Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Patron Saints

Each of us on the SPIRITUS team has been assigned a patron saint for the year. These saints were discerned for us by our leadership prior to even meeting (most of) us, and I for one can attest that my saint was Divinely inspired. St. Rita of Cascia was the patroness of the parish I had been attending in Dallas for the previous 3 years, and over that time her story was slowly but surely infiltrating my life. I first heard of St. Rita, however, when I saw a movie on her life on EWTN when I was about 12 years old and immobilized by a stomach bug for a week. The movie was nearly 3 hours long and had horrible Italian cinematography with subtitles that barely made sense, but what I remember most is being particularly awestruck by her devotion to Christ crucified and thus I began to consider her as one of my back-up patron saints. It wasn’t until I graduated college and moved to Dallas that my admiration of her began to turn into a devotion.

Of course, this was unknown the SPIRITUS leadership in charge of selecting my patron, and I can’t put into the words the amount of comfort I received in the middle of that first week on mission, surrounded by my missionary ‘brothers and sisters’ who at the time were still essentially strangers to me, when they told me my patron for the year was my beloved patron from Dallas.

A photo of a relic of St. Rita I was able to venerate at a local parish

Today, St. Rita is a sign of so many hopeful things for me. She is a reminder of where I came from and the strong Dallas community that helped launch me into missionary work. A mother who never stopped interceding for the conversion of her family, she is a mother to me as I know she continues to intercede for my daily conversion. A peacemaker who ended a long standing vendetta that consumed her entire town, she brings the peace of Jesus into my heart when I feel at war with myself, my fears and my desires. A spouse of Christ in her religious vocation, she is an inspiration of what it means to love Christ in all things and always seek His will. A recipient of the stigmata and a lover of Christ crucified, she constantly draws me out of myself and into the passion of Christ and of those around me.

I ask for your prayers for myself and my team.  Our lives have been insanely busy since the day we arrived, and even the little time we get ‘off’ is prudently used to strengthen our time as community. Below I have listed the names of my brothers and sisters on mission for me as well as their inspired patrons. Please pray for us often, as we are anticipated to give 160 retreats this year to over 5,000 students across the state of Wisconsin.

St. Faustina, pray for us. (Alexa)
St. Elizabeth of Hungry, pray for us. (Christen)
St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us. (Ashley)
St. Claire of Assisi, pray for us. (Annastasia)
St. John the Beloved, pray for us. (Gabriel)
St. Edith Stein/Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us. (Brianna)
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. (Elizabeth)
St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for us. (Brian)
Bl. Miguel Pro, pray for us. (Rene)
St. George, pray for us. (Zachery)
St. Ignatious of Loyola, pray for us. (Mike)
St. Lawrence, pray for us. (Peter)
St. Philomena, pray for us. (Gemma)
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. (Anna)
St. Kateri Tekawitha, pray for us. (Mikayla)

St. Paul, patron saint of SPIRITUS, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of missionaries, pray for us.
Jesus, fully present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, consume us.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.

-Ashley Lange

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Grocery Shopping Bliss

     In the beginning of the year everyone on SPIRITUS is assigned a weekly task that they’re responsible for overseeing and taking care of. We call them our designated duties, also known as DD. Every week there is allocated DD time to accomplish the chores, and once they’re finished, we all continue to live in blissful coexistence together… :) well sort of. Life is peachy here at SPIRITUS. Birds sing, unicorns frolic, and each person's DD differs from another’s. My task at Mount Tabor Center (along with Anastasia's at Faustina House) is grocery shopping. It may sound dreadful for any ordinary person, but I love food/nutrition and I love shopping. It made sense.
     Anna and I are like a dynamite duo when it comes to spicing up the monotony of “picking up more eggs and some chunky peanut butter”. Yep, there’s never a dull moment when we’re pushing a grocery cart. It’s almost like we’re special agents, on a mission to feed our small army on a budget. We have an allotted amount of money every month, so half the battle is to get the necessities, then to appease the taste buds of our teammates so they can accomplish the mission! How to dive straight into the hearts of our team? One word: bagels. Everything that’s on the list is purchased in bulk. I’m entertained most frequently by seeing the questioning faces of people we stroll past, with our overflowing cart of $250 plus of food. Sometimes a curious soul will comment on my cart, wherein I reply, “yeah, big family” and continue on my merry little way. So if you see two young ladies scavenging the aisles of grocery stores in the Appleton or Neenah-Menasha area, feel free to say hello, comment on our abundance of goods, and direct us to the cream cheese. :)

      -Elizabeth Senkyr

Friday, February 3, 2017

More than Just Post Grad Service…

     I remember my freshmen year in college when I discovered my calling to work in the Church, and as a result I wanted to talk to my campus minister about the next steps I had to take to become a campus minister myself. As I talked to her she mentioned doing post grad service and told me about Catholic Volunteer Network where I later ended up finding SPIRITUS. As my senior year came around I felt nervous about coming to Wisconsin, was this place the place where I was called to be? Would I be happy or fulfilled here? As I came to SPIRITUS I found myself, as one of my other teammates says, "in a school of love." There were its challenges but also its joys and as a second year I can say with a sincere heart that this place has fulfilled me more than I could imagine. SPIRITUS has offered me a greater privilege in abandoning myself to Christ everyday and to not live a life of comfort in the sense of doing what I want but a life of greatness through the small actions of love everyday. When I first came to SPIRITUS I found it hard in some areas to adjust to a life that is not of this world but is living a supernatural calling (for this is not a life that most people my age would choose but is a life that is blessed by God). As a second year returner I have found my heart being purified slowly and becoming more of the best version of myself. For example, before SPIRITUS I thought I had pretty good morals but as my heart continues to be formed I find myself having a high definition of what it means to live a holy life. In SPIRITUS there is a greater calling of living of letting every action I do glorify God, whether it's in my sleeping, what I'm listening to and watching in today's media, and even how I talk to people in the fast food line (as we have handed out divine mercy cards before at a popular fast food chain called Culver's!). No matter where God is calling you though I just encourage you to Not Be Afraid for Christ wants to fulfill the deepest desires of your heart! Trust in his Divine Mercy in your life and you will not be let down! Come Holy Spirit! I will be praying for you!

     -Christen Sheffer

                                   (SPIRITUS Team 8 with Mother Mary Catherine)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Abandonment To Divine Providence

You’re not suppose to be in charge. Not everything is about you. Scary thoughts, huh? These two blunt statements have shaken my world over the past few years. Spending all my time worrying what’s going to happen step by step, day by day, year, by year… you get the picture. I thought if I was to make all the decisions that I could predict the outcome and it would be the “safest” option. To my surprise, this wasn’t the case. Time after time I would take control and end up on my face. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.

Then I learned of this amazing solution that has completely changed my life. Abandonment to Divine Providence. So what does this mean? Your vocation, your career, your friends, family, belongings, future, give it all to the one that has created you. He has an amazing plan and He loves you. How do we do it? I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but everyday I make the conscious decision to “cast all my cares on Him who cares for me” - Peter 5:7 and allow the Holy Spirit to be my “Divine GPS”.

If anything, remember that His plan is so, so much better than anything we could throw together. Let Him do the work, and let us be His instruments. Come, Holy Spirit.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:31-34
-Alexa Harbor

Monday, January 16, 2017

John Bosco Day

     As part of my internship I brought a group of youth to a conference called John Bosco Day. As part of the day, we had adoration. And as part of adoration, a priest processed the Eucharist up and down the aisles of the congregation. I remember as I started checking how close I was to an aisle to see how close Jesus would be when the priest processed by. Unfortunately I was standing in the middle of my section: I couldn’t have chosen a seat farther from the aisles. But I also noticed that to my left there was wide open space, and I realized it would be very easy to move right up to the aisle, right up to where Jesus was going to pass by.
    But I’m bad at being spontaneous: What about the youth? Shouldn’t I stay with them? I felt conflicted, but ultimately I had to take advantage of the opportunity I saw. I looked around and saw the other chaperones were there; they’ll be fine, I want to be with Jesus.
    So I went to the aisle. I knelt down. The priest arrived. And I talked with Jesus. Afterwards, I got up and looked behind me. All the youth we had brought to John Bosco day had followed me to the aisle. For me, it was a lesson in humility and simplicity. I can focus so much on talks and building relationships in ministry and projects and work and all the rest, and those things all have their place, but ultimately the most important thing is to be close to Jesus and let him be in charge.

-Peter Schmidt

Image result for John Bosco Day holy hill 2016

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reflecting on Christmas

     Christmas at Spiritus is always an adventure! We have Christmas parties, concerts, plays, and service projects to attend, in addition to our retreats. However, since there are slightly fewer retreats, our schedule almost evens out. One of my favorite parts about this time of the year here at Spiritus is that there are 14 other young adults who all share in the opportunity to step away from common Christmas Blitz and slow down to enjoy the simplicity of the Advent season. For us that can mean a lot of things, including listening to Advent music, meditating on the mysteries of Christmas, sitting around in our couch room enjoying the Christmas tree lights, and playing card games such as Mafia or Rummy. I have come to a deeper appreciation of just how wonderful it is to simply slow down and enjoy the Advent season.
     Unfortunately, this time of the year is also a constant reminder to me that our time here at Spiritus is limited. Before we know it, May will be here and we will all be going our separate ways. This constant reminder aids in drawing my heart back to a simple spirit of gratitude. Gratitude for all that I have experienced thus far here at Spiritus, all the laughter, tears, frustrations, singing, shouting, crazy car rides, beautiful stargazing adventures, fantastic conversations (with God, students, and my Spiritus family), the amazingness of being able to call 14 strangers family, and so much more!

     -Mikayla Uchytil

Image result for christmas public domain  clipart images