Alive with Franciscan joy

Beauty found in unexpected ways of following God

Friday, August 5, 2016

by Sister Laura Zelten

Today we celebrate the gift of four women -- Sister Francis Bangert, Sister Jeanette Peplinski, Sister Urban Schumacher and Sister Clare Simon -- who have spent a collective 270 years as Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. In this group of amazing women we have teachers, musicians, parish ministers, congregational leaders, social justice advocates, a retirement home administrator, and a missionary to the First Nation people in British Columbia, Canada.  Yes, there are more ministries than Sisters because, over the years, these women have grown, taken risks, tried new things, and answered the call to follow Jesus wherever He called them to serve.

Jubilee celebrations are a wonderful time to gather as Community, to celebrate our Sisters, to celebrate our lives together.  During the liturgy, all Sisters and Associates present are invited to stand and bless the Sisters.  It is always a touching moment, in the presence of loved ones, to sing the Blessing of St. Francis and celebrate the lives of our Sisters.

As our Constitutions: Design for Life says:

“The Sister realizes that in Community she can be and do with others what she cannot be or do alone.” 

Jubilee is indeed a day of rejoicing, celebrating and giving thanks to God!

 

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What Pokemon GO can tell us about evangelization

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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by Sister Laura Zelten

I was sitting on my porch praying one evening when I looked up and saw a group of people roaming a nearby field. Yes, they were searching for Pokémon.  I must admit, it looked intriguing. I went over to find out how the game works and who these people were. The group of young adults didn’t know each other and yet were engaging in conversation and searching together for the sign post.  It got me thinking, isn’t this what community is about?  

As a community of believers we continue to seek the face of Jesus in the reality of our own world.  As we search, we encounter each other in our faith communities, meeting new people, having conversations and building relationships.  We come together in a spirit of welcome to get to know each other and encounter the risen Jesus alive in the community.  Unlike Pokémon, we are not out to fight and overcome others but to come together as a community of mutual respect and love. 

As Sisters of St Francis of the Holy Cross our signposts of prayer, hospitality and presence direct us to search for a world in which we uphold human dignity, pursue peace and promote Gospel justice.  To build a community where all are welcome and continue to search for the face of Jesus in one another. 

Pokemon Go

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Stop, breathe and refocus

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rare resolution refocuses daily prayer for peace

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by Sister Laura Zelten

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions but this year is different. I received this Williow Tree angel for Christmas from a good friend. She is called “Prayer for Peace, seeking the quiet within.”  She sits on the corner of my desk as a reminder to take time out of my day to pray for peace and seek the quiet within. My days are busy (and can be filled with lots of busyness) so I need a reminder to stop, breathe and refocus.  My resolution is to take some breaks during the day and pray for peace.

Wishing you peace and stillness in this New Year.

Prayer Willow Figure

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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Celebration is a reminder of the never-ending invitation to grow in Christ

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by Sister Laura Zelten

Today we reflect on Jesus' baptism. We also recall our own baptism in terms of it marking the start of our lifelong journey of growing in the Body of Christ.

Our baptism is a community experience. Through baptism we become members of the Christian family. Baptism calls us to active participation in the life of the Church and world. It connects us to the universal Church.

Each of us is called to be a living witness to the Gospel, to be the salt of the earth, a city on a hill, a lamp radiating light for all. Our baptism is a never-ending invitation to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Every word of the prophet Isaiah can also be applied to the baptized. So today let us renew our faith in and our commitment to Jesus. Let us re-affirm our readiness to carry on his mission.

Through your baptismal call how will you be the face of Jesus to others?

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Star-Struck: Feast of the Epiphany

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The light of Christ leads us through the Year of Mercy

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by Sister Laura Zelten

Every year I take time to reflect on the Nativity scene. I like to take one piece from the scene and contemplate its role in the story. This year I reflected on the star that led the way for others to find Jesus. It was a sign of hope for the Magi.

This Sunday’s Feast of the Epiphany celebrates God’s presence wherever people are searching for light, love and truth. Inspired by the Magi and their journey to visit God Incarnate, we are called to spread the nourishment of God’s mercy and love to those who are broken in our world. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us be that light of Christ for those who are seeking truth, light and love.

 

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What to make of the angels' question

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesus' presence here and now

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NOTE: Some dioceses mark the Feast of the Ascension on May 14 while others, including the Green Bay Diocese, will transfer the feast to Sunday, May 17.

By Sister Laura Zelten

The Ascension experience sends the followers of Jesus into the world to find God in all things. The spirituality of Christ is not a spirituality that isolates itself from the world and its challenges. It is a spirituality that connects to the world -- the world of people and nature -- a world with rich and poor, men and women, young and old, nature and grace, conflict and reconciliation, and complexity in issues of justice.

In the first reading from Acts, the followers of Jesus look to heaven. The angels ask them "Why?" It is as if the angels are saying, "Look around. Maybe then you will see."

Look around and you will see the presence of Christ.
Look around and you will hear the call of God.
Look around and you will know the Power of the Spirit.
Look around and you will be filled with joy.
You will hear the voice of God among the poor and needy of the world.
You will hear God speak in the struggle for peace and justice.
You will be led into life and grace.
God dwells in the world.
Jesus is alive in the world.
The Spirit is in you.

The disciples are sent out with a spirit -- a spirit of openness -- a spirit that proclaims repentance and forgiveness to all nations.

Even though our world today is radically different than is was 2,000 years ago, Christ remains. Christ is alive and present. The Ascension of the Lord allows all this to happen. As Jesus says: "It is better for you that I go, for if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7) The Ascension invites with all the richness, diversity, and mystery of human life to find God in all things.

Reflection questions:

1. How have you been surprised by the presence of God in daily life?
2. How have you experienced the presence of God in a difficult situation?

 

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I am the vine, you are the branches

Monday, May 4, 2015

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"Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit." -- John 15: 4a,5b

By Sister Laura Zelten

In last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus gave us another powerful image of our relationship with Him. He is the vine and we are the branches.  Our life comes from Him and we are as connected to Jesus as a branch is to its vine.  The only way we can bear fruit is to remain connected with Him.

We know the many things which threaten that connection.  There are times we feel that we are withering, cut off from the real source of our life.

Today we reflect on this mystery and its reality in our lives. We ask for the grace to remain in Jesus and to let Him remain in us so that we might bear much fruit, together with Him.

 

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Answering Mary Oliver's question with God's call

Thursday, February 5, 2015

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"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

by Sister Laura Zelten

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Forty years ago I couldn't have imagined what God had planned for my one wild and precious life.  Each day has opened like a flower: mostly beautiful and graceful and pleasing, only occasionally interrupted by a thorny and unpleasant one.

Being called to consecrated life was right for me.  I've never doubted or regretted it. I have been blessed!  This Year of Consecrated Life and next Sunday's World Day for Consecrated Life have been an opportunity to look back with gratitude for all the people who have been signs of God.  Most recently, I was reminded of the blessing of my teaching years.  At Christmas Eve Mass, a woman asked me if I ever taught at All Saints School in Denmark, Wis. Yes, I said.  She responded, "I knew it. When you engaged the children on the meaning of Christmas it all came back to me.  Your smile, enthusiasm, and your way of being spoke of my days in first and second grades.  And over 30 years later I was happy to remember you as my teacher."

Another blessing has been my missionary work in Nicaragua. Crossing cultures is a privileged experience, one I will never take for granted. Yes, I left a piece of my heart in Nicaragua but I also brought the hearts of many back with me.  I will never forget the hospitality and love I experienced living with the people of Muelle de los Bueyes. They demonstrated love and radical hospitality each time they gave me a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice or provided me with a hammock so I didn't have to sleep on the floor.

My one wild and precious life continues to be a walk with others on their life journey.  As a Sister and spiritual director, I continue to be invited into the joys and sorrows of others.  Again, another privileged place of holiness.

As a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, I was formed to be deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Jesus and that has been a special gift from God.  God's invitation to live the evangelical counsels -- poverty, chastity and obedience -- has challenged me each day to live with an undivided heart and embrace God's radical call, to leave all things behind and to dare putting myself totally at the service of God and God's people.  Yes, God's plan for my one wild and precious life is to live as a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and I am blessed to be called "Sister."

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The Tapestry of Advent

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent 2014

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What is the seed from which our vocation grows?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

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FERTILE SOIL: Sister Marietta Samz tends to our herb gardens at the Motherhouse.

by Sister Laura Zelten

In parish ministry, one of my favorite responsibilities is preparing couples for baptism.  It is such a joy to meet the new baby and to see the parents' happiness in welcoming this new life.

When I think of my vocation as a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross I start with my own baptism.  Being welcomed into my mom and dad's family and the parish family made for fertile ground where my vocation to religious life grew.  I know that because of my baptism I have been called to serve where people are celebrating life and where people are hurting.

I have experienced God most strongly in these rough and challenging situations.  As a missionary in Nicaragua, I walked with people who struggled daily to have life's basics but, at the same time, welcomed us missionaries in the most beautiful and simple ways.  As we traveled on horseback through the jungle from one Christian community to the next, we were invited to their tables and always served the best of what they had.

Recently, a friend and I we were discussing how life unfolded for us, and she said, "Laura, you always wanted to be a Sister."  Sue was partially right, I did know at early age that God was calling me but I didn't always know what I was being called to. My discernment was about being faithful to the stirrings in my heart.  I could have married or remained single and still have responded to God's invitation, but my life as a religious Sister made the most sense to me.

As a Sister of the St Francis of the Holy Cross I serve with a community of joyful women who have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer, simple living and Gospel justice.  Our prayer life gives us the strength to reach out to our brothers and Sisters who are impoverished, voiceless, enslaved and living in the shadows.  We do this through our ministries in parishes, schools, retreat centers, and homeless shelters.  My Sisters teach in schools, religious education programs and adult formation programs (English and Spanish). I am blessed to be a part of a community women who have heard God's call and continue to serve others in faithful love.

During National Vocation Awareness Week pay attention to how is God calling you.  How are the parables, teachings, and words of Jesus shaping your life?  What are the experiences in your life that, with God, you can look at and see a deeper meaning that will guide your future?  God is asking us all to be open to the gifts that have been given to us in baptism, to be open to a deeper message of our life experiences, to be open to God's call to serve.

I invite you to connect with my community and me at www.gbfranciscans.org or on Facebook or Twitter @gbfranciscans.

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