posted on: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by: renaebauer
Seeds vs. weeds: Which one is thriving in
your faith garden?
by Sister Mary Kabat
Are there changes you wish to make in your life -- exercise
regularly, eat healthier, improve a relationship, take more time
for prayer, read a good book? We all know there are changes
that would be good for us and we wonder why we just don't do
them. There are also things we are doing that we know would
be better for us not to do. They aren't necessarily hard
changes; we just don't do them.
That comes to mind as I reflect on the Gospel of this
Sunday. Jesus gives us three parables. Each one gives
us the opportunity to identify with something in the story or to
let the lesson sink into our heart and change us.
I am staying with the parable of the man who sowed good seed in
his field only to discover weeds growing with the wheat. I
can identify. There is "good seed" in me, but there are
"weeds" as well. The parable says that it could do more harm
than good to pull out all the weeds as the good seed is
growing. However, I think I could pull one or two of my weeds
and put a good seed in their place. I have a few weeds in
mind. Do you?
posted on: Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by: renaebauer
Tender care of our hearts and minds allows
God's seeds to bear fruit
by Sister Agnes Fischer
In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus talks about seeds eaten by birds,
dried up by the sun, choked by thorns, and about seeds that produce
Watch out for the birds, the drying sun, the thorns ...
- With so many soap operas telling us that marriage triangles are
normal, how does our own fidelity to our vows bear fruit among our
extended family members?
- With so many commercials telling us what to buy, how is the
responsible use of our family resources an example to others?
- With so much violence in movies, TV and video games, how do we
teach our children to live in peace with themselves and those
- With so much acrimony among our elected officials, how do we
exercise our rights and duties as informed citizens?
- With so much mistrust of those different from us, what do we do
to welcome immigrants, people of other religions, sexual
orientation, color, ethnicity, etc. into our lives?
... so that the seeds of God's Word can take root and bear
posted on: Wednesday, July 02, 2014 by: renaebauer
The presence of Jesus in our lives shines
through to those around us
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Over the past few years June has become one of my favorite
months. Classes and programs are finished, my office is in order,
and I can look forward to time away. Much of that time away
includes directing retreats and eventually making my own retreat. I
anticipate with joy spending time by the lake, renewing friendships
with other retreat directors, and praying in silence and solitude.
Those are such refreshing experiences.
During the last week of May my brother had very serious heart
surgery in Milwaukee. It occurred the day before I was scheduled to
begin my ministry at an individually directed retreat. The evening
prior to the surgery I withdrew from the retreat, trusting that
someone would be available to take my place.
I spent several days in June with my sister-in-law at the
hospital. We stood at my brother's bedside, assisting him and
encouraging him. She and I ate meals at nearby restaurants, spent
time walking around a shopping mall, slept next to each other in
lounge chairs in a small, windowless room in the ICU family center,
and engaged in some rather deep conversations as we traveled back
and forth to the city. From time to time she expressed sincere
gratitude for my simply being with her.
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus invites us, "Come to me, all you
who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
Sometimes we follow that invitation by going off alone to be in His
Presence. At other times we hear the call to do just what He did,
to be His Presence, to invite another to be with us, and to become
a source of strength and peace for that person. That was the call I
heard this spring, and through my response I came to know a new,
refreshing kind of experience.
posted on: Thursday, June 26, 2014 by: renaebauer
Jesus: 'You shall be my witnesses ... to the
ends of the earth'
by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
This week our Catholic Church deviates
from the Sunday Scripture readings to commemorate the feast of
Saints Peter and Paul. As "disciples on the way," each of
them offered profound witness of evangelization, of living the "joy
of the Gospel." During the US Bishops'
Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve (June 21 to July 4) may
we reflect on the readings of this feast day to learn about the
examples of Saints Peter and Paul. Both chose to serve Jesus (and
accept death) over political power that was contrary to the
Witness of Prayer -- Unwavering trust in the
Lord sustained both Peter and Paul throughout every evil threat
whether it came from within the Jewish or gentile communities.
How deep is my relationship with Jesus? Is He my only
security and hope?
Witness of Discipleship -- Saints Peter and
Paul took up their crosses daily and followed Jesus just as He
asked His disciples to do. They were martyred because of their
belief in Jesus' teachings.
Do I take up my crosses joyfully each day in response
to Jesus' call to discipleship?
Witness as Missionaries -- Jesus sent his
disciples to "Go out to all the world and spread the Good News"
from Galilee to Jerusalem, and on to Rome. Every day Saints Peter
and Paul shared their personal relationship with Jesus and the
depth of His love for them and for all in the world.
Am I so filled with Jesus' love that it radiates out
Prayer, discipleship, and mission as exemplified by Saints Peter
and Paul show us what "freedom to serve" really is, even to the
point of giving our lives for others.
posted on: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by: renaebauer
What did Jesus mean by 'eat' and 'drink' of
the Son of Man?
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
Sunday's Gospel (John
6:51-58) is a very difficult passage for many. Jesus says,
"Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of
Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you."
What does this mean? I read an explanation of a way to think
In a bookcase a woman had a book she never read. If it
remains unread the book is external to her. One day she takes
the book and reads it. She is thrilled and fascinated and
moved. The words remain in her memory. Now when she wants to
she can take that wonder out from inside herself, think about it
and feed her mind and heart upon it.
So it is with Jesus. As long as he remains a figure in a
book, he is external to us. When he told us to eat his flesh
and blood, he was telling us to feed our hearts and souls and minds
on him and to revitalize our life with his life until we are filled
with the life of God. Then we will abide in God and God will
abide in us. When we receive Christ in the Eucharist we are
empowered to seek Christ in each other and share God's love with
What a beautiful feast we celebrate today. Years ago we
received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. We ask
ourselves today, "Has our understanding of what this means changed
over the years?"
posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2014 by: renaebauer
Trinity Sunday: Have you joined the
by Sister Charlene Hockers
We express the meaning of the Trinity with phrases such as
"Three Persons in One God" or "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" or with
images of a triangle or three-leaf clover.
Some theologians use the Greek word "perichoresis" to describe
the Trinity. "Peri" means near or around, while "chor" means "to
dance around." Perichoresis gives us "a picture of the three
Persons in one love, interacting dynamically, making the rounds of
each other as in a dance, reciprocally and mutually exchanging
beauty and delight," writes Therese Sherlock, CSJ. This divine
dance is an open circle to which each of us is invited to
participate, to be in relationship with our God. We are invited to
bow down and worship! We are to contemplate His love, mercy and
glory! We are to serve this awesome, gracious God!
Prayer: O You who created, redeemed and
sanctified us, help us to enter more deeply into this awesome
mystery of Love. Amen.
- What difference does how we image the Trinity make in our
- Will we participate in the Divine Dance?
(Sources: Therese Sherlock, CSJ, "Sunday by Sunday"; "Word
Among Us" June 2014)
posted on: Thursday, June 05, 2014 by: renaebauer
Are you ready for the New Evangelization? The
Holy Spirit will help!
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
Recently Bishop Ricken issued a pastoral letter on the New
Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay. The term
"evangelization" comes from evangelium --
the Latin word for Gospel. Each Christian is called to live
according to the Gospel and to preach the Gospel in a variety of
In the readings for the feast of Pentecost -- the Church's first
major evangelization event -- my eyes focused on the first phrase
in the first reading: "when the time for Pentecost had
been fulfilled" ...
The Scripture describes three aspects needed for a time of
"fulfillment" or readiness:
- An audience open to hearing the message
- Preachers "on fire" with the love of Jesus
- The power and presence of the Holy Spirit who provided what was
needed to get the message across to the listeners
We know there was a readiness in the listeners because they were
devout people who had come to worship in Jerusalem. They were
already people of faith and engaged. The apostles were on fire with
love for Jesus -- but they lacked the tools needed for effective
preaching. And the Holy Spirit provided the gifts of language
and words that moved hearts.
Today is also a time of readiness. There is a hunger for the
message of the Gospel and people seek Jesus -- whether or not they
know it is He whom they seek. They may describe their search as "a
reason to hope," or looking for "deeper meaning" or "something more
in life." We know that only a relationship with Jesus will truly
satisfy their deepest desires. Today there are believers "on fire"
with love for God -- but they may not know exactly how to go about
the task of sharing their faith. And though we don't hear the sound
of a "driving wind" or see "tongues as of fire," we know that the
Holy Spirit continues to live and move and breathe within us,
giving whatever we need to witness and to share our faith.
We've been invited by our Bishop to participate in a six-year
process of prayer, preaching and teaching, and growing in faith
that we might become effective instruments in the work of
In the 1970s a Redemptorist seminarian named Jerry Welti wrote a
Pentecost Hymn. Perhaps we might use the chorus as we pray to
respond to that invitation with zeal:
"Spirit move this weary world, fill us with
Light all creation with your love's pure fire.
Spirit make us strong once more, let your winds blow free,
Create us in your wind and fire, make us all we're meant to
posted on: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by: renaebauer
Seeing doesn't always lead to believing so
trust the eyes of your heart
by Sister Annette Koss
In Luke's Acts, we read what the two messengers said, "Why are
you standing there looking at the sky?" In Matthew, we read, "When
they saw him, they worshiped, but doubted."
It's an illusion to think that if we saw the risen Jesus with
our own eyes, we would be firm believers. We often experience that
faith and doubt exist together. Paul talks about a new kind of
seeing, a deeper kind of knowing -- the inner heart has eyes to
Even though the disciples doubt, Jesus commissions them. Here at
the end of the Gospel are seven themes for disciples:
- go (to the mission field)
- make disciples,
- baptize them in the Father, Son and Spirit,
- teach them,
- observe all the law (love of God and neighbor),
- know I am with you always (in the Spirit, the Advocate),
- until the end of ages.
Reflection and Prayer
- How aware am I that I have inner eyes of faith?
- Do I exercise my inner eyes or are they out of focus?
- How do I experience the presence of the risen Jesus with the
inner eyes of faith?
posted on: Monday, May 19, 2014 by: renaebauer
Holy Spirit makes the impossible,
by Sister Jane Riha
During the past week, the daily readings from the Gospel of John
are filled with the compassionate, loving words of Jesus. Jesus was
preparing to leave those whom he loved and formed as disciples. His
words are both reassuring and challenging.
Similar to the disciples, we may at times be confused by the
mystery behind Jesus' words to us in the Scriptures and deep within
in our heart. Jesus assures us that He will not abandon us even in
our times of doubt, confusion and darkness. We hear Jesus' promise
in the Gospel, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another
Advocate to be with you always ..." We know the Holy Spirit is with
us, dwells within us, and strengthens us on our life's journey.
Jesus is the full outpouring of God's love. We, too, are called
to prayerfully discern God's call to generosity, to selflessness,
to full-hearted love of God and others. By entering into such a
love relationship with God, we will come to know more deeply and
intimately the God who dwells within us and the God whose face we
see in those we meet each day.
Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, open my heart to
posted on: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 by: renaebauer
Put away the GPS; only Jesus can guide us to
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
In the Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus reminds his
disciples that they have nothing to fear -- he has a place for
them, a room he is preparing for them -- a place in his heavenly
home. They aren't quite sure where this home is. We would probably
try to find this home using a GPS, a Google search or Mapquest.
Even with these we would not find it. We need Jesus!
Jesus is the map, the guide, the road, the way to the Father and
to that eternal dwelling. Before we get to that home,
however, we have work to do in our earthly dwelling. We are
challenged to form a church where mercy and love, justice and peace
are present with Jesus as our foundation. Our church "home" will
welcome all people and be a place where God's compassion is shown
in word and action. How will we continue to create that church
Jesus promises us that, if we believe, we will do the works that
he did. That truth -- his presence with us -- will not fail us or
leave us. Let us ask the Lord of Life to help us show others the
way home where that heavenly dwelling awaits us.
- What are the "works" Jesus empowers us to do?
- What makes a place "home"?
- Is the church your home?