Monday, December 5, 2011
by Sister Laura Zelten
My mother was great for celebrating the not-so-big
holidays. I remember her always calling upstairs in the
morning reminding us of why the coming day was special. It
could be Ground Hog Day, the first day of a season, Mardi Gras,
April Fools, or Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
I have fond memories around the feast of St. Nick. The
night of Dec. 5 after supper my three sisters and I would begin to
prepare our socks. We always wanted my Dad's socks. We
thought the bigger the sock the more we would receive. We
would make sure we had our name on our respective sock. There
was no way we wanted St. Nick to mix them up.
Isn't funny that I don't remember the type of candy we found but
I do remember there was always a popcorn ball wrapped in red or
green cellophane, a tangerine, and peanuts in the shell, a candy
cane and a small gift. My gift was usually a box of crayons
-- the big 64 box -- and a coloring book. I was so happy to
see all those new and unbroken crayons. I would look for the
unusual colors like periwinkle. The tangerine never made it
Now I remember the love my Mom had for us by knowing especially
what each of her daughters liked. How happy she was to see us
that morning discovering the treasures in my Dad's socks.
On this feast of St. Nicholas what are the mysteries that lie
deep with in your heart? How to share God's radical
generosity with others? Blessings on your day.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Happy Birthday, Aaron Rodgers!
Stories about Tim Tebow's faith and how you live yours caught my
attention. It is evident in Green Bay that you are a person
who trusts in God. You care about others and are willing to
share yourself and your good fortune with others. You are a
gentleman on the field and off, even taking time to throw the ball
with kids in your neighborhood. You are unassuming. This is
important to note when in the news we hear of athletes who are all
about showmanship or are being fined for unsportsmanlike
You mentioned in a recent interview that you model your
Christian faith by the words of St. Francis: "Preach the Gospel at
all times; when necessary use words."
This is a great quote, very Franciscan in its spirit, but not
literally from St. Francis. The thought is his; this catchy
phrasing is not in his writings or in the earliest biographies
In Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, Francis told the friars not
to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so.
Then he added, "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their
Whether Francis said it or not isn't the point. The
importance of the phrase for me is how I live the Gospel. Am
I, like St. Francis, concerned for the poor, faithful to the
Church, and willing to give up all for the sake of Christ?
So happy birthday and thank you for shining some of your
spotlight on our Patron Saint, Francis. During this Advent
time, I am again reminded to "Preach the gospel at all times; when
necessary use words."
-- Sister Laura Zelten
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Those who use Facebook no doubt noticed a number of friends
posting daily notices (marked as "Day 1," "Day 2," etc.) this
month, identifying specific things and people in their lives for
which they are grateful.
In this season of giving thanks and preparing for Christmas,
tens of thousands of people -- whether on Facebook or elsewhere --
are consciously stopping long enough each day to discern and write
down at least one thing for which they are grateful.
The Facebook event is designed to remind us just how blessed we
are, no matter what, how much for which we have to be thankful.
The "Attitude of Gratitude" movement has erupted on Facebook.
Oprah Winfrey has featured the attitude of gratitude on more than
one of her shows, especially during her final year
It is interesting to see how many people jump on the Facebook
event or buy a book on the subject because others are doing
it. But don't we do it every day in some little way?
Sometimes when I find it hard to fall asleep at night I try to
think of 5 things I am grateful for from the day. They are
personal and they are different every time, but no matter how
difficult things seem, there is always something for which to be
grateful. This spiritual exercise always has a calming
Gratitude is easy when life is good. But when life is not
so good, when we are suffering, gratitude for anything in life is
harder to see. And we might need someone to help us find
things to be grateful for.
Praying, reading scripture, saying a mantra or silently
meditating work to dissolve heaviness in the heart. It takes time;
it takes patience; and it takes gratitude.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude -- for one's family, for
one's career or for a sunny day -- makes you focus on God's many
blessings. There is so much more than one blessing a
day, and it is not just a November thing. The practice of gratitude
makes happy people. It is a part of our faith and hopefully
it is my attitude all the time.
Peace and all good -- Sister Laura
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
As I look out my window I see the last leaves
hanging on a tree. The wind is blowing and they seem to be
determined not to be swept away. Or the pine tree that is
still green and praising God with its branches held high.
I do love all seasons but autumn seems to hold a special
treasure. The beauty it holds with the many colors and stark
changes. I like to see autumn as God's in-between time.
The summer activities have finished, we have returned to a routine
and are waiting for that first snowfall.
I ask myself … how do I see God in all of life's changes?
Can I be open to seeing God in all seasons and events? And like the
tree with the determined leaves … what am I afraid to let go
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
"It all started from a seed," kept running through my mind as a
mantra while taking this extraordinary walk. Yes, it is St.
Francis Day and as a Franciscan it is a day of celebration.
So to celebrate I decided to take a walk.
At the Shalom Retreat Center in Dubuque, Iowa, there is a large
prairie that surrounds the grounds. It is former farmland
that the Sisters have let revert to prairie for the last 15
years. As I walked the path I saw so much beauty. The
fall flowers were in full bloom. The fields are filled with wild
asters, golden rod, grasses and berries. It was a field of
purples, yellows, whites, and reds bordered by blue sky. As I
looked out from on top of the highest point it was like looking at
a painting from Monet or Van Gogh. The colors ran together and
created a beautiful watercolor. All I could think of is that
it started with a seed.
As I end this summer season and begin to ponder fall and the coming
of winter… what is the seed growing in my heart? I am
reminded in Scripture that the seed must die before it can be born
again. What is it that I must die to for new life to burst
Friday, September 23, 2011
"Centering Prayer is a
method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of
contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence
within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than
consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship
with God and a discipline to foster that
-- Fr. Thomas Keating
founding member and spiritual guide of Contemplative Outreach,
by Sister Laura Zelten
I had the opportunity to participate
in Common Prayer at St. Norbert College in De Pere. Common
Prayer is every Wednesday at 10:10 am where the college community
takes time out of the busy schedule to share prayer. This
particular day we were in small groups. I chose to go to the
Mulva Library where Campus Minister Sandy Murphy was doing a piece
on the blocks to contemplative prayer in our lives. We were a
group of 20 women from all walks of life: married, single, staff,
faculty and students.
We started the prayer with defining
what contemplative prayer is in our own lives. Sandy gave a handout
with some definitions on it. We took quiet time to define
I welcomed the invitation to take some quiet time. I
believe contemplation helps me to be ready for the busyness of each
day. I start my day with quiet time. My first prayer in
the morning is when I tie my walking shoes at 5:30 am. I say
"God as I begin this day may each step I take be in your
direction." Then I set out for my walk. The quietness
of the early morning and being with nature is very
contemplative. To walk with the changes of the seasons or to
meet other walkers with a morning greeting helps to begin my day
with a perspective of God's presence in and around me.
At Common Prayer Sandy asked, "What are some blocks to
contemplative prayer in your life?" The answers varied from
social networking and always being connected to noisy environments,
mental list making, not knowing how to slow one's self down, and
just not taking the time out of one's schedule.
For me, if I don't do it in the morning by the time I get home
at night I am too tired or too wound up from the days activities to
do quality contemplation.
Sandy went on to explain that, like our faith, our prayer life
needs to be practiced. So she challenged us to take 3 minutes
of quiet prayer time each day. Members of our group welcomed
the invitation and were eager to set aside time each day for
How do you practice contemplation in your life? Where do
you go in order to connect with God?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
by Sister Laura Zelten
The Evangelical lifestyle is a way of life that Franciscans have
embraced since the 13th century. This form of life
is based on St. Francis of Assisi's desire to follow the Gospel way
of life. Francis wanted to follow Jesus in a radical way, and
he was able to so this because he first believed in God's
goodness. It was a goodness that God shared with all of
creation from its very beginning, and found its ultimate expression
in the person of Jesus. As Francis read from Scripture:
- "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the
earth…And God saw that it was good." (Gen. 1:1, 25)
- "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God…All things came into being through him, and
without him, not one thing came into being…And the Word became
flesh and lived among us…" (John 1: 1, 2, 14)
For Francis the Word became flesh because from the beginning God
intended to give us Jesus who was, is, and always will be the
Perfect Good. Francis focused his attention on the fact that
God created the world and everything in it through the Word, Jesus
Christ. Therefore, he considered all of creation as
holy. Birds, trees, stars, water, herbs and everything in
nature was an expression of God's goodness. We especially
bore both God's likeness and goodness. Sin, on the other
hand, was failure to see God's goodness in another person,
creature, or object. Sin was also taking for oneself what
belonged to God. That is why Francis showed reverence to all
of creation and all of creation in turned inspired him to give
praise to God.
"And after the Lord gave me brothers, no one showed me what I
should do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should
live according to the form of the Holy Gospel." (The
Testament of Francis, 14)
Francis wanted to follow the Gospel way of life by imitating
Jesus. He and his followers did this in simplicity and
joy. Their focus was on their relationship with Jesus and
with one another. In the Franciscan way of life, relationship
is central to everything they do. In the Franciscan community
the common bond is relationship with Jesus and with each other
including their relationship to creation. Because of this,
Francis accepted neither the apostolic nor the monastic models of
community that were operative in his time. In fact, Francis
never asked that his followers do a particular ministry other than
being good examples of living the Gospel way of life.
Today Franciscans all over the world continue to live the
Evangelical lifestyle. In communion with God, each other and
the world, they witness to God's goodness at work everywhere, just
as Jesus did. They do this by living community, serving a
ministry, and praying deeply. Franciscans are free to serve
God's people wherever there is a need. As Franciscans they
are called to be peacemakers and to work for justice.
The call to be Franciscan begins with a call to follow
Jesus. From this relationship flows the experience of
relating with others in community and of recognizing Christ in all
relationships. Reverencing the Christ in one another is the
nourishment that impels a Franciscan to go out into the world to
enable all people to see that gift with them that is Jesus.
Friday, September 9, 2011
just received the Vision
Magazine and am amazed at the number of religious communities
we have throughout the United States.
Though we hold the mission of Jesus as our capstone we are
unique in our way of life. Each religious community comes at
it from a different angle. A community's charism is based on its
history, traditions, ministries and prayer life. The
different style or charisms took shape because of the specific
social needs of the time in which they began.
Today, we find four main religious lifestyles - contemplative,
evangelical, apostolic, and monastic -- four unique and rewarding
ways to share the love of Jesus with the world. As Sisters of
St. Francis we live the evangelical life, rooted in the Cross, Word
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Welcome to the Vocation blog for the Sisters of St.
Francis of the Holy Cross!
Often, people ask us about our life as women religious Sisters.
Here, you'll find a variety of blog entries on what we think and
believe, our favorite things, news and events, and the opportunity
to ask us questions.
We welcome your comments on entries or suggestions to our blog