Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

“There are three types of people in this world:  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.  We all have a choice.  You can decide which type of person you want to be.” (Mary Kay Ash)

Pope Benedict has put out a call for us to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN in our life of faith!  Our Year of Faith is here and it is time for us to re-energize your faith!  Show that you are one in solidarity within our universal Church!  Celebrate the Year of Faith with Catholics around the world!

How can you do this?

First, enrich your spiritual life by accessing the many resources online.  You may want to start with the USCCB (U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops) website….you will find speakers, videos, and many other resources on a variety of topics.

Second, MAKE THINGS HAPPEN by educating yourself, being inspired by the good work being done in our world, and bringing others to share your experience of faith!

In writing about the Year of Faith, Bernadette Snyder writes, “ Most of us have probably shared lots of stories about everyday life, but [what about] sharing stories of faith with and for others—to pass on to children, to possibly inspire others or be inspired by others?  Maybe not, but NOW is the time.”  It would be wonderful if families, couples, faith sharing groups, and so on, would take the time to share stories of faith. Hearing someone else’s story might remind us of our own journey in faith and might help us appreciate the gift of faith that has been given to us!

Some questions to inspire sharing faith stories:

  • How has the way you saw God as a child changed and/or remained the same through the years?
  • Did a particular person in your childhood have any impact on your own faith?
  • How has success, failure, illness or death played a role in your life of faith?
  • When have you felt closest to God in your life?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, something as simple as sharing a faith story with others may not change the world, but help us to know when and where to tell our stories so that others may be encouraged or inspired.

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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In our crazy world, there are many reasons to get discouraged, to allow ourselves to be overcome by the negativity around us, to give up and lose heart.  There is no end to the needs in our world, in our families, in our parish, in our neighborhood—everywhere we look.  The spiritual foundress of my community, St. Julie Billiart, once said:  “You are not asked to do all the good in the world, but just the bit that lies within your power.”

This gives me hope.  There will always be a lot to do, but I am not alone.  I am blessed with the many people in my life who are good, kind and compassionate.  I ask myself if I have said “thank you” often enough to those people who lift my spirits, who call me to be better, who give me the example of loving service to others.  I ask myself if I have given myself enough time to be grateful for the ways our good God has touched my life, for the countless surprises of grace that come my way, for the simple (and often taken-or-granted) gifts of sight, hearing, speech, smell and touch.  I ask myself if I have gifted myself with enough quiet time—time to be in touch with the God who lives within me, time to admit to myself who I am in God’s sight, time to let God love me, minute by minute, time to count my blessings instead of my pains.

We have many prayer intentions…things we ask of God; can we “schedule in” enough praise moments to set our souls free and to simply BE content with all that our God has given?  Let us begin each day with HOPE in our hearts…knowing that our God loves us unconditionally, and that Jesus has walked this road of life before us—and continues to walk it with us today.  “Sometimes put yourself very simply before God, certain of his presence everywhere, and without any effort, whisper very softly to his sacred heart whatever your own heart prompts you to say” (St. Jeanne de Chantal).

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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There is a story of a young woman who believes that God lives on top of a mountain at the ends of the earth.  She journeys to the mountain and begins the long climb to the top.  At the time she is beginning, God thinks “What can I do to show people on earth that I love them?”  God says, “I know, I will journey down the mountain and go to live among them.”  Thus, when the young woman reaches the top of the mountain, God is not there.  She thinks, “God doesn’t live here!  Maybe God doesn’t even exist.”

Sometimes, we look for God in the wrong places.  We forget that God came down to live among us.  Jesus, God-made-man, shows us how to live in relationship with his Father.  An ancient Jewish saying tells us, “God dwells wherever we let him in.”  Where do I let God in?  Where do I look for God?  Where do I find God?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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BIKE TRIP  (Author Unknown—-A parable)
“I used to see God as my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong.  He was out there.  I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

“But later on when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.  I don’t know just when it was He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since I took the back seat to Jesus, my Lord.  Christ makes life exciting.  When I had control, I knew the way.  It was rather boring, but predictable.  It was the shortest distance between two points.

“But when Jesus took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at breakneck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on!!!  Even though it looked like madness, He said “Pedal!” I was worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are You taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust.  And when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand.

“He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy.  They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine.  And we were off again.  He said: “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight!” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and so our burden became light.

“I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life.  I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages.  And I am learning to simply pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says . . . “Pedal!”

Am I “brave” enough to let Jesus take over the handlebars of my life?  Why do I try so hard to stay ‘in control’ when I know well and good I cannot do it alone?  What will it take for me to ‘let go’?

– Shared with us by Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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I am sure you have had the experience of hearing a song, once or many times over, and the refrain sticks in your mind….What is coming to my mind right now is a song refrain “because we love God, we do what we do….because we love God.”  The words seem rather simple, and yet there are layers of meaning here….if we were to sit down and identify “what we do”…each day, each week—and ask ourselves the question, “Am I doing this because I love God?” or, to put it another way, “Does what I do reflect my love for God?  –or does my love for something else…myself, my own interests, my prejudices, my fears…creep in?

So many times we cannot understand why Jesus calls us to do something difficult; we cannot explain why our Catholic tradition asks us to do or not to do something; we hesitate to make the sacrifice entailed in caring for others selflessly. When we experience these challenges, the phrase “Because we love God…” might ring in our ears and resound in our hearts…and help us do what we need to do. There may not be a logical, practical answer to the questions we have…but our love for our God who made us, calls us, blesses us might give us the courage we need to do what we know is right.  A little anecdote to illustrate:  In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle is fed up with Freddy’s letters and his daily protestations of love.  In total frustration, she sings the song, “Show me.” In the song she says she’s sick of words…”if there’s any love burning in your heart,” she sings, “show me.” And so it is with our love for God…love is not love until it is put into action.  God bless your week—may it be filled with love!

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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photo by Zoe Pollock

“A little girl sat on her grandmother’s lap to listen to the creation account from the book of Genesis.  As the creation story unfolded, the kind woman, noticing that the child was unusually attentive, asked, ‘What do you think of it, dear?’  ‘Oh, I think it’s great,’ replied the child, ‘You never know what God is going to do next!’”  Like the child in the story, we can never imagine what God might do next, but we know that, when we live in a spirit of faith and confidence in our God who loves us so much, God will always take care of us!  If we look at life with the wonder of a child, we see so much that is wonder-ful:  God creates anew each day—are we seeing and appreciating his wonders?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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What does it mean to be a community of thankfulness! An African proverb tells us: “If we want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk with others.” Bottom line, we can do so much more when we do it in community! Joys are multiplied, sorrows divided—when we share them with those we love! Think of all the ways we “divide and conquer” with many people helping! From the simple things like a potluck dinner, to the fun-raising and fundraising efforts of a school carnival, to rescue efforts at a time of major tragedy…we know that the cliché, “many hands make light work” is true. If we carry that concept over to our efforts to share our faith, to take care of each other, to meet the needs of our local Church and community, we know that if we each did our part, the result would be unimaginable!

St. Julie Billiart, the spiritual mother of my community, the Sisters of Notre Dame, once said, “You cannot do all the good in the world, but just the bit that lies within your power.” Can each of us do our “bit”? Do we even know what that “bit” might be? Everyday we should each spend some time reflecting on what God is calling us to do to be of service within our local and parish community. Thomas Merton tells an interesting story from his childhood: “It was Sunday…the sound of church bells came across the bright fields…Suddenly all the birds began to sing in the trees above my head, and the sound of the birds singing and of the church bells ringing lifted my heart with joy. I cried out to my father, ‘all the birds are in their church –why don’t we go to church?’  My father looked up and said: ’We will…some other Sunday.’”—so what am I going to commit myself to– today, not tomorrow, not next year, not when I am feeling good or things are going better for me? How will I answer God’s call to share something of myself…so that I am contributing to the “potluck” of love and service in my community?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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On this feast of Corpus Christi, we reflect on how grateful we are (or should be!) for the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Jesus’ presence in our life does make a difference.  His promise to be with us always helps us deal with the many challenges that come our way….

A story to make us think….

A lecturer was giving a talk to his students on stress management.  He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?”  The students’ answers ranged from 20g to 500g.

The teacher responded, “It does not matter on the absolute weight.  It depends on how long you hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, it is ok.

If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my arm.

If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.

It is exactly the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier.  What we have to do is put the glass down, rest for a while before hold it up again.  We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.”

Whatever burdens you are having now, let them down for a moment.  Ask Jesus to help you carry the load when you pick it up again.  It is not intended that we do it alone…Jesus has promised:  “I am with you always….”

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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I would like to share a story from Uganda that I heard recently: A hunter was in search of a lion that he knew was prowling in the area. He approached an old man working in the woods and asked him if he has seen tracks or other signs of the lion so that he could track him down. With great excitement, the old man said, “Yes!  I know where the lion is!  I can take you right to him!!” The hunter shrunk back in fear. “I don’t want to go TO the lion; I only want to track him!”

Isn’t this sometimes the way we are with God? We want to hear about him, say we follow him, but shrink back from really MEETING him? Our God loves us! He wants us to come to him in prayer and not just talk about him! May our loving God hold you and your families in his loving embrace this week!

– Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

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In celebration of the Feast of the Visitation, which is also the Patronal Feast of our Associates, Sister Valerie Marie Roxburgh has offered us several beautiful reflections.

The first is the prayer from our “Notre Dame Celebrates” Morning and Evening Prayers that was a collaborative effort by our Sisters of Notre Dame in the U.S.  Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy and Sister Marie Paul Grech were contributors to the prayer book.

“Creator God, you gave us Mary as a model of your love. May her example of reaching out to others and sharing your love be a constant reminder of our call to be women of the Word. Make us women who are not afraid to say ‘yes,’ women who are willing to risk whatever it takes to share your love with others. We ask this and all things in Jesus’ name.  Amen”

Next is a selection from a reflection by Sr. Mary Margaret Pazdan, OP (Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin) who is also Professor Emerita of biblical studies at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. This was originally published in “Give Us This Day” Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic.

“Mary is a courageous woman who is unafraid of sharing her deep experience with a wisdom kinswoman and us. Her transparent believing encourages us in our daily living. How do we encounter one another in our families, our ministries, parishes, and neighborhoods? Can we listen to others who share in Mary’s astonishing story of grace? Do we realize that we are the presence of Christ to one another? In praying the Magnificat and celebrating the Visitation, we join Mary, Elizabeth, and all God’s people in a song of praise and thanksgiving that echoes through the cosmos.”

Finally, we have a hymn from “Give Us This Day” by Fr. Harry Hagan, in Thirsting for God. Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB, a member of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, is associate professor of Scripture in the Seminary and School of Theology and writes hymn texts.

Two women meet,
Cousins yet more than kin-
bound now to one another
by pregnant surprise.
Their unpredictable God has laughed at nature
and made the childless and the virgin bear.
She of the leaping womb, thought barren,
bears the restlessness of her God.
And the virgin unknown
becomes the magnifying glass
that makes great her God for all to see.
The women embrace:
forgotten hope surprised by life
embraces surpassing love.
Meeting they touch
the old and the new
the forgotten and the unknown
now revealed in mystery
as ancient desire and time’s fullness.
The simple majesty
of their common meeting
is remembered as the uncommon visitation
of God come among us.
Shall our own forgotten hpe
protect us from surprise?
Shall our fear of being known
cause us to turn and hide
from this – God’s embrace?
It is possible.
Shall we trade
the restlessness of God
for oblivion?
Also possible.
But these women,
Elizabeth and Mary,
desire and fullness,
call us to laugh with our unpredictable God
who comes to visit
such a warm and generous embrace
upon our quaking hearts.

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