they did their job. It is known that these men were told they could not learn how, they could not do the job of being pilots…., they could not…..And yet,  they did it so well they were requested to fly with the bombers over and over again.

We are pictured with Dr. Harold Brown, a Tuskegee member, who grew up on the north side and went to North High. What an honor to meet Harold. Our neighbor kids really the took the message of “can do” if you push through with confidence. My family friend, Tim Barzen, made it all happen for us. Thank you, Tim.

(The last picture is when we stopped and got cold, very cold, spring water to fill our bottles-for free).”– SK2

Tuskegee #3

Care to provide a creative caption? Leave it in the comments section below!

Tuskeegee 1

Care to provide a creative caption? Leave it in the comments section below!

Northside Gardening: Reflections and an Invitation from Sr. Katherine

S. Katherine at work in the garden.

S. Katherine at work in the garden.

by S. Katherine Mullin, VHM

“Being outside these days placing fragile plants in moist dark soil somehow lifts my spirit and gives hope that each of us, and really all humanity,  will grow to full strength.”

– S. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Maybe it is because as young girl I saw my dad outside, season after season, so intent on watching the plantings in our backyard, or because, once grown, I spent so much time indoors, even in summer, tending to my teacher lesson-plans for the coming fall, that now I love gardening so much. And this year, after our long harsh winter, it is especially good for my spirit.

As I write this, by chance, it is the Feast of St. Isidore. He was a Spanish farmer who lived in early 12th century and known for his piety toward the poor and animals. His life as a day laborer and man of prayer inspires me. The liturgical prayer for his commemoration reads:

Our friend Willa Mae giving advice and gardening support to Sr. Mary Frances

From the Archives: our friend Willa Mae giving advice and gardening support to Sr. Mary Frances

“God, all creation is yours, and you call us to serve you by caring for the gifts that surround us. May St. Isidore urge us to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of humankind.”

Being outside these days placing fragile plants in moist dark soil somehow lifts my spirit and gives hope that each of us, and really all humanity,  will grow to full strength.

For 25 years now the sisters have put in a garden. There is a strong neighborhood dimension to our gardening and it carries history. The sisters, when they first came to the north side, were given tips by neighbor, Willa Mae, to show them just how best to plant the garden, to include the neighbors. Her advice reflected what she knew the neighbors would love to eat and how her ancestors gardened: starting with collard greens and green tomatoes. Over many years Willa Mae came each summer with more advice and to show us her delight in how it was growing. Now Linda Goynes, our friend and neighbor, carries on Willa Mae’s advice-giving…and she gets first pick of the collard greens in late summer, when they are ready.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of our many volunteer gardeners. Will you join us in this summer season?

The garden is a jumping off place for our neighbors and ourselves to reconnect. We have mothers, wheeling their small children by, stop to show those little ones the bright colorful tulips that came up strong this year by May 15, St. Isidore’s Feast day.

Recently the face of one young adult walking by, lighted up and she enthusiastically said, “When I was little I used to come to playtime with you sisters….’member me?” And we did.

Invitation to Garden:

We have started a volunteer night for gardening-every Tuesday night, 7:00-8:00pm followed by Night Prayer with the Sisters.

Do come; offer advice, offer weeding time, offer your presence.

 

 

 

Garden or Bust: Visitation Community in Action

PeacePoleGardenBorder

Join us in the garden!

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

On any given Tuesday night this July at the Fremont House, you might hear the splash of water from the garden hose over the tomatoes, beans, and rhubarb; or note the quiet work of fingers digging into the soil to release some pesky weeds from around the cabbage. Perhaps the sound of giggling catches your ear as volunteers delight in the petunia and zinnias’ border growth? It’s summer time at the monastery, and life is in full bloom in the gardens at the corner of 16th and Fremont Avenue North.

Heading up this summer’s gardening ministry with great enthusiasm is Sr. Katherine Mullin.

“Here you have the same old flowers, but the bouquet is new simply because I have arranged it differently.” -St. Francis de Sales in Introduction to the Devout Life

Perusing the Visitation Monastery’s facebook page, you’ll find words and images from Sr. Katherine, or “SK2“, as she signs her posts,  that highlight her time in this Tuesday- night-summertime ministry with fellow northsiders and Companions.

Gardening Vis Companions: Fabio and Sonja

Gardening Vis Companions: Fabio and Sonja

Sr. Katherine reflects on the service of northside Vis Companions Sonja and Fabio Anifrani, describing their work waking up the shade garden,  pruning old branches, and making way for summer growth. Sr. Katherine states:

“[Fabio and Sonja] revived the spirit of the Sisters as they revived these plants after the long winter.”

To join in this gardening ministry or learn more about the Sisters’ outdoor engagements this season, follow their events here or on facebook.

Stay tuned for more on summer in the city with the Sisters!

Clearing to Hear

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

I deleted 1, 400+ emails. I am down to having one message in my inbox at this moment. ”

Who does this? Who among us is able to claim this feat of clearing out our email inboxes? I tell you, I almost toppled when I read my dear Sr. Katherine Mullin’s facebook post declaring her Saturday morning accomplishment. But what really struck me, was the intention behind her action.

In the status update space on the Visitation Community’s facebook page, SK2 disclosed her motivation for the e-cleaning activity:

“I could hardly hear God’s voice I had so much static.”

The note inspires my own reflection this day: Where is the static in my life? What is getting in the way of me hearing God’s voice? What do I need to clear or clean out in order to feel more directly tuned in?

“We cannot always offer God great things, but at all times we can offer God little things with great love.” – St. Jane de Chantal

As we begin this month of July, I invite you to convene your own “Saturday morning session” ala Sr. Katherine, and give yourself the space to clean a closet, unload a dishwasher, clear off a desk, assemble a stack of papers, or delete extra tweets or texts from your smart phone.

Perhaps the static in your world takes on a less tangible form.  Who among us has an inbox in our brain where all the negative spam messages are stored that remind us we aren’t good enough? We need to do more, buy more, be more, in order to be loved. Time to purge that space. Who hears that voice in their head that broadcasts messages of fear or self- doubt? Let’s turn the channel, eh?

Get clear, with a goal to hear.

God is calling you in significant and sweet ways. Can you detect Love’s still, small voice?

Engage with Us: Summer Volunteer Opportunities

Service Immersion: Welcome to the Class of 2013 Visitation School Seniors!

Service Immersion: Welcome to the Class of 2013 Visitation School Seniors!

Come and pray with us! Come and serve!
Come and join us!

As we welcome the Visitation School students – here for their Senior Apostolic Service experience and urban plunge – and with Memorial Day rapidly approaching,  we know summer is right around the corner! The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis would like to invite you to prayerfully consider ways that you might engage with us these warm weather summer months.

ONGOING OPPORTUNITIES:

  • Join the Sisters for Prayer and/or Masses: The Sisters pray four times a day at the monastery; Centering Prayer is every Tuesday morning at 8am at St. Jane House. Call ahead if possible. Contact: Sr. Mary Frances Reis: maryfranreis@aol.com, 612.521.6113.
  • First Friday Adoration and Mass:    10:30 a.m. the first Friday of each of each month. Call ahead if possible.
  • Cursillo Men Prayer Time: 7:00 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month: Time of prayer and fellowship. Call ahead if possible.
  • Code Red: Join with the mother’s of From Death to Life and others (MAD Dads) to pray for peace and be a silent witness: Second Saturday of each month. Prayer 1⁄2 hour, stand near Broadway 1 hr. Contact: Sr. Mary Margaret.
  • Movies with Jane: Join with others at St. Jane House to watch a selected movie and then discuss. See the St. Jane House Facebook Events page  for more information or contact Brian Mogren at:
  • Books with Jane: Join with others at St. Jane House to discuss a selected book. See St. Jane House Facebook Events page for more information or contact Brian Mogren.
  • Mentor a Neighborhood Individual or Family: Establish an ongoing relationship with a neighborhood individual or family. Examples: Teach how to clean house gutters, make small repairs; Teach how to budget or make meals from scratch; tutoring, etc.    Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Sisters Garden: Help plant and weed the gardens at Fremont House. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Door Ministry: Greet visitors to the monastery; Hand out tokens or cub cards; Pray with visitors; Training provided. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Library Assistant: Help with dewy decimal labels; Record new books on spreadsheet; Help shelve returned books/dvds/cds/vhs. Contact: Sr. Mary Virginia.
  • Family River Cook outs: Invite a neighborhood family to join you at a cook out down by the river. Purchase and make food; Plan some games. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.

MAY-JUNE-JULY-AUGUST EVENTS

The sisters have a whole list of events that require volunteers this summer. Please see our calendar as we update it. Here’s a sampling of upcoming activities:

  • Friday, May 24, 1pm: Women’s Retreat Set Up Contact Sr. Suzanne.
  • Saturday, June 8, Neighborhood Mothers March for Peace Contact: Sr. Mary Margaret
  • Sunday, June 9, St. Jane House 5th Anniversary Party Contact: Sr. Karen Mohan
  • June 15-21,  Camp de Sales Contact Sr. Karen Mohan
  • June 16 and 29: Provide rides for Youth in Theology and Ministry to St. John’s University
    Contact: Sr. Katherine Mullin
  • Heart to Heart Ministry: Visitation Co-founders Sts Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

    Heart to Heart Ministry: Visitation Co-founders Sts Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

    June (date to be determined) Catholic Youth Camp Send-off Contact: Sr. Mary Frances

  • June (date to be determined): Back to Summer Party! Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • Water Park Chaperone Contact Sr. Karen Mohan
  • August (2nd week) Neighborhood Night of Peace Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • August (date to be determined): Valley Fair Family Fun Day Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • August (date to be determined): Back to School Party! Contact: Sr. Mary Frances

“An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God.” – St. Francis de Sales

“Following the Spirit:” Discernment Tools for Your Life

Princess small group

How do we hear God’s voice?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Monday, February 25, 2013, marks our second discernment session of the “Following the Spirit” series at St. Jane House. This evening will focus on how we tune in and hear God’s voice and invitation for our lives. What follows are a few links to resources for discernment that we are offering here for participants and blog readers alike.

These tools include:

Blessings on your journey!

What is our baptismal call? Reflections and Invitations

Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ

Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Priest! Prophet! King!

Can you hear these sacred words spoken by the priest as he anoints a babe in baptism? The child writhes as water is poured, oil is placed, and a candle is lit. We are all witness to this ritual as we proclaim: “You are a child of God. We call you by name. You are beloved.”

But holy hannah! What does it mean to be a “priest, prophet and king”? I giggle to myself thinking of the response to this question for a three month old. Every infant is a “ruler” of sorts in his or her new home, right?  But I gasp a bit contemplating what these words of anointing mean when say, you turn 18 or 25 or 40. Priest? Prophet? King? *gulp*

How do we want to honor our baptismal calls? What do they even sound like as we grow, and perhaps feel even further removed from our small, wriggling, wet, baptized-baby selves? Who are we in this church? How are we really called to live? What name has God given us this day? What do our prophetic, kingly, priestly actions look like in this present context?

I can hear Fr. O’Connell’s translation of these three words: “Priest, or model of love for the people. Prophet, or a speaker of truth and justice. King, or humble, servant leader. ” Okay. But what does it mean to live into these words, or up to their fulfillment? This is the rub for me as a Christian and Catholic.

This Sunday, as we celebrate Christ’s baptism, we are reminded of our own baptisms and invited to reflect on our calls to live and love and be on this earth. How do we want to honor our baptismal calls? What do they even sound like as we grow, and perhaps feel even further removed from our small, wriggling, wet, baptized-baby selves? Who are we in this church? How are we really called to live? What name has God given us this day? What do our prophetic, kingly, priestly actions look like in this present context?

HELP!

On Monday, January 28, 2013, Sr. Katherine Mullin, Vis alumna Meagan McLaughlin and I start our spring semester offering of the “Following the Spirit: Leading a Discerning Life” series at St. Jane House. In this discernment course, we create the opportunity for women and men of all ages and walks of life to reflect on how they are called by God — and we offer space to unpack our baptismal blessings within the context of a small group of fellow discerners.

Does this discernment opportunity speak to you this weekend of baptismal celebration and reflection? Perhaps you have a friend really struggling with their next best step? We invite you to join us – literally, by signing up — and more figuratively,  by holding our cohort in prayer as we journey together  over the next five months.

Will you join us in this process?

Baptismal Blessings! Live + Jesus!

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For more information on the Following the Spirit discernment series, click here.

Snapshots from the Sisters: Title This!

by Sr. Katherine Mullin, vhm

On Friday, December 28th, the sisters hosted a “Big Christmas teen bowling party.” Fifteen teens had “such a good time!”  — that’s what they said. Everyone came back to the monastery for pizza, ice cream and presents. The following is one of three snapshots I posted on facebook….It is nice for the sisters to keep in touch with those we knew when they were very much younger! It’s an annual event!

Care to provide a creative caption?

Care to provide a creative caption?