Fonticulus Fides

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pray for vocations!

I meant to post this yesterday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, but I was awfully busy. So here it recently published article about the life of three religious sisters in our Diocese.

A Day in the Religious Life

Sunday, May 7, is World Day for Prayer for Vocations. Pope Paul VI designated the Fourth Sunday of Easter as an opportunity to remember and pray for those called to the priesthood and consecrated life, and to encourage and pray for those whom God may be calling to serve.

Among the religious sisters serving in the Diocese of Lincoln, Mother Agnes of the Cross, O.C.D., belongs to the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a contemplative order in Valparaiso. Sister Kathy Ruzicka, M.S., works as a certified nursing assistant at Saint Joseph Villa in David City. Sister Vilma Loquez, F.A.S. teaches religion at Saint Joseph School in York. Each shared her daily schedule to provide a glimpse of what it is like to serve Christ and His Church as a religious sister.

4:00 a.m. Sister Kathy’s alarm rings. She starts her day with a holy hour.

4:30 a.m. Mother Agnes awakens.

5:00 a.m. The Carmelites begin Lauds. Afterwards, they spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. “What makes our order different from others,” Mother Agnes says, "is the fact that we actually live with our Lord."

6:00 a.m. Sister Vilma awakens and enters her morning hour of prayer. Meanwhile, Sister Kathy arrives for work at Saint Joseph Villa, where she is assigned to the unit for residents with dementia. She helps them dress and fixes their hair. “I see Jesus in them so much,” she says.

6:40 a.m. Mother Agnes says Primes.

7:00 a.m. Mass begins at the Carmelite chapel, followed by Terce, then breakfast.

8:10 a.m. Sister Vilma attends Mass.

8:30 a.m. Mother Agnes beings a work period. Each Carmelite will do housework, care for the farm animals, sew or make scapulars in silence so as not to disturb one another’s prayerful focus on the Lord.

8:45 a.m. Much of Sister Kathy’s day is spent helping the residents feel comfortable. They sing, stroll the corridors, discuss Bible passages, pray the Rosary... Often, Sister Kathy simply holds their hands and listens. “We go into their world,” she explains.

She recounts the time a former resident wanted her to help him plow a field safely. “I just sat next to him on the couch doing my charts, and I’d look up now and then and say, ‘Watch out for that log,’ or something.” The gentleman would thank her and continue “plowing” happily.

9:00 a.m. Sister Vilma takes her desk in the school library, where she selects hymns for the next Mass, prepares art materials or completes other tasks for the teachers.

10:30 a.m. Sister Kathy accompanies residents to Mass in the chapel.

11:00 a.m. Sister Vilma eats lunch. Mother Agnes begins Sext, followed by another visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Then she examines her conscious before proceeding to dinner.

12:00 p.m. Sister Kathy assists residents with lunch. She watches how much they eat, since patients with dementia often have trouble consuming enough calories.

The Carmelites have dinner, which according to European custom is the biggest meal of their day.

12:15 p.m. Sister Vilma teaches religion to third-graders.

12:20 p.m. The Carmelites begin an hour of recreation, during which they circle together to chat while doing handiwork. “Sometimes it’s as if the floodgates open,” Mother Agnes reveals. “We make a lot of noise!”

12:45 p.m. Sister Vilma enters the sixth grade class, where she relies on her story-telling ability to capture the students’ attention.

1:20 p.m. Mother Agnes and the other Carmelites begin a quiet hour of siesta.

1:30 p.m. Sister Vilma teaches religion to second-graders, who received their First Communion this spring. She loves answering the questions these children pose.

“Once,” she confides, “I was talking about how something that would be a venial sin for them might be a mortal sin for me, because I am a sister, and one of the children said, ‘But you don’t sin.’”

She giggles at the memory. “I told her, ‘I am not an angel!’”

2:20 p.m. Mother Agnes says None, followed by the Rosary.

2:30 p.m. Sister Vilma heads to the fifth grade room. Sister Kathy signs out for the day, but she often remains at the Villa or the annexed Saint Joseph Assisted Living Center, chatting with residents before heading home to rest.

Caring for people afflicted with dementia all day is strenuous – and in fact, it was the one task that Sister Kathy had hoped never to be given. But she honestly loves her job. The residents, she says, “are carrying Christ’s cross now…It’s made me realize the awesomeness of Redemption.”

3:10 p.m. Mother Agnes reads the Bible or other spiritual works for about a half hour. One afternoon a week, Father Christopher Goodwin treats the sisters to a Latin class.

3:15 p.m. School ends in York. Sister Vilma leads choir practice once a week. Other days, she heads straight outdoors to garden. She and Sister Mercy have planted flowers everywhere they can, which are used to decorate the altar for Mass. “I love to garden,” Sister Vilma exclaims. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, she takes some time to clean house, handle personal tasks or rest.

3:45 p.m. Another work period begins for Mother Agnes.

4:00 p.m. Sister Kathy prays the Rosary and examines her conscience.

4:20 p.m. Mother Agnes instructs her nine novices, who are from all over the country. “Something resounds in their hearts and they find themselves at our doorstep,” Mother Agnes says. She remembers how she herself was “really attracted to prayer…It’s like staring into the heart of our Lord, and doing good works for the Lord over the whole world. It’s really very exciting.”

4:30 p.m. Sister Vilma fills her afternoon prayer time with adoration, the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.

5:00 p.m. Mother Agnes says Vespers. “More songs, more Latin,” she laughs. Afterwards, the Carmelites go before the Blessed Sacrament for another holy hour.

5:15 p.m. Sister Kathy joins the other Marian sisters for evening prayers.

6:00 p.m. Dinnertime for Sister Vilma and Sister Kathy.

6:20 p.m. A small evening meal is served at the Carmelite.

6:30 p.m. Sister Vilma often spends her recreation time reading spiritual writings.

7:00 p.m. Sister Kathy begins night prayers, except on Wednesdays, when she teaches CCD in nearby Dwight and prays after class.

7:15 p.m. Another hour of recreation for the Carmelites. They have no newspapers, television or radio, but their prioress will occasionally read aloud from the Bishop’s weekly column or an address from Pope Benedict XVI. They learn about major world events when people call the Carmel to request prayer. Without news photos and video footage, Mother Agnes says, they are better focused in prayer.

8:00 p.m. Sister Kathy enjoys recreation with the other sisters or a free night on her own.

8:15 p.m. Mother Agnes begins Compline.

9:00 p.m. Sister Vilma says night prayers. Sister Kathy and the other Marian sisters enter Grand Silence until after morning prayers the next day.

9:15 p.m. The Carmelites say Matins.

10:00 p.m. Mother Agnes retires to her cell for a half hour of personal time before bed. Sister Vilma turns in “when I’m sleepy.” Meanwhile, Sister Kathy makes herself turn out the lights, in obedience to her superior and her spiritual director. She’ll only get six-and-a-half hours of sleep, but she gives the impression that if she could stay up later and do more, she would.



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