Are you a wisdom seeker or looking for inspiration? Have you ever heard of Saints Francis and Clare? They lived 800 years ago, but the witness of their lives and values continue to inspire people of faith today. Twice a month Sister Michelle L’Allier, Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, will bring a guest, a story or a text for reflection and conversation, leading us to prayer, inspiration, or action.
Growing with God & others: Welcome & bring our full selves – Episode 50
Join former Franciscan Community Volunteer Nnedi Anoskie-Ogunu as she shares her learnings of what strengthens her connection with God and others, ranging from the place of welcoming communities to developing an interior spiritual life.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/z0QhmFbJ8Ss
From Nnedi’s interview:
“When I was in Nigeria, I was eager to come to the US because we'd seen all these images about the US and I was excited to experience all of it. But then when I came, it was much different from what I knew. … And then school, I faced some racism from teachers, administration, students. It was a very hard transition. That was rough. You're going through so many internal changes trying to figure out what your feelings are, and everyone is doing the same. So, we're all gonna bump into each other in very unhealthy ways.”
“I've always been drawn to community where I feel welcomed. Of course, when I was growing up in Nigeria, that was not a community that I chose, I was born into it. I was just part of it, right? And as an adult, you're able to choose where you belong or where you find belonging, and I've been able to do that. And making it part of a spiritual practice was not something that occurred to me until I came to you all in Minnesota. The intentionality behind even our gatherings was something that has stayed with me. And those gatherings are what built our community, right?”
“It's very important for me to feel a sense of community with the people that I work with; the line of work that I'm interested in doing cannot be done without community. I'm very much into social justice, and I think that none of us can survive, can thrive without being, without having belonging anywhere. And part of the work that I do through “Faith and Public Life” is to create spaces and make sure that everyone feels a sense of belonging and not excluded because of things that are out of their control, you know, their skin color, how they pray, things like that.”
“I try to be mindful when I'm in community with other people, that someone may be showing up a certain way in my community, that there are stories there that I may not know. It's up to us to continue to create safe communities, safe intentional communities, where they can bring their full selves.”
“I had been told almost all my life that I should be a nun. I think it's just because I had spiritual practice; I had a love for God and enjoyed things like that, so to them it meant to be a nun. And I always wondered why it wasn't enough that I was a lay person, and that my love for God was evident - all of us should be living a life that is evident of our love for God and our love for one another. It gave me the opportunity to come and be with sisters, see what the life was like, and see if there was something that it stirred in me during my time there. And while I was there, I discovered that you all were normal people that loved life, loved one another. I think the first night there we played a game and that was the most peace I felt in a foreign place before, and I knew that I was in a right place. And since then there was such a strong welcoming. I didn't have to explain certain things, even though there were cultural barriers. There was still a willingness and openness to learning about me that felt like this was home, right?”
“For me, when I get to a certain point with my friends, with my relationships, I feel like it's almost transcended friendship, I will call them, I'll call my friends my sisters. And so since my time with the Sisters of Little Falls, I call you all sisters. Not because of the title, but because I have also taken you as family in a way that I feel like
Living Presence: uniquely gifted by God for the world – Episode 49
Join Jamie Deering as she shares stories and considers with curiosity what it is to be present to oneself and others as we allow God to flow through us in the midst of different ways of thinking, seeing and being in the world.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/PZ9MDBvRbe8
From Jamie’s interview:
“One of the first and primary ways that God grabbed a hold of me and that I knew the presence of God in me and in the world, was through music. When I was four years old, I began piano lessons and when I was in elementary school, there was a choir and I was so excited to be part of this, creating music with our bodies and with our souls, which has felt to me like a special portal, a special pathway to God. … The thread of music through my entire life is what has anchored me in knowing and experiencing God's presence.”
“It was so important for me as my kids were growing up to be sure that they had this experience of the diversity of humankind and the diversity of thought and movement and ideas. … It was such a blessing and gift to be exposed to different ways of thinking, different ways of being in the world. I served in the Peace Corps, as you know, and lived in Macedonia for a little under two years. That plus my experiences in a variety of churches throughout my formative spiritual formation years was understanding the power of a community to form, to be so influential, in how our worldview, I'll stick with me, how my worldview was formed.”
“Recently a friend of mine distinguished for me this word, interdependence, and we've been having conversations. We come from different cultures and so I've been curious about, again, the formation of this person coming, growing up in a different culture. And my growing up in the American culture, in sort of a spirit of independence; this other culture was a spirit of interdependence. I've been learning more about what that is and connecting that to all the experiences that I've had; they have been helpful in pointing me to what it means to be interdependent and communal in thinking.”
“There are some things in contemplation we can do to set down striving; this concept of being with our thoughts then gets integrated in somatic presence with being in our bodies, being in my body. What is my body experiencing right now? Because our bodies live in present time. And so to the degree that I can be in my body, I can be present in present time. So there's that sense of being with. Then in spiritual direction, being with another, companioning another. Again, it's so important for me to be able to know what it is that's going on in me, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, so that I can hold space. So I can offer that space to another person for them to be with whatever is going on in them.”
“Haecceitas … this notion that we are all uniquely gifted by God for work here on earth for God. Presence in God through us, manifesting God through us in the world. I feel this mysterious, mystical, and special gift that my gifts now are partnered so beautifully with the Franciscan Sisters, and what might God be bringing into the world through us.”
“There’s an expression in contemplative prayer of the wellspring of love, the wellspring of God; that is probably the primary image that I use when I'm leading contemplation, because the wellspring is always available to us. Always. We just sit by the wellspring, contemplating the wellspring, being with the wellspring of love.”
“Living life from a place of curiosity - I find that to be very Franciscan. And expanding beyond that, the spiritual journey, to live from curiosity. To be listeners seeking to understand another, is also very Franciscan, rather than be understood. …The wellspring cultivates curiosity and the ability to be with another and hold space for another's essence, to see another in their essence.”
For a full transcript, please include
Hospitality & Presence: teachers of beauty & living in unity – Episode 48
Join Sister Meg Earsley as she shares the delight of discovery and learning through cultural immersion in intentional communities, both in the unexpected joy of religious life and in her immersion with the incredible people of Bolivia.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/11L8Oue8Y5Y
From Sister Meg’s interview:
“My community is blessed with a real attitude of inclusion. Even our constitutions have a title called Unity and Diversity. We are united as a community, but we are accepting and promoting of all of our gifts; how we find those gifts is a blessing in itself.”
“I had never lived in a larger community; before joining community, I appreciated and enjoyed living alone. My biggest fear of coming to community is like, am I going to be able to even do community? I have no idea. But I found it to be an incredible joy, although I valued my time alone because of the quiet and the only having to consider my own thoughts and ideas, being in community has a richness of communal sharing. … Living community, being in this living situation together and then being a support to each other, is something I had never experienced. This is a really good thing. This whole mutual support is something I could sure get used to. I have really enjoyed living in intentional community.”
“Unity is based on the acceptance of the diversity. … Assimilation to me means that you're going into another culture and all of who you are is expected to be folded into that and to become like that culture, whatever that culture is that you're going into. I think some of that is necessary. But there's also the other side of things where bringing your uniqueness and who you are is also very necessary when you're coming into another community, another culture. Then how do those things work together? I think that that is the joy of the whole, the phrase and the living of unity and diversity is, there's an acceptance and each person's uniqueness.”
“If I hadn't heard the call to become a religious sister, I wouldn't have ever experienced it. I would've gone through my whole life saying how much I loved being alone; one of my favorite things was to say, because I didn't have to bring other people into my emotions into my heart. At the time I didn't have a word for it, but like I don't want to have to bring other people into that space of mine because then I have to consider them. Before I do things, and I have to give them the time and energy, the love and compassion, right? And so now I've been living that for four years and I don't even know how I could ever do anything else – that's probably one of my greatest joys.”
“Can we reimagine what community looks like and how we live in community, to expand out to other religious communities, lay, or whatever? … The Franciscan Federation is looking with our Emergent Group of what does intentional community look like now, and how that's a need, a want and a desire in, for sure our country; I wouldn't be surprised at other places too. And then how can, how do we live that, and what does that look like now?”
“There is so much beauty, especially to the people, incredible people (of Bolivia). Going back to suspending judgment. I’m thinking of the word detachment, a Franciscan value; I think we might use the word here of holding things lightly. For some reason, detachment seems like, I don't care, but holding things lightly says that there might be things that are valuable.
Food safety’s a great example. People would have things sitting out all day. So even at the convent, food would just sit out, we'd have it for lunch, it would sit out till dinner, and then we'd cook it, warm it back up and eat it, right? So holding things lightly is knowing that for my culture, having a rice and chicken dish sitting out all day would be very unhealthy. We would all get sick and be in big trouble with food poisoning at the hospital. This is the judgm
Our call as Franciscans: building community across cultures – Episode 47
Join our Latin American Associate Leadership Team as they reflect together on the call to live as sisters and brothers across the Americas. Working as a team, they foster conditions for living in the spirit of Saint Francis, weaving unity in diversity—this is Good News!
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/pcnNdwxhONU
From Arlen, Veronica and Camilo’s interview:
Arlen shares: “Our main function is always to be aware of the community, and of each associate that belongs to the community. In Nicaragua we are 2 groups: one is in Managua and another is in San Diego. Although there is a long distance between these two locations, we try to always be aware of the realities of each associate, their spiritual and material needs. … We contribute in creating spaces for communication and formation in the Franciscan charism and spirituality. I think that is the richness of our functions.”
Camilo states: “It is interesting to be part of this Team, knowing that, unlike Arlen and Vero, at this moment from Colombia I am the only one in the association relationship. It has been an opportunity to meet and learn about faith and culture in the three Americas: North America, Central America, and South America. That is beautiful. We have to think about the language, about the appropriate words according to each country, in order to meet and share.”
Veronica notes: “The Franciscan charism is expressed through people who serve in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in ecclesial parishes in different places, in ministries of the Word and the Eucharist, etc. And, day by day, I see that Franciscan spirituality also has an impact in our families, to which we all belong. In this way I have seen how the community continues to grow.”
Veronica: “A year ago, was when we officially started putting our ideas together -Arlen, Camilo, Verónica- to see how to serve the Spanish-speaking associates. A dynamic of deep reflection was generated among the 3 of us. … In addition to promoting Franciscan values in Zoom teachings and circles, we put them into practice frequently. … We think about who will be in that meeting, when and what time suits better for them. And so, thinking of that specific group, we have connected. The value of Minority has been one of the bases that move our community meetings. Then we are always evaluating as a team: what is it that God did and what can we improve? We live an experience of community life where we get to know each other and discern the next call for service.”
Camilo: “I have learned to work more as a team by being part of this team. For example, something as simple as understanding that situations can arise when planning a meeting, when we can or cannot connect, and that we can overcome it together. We have learned that preparing for the unforeseen is wonderful. For example, if we cannot meet together, we can meet asynchronously through chat; it does not obstruct the work and we have achieved a very rich experience. In addition to the minority that Vero mentioned, I have learned in practice to live the simplicity that characterizes Franciscan spirituality and its great power, to think of simple exercises that can include many and foster beautiful and powerful reflections.”
Arlen: “Franciscanism is a way of life; when it takes root in your heart it is already very difficult to turn back or get out of the way because it is so valuable, it has so much wealth. I think that in the community we see each other as a family, I see another associate as a brother, as a sister, as a mother, as an uncle... because that trust is being formed, it is being strengthened day by day. I believe that when Franciscan values strengthen the community, then the community expands as well. Saint Francis said, we try to lead by example, with what we do for others and the way in which we live. This calls other people who are around us, because we have this lifes
Living in Love: the gift & challenge of committed relationships – Episode 46
Join Garry and JoAnn as they reflect together on what it is to choose the path of transformation and not of transaction in relationships, sharing a trajectory of growth in relation to God and others as they seek to bring peace to the planet and one another.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/FCHHS6ONP1s
From Garry and JoAnn’s interview:
Garry: “I come from a perspective at this junction in my life where I see everything as gift, that I didn't deserve, or wasn't entitled to, or there wasn't something I merited. It was purely gratuitous, God loving and manifesting God's self in creation. It seems to me that if we want to live in that image and likeness, we have to model that perspective as best we can in all our relationships. I certainly see that in our, my relationship to JoAnn, that who she is and the wonderful person that she is, has been gifted to my life to share and experience. There is a great sense of gratitude for that, but also a humility that, in the same way I didn't deserve to be born into this world; it was gratuitous. The same is true in relationship to another human being who, is on the same journey that I'm on. I have the opportunity to walk that journey in a spirit of love, that love constantly challenges us to let down our guard and open further and to love deeper and experience more completely all the gifts that God shares with us. It is incredibly humbling because it's the avenue by which as we move on our spiritual journey, we've been doing that together as a couple.”
JoAnn: “When we talk about choosing each other in marriage, it's true, I chose Garry, Garry chose me. But then in faith, we also believe that God chose us for each other. And when you have a gift mentality or modality, it's a different kind of way you receive. If you go and acquire something, that's different, but if you get something as a gift that has a receptivity to it that is completely different. It requires gratitude, openness and humility because the giver saw something in you that needed that gift. So I think that there's a whole receptivity in seeing another person in any relationship you have as being a gift to you in your life at that time, at that moment. And it makes a difference in how you interact. I think that idea of gift is a crucial kind of mindset.”
JoAnn: “Change is inevitable and some changes, I think, are the result of life circumstances. … There's a letting go and an embracing of what's next. And I really think that's part of the marriage journey and any long-term relationship. Letting go of what was and embracing what's next. Garry mentioned that continual conversion, which is rooted in an openness to be willing to let go of whatever barriers to spiritual growth you're harboring and allow God to do the work needed to change you. And that's part of that long-term marriage dance too. … We have a shared common trajectory in that we both want to grow deeper and deeper in relationship with God and with each other.”
Garry: “The idea of (being) naked before God, we're not as generous as naked beings in front of other human beings, cuz we don't wanna appear vulnerable or weak or flawed, so we guard ourselves. But in a marriage that's working, I think the other person serves as a mirror. There are parts that I need somebody who can mirror back to me that which I can't see, so that in seeing what I can't see, I might be able to grow through it, or love my way through it as I like to see it.”
JoAnn: “Transformation and relationship: You enter into the full unity, that's about relationship and God revealing God to us, and that means that it's transformational rather than transactional. … I think it's about revelation and relationship and not simply redemption. When I'm trying to tick off the boxes of doing all the right things to merit God's love, then I start watching other people and seeing if they're ticking off the right boxes too, and now I beco
God invites everybody: Let’s grow into peace & nonviolence! – Episode 45
Join Brother Mark Schroeder as he is interviewed by guest host Darleen Pryds. Mark explores the priority of living in community, in peace and mutual understanding while being passionate for justice and nonviolence advocacy.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/9oKMNktEKJI
From Brother Mark’s interview:
“As a Franciscan, early on, I was active in nonviolent demonstrations, many times ending up in jail. That's beyond the way I was raised and the way I operated when I was a kid. But through that, I really realized the importance of standing up for what you believe, the importance of taking risks. I would've never dreamt of that. And my whole spiritual quest is always, I believe God invites everybody. God invited me into each of these situations so I could learn and grow and see how I handled each one, based on nonviolence.”
“The first time I was ever arrested was Lawrence Livermore lab, which is outside of Oakland, where the nuclear weapons and other weaponry are being developed. It was a Good Friday celebration up there, and that was the first time I ever risked arrest and ended up, ironically, … in the Japanese concentration camps in Livermore. They still exist, but they still had the buildings and that's where we were, a gigantic number of people. And so I've always been involved with nuclear weapons, the abolition of them. I still am.”
“One has to always be aware of oneself, what's going on. And with that, the only way I can teach about being a Christian is you have be active. Do actions that promote justice and peace and non-violence. When I'm outta whack, then it's not gonna work. So that's why I continue to do the best I can to stay focused.”
“I believe anybody that lives in the United States is an addict. It comes in different forms. But if you live in our consumer culture there's addictions, compulsions. So I do my best to stay on top of that. I'm in a 12-step group.”
“Fraternity is the most important thing we have. I wanted that always in religious life, … I've grown to realize that I live with people, I choose to live with people. I choose to interact with them daily. … It can be hard sometimes because of different personalities and I'm sure it's hard for some other friar to live with me, but in reality, it's just the joy. … With it [fraternity], I don't have really a care in the world. It's really a spiritual blessing for me to live in community.”
“Prayer together is important, but prayer has to be enlivening, not just rote and not just cuz we have to do it. Prayer is important together because it's a countercultural way of relating to each other. Communication is really important. ... Since I've been guardian, we've been meeting every Wednesday at four o'clock and a person can verbalize whatever they wanna say. They don't have to talk about feelings if they're not in the mood. I use mutual invitation and that's where one person starts and then that person picks the next person. … The guys tell me that it's really made us a community and continues to. So there's that kind of communication. Also, the friar lifestyle, having meals together is important. … I encourage every friar to have a spiritual director and or therapist if that's needed. And I always tell 'em price is no object, but to be in religious life, you can't be making decisions on your own. You have to really keep discerning God's will not your will. And the fruit of that for me, is happier, healthier guys living together.”
For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: email@example.com.
“Jesuits in California”: https://www.jesuitswest.org/about-us/the-jesuits/
Discernment: There are many spiritual traditions of discernment; here is a video introduction to Ignatian (Jesuit) discernment: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/what-is-ignatian-spirituality/the-ignatian-way/what-is-discernment/ - here are some
Grow in Faith
Thank you for this podcast. This year I’m reading the Bible in a year. This will help with my faith Journey.