Just Getting By


“Let her alone, Henry. This is an excellent paper, and she’s going to ace it.” I tried to pretend I agreed with the favorable judgment being made of me before my brother Henry interrupted: “Yes, but she’s lazy and complacent. She had weeks to write this term paper, and she’s only now getting around to writing it – the day before it’s due.”

Pretending not to give a thought to what he was saying I continued typing. Then Henry said to me: “The words on that paper are eloquent and convincing. You’ll get an “A” for sure. But I won’t be proud of you because your heart’s not in it. You’re just getting by.”

I’ll never forget that night nor the tone of exasperation in his voice. Although he was only four years older than me, he was in many ways my inspiration and mentor. He knew how to set goals and go after them relentlessly. He had a passion for music, a thirst for learning, and a unique capacity for friendship, storytelling, and for making people laugh. During my high school years we shared numerous interests and dreams. We shared a lot, laughed uncontrollably, and argued too. He drove me places, took me out to eat, teased about my friends, and gave me all sorts of “counsels” which older brothers are prone to do. And any chance he could, he spoke about college and dreams for the future.

I would leave our conversations at times teeming with hope for the future or bursting with laughter or fuming with annoyance – but never the same. Looking back it seems that during those years, no interaction with him was simply ordinary. He was a rascal of sorts, but one bursting with vitality, hope, and determination.

“Do things with heart and determination. Whether it’s playing a sport, writing music, working a job, going to school, or helping someone out – do it with everything that’s in you. We were made for more than mediocrity.” Though sometimes it was difficult for this young woman to acknowledge the wise counsel of her twenty-one year-old imp of a brother, twenty-five years later his words continue to remind me that we were born “for greater things.”

I sense him at times asking me: “Are you soaring high or just getting by?” As the new academic year opens and schools, teachers, and families throughout the country begin anew, let’s take a moment to review our goals and deepest aspirations in the light of God’s dreams for us. We each have a purpose and destiny – one that is to be lived with passion and hope at each step. Now is the perfect time to begin anew under the torrent of Him who “in Christ has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” (Ephesians 1:3)

May the words of St. Paul resonate from our hearts: “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

Sister Ines, O.C.D



To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

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If you hear God calling you to the religious life, I encourage you to visit their vocations page. – Deacon Mike

Or for more information, please contact:
Sister Elizabeth Therese, O.C.D., Vocation Directress
920 East Alhambra Road
Alhambra, California 91801


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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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