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.

 

4 comments


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.

 

2 comments


Reflection for June 22, 2014

posted on: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by: renaebauer

What did Jesus mean by 'eat' and 'drink' of the Son of Man?

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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 of this.

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 others.

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?"

 

5 comments


Reflection for June 15, 2014

posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2014 by: renaebauer

Trinity Sunday: Have you joined the dance?

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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.

Reflection question:
  1. What difference does how we image the Trinity make in our lives?
  2. Will we participate in the Divine Dance?

(Sources: Therese Sherlock, CSJ, "Sunday by Sunday"; "Word Among Us" June 2014)

2 comments


Reflection for June 8, 2014

posted on: Thursday, June 05, 2014 by: renaebauer

Are you ready for the New Evangelization? The Holy Spirit will help!

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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 ways.

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:

  1. An audience open to hearing the message
  2. Preachers "on fire" with the love of Jesus
  3. 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 salvation.

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 desire.
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 be."

 

2 comments


Reflection for June 1, 2014

posted on: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by: renaebauer

Seeing doesn't always lead to believing so trust the eyes of your heart

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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 see.

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?

 

2 comments


Reflection for May 25, 2014

posted on: Monday, May 19, 2014 by: renaebauer

Holy Spirit makes the impossible, possible

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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 your presence.

6 comments


Reflection for May 18, 2014

posted on: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 by: renaebauer

Put away the GPS; only Jesus can guide us to heaven

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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 home?

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.

Reflection questions:
  1. What are the "works" Jesus empowers us to do?
  2. What makes a place "home"?
  3. Is the church your home?

2 comments


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