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February - A Month Full of (Many) Blessings

God has blessed us a lot during this month, and I can hear my heart full of gratitude, singing Johnson Oatman’s hymn, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done”.

Blessing 1: On 02-01, we had a reflection day with the Hyde Park novices, prepared by Sr. Nancy Gerth, one of my two ICCN Directors, on Door symbolism. I appreciated so much the group sharing, I felt nourished by each member’s prayer experience. What we have to let go in order to embrace what God is giving us. Sometimes I think I am the only one to have challenges in my life but that day, I felt encouraged that we are together in this journey of faith.

Blessing 2: On 02-02, the Presentation of Our Lord, Jesus and a Day for Consecrated Life many consecrated men and women were gathered at St. Thomas Parish to pray together in thanksgiving to God for our call. After Vespers, we had the opportunity to sit around tables, get to know each other and share meal.

Blessing 3: On 02-03, another occasion of being together, three Novitiate communities, made pancakes and watched the movie “Groundhog Day”. It was good to be together. This reminded me of what Chinua Achebe, an African writer, said: “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from staving. They all have food in their own home. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

Blessing 4: February is African-American Heritage Month. On Sunday, 02-04, we joined St. James parish in its celebration, which was marked by a diversity of cultures. It was a lovely Mass, ended by a water ritual, the pouring of libations, remembering our ancestors.

Blessing 5: In the ICCN we like to go to different parishes, on Sundays. 02-10, was Chinese Lunar New Year. We did not miss the celebration at St. Theresa of Calcutta Parish. The Eucharistic Liturgy was one of inculturation. Discovering and appreciating another part of the world’s culture is an enrichment.

Blessing 6: On our trip to Kentucky’s ‘Holy Land’ from February 16th to 20th, we stayed with Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. It was wonderful to meet the sisters, especially Sr. Evelyn who will celebrate her 109th birthday and 90 years of religious life on March 7th. This was a special grace not granted to many people. We visited the Abbey of Gethsemane. The place is very quiet, a silence that inspires prayer. At the entrance there is a big stone in an entrance wall with the writing “GOD ALONE”. I meditated on these words and I will never finish this meditation. We also went to the cemetery to pay homage to Thomas Merton and other monks.

Blessing 7: I would have a longer list of blessings, but I want to end with this: being alive, witnessing, and singing of all the goodness of God is a great blessing. May His name be praised both now and forever. 

Sister Emerite Kiloba, Franciscan Handmaids of Mary

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