Monday, January 26, 2015

#5QuestionsWith @SisterB24

Welcome to our new series "#5QuestionsWith", where we get a chance to ask five questions to a real Catholic Hipster, and then share their answers with the world (or, at least, with the 3 people who read this blog).

Today's #5QuestionsWith guest is the much loved winner of the 2015 Habited Hipster contest...

Sister Brittany!

We thank her, in advance, for answering all of our silly questions. 

1. Share something about yourself from back in your "laity days" so that the world can see that religious sisters are real people.

Hmm. I AM a real person! Before I became a Sister, I held a number of different jobs. I worked at a health food store and became a big fan of "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap" and spelt pretzels. I was a college tutor and a catechist. My favorite job, however, was working on the kennel staff of a no-kill animal shelter. We cared for, helped rehabilitate, and find homes for dogs that would otherwise be put down at kill shelters. I worked with some amazing people whom I am still friends with today and the opportunity to work with the dogs really taught me a lot about people, the process of healing, and the power of love. I was always amazed when we had a neglected and abused dog come to us, covered in mats and with some love and attention the dog would often transform into a cuddle bundle of energy. Witnessing the transformation the animals went through just through being loved made me wonder what that kind of love could do for young people in need.

2. What was it that led to the realization that you were being called by God to religious life? 

There were a number of events and experiences that lead to my accepting God's call to religious life. I went through different phases where I thought being a nun would be awesome and other phases where I thought I had to be crazy for even thinking about it and that God couldn't possible want that of me. I did not grow up with nuns, but if I became one, I intended to be like "Sister Mary Clarence" in "Sister Act" (Thanks, Whoopi, for the inspiration!). 

Two experiences ultimately lead to my accepting the call to religious life. The first was before I was Catholic (yes, I am a convert!), when my class went to Mass. I had just switched to Catholic school for 7th grade and knew nothing about what Catholics believed. I hadn't been looking forward to Church and did not want to go, but that did not stop God. I experienced the Eucharist for the first time at that Mass. God gave me a moment of understanding that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist and makes himself totally available to me in love. It just blew me away and I KNEW in that moment that I HAD to become Catholic and that I wanted to reciprocate Jesus' gift of presence and love. Eventually I understood that translated into a religious vocation; at the time I just knew I wanted to be all His. The second thing that drew me specifically to Salesian religious life, where we give our lives for the good of young people is the experience that I had with the dogs at the animal shelter (see question #1!) and really considering how much I wanted to help young people to feel loved, wanted, and valuable. 

3. Why the Salesians? 

Why not?! Besides being the largest women's religious congregation in the world, our Sisters are so brave and selfless when it comes to helping young people in need. The first four Salesian Sisters who came to the United States in 1908 had barely anything and they managed to lay the foundation for the dozens of ministries and 200 Sisters that we now have in this country. 

I was really touched by the life of St. John Bosco, who founded the Salesian Sisters with St. Mary Mazzarello. He grew up in a poor family, lost his father when he was a toddler, and had to struggle for an education. St. Mary Mazzarello almost died when she was younger and when she recovered she had to find a way to support herself. Eventually she became a seamstress and opened a school to teach young girls how to sew and to help them learn the faith. Don Bosco started homes and schools for young boys, especially those who needed an experience of family. They both took the painful and difficult struggles of their lives and turned them into an impetus to help others in need, specifically young people. We Salesian Sisters continue on that dream of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, reaching out to all kinds of young people, offering them hope and an opportunity to better their lives through education in various forms. 

I knew I was in the right place when I visited the Salesian Sisters. I just felt at home, like I found a missing piece of my heart. I love being Salesian. 

4. What are a few of the things you are geeking out on right now? 

Well, I am currently mourning the final season of Parks and Recreation. I love Grumpy Cat. Like I said, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is great for your skin and I always use that. I have a 2008 Macbook Pro that was donated by a friend, so I do a lot of editing and work on that (praying it keeps working...sometimes I really challenge the limits of its RAM). My favorite magazine is "Mental Floss", and I love the podcast "Interfaith Voices".  I often make comparisons between religious life and the Jedi and am trying to keep my new obsession with "Trivia Crack" in check. I may have to give it up for Lent. We shall see. 

5. Would you mind laying down a rhyme or two as an audition for your upcoming collaboration with Father Pontifex? 

Gosh, so much pressure! 

This is an old poem that I found on my iPad. Not sure if it can be turned into a spoken word and it might be too girly for Fr. pontifex, but here you go: 


He holds the chalice steadily
Beneath my bleeding heart.
Drop by drop I say to Him
A strong, but tearful, "fiat".
I do not know His master plan,
So much is hidden from me,
Yet I'm given strength to hope
And ever peaceful be.
"O Jesus, it is too much to bear!
This cross, it stabs me through.
Help me, O Savior, who know our pain,
Help me to trust in you!"
He reaches down so tenderly,
And pulls me to His side,
And touching there His purpled wound,
I find my place to hide.
"Beloved," he speaks with all His love,
And my soul in love reply,
"Jesus, my God, my spouse, my all,
I will not ask you "why?"."
He takes my face into His hands,
Again I feel the mark,
And placing His kiss upon my face
I feel my spirit spark.
"Beloved, fear not, be not afraid,
For you are in my grace.
Each suffering here contains a gift,
Revealing your true home-place.
Cling not to what can pass and fail,
Run not after what has shine
But aspire to the greater things,
As befits one who is Mine.
These sufferings that I bid you bear
Are painful, it is true,
But can become a meeting place,
A temple for me and you.
And there I will transform your sorrows
Uniting them to Mine
Offering up the pressed grape pain, 
Transformed to sweetest wine.
Trust Me and I will ever pledge
To gently carry your heart
Within My own, a shield, a guard
Our love to never part."
I quivered a bit, in desperate fear,
My last betrayal of love, 
As I was filled with the Spirit's light,
A caress of the holy Dove.
Again, I repeated, this time more sure 
A fiat with might and power
"Jesus, I'm yours, always and now
In life, in this dark hour.
I may not always feel Your touch,
Or sense Your gentle gaze, 
But help me trust and say 'fiat'
Every moment, all my days."

Thanks again to Sister Brittany for being a fantastically hip Catholic, and for being willing to share her five answers with us! 

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