Meet a Reader: Sister Jacque Schroeder

Here is this month’s “Meet a Reader” feature.  I’m delighted Sister Jacque Schroeder agreed to share her reading loves with us.   Sister Jacque is well-known to more than generation of TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) and Cursillo attendees in the Peoria area.   I wrote about her lector skills here last week.  Thanks Sister Jacque!
Who: Sister Jacque Schroeder
How you know me:
I’m Sister Jacque Schroeder, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception since 1966.  I’m currently in Pastoral Care at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, but I’ve been privileged to serve our diocese in many ways.  I have been an elementary and junior high teacher & principal, spiritual director for the TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) and Cursillo Movements, and formation director of my Franciscan religious community, and a pastoral care worker in the Standing Rock Reservation in our sister Diocese of Rapid City, SD. Over the past 30 years I’ve also enjoyed been privileged to journey with many people in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreats.
Why I love reading:
My mother set the pattern when I was very small.  She read to us every night before bed – Bambi was my favorite.  I loved listening to her read because she made the story come alive in my mind as well as in my heart.  With such a superb example one would have thought that reading would come easily to me, which it did not.  I’m told that between 1st and 2nd grade I completely forgot how to read.  It apparently was not too traumatic since I don’t even remember it – I was far too interested in riding my bicycle and playing outside.  However, that event started another tradition in our home:  all of us (there were 6 children in our family) had to come in for an hour in the afternoon during the summers to read.  I mostly enjoyed books about horses and families while growing up.  In spite of this (and the speed reading courses in college) I remain to this day a painfully slow reader.

My favorite book(s) and why:
How does one choose a favorite book?  For me, it is not possible.  However, a book that is representative of my reading loves is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  As a children’s book, written as much or more for adults as children, it disarms the reader and allows him/her to go to the heart of reality.  It combines wonderful adventure with the intricacies of relationships among family and friends.  Most of all, it tells our Ancient and Primal Story – The Paschal Mystery – revealing the Goodness, Fierceness and Beauty of our GOD Who is Love.
For spiritual reading, probably my favorite book is the 16th century classic Abandonment to Divine Providence by  Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.,   I keep it with me, go to it often, and recommend it to anyone called to the ministry of spiritual direction –and, indeed anyone seeking to go to the heart of our journey with the Lord. The book is actually a collection of his letters to those he directed in the spiritual life.  Two scripture quotes come to mind that sum it up quite well:  “Do whatever He tells you.”  (John 2:5)  And “My food is to do the will of my Father.” (John 4:34)  A particularly helpful quote from his writings for me is “Perfection consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs.”  I continue to discover that my need to understand is about me, whereas my need to be obedient is about GOD.  The second brings far more Blessings, Grace and Peace into our lives.

What I’m reading now:
I just began reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  It is the real life accounting of a man (Mortenson) who stumbled into a Pakistani village in 1993, after failing in his attempt to climb the most difficult mountain peak in the world (K2).  The generosity and kindness of the villagers moved him to promise to return and build a school. This he did – and much more.  He began a humanitarian effort, enlisting the help of many people worldwide, from many walks of life, and began the Central Asia Institute to build schools in impoverished areas.  Over the next decade he built 55 schools – especially for girls.  I think that this book will make obvious the truth that, in the long view, books are a far more powerful agent for world peace than bombs can ever be and that the most powerful agent is, of course, true friendship.