Thursday, August 6, 2015
Prayer, community life and ministry all begin
"So be imitators of God -- and live
in love." (Ephesians 5:1)
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
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
Thursday, July 9, 2015
No GPS needed: Jesus' traveling instructions
lead us to perfect love
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
As you reflect on your journey of love this week ask
- Who supports me as I travel with Jesus?
- Who do I support and how do I show that support?
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Remembering and imitating God's profound love
is our call
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.
- Have you met a person who loves everybody in an all-inclusive
way? How has this person's love affected you?
- Have you experienced the love of a mother figure in your life?
How has this experience helped you to love other people?
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Here I am. You called me. I'm eager to do
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.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Today's "to-do" list: Love God and love
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
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
- 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
- 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
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Though hidden, God comforts and loves us each
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
I, the Lord, have helped you, called you,
encouraged you, rescued you, loved you ... though you knew me
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."
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?
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Prayer tip -- Remember how much God loves
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:
- How do you understand God's love?
- Have you ever thought you needed to earn God's love?
- Who helped you to know you were unconditionally loved by
'Year of Faith'
Moral Life -- Embrace Poverty of Spirit
|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
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."
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
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
1. Who are today's "lepers"?
2. How can I -- in my ordinary, everyday
encounters -- demonstrate God's dignity and love toward others?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
by 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
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?