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Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 10.08.53 AM“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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Joshua TreeWe had only packed away the Christmas decorations and the Nativity figures when we saw the date of Ash Wednesday for this year.  It seemed that suddenly Lent was already upon us and we had to shift our thinking to a new way of celebrating the Lord Jesus. Instead of traveling to Bethlehem under the guidance of a star, we now consider another journey with Jesus, one that will take us to the desert wilderness for retreat, to the mountaintop of the Transfiguration, and to the Garden of Gethsemani.

Jesus entered the desert retreat already filled with the Holy Spirit from his baptism and he will leave the desert in the same manner – with the power of the Spirit. However, he does not remain immune from the everyday burdens of life. Jesus’ time in the desert clarifies who he is and who he is not. He steadfastly refuses to submit to fame and control to make his life easier or his ministry popular.

Today we ask:

What does “going into the desert” mean for me?

Within my desert time of retreat, do I include an examination of how I am called to be on mission with Jesus?

Sr. Mary Rebekah Kennedy, SND

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Advent Week 3 – Rejoice!

Screen shot 2012-12-07 at 3.48.53 PMRejoice in The Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice

During this penitential, preparation season of Advent the church reminds us that this season is also a time to let our hearts and minds focus on the wonder that is about to take place. The pink candle in our advent wreath will be lit this third Sunday, a symbol reminding us to pause and reflect on our focus of the season. Today marks the halfway point to Christmas.  As we get closer to Christmas we are reminded to be joyful, to shout for joy, to be glad and exalt, to sing joyfully.  All these words in the Old and New Testament express the fulfillment of God’s promise long ago.  We rejoice to know that God sent his Son into our world to show us his unconditional love.

How do we put Christ back into Christmas and continue to enjoy the merriment around us? Start each morning rejoicing that a new day is here, end the day in gratitude for the blessings of the day. Each day we can bring the good news of salvation to those we meet. It is our way of reminding the world that Christ entered our world and became one of us living the daily experiences of life. We have every reason to be joyful.

In this year of faith we are asked to renew ourselves in prayer, to pause and let the scriptures speak to us and then to spread that good word of God’s peace and joy to others.  The readings of today offer us much reflection. Take a sentence or phrase and stay with it.

“Do not be discouraged or lose heart, for The Lord your God is in your midst.”

“Rejoice, indeed The Lord is near”.

“The spirit of The Lord is upon me he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor”

“Be strong and do not fear.”

How do these phrases speak to you?  What in your life causes you to slow down and to take notice?  What do you need to do to remember the true meaning of the season?  Pause. The Lord is near.

Let us take time to look around us and bring joy to those who most need our kind words and deeds. Let us be the sign of hope as we keep our attitude of joyfulness in the busy season that so needs to be reminded that Christ came to take away the burden of sin.  We need to remind others to look beyond our troubled world to a joy and hope that only Christ can fill us with.

Maranantha, Come lord Jesus, come!

– Sr. Mary Teresita Keliher, SND

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 “This is what Yahweh asks of you—only this—

to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Beautiful, simple, direct words—words that we as educators can easily say “yes” to.  We want to dedicate ourselves not only to acting justly, but to helping others to do what is right and to love what is good.  Even as we say “yes”, we know that there is still a deeper question:  “What does it mean to act justly in the daily situations of our life?”

Caught up in constant activity, demands, change, noise, our homes and places of work often are places where justice is overlooked in the urgency of “getting things done.”  We may forget to give each person the special time needed to meet his/her needs. Doing justice is giving what rightfully belongs to someone.  As the people of God, we need to give all those we meet the attention they deserve, the help they need.  We need to treat each other with a respect that is genuine and sincere.

What does it mean to love tenderly?  If we act justly, we are well on the way to loving tenderly.  Loving is the natural follow-up to justice.  It entails giving MORE than is required.  Most people, especially at this time of year, are feeling pressured and harried.  We may be counting down the shopping days much as children do, waiting for Christmas.  Instead we are called to open our eyes to each person in need.  We are called to love tenderly by helping out a friend who is stressed, by reaching out to another who is sad, by showing interest in someone who is not ordinarily a chosen companion.

What does it mean to walk humbly with our God?  None of us is perfect; all of us need God.  We are called to acknowledge our weaknesses and limitations, to be aware that we do not have all the answers, and that we are in need of each other’s gifts and talents, prayers and support.

In this time of Advent, we wait.  We wait for many things, but most importantly we wait for a renewed awareness of God’s life active in our own.  We wait for the simplicity of a child to be reborn in us.  We wait to receive the gift of generosity shown by gentle shepherds and faith-filled wise men.  We wait for the goodness and provident care of God to be revealed in our daily lives.

We pray for all of our needs and intentions through Mary’s intercession.  She teaches us above all what it means to act justly, to love tenderly, to walk humbly and to wait patiently. . .

Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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We are very familiar with the concept of waiting when it comes to Advent…we know we are supposed to be anticipating the birth of Jesus and preparing for his re-birth in our lives…but what if we turned that around…what if we looked at advent as a time of Jesus waiting for me…waiting for me to give up my preoccupations, my worries, my unnecessary anxieties…

Jesus is a patient wait-er…or is it waitor?  Jesus as servant longs to be servant to me…waiting to fulfill my every need…if I would only allow him to be that in m life….or is it that I need to be in such control that the thought of Jesus waiting upon me seems so foreign.  Allowing Jesus to wait on me…would be to admit that I am in need or something I cannot provide for myself…I open myself up in vulnerability to the infant vulnerable one….I open my door to the One waiting at my door…knocking, eager to be invited into my crowded life….can the call to advent be really a call to simply be…to revel in the knowledge that my God is waiting for me to recognize his presence, to accept his love for me, to say yes to the miracle of rebirth, to speak his name with courage, to tell his story, to follow in true discipleship.

God is waiting for me to become as simple as the shepherds, as wise as the magi, as brave as Joseph, as open as Mary…God gives me this time each year to become the best I can be….and waits year after year for me to wake up and see the star…and then to follow it…

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers if the heavens will be shaken.  And they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is near at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.  For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.  Be vigilant at all times and pray that you will have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of great and fearful signs, of the roaring of the sea and the waves and people dying of fright. In the next paragraph, we are exhorted to “beware that our hearts to not become drowsy” and “be vigilant at all times.”  It strikes me that this is not some future event; these things are happening right now. Having lived at the Jersey shore the last two years, I understand the fear and powerlessness we feel in the wake of the unleashed ferocity of Hurricane Sandy.

Each year we ponder this reading or other very similar passages in our Advent liturgy.  Frankly, I DO try to keep my heart vigilant and alert for signs of God in my life and in the world, sometimes more successfully than others.  When Jesus says, “beware” most of us are quite apt to sit up and pay attention. Yet, being “vigilant at all times” is beyond me.  My hopes for my spiritual life today, next week, next year, seem to never quite pan out.  Complaining of this sorry state to a trusted friend, I received some exquisitely simple advice: Just do the next right thing!  And that I can do.  I may forget to be vigilant, not always keeping my ideals before me.  I can, however, ask myself as I make the choices that each day presents: What is the next right thing?  When I live in this way, I know the security of living out of God’s purposes for me, of being able to welcome the signs of the times, of living without the fear and dismay that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel. When I live with awareness (beware) then the journey of life and the destination become part of one reality, and I can await “The Day” and everyday with the “joyful hope” that is also part of this wonderful season.

– Sr. Mary Amy Hauck

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At this time of the year, I am sure many of us can identify with this writer’s thoughts on winter and can appreciate how God fits into everything!

“IN THE PART OF THE WORLD where I live, at this time of year the daylight hours are very short. In fact, when I’m not traveling and find myself working from my office, the sun has set when I pull into my garage. Frankly, this isn’t my favorite time of year. I really enjoy being outdoors in the sunlight. … And yet I know that this time of year is a part of God’s intended purpose. These days are necessary to create balance in my life, a rhythm that moves beyond the frenetic activity of long daylight hours into a hibernating time of darkness. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’ … And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

When God speaks, God’s voice balances the rhythm of our lives. Yes, the light is good. Times of activity and productivity form a vital part of making a life and a living. … However, the light is separate from the darkness. Just as music is a series of sounds and silence in rhythm, so our lives must be a series of light and darkness, activity and rest, work and sabbath.

Embrace this season of your life and God’s created daily work-and-rest rhythm. Such percussive movement is a part of our purpose and God’s plan. “

By Joey Faucette  -From The Upper Room Disciplines 2012: A Book of Daily Devotions.

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For the last two years I have been in the tiny town (called “God’s Square Mile” by the locals) of Ocean Grove, New Jersey. I know, what a time to be living at the Jersey Shore! Providentially, Ocean Grove was spared from much of the devastation wrought by hurricane Sandy. Neighbors in Belmar and Bradley Beach were not so fortunate and are now dealing with insurance companies, which, in some cases, can be as taxing as the hurricane itself. Some companies limit their coverage because a hurricane and other disasters are classified as “Acts of God.” I’ve been reflecting on this quite a bit today. Sickness and natural disasters cannot be willed by our loving God. The real “acts of God” are strangers opening their homes to the displaced, maintenance workers from Maine clearing debris in Atlantic City, employees of Pacific Gas and Electric restoring utilities in lower Manhattan, and elderly couple roasting hot dogs for the homeless, friends and strangers risking heir own safety to rescue others. Those are the real acts of God.

Today I saw a priest awaken early and drive out to our Provincial House to bring the sacramental presence of Christ to us. A nurse’s aid reassured an elderly sister fearful of falling. A friend brought me a second cup of coffee. A sister answering the telephone took the time to listen to a distraught caller asking for prayers. God is acting everywhere. Let’s not miss it!

– Sr. Mary Amy Hauck

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An old bumper sticker reads:  “Stop the world, I want to get off!”

It echoes the feelings of many people when faced with all the anxieties, troubles, bad news, and exploitation of the poor and vulnerable.  In our life of faith, however, we know that our God is still in control.  In a spirit of hope, we trust that God will take care of us.  In our commitment to love one another, we know that we are God’s voice, and hands, and heart in our sometimes frightening world.  While there are many needs in our global society, there are also many in my neighborhood, in my parish, among my friends and acquaintances.

During these days of November, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, how can I show that I am really grateful for the many gifts God has given me?  How can I try to alleviate the pain and worry that another person in my little world experiences?  Thanksgiving is a time for us to say thank you to those I may not really “see”—my co-worker, the person who bags my groceries, the salesperson, the people who cross my path in a hundred ways each week!  What am I doing to share my appreciation for them?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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When the Sisters of Notre Dame came to California in 1924, that first group of 11 women immediately got to work readying classrooms for the first groups of young students. Today, the SNDs maintain that commitment to education with sisters teaching everything from preschool through graduate level classes. Sr. Mary Lisa Megaffin was recently interviewed by the Ventura County Star and talked about this commitment to serving others through education. Read the whole article here.

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