Weekly Reflections

Reflection for June 23, 2019

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

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Eucharist is Jesus' 'gift of himself with us always'

by Sister Mary Kabat

This Sunday takes us back to the table on that first Holy Thursday when Jesus gathered with his disciples. The disciples watched him take the bread and wine, declare them to be his body and blood, and invite them to eat, drink and receive him.

Our celebration of Holy Thursday each Holy Week quickly turns to the events of Good Friday. However, today our joy and thanksgiving can be full. Today we are invited to more fully appreciate Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, receive him more consciously and worship him in the Eucharist, the center of our Catholic spiritual life, the greatest treasure of the Church.

As declared at the Council of Trent in 1551, “in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are really, truly, substantially and abidingly present.”

Today let us celebrate Jesus’ gift to us, the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church and Jesus’ gift of himself with us always.

Come, receive him. Come, worship him.
Come, know his love and solace. Come, take him to all you meet.


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Reflection for June 16, 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier

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The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity sums up God's presence in our lives

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ..." We use these words every time we make the Sign of the Cross. They were also spoken as water was poured over our heads during baptism. What do these words mean to each of us?

As we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we are reminded of the deep love and unity between our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier. Our Creator breathes life into all of creation; our Redeemer shows us the boundless love we are continually offered; our Sanctifier graces us with the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord ... and so much more. Let us give praise and thanks for all we have been given by our loving God!

Many artists have portrayed images of the Trinity. Do you have a favorite image? What does that image say to you?

On this Father’s Day weekend, may all those in the role of a father feel the loving presence of the Trinity and be blessed with joy and peace.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI like the three-leaf clover as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. I used it when I taught 2nd graders in Faith Formation. And the clover grows everywhere and the Holy Spirit is everywhere too!! Blessings always, Claire ☘️

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Reflection for June 9, 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Squaring our divisions with the message of unity

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Readings for Pentecost Sunday remind us of God's call to be one

by Sister Ann Rehrauer

As I reflected on the Scriptures for this weekend’s feast, I was struck by the sense of UNITY that permeates the Pentecost mystery.  In the reading from Acts, the disciples were “all in one place together.”  Perhaps they were gathered to pray, or in anticipation of Christ’s promise to send the advocate -– but they were TOGETHER, one in mind and heart.  Through the gift of the Spirit, many others heard and came to understand that the principle of their deepest UNITY was a belief in the saving life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

In the second reading, St. Paul describes the different spiritual gifts and various forms of service which the early Christian community carried out.  All good gifts are given by the ONE Spirit, and it is the ONE Lord whose mission is served.  It was that witness of love and UNITY in the early community that drew others to faith.  Such UNITY meant (and means today) that there is no need for power struggles or competition between those who exercise ministry.   As one body with many parts, we are called to be ONE in mind and heart.

The Gospel account describes the disciples’ experience of the Risen Jesus in their midst, offering them peace, sending them forth, and calling them to the ministry of forgiveness -- of reconciliation and UNITY, through the power of the Spirit.

In our day, 2000 years after the Pentecost miracle, we find ourselves in a time and place of deep divisions and lack of UNITY.  Political partisanship divides this nation and stymies our legislatures from working together for the common good.  Culturally and socially there is a deep separation about common endeavors, a renewed arms race, a re-emergence of racism and sexism, and economic and power struggles, rather than an awareness of our need to work together globally for the good of the planet and the survival of the human race. 

Even in our Church we find a lack of UNITY in liturgy, piety, and aspects of parish life.  Using the labels “liberal” and “conservative” somehow justifies our baser instincts that discount the ideas or the value of others.

As we gather to celebrate the Spirit’s presence in our Church and our world this weekend, may our prayer be: that the Spirit again renew the face of the earth, and that we may be ONE, even as Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are of ONE MIND and ONE HEART.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you for the meaningful reflection, we do need to listen to the Holy Spirit more and pray for unity. Our church as well as nation are in need of unity. Sincerely, Irene

CommentBubbleWell said, message received! We are all one body. Ellen

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Reflection for June 2, 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Seeing Jesus in one another

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Conversion, or change, draws us closer to Christ and is necessary to grow in our mission of serving him through others

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

Conversion is at the heart of Franciscan communal living. During his life, St. Francis of Assisi repeatedly recalled the moment as a young man when he dismounted from his horse and embraced the leper. That which had been bitter and repulsive to him became sweet and wholesome. Through God’s grace he began to change, gradually to be converted. In his rule based on the Gospels he asked the same of his followers ...  to be continuously and totally converted.

Conversion. Why speak about this particular value on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord? What relevance does conversion have for this feast? For 40 days after His Resurrection, Holy Scripture says, the disciples would “see Jesus” appear among them. Through these “manifestations,” he sought to strengthen their faith, to boost their hope, to increase their love. Yet, Jesus didn’t want them to become dependent on his physical presence among them. Today, St. Luke tells us in both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus disappeared from their sight. The disciples were told to return to Jerusalem and wait there for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them.

What are we called to do? On this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we must not stand looking up, searching for Jesus in the skies. We will not find him there. Instead, we must turn our gaze outward. Look for Jesus who goes before us into history, drawing us into the future. Look for Jesus as he calls us to form an authentic community of love. Look for Jesus whose face is reflected in those who live among us and who live on the margins -- the widows, the orphans, the migrants, the formerly incarcerated, those who suffer addictions. This is the Church’s mission -- that we be fully and totally converted to see Jesus in one another.    

St. Teresa of Avila offered us these words of wisdom: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

What is this but a call to deep conversion?


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Reflection for May 26, 2019

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The new heaven, the new earth

God's kingdom is complete because it is God

The Book of Revelation is widely considered the Bible’s most difficult book to understand. Its symbolic and allegorical style is largely unfamiliar to the modern-day reader. However, several verses from chapter 21, which we hear in Sunday’s second reading, paint a comforting and breathtaking picture of God’s eternal kingdom.  Two verses are below. As you reflect on this passage, what symbol or hidden meaning do you see?

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.  (Rev 21: 22-23)

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Reflection for May 19, 2019

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Getting past the pain 

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Faith in Jesus draws our eyes upward to Him, changing how we see today and tomorrow 

by Sister Francis Bangert

“Behold, I make all things new.”  These words from the Book of Revelation carry a message of promise that is uplifting and hope-filled for every season of life’s journey, especially in times of challenge. Like the early Christians who faithfully strove to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Jesus amid threats of persecution and death, thus revolutionizing the status quo, we, too, struggle with change.  We may not be asked to give our life in that same way. Yet the abrupt loss of a job, chronic pain, the diagnosis of a terminal illness, or deep depression don’t seem like ways of making life new. It is with Easter faith that we can look beyond pain to new life.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, and prolific writer and speaker, having had two bouts with cancer, has written “In Exile: A Different Kind of Bucket List” how he has chosen to live as a thriver of cancer, not just a survivor.

  • “I’m going to strive to be productive as long as I can.
  • I’m going to make every day and every activity as precious and enjoyable as possible.
  • I’m going to be as gracious, warm and charitable as possible.
  • I’m going to strive to be as healthy as long as I can.
  • I’m going to accept other’s love in a deeper way than I have.
  • I’m going to strive to live a more fully “reconciled” life -- no room for past hurts anymore.
  • I’m going to strive to keep my sense of humor intact.
  • I’m going to be as courageous and brave as I can.
  • I’m going to strive, always, to never look at what I’m losing, but rather look at how wonderful and full my life has been.
  • And I’m going to lay all of this daily at God’s feet through prayer.” (St. Louis Jesuits.org, permission granted)

What challenge is life presenting to me at this time? How can I look beyond its pain to new life?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you, Sr. Fran, your reflection touched my heart. Making everything new, wow, that is such a hopeful message and applies to our relationship with Jesus, ourselves and others.

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Reflection for May 12, 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Be alert, be awake

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The Good Shepherd has a plan for you and me

by Sister Agnes Fischer

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” That is to say, they pay attention.

These days many of us hear His voice. For Sunday's World Day of Prayer for Vocations, how do we pay attention to the call we were given at our Baptism?

  • Parents and grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, teachers: How do we tend the precious lambs given to our care?
  • Spouses and significant others: Do our beloveds love Jesus more because of us?
  • Janitors, clerks, wait staff, nurses: Does our work ethic inspire those we serve?
  • Priests, Sisters, Deacons, parish ministers: Does our service radiate joy to the flock that Jesus has entrusted to us?

O God, whose Son Jesus is the Good Shepherd of your people: Grant that those who hear His voice may know that He calls each by name, and give them the grace to pay attention to how they shepherd the flock entrusted to them. Amen


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Reflection for May 5, 2019

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mealtime ministry

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Sunday's Gospel shows Jesus tending to the whole person through food, instruction and mission

by Sister Laura Zelten

Hospitality is one of the charisms, or gifts, given to the Sisters of St Francis of the Holy Cross.  We are called to welcome others just as Jesus welcomed so many during his earthly life and mission.

One example of His hospitality is mentioned in this Sunday’s Gospel. Set in the early morning hours along the seashore, Jesus prepares bread and fish for his friends. It’s an act of love and care. How many times have we prepared meals for others as a sign of our love? 

There are other examples of “mealtime ministry” in the Gospels: Jesus’ miracle at a wedding feast; the meal at the Pharisee’s house where Jesus forgives a woman’s sins; and the Last Supper where Jesus takes bread and wine, gives thanks, blesses it and shares it.

Jesus concludes the breakfast at the shore with questions about love. He gives little instruction about the mission or what it might involve beyond saying "yes" and trusting God’s love for us and ours for God. This love comes in prayer and in service to others. This is mission with and for the risen Jesus Christ.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleSr. Laura, what a beautiful reflection on ministering to our loved ones through the daily sharing of meals. I must admit as the main meal preparer in our home, I sometimes begrudge the task. You've helped me to turn that around with your thoughtful call to reflect and serve with love. Thank you! -- Ellen

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Reflection for April 28, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Mercy Sunday message: God loves us at all times

Even if or when we doubt as Thomas did, God relentlessly calls out to us

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." ~ Thomas the Apostle (John 20:25, part of Sunday's Gospel)

Oh, Thomas. Who among us hasn’t had a split-second of doubt especially when life is cruel or doesn’t make any sense. Thankfully, Jesus is relentless in his pursuit of us. Mercy Sunday calls our attention to all that Jesus gives us:

  • “Peace be with you”
  • “Receive the Holy Spirit”
  • “Do not be unbelieving, but believe”

Today, how will my life reflect Thomas’ concluding words: “My Lord and my God!”

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Reflection for April 21, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Paradise promised

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Our living Savior is here among us today

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

During this season of Lent I have been teaching a course for the Fox Valley Bible Study. We have been walking through the Passion of Christ according to the Gospel of St. Luke. My study in preparation for each class has provided me with many interesting details. One in particular really struck me. It is the meaning of the word “Paradise”, which is in Jesus' message to the good thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” It is a Persian word, meaning a walled garden. Sometimes a king would invite one of his subjects to walk with him in that garden. The thief received more than a promise of immortality. He was given the honored place of being a companion with Jesus in the garden of heaven.

As we celebrate the high point of the liturgical year this Easter, one of the readings presented to us is the account of the women being confronted by the empty tomb. They are told not to look among the dead for someone who is living. Our feast is not about a Jesus who rose from the dead a long time ago. To look for a historical Jesus is like walking into an empty tomb. That’s not where He is. We glory instead in the Lord who IS risen, present to us now in Word, sacrament, the community of the baptized, the poor, and the stranger.

It is particularly in the Eucharist that the Risen Lord appears to us. As we engage in this deep mystery at the table of His banquet, let us make of our hearts a walled garden, where as His honored companions, we enjoy the intimacy of His Presence.

Reflection question

If you had to write a Resurrection account of your own identification of Jesus in a poor person or a stranger, what would your story describe?


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