Alive with Franciscan joy

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


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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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Team players

Monday, August 13, 2012

Scoreboardby Sister Laura Zelten

August is not only the beginning of the new academic year it is also the beginning of football season on all levels. On my daily morning walk I see the Green Bay Preble Hornet teams hard at practice. The Packers started their preseason at San Diego and the poor grade school Falcon football players at St. Philip Parish got caught in a drenching down poor last Thursday.

I think there are lessons in football we can apply to our lives.

  • First, we all start with an unblemished 0-0 record.  At the beginning of any project we start as a winner with hopes of finishing well.  The test of time proves how and when we finish.
  • Secondly, we all have hopes of a winning season.  On any new adventure we start out with the end in mind.  How we get to the end is all about the journey ahead and what twists and turns we encounter on the way.
  • Thirdly, team building is important.  A new year brings new skills and new personalities.  In life, who are our companions and how do we help each other accomplish our goal?   Can we be open to learning new skills and new ways of doing things?   Yes, it is a new school year and a new football season, how am I being a team player?

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The Olympic spirit

Friday, August 3, 2012

LondonOlympics2012by Sister Laura Zelten

Watching the Olympic Games this week has been wonderful.  I marvel at all the strength, talent and dedication of the athletes.  I can't imagine the hours of practice they put in to achieve the level of perfection it takes to compete with the world's best.  Conversely, watching the level of agony when they don't make it to the gold is painful.  How crushing it must be after all the time and energy they put in and to lose by 1/100 of a second.

So how do you measure 1/100 of a second?  To me it sounds like a blink of the eye and yet if you lose by it, it could be an eternity.  Does God measure us in 1/100's of a second?  No, I have come to the conclusion that God gives us all a gold medal if we put forth our best effort with the best intentions.  So as I watch the Olympic Games I am happy for those who win and congratulate all the athletes on their hard work and effort.  But, I am also encouraged as St. Timothy says, "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance." (2 Tim. 4:7-8)

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Summer days

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Veggiesby Sister Laura Zelten

As I was driving across town this week I counted all the vegetable stands on the street corners.  To be exact there were seven going from the west to east.  Each one had a variety of fruits and veggies.  The stands were so beautiful with all the different colors, textures and sizes.  I reflected first on the Canticle of Creatures from St. Francis of Assisi and with him said, "Praise be you, my Lord."

Francis was at one with the earth and God's love.  He was able to see the presence of God in the smallest of creatures, which led me to ask, "During this summer season do I take time to appreciate even the spiders and ants I find on my walls or walks?"  Secondly, I reflected on the gifts these fruits and veggies require, from the work of the farmer, the nutrients of the earth, the seed itself, the rain (when it falls) and the sun.  We need all of these to produce the fruits of the earth.  We also need trust in God. When we plant that first seed we have hope that it will grow and give.

What are the seeds that I need to sow in order to share God's presence in the world? Do I trust that God calls me daily to share my gifts with others?  I love this time of year; it has so many lessons for life.

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Being intentional is an opportunity to see the world

Friday, July 6, 2012

roses 2012by Sister Laura Zelten

Driving home from the Convent last evening, I was listening to NPR and heard a piece on the length of days.  July 5 was the longest day of the year.  They explained that it had to do with the way the sun rotated around the earth.

As you can tell I am no scientist.  Yet, I thought; how do I use these extra hours of sunlight during the summer months?  Do I recognize God's presence in the extra hours of light or do I just go on living without being aware of the change in day light?  So, last evening I lived a bit more intentionally and before I went to sleep I took stock of my extra hours of light.  I found that being intentional caused me to see things differently.  I noticed the beauty of the sunset.  I studied the colors of the roses as a watered them.  I was aware of the different song birds at evening.  And I was able to appreciate the beauty of Sr. Marietta's herb garden as we talked together.

This next week my hope is to live a bit more intentional and to be aware of God's presence in all things.

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