Weekly Reflections

Reflection for July 22, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Busy, busy, busy

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What would life look like if 'progress' replaced 'motion'?

by Sister Agnes Fischer

In Sunday's Gospel we hear how even Jesus and his apostles got caught up in their teaching and healing that they "had no opportunity even to eat" (Mk 6:31). How many times have we been caught up in so much activity that we didn’t have time to:

  • Enjoy a meal with our family -- no phones allowed.
  • Get to know a friend or acquaintance better.
  • Be more present to those closest to us and give them quality time.
  • Ask for pardon or patience when we realize that we have gotten a little testy.

Then it may be time to “come aside and rest awhile” (Mk 6:31).

  • Put our worries and plans in God’s hands for a while and make fun family weekend plans.
  • Dress up and go to church with the family.
  • Listen to music, read a book, take a walk, enjoy the grandchildren ...
  • Accept God’s healing touch and be restored.

The final prayer of Sunday’s Mass says it well: “Lord, graciously be present to your people and help us to pass from former (busy) ways to newness of life.”


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Comments:

CommentBubbleExcellent words this morning, Sister Agnes. Thanks. -- Cheryl

CommentBubbleAnd it's good, too, to hear Sunday's message through the heart, care, and attention of a shepherd, whose constant presence with and among the flock allows him to know each and every sheep - by name - and by personality, and by need. The shepherd does not merely 'have a job' or 'have a job to do,' but the true shepherd has sheep, creatures of warmth and affection - individual ewes and lambs and rams that he has known since birth. The true shepherd is the One who takes time to know each one, and to pay attention to what each one is about, like a mother who bonds with each child. (Resp. Ps. 23: "The LORD is my Shepherd ...) -- Linda

 

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Reflection for July 15, 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Stand a little taller

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Christ has an extravagant love for you and me

by Sister Mary Kabat

I don’t usually reflect on the second reading for Sunday first.  However, this Sunday, St. Paul’s words written to the people of Ephesus express what must have been in the mind and heart of the Prophet Amos whom we hear about in the first reading and the Apostles whom we hear about in the Gospel.

In that second reading St. Paul reminds us that we are blessed in Christ, chosen before the world was made, destined to be God’s adopted sons and daughters, redeemed in Jesus, lavished with his grace. If those words don’t make you stand taller, feel breathless or almost bring a tear, then read it again.  It is a message of abundance, of unconditional love that can fill our hearts and guide our lives.

Living from that heartfelt knowledge Amos embraced the role of prophet which he never sought and the Apostles set aside their daily lives and occupations to respond to Jesus’ summons to go two by two to share the Good News. 

Does this bring to mind times you have been called to accept a role, a responsibility, a challenge that you didn’t seek or didn’t think you had the gifts to do?  By the grace of God did you embrace the call and take up the task or commitment?  Is there a call you are now being asked to embrace that seems beyond what you have the strength or gifts to do?  Read St. Paul’s words as you discern what God may be asking of you at this time of your faith journey and to whom he is sending you to share the Good News of Jesus.   


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI can turn Paul's -- and Mary's -- words into a sure, strong daily affirmation of empowerment; a declaration of God's awesome, steadfast love for me that directs my life:

" ... I am blessed in Christ. I am beloved and be-dazzled, holy daughter-of-God. I am redeemed in Jesus. I am lavished in, by, with all goodness of holy grace. I am wise and insightful to searching and discerning the hidden mysteries of God's will, as this [God's will] is the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things, for the praise of God's glory."

"In Christ, I have heard the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation. I have believed in him. I have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. I am redeemed as God's possession, for the praise and glory of God." (Eph. 1:1-14, paraphrased)

Is there a call you are now being asked to embrace that seems beyond what you have the strength or gifts to do? Yes, but with the support, understanding, and conviction of other gifted & graced, holy & beloved, blessed & beautiful daughters/women of God, I will continue to venture forward.

Thank you, Mary, and all blessed, beloved, beautiful, holy women of God of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. It means a lot to me. Blessings, Linda

CommentBubbleI have wondered why I have lived so long when my parents had not. I believe now it was to care for my husband with his memory loss. It is a challenge that is with me everyday. -- Irene

Our prayers are with you, Irene. To care for another is a special kind of selfless love. -- your Sisters

 

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Reflection for July 8, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

What to make of suffering

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The 'thorns' of life can be gifts for spiritual growth

by Sister Madonna Swintkoske

In the reading from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, “... a thorn in the flesh was given to me ...”   We do not know what the thorn was.  It could have been spiritual, emotional or physical.  Whatever it was it didn’t cause Paul to lose his faith.  If anything, it deepened his faith.  It caused Paul to be more dependent on Christ.  He trusted that God’s grace would be sufficient for him.  Paul realized that he must be bold and courageous in his witness.  He must accept, as Jesus pointed out in the Gospel, that a prophet is not always accepted in his native place.  Some people may accept the message and some will reject it.

As we listen to St. Paul today, we realize that to be disciple of Christ we need to be courageous, faithful, willing to endure what comes our way.  It helps with the words of today’s psalm to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.  We need to be believers who know of our need for God, and believers who are always growing in our faith and prayer life.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleDear Sister, Thanks for your wonderful reflection this morning ... It helps us appreciate how truly Blest we are..

A wonderful weekend full of Blessings for you and yours. -- Fr. Bill Jacobs

CommentBubble"A thorn in the flesh ..." Irritating, hurtful, bothersome, painful, constant, jabbing ache ... I can only take so much ... I just want it to stop - to get rid of it ... pull it out ... make it all go away.

Then I watch the morning news ... The boys in Thailand trapped in a cave ... Their families watching, knowing their sons and brothers are in need of urgent help, urgent rescue. As a parent, I could not bear to watch if the rains come ... My thorn seems so little now.

July 3, Independence Day eve: I watch the movie, "Suffergette," based on true events in Britain at a time when women were realizing how important, how necessary, how right it was for them to stand up to the embedded sexism, domination, and abuse of women; to march and rally and risk their lives, their jobs for the right to vote.

The 4th of July takes on new meaning for me, as I realize how much women have suffered, and how great has been their sacrifice for the sake of their own true freedom, for their honor and dignity, and for the honor and dignity of their daughters and sons.

My thorn seems so little now. -- Linda

 

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Reflection for July 1, 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The healing power of faith

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We are witnesses to Jesus' loving touch which makes everything new

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

In Sunday's Gospel passage from Mark, Jesus is approached by Jairus, an official of the Synagogue.  Jairus’ daughter is near death so he asks Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”  On their way to Jairus’ home, a woman suffering for 12 years gets close enough to Jesus and thinks, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."  As she touches Jesus’ clothes, she is cured. 

The daughter of Jairus dies before Jesus arrives at the house but Jesus goes in and takes the “child by the hand” and brings her back to life. 

Both miracles give us a glimpse of the power of faith.  The woman’s deep faith brought her to Jesus.  Jairus’ deep faith brought Jesus to his daughter.  Both the woman and the little girl were given new life after being touched by Jesus.

Our faith can bring the healing touch of Jesus to ourselves and others.  We, too, can bring that healing touch to others by our words and actions of kindness, compassion and understanding.

Reflection questions
  1. How do I seek to touch Jesus in my life?
  2. How will I bring the healing touch of Jesus to others?

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Comments:

CommentBubbleYes, so true: kindness, compassion, understanding are healing properties of body, mind, spirit, soul. I am particularly struck by the fact that the gospel writer includes the telling that the woman experienced a sure physiological 'knowing' or sensation that healing power had touched her, had moved through her. How could the writer have known this, except that the woman must have shared her experience over and over again, with others? "She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction." (Mk.5:29) And to think, too, that the woman's ailment began at the same time the life of the young girl of 12 was just beginning ... An infant daughter, a woman in mid-life ... A 12-year period they - unknowingly - share together. The young girl's life-bearing years just beginning; the woman's life-bearing years coming to an end. Each one facing death, encounters JESUS. And LIVES! JESUS deems that Woman's Body is both vessel and instrument of healing ... That is a powerful and empowering thought to ponder. This is a woman's gospel, for sure! -- Linda

CommentBubbleThanks, Sister Lynne Marie, for the invitation to reflect on the importance of just the ordinary events in each day in which I both receive and offer healing…if I am present to the other. -- Fran

 

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Reflection for June 24, 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Leap, proclaim, cry out

We join John the Baptist in heralding the Good News

“John heralded (Jesus’) coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel.” (Acts 13:24)

The word “herald” stands out in Sunday’s second reading from Acts. A herald can be an official messenger or a sign of something to happen. Several times in the New Testament we hear John herald the coming of Jesus:

  • In the womb of Elizabeth, John “jumps” for joy as the pregnant Mary calls out (Luke 1:44)
  • At the end of the second reading, John proclaims, “Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”
  • In John 1:23, he describes himself as such: I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord”’

We, too, join John in his mission. We are to leap, proclaim and cry out in the name of Jesus Christ so that others may come to know Him.  How will you herald the Good News today?

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Comments:

CommentBubble"How will you herald the Good News today?" If I take my cue from Francis of Assisi, who underwent a deep and lasting conversion, as in 'repentance,' a turning toward God, whose "kindness leads us to repent" (Rom. 2:4), then my 'heralding' must be rooted in the very 'kindness of God,' whose loving mercy is ever-healing.

Thus, for all who suffer the effects of sin, especially the 'littlest,' the weakest, the most vulnerable, I am called to become 'healer,' in the image and likeness of our kind-and-loving God. Thus, I care and act for the healing of all 'little ones,' including the children who are suffering from the cruelty and violence of their forced separation from their parents and families. -- Linda

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Reflection for June 17, 2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Even the tiniest seed of faith

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Prayer nurtures us and draws us closer to God

by Sister Laura Zelten

This Sunday is Father's Day, a day to reflect on the influence of our fathers or father figures. Our parents are often the first to plant the tiny seeds of faith in us through their words and actions. I know when I look at my Dad’s faith I understand where my faith roots come from and why they are so deep. Even in these later years, Dad shows my sisters and me that, with patience and trust, seeds of faith bear fruit in God’s time.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of seeds of faith. He tells the parable of the mustard seed: the “smallest of all the seeds” is nurtured into one of the largest plants. The mustard seed represents our faith while the tree represents the Kingdom of God. This transformation doesn’t happen automatically or overnight. It requires faithful prayer.  

Prayer is how we foster our “mustard seeds” of faith to bloom and thrive. As we focus on praise to and sacrifice for God, our faith grows and gains strength. Our prayers might not be answered always in the way we would like but, as with Jesus demonstrates in the in Garden of Gethsemane, we should continue to form ourselves to the will of God, recognizing His will holds ultimate joy.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleMy Dad was the most wonderful mam I could imagine. There was never a doubt about his faith and he gave the best advice with his example. He was our mustard seed. One little thing he did was to tip his hat whenever he passed a church. -- Irene Whatley

CommentBubble"The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is, and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees; Hazel seeds into hazel trees; And God seeds into God." (Meister Eckhart) Who is this "intelligent, hard-working farmer [gardener]" for you, that helps your God-seeds grow and produce fruits of God's nature and in God's image and likeness? -- Linda P.

 

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Reflection for June 10, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

I am because we are

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Sunday's readings remind us of our connection to and reliance on God and others

by Sister Francis Bangert

In today’s first reading we learn of the unintended disconnect between Creator and creature. The Creator seeks out our first parents who are hiding because they listened to a deceptive outer voice who convinced them they could be as wise as God if they “ate the fruit of the tree.”

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says, ”whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” So how does one know the will of God? St. Catherine of Siena invites us to always live in the cell of our soul, where we learn both our own poverty ... that of ourselves we can do nothing ... and the awesome goodness of God. In humility, we recognize the need for heartfelt connection ... to self, to God and to others.

Desmond Tutu, a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, says the Bantu word "ubuntu" is difficult to translate in our language but that it means the very essence of being human. If you are ubuntu you are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. It means that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours (paceebene.org). Family isn’t about whose blood you have -- it’s about who you care about.

This is the connection, the relationship that God desires for humanity. How might my vision of God’s dream need some adjustment?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleOne has to wonder ... if the deception of Satan was in the implication that we (Adam & Eve, and all humanity) are NOT like-God, when in fact, God has said that we are, for God said we are made in God's own image and likeness. And notice, too, God uses PLURAL (as in Trinity: Creator ... In-Flesh-Redeemer ... Spirit) to convey this to us: "Then God said, 'Let us make humans in OUR image, in OUR likeness.'" (Gen.1:26)

In many ways, we have been deceived and misled into thinking we are never good enough, and therefore, never really loved. This is the great lie that JESUS came to un-do, once for ALL. JESUS LOVES. Period. And in doing so, JESUS affirms, "We are good." Period. If we know such LOVE, we, too, will LOVE others as JESUS loves. That is the Great Gift of Spirit-at-Work.

The Book of Wisdom tells us most assuredly: God made ALL and God loves ALL ... And we, knowing this, most especially in knowing this through JESUS, are created to LOVE this way, too.

THANK YOU to Sr. Joanne Goessl, who helped us 'hit a home run' with this message last night @ 'Silence and Sunset.' And THANK YOU Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, for opening your hearts and your doors to us, to all.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to 'know' your grounds ... the holy and handiwork-of-God. Beauty. Peace. Wonder. Joy. And Gratitude ... so much gratitude as I came upon a mother killdeer, whose immediate shrill cries and instinctive feign of a broken wing, to lead me away from her precious young, spoke tenderly and powerfully to me ... especially as I had just prayed before the beautiful statue of Mary and Child JESUS, for our precious, precious Children of These Times ... Maybe that's somewhat of how Adele Brice felt, too. -- Linda

CommentBubbleLove the all-inclusive “Ubuntu” reference. Thanks for another wonderful reflection Sr. Fran! -- Michelle

 

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Reflection for June 3, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Corpus Christi Sunday focuses on the enfleshment of God's promise

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You and I are transformed into signs of God's fidelity present in Jesus

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

“Behold God’s love for you.”

Three times a year, on the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, Jews would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.  On each occasion priests would bring forth a golden table from inside the Temple.  On the table were twelve loaves of bread that had been consecrated to God.  This bread was a reminder of the sacred meal that Moses and the elders ate in the Presence of God on Mt. Sinai.  Called the Bread of the Presence, or the Bread of the Face of God, it was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel.  The priests would exhibit the Bread of the Presence to the pilgrims while proclaiming, “Behold God’s love for you.”

This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  We listen to the story of how Jesus, at the Last Supper, gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, the gift of His very self.  It is a time to renew our faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist and to recall the everlasting covenant that was established through His life, death, and Resurrection.

Catholic parishes celebrate this great feast in various ways.  Whether through processions, Eucharistic adoration, Benediction, or recitation of the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament, these forms of prayer draw our attention to the Sacred Bread in the monstrance.  They invite us to “Behold God’s love for you.”

What if, every time the Host and the Chalice are elevated after the consecration during Mass, we were to recite those same words to ourselves?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThich Nhat Hanh does a wonderful mindfulness meditation, using an orange. Before consuming the orange, we are asked to hold it, feel it in our hands, rub our fingers on it, feel the stem part, the skin, smell it ... We are asked to 'see' the grove and the orange tree from which it came; to 'see' the workers, the harvesters; to feel the warmth of the sun that helped it grow and ripen, to feel the rain that watered it, the clouds that shaded it; to 'hear' the birds that rested on its branches; to 'see' and 'smell' the soil from which this particular tree-of-life grew; to 'see' those who packaged and transported the crates of beautifully-grown and tree-ripened oranges ... Then he leads us into slowly beginning to peel it ... Peel away a layer ... Smell and feel the orange again ... How is it different now? How is it the same? On and on goes the meditation, until we are consuming "all" that this orange 'is' for us. Not only the physical nourishment and juice that satisfies thirst, but the much larger dimension of inter-being, of truly being connected to all that is: our inter-connectedness with all of creation, with all of humanity as we live and work, side-by-side on one planet, in one community -- each one, in some way, being nourishment and wholeness for another, for all others, if we but let ourselves be. This mindful meditation has so much deepened my interior understanding and appreciation of "ALL" that we are saying "AMEN" to when we affirm "Body of Christ" and "Blood of Christ" as it is declared to us in sharing communion with other members of 'the Body and Blood of Christ.' "AMEN!" -- Linda

CommentBubbleAn excellent suggestion and practice. Thanks. -- Fran

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Reflection for May 27, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mysterious Trinity

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Growing in our understanding of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to experience our Creator, Lover, and Keeper

by Sister Charlene Hockers

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”

Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  This most basic doctrine of our faith is not easily understood but is more a mystery to be experienced.

In our years of grade school, our teachers attempted to explain what “three Persons in One God” means. Three-leaf shamrocks and three lit candles making one flame were ways of symbolizing the unity of our Triune God.

Another example comes from Julian of Norwich. In a vision about the Trinity, she had an object the size of a hazelnut in her hand. With eyes of understanding, she wondered what it could be. The answer: Everything that has been made. It will last forever with God’s love. God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it. So the Triune God can be experienced as Maker, Lover, and Keeper.

These new names for God do not replace our common name for God but help us probe the mystery. God is, of course, Father, Son and Spirit but as we name God as Maker, Lover, and Keeper, we can be people of wonder and hope, loving in response to the love we have received.

Can we go and make disciples by witnessing to God as Maker, Lover, and Keeper? Can we be more conscious of who God is as we pray the Sign of the Cross or state, "Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen."

(Notes: "Living in Christ," May 2018, pp. 16-17)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleCharlene, your reflection is beautiful. I love the words describing the 3 persons of the Trinity. -- Laura

CommentBubbleLovely reflection, thanks for the inspiration! -- Michelle B.

CommentBubbleDear Sr. Charlene, I love the suggestion of – Maker, Lover and Keeper – those words will guide my prayer on this special Holy Trinity Sunday. Thank you! -- Sr. Mary Kabat

CommentBubble"It will last forever with God’s love. God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it." Yes, I love the 'new' imagery for Trinity. And I wonder if the word "it" in these two sentences was changed to "soul," that most interior dimension of mind-heart-spirit within each one of us - that "image-of-God-within - " what kinds of new meaning, new understanding, new awareness, and new insight we could glean. As God is, indeed, and in deed, the origin, the healer, and the keeper of our souls. When we live creatively (Creator), compassionately (Redeemer), and courageously (Holy Spirit), with a conscious contemplative spirit, our minds-hearts-spirits-wills are becoming one-with-Our-Ever-Living-Loving-Enlightening God. -- Linda

CommentBubbleThree succinct words to reveal a very deep mystery. Thanks, Charlene. -- Fran

 

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Reflection for May 20, 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fire of love

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Pentecost Sunday celebrates the enduring presence of the Spirit of Truth

by Sister Agnes Fischer

If I had a friend who was at the same time a wise lawyer, doctor, psychologist, marriage counselor, computer expert and economist I would be extremely fortunate. Well, today each of us is that fortunate.

On Pentecost, we not only remember the coming of the Holy Spirit but also celebrate the Holy Spirit's enduring presence. The Greek word for Holy Spirit is "Paraclete," which means "one who is at your side":

  • to console us in our sadness
  • to counsel us in our doubts
  • to animate us when we are discouraged
  • to strengthen us in our struggles
  • to teach us to love

It is this same friend whom we ask in Sunday's alleluia to "fill the hearts of the faithful with the fires of your love."


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love what you have done here, Sr. Agnes, as you have made the Spirit-of-God-within-us VERY REAL for us. That is so needed today: to see the Holy Spirit at work in very real, genuinely caring and truth-filled ways. There are no lies in God; there is no deceit in Christ; there are no un-truths in the Holy Spirit. (Jn.14:17; Jn.15:26) The Holy Spirit is the leader and guide into ALL truth.

I am so happy to hear all of this because as we get to know the Holy Spirit more and more, as is so necessary for our Times, we come to more and more discern what is truly right and good and just, and what is deceptive and scheming. When we speak up for what is right and good and just and healing for others, we, too, are being "Advocates-of-God's-Truth-and-Peace-and-Justice." Just as the Holy Spirit is named, "Advocate," (Jn.14:26; Jn.15:26; Jn.16:7) so, too, do we, with the Spirit-living-in-us, become advocates for the rights and fullness-of-life-well-being-potential-promise-peace for others.

The Holy Spirit is, indeed, and in deed, our Advocate and Truth-teller in each and all of these: !! :+)

to console us in our sadness
to counsel us in our doubts
to animate us when we are discouraged
to strengthen us in our struggles
to teach us to love

"A Very Rich, Enflamed, Enflaming Feast of Pentecost for each and all!"

+ Bless +
Linda

CommentBubbleAg, love your reflection! Thanks for adding to my perspective that the Holy Spirit is that all encompassing friend who stands by our side though it all. Laura

CommentBubbleThank you, Sister Aggie, for the reminder what our friend the Holy Spirit does for us. -- Bert

CommentBubbleThanks, Aggie, for reminding us that the Holy Spirit is always there for us in so many ways. You have also provided us with a beautiful refresher on what it means to be a friend. I am blessed to have called you my friend for the last 70 years, which makes me a very lucky lady indeed!! -- Bette

 

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