Weekly Reflections

Reflection for Dec. 16, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Love + mercy + grace = joy

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Third Sunday of Advent calls us to extraordinary joy found only in the gift given by our Creator

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

Gaudete Sunday! On this Third Sunday of Advent we are encouraged to “shout for joy”, “be glad”, “exult with all” our hearts, “fear not”, “rejoice”, “share”. With all that is going on in our fragile world, how can we rejoice?  How can we be glad and not fear with all the violence around us?  
 
The answer may be found in our loving God who offers us unconditional love, mercy beyond measure and graces to face whatever comes our way. Think of how different our world would be if we were merciful like the Father.  Wouldn’t joy abound in our hearts and in the hearts of others? Wouldn’t we share the good news of God’s forgiving love to all who enter into our lives?  Wouldn’t we rejoice that our God is with us no matter what and stands with open arms ready to embrace us with hugs of love, comfort and peace?
 
“Rejoice in the Lord, always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4-5)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI loved the inspiring words, Sister. We tend to forget God’s love. -- Irene

 

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Reflection for Dec. 9, 2018

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Repenting, forgiving and letting go

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Second Sunday of Advent is an invitation to a fresh start

by Sister Mary Kabat

In this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the Prophet Baruch calling Jerusalem to put on the splendor of God’s glory and cast aside all their misery.  We also hear John the Baptist inviting the people to a baptism of repentance.

As you read and reflect on these Scriptures do you find yourself longing for the glory of God, longing for divisions between loved ones or nations to be smoothed, or longing for the assurance that God is with you and is working good in and through you?

We do NEED this yearly time of Advent, this time to prepare ourselves in heart, mind and lifestyle to celebrate more fully than ever the birth of Christ in our world, our loved ones and ourselves.

Though the Gospel story is of John preparing the way for the adult Jesus, we also know John as the new “Elijah,” a precursor of the Messiah who came to us as an infant.  John’s invitation to repentance is needed now as well as in the weeks of Lent.  Let us let go of that which is forming a mountain or a valley in us, let us let God do the work of smoothing and filling this Advent so we may better know the Lord and hear his voice speaking joy in our hearts.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleLovely reflection, Sister. I especially like the way you tied in the wise words delivered during President Bush’s eulogy, reminding us that there was indeed a time when we were willing to do some of the “smoothing and filling” on those mountains that separate us ourselves ... -- Michelle

 

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Reflection for Dec. 2, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Love Incarnate

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The Advent journey is one of transformation; does racism fit in?

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

During Advent, the first season of the liturgical year, we wait in hope for God to transform our hearts and minds that we may be ready to recognize and receive “the Lord our justice.”

What might Advent mean for those in our society who since the arrival of Europeans to this land have suffered the grave injustice of racism – Native Americans, Blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims – to name a few? Many among these cultures still suffer personal and systemic effects of discrimination and prejudice according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last week they released their second pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

The sin of racism requires a transformation of the human heart.  Overcoming racism is a demand of justice, according to the Bishops. Acts of hatred or ill will toward another person because of skin color or origin violates Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love exceeds justice, but it never lacks justice (Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas et Veritate). 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the feast of Love Incarnate, may we ponder the Bishops’ pastoral letter, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” and commit ourselves to overcome the sin of racism, to welcome “the Lord our justice” in every marginalized person.


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Reflection for Nov. 25, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What's in a name?

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The Feast of Christ the King alludes to the One who cares for all, protects all and gives them His all

by Sister Ann Rehrauer

As Americans, we are sometimes a bit skeptical about the image of kingship because of our historic struggles with King George in 1776 and our experience of a different form of government.  People from Great Britain or another nation with a monarchy, however, have a different appreciation for this image of the Kingship of Christ because of their experience and affection for their ruling king or queen.

In ancient Israel, two terms were used to describe both God and their civil ruler. “Lordship” denoted aspects of power, of one who “ruled over” the people, and demanded obedience and allegiance. “Kingship” described the one who embodied the sense of the people. He was the symbol of the nation, one who cared for their well being, who protected and inspired them, and was ready to give his life on their behalf.

In the passages from Daniel and Revelation, Jesus is portrayed as high priest and the Lord who comes at the end of time in glory and power. His Kingdom will encompass all that is and his reign will be forever one of justice and peace. 

In the Gospel account of the end of his physical life, Jesus stands before the judgment seat of Pilate who struggles to understand Jesus’ role. If Jesus is truly a king then he is a political rival of Caesar and a danger to the state. If he is not a king, then why has he garnered such loyal followers? Jesus explained the meaning of his Kingship as a witness to TRUTH and to the unimaginable love of God who cared enough to sacrifice his only Son. 

For us, whether or not we appreciate the image of Kingship, we experience and celebrate the love of Christ who offered his life for us, who intercedes for us before the Father, who accompanies us on the journey of life and who will come again in glory at the end of time.

For the fullness of his reign in each of us and in our world, we pray “Come soon, Lord Jesus!”

Reflection Question:

Besides kingship – what other titles or images for Jesus are part of your prayer? 


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Reflection for Nov. 18, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where it ends is where it begins

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Our faith in the the Paschal Mystery lights the way through good times, bad times and transitions

by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

The month of November brings us closer to the end of another liturgical year. Endings prepare us for new beginnings. We never know exactly what is ahead. Our faith supports our journey into and through the ebb and flow of life. Our faith tells us that Jesus walks with us, every step. Jesus even carries us at times, as the “Footsteps in the Sand” poem points out.

Each challenge is a birthing experience. Our faith in and hope for a deeper life carries us and brings us to a deeper relationship of love -- with God, others and self. Everyone who bears the name “Christian” can change the world by embracing the grace offered each day.

The Responsorial Psalm for this 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time is from Psalm 16. The refrain is: “You are my inheritance, O Lord!”  Reflect on its message. The verses are filled with faith, hope and love, a message very much needed in our world and our personal lives today.

What "harvest" awaits each of us?


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Comments:

CommentBubble"Each challenge is a birthing experience"...thank you, Sister, for those words filled with hope! -- Michael

CommentBubbleThanks Carrie, I really appreciate your insights and challenges on the Gospel for Sunday. Blessings to you. -- Sr. Laura

 

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Reflection for Nov. 11, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Two little coins

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This week's Gospel focuses on giving our all to God

by Sister Laura Zelten

Almost no one noticed her. I mean, who would? As the rich entered the temple, their gifts clanged so loudly that every head turned to see who was putting in. That was the whole point, wasn't it? To be seen. To be seen as generous. To be seen as holy. To be seen at places of honor.

But her two little coins barely registered above the din of conversation taking place next to the large metal horn in which gifts were deposited.

Almost no one noticed her. Almost no one. The one who did knew the woman's coins were all she had to live on.  He recognized the enormity of her sacrifice as he contemplated giving his whole life on a cross.

The widow of the Gospel had a generous heart. She looked outward to the needs of others and gave all that she could. She shared because it was the right thing to do.

We rejoice in the message of Jesus. It challenges us to be the loving energy of God for the world, for those who are near and for those who are far away. We are the ones to show God’s care for creation, justice, peace and reconciliation and to give time to God in prayer – to ensure a space and time for God each day.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love the idea that no one noticed her. And she didn't do anything to be noticed. I can picture the noise the others made, making sure everyone noticed what they were doing. Wonderful. Jesus notices everything. So whatever I give, as long as I'm doing my best for the best of others, I will be noticed by the One who matters most. Thanks for your reflections. Always thought provoking. -- Kathy

CommentBubbleI could picture what you were saying, would that we could always be so generous. Your reflections are always good and to the point. Thank you. -- Irene Whatley

 

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Reflection for Nov. 4, 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Two sides of a coin

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The greatest commandment is to love God and others

by Sister Rose Jochmann

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replies, “The first is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Then Jesus went right on to say that the second commandment is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31)

The message is clear. The commandments to love God and to love our neighbor are inseparable.  They are like two sides of one coin. In the First Letter of St. John we are asked, “How can we love God whom we have not seen if we do not love our neighbor whom we see?” (Paraphrased from 1 John 4:20)

Some suggestions for ways we can grow in our love of God and neighbor:

  • Set aside quiet time to be with God in prayer. Allow God to speak to us about loving our neighbor.
  • Take a moment to see the gift of each person, especially the person we find difficult to love.
  • Be fully present to the person speaking with us here and now.
  • Be present at this very moment, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

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Comments:

CommentBubbleSr. Rose, thank you for your thoughts for Sunday! Good ones to post on our mirror! -- Joan

 

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Reflection for Oct. 28, 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018

'Jesus, son of David, have pity on me'

Bartimaeus asks for mercy and demonstrates discipleship to us

"Master, I want to see."

In Sunday’s Gospel, the blind man recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the only one who can help him. In response, Jesus tells the man he needs no help; his faith is enough.

Reflection questions:
  1. How do I see Jesus?
  2. How does Jesus see me?
  3. Faith is enough. How do I express this through my words and actions?

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Comments:

CommentBubbleIf, in a certain sense, our faith begins with a personal request, "Master, I want to see," at what point does it become more cosmic in scope, as in, "Master, 'WE' need to see with deeper insight, with an ever-more expanding view, and with greater clarity in what it means to be One-in-You?"

"You are not (only) a drop in the Ocean, you are the entire Ocean in a drop.” ~Rumi

Or, as Mary said to the bed-ridden boy in the story/movie, "The Secret Garden," when she was describing to him what it's like when you really start to 'SEE,' "It's as if you've swallowed the whole universe, and the whole universe is living inside you!" -- Linda

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Reflection for Oct. 21, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wherever you go, whatever you do

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The missionary life is for all followers of Jesus Christ

by Sister Jane Riha

Do you consider yourself a person with a mission in life? As a follower of Jesus, we are each called to be a missionary disciple. As we celebrate Mission Sunday today, Pope Francis calls us to reflect on our vocation as individuals. “I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world.” (The Joy of the Gospel, #273)

This special day coincides with the Synod of Bishops’ gathering with many young people representative of the global community. As Church, we are of different generations, cultures, languages and perspectives. A faith community with such animation and inspiration can surely bring the Gospel to all whom we meet. 

A disciple proclaims Jesus wherever he/she lives and works. Some persons may be called to serve people in other lands or in the home missions of our own country. Some persons make temporary mission trips to assist those living in poverty. Most of us live ordinary lives with family and friends the majority of time. To live our personal vocation well with compassion, self-sacrifice, and outreach to those on the margins in our own area can be a great challenge.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us the way of humility. Jesus teaches us that embracing God’s call means that: “The cup that I drink of you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized.” Walking humbly with our God as we are “mission on this Earth” will be challenging, it will require sacrifice.  We will be blessed with God’s empowerment and an ever closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Blessings to all our companions on  the journey!


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Reflection for Oct. 14, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The dimmer switch effect

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Awakening to the fullness of Jesus' call is a lifelong journey

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

In a book that I recently finished reading the author makes the distinction between the term “spiritual experience” and the term “spiritual awakening”. He explains a spiritual experience as a one-time event involving a sudden change. It can be compared to a person walking into a dark room and turning on the light switch. He describes a spiritual awakening as a gradual change. It’s like walking into a dark room and turning on the dimmer switch. A spiritual awakening eventually leads to a spiritual transformation.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus invites a man to give all his possessions to the poor and become a disciple. Later Jesus promises a reward to all those who leave family and home for the sake of the Gospel.

I thought I had lived the Gospel. When I entered religious life I left my family, my boyfriend, my teaching position, my bank account, and many of my clothes and other possessions. I truly wanted to follow Jesus. It was a one-time experience of letting go. However, as time went on, I realized a deeper call. Was I willing to let go of painful childhood memories that I had dragged into adulthood? Was I willing to let go of resentments that I carried from confrontations in my ministry? How possessive was I of my gifts and my time? Did I recognize the poor in the person right in front of me?

Living today’s Gospel is like turning on the dimmer switch. We gradually are enlightened to recognize that the poor are always with us, and that we are always on a journey that requires a process of letting go of what we would like to possess. How will we respond to this wake-up call? Do we really desire to be spiritually transformed?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThanks Sister Elise for the most thoughtful and inspiring reflection. -- Millie

CommentBubbleJust a note of appreciation to Sister Elise for her beautiful reflection. She has inspired me to use a few of her thoughts in my weekend homily. God's Blessings to all the Dear Sisters & staff. -- Fr. Bill Jacobs

CommentBubbleI read and prayed with delight Sr. Elise’s distinction of spiritual experience and spiritual awakening. Using the metaphor of “dimmer effect” of a gradual turning to the Lord really struck me, as I look at my own religious transformation. Her questions for self-reflection were right on point.

In the Gospel, we hear the disciples pleading, “Then who can be saved?” “Who can stand?”- is possible for God, for all things are possible: even the lifting up of our broken bodies and souls, lifted up and freed gradually of our burdens, and freed of the “weights”we can’t release alone. So, we welcome the One who transforms us with His “dimmer light” in the darkness. Thanks, Sr. Elise! -- Sr. Anne Dorice DeFebbo, osf

 

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