Thursday, January 26, 2017
When you're in the minority
Sunday's readings encourage us to be faithful to God even if when we feel like the 'remnants'
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Have you ever felt like a loner? Have you ever felt that you were just one of a handful of people who subscribe to the same values or practice the same principles?
One of the worst experiences in the history of the Israelites was their exile in Babylon. Jerusalem had been captured and its temple destroyed. The people would not return to their homeland for about 50 years. Reflecting on their predicament, they concluded that it was their infidelity to God, their worship of false idols, that had brought this disaster upon them. Yet in the midst of this bleak situation God promised that a remnant would remain, a people humble and lowly, who would put their trust in God and be faithful.
When Jesus begins His public ministry a few centuries later, He invites His disciples to adopt the disposition of that remnant group, to be poor in spirit, meek, seeking God alone, and working for peace and justice. He promises that the Kingdom of God would then be present among them. Given the fact that Israel was under the oppression of the Roman Empire at that time, Jesus probably didn’t anticipate a huge throng buying into this “good news.” The values of wealth, honor and power were more appealing.
Jesus' invitation is extended to us today. If we live the Beatitudes in our modern society, we can easily feel like loners, ostracized from our culture. Will the promise that the Kingdom of God will be right in our midst be enough to persuade us to commit to these ideals?
Feb. 2 has been designated as World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life (to be celebrated in parishes Feb. 4/5). Women and men living the consecrated lifestyle have offered themselves to God in the context of a religious community. Through their vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience they exemplify the spirit of the Beatitudes; they characterize that remnant people. Let us pray that they will live what they have promised with trust, humility and faithfulness.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
The wise words of our Teacher
People in darkness have a great light in Jesus Christ
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” are Jesus’ words to us this Sunday. In the longer version of this reading we hear how Jesus began assembling his apostles, the first of whom were Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. When called, they immediately stopped fishing and began following Him.
- To repent is to acknowledge one's sinfulness and to choose Jesus’ way. In my life, where do I need to make amends and joyfully choose as Jesus would?
- Each day, how do I acknowledge that the kingdom of heaven is at hand?
- When Jesus calls to me, do I respond as the first apostles did?
Thursday, January 12, 2017
God's relentless calling
We are invited to serve, to be holy and to invite others
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
Throughout our lives we all get chosen for something. Sometimes we might be called to do something we never dreamed of doing. Isaiah tells us: “the Lord has spoken, who formed me as his servant from the womb” (49:5) Paul tells us that we are “called to be holy” (1:2). John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and says that he saw the “Spirit come down…and remain upon him”(1:33). What does this all tell us?
We, too, have been chosen by our God to be servants, to be holy and to testify that Jesus is indeed the one who came to save us. The Spirit has come upon us and lights our paths as we strive to be holy and to invite others to know Jesus as the Lamb of God.
- What does it mean to be called to holiness?
- How do we invite others to “be holy”?
Please pray for those Sisters called to serve in leadership for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and ask the Spirit to continue in guiding us into the future!
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Guided by a star, blessed by holy waters
God is our constant source of all things good whether we are kings or commoners
by Sister Charlene Hockers
“We have seen his star in the East, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.”
“This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We are coming to the end of celebrating a glorious liturgical season: Advent, Christmas, and now the Epiphany on Sunday and the Baptism of Jesus on Monday. We will take a moment to reflect on these mysteries.
The Wise Men had traveled from the East following the star. When they found the Messiah, they presented their gifts to Him. We also follow the star through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who will help us recognize Jesus as He breaks into our lives. In ordinary and surprising ways, we find the Lord through the Scriptures, the Sacraments, creation and in our own personal lives. In order to BE epiphany to others, we strive to be persons of selfless love. We celebrate in gratitude and awe!
Since the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated the next day, let us fast forward from the Child Jesus to the adult Jesus at the Jordan to be baptized by John. At the end of this event, we hear how the heavens opened and the Father proclaimed, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” As Jesus was encouraged by His Father, so, we too, are encouraged and guided by the Spirit in our daily life. We recognize that encouragement through our family, co-workers, and friends. We hear the voice of God in the quiet of our hearts.
Who encourages me? Whom do I encourage? We invite Jesus to break into our lives as we listen, encourage, and give ourselves in selfless love!
“You are His beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
From seed to blossom to fruit
What gifts will you receive, love, and pass along in the coming year?
by Sister Francis Bangert
Sunday celebrates three important events -- the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; the World Day Prayer for Peace; and the New Year. In the Book of Numbers the Lord gives Moses (and us) a blessing for safety, peace and mercy. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we are reminded that it is through Mary that God sent his Son to free us from slavery and sin for adoption as sons and daughters, so we could call God “Abba, Father.” In Luke is the unfolding of God’s plan which Mary did not totally understand with her “Yes” but kept all these things in her heart. The readings speak of blessing and peace, promise and fulfillment, freedom and commitment.
A friend recently sent me this poem by Dawna Markova, appropriate for today.
Living Wide Open: Landscapes of the Mind
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
How will our lives bear rich fruit in this New Year? Peace and all good.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
We have the finest gift and it can change everything we think, do, say
The joyful waiting of Advent concludes; we now proclaim, “Emmanuel! God is with us!” Our God of never-ending love and mercy has “richly poured out on us” (Titus 3:6) the finest gift -- our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What will we do with this gift? Will we:
- Be like the angels and proclaim the good news to all?
- Be like Mary and carry Jesus close to us?
- Be like Joseph whose words and actions honored Mary? Will we do this for people with whom we agree and disagree?
- Be like the shepherds who left the darkness of the fields for the greatest light found in the most unlikely of places?
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Set every "thing" aside; instead, remember the Lord is with us
These last days of Advent can be fruitful in drawing us closer to Christ
by Sister Rose Jochmann
Can you believe it? Christmas is just a week away! How is your Advent preparation going? Have you been able to take some time to remember that we are celebrating that Jesus, the Son of God, came to live among us as a human being. We are celebrating that Jesus continues to live with each of us Christians!
Our first reading, from Isaiah, tells us that “the Lord himself gives you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel (God is with us).” The Gospel of Matthew tells us how the birth of Jesus came about. In the Gospel, the angel tells Joseph to take Mary as his wife. “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:22)
So, as you finish your preparations for Christmas, don’t let yourself get stressed and anxious. Remember that the Lord is near – the Lord is with you. Rejoice! Bring that good news to all those you meet throughout the Christmas season.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Advent joy can reign even in times of distress
God is with us always, encouraging us to share these comforting words with all
by Sister Mary Kabat
It is the Sunday of Advent joy! Joy is certainly all around as Christmas nears – in the songs, the decorations, the Christmas greetings and even the greetings of strangers we meet each day.
But as we continue to wait for Christmas, each of us is also carrying hardships, worries and struggles in our lives or through the lives of those we hold dear. The reading from the Letter of James gives us good advice and encouragement. “Be patient,” James writes, as a farmer must be patient after planting the seed. “Make your hearts firm,” James writes, and trust that the Lord is with you every day and each moment.
Advent is not a romantic time. It is a real time that fits our very real lives. Know in your heart and open your eyes to the signs of Jesus’ presence and love with you. As Jesus says in Sunday’s Gospel passage from Matthew, “Go and tell what you hear and see” to those who need your word of good advice and your touch of encouragement.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
How is the fruit from your 'tree of faith'?
Faith is the focus of the Second Sunday of Advent; Matthew's Gospel stresses reconciling with and drawing closer to God
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
John the Baptizer does not mince words when he proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” He challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees to “give evidence” they had a change of heart.
God had promised to send the one who would be our hope, consolation, and redeemer. God has kept this promise. The Kingdom of God is here and the challenge of John the Baptizer remains the same. We are asked to give evidence that we have had a change of heart. During this Advent season we renew our commitment to Jesus. Let us keep our promises of:
- Fidelity: honoring the commitment we have made in life
- Cooperation: working together in our families, work place, community
- Hospitality: serving all we encounter
What evidence can we give that we are serious about reforming our hearts and lives?
Friday, November 18, 2016
Can you see the bright light of Jesus Christ through the holiday glitz?
Advent draws us from the darkness of this world to the brilliant hope in our Savior
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
On several Monday evenings in the fall I teach a course on spirituality at the diocesan office campus in Green Bay. When driving home after class I have to cross a long bridge, and as I proceed in the darkness, the west side of the city is glowing before me. Lights from the stores in several shopping malls invite customers to enter and purchase items of all sorts. Lights from pubs and restaurants entice people to satisfy their needs for food, drink, and entertainment. Beyond that district looms a very tall structure with a bright shining “G” at the top, a symbol that represents a football team that has become an idol. All of these signs and symbols that illuminate the area reveal what we truly value.
We enter this weekend into the beginning of the Advent season. As we move into December, we are experiencing the darkest time of the year. Advent is a time to reflect not only on the condition of the world before the birth of Jesus, but also on the present situation in which we live, which has its own darkness. The events of this election year speak for themselves.
In contrast to the lights of the modern world, Isaiah says, in Sunday’s first reading, “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5) Where do we find that light? Advent gradually draws us to the starlight beaming on the face of a newborn Baby lying in a manger in a cave, among a humble and lowly people. When we are in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized, we will recognize that face and embrace the light that surrounds it. And what are we to do with that light when we discover it? Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!
- How would you describe the darkness with which you enter the season of Advent?
- When have you discovered the light of the face of Jesus on the poor and marginalized?
- How can you let the light coming from the face of Jesus shine in your life?