Meet Sr. Christina

Get excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As promised, here’s a brief introduction for our guest author whose piece will be featured THURSDAY, March 23rd.

Sr. Christina serves at St. Anne’s Guest Home, an assisted living-type facility in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There, she helps in a variety of roles, including receptionist, sacristan, activities, and occasional personal care aide. Along with these duties, she also manages the web page for the facility, writes their weekly blog, and edits their resident newsletter. Sr. Christina also authors Our Franciscan Fiat the blog for her religious community of Dillingen Franciscan Sisters in North Dakota. She also finds time for embroidery, baking, biking and liturgical music. Before entering religious life, she received a bachelor of arts in written communication, with some coursework also in graphic arts and theology.


Sr. Christina’s Franciscan community serves in the Fargo Diocese of North Dakota and is part of an international Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen.  Founded in 1241, they are present also in Germany, Spain, India, and Brazil.  The Sisters work in a variety of apostolates, including healthcare and education.



A Christmas Carol

So as we are in the midst of the Christmas season (Christmas begins rather than ends on December 25th!) I wanted to share something I remembered recently before it was no longer topical. And since today is also, in fact, my birthday I’m thinking you can humor me.

The past few months have been really busy for me and things were moving at such a steady and uncompromising pace that I felt like I barely had time to get in the spirit of Christmas. Work especially had been really crazy. And I began to notice that the things that used to make me feel very full of Christmas spirit, like ornaments on the tree, setting up the Nativity, and even hearing the Advent scriptures weren’t really hitting me like they have in the past. I don’t know if I was simply going through the motions and not giving these things my full attention but I felt like something was missing interiorly in my preparations and I did not know what it was.

Fortunately, one night when I got home from work my family had been watching A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, and I finished my dinner right around the time the ghost of Christmas future showed up and sat down to watch.

I saw a scene of pleading, of a man who realized the horrors of who he had been and what he had done (and not done) and who desperately wanted to try again. He begged to be given a second chance. What was the point of seeing the light, he reasoned, if he was not given the chance to put the new truths he had discovered into action?

It’s a great scene. He gets the second chance he asks for and as he realizes that he is not dead but alive the lines that come out of his mouth are amazing. He runs around the room and he doesn’t waste a second in sharing his joy, his gratitude, his love, and even his money with everyone he sees. When his old acquaintances see him they are amazed because they know they are seeing a thoroughly changed man.

At last, in watching this movie just days before Christmas, I knew what I had been missing. I finally caught the significance of the coming of Jesus that I had been trying to capture in my preparations for Christmas but which had been alluding me, and the sudden clarity hit me like a truck.

The birth of Jesus is significant because it is the beginning of salvation. It brings the love of God into the world which makes a conversion of heart possible. It means sincere repentance can be met with mercy, forgiveness, and second chances rather than what we deserve. But perhaps most of all it’s the love that makes us one, because when I saw Scrooge running around ready to live an entirely new life than the one he had been living I remembered my own conversion and the subsequent euphoria of realizing that it’s never too late for Love to prevail. And I confess, ironically, that the only thing that makes me happier than experiencing that Love for myself is watching others experience it too.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Man Plans 

Boy oh boy today is one of those days where I just cannot help but notice that I am not one for little changes. Big changes force me to rely on God and I handle them better. However a change in the plan for commuting home that’s less efficient than the one I planned irks me to the core.

Perhaps I just have a strong dose of that all too human pride in my plans. I think they’re good, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of making plans that were bad. I like to work smarter, not harder. But sometimes I get so good at planning that I’m less open to life.

What I mean is every time my plans go perfectly I grow attached to them. Attached is a dangerous word in the spiritual life if you are attached to the wrong thing. And being attached to my own plans, to my own way, is a bad thing.

Don’t believe me? Cut someone off in traffic. They were planning to move ahead but then you did. Odds are they are going to be mad at you. (Don’t really cut someone off in traffic-I’m an advocate of driving safely.) But you’ll notice it all over America if you start paying attention. They drill it in us very young with delightful quotes such as “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” There’s no room for error. You’re supposed to have it all figured out, tracked for college at age 8 when they administer the first standardized test. In other words you should always have a plan, and a backup plan. It’s a tough habit to break, and it is certainly not exclusive to academia. People even plan their love lives. There is an aisle in most drug stores called family planning. I would go so far as to say that secular America is obsessed with plans of all kinds.

Planning to some degree is not bad, but I believe it feeds us a very bad delusion: that we are the ones in control. Which might be why anxiety and depression have skyrocketed in recent years because when life isn’t going according to plan whose fault is it? Only yours.

And it’s easy to get mad at God when you have this view because your prayer life gets reduced to you demanding God to bring about your plans, instead if discerning what His might be.

And although I am admittedly still very young I have to confess that life is not truly fun until you surrender your plans and let God begin His work in you. Because He has a wonderful plan for your life.  He wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of making you if there was no purpose. He may be love, but he is also wisdom and wisdom wouldn’t do anything without a reason. I think all genuine contemplation begins with wondering what that reason might be.