It's been a while since I last posted, but so far, my new year has been very hectic!
Last posting, I was about to leave on a weekend trip to Arkansas. It was incredible driving for 12 hours straight...but it was worth every bit of it once I got there...
I went to visit a dear friend of mine, a Dominican Sister by the name of Sr. Joachim of the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Province. This Polish Dominican community has been in the United States since the 1940's, when the Bishop of Chicago asked for a religious congregation of Sisters to assist with the growing Polish immigrant population in Chicago. The Sisters graciously accepted, and have been a presence in the village of Justice, a suburb of Chicago, for decades now. Exciting news came to my attention recently, when I learned that the good Sisters have opened up a House of Formation here in the United States. That means, American vocations galore! Young women so desiring to enter their community do not need to go to Poland for Formation, but can reside here in the states! IT IS INCREDIBLE what our God is doing for the Church in America!!!
I met Sister Joachim on my very first trip to Justice, Il., and I was impressed from the very beginning. Our friendship solidified over conversations about God, His Holy Church, and what He is inspiring us to do with our lives. I find her to be what Holy Scripture describes as "a true friend...and a treasure..." We both share the "same heart and mind in God...."
Sr. Joachim stays at the mission convent in Arkansas. She is working in the local parish as a Catechism teacher and also visits the sick and elderly of the nursing homes and area hospice. Whom ever she visits, and whomever she comes across, she brings Jesus right along with her! She is an inspiration to me, and one of my heros!
On this outing, time was limited. I spent time with Sister at Mass, took a short sight-seeing trip out to Bull Shoals and saw White River, helped her set up her classroom for cathechism, and checked out the parish's education center. We did find time to have a deep discussion about life while playing table tennis in the center's rec room! We didn't skip a beat either, I think that ball could have just kept going between us back and forth forever! She's exceptional at ping pong! :-)
The essence of our friendship comes from the Eucharist, and so, you can say I was thrilled to be able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and Adoration with Sister and her Superior in their home, where they are fortunate to have a chapel! I called it, "Jesus' bedroom." I asked Sister, "How can I get a Chapel in my house?" She answered, "Begin your own community!"
In the evening, I found myself sitting at the piano playing Polish Hymns and singing along with Sr. Joachim. I started playing a hymn titled, (God save Poland) and noticed tears in Sister's eyes. She explained the history of this particular hymn. It was an anthem of sorts. She said this hymn was sung in Catholic Churches throughout Poland during the time of Soviet control. The song was used to inspire the Faithful, and keep their hopes alive. They believed one day, they would be able to celebrate their beliefs, their heritage and their culture once again, not under the oppression of the Soviets, but in liberty, in freedom. Sister began to recall some of the memories of that struggle. She remembers well, the Communist's suppression of the Solidarity movement. She told me thousands of priests lost their lives for the Faith. She said it was the Catholic Faith that brought down Communism, and gave Poland her freedom once again...
I asked her what America needs to learn from the Polish, now that we will be under the presidency of Obama. (As we all know, he is one of the most pro-death, pro-abortion presidents our country has ever elected. He has already promised to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he becomes president!) Sister feels like I do, that the Church in America is in great need of spiritual renewal, and not renewal by our standards, but by God's standards. We Catholics of America need to embrace our Faith and start living it, because without obedience to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, our country will soon become it's own victim to the Culture of Death it so expounds. My fellow Catholics, our nation needs us to be the best Catholics we can be!
I left Sister the next day, with a heavy heart. I did not want to leave her so soon. I do not know when God will allow me to visit her again, but I will cherish her words and ponder them in my heart until the next time...