Alive with Franciscan joy

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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Wake Up!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

Many of us are not fond of the wake-up call in the morning.  Whether your alarm clock buzzes, rings, beeps or plays music (mine is set to National Public Radio) it often seems to go off too soon.  So we reluctantly roll out of bed or perhaps hit the snooze button a few more times.

There is another kind of wake-up call I experience each year -- my annual summer retreat.  It is a time to take in the silence and hear God's voice deep within.  I think of it as my wake-up call for my spiritual life.  It is a time to build on my relationship with God.  I had the opportunity to make a "short retreat" with the Team of Faith, Learning and Vocation from St. Norbert College last week.  It was an experience for quiet prayer, small-group interaction as well as large-group discussion.  Each day we went deeper into how God is calling us to respond to His loving invitation in life.  For me specifically I felt called to the awareness of how deep God's extravagant love is and how am I called to live that love in fidelity as a Sister of St. Francis.

  • What has been your latest wake-up call?
  • Have you ever made a retreat?  If so, what was it like for you?
  • Do you have a special place that you like to pray during the summer?

I would love to hear about your retreat experience. Additionally, our summer newsletter will take an in-depth look at the value of retreats.  Let us know if you would like receive a copy.

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Good Shepherd Sunday

Friday, April 27, 2012

FirstCommunionby Sister Laura Zelten

Fifty years ago on Good Shepherd Sunday I made my First Communion.  I would have never thought 50 years later that the Eucharist would be central to my life.  What a gift to receive Jesus in body and blood.

For nearly 50 years (49 to be exact) our Church has celebrated World Day of Prayer for Vocations on Good Shepherd Sunday.  It was Pope Paul VI who designated Good Shepherd Sunday as the day for the universal church to pray for all Christian vocations.

As we celebrate this feast we pray for fidelity to our vocation.  The Church invites us to honor the vocation of all Christians given at Baptism.  Through the vocation of marriage, priesthood, consecrated life, diaconate, and the single life may we further the reign of God.  May those who are discerning their life choice listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd to guide them.  I know in my life the Good Shepherd has protected me and guided me in paths that I would have never chosen for myself.  May we as a Church pray for all who are receiving the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. May they  be open to hearing the Good Shepherd call them by name.

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Connecting these three Holy Days

Friday, April 6, 2012

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

As I reflect on these 3 days of Triduum, I believe they give us a template for living religious life.

  • Holy Thursday for me is about being of service to others.  The washing of the feet continues to call me to a deeper reflection on how as "Sister" I am called to give my gifts for others.  The institution of the Eucharist reminds me that I am blessed, broken and shared for the life of Church.
  • Good Friday is about putting all my trust in God's way, even when I am not sure of the outcome.
  • Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday remind me that like Mary Magdalene in the garden … be open to God calling my name and turning towards the gift of new life.

May this Easter season bless you with peace.


The Way of the Cross

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Station 7 - Jesus falls a second time.

by Sister Laura Zelten

How many times have I prayed the Way of the Cross?  I remember the times as a small child in grade school that during Lent the entire student body would go to church every Friday afternoon to pray the way of the cross together.  As a family we would go on Sunday afternoons during Lent to pray with the parish community.

While I was ministering in Nicaragua the Stations became real to me.  Living with my brothers and sisters who could relate to the sufferings of Jesus made me understand oppression in a very true sense of the word.  On Good Friday the whole town would gather to pray the Way of the Cross. It would take about three hours in the heat of midday.  Hundreds of people would walk the streets praying and singing Jesus' walk to Calvary.

The Way of the Cross is a guide for our heart or a blueprint for expressing our response to what happens in our world today.  They offer us counsel on how to walk with dignity and grace as we compassionately respond to the needs of our times.

As a design for life, the Way of the Cross can offer us a pattern for life that will afford us a way to walk with integrity and grace in the midst of a world where injustice, violence and despair exist.

We walk the Way of the Cross to the death of Jesus but we do not stop with death.  We go to the tomb where we experience the power of the Resurrection.

During this Lenten season as you pray the Way of the Cross may you experience the Jesus as our brother and liberator from death to eternal life.

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Embracing Lent

Friday, February 17, 2012

by Sister Laura Zelten

Katie, Sister Laura and Stella out for a stroll.

I am so excited for the season of Lent to begin.  This is one of my favorite times in the Church year.

It is a gift in the middle of the bleak winter to take time for prayer and strengthen one's relationship with God.  The Church offers us so many good examples of how we can spend these 40 days. We can take part in parish activities such as Bible studies, morning Mass, or the Sunday afternoon Stations of the Cross.

How many times have you been asked, "What are you giving up for Lent?"  Ten years ago my friend Katie and I started a morning walk for our Lenten intention.  Can you believe we haven't qu

it our morning walk yet?  TEN YEARS … how many miles … how many conversations?

Families can and do have their Lenten traditions.  As a child I loved Lent.  Mom would go to early morning Mass and on the way home would stop to pick up chocolate milk and sweet rolls for breakfast.  Or Dad would bring home smoked fish for lunch.

This year for Lent I have decided to use Bishop Robert Morneau's Lenten Reflection Book, "Not By Bread Alone." (paperbackeBook). This little treasure has a reflection for every day of Lent.  What are you going to do for your Lenten intention this year?

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Similarities between Sisters and skaters

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

FigureIceSkating02by Sister Laura Zelten

This Sunday our Church celebrates Consecrated Life Day. This day is set aside to appreciate the gifts religious women and men bring to the Church.

It might sound strange but as I watched the U.S. Women's Figure Skating competition last Sunday, it occurred to me there were similarities between the successful skaters and those of us called to religious life.

First, the dedication to excellence: Each woman was committed to long hours of practice. Some put their education on hold in order to compete. Dedication is also a trait of religious women and men. We are committed to rooting our lives in prayer and ministry.  And yes, it takes practice.  Every day my Sisters and I spend time in communal prayer and personal prayer. We are dedicated to growing in our relationship with God. Renewed by prayer, religious women and men serve the Church. We give our whole lives to working with and for the people of God, whether as teachers, health-care givers, pastoral ministers, parish directors, faith formation personnel or hospital chaplains.

Second, the ability to stay focused: Figure skaters need to block out all distractions so they can perform their routines flawlessly. At one point during Sunday's competition a skater slipped and fell because she looked up at the crowd after hearing her name called. She lost her focus. We religious women and men are called to give our all to the people of God.  For that to happen we must stay focused on Jesus and His mission.

Like St. Paul tells us, our crown is the gift of eternal life. "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."

We may not be champion figure skaters, but we are champions in the light of Christ.  May you, too, see yourself as someone who has their eyes on the prize of Jesus.