As we welcome the month of May we look to Mary–we recognize that she gives us the example of how to put our gifts at the service of others:
First we see her as a young woman, using her gift of a listening heart as she hears the call of God to give of herself so that God’s love for humankind could be expressed in a remarkable way. We then see her as a mother-to-be who could rightly have been focused on herself and her unborn child, sharing instead her gift of helpfulness as she hurries to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
We see her later, giving her gift of compassion as she notices the potential embarrassment at the wedding feast; and we see her gift of motherly insight as she tells the waiters to do whatever her son would tell them. Throughout her son’s public life, we see her quietly living her gift of self-sacrifice, willingly letting go of her son, empowering him to go about his father’s business.
At the cross, she again shares one of her gifts–the gift of quiet suffering but she doesn’t stop there– from the foot of the cross she makes yet another commitment to give of herself–as our mother. Mary wasn’t given every gift possible–we don’t hear that she was a good artist, or math scholar, or even a good housekeeper. What we hear about are the gifts of the heart–one or more of her gifts may be ours as well–or we may have different ones–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the gifts we have, we share. Whatever light God has put into our hearts, we let shine. Whatever it is that makes us “tick”, we know who our creator is–and we thank him for the gifts he has given us.
- Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND
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“Spring sale!”… “half-price”… “discounted for limited time only” … “buy one, get one free”…..this kind of advertising catches our eye, lures us in, sometimes even makes us buy what we don’t even need—just because it is on sale!
What catches our eye in our faith? Would it be a miracle right in front of us? Would it be a dynamic speaker? Could it be a moving musical performance?
Or can it be as simple, and as powerful as the words in Scripture? In our life of faith we don’t need to wait for the sales to take advantage of the “good deals.” Jesus has given us everything we need—and HE paid the price! Our life with God is FREE! We can access our God with a few quiet minutes in prayer. We can build a relationship with His Son simply by receiving Eucharist (another free gift!) and we can share in the wisdom of the Spirit just by asking for His help. If we go through our day, conscious of the many “freebies” God gives us, perhaps we will become more and more grateful for all the good things God does for us!
- Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND
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A very happy and blessed Easter to you and yours from all of the Sisters of Notre Dame!
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“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Mt. 21.9) With these words in song or chant Catholics around the world will process into the Church on Palm Sunday waving palm branches which have been liturgically blessed as “sacramentals.” The increase in church-going folks on this day, demonstrates how Catholics like to get their palms but more, how this Sunday transitions us from Lent into Holy Week and to a closer focus on the Passion of Christ.
What we recall is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There is excitement, proclamation and new hope, as if our king has finally made an open statement, announced himself and all will be well!
But in the historical event itself, we know that Jesus knows better. He comes in the spirit of Zechariah’s prophecy. Yes, rejoice…your king is approaching, but he comes, “humble and riding on a donkey.” (Zech. 9.9)
Scripturally and metaphorically “Jerusalem” represents our world and all of us sinners, even as we look forward to the “new Jerusalem.”The journey theme, woven throughout Luke’s Gospel, especially notes in Lk. 9.51 Jesus’ critical, last journey to Jerusalem. “Now it happened that as the time drew near, he resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem.”
This passage reveals the consistent, self-composed personality and purpose-driven life of Jesus. It is a decision statement indicating his total response to his vocation and to the will of his Father. He will indeed be King! He knew who he was and for what he had come into the world to accomplish. Jesus resolutely decides to go into Jerusalem, not by way of the back gate so as to be invisible, but to make a public statement of who he is. It could have gone either way – acceptance or rejection. He took the risk in order to live out of his core vocation. He knew it could lead to crucifixion, even as he hoped it would not.
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ consistent Yes to the Father; going into Jerusalem which represents all of us who too often reject God’s outpouring love. Our response this Palm Sunday is to go up to Jerusalem with Jesus in love and to imitate his unconditional response of love in obedience.
- Sr. Mary Regina Robbins, SND
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“Aaron was a fisherman who lived on the banks of a river. Walking home with his eyes half closed one evening after a hard day’s toil, he was dreaming of what he would do when he became rich. Suddenly his foot struck against a leather pouch filled with what appeared to be small stones. Absentmindedly, he picked up the pouch and began throwing the pebbles into the water. ‘When I am rich, I will have a large house.” And he threw a stone. Then he threw another stone, thinking ‘When I am rich, I will have servants and rich food.’ This went on until only one stone was left. As Aaron held it in his hand, a ray of light caught it and made it sparkle. He realized then that it was a valuable gem and that he had been throwing away the real riches in his hand while he dreamed idly of unreal riches in the future.”
When do we walk with our eyes half-closed? Do we spend our waking moments wanting what we don’t have instead of appreciating the many gifts we do have? As the days of Lent slip by, we still have time to go deep into our hearts and souls to unearth the gratitude we may have lost sight of. We have time to remember those special people in our lives, people who have touched us by their kindness, who have challenged us to be the best we can be, who have loved us enough to forgive us and help us to grow. Let’s spend some time this week singing our gratitude songs! Perhaps if you have a sacred space, you can place the names of those for whom you are grateful in that space….or you might write down your “riches” and place your list in a prominent place (on your refrigerator?).
In these remaining days of Lent, let us renew ourselves in our determination to grow in our relationship with our God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”
Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND
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Here we are, joining in virtually with the more than 100,000 faithful gathered at the Vatican celebrating the news. Ad majorem Dei gloriam! Welcome Pope Francis!
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I’m not really sure where I found this story, but when I re-discovered it in my “collection” I decided it would be appropriate during this time of change. Here we are, close to mid-March, and we are playing a waiting game. We are waiting for the announcement of a new pope; we anticipate the coming of spring (although we have not had much of a winter here in Southern California); we look forward to the end of Lent and the coming of Easter; we live day-to-day, dealing with our personal challenges, our worries, our questions, our yet-to-be-fulfilled dreams. We may feel challenged by the very thought of change, or are excited about it! We may feel a bit like the donkey in the following story…at first, overwhelmed, but finally, victorious over obstacles! A kind of Paschal mystery story!
“One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a well. The farmer frantically thought what to do as the stricken animal cried out to be rescued. With no obvious solution, the farmer regretfully concluded that as the donkey was old, and as the well needed to be filled in anyway, he should give up the idea of rescuing the beast, and simply fill in the well. Hopefully the poor animal would not suffer too much, he tried to persuade himself. The farmer asked his neighbors to help, and before long they all began to shovel earth quickly into the well. When the donkey realized what was happening he wailed and struggled, but then, to everyone’s relief, the noise stopped.
After a while the farmer looked down into the well and was astonished by what he saw. The donkey was still alive, and progressing towards the top of the well. The donkey had discovered that by shaking off the dirt instead of letting it cover him, he could keep stepping on top of the earth as the level rose. Soon the donkey was able to step up over the edge of the well, and he happily trotted off. Life tends to shovel dirt on top of each of us from time to time. The trick is to shake it off and take a step up.”
- Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SNd
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