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Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

This post is part of our Advent Reflection Series – a collection of original blog posts written by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

The tradition of gift-giving at Christmas stems from the reality of God’s gift to us in the person of Jesus.  Although we tire of black Friday, pre-Christmas/post-Christmas advertising and all the commercialism that surrounds gift-giving, abundant reflection awaits us.

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With gift-giving comes the ever essential wish list. As children, after we sat on Santa’s lap, whoever accompanied us to see Santa would carefully ask us what we had requested of him. Now families who are adopted by various charities provide wish lists of their needs and desires. And anyone can create a wish list on Amazon.com.

In John 4:10 Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “If only you knew the gifts God wants to give you.” We might flip this idea of a wish list. As the calendar year comes to a close, we might take stock of our recent spiritual and relational life. Then ask the Spirit, “What are the gifts you want to give me?” or “What is on your wish list for me?”

In Mary we find a model of great receptivity. Humbly I might ask her for the grace to be receptive to the gifts God wants to give me—this Advent, this Christmas and in the New Year. And a fitting New Year’s resolution might be the commitment and courage to ask this question in our daily examination of conscience: “O God, what are the gifts you want to give me?”

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This post is part of our Advent Reflection Series – a collection of original blog posts written by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

It seems hard to believe that we have already reached the second week of the Advent season, when we revisit the story of John the Baptist calling out to us in the words of Isaiah: “Make ready the way of the Lord! Clear him a straight path!”

We might choose to lament that “making ready” has come to mean decorating and shopping, planning, scheduling and traveling; but how sad it is if we don’t move beyond those thoughts to make our own preparation for the coming of the Lord. Imagine how Mary was preparing in those last weeks before her son’s birth. She had to be so focused on that life within her, what his birth would mean, how her life would change. She was clearly making ready and clearing the path for him.

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So, we may need to ask ourselves: What am I doing this Advent that is different than previous years to make ready the way of the Lord in my heart, in my life with others, in the larger world? What am I actively doing to clear Him a straight path?

We need to make within us place and space. This may mean that we need to focus on gratitude and joy, and weed out the negative and our tendency to judge others. It may mean that we are called to simplify our life in some way: reduce our commitments and our busy-ness; clear out our possessions to pass on to others; challenge our own decisions so we give time and attention to relationships that are healthy and helpful.

Maybe this year, clearing the path is about dealing with a thorny relationship, or something we are holding on to which blocks the path for the Lord’s presence. Perhaps it’s about reaching beyond ourselves and forming new relationships with persons who have something to offer from a background, culture, experience, or education that is different from our own.

It may mean that we spend more time in silence and prayer to foster a greater openness within, a clearing out of our own heart, to make way for the message God has for us. As we celebrate this week of Advent, how will we respond to the question: Will I be ready to hear what he has to say to me this year?

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This post is part of our Advent Reflection Series- a collection of original blog posts written by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Ah, Night! Bursting with new-born-stars
Strewing pathways of fire as they soar
In silent pilgrimage through endless space,
And I stand smallened by their hugeness.
And yet within me, deeply rooted, is a light
Already safe at home and never to be dimmed.
– (Rainer Maria Rilke translated by William J. O’Malley)

The stars are lighting up the skies even when we cannot see them clearly. Our God is present in our midst even when we are unconscious of the very real presence of the divine. The divine spark is within each of us even when we focus only on our failures and limitations.

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When I was a postulant, the bulletin board outside our dining room had the following Advent reminder:

“Many saw the star, but only a few had the courage and wisdom to follow the star that led to love!”

Advent is a time for renewing ourselves in seeking and finding and celebrating the light that is Jesus. It is a time to get back in touch with the star that calls us to believe, to follow, to discover the gift that is Jesus living within me. Do I have the courage?

It is a time for pulling away (for a few moments each day, for perhaps an hour or maybe for even a day) to put aside the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas season to concentrate on the star that is beckoning.

Advent is a time to reach into my own soul and find the God who dwells within; the Child who yearns to be born anew in me; the Child who has perhaps been forgotten in the busyness of everyday life; the Child who needs to be tended to, loved, cherished in my heart; the Child who is the Prince of Peace.

Advent is a time of preparation. It is a difficult time if we use it properly. It is not limited to buying gifts, but is discovering anew the gifts within ourselves. It is not limited to decorating trees, but is challenging us anew to prepare (yes, even decorate) our hearts for the rebirth of Jesus in our lives. It is not limited to cleaning our homes for guests, but is calling us to “clean up” and get rid of the clutter in our lives that is preventing us from being a truly Christ-welcoming home. Do I have the courage to follow the star of Advent, the star that leads to love?

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By Sister Mary Teresita Keliher, SND

We have now journeyed half way through Lent. Today is known as Laetare Sunday- meaning rejoice. We can rejoice that we have successfully made it this far and maybe that the end is coming near. But then again it is also a time to see what we have done for Lent and how we have kept our resolutions with only three weeks to renew them. For Christians it is also a time to reflect on the mystery we will witness at the end of Lent. The days that are high holidays of the Church. We will not celebrate Easter until we have suffered with Jesus through Good Friday. Two weeks ago some 1,800 people attended the Rite of Election at the Los Angeles Cathedral. The Elect are looking to Easter as the time of their Baptism, their entrance into the Church. As we may see Lent coming to an end, the Elect are preparing for a beginning of a new life in the Church.

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The readings today are an insight into God’s great love and generosity. In Chronicles we see the people of Israel after their time of punishment and exile returning to their role as the faithful people of God. They were exiled in a foreign land and longed to return to their home in Jerusalem. God, through the mercy of the Persian king, who was a Gentile, sends them back to their own land with the promise of building a temple. They are certainly filled with a sense of rejoicing!

Paul reminds us of God’s constant love and care for us through his continued gift of grace. Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. All is gift and we are God’s handiwork, to bring the message of God’s love to those we serve.

In the Gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again through a life in Jesus. We contemplate the cross and remember how much God loved us and the world around us. God gave his Son so that we may have eternal life. The cross, an instrument of torture, becomes the sign to all humans that we are saved if we believe. This also requires our commitment, our turning from evil ways to follow the light of Christ. We rejoice at the generosity of God’s love

What keeps us from being the best versions of ourselves? God’s love is all around us, but we need to get in touch with the experience within us that thirsts for God. Our conversion will never be complete if we continue to hold on to our selfish ways. God gave and Jesus gave. What do we need to give to return that love? As we near the final days of Lent, may we rejoice and deepen our commitment to reach out in love to those around us. This is the glory of the cross, the gift that keeps on giving.

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Cleansing of the Temple: Jn. 2.13-25

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

The story of Jesus cleansing the temple area is shocking. He is definitely center stage in this scene. We see a side of his character that we were not expecting! Jesus in full stature, with energy and anger, makes a whip and drives people, oxen and sheep out of the area in front of the temple. We can picture the tables upturned and money splatting all over. He tells those who were selling doves “Get them out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” What’s not to run from? This man is in a rage! And along with this gesture Jesus proclaims without compromise, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” So Jesus, what was going on with you that day?

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I get it. Jesus manifests divinity and humanity. However, I find myself thinking: In Rome, Lourdes and Assisi haven’t we seen folks selling souvenirs and bargaining with people? And they do this right in front of the most holy and beautiful basilicas! In fact the economy of cities are enhanced by tourism purchases. So Jesus, what are we supposed to do with this “sign”?

Certainly our first reflection echoes the minds of the disciples describing prophets in the Old Testament: “Zeal for your house consumes me.” Jesus demonstrates a passionate love for his Father and true worship. Jesus knows motivation and sees through what is going on. As the last line in this account reads, “He was well aware of what was in man’s heart.”

And this leads us deeper into a second reflection: Jesus is well aware of what is in my heart. Am I well aware of what is in my heart? As we journey through Lent; as we enter more deeply into the basilica of true Paschal Mystery worship of God through, with and in Jesus, what clutter stands around the entrance? What moneychanger tables block my humble contrition and my sincere desire to know, love and serve God?

Now picture Jesus with that same energy helping you to dash out the junk, sins and the bad habits that the Holy Spirit keeps nudging you to get rid of. Hear Jesus say directly to you: “Get them out of here! Stop turning your beautiful Temple of the Holy Spirit, into a marketplace of detractions.”

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The First Sunday of Lent – One Does Not Live on Bread Alone

By Sister Julie Marie Bruss, SND

Today we hear the message, “repent and believe in the gospel.” It is remarkable how much the gospel can speak to us when we are open to the messages contained there. When we are open and listen, really listen, we can take in what is in the words and what lies beyond the words. When we sit with and savor the words of the gospel we connect with all that Jesus has modeled in disposition and attitude, in tenderness or challenge, always wrapped in mercy and compassion and an invitation to forgiveness. There is power in His interactions with individuals. We can learn so much from regular reflection on the words of scripture.

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We live “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We are fed by the word in the scriptures, and also by the words that come from God in many ways. God’s word comes to us in every moment, if we are mindful and attentive to the reality. God speaks in the situations in which we find ourselves, through the persons who are with us and in all of the creation that surrounds us.

God wants to interact with us as individuals, so we ask ourselves: What might God be speaking to me in my current life situation with its realities of joys and struggles? What is God saying to me through the people that I encounter each day? Is there someone about whom I can change my attitude, something that I can consider from a different point of view, someone or something that has the power to transform my life if I will just choose and allow it to happen? How might I grow if I take in the word that is in the sights and sounds of nature that are present and just waiting for me to enjoy?

This Lent we are offered another opportunity for personal transformation in our life’s journey. In the coming weeks, let us listen for the word of God coming to us in new and different ways.

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Moorpark residents Richard and Anne Interrante decided to embark on their Associate formation journey with the Sisters of Notre Dame together as husband and wife. The process of becoming Associates has brought them closer to God and strengthened their faith, commitment to service and prayer life.

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“The Associate program has allowed me to find out about the sisters’ mission on a more personal level,” said Anne, “I witnessed how their compassion for others, dedication to service and openness to God’s call has made a direct impact on many people. Through this process I came to realize that I have a very important role in answering that call myself by using my God-given gifts to strive to create positive changes in the world around me.”

Richard reflected on how the experience has influenced his family life.

“This program inspired a desire in me to become a better spiritual role model for my family, maintain the ideals of my faith in all aspects of my life and find new ways to use my talents to help those in need,” he said. “I value the opportunity I’ve had over these past months to participate in this program with my wife, knowing that we can work together and challenge each other to make what we have learned a more active part of our daily lives.”

Richard, Anne and other Associates candidates will make their covenant during a ceremony on Saturday, June 7th. We congratulate them and welcome them to the Notre Dame family. To learn more about the Associates program and how you can become more involved with the Sisters of Notre Dame, visit our website here.

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