Weekly Reflections

Reflection for Feb. 10, 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Reading between the lines

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What Simon sees in Jesus' face or feels in his own heart is something we, too, can experience

by Sister Mary Kabat

Sometimes we need to read between the lines to grasp a full understanding of a passage or story. In this Sunday’s Gospel from Luke 5:1-11, I think the full understanding is in something we can’t read or see.  It’s in the eyes of Jesus and Simon.

The story at the shore is vivid with images: Jesus teaching as the crowd presses upon him, the sound of water and wood as Simon maneuvers his boat away from the shore giving Jesus a safe space, the fishermen along the shore washing their nets. Then we hear Jesus’ invitation to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  Simon is quick to reply –- we worked all night, we caught nothing –- and maybe some unspoken words better left unsaid. But mid-sentence there is a major shift -– but at your command I will lower the nets. What did Simon see in Jesus’ eyes that caused him to give in: a challenge, a test, an opportunity to prove this carpenter-teacher wrong?

And what a catch they had! Simon was overcome. He was beginning to know who Jesus was and what he was really asking of him. Falling at Jesus’ knees, Simon admits how unworthy he is to be in Jesus’ company. Simon hears in Jesus’ words and sees in his eyes the invitation for a life of “catching men” with Jesus. The journey of following and being formed and transformed by Jesus begins for Simon and the others who leave all else behind.

When you hear of Jesus, read of Jesus, take time to be with and talk to Jesus, may you see the love, the invitation, the mercy, the new beginning being offered to you in the eyes of Jesus.


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Comments:

CommentBubble"Simon was overcome" [at the incredulous over-abundance his relationship-&-response to JESUS had brought].

This story reminds me that sometimes we are given more than we know what to do with. These are just the kind of times that call for extra careful listening - paying attention to and following - the One who has initiated, shown, and given the abundance, in the first place.

"What are we to do with all of this [new awareness, new understanding, new insight?]" "What are we to make of all of this new knowledge - this new way of seeing and being in relationship with the world God has birthed and blessed us into?" "What are we to do? Where are we to go? How will we learn to manage and steward all the many, diverse, but beautifully whole and holy good things of God?"

These are the questions of a called - and seeking - heart-mind. Peter felt it. He "was overcome" [with deeply felt emotions, including wonder-&-awe of God's Presence]." He didn't know what to make of it all, but he knew he had to follow, be with, and learn from JESUS, the One who had initiated the experience.

I, too, seek to learn from the One who initiates, mentors, and brings to fulfillment the calling of myself and my personhood to himself and his Way of Life. The spirit of the Center for Action and Contemplation, as founded and directed by Franciscan priest, Fr. Richard Rohr, is one such place I seek to learn from and grow with. I wish we had one like it around here. :) https://cac.org/ -- Linda

CommentBubbleThanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas about the readings. Your comments always bring new insights to meditate and pray each week. -- Mary

CommentBubblePlease thank Sister Mary Kabat for her wonderful reflection for this week! -- Fr. Bill

 

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Reflection for Feb. 3, 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

 St. Paul and Mary Poppins issue a challenge 

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Doing the impossible is possible when we walk with Jesus

by Sister Francis Bangert

Recently I enjoyed the newly released Disney movie “Mary Poppins Returns”. For two hours of musical magic, viewers like myself were enchanted by looking at life’s losses, challenges, fears through a different lens ... a child’s eyes. “Everything is possible, even the impossible” was a line from the movie I remembered when reading Sunday's second reading from St. Paul, which states: 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Let your imagination wander. Picture a world shaped by Paul’s (and Jesus’) words. Seems impossible? Perhaps. But it CAN happen, one person at a time, when we choose to live respecting the dignity of one another, with kindness, selflessness, patience, humility, with faith, hope, endurance, in truth.  What must you and I choose in order to make the impossible, possible?

In the church today we celebrate Consecrated Life Day. We pray with and for vowed women and men religious who have and are committing their lives to God in the service of the Church. At the same time, we pray for all women and men who through Baptism are called to serve the Church in all states of life, married, single, priesthood and consecrated life. Everyone can help make the impossible, possible.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleSister Fran, I loved your missioning each of us to make this world a bit better with acts of kindness, compassion, and caring for each other as Jesus does for us and as St.Paul told his followers in Corinth. Am sending prayers for all of you religious sisters there on this special weekend. Please also remember our son, Fr. Luke Hansen in prayer this weekend -- Joyce Hansen

 

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Reflection for Jan. 27, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Day marking consecrated life is a celebration for all of us

We can observe the lives of vowed religious as well as our own baptismal call

World Day for Consecrated Life is next Saturday, Feb. 2, and is celebrated on the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In Saturday’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph fulfill the law by bringing their infant Son to the temple. They encounter the “righteous and devout” Simeon and the prophetess Anna, both of whom recognize Jesus for who He is.

In many respects, Anna models consecrated life:

  • She gave herself completely to God
  • She worshipped day and night
  • She practiced fasting
  • She proclaimed Jesus as king

There are many ways each of us can celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life whether ordained, consecrated or lay:

  • Say a prayer such as this one
  • Thank a Sister, Brother, Religious Order Priest or a member of a secular institute for serving the church or helping you
  • Invite a young adult to consider religious life

2019-01-27 visual reflection


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you sisters for all you do. - Millie

CommentBubble"The Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church commemorate Anna as a saint, Anna the Prophetess. The Eastern Orthodox Church considers Anna and Simeon the God-Receiver as the last prophets of Old Testament and observes their feast on February 3 / February 16 as the synaxis (afterfeast) following the Presentation of Christ, which Orthodox tradition calls "The Meeting of Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Along with Simeon, the prophetess Anna is commemorated on February 3 in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church. Anna’s figure is drawn in the icons of the Presentation of Christ, together with the Holy Child and the Virgin Mary, Joseph and Simeon the God-Receiver. Orthodox tradition considers that Christ met his people, Israel, in the persons of those two, Simeon and Anna." (Wikipedia)

Remembering and honoring all holy, wise, elderly persons - from every Culture, Race, Religion. They are blessed, beloved, beautiful. -- Linda

CommentBubbleYes indeed, God bless you all! --Michelle B

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Reflection for Jan. 20, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

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Whether from Nazareth, Green Bay or Timbuktu, we can exceed our expectations when we walk with Jesus

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

Mike was a quiet fifth-grade boy who had difficulty with reading and writing. As the time for him to give his report in language class was approaching, I was feeling rather nervous for him, knowing he probably would be struggling just to read his own writing. When his turn actually arrived, he walked to the front of the classroom with his paper and three posters. He held his paper at his side. Mike gave the most interesting report of the entire class. He lived on a farm, and without even looking at his paper but referring to pictures he had drawn, he explained in detail the various pieces of equipment on his parents’ farm. How different the report was from my own expectations!

In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear the story of Jesus’ first miracle, his changing water into wine at the wedding feast. The wedding took place in Cana in Galilee, and almost everyone in the town would have been there. So who would have been included? Probably a man by the name of Nathaniel, who lived in Cana.  What do we know about him? He had recently made the smart remark, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Now he was at the wedding, watching Jesus of Nazareth perform an astounding miracle. Nathaniel must have returned home that day evaluating and questioning his own expectations of Jesus.

Reflection questions
  1. What are my expectations of Jesus of Nazareth?  Do I believe he can take the stagnant waters of my life and refashion them into the life-giving wine of compassion and mercy?
  2. And what are my expectations of myself? Do I believe I can leave the confines of my “Nazareth” and bring renewed energy and joy to a world that seems to have six empty jars, waiting to be filled?

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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you! -- Cheryl

CommentBubble"WoW!" This is a "WoW!" story: "Wonder of Wonders!" :) "WoW!" can also stand for "Women of Wisdom," or "Women of Wonders!" :) I am sharing it with others! Very beautiful; very meaningful for our lives. Thank you for sharing it, Sr. Elise. -- Linda

CommentBubbleThe reflection on the wedding in Cana touched my heart & was just what I needed this morning! I’m going to try & fill some jars right now -- Kathy

CommentBubbleThanks for your message on Cana and that 5th Grader. Again, I believe good comes out of so many things. I’ve been told I’m eternally optimistic and I will remain that way. Good comes out of so many people and events in our would we just have to be open to them and not listen to the nay sayers.

CommentBubbleI have no doubt what Jesus can do; my question is can I be strong enough to do what Jesus wants me to do. I try to surrender but sure I don't always live up to that. -- Rheda

CommentBubbleThanks, Sr. Elise, for new images on Jesus’s first miracle. Thought-provoking questions regarding “can anything good come from” attitude of judgment, pride, cynicism in my life toward others. Also, how many “jars” can I fill with mercy and compassion. As I ‘m receiving chemotherapy, I realize a “kind uplifting word and action “ helps hope beget hope. Thanks -- Sr. Anne, osf

 

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Reflection for Jan. 13, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The message heard at the Baptism of the Lord isn't just for Jesus

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We, too, are loved and are pleasing to God

by Sister Agnes Fischer

"You are my beloved Son."

On the day Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and a voice proclaimed: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

On the day of our baptism we didn’t see or hear anything, but our faith tells us that:

  • The heavens did open for each of us
  • The Holy Spirit did descend upon us
  • God did say to each of us, “You are my beloved son/daughter”

After his baptism Jesus went about doing good. Isaiah 42:3 tells us: "A bruised reed he did not break, and a smoldering wick he did not quench.”

  • What good am I doing as a result of my baptismal call to be a disciple?
  • How do people know that I have been baptized?
  • What bruised reeds and smoldering wicks have I sheltered and nourished?
  • Whom have I grasped by the hand and brought out from confinement?

Lord God, may I be your child in name and in truth. (from the prayer after Communion)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleDear Sister: This is a very meaningful reflection, a lot to think about. Thank you, Irene

CommentBubbleI put myself in the scene of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. I begin to talk with Jesus: What did it feel like to be baptized by John, Jesus? What did it feel like when you saw many people coming after you to be baptized? Were you energized by their decision to follow your example? Were you inspired by their willingness and desire to ‘change their lives’ for the good of others? Did you take notice of how each one expressed their love for God, and how they cared for the ‘little ones’ in their midst? Could you tell how much they wanted more in their knowing, loving, and serving the God-of-their-salvation? Were they gentle and kind in their expressions; or were they loud, abrasive, rude, belligerent? What did you say to them? How did you respond to each one? Who of these followers, those choosing to be baptized after you, and in the same water-bath as you, Jesus, am I like? Which one of these followers do I most identify with? Or -– do I mostly identify with you, Jesus, as you ‘go down,’ below the surface of life, to ‘come up’ in greater fullness of a more awakened, more fully conscious life of what it means to be ‘beloved of God?’ -- Linda

CommentBubbleWow, this reflection has really made me stop & think. Very meaningful Sr. Agnes! Thank you! -- Marie

CommentBubbleGreat Reflection, Sister! I appreciate your thoughts & efforts! It was great to be home over the Christmas/New Year's break. Happy New Year. God's Blessings always -- Father Bill Jacobs

 

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Reflection for Jan. 6, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A star, a star dancing in the night

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Journey of the magi is rich beyond the gifts they brought

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

The Gospel for today’s feast of the Epiphany is a very familiar one. Most manger scenes include figures of the three Wisemen ... maybe even a camel or two with them. 

The three travelers risked their lives following a star to find the Messiah. It is difficult to imagine the conditions of their travel and the length of time. Nothing stopped them from their journey. Matthew tells us that they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Tradition tells us that they were foreigners named Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior. They were of different cultures and beliefs yet God touched their hearts to follow the star. Salvation was being offered to everyone! 

This message comes to us in a world that is becoming more multicultural and diverse in many areas -– a world that seems overcome with violence and injustice. Jesus was sent by God to bring all people together. This feast speaks of God’s desire that all live in peace. 

Reflection questions
  1. What has led you to Christ?
  2. How has your journey been guided by God’s hand?
  3. What will you do to fufill God’s desire that all live in peace?

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Reflection for Dec. 30, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wisdom revealed

The example of Jesus at the temple demonstrates God's work in time, and God's time at work

For Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Family we hear the story of 12-year-old Jesus engaging with teachers at the temple while his parents departed from Jerusalem, unknowingly without their son. The last sentence in Gospel reads: “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

The Gospel implies that Jesus was not born with all the answers, that God revealed wisdom over time. This is comforting especially in times when we feel a spiritual “dryness” or don’t understand the readings or Church teachings. If you are seeking a new year’s resolution consider praying for strength or patience so that you can stick with your journey of faith. Allow God to reveal wisdom at the right time.

Young -Jesus -600


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love this picture! JESUS, Jewish Mid-Eastern boy! It is note-worthy, too, that this climactic gospel ending, "JESUS grew in wisdom, age, and grace ..." is expressed on a day that recognizes the family as central to just such growth and development of each child. Religious communities, too, like families of nurture and care, are called upon to help advance each member's personal and spiritual development. Such a liberating, yet supportive environment, requires wisdom and grace, for sure! And an openness to 'new life;' 'new' ways-of-God! -- Linda

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Reflection for Dec. 23, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How does this happen?

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Mary's visit with Elizabeth reminds us of the unpredictability of God who brings peace, His Son, into the world

by Sister Francis Bangert

The Gospel for today is one of my favorites, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.  I offer a beautiful poem for your reflection.

Visitation

Two women meet,
cousins yet more than kin—
bound now to one another
by pregnant surprise.

Their unpredictable God has laughed at nature
and made the childless and the virgin bear.

She of the leaping womb thought barren
bears the restlessness of her God.

And the virgin unknown
becomes the magnifying glass
that makes great her God
for all to see.

The women embrace:
forgotten hope surprised by life
embraces surprising love.

Meeting they touch
the old and the new
the forgotten and the unknown
now revealed in mystery
as ancient desire and time's fullness.

The simple majesty
of their common meeting
is remembered as the uncommon visitation
of God come among us.

Shall our own forgotten hope
protect us from surprise?

Perhaps!

Shall our fear of being known
cause us to turn and hide
from this -- God's embrace?

It is possible.

Shall we trade
the restlessness of God
for oblivion?

Also possible.

But these women,
Elizabeth and Mary,
desire and fullness,
call us to laugh
with our unpredictable God
who comes to visit
such a warm and generous embrace
upon our quaking hearts.

by Harry Hagan, OSB
© Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 1993. All rights reserve. Used with permission.


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Comments:

CommentBubble"becomes the magnifying glass that makes great her God for all to see." This is VERY COOL: that is our "visitation" calling, too. I recently was sent this (https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/are-you-sure/) very thoughtful pondering regarding "annunciation." It gives us pause to wonder if there have been ways and times that we have resisted, or even rejected, an invitation and request from The Great Mystery-of-All to "bear God new life." How much surrender it takes to really "hear" and "know" and succumb to that call to "new life!" "God, surrender me to your holy, life-giving will!" -- Linda

CommentBubble"...the unpredictability of God..." says it all! Thank you for your thoughtful reflection! -- Michael V

 

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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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