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Looking at a photo of a hydrangea bloom above, as an extreme close-up, gives an entirely different perspective than looking at the same bloom from farther away. One's perspective makes all the difference.
Today in our country we have significantly less numbers of consecrated women Religious than in the past. Our own Congregation is down to 45 members. Many congregations of women Religious around the country are down to fewer than 100 members. 
Instead of asking ourselves, "Why is this happening to me/us?", we are challenged to ask ourselves "God, where do you want to meet us/me in this experience?"
During Advent we will reflect on meaning-making in times of transition. We are invited to "find meaning in our suffering and transform it into something noble and full of hope." ("The Role of Meaning-Making in Transitional Times" by Ted Dunn, PhD in LCWR's Summer 2019 Occasional Papers).
As Sisters of St. Joseph we are called to be contemplat…
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Front of Motherhouse on St. George Street in St. Augustine, Florida being tented. 
Since I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1976, forty-three years ago this month, I cannot remember us ever having the Motherhouse or Our Lady of Lourdes Convents tented for termites.

Emptying houses full of Sisters is no easy task. Besides finding places for all the Sisters to stay, all the food and beverages and medicines and pillows in the houses had to be removed also. The kitchen, a separate building attached to the Motherhouse by a stairwell, also was tented. The maintenance building or workshop is being tented too.

Back of Our Lady of Lourdes Convent being tented for termites. 
Seventeen sisters moved out of the Motherhouse and about fifteen from Our Lady of Lourdes Convent. And this was immediately following ten of the Lourdes Convent sisters having moved into the Motherhouse during the Hurricane Dorian experience over Labor Day weekend and the weekdays following it. They moved into the Mother…
The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Olderby Kathleen Dowling Singh is a book whose title I came across in an article by a Sister of St. Joseph writing on spirituality and aging in a National Religious Retirement Office  (NRRO) newsletter. Sister Liz Sweeney, SSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph of Chesnut Hill, Pennsylvania, wrote an article, "Contemplation's Impact on Aging: Rooted in Mystery and Poured Out in Contemplation" in the Spring 2017 issue of Engaging Aging, an NRRO newsletter.  Sister Sweeney said over the past five years she had studied two books by Kathleen Singh: The Grace in Dying and The Grace in Aging. Due to their scope and depth, the books qualified for her as wisdom literature. She writes that Singh emphasizes that "while the dying process is naturally transformative, the transformation offered in the self-surrender of aging must be freely chosen and embraced, moment by moment." In the Forward of The Grace in Aging, Singh writes the following:
One of the things we do as consecrated Religious women each year is to make a retreat.  For us, as Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, Florida, our Constitutions say the following: "Annually, each sister sets aside at least six consecutive days for retreat." (p. 52) The times and the places of our retreats vary, but many make them in the summer.

 A retreat for us is different from those retreats made by corporate teams.

For Catholic women Religious it is a time of silence, prayer, and solitude except for meals, liturgy, and meetings with directors or confessors. Some sisters make preached retreats, some make silent directed retreats, and some make other types of retreat such as contemplative or centering prayer, nature retreats, or artistic retreats of some kind. Some make private retreats, often using books or tapes or CD's for input and reflection. Silence is needed in order to quiet one's mind and heart and really listen to God.

This year there were two silen…

May 2019

Daylilies are blooming now in abundance in the front yard flower beds at the Motherhouse. We have several different colors of blooms - yellow, burgundy, pinkish rose, and an almost purple shade. However varied the colors of the blooms, they all have one thing in common: they all only bloom for one day and then they wither and die and I cut them off the stems the next day.

Daylilies remind us of the brevity of life. They also remind me of some of the things I am reading in a book called The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older by Kathleen Dowling Singh. Singh says that we need to be able to wrap our heads around our own mortality, and that it is helpful to let go of all that binds us far before the hour of our death (p.21)
As Sisters of St. Joseph we are called especially to practice the virtues of humility and charity which we promised when we pronounced our vows. On our seal we have violets symbolizing humility. Since violets do not grow well here in Florida, I think daylilies s…
Even in the dreariness of a cold, wet winter's day there is a loveliness to the grounds of our Motherhouse  in St. Augustine, Florida. Yesterday afternoon, when it was much warmer and not raining, I was out weeding the front flowerbeds  when a visitor to the area stopped and took a photo of the house and asked if we had any retired sisters living in the house. I said yes, we had retired sisters in the house but we also had active sisters living here. There are at least five of us in full-time ministries who live at the Motherhouse.

The thing about being a consecrated Religious is that one never retires from one's vocation as a Religious, and no matter what your age or your abilities, one is always called to live a life of faithfulness to your congregation's mission and charism, which in our case is working towards "love and service of God IN the love and service of the dear neighbor."

As Sisters of St. Joseph we are called to be "contemplatives in action.&q…
Pansies have a way of making me smile. These winter annuals, that tend to die as soon as hot weather comes to Northeast Florida, are welcoming, friendly flowers. As a gardener I prefer to plant perennial flowers that will live year-round as they are a lot less work. But there is something about pansies that makes them worth all the effort for a few months of their beauty in the garden.

We all have things in our life that we think are worth the extra time and effort they take to nurture and develop. For some it may be practicing a musical instrument, taking walks or playing a sport, spending time with friends, or reading good books. For others it may be baking bread or painting or some other kind of artistic expression.

I have read that a balanced spiritual life has these four elements: prayer, work, study and leisure. Our Puritan work ethic in this country is so strong that many of us have difficulty with leisure. And some people may think that once they finished college or high scho…