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A farmer awoke one morning and looked out his window only to find that overnight a field of daffodils had sprung up about his home.  “How beautiful!” he exclaimed, “I should like to stay and wander among the flowers, but I have to plow the north field today.”  When he returned that evening, the daffodils had withered.  The next day, the farmer saw two small birds perched on the branch outside his window.  Their feathers were smooth and their song soared joyfully.  “What beautiful music!” he sighed.  I will come and listen after I have milked the cows.  But when he returned, the birds had flown away.  Each morning for many years, the farmer witnessed some new wonder outside his window.  But there was a farm to care for and he never found time to stop and share in these miracles of life.

 

Are we so busy that we miss the miracles in our lives?  We are not expected to stop working, serving, doing what we need to do…but we do need to be open to the miracles that God sends our way.  Prayer is openness.  In the midst of our activity, necessary as most of it is, we are challenged to find God.  St. Julie Billiart, canonized in 1969, spoke frequently of what she called “rapture in action.”  Julie was not talking about mystical experiences.  She was instead calling attention to the delight we can find in doing the ordinary things when we look for and find God there!  Often busy people like all of us might say that we have no time for prayer, no time to do “one more thing” for God or others in our life.  We feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities, our worries, our fears.  This is exactly the time we need to try to practice “rapture in action” by looking for the goodness in the people we meet, by turning over our fears and anxieties to the loving God who wants to help us, by living in an attitude of prayerful gratitude for the little miracles of life.  Our work, our responsibilities will not magically disappear!  But they will be graced by our awareness of God’s loving presence….May our busy-ness become God’s business!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

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There is a poem called “A Legend” by Adelaide Proctor.  It is about a preacher whose sermons attracted large crowds from far and near.  Meanwhile, nearby there was an old man in the background, who was often seen to be quietly plying his rosary beads.  One day the preacher was thanking God for his gift of preaching that drew so many listeners and seemed to change so many lives.  Imagine his surprise when a voice told him that it was not his sermons that were having the great effect on people.  People’s hearts were being touched and changed because of the old man who was praying for others in the background!

 

Some of the greatest movements for good in the history of the world have been brought about by the quiet prayers of totally unknown people.  For every word we speak to others, we should have many words with God.  “I go to God for the sake of people, and to people for the sake of God.”

 

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another.  It is a gift that comes from the heart, doesn’t require special training or expertise, can be given at any time of the day or night, doesn’t cost a penny but is priceless!  Anyone of any age can give this gift and can receive it!  In giving this gift away, the giver grows in his/her relationship with God and with the receiver of the gift.  And yet, despite all these benefits, prayer is a ministry within our Church community that is often overlooked.

 

Lent begins very soon…on Valentine’s Day!  Instead of looking at the incongruity, maybe we should remember that Lent is preparing us for the greatest HEART-GIFT OF ALL—the gift Jesus gave us, the gift of his heart, for our salvation!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

Message from Sister Marie Paul

Feb. 2, 2018

I recently read this Chinese proverb: “Life is an echo:  what you send out comes back….”  This reminded me so much of our lives as followers of Jesus and echoes so many scriptural ideas!  We reap what we sow; what we receive as gift we are to give as gift; we are to forgive as we are forgiven…and on and on.  We are invited to think about what we “send out.”  Do we send out positive thoughts and affirmations of the good things in life?  Or do we spend too much time complaining about what is wrong in our lives and in our world?  Do we see the good in the people around us, or concentrate only on their faults?  Are we content and happy?  Do others want to be around us?  Are we generous with our time and talent?  Are we people of integrity and justice?  A story might illustrate our call to be Christ’s witnesses in our world:

His companions were making fun of the ragged, barefoot boy.  “You’re a Christian,” they taunted him.  “If God loves you, why doesn’t he take better care of you?  Why doesn’t he tell someone to give you a pair of shoes?”  The boy seemed puzzled for a moment.  Then, with tears in his eyes, he replied, “I think he does tell people.  But they’re not listening.”

Are we listening?  Are we hearing God’s call to be stewards, to be ministers, to be caregivers for others?  Let us say with joy, “Here I am, Lord.  Send me.”

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech

 

 

 

In an old Chinese story, a wise teacher asks his students to identify the most satisfying thing in life. There were many good answers given such as “a happy marriage,” “good health,” and “close friends.” But the sage said that they had all failed to give the correct answer. “The most satisfying thing in life,” he said, “is to see a child confidently walk down the road on his own after you have shown him the way to go.”

During the week of January 28, our national Catholic Schools will celebration Catholic Schools Week. Let us be grateful for the gift of Catholic education and do our part to support and encourage the spiritual formation of the children and youth of our many parishes! Let us each do our part to inspire confidence and faith in all the children with whom we come in contact…as parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, neighbors, and mentors. We are the Church, and our children are its future!

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

“[Christ] left you an example…that you would follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21).

A prince had a crooked back that kept him from being the kind of prince he wanted to be. One day the king had a sculptor make a statue that portrayed the prince with a straight back. He placed it in the garden. When the prince saw it, he meditated on it and desired to be like it. Soon people began to say, “The prince’s back is getting straighter.” When the prince heard this, he began to spend hours meditating on the statue. Then one day he stood as straight as the statue. This story is a parable of you and me. God sent us Jesus to show us how we can become who we are meant to be….

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

“A man was watching his eighty-year-old neighbor planting a small peach tree. He asked him, ‘You don’t expect to eat peaches from that tree, do you?’ The old man rested on his spade. He said, ‘No, at my age I know I won’t. But all my life I have enjoyed peaches—never from a tree I planted myself. I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted the trees for me by planting for those who will come after me.”

Let us remember that by our baptism we are committed to caring for others as Jesus did. We do this in many ways. This little story reminds us that we have the joy and privilege of preparing for the generations to follow us, those who will reap the blessings of our life and actions. May all that we do in this new year help others!

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

A story is told about John Ruskin, the 18th-century English writer when he was quite old. He was visiting with a friend and was standing looking out the front window of the house. It was nighttime, and the lamplighter was lighting the street lamps. From the window, one could only see the lamps that were lit, and the light the lamplighter was carrying from one lamppost to the next. The lamplighter himself could not be seen.

Ruskin remarked that the lamplighter was a good example of the genuine Christian. His way was clearly marked by the lights he lit, and the lights he kept burning—even though he himself may not be known or seen.

The Magi followed the star that led them to the humble stable. It has been said that many at the time saw the star, but only a few had the courage and wisdom follow the star that led to Love Incarnate. Are we aware of the Light shining within us, around us, among us—in the lives of our family members, the stranger, those who need us? How brightly does our light shine upon others? Do our actions and words bring light into the lives of all those we meet?

As we begin this new year and celebrate the Epiphany, may we remember to pray for each other, that 2018 may be a year in which we follow the light of Christ and become truly lights shining forth God’s goodness for others?

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND