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Stations of the Crib - Sister Janice Keenan, OSF - Saturday November 23, 2019
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

In the days leading up to Christmas, people are busy and rushing to get their holiday tasks completed. Many of us lose sight of the fact that this time before Christmas is Advent. Advent is a time to reflect on Jesus' coming into our midst and bringing hope to our troubled world.

Reflecting on the Stations of the Crib and the elements of the familiar Nativity story can speak to us about prayer, pillars of faith, gifts from God and much more. For Sr. Janice's presentation, we received a booklet with the opening prayer and prayers for each of the Stations of the Crib. Sr. Janice expanded on the meaning of each station with a story, song or video and talked about the station’s reflection. A t the end of each station, we prayed the station’s prayer.

The First Station (PROCLAMATION) is a call to prayer and meditation. Hope lets us look at the past and reconcile any hurt. Reflection: What regrets do you have? Have you done something different or changed because of a past regret? What came to mind with this reflection were remarks made under the guise of humor that could have been hurtful to the person on the receiving end.

The Second Station (ANNUNCIATION) is a wake-up call. We are getting ready for a special visitor. Reflection: Is there any place in the home of your heart that you would like to invite Christ into? Sr. Janice used rooms of a home to expand on this reflection. Thinking about a living room suggests talking and spending time with visitors. A possibility during Advent is visiting more often with Christ at Mass or in prayer.

The Third Station (VISITATION) is about having another person recharge our batteries like Mary visiting with her cousin Elizabeth. Reflection: Is there a younger or older person who is a light for you or was at one time in your life? For me, visiting the Sisters in Lemont helps when I need to be uplifted.

The Fourth Station (MAGNIFICATION) is Mary’s Magnificat. Mary proclaims the Lord’s greatness. Reflection: Think of someone who has experienced God’s joy. This was a shared reflection for the group. It inspired me to hear what others say or do to bring joy to the people around them.

The Fifth Station (PROMULGATION) is about finding your voice like Zachariah found his voice when he announced John’s name. Reflection: This station reminds us of our need for silence, reflection and prayer. What helps you to pray? Several examples were given, including reading Scripture, listening to music and observing nature.

The Sixth Station (DECLARATION) tells how Joseph didn’t know what to do when he found out that Mary was pregnant, but he listened to the angel and took Mary into his house as his wife. Reflection: When have you been aware that God has used you in support of Him? Has this surprised you?

The Seventh Station (NATIVITY): Mary gave birth to baby Jesus in a stable. Reflection: What are sacred spaces/Holy places in your life? Examples of sacred spaces were given by the group, some quite majestic like the Grand Canyon and others more subtle like seeing a sunset from the kitchen window.

The Eighth Station (OBSERVATION): Shepherds search for those who are lost. God is willing to go to great lengths to find us. Reflection: Take inventory of people who are distant or far from your love. During our shared reflection, the “lost” people in our lives and those in the world were brought to mind or mentioned to the group and we lifted them up in prayer. Several “lost” people came to mind and stayed in my thoughts the rest of the day.

The Ninth Station (NOMINATION) celebrates the naming of us as a child of God. God’s love is unconditional. We are God’s love to others. Reflection: how are you God’s gift to others? I’ve always enjoyed writing notes and sending cards to people I care about. It brings me joy when someone tells me that a card they received from me brought a smile to their face.

The Tenth Station (MANIFESTATION): What was Mary thinking about the gifts of the Magi? Reflection: What gifts has God given you? What gifts do you give others? As I was taking notes during Sr. Janice's presentation, one of the first gifts that popped into my mind was my gift of writing. I am blessed with this gift and the many gifts God has given me.

The Eleventh Station (PRESENTATION): Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple until they met Christ. They were pillars in the Temple that bolstered Mary and Joseph. Reflection: Who are the pillars of your own life’s journey/your faith life? For this reflection, we went around the room and named the pillars of our faith life. My pillars of faith are my parents who prayed with us before we went to sleep at night, took us to Mass every Sunday and sacrificed to give their children a Catholic education.

The Twelfth Station (EVASION) is about Joseph's dream to flee to Egypt to save Jesus from Herod. He trusted that God would take care of Jesus. Reflection: call to mind those in your family or in the human family in special need of the intercession of St. Joseph today and bring them to prayer.

The Thirteenth Station (RESTORATION) is pondering Joseph's words of wisdom to Jesus. Reflection: Are there words of wisdom that have given you hope or direction to keep you properly “oiled” by prayer, compassion and gladness?

The Fourteenth Station (REPUTATION) is about Community. We need to be in relationship with others to complete our journey of faith. Reflection: Who are people in your life who have helped increase your faith? Being an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago has definitely helped increase my faith.  I enjoy and appreciate every Associate group day.

The Fifteenth Station (DEDICATION): When we welcome Him, God is with us. Reflection: All work is sacred when the work is accomplished with great love. Does your work make visible the presence and power of love to others?

Sr. Janice's presentation was the first time I’ve heard of the Stations of the Crib. Reflecting on the Stations of the Crib, I was reminded of the many places where my life is touched by God. I also felt grateful for the blessings God has given me. After this Associate group day, I found that during the time of Advent, I was a little more focused on Jesus’ coming at Christmas and a little less focused on my task list.

Being an FSC Associate - Dorothea Przybycien

Dorothea Przybycien discusses the importance of St. Francis of Assisi, how she became an FSC Associate and her special connection to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.

Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis and the Devotional Renewal
of the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago - October 5, 2019
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

We came together for Mass to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis during which there is an annual devotional renewal 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. John Nowak, CR.

The first reading was from Habakkuk 2: 2-4. In the reading, Habakkuk cries out to God about the terrible things he sees and experiences. Habakkuk thinks that God doesn’t hear him because God hasn’t done anything about the violence, destruction and misery.

The Gospel from Luke 17: 5-10 was a familiar one. The apostles asked the Lord to increase their faith. The Lord replied to them "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ' Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

From the readings, Fr. John was reminded of the movie 'Bruce Almighty'. The movie is about a news reporter named Bruce Nolan, played by Jim Carrey. Bruce feels like his life is going nowhere. He is needled by his co-workers, doesn’t get the anchor position and is fired from his job. Bruce becomes angry and blames God for all of the bad things that happened to him.

Bruce is paged and calls the phone number. There’s a message from someone who seems to know everything that is happening in his life. Bruce drives to the address given to him in the message where he meets a man dressed as a janitor (played by Morgan Freeman) mopping the floor. Bruce asks for directions to the 7th floor. When Bruce gets to the 7th floor, he sees Morgan Freeman in a white suit sitting behind a desk. Morgan Freeman plays God in the movie.

God had a plan for Bruce. Since Bruce doesn’t think that God is doing a good job, God gives Bruce his powers. At first Bruce doesn’t believe what happened then he begins to enjoy his new powers, granting all of his desires. Bruce keeps hearing voices (people praying) and tries to ignore them. God appears and tells Bruce that he has to answer people’s prayers. Bruce creates chaos answering prayers. Finally Bruce gives God back His powers.

After providing us with a summary of the movie, Fr. John’s message was to let God be God. The first reading and Fr. John’s homily were timely reminders that God is listening when we pray, but the answer may not always match the request. After listening to the first reading, the message I received from the Gospel was "don’t give up". Even with a tiny bit of faith, anything can be accomplished with God’s help.

Following Fr. John’s homily, the Associates were called to the front of chapel where we renewed our commitment. Afterwards, the Sisters promised the support of their prayers and community to all of the Associates. The statement of support from the Sisters has always been one of my favorite parts of the Associate renewal.

Each Associate received a gift from the Sisters in honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. My gift is a little picture of a bird with the saying "Enjoy Life’s Blessings". Being an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago is something I would definitely consider as one of the blessings in my life.