Reflection for Aug. 31, 2014

posted on: Thursday, August 28, 2014 by: renaebauer

Paradise in our Father's house requires dispensing of this world

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by Renae Bauer
Communications  Director

Self-preservation is instinctual, which is probably why Sunday's readings are so challenging.  They speak of losing everything "here" in return for everything "there." Why does Jesus ask us to sacrifice so much?

The full answer isn't necessarily ours to know. After saying, "(W)hoever loses his life for my sake will find it," Jesus explains, "For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct." We are not to conform to this age; we are to prepare for something more to come. Yet, none of us knows what exactly heaven or eternal life is like.

Perhaps we'd be more willing to give up everything if we understood exactly what we will receive in return. But that's not going to happen, as far as I know. I'd like to believe that the sweetness of eternal life is not ours to know today because our minds can't comprehend how amazing it is. Even so, Scripture hints at what heaven is like: Our Father's house (John 14:2); paradise (2 Cor. 12:4); and a dimension that is free of tears, pain and death (Rev. 21:4).

When, because of my faith, I feel "duped" or the "object of laughter" (as described in Jeremiah) I need to remember another passage from Jeremiah: "The Lord  is with me, like a mighty champion" (20:11). His aid alone makes all things possible.

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Reflection for Aug. 24, 2014

posted on: Thursday, August 21, 2014 by: renaebauer

Time reveals and deepens the answer to 'Who do you say that I am?'

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by Sister Margaret Mary Halbach

Our Gospel for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time gives the question of "Who do you say that I am?"

I remember reflecting on this question many times during my annual retreat. Our answer grows in us as we grow older and have various experiences. Everything we do and are is a result of listening to the Lord in our lives and speaking His words in our ministry.

This year a very dear friend of ours celebrated her 75th jubilee as a Sister in our Community. She has been a part of my life since I entered. I asked her if she answers the question, "Who is Jesus?" differently today than when she first entered. She said she answers it the same but over the years it has deepened in her heart. Experience gave her a greater perspective of the Lord being a close part of her life's journey. She said she appreciates all the Lord has done for her.

Peter answered the Lord by listening to the Spirit in his heart. Peter proclaims Jesus as the "Messiah, the Son of the living God." In return, Jesus makes Peter "the rock" or foundation on which the Church continues to grow. May your answer to who Jesus is deepen in your hearts and proclaim it wholeheartedly.

 

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Reflection for Aug. 17, 2014

posted on: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 by: renaebauer

Mom's persistence says volumes about her faith in Jesus

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by Sister Paulette Hupfauf

The scriptures this Sunday display differing aspects of Jesus' ministry.

Isaiah says, "Observe what is right, do what is just for my salvation is about to come. Foreigners join themselves to the Lord… will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all my people."

Then in Matthew we hear the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman (a foreigner) begging for healing for her daughter. Initially, the disciples suggest to Jesus that he send her away. It is the determination of the woman, who says, "Lord, help me."  Jesus says, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." Her daughter was healed.

What a great example the Canaanite woman is for us! She persists as she has great faith that Jesus is kind and merciful. She does not give up in adversity. When we have a need and ask Jesus in prayer, we can follow her example and, with determination, persist. Our God is a loving God!

 

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Reflection for Aug. 10, 2014

posted on: Thursday, August 07, 2014 by: renaebauer

Keeping our eyes on the Lord helps us navigate life's storms

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by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

Our Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time brings us to the sea.  Jesus invited Peter to walk on water to come to him.  Peter believed he would be able to do that and he stepped out of the boat to join Jesus.  As long as he looked to Jesus, he walked on the water.  When he focused on the strong winds and the waves, he sank.  He looked to Jesus for help and Jesus' hand brought him to safety.  He knew that Jesus had the power to save him and he did just that.

We celebrate with our Jubilarians who, like Peter, took a risk to follow the Lord.  They left the security of their homes and all that was familiar to them to step out and join Jesus.

In good times and not so good times, they have tried to keep their focus on the Lord.  In the storms of life and the calm moments, they have given their all.  They, like Peter, know that Jesus has taken them by the hand through all the experiences of their lives.  They also know that Jesus continues to walk with them as they journey through this life.

Let us thank our God for these women who have served God's people and have given us all a wonderful example of faith, dedication and selfless love!

 

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Reflection for Aug. 3, 2014

posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2014 by: renaebauer

God's infinite mercy is woven throughout the ages

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by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

Sunday's readings are wonderfully complementary. They invite, respond, bless and surprise!

Isaiah's words invite us to come -- come heedfully to the Lord and listen - so that we may have life. To what depth of life do these words summon us?

The responsorial psalm states:  "The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs." How does this happen in the everyday moments of our lives?

In St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Paul tries to calm all questions with his conviction ... "For I am convinced that ... nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." How convinced are we of God's everlasting love for us?

The Gospel is Matthew's version of the feeding of the 5,000 (not counting women and children). Jesus has been spiritually feeding everyone with his teachings. The people gathered are physically hungry.  The disciples have five loaves and two fish only.  What is that for so many?  They learn it is enough when blessed and shared.  The surprise twist is they gather up 12 baskets of leftovers!  What marvelous "meal(s)" have we experienced recently?

 

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Reflection for July 27, 2014

posted on: Thursday, July 24, 2014 by: renaebauer

Longing for God can inspire pearls of wisdom

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by Carla Schommer
St. Francis Convent Director

When the Lord told Solomon in a dream to ask Him for anything and it will be given, Solomon did not ask for riches, or a long life, or the life of his enemies. Solomon asked God for an understanding heart.  He asked God for the wisdom of an understanding heart to judge God's people and to know right from wrong. Solomon asked God for wisdom to govern God's people well.

Our faith teaches us that wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1845).  St. Paul refers to wisdom as a virtue in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:8-10), and clarifies the difference between worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom (1 Cor 1:17-31).  Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.  It involves an ability to control one's emotions and to understand people, things, events and situations.

Looking at the events of the world, the discourse in government, and even of our daily life, I wonder if any of us are asking for the gift of wisdom as did Solomon?  I wonder if what we often want most is selfish and self-serving: possessions, security, power, pleasure, comfort?

In our Gospel Jesus likens the kingdom to a merchant who sells all he has in order to buy one really valuable pearl.  What would our world be like if the one really valuable pearl would be the wisdom Solomon asks for?  Perhaps we would understand our enemies, have world peace based on justice for all, care for the poor, be in communion with each other and learn to live in Christ Jesus.  For Christ gives us something far greater than the wisdom God gave Solomon.  For each of us open to Christ, Christ gives us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and everlasting life with the Lord.

 

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Reflection for July 20, 2014

posted on: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by: renaebauer

Seeds vs. weeds: Which one is thriving in your faith garden?

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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?

 

4 comments


Reflection for July 13, 2014

posted on: Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by: renaebauer

Tender care of our hearts and minds allows God's seeds to bear fruit

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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 good fruit.

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 around them?
  • 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 fruit.

 

8 comments


Reflection for July 6, 2014

posted on: Wednesday, July 02, 2014 by: renaebauer

The presence of Jesus in our lives shines through to those around us

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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.

 

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Reflection for June 29, 2014

posted on: Thursday, June 26, 2014 by: renaebauer

Jesus: 'You shall be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth'

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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 Gospel.

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 from me?

 

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.

 

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