Alive with Franciscan joy

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Remembering the love of many women makes this a special day


LOVE ONE ANOTHER: Sister Laura Zelten, left, stands near the holy water font with Sisters Jeanne Jarvis, Carlotta Ullmer and Mary Kabat. The font is near the entrance to St. Francis Convent Chapel. The blue mosaic symbolizes God's presence (gold tiles) in every aspect our lives (blue tiles).

by Sister Laura Zelten

As we celebrate Mother's Day, I like to think of the women who have impacted my life in a positive way.

I always start with our Blessed Mother. She had such a profound trust in God. I often pray the line that precedes the Magnificat, "Let it be done unto me according to your word."

My grandmothers come next.  Both Emma and Ella were extraordinary women.  They came from very different backgrounds and were authentic in who they were and how they raised their children.  Both grandmothers were grounded in their faith.  Both taught me to trust in God and do the right thing -- even when it was difficult.  I will always remember them for their lemon pie, red velvet cake and their love of faith and family.

Next on my list is my Mom. I have tears as I write this. She was such a hope-filled and fun-loving person.  I will always remember her as someone who loved the simple things in life.  She, too, had a deep faith in God.  Her love for St. Joseph and her trips to St. Norbert Abbey's National Shrine of St. Joseph to pray were examples of how to root oneself in prayer.  Plus, she and my aunts always enjoyed being together.  It was my first lesson in how to live "community."

I can't forget my three sisters -- Amy, Jo and Meg.  What would we do without each other?  They are women of compassion, love and acceptance.  We turn to one another in times of joy and need.  I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

The women who have made the biggest impact on my life are my Sisters in Community.  Because of them I have become the woman I am today.  They have taught me that sacrifice for the sake of God's people is worth everything; that prayer is the center of how we communicate with God and with each other; and that we can do together what we cannot do alone.

I am so happy to be a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and to walk with women who live compassion, uphold peace and promote Gospel justice.


World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrate your vocation today with a moment of prayer

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxApril 21 is the 50th anniversary of World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It was established by Pope Paul VI who designated Good Shepherd Sunday for this day of prayer.

As you and I know, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He protects his flock and he promises us the gift of eternal life. (John 10:11) As his followers, we are asked to do the same for others. The Church encourages us to serve the flock by living to the fullest our respective vocation whether as priest, vowed religious, married or single.

More than ever, our world needs to know the love of the Good Shepherd, to hear his voice, and to be led in his ways. Are we willing to carry on the mission of Jesus and give our lives for others? This call to serve is for every Christian. Today we pray for the whole Church and ask God to bless each of us in our chosen vocation. May each of us continue the work of the Good Shepherd with our lives. Together may we foster vocations for the life of the Church.

I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. -- John 10:11


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'Walk to Mary' event is abundant in opportunities

Friday, April 12, 2013

Like life, sacred moments will happen throughout walk


by Sister Laura Zelten

Seeing all the posters advertising the "Walk to Mary" fund-raising event for the Green Bay Area Catholic Education System (GRACE) got me thinking about sacred spaces and points in between.

The walk (which we Sisters are supporting) will begin at the National Shrine of St. Joseph at St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere and end with Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, two very holy places in our area.  My thoughts are not  directly on the shrines but on what will happen to the pilgrims as they walk 21 miles.

WalkToMaryLogoOur spiritual life is often an "in-between" event.  We are born and we know that one day we will die.  But what happens in between those two points is so significant. It makes me want to be strategic on how I spend that "in-between" time.  I hope that I can use it according to God's plan.

  • How do I form relationships with others?
  • Do I spend time in prayer?
  • Do I continue to educate myself on important life issues?
  • Am I the face of Christ to others?
  • And, most importantly, do I recognize those who walk with me as sons and daughters of God?

Yes, the end points are very important in life's journey but the in-between is significant on how happy the journey will be for all those around me.


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Celebrating Triduum

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gaze upon Christ, contemplate Christ, consider Christ, imitate Christ

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxToday is Holy Thursday and we begin the Paschal Triduum. A triduum is a three-day period of prayer, usually in preparation for an important feast or in celebration of that feast. This Triduum recalls the suffering, dying and rising of Christ beginning Holy Thursday evening and concluding Easter Sunday.

The days are like a seamless garment of prayer. We begin with the washing of feet and end with Mary Magdalene running to the disciples announcing, "Jesus has risen."  I love the fact that I can take these holy days as a mini-retreat. They flow into each other and the symbols are so strong. We use ordinary water, fire, incense, a pitcher and towel, the cross and music to celebrate this extraordinary time.

My prayer this Triduum is that, like St. Clare, each of us can take time to gaze upon Christ, contemplate Christ, consider Christ and imitate Christ, and live every day in the spirit of the Resurrection. May we together grow during this time as Easter people.

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Welcome Pope Francis

Friday, March 15, 2013

Holy Father's simplicity, service to poor resonate with us

Pope Francisby Sister Laura Zelten

As Franciscan women religious we rejoice with the rest of the Church and world on the election of Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as our new Pope. As religious, we recognize that his humility, simplicity, and commitment to the poor exemplify the virtues of consecrated religious life.

We offer Pope Francis our prayerful best wishes and support as he begins his papacy at a most historical time. We also pray for the entire Church, that we all remain faithful to the mission of the gospel given to us by Jesus Christ. May God bless and strengthen our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.



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Come back to me with all your heart

Thursday, February 7, 2013

by Sister Laura Zelten

Jesus Sacred Heart Blue

Returning to our hearts is often difficult for us.  It's too easy to get our hearts broken.  But what if Lent is a time to return to our hearts and find comfort, strength and solace there?

It is interesting that this year Valentine's Day is the second day of Lent.  For many of us, the word "Lent" connotes drab days, giving up things and a long, long time waiting for spring.  Lent means many things, a time for repentance, a time for sacrifice, a time for preparing for Easter.

We often overlook another meaning -- the idea that Lent is an invitation to reconcile with God and with each other.  Lent calls us to look into our hearts and see what is there and act from what we see.  Lent is a season of the heart.

The Lenten scriptures, both the Hebrew Prophets and the New Testament, are our guides for the Lenten journey.  They make a powerful point, one that our culture and society often forgets:  It is the heart that matters.  What is in our heart deeply influences our vision, our hearing and our actions.

On Ash Wednesday Christians everywhere are called to remember, repent and return.  Through the symbol of ashes, we are asked to remember that we are of the earth, created by another, and will not walk the earth forever.  We are asked to repent, to look at ourselves, to recognize what keeps us apart from God, and to return to the one who has created us.

Repentance, remembering, returning to God -- all of these begin in our hearts.  None of these is an intellectual exercise.  Returning to our hearts is often difficult for us.  It's too easy to get our hearts broken.  But what if Lent is a time to return to our hearts and find comfort, strength and solace there?  What if Lent is a time to return to our souls and find our calling and our source of life?  Is that what happened to Jesus when he was in the desert for 40 days?  Can that happen to us during this season of Lent?  Do we hear God calling, "Come back to me with all your heart!"


Stargazers are models of faith

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Magi story tells how faith draws you and me to Our Savior

ZeltenLauraSister2010-10_100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

Star-GoldThe star is one of my favorite Christmas symbols.  We see stars on top of Christmas trees, hung on houses and present in Nativity scenes.

The star in today's Gospel points the way to Jesus.  The story of the magi directs our attention to stargazers who looked beyond themselves to the heavens. They found reason -- or better, encouragement -- to leave their comfort zone to discover the Source of all life and light.  They encourage us to continue our search for the One who draws us toward God.  The magi read the astral signs, recognized the true identity of the child, and understood the message in a dream that told them to return home by another route.  Their openness brought them to the child, and they did not go away disappointed.

The Feast of the Epiphany expresses God's will that all creation come to know the God revealed in Jesus Christ, who continues to shine forth in light and love.  The promise of the feast is that all of us are capable of absorbing and reflecting this light so that the whole earth may walk from darkness into light.

  1. Reflection questions:
  2. Do you see yourself at a reflector of God's light, as someone with the desire to provide an epiphany for others?
  3. What helps you recognize the light of God in others?

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You're invited!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Year of Faith is an invitation to open our hearts and grow in God's love


Enter into the Year of Faith with the Sisters!

Each week we will send you a short passage or reflection from the Study Guide for the US Catholic Catechism for Adults. It's free and secure.

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Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

"The 'door of faith' (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church."

With these words Pope Benedict XVI welcomes us to the Year of Faith. The words from his letter " Porta Fidei" in which he announced this season of conversion.

Doors are such an important part of our lives.  Do you remember the last door you opened?  We go through our day without even thinking about the movement of passing through the space of our sometimes they even open automatically for us.  If we think of it, never does a day go by that we don't pass through a doorway.

As we celebrate the Year of Faith the one door I think about opening is the door of my heart.  Am I open to allowing Jesus to enter into my heart during this special time in the Church.  The Year of Faith gives us an opportunity to open our lives and celebrate the gift of Jesus.

God is with us in all of life.  Our purpose for opening the door of our heart is to help us know who we are so we can live more joyfully, serve others and know the love of Christ.

Reflection questions:

  1. What kind of door is the door of your heart?
  2. Is the door of your heart open to spiritual growth?
  3. Whose doors (hearts) are you invited to enter?
  4. Have you shut your door (heart) to anyone else?


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What if God were on vacation?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxBy Sister Laura Zelten

I was riding past a church recently and saw on its sign, "God does not take a vacation."  I thought about what if God did take a vacation and how horrible it would be not to be in contact with God.  When I think of what goes on in the world in a week, what if God was away in a remote location and not responding to the needs of the world?  What would the world be like?  My first feeling was I really don't want to know.  My next thought was, do I take a vacation from God in the summer? Do I let my faith life slide into a more relaxed mode during the summer months? For example, am I inclined to skip attending church services, forgo helping those in need or less likely to be patient or forgiving with my family or friends as I could be?

Now think about how our lives change as we transition from the summer months to the winter months.  One of the biggest indicators of the change in season is back-to-school preparations.  You are probably feeling excited about the new school year and maybe a little sad that summer is over. But it is one thing for certain: A time for new beginnings. For many families it means returning to a routine after months of a more relaxed summer schedule.  There are now set times for waking up, after-school activities, dinner, homework and bedtime.

There is a rich association with new beginnings and the start of a new school year. It can also be a time when we can start fresh with God.  We can put in check our relationship with our Creator.  During the fall season I can consider be more mindful of attending church services. I can consider a new outreach project with which to become involved.  I can practice being more aware of the needs around me in my family and community.  Remember, God does not take a vacation so maybe we can add God to our lives in a more intentional manner as we look forward to the new academic year.

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Vocation: Your gladness is what the world needs

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

Our chapel doors lead to our holy water font where we renew our baptism each day.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (Oct. 11, 1962 to Dec. 8, 1965) we are reminded that, by baptism, each of us is called -- each receives a "vocation."  Vocation means a call.  Vatican II reminds us that all are called to holiness.  We are invited to respond by loving and serving God and others in ways unique as each person.   Your vocation is "the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."  (Frederick Buechner).  We all have choices in living out our Christian Vocation.

How do we discover God's call in life?

Remember the scene in the Gospel where the rich young man asks Jesus, "Master what is the greatest commandment of all?" Now here is a young man who was really asking the right questions.  He was asking:  What is the most important thing for you to do with your life?

  • What is the one thing that will give your life meaning and purpose?
  • What is the one thing worth sacrificing everything else for?

Jesus' answer is very simple:  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  The most important task in life is to learn to love.  That is what a Christian Vocation is all about.


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