Smoke Signals, the Holy Spirit and Next Steps…

Smoke Signals: Cardinals are Voting to Elect a New Pope

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

What does the future hold? What does the life of a religious look like moving into this next year, decade, century? What roles do the laity play in fashioning or supporting the presence of a monastic community in the inner city? In the larger world? How is the Holy Spirit leading us all in this season of change and growth?

These are some of my questions as I sit down to pray and reflect this day.

In Rome, the cardinals are discerning the start of their next conclave to elect a new pope for the Catholic church. These religious men are meeting and talking and praying. They are listening to their hearts, tuning into the needs of the church, and leaning into the Holy Spirit, as She calls them to whatever is next. They are prayerfully discerning what and who will be part of their — OUR — future as Catholics.

And I wonder how this is similar to us, here, in Minneapolis, as we prepare for our next prayerful meeting on Wednesday evening reflecting on our future. While we are not electing a new leader to the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis — the convening of our sisters, vocation partners, and companions with questions of our next steps –feels connected to the discerning papal energy in Italy, and the palpable energy that must be the Spirit among us.

“What’s next?”

Last week, in Pope Benedict XVI’s final speech to the College of Cardinals, he offered the following words that inspired me. Quoting Romano Guardini, the Pope said:

Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.”

Pope Benedict goes on to apply this to his peers:

This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: “The Church is awakening in souls.” The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today. Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places.

These words from the Holy Father take me to some recently written by the head of the Visitation Community –Sr. Mary Frances Reis, vhm.  In a recent email about our Visitation newsletters, Sr. Mary Frances expressed this aliveness of our community and its change and growth since our founding on the northside 20+ years ago. She wrote: “We have been publishing our monastic newsletter for 23 years now.  As [our Jesuit friend] Jim Radde has commented and continues to comment, ‘Go back and read the letters from the beginning, and you will discover how the Spirit’s work among us has evolved.’” She continues, “I personally believe that this has been a wonderful way to keep folks that do not ‘come and see’ to be apprised of the Spirit’s work here.  If you go back to look at about the last 5 newsletters (published on the website) you will see many articles by the laity to inform our many constituents, friends and benefactors  of our ‘ever expanding community.'”

And so it goes. And so it shall be. The Holy Spirit will guide us and animate our beings as we respond to the call of our founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, “living Jesus!” as holy men and women in our present circumstances envisioning our diverse monastic community in north Minneapolis. Please keep us in prayer as we convene and discern!

Next “Books with Jane:” “The Little Monk” by Harry Farra, 4/25/13

An Invitation from Kathryn Kaatz, Coordinator of “Books with Jane” Series:

Kathryn Kaatz, Series Coordinator for "Books with Jane"We are excited to announce our next selection for the ‘“Books with Jane” series at our Urban Spirituality Center  in north Minneapolis.  Join us Thursday, April 25, 2013, from 6-8pm at the St. Jane House for a discussion of The Little Monk by Harry Farra. (Doors open at 6pm for refreshments and book discussion starts at 6:30pm.)

More on “The Little Monk” by Harry Farra

“Can we read something more…relaxed — but has a deep meaning that can touch the core of our soul?” asked Books-with-Jane-participant TuAhn Holm. Following this query, Ms. Holm provided us with the following information on The Little Monk, that inspires our selection of the text for the next book in this series:

The Little Monk by Harry Farra offers:
-Gentle lessons for life
-Wisdom for everyday decisions
-Stories for spiritual reflection

“The Bishop came to town one day and called the entire village to worship. The Bishop had many gifts, but non so compelling as his wisdom in the work of prayer. ‘It is time again to speak to the world,’ the Bishop announced with an ancient voice in the great cathedral.  But he abruptly stopped in midspeech as though held by an invisible power.  After a pause that seemed to last forever, he suddenly stood up from his two-hundred-year-old chair in the cathedral and pointed a patriarchal finger at a short, squat, barefooted monk who was all but invisible in the large congregation. ‘You shall be the monk of prayer,’ he declared with all the decisiveness his office and position would bear.”

And so, a humble and self-effacing little monk becomes the hero of this gentle tale, the tale of a man after God’s own heart that will put us in touch with the holy monk that lives in all of us.

Harry Farra holds a Ph.D in Rhetoric from Pennsylvania State University.  He has taught in the communications Department of Geneva College for thirty years and currently heads the Speech/Visual Communications Department.  Dr. Farra is author of “The Sermon Doctor” (Baker Book House, 1989)

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Click to order a copy of The Little Monk.

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?

WE’RE ENGAGED!

Vis Sisters Be The Change

"We -- the Sisters -- are engaged! We are committed."

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

“We’re engaged!!”  was the Facebook message from a friend of mine in Mexico. Announcing this to the world through the social media? Why not? Of course! Being engaged to someone or with something should be out there for all to see.

Commitment is nothing to be taken lightly…WE — the Sisters — are engaged. Yes, you read that correctly….We ARE engaged. We are committed…

We are engaged with many people and committed to sharing our Visitation/Salesian spirituality with others. We want to insure that the ministry and mission and our way of living the Visitation charism  continues here on the north side well into the future.  To this end we have been exploring, praying about, formulating and putting into place a five-faceted plan of engagement. There are several ways a person may become engaged with us in our presence and ministry.

Visitation Engagement Programs

cross-in-handsWe are willing to join hands with people who are searching for God’s will in their lives.  Following the Spirit is a series of evenings on discernment and sharing about how God calls and how we can listen to God’s direction. Young adult men and women, single or married can participate in this form of engagement with us.  Space is limited but future sessions have been planned  and interested people can see more info on our website for the series beginning in the fall…there is even a new gem added to this form of engagement!

Our first group of VIP’s (Visitation Internship Program) participants are winding down their time of service and we are currently recruiting young people who are interested in giving a year of service, either in the midst of studies or after college. Sharing prayer, meals and ministry at the monastery and in the northside community are a part of this engagement picture. Building intentional community and living together in a home near the Sisters is yet another important facet of this form of engagement. Young adults, men or women, age 21 — 35  may apply now for next fall. An application can be found on our website.

Our first applicant in our Monastic Immersion Experience spent some time with us this past week.  Women, who are interested in living our contemplative lifestyle at any point in their life may consider spending 6 months to a year living, praying and ministering with us while living in the monastery. Of course, sharing domestic life with the Sisters is involved!

The Visitation Companions are a group of men and women who are interested in studying our spirituality and making a commitment to live it in their own daily life — taking it to the marketplace and wherever they may be.  It is not necessary to live in north Minneapolis, but sharing prayer and ministry with the Sisters whenever possible  and meeting together to share experience and develop their own sense of community is a goal.  Current Companions act as mentors for people interested in this form of Visitation engagement.  Currently there are about 18 Companions…talk about an 18- carat gold band!

And as our identifier says “we are looking for more visionary women to be a prayerful presence in North Minneapolis”  as Vowed Members.

We are not writing our proposal to you in an airplane on a clear blue sky but  know that this sincere invitation is lovingly offered to you and others you may know with open hands….won’t you put yours in ours?