Alive with Franciscan joy

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.


Reflecting on Roe v. Wade

Monday, January 23, 2012

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

Today we remember the decision passed down by the Supreme Court in 1973.  I was a senior in high school at the time and can remember vividly when I heard the decision.  I was visiting the Sisters who were teaching at St. Jude School in Green Bay, Wis.  Sister Ambrose Nichols answered the door with the statement, "This is a terrible thing to happen in our country. We will live with this sin for a very long time."

I didn't fully understand at the time what she meant.  I do now and feel sorrow for the lives lost and for the men and women who have made the choice against life.  Mother Teresa once said, "What happens to a society who kills their children?"

May we never let our hearts become harden to the fact that life is a part of our throw-away culture; may we continue to promote life at all stages.  Let us pray that abortion will end and that all of life from conception to natural death will be cherished as God's gift.

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Follow that star

Friday, December 30, 2011

Star-Goldby Sister Laura Zelten

Follow that star!

When we think of the month of January, we often feel let down after the glitter and sparkle of the holidays. But before we can completely put away the decorations, finish up the parties and thank-you notes, resolve to drop a few pounds and settle into snow-covered roads and cold and dark nights, the stars of the season shine forth.

The January calendar reminds us of stars who have brightened the horizons of our lives with curiosity and wisdom, with courage and determination, with self-sacrifice and simplicity. Stars of hope and warmth these cold January days are:  Mary the Mother of God, the Magi of Matthew's Gospel, St. John Neumann, St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

May the celebration of the Epiphany on Jan. 8 and all the Saints of January give you reason for hope and happiness!

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Dad's socks, Mom's gifts on St. Nick

Monday, December 5, 2011

DadsSocksby 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 past breakfast.

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.


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Aaron Rodgers and St. Francis

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 conduct.

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 about him.

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 deeds."

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

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