Weekly Reflections

Reflection for April 29, 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A place in God's heart

How will you honor and strengthen your connection to our Creator today?

We share a connection and it’s greater than a telephone, a television or a computer. It is Jesus Christ.

The focus of Sunday’s readings reminds us of our dependence on God. First we hear from Acts how the Holy Spirit (through us, not because of us) builds the Church, followed by John’s letter which states that God is greater than our hearts and God knows everything. Finally, we hear the vine and branches metaphor in the Gospel. When we are with Jesus we bear fruit.

Reflection questions:
  1. How is my connection to Jesus?
  2. What kind of fruit am I bearing? How am I sharing the harvest of my faith?
  3. If I have injured my relationship with God, how can it be mended?

Vine and branches

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CommentBubbleBefore I went to the reflection link, my very first thought upon seeing the bunch of grapes was how that bunch of grapes, the beautifully ripened fruit of the vine, must be 1) picked from the vine (separated, removed - as in 'death -' as was JESUS dying, then dead, on the cross); 2) crushed and squeezed, with everything of its 'life' being drained from itself, from its original property; 3) made into, turned into, transformed into a "new" property - wine. -- Linda

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Reflection for April 22, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Whether shepherd or sheep

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For Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus expresses his concern for us; in turn, we model his love to others

by Sister Laura Zelten

In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus tells us: “I am the good shepherd: a good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep ... I know my own and my own know me ... they listen to my voice ...” Through this reading we learn about the qualities of a good shepherd and of a good flock.

The good shepherd takes care of his flock. He is patient with them; he loves them and never harms them; he is available to them at all times; and is ready to make sacrifices for them. A good flock listens to its shepherd; obeys his instructions; and follows him with confidence. In other words, there must be trust between a shepherd and the flock. 

As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we are reminded that each of us is a shepherd in one way or another. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, models for us the qualities needed to lead:

  • Sacrifice -- He sacrificed everything to save us, his flock;
  • Patience -- He always bears with our weaknesses;
  • Love -- There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:13);
  • Availability -- He is always close to us: “Whoever shall call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved" (Rom 10:13). He is the way, the truth and the life.

Along with Good Shepherd Sunday our Universal Church marks World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray that men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord's call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes. May they be open to leading as Jesus the Good Shepherd leads.

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CommentBubble"I know my own.." I am known and loved by God ...
"... my own know me ..." I know and love God in return ...
"... listen to my voice ...” JESUS'  Voice is the voice-of-my-heart; it is the voice that speaks truth, loves tenderly yet 'tough-ly' as in strong, empowering, inspiring, courageously bold, insight-fully wise. JESUS is both whisper and roar; sometimes he roars with laughter. JESUS is both the sorrow - and the Joy - of my heart. -- Linda

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Reflection for April 15, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pope Benedict XVI: 'Mercy is the very name of God'

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Through Jesus, you and I are forgiven as we reflect on and amend our ways

by Sister Ann Rehrauer 

On this third Sunday of Easter, the message of Scriptures could not be clearer:  Our God is rich in mercy, and Jesus Christ crucified and risen, is our Advocate with the Father. 

The Gospel account describes one of the Risen Lord’s appearances to the disciples as he helped them understand the Scriptures: “... it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead ... that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Following his command, the early Church preached a Gospel of repentance and forgiveness through Jesus.  Repentance includes both an admission of our need for forgiveness and a commitment to a conversion of life so that, as the apostle John says, we keep God’s commandments.

The Church has continued to preach this Gospel of mercy, even to our day through Pope Francis, and his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II.

In his second encyclical, Rich in Mercy, Saint John Paul II calls God’s mercy, "the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God" (Dives in Misericordia, 13).

Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Mercy is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love.”  Benedict ends by praying that all the Church says and does will manifest the mercy God feels for all of us.

Today, as we live the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection, we pray that we and our world, so broken and in such pain, might experience the mercy of God and live in a way that witnesses to this great gift.

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CommentBubbleDear Sr Ann, Thank you for the beautiful thoughts on God’s mercy. We would be lost without it. -- Irene Whatley

CommentBubbleSt. Anne's Episcopal Church, De Pere, holds a "Healing Mass" every Wednesday @ 9 a.m. I discovered this beautiful treasure just last year. I share with you a portion of the prayers I find so rich and meaningful:
"L: Restore to wholeness whatever is broken by human sin - in our lives, in our nation, and in our world.
L:  You are the Lord who does wonders.
L:  With you, O Lord, is the well of life.
L: Hear us, O Lord of Life.

Before the anointing takes place, we all pray: "God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen."  -- Linda

CommentBubbleAt a time when the world needs God’s mercy more than ever, your reflection on the Resurrection gives hope. Thank you! -- Michelle B

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Reflection for April 8, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Touch His side and believe

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Because of Thomas, we hear Jesus proclaim to him and us, 'blessed are those who believe'

by Sister Margaret Mary Halbach

Today is an important day for our Community.  We are commemorating Founders' Day during our 150th celebration year.  The Scriptures for this weekend are appropriate in my reflection on Community.  

The first reading on this Second Sunday of Easter is from the Acts of the Apostles. It speaks of the Apostles and their beginning of the Church and how they lived what Christ taught them: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.  With great power the Apostles bore witness to the Resurrection of the Lord, and great favor was accorded to them all." (4:32-33)

As I reflect on that statement I realize that, as each Sister lives in the spirit of Community, we can be and do more in Community than we can be or do alone. This thought has become a great part of our Sisters’ spiritualty.  We give witness to the love of Jesus Christ, lived in Community. We possess all things in common and then share all in a joyful attitude.

In the Gospel (John 20:19-31) Thomas the Apostle comes to the fore after not being present with the others when Jesus came to the Upper Room to reveal Himself. In a way Thomas is representative of all of us. We were not present in the Upper Room yet we are to have faith and believe.  Jesus challenged Thomas to put a hand into His side "and to not be unbelieving but believe. ... Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

We are challenged, too. We are called to touch not only Jesus' wounds but all those we meet in our wounded world.  Try to spend time today praying over the following thought: Who needs our gentle touch in their wounds? How can we help reveal Jesus?

Be not afraid. He is with us.

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CommentBubbleHappy Founders' Day and blessings for many more years!!! - Claire

CommentBubbleThank you, Sisters, for your gentle healing touch over these 150 years of service.  Celebrate Jesus' endless goodness witnessed through you in endless ways!  Thank you for building a loving community.-Ellen

CommentBubbleThe experience of living in community is rich, indeed, but notice how the Gospel (John 20: 19-31) goes on to tell of the very first 'fearful' community of believers. Two weeks in a row, Jesus comes to his followers, who have locked themselves in, barred the door, out of fear.  Both times Jesus enters, appears with a message, a pronouncement of "Peace," dispelling their fears to move outward. Jesus appears, and 'breathes new life upon them and within them.'  Not just once, but twice. Not only does Jesus gift the believers with "Shalom," but he extends his very own wounded-ness to them, that they, too, will come to recognize their own wounds, and the ways they have wounded others, including Jesus.  This is metanoia - conversion - repentance and healing at work - just what disciples need to be authentic preachers of 'new life' and to become wounded healers, themselves, in the Example of "the Wounded Healer," Jesus. Your celebration is on Mercy Sunday. How fitting for these times! The psalm, too, so rich .... as each and every believing household and disciple-ed community can sing out, "The Mercy of God endures forever!" -- Linda

CommentBubbleI pray for the blessing of God to be with each of the Sisters as they commemorate & celebrate the 150th Founders Day! - Michael V

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Reflection for April 1, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

So much more than an Easter bonnet

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Among your garments include the joy, light and peace of our Risen Lord

by Sister Jane Riha

Are you wearing your new Easter clothes on Sunday?  It is common for people to don something new on Easter.  Those from a certain era will remember this portion of a song, “In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it ..."  We don’t wear bonnets nowadays but we might wear a special decorative hat.

The garments that persons of all ages are called to wear during this Easter Season are garments that are full of light, joy and peace.  Christ, our Risen Lord, the Light of the World, is in our midst.  The Gospel of John tells us about three persons, witnesses to an empty tomb.  Mary of Magdala came in the early morning when it was still dark.  Surprised she runs to tell Peter and “the other disciple” whom we believe was John.  They go into the tomb together and then this beautiful phrase follows: "He saw and he believed."  This "other disciple" believed.  He did not just look but he saw the significance of what had taken place.  White burial garments were left behind because the Risen Jesus was robed in light and glory.

All three -- Mary of Magdala, Peter and John -- were faithful disciples. I believe they all "saw and believed."  I invite you to enter into this Gospel and place yourself there.  Pray the Gospel and wait for the Risen Lord to reveal His presence to you. The garments of joy, light and peace will reveal themselves.  Most of all may these garments remain deep within your heart.  You are ready now to go out as a disciple and share the Good News of the Gospel.

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Reflection for March 25, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

From joy to hatred

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On Palm Sunday we hear the people's proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah deteriorate into calling for his death

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

Imagine the excitement of welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem as the people waved palm branches and sang “Hosanna! (meaning  “save now”).  The crowds shouted out their belief that Jesus was “the one” who was coming to save them.  Their joy could not be contained.

Now imagine the change in tone as we listen to the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord.  “Hosanna” is replaced with “Crucify him”!  The crowds shouted their disbelief in Jesus as the Messiah.  Their hatred could not be contained.

As Jesus heard and felt the change from adoration and joy to anger and disbelief, he also underwent unbelievable physical, emotional and spiritual suffering.  Many of those who supported him as he entered Jerusalem suddenly deserted him.  Many of those who had followed him hid out of fear.  Imagine how he felt.

Reflection questions:
  1. What does the suffering and death of Jesus mean to you?
  2. Jesus’ journey to Calvary begins on Palm Sunday and continues through this most solemn week – Holy Week.  Will you journey with him?



Reflection for March 18, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A journey of the heart

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Just as a seed gives way to fruit, we live more fully in Jesus when we say 'no' to ourselves and 'yes' to Him

by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

The Responsorial Psalm for this Sunday revisits the refrain and verses of Psalm 51 proclaimed on Ash Wednesday.  There is value in revisiting a Psalm of invitation five weeks into Lent.

Lent is a journey of the heart for each believer who experiences Lent with a measure of seriousness.  This year we began our Lenten journey on Valentine’s Day -- what a coincidence!

Our journey of faith begins at baptism and lasts a lifetime. This journey will challenge us and cause us to die to ourselves. Jesus says in Sunday's Gospel, “Amen, Amen I say to you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn.12:24).  “Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn12:26).

As part of the new evangelization efforts in our diocese, each of us is asked to share the Good News wherever we go. To where will the journey lead us as we approach Holy Week?  Palm Sunday falls on the Feast of the Annunciation. What will we “hear” being announced? How will we share it?


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Reflection for March 11, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"For God so loved the world that ..."

The rest of John's chapter 3 spells out where we will find truth and where we will find evil

Do you walk in the light or in the dark?

As we reach the midpoint of Lent on Sunday, we hear Jesus discuss with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, the choice to live in the light of Jesus Christ or to hide in the dark with wickedness and evil. Nicodemus freely acknowledges that Jesus is sent by God; yet, he seeks out Jesus at night. Did Nicodemus use the dark to hide his visit with Jesus? What did he fear? The words and the actions of Nicodemus can speak to our own lives. What does his journey say about yours and mine?

Jesus _and _Nicodemus -by -Henry _Ossawa _Tanner -Public -Domain

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Reflection for March 4, 2018

Thursday, March 1, 2018

'He told me everything I have done'

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by Sister Mary Kabat

For when he asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink,
he had already created the gift of faith within her.
(excerpt from Preface: The Samaritan Woman)

Have you been caught in or been the witness of a “he said, she said?”  It can end in a rift in a relationship.  In Sunday’s Gospel from John (proclaimed in parishes with candidates and catechumens preparing to be initiated into the Catholic Church), Jesus’ simple request, “Give me a drink,” leads to a lengthy back and forth between Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan woman.  It begins a volley of questions and theological and historical answers which must have brought Jesus a smile and raised the ire of the woman who showed such spunk, knowledge and faith.

Then came the request that brought the debate to a halt: “Go call your husband.”  This required an answer of personal truth.  This was a line in the sand that must be crossed for the encounter to deepen.  The woman must have taken a deep breath and then revealed the truth of her life to Jesus, “I do not have a husband.”  Then, when she references the Messiah, Jesus did some truth telling of his own: “I am he, the one speaking to you.”

The woman sets down her water jar – how this encounter began – and runs to not only proclaim the good news of Jesus but to bring the people of her town to Jesus and Jesus to her town for a two-day stay.  How bewildered the disciples were!  How filled with faith the townspeople were for having come to know the “savior of the world.”

Reflection Questions:
  • What conversation would you like to have with Jesus?
  • What truth do you want to share with Jesus or a person in your life?
  • Can you set down your “water jar” to lead someone to the good news of Jesus?



Reflection for Feb. 25, 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How will His Transfiguration change you?

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These 40 days are a time to let Christ's love overcome fears, judgments & excuses

by Sister Francis Bangert

This Sunday's powerful Transfiguration passage from Mark’s Gospel follows Jesus’ teaching on discipleship: that following Him would lead to misunderstanding, suffering, and even death.  It’s a basic truth of human life … no pain, no gain.  No cross, no resurrection. Think of some examples: regular exercising to lose weight; years of practice to reach the Olympics; rigorous study to obtain a degree; day after long day of struggling with an addiction to achieve sobriety/inner freedom.

To teach the Apostles that following Him will be worth the effort, Jesus invites Peter, James and John into an indescribable experience of the Mystery of Trinity.  He becomes Pure Light – then a Cloud comes and a Voice is heard, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

It is into this mystery that they and we are welcomed to contemplate, to listen for guidance and to be strengthened for the long haul; to work for Gospel peace, not the false peace of control; to respect every human being as an image of God; to care for Earth and stand in awe at her interrelated beauty; to exchange personal comfort and complacency for the challenge of building the reign of God.

As we listen to the beloved Son during these Lenten days, how are we being called into a deeper awareness of being loved unconditionally by Him? What fears, judgmental attitudes, selfish interests, excuses, do we need to let go of in order to grasp the depth of living in the Trinitarian Mystery?  It’s worth the effort.