Weekly Reflections

Reflection for Aug. 9, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Prayer, community life and ministry all begin with love

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"So be imitators of God -- and live in love." (Ephesians 5:1)

by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Golden Jubilarian

One of the highlights of the summer for our Sisters is the celebration of Jubilee Day.  As we participate in this joyous occasion, we are invited once again to consider the meaning of the commitment we have made. St. Paul says it very well in Sunday's second reading: religious life is a life of love.

A Sister in her 90s enters the convent chapel in the evening and kneels on the floor before the tabernacle. She spends the last few minutes of her day in communion with her Beloved.  Religious life involves a deep, intimate, personal love of Jesus Christ. Personal prayer is at the heart of a Sister's daily routine.

A Sister attends her mother's funeral two weeks before Christmas. She spends several days at the convent during the holiday season, praying, visiting, sharing meals with the Sisters, and repeating her story yet one more time. As she drives home to her mission, she tells herself, "I feel so loved."  Religious life is about sharing joys and dreams, burdens and pain, with a group of women who inspire and encourage, befriend and support each other.  Being bonded with her Community, a Sister is assured that she never has to walk the journey alone.

A Sister returns home after school and announces that although she has reached the retirement age, her parish will do anything to keep her there. She has made such an impact on the children and their families that the administrator will create a new position for her. A Sister serves in many ways, through education, healing, and related ministries, but her presence goes far beyond the particular work that she does. She is remembered primarily for the love she has shown.

Prayer, community life, ministry -- these are the pillars of religious life and they are all dimensions of that one commitment to love. Jesus is the center of that one dedication. As a Sister moves into the future, her only goal is to fall more deeply in love. Why? Because she knows that God has first loved her with an everlasting love.



Reflection for July 12, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

No GPS needed: Jesus' traveling instructions lead us to perfect love

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by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

People traveling by plane these days know they need to prepare carefully for their journey. Summer travelers hoping to "camp out" must also be prepared for just about any emergency or visit from nature's residents.

In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus gives the Twelve some travel instructions for their ministry. He tells these ordinary people to "travel lightly" -- take a walking stick only -- no food, no extra clothes and no money! They did as he suggested and were able to bring God's healing to the sick and those in need.

Over 2,000 years later, Jesus continues to call ordinary people to travel with him. What would Jesus suggest we take along on this journey of love? The walking stick of faith, the tunic of compassion, and the joy and hope that nourishes body and soul will help us to travel lightly and follow the example of the Lord of Love.

As you reflect on your journey of love this week ask yourself:
  • Who supports me as I travel with Jesus?
  • Who do I support and how do I show that support?




Reflection for May 10, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Remembering and imitating God's profound love is our call

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by Sister Laura Zelten

On Sunday we will celebrate Mother's Day, so it is very fitting to hear Jesus' commandment to love one another -- a love that is like God's love. "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." (John 15:9)

We are called to be like God -- the God who has a passion for love and justice, the God who is concerned for all of creation, the God who has a special concern for the poor.

Throughout chapter 15, John calls our attention to the fundamental theme of all the gospels: Love. Jesus invites us to fall in love, to live in love.  To know, taste and feel the strength of love -- all in the midst of our humanity. Yes, just as we are, Jesus calls us to love one another.

Reflection questions:
  1. Have you met a person who loves everybody in an all-inclusive way? How has this person's love affected you?
  2. Have you experienced the love of a mother figure in your life? How has this experience helped you to love other people?



Reflection for Jan. 18, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Here I am. You called me. I'm eager to do your will!

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by Sister Mary Kabat

Doesn't it bring a smile and a swell of pride when you see your child or grandchild eagerly wanting to help you though the task is beyond his or her strength or ability?  Picture such a time when you hear the story from the First Book of Samuel of young Samuel waking to the Lord's call and eagerly running to Eli who he mistakenly thought was calling.  Picture such a time when you hear the story from the Gospel of John of the two disciples, one being Andrew, eagerly following Jesus and of Andrew bringing the news, "We have found the Messiah," to his brother Peter.

Jesus tells us we need to welcome and receive the Kingdom of God as a child does.  Let us listen, watch, and respond to the Lord's call each day -- eager to pray, eager to love, eager to serve, eager to offer our challenges and sufferings. As children, we will bring joy to our God.




Reflection for Oct. 26, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today's "to-do" list: Love God and love neighbor


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by Sister Francis Bangert

Today Jesus, the Master Teacher, responds to a trick question put to him by a religious lawyer, "Which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

There were 600+ regulations in the law of Moses. Jesus narrows them down to simply two: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." To do these two is to carry out all the others.

So who is my neighbor, according to Jesus?  To name just a few:

  • the immigrant seeking a better life
  • the homeless child facing tremendous odds
  • the woman, man, or child trafficked right under our eyes
  • the person released from incarceration, genuinely wanting to "start over"
  • the elderly neighbor, isolated and lonely

How might Green Bay, Brown County, the state of Wisconsin, the USA, our world look different if all who call themselves a follower of Jesus would live these two laws ... both in word and in action.




Reflection for Oct. 19, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Though hidden, God comforts and loves us each day


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by Sister Mary Kabat

Have you had those experiences when for no reason at all you remember something important you had forgotten, or you run into an old friend you haven't seen in a long time and he/she says something you needed to hear, or you hear a song on the car radio that resonates with your life and brings a tear to your eye or a smile to your heart?

If you think such moments are random or purely by chance, take some time with the first reading for this Sunday from the Prophet Isaiah 45:4,6.

I, the Lord, have helped you, called you, encouraged you, rescued you, loved you ... though you knew me not.

I believe God loves us beyond our comprehension and is near and ready to give help or comfort whether we ask for it or not. Much of the time we go through life unaware or weighed down by troubles and sorrow. Let us walk through this day with a heightened awareness that our God is with us and is blessing us with good from "the rising to the setting of the sun."



Reflection for Feb. 23, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do I forgive when I am hurt?


by Sister Rose Jochmann

In today's first reading, we receive the message that God gave to Moses, "Cherish no grudge against any of your people.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus goes even further in the Gospel, "I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father."

These lines in today's Scripture can be challenging. Jesus invites us to love those who are difficult to love. It is easy to hold grudges against those who don't appreciate us, who say hurtful things, who insult us, who betray us, who exclude us. These are small "persecutions."  How do we handle them?  Do we forgive and forget?  How can we say we love God when we don't love the person next to us?



Reflection for Oct. 27, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Prayer tip -- Remember how much God loves you


by Sister Madonna Swintkoske

The Gospel for this Sunday is a story of two individuals, a Pharisee and a tax collector, who went to the temple to pray.  There was a difference in their prayer.  The difference was in their attitude and in their focus.

The Pharisee was focused on himself.  God was not the center of his prayer.  He reminded God of all that he (the Pharisee) did for God. "I fast twice a week and I pay tithes on my whole income."  He forgot that God's love is the source of all.  He did not need to be pious and devout and loving to win God's love. He was to be pious, devout and loving because God already loved him.

The tax collector understood this. He left the initiative to God. "Have mercy on me." It all starts with God and the love God has for all of us.

Questions for reflection:
  1. How do you understand God's love?
  2. Have you ever thought you needed to earn God's love?
  3. Who helped you to know you were unconditionally loved by God?

Celebrating the 'Year of Faith'

Moral Life -- Embrace Poverty of Spirit


About this series
DID YOU KNOW: The first Three Commandments concern love and fidelity to God, while the other seven speak of love and forgiveness of neighbor as an expression of God's love.

Chapter 34, US Catholic Catechism for Adults

You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Tenth Commandment

by Sister Mary Kabat

The Tenth Commandment - You shall not covet your neighbor's goods - completes the Ninth Commandment by focusing on the intentions of the heart. While we all need to acquire earthly goods for the care and well-being of ourselves and our families, there are forces that motivate us to become overly attached to money and possessions.  Greed and envy can become rooted in our hearts.  The desire for what another has or to have more and more possessions becomes our life goal.  

Living the Tenth Commandment brings us to trust in the providence of God.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that poverty of spirit enables us to inherit the Kingdom of God.  The commandment calls us to a healthy detachment from material things and a generosity of heart.  It enables us to adopt a simplicity of life, a love for the poor, a care for creation and a witness to justice and peace in the world.

"For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

Mt 6:19-21


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Reflection for Feb. 12, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

BauerRenae125pxby Renae Bauer
Communications Director

One of the gifts of growing older, in my opinion, has been my appreciation of history.  As a student I didn't have a strong interest in the subject but that changed when my sister introduced me to her genealogy work.  I was hooked the moment a human story replaced the memorization of dates.

On Monday night, the local PBS channel aired a story about William Still, an African-American in Philadelphia who was instrumental in helping nearly 800 slaves escape to freedom before the Civil War.  For 14 years, Still risked his freedom and life so that strangers could have the dignity and freedom they had never known but desperately wanted.

Today's Gospel shares Jesus' risky move, one that is connected to eternal freedom.  He touches a leper, a member of the "untouchable" society, someone who, according to the First Reading, "shall dwell apart" from the rest of the community in order to keep the majority of people "clean." In that moment, Jesus erases the division between the "unworthy" and the "worthy." He makes clear that redemption and God's love is available to all.

So far, I haven't felt called by God to do something as bold or dangerous as William Still did, so I am left with these questions:

1.    Who are today's "lepers"?  
2.    How can I -- in my ordinary, everyday encounters -- demonstrate God's dignity and love toward others?


Reflection for Oct. 30, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Swintkoske_Madonna_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Madonna Swintkoske

"Jesus spoke to the crowds and the disciples, saying, 'The Scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you ...'" -- Gospel of Matthew

We could almost think that Jesus is commending the Scribes and Pharisees until he continues,   "... but do not follow their example."

As far as the Scribes and Pharisees taught reverence and love for God and respect and love for all individuals, their teachings are to be observed.  However, their whole outlook on religion with their thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations made it an intolerable burden.  Religion is meant to lift us up not to drag us down.  It is to be a joy not a depression.  Religion exists to help us not to haunt us.

From today's Gospel we see that the way of the Pharisees was to dress and act in such a way as to draw attention to themselves and how good they were.  As Christians we see that following the law is not the problem but how and why we live that law is the key. Do we do "good" for the praise we get or do we live the law out of love of God and each other?