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FSC Associate Group Day - Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gratitude

Presenter: Deb Scerbicke, FSC Associate
by Jill Kachin, FSC Associate


Our presentation took place in Marian Hall after Mass and morning coffee. Deb began the morning with the prayer, Lord of the Harvest. This prayer relates to the changing of seasons: from summer -> fall -> winter. In a very simplistic way one may also see the changing of the seasons as analogist to the practice of gratitude or gratefulness. One may envision gratitude as the conduit between the "good/happy times" and the "difficult times" in one's life once one accepts all as gift.

Deb defined gratitude as being threefold.

Gratitude is:

  • A series of complex emotions - life is first, love is second, and understanding is third
  • An ethical way of living - reciprocity (quid pro quo) or mutual reliance (open system in which gratitude flows freely because all is gift)
  • A disposition or habit - can be chosen or cultivated.

Deb suggested reasons for being grateful: getting up each morning, our friends and family, for our health, our home, and, as difficult as it may be, the hardships we face. In difficult times another definition of gratitude seems to be appropriate, Gratitude is the capacity to stare doubt, loss, chaos, and despair right in the eye and say, "I'm still here".

In order to cultivate the practice of gratitude we need to find ways to be mindful of the everyday opportunities we are given. Some aids in developing this practice are keeping a gratitude journal, prayer and meditation, and remembering that gratitude is not about repayment. It's about relationships.

One of the questions asked was, "What do you focus on...headwinds or tailwinds?" Headwinds are our barriers. Tailwinds are our blessings. We usually spend more time trying to figure out the barriers than giving thanks for our blessings. Scripture tells us to remember that where your treasure is, there your heart will be. Reflection on the gift (blessing) rather on the difficulty (barrier) will open our mind and heart to the practice of gratitude. This reminds me of a quote by Soren Kierkegaard, "We live our life forwards, but must be understood backwards." This means to me that one of our best tools for cultivating gratitude is prayerful reflection.

"Even the terrible things seem beautiful to me now" is an article written by Mary Schmich after the death of her Mother. Ms. Schmich's interpretation of these words was that to experience the terrible as beautiful, "allows us to experience the full range of the most basic thing we give thanks for: being alive".

Remembering how natural it is to say 'thank-you' for the blessings in my life, I leave with the hope that I can find it as natural to be grateful for the barriers. Ms. Schmich, I believe, put this into perspective. "All of the best times in my life have grown directly out of the worst times. What feels like manure often turns out to be fertilizer".

We ended the morning as we began, with prayer of gratitude.

 



Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis And the Commitment/Devotional Recommitment
of the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago
October 7th, 2018 - by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate


On October 7st, we came together for Mass to celebrate the Commitment of a new Associate and the Devotional Recommitment of the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Mass was celebrated in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Our celebrant was Fr. Paul Sims, CR.

The first reading at Mass was from Genesis 2: 18 -24. In this reading we heard how God didn’t want Adam to be alone so He set out to make a suitable companion for Adam. First, God created animals and birds, but none of them made a good partner for Adam. Then, God put Adam into a deep sleep, took out one of his ribs and formed the rib into a woman. In Eve, Adam found his mate.

We all need other people in our lives. This reading reminded me of the community I found in the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. The Associates meet monthly during the year to listen to a speaker or to have a day of reflection. We grow together in faith as a community.

Following Fr. Paul's homily, our new Associate was called to the front of chapel and made his commitment as an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. His pin was blessed and presented to him and he signed his Associate agreement. The current Associates were then called to the front of chapel where we renewed our commitment as a group. Afterw
ards, the Sisters promised the support of their prayers and community to all of the Associates.

After Mass, we joined the Sisters for lunch in Marian Hall. We received a gift from the Sisters in honor of the feast of St. Francis. Our gift was a statue of a bird perched on top of a small group of flowers. There were four Sisters and three other Associates at my table in Marian Hall. Each Associate at my table received a different bird statue.

When one of the other Associates saw her gift, it reminded her of a bird she had when she was little and she shared a story with us. Now, when I look at my bird, I remember recommitment day and her story. The joy of that day comes back to me and I am reminded how blessed I am to belong to this community of faith as an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.


Commitment as Faithfulness - Associate Day of Reflection
August 25, 2018 - Presenter: Sister Janice Keenan, OSF
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate Day of Reflection. Our day started with an opening prayer thanking God for the gifts of life, love and each other. We prayed that we would recognize His presence in each person gathered for our reflection day. We also prayed that we would share our gifts with them as we reflected on what commitment meant to us.

We listened to two readings that spoke about God’s faithfulness. The first was a reading from Lamentations 3:21-26 which speaks about how God is faithful to us through His steadfast love and His endless mercies.

The second reading was to prepare us for our exercise. It was adapted from The Breath of Love by Michel Quoist. We were to listen carefully to that reading and think how we could draw a picture showing God’s faithfulness in our lives and our faithfulness to Him. There were several images we could use from the reading, including a garment, a voyage, a mountain or a river.

One image that caught my attention from the reading spoke about faithfulness being a series of responses. Faithfulness is not a one-time choice. Faithfulness comes from each time we say “yes” to loving God or loving our neighbor.

I started drawing a road with the intent of showing events where I had answered major questions in my life. After I had a portion of my road drawn, people who helped me to answer those questions popped into my thoughts. At that point, I wrote on the corner of my paper - God sends people to guide - and continued drawing my road. I don’t remember asking for God’s help when I was looking for answers. However, God was faithful as He helped me along my journey. He always sent someone to guide me or something to connect me to the next step.

There were several parts of our reflection day that spoke about our faithfulness to God. The Gospel reading we listened to was a familiar one from Mark 12: 28-34 where one of the Scribes asked Jesus which of God’s commandments is the most important. In this Gospel, Jesus tells us that nothing is more important than loving God and loving our neighbors.

Commitment is faithfulness to love. In the responses after the reading from Lamentations, we listened to the ways God shows His love to us and also how we are called to do our part. Some of the responses are below:

Only God gives love - but we are called to care for each other.
Only God can bring happiness - but we are invited to be joyful.
Only God makes miracles happen - but we must offer our loaves and fishes.
Only God can do the impossible - but it’s up to us to do what is possible.

Sr. Janice gave us a handout with some thoughts on how we can respond knowing there could be negative results. Even though there may be undesirable consequences attached to our words and actions, we can show our faithfulness to God by being kind, loving and forgiving to the people around us.

The title on this part of the handout was "Do It Anyway". The version we read was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta. Several of the thoughts from the handout are below:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

This Day of Reflection prepares us to renew our commitment as Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in October. One way we show faithfulness to this commitment is by our presence at Associate group days. There are many ways we see God’s faithfulness in our daily lives. The more difficult question for me was - how am I faithful to God? How can I show my commitment to faithfulness in my love of God and neighbor? Thanks to Sr. Janice’s presentation, I have some ideas for reflection.