Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category

My brain on a jet & let’s go!
July 25, 2010

I was born with a “let’s go” gene.  I would sit in a chair at my grandparents’ house with a view of the driveway. If I heard my mom’s car or my dad’s pickup start, I was out the door like a shot. I asked the destination only once we were en route. True, the worst place was the electrical store where my dad would buy stuff for his ham radio set up (his call sign was K6JYP – anyone out there remember?) There was nothing there that interested me so I would root through the truck and always found treasures in the back of the seat, loose change included. I mean, what did my dad do? Throw change over his shoulder? He also had a penchant for cherry danish. If I was lucky, they were only a day old upon discovery.

Then I entered the convent, a never-ending journey, smooth, bumpy, stormy and beautiful, that far surpassed family adventures, school field trips, and Girl Scout camping jaunts.

Since then I have taken countless boat rides on the Staten Island ferry, train trips up and down the Bos-Wash corridor, fights long and short and made so many road trips I cannot remember them all (and one four-day film retreat cruise). I do know I have visited all U.S. states, except Iowa and North Dakota – and Guam. In addition, I have had the opportunity and privilege to have visited 17 countries. Except for visits to my family and a pilgrimage to Rome and Lourdes, these were all ministry related. “Join the Daughters of St. Paul and see the world” is my motto. I also figured out that I had driven almost the entire east coast on I-95 from the Canadian border to Jacksonville, Fl.  And using trains, buses, cars and a U-Haul, I had actually crossed the country over the years – in segments.

But today I am taking a relatively brief flight from Los Angeles to San Antonio via Dallas to co-teach a weeklong course on media literacy to Catholic school teachers. A man passed me on his way to take his seat and noted how nice it was to see a nun in a habit. I smiled at him as I could feel the perspiration staining my veil in the sweltering time before the A/C was turned up. “So few nuns do these days.” “It means I have to behave myself,” I replied with a smile. I never know what to say a when people say this about nuns and habits. (The story of an older woman approaching two of our nuns in a church a couple of years ago always gets a big laugh among us; in a stage whisper she said from the pew behind, “It’s so nice to see sisters with their clothes on”.)

My community in the USA wears the veil, so I do as well most of the time. Because I have MS I am extra sensitive to the heat, something that can exacerbate symptoms, so my use of the veil depends on the temperature.

This is an early flight; I had to get up at 4:00 A.M., as did the sister who drove me to the airport. I offered to take a cab, but she disapproves of paying for a cab on principle. I think many folks on this full flight probably got up even earlier. The man next to me is already snoring peacefully. Please God, no louder.

Do you read those in-flight magazines? I don’t always, but in these days of Kindle, there is time between take-off and the announcement that it is OK to turn on electrical devices, to browse the catalog selling everything you will never need, to reading what I have always considered the act of a desperate traveler: the magazine.

As we taxied down the runway, I closed my eyes to say my pre-flight prayers. I make the Sign of the Cross at lift-off, and morning prayers, too. If it is a long flight I pray the Rosary. Today I picked up the July 15 “AmericanWay” magazine and much to my surprise, found some interesting articles. One sidebar got my attention: “New Rules for Social Networking”. It listed four points: 1) Nix the close-ups; 2) Mind your manners; 3) Fear commitment (do you really want this person as your friend?) and 4) Think twice (before sending).

The article that stood out for me was, “Activating the Brain” on brain stimuli research for MS patients. Experimental research seems to regenerate brain function for patients with multiple sclerosis, something no one thought possible. The brain is such a marvel to me (though director Tom Shayac’s existential new documentary “I AM” seeks to prove that the heart is more essential.)

I look up; “Diary of a Whimpy Kid” is playing on the monitor but I have already seen it.

There’s an article about sailing in my hometown, San Diego. I skimmed that one; I love the ocean but not sailing.

There seem to be thousands of dense advertisements and annoying postcards. Flip, flip.

Then another sidebar caught my eye – about the contemporary Irish novelist, Tana French. I read her first two books earlier this year. Murder mysteries, the people who solve them and the families and communities affected.  Boldly crafted writing and wholly engaging (so, yes, I agreed with the reviewer.)

Neither the Sudoku or crossword puzzles were yet filled out. I am not that good at either, but it makes the time sitting on the runway, waiting for a gate upon landing, pass more quickly.

There are some military personnel on the flights, but other than this, no hint of current events, unpleasantness, or actual problems. Flying can be a respite, though getting through security is a continual reminder that all is not well in the world.

And now a guy sleeping in the seat behind me is roaring but no children are fussing or crying. The flight attendants are helpful and pleasant. I say “thank you” to all the crew, intentionally and sincerely every time they pass by to pick up the trash or offer to sell me expensive snacks. My favorite airline is Southwest, but I am trying to improve the others by affirming the crew and staff whenever I can. It’s a small contribution to the wellbeing of the universe (but it’s been a long journey to develop travel spirituality, and I am not saying I am always as generous as I am today.)

I was born with a “let’s go” gene and I am grateful.

Lucky me! Adventures on my journey home from Thailand
October 31, 2009

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I arrived back home from SIGNIS (www.signis.net) in Thailand last Saturday and jetlag is a bit of a challenge. However, I wrote about a wonderful encounter on my trip home on my NCReporter blog: Lucky Me!

All my photos are on Facebook (Rose Pacatte) but here are a couple of my favorites. Blessings!

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The temple cat in deep meditation. We visited the most significant temple in high on a mountain above Chiang Mai and it was lovely. There were so many people visiting the temple but the cat never budged. Ah!

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Come & See (and confront that duck of a religous vocation!)
September 21, 2009

come and see

Has anyone ever asked you if you would like to become a nun? Or better yet, a sister? (All nuns are sisters but not all sisters are nuns).

I remember when Sister Margaret was visiting our community during her discernment time (back in the day). She had already finished school and had been working for three or four years in an office in Manhattan. I asked her: “Why now?” And she replied, “Because no one ever asked me until now.” 

One Saturday two of our sisters had been visiting the families in Sr. Margaret’s parish with the books that we print. Mrs. M. invited the sisters in and introduced Margaret to them. In the course of the conversation, one of the sisters asked Margaret, “So, did you ever think of becoming a sister?” To which she replied, “Yes.” And the rest is history.

As Julia Child told novice French cooks back in her television days (and is recounted so well in the film Julie & Julia) that the first thing one had to do to cook this particular kind of poultry was to first of all, “Confront the duck!”

Have you ever thought God might be calling you to religious life as a sister (or a nun)? Is the question of your vocation the duck in your the cookbook of your life? Are you thinking about just what it might be that God created you for? If following Christ in vowed discipleship, in a community committed to being and communicating Christ in the world today, is of interest to you, we invite you to a discernment weekend. It could be the graced encounter you have been waiting for.

On behalf of our communityI am pleased to pass on this invitation from Sister Tracy :

Come and See!

Discernment Retreat with the Daughters of St. Paul

FRIDAY, OCT. 30 – SUNDAY, NOV. 1, 2009

Daughters of St. Paul Convent

3908 Sepulveda Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90230

The Daughters of St. Paul welcome single young women ages 18-30 for a weekend retreat at our convent to explore the life and charism of the Daughters of St. Paul.

The weekend will consist of prayer with the sisters, conferences and other activities to help you understand the life and mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. 

While on retreat, vocation direction is available for those who wish to speak further about discernment and the call to religious life.

SPACE IS LIMITED!

For more information or to make a reservation, contact 
Sr. Tracey Matthia Dugas, fsp

matthia11@aol.com

310.390.4699

Contact us if you are interested in an informal weekend Vocation Retreat experience for exposure to our life and prayer.

www.daughtersofstpaul.com

The real “September Issue” is grace
September 14, 2009

Photo by filetransit.com
Photo by filetransit.com

First of all, let me tell you about this photo. I asked Sr. Tracey (one of the sisters in my community) what image came to mind when she heard the word “grace”. She said the ocean, big, blue, all-embracing. I asked because I wanted to lead into this reflection with this image in mind….

Last Friday I went to see “The September Issue”, the story of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine, the biggest ever. The film also focused on Anna Wintour, the editor – some say that the Meryl Streep character in “The Devil Wears Prada” was based on her.

Although the film was about fashion, it turned out to be a grace-filled experience.

I wrote it for this blog and then thought to share it via my blog on the  National Catholic Reportersite. I invite you to click through to savor the moment.

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Grace is losing your keys (and wallet)
September 7, 2009

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What are the ingredients for a stressful day? What portends it? It started off very well. A quiet, prayerful morning. Beautiful weather. Driving to the bookstore (Barnes&Noble) and movie theater (Landmark) complex a couple of miles away. Buying tickets for two movies to see and then review for St. Anthony Messenger Magazine or National Catholic Reporter or other outlets. Next, a non-fat latte in the Barnes & Noble cafe’. Browsed for a few moments before the first film started. And on the way out, somehow, I dropped my keys. I mean, I had a bag. My wallet and keys weigh more than a pound. I have a long chain dangling off it and a St. Paul medal (thanks a lot, St. Paul.) What was I thinking? I have no idea.

I take my lunch with me (they don’t sell diet food at the theater) so I went from one theater to the other to see the films,  stopped in the ladies’, and then to the car. As I approached the car I started digging in my bag (portable pit, true). No keys. The water bottle weighed down the bag so I hadn’t missed the weight of keys. I frantically checked through the car windows; had I locked the keys in the car (I have done this twice in the last year or so)? No, I had them when I bought the tickets. I started getting more frantic; but knew I had to keep my cool.

I began praying to my guardian angel as I mentally went through the process of cancelling cards and getting a new driver’s license. Then I began bargaining with God, “Come on, God. You have saved me from this so many times. Don’t let this be the time when I really lose it all.” At the theater concierge desk the manager told me no one had turned in any keys with a wallet attached. He asked one of the employees to go with me to search the theaters where I had been sitting. He was so kind. I checked the trash bins (yuck, but it had to be done). Nothing.

Next I made the rounds in Barnes & Noble, up, down, nothing. Then the theater concierge suggested checking with the mall security across the street. Although I protested that I hadn’t gone there (I can’t stand that mall actually; it is not set out well and doesn’t have anything a nun needs. Hmm. Oh, except a See’s chocolate shop but I must stay away from those.) But I trekked over there and left my name and number.

I returned to the concierge at the theater for another try; this time a young woman accompanied me. She told me, “You know, I always think that something happens for a reason. Who knows? Maybe if you had not been delayed here, something might have happened. God must have wanted you to wait here.”  I looked at her with amazement; she was teaching me like it was the most normal thing in the world to speak this way. I thought to myself, “Who are you? My guardian angel?”

Back to Barnes & Noble, resigned to the consequences of my own distraction and habitual misplacing of keys, and feeling more calm. I called one of the Sisters with a spare car key and asked if she would come and meet me. I sat on a bench, leafing through a magazine, waiting for her call when she reached the parking garage. I was decompressing, breathing, and wondering, “What is God trying to tell me? I think God is trying to get my attention; God is telling me to pay attention, to take care, to be intentional, thoughtful.”

Then it came to me: “You didn’t leave your name and number with the service desk at Barnes & Noble.” So I took the escalator downstairs and waited for someone to serve me. I had been there earlier but one young man went through a box and said the keys were not there. This time it was a different young man. His eyes brightened! He said, “Oh, yes. I have to check the safe.” They were not there, but meanwhile another sales assistant came, reached under the counter, and voila’! My keys and wallet!” “Someone turned them in” the young man said. “You know, people do that. This week someone found a $100 bill on the floor and turned it in, too.”

It was hard not to cry with relief. I blessed them effusively – they were so kind. Then I went upstairs and thanked the theater manager for all their help.

Now I would have to face my community; they know how I am with those keys. Yet even they were kind and merely smiled rather than the usual teasing. I thanked Sr Hosea for bringing the spare key even though she arrived at the garage just as my keys were returned to me.

My heart was slowly returning to normal.

So, what did I learn from this seemingly futile exercise?

1. People are good; I believe in that people want to do the right thing.

2. God wants me to pay attention more; to slow down.

3. Like the young woman said, it was providence; for some reason I was meant to spend an extra two hours running around the complex, delaying my getting back on the road.

4. It was an experience in grace shown through the kindness of many people, all unknown to me and perhaps to one another.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading was from Mark (7:31-37). It was the story of a miracle: Jesus opened the ears of a man who could not hear or speak. Yesterday was a miracle for me, a small one in relation to all the miracles people need every day.

Thank you, God, for miracles and the goodness of people. Grant people the miracles they need, even before they ask or know they need them.

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(And the last thing? I did my exercise! To the point of perspiring – profusely. No exercise machine tonight! Ah, such a small silver lining but I was grateful for this, too.)

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