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Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

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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In the month of May, our thoughts turn to Mary for many reasons: May processions and crownings, Mother’s Day, feasts of Our Lady of Fatima and the Queenship of Mary. In fact, there is a feast day of Mary celebrated somewhere in the world on every single day of the month of May according to the Roman Calendar of Marian feasts.

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Michelangelo’s “Pieta”

 

What can we learn from Mary?  Just think about her words:  “I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Annunciation), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (Visitation), “Do whatever he tells you”; (wedding at Cana); and what she doesn’t say because she “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:20).  At the Cross, Jesus gave us the precious gift of his mother, and we know that she continues to embrace us lovingly as she points the way to her Son.  She has special “bragging rights” and we can imagine that if she walked with us today, she would be tweeting and texting in praise of her Son.  She wants us to love him as she does.  She wants us to follow him and listen to his words (in a way, if we read the Gospels regularly, isn’t this similar to reading a personal blog from Jesus?)

What might Jesus be saying to us today?  Do we hear his voice assuring us, “Do not be afraid”?  Can we hear the gentleness in his voice as he reminds us, “Love one another as I have loved you!”  And as the early Church gathered in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus, the Acts of the Apostles recount that “All joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus.”  Mary teaches us to be PRESENT in the community!  Perhaps during this month of May, we can try to be more present, more attentive to the words of Jesus, more loving , more faithful and more faith-filled as we strive to follow Mary’s example in embracing her Son and her Son’s beloved people.

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By Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

God of all goodness,

fill us with your hope as we place ourselves in your loving care.

Enlighten us with your wisdom that we may always seek what is good.

Strengthen us with your grace that we may act justly and make a difference in our world.

May Jesus be our guide and

model as we strive to live lives of compassionate service.

Sister Marie Paul Grech made her first profession in 1972, and currently lives in Thousand Oaks, California.

 

 

 

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Palm Sunday
 The Beginning of Holy Week
By Sister Marie Paul Grech

The beginning of Holy Week…sometimes called Palm Sunday, sometimes called Passion Sunday….but which is it?

Typical of our day-to-day experiences, life is filled with multiple names for things, and each name has a different story to tell. When we focus on Palm Sunday, for example,  we direct our attention to the glorious reception Jesus receives from a fickle crowd, a crowd composed perhaps of many of the same people who, less than a week later, would call out for his crucifixion.

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When we focus on Passion Sunday, we fix our gaze on that which is yet to come: the humiliating execution of an innocent man. Yet are not both true? Do not both co-exist and call us to a broader understanding of Jesus, the Son of God who deserves the glory and honor, and the Son of Man who gives up everything to be one of us, especially in our suffering? Isn’t this a reality that we deal with all the time? We are called to live in the world, but not be of the world. We are called to work and to pray. We are called to pray in silence and to pray in community. We are called to work for the kingdom and to trust in God’s action in our lives.

There is no either/or in our following of Jesus, only both/and. We are called to follow Jesus on the road to Calvary, while never forgetting the joys of the Transfiguration. We speak the words, “Crucify Him” with dread and guilt, and yet we know that it is our sins that he carries. We are gifted with discipleship, knowing that like Peter there are days we act as though we do not know him. Palms and Passion are two sides of the same coin. One calls to holiness of life, and one calls to celebration and gratitude for all that our good God has given us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent
 Friendship and Compassion
By Sister Mary Antonine Manning

Jesus had many friends, among them Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. They lived in Bethany, not far from Jerusalem, and Jesus must have visited them regularly and received food, companionship and needed rest.

Lazarus became seriously ill, and a message was sent to Jesus up north in Galilee. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had died and been in his tomb for four days. Mary and Martha must have been longing for Jesus to come to them and they both declared:

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” What faith they showed! At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept for his dear friend and for the suffering of Mary and Martha. His compassion prompted him to pray to his heavenly Father and then call Lazarus back to life. As a result “many of the Jews who had come. . .and seen what he had done began to believe in him.”

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What lessons can we learn from this? Pope Francis encourages us to imitate Jesus.

“Let. . . Jesus enter your life; welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk; you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid; trust him, be confident that he is close to you. He is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

We must find the Lord who consoles us and go to console the people of God. This is the mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!”

Use these questions to guide your reflection:

  • What do I need to do to become a closer friend of Jesus?
  • How am I called to “bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord which warms the heart, rekindles hope and attracts people towards the good”?

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Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Blind Man Sees
By Sister Mary Grace Leung

 “A blind man sees the light; Our eyes open when we live with Jesus”
John 9:1-41

The text from John’s Gospel invites us to meditate on the healing of a man born blind. As we read the Gospel, we notice how the blind man reacts to the negative reactions of the authorities and the way the blind man opens his eyes concerning Jesus.

The blind man cannot but witness to the truth: “I was blind and now I can see!” The Pharisees question him again and the blind man answers: “I have told you once….Do you want to become his disciples too?” The light of faith grows in the blind man when faced with the blindness of the Pharisees. He does not accept the logic of the Pharisees and confesses that Jesus comes from the Father. The blind man’s profession of faith causes his expulsion from the synagogue because those who professed faith in Jesus Christ had to break all family and community ties. Even today, those who decide to be faithful to Jesus run the risk of persecution or exclusion.

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I was once a catechumen preparing for my full initiation into the Church. Lent is a time of remembrance of the anticipation and hope I felt for my baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I too was faced with doubt from some of my friends and relatives who did not receive the gift of faith that I had. However, like the blind man, I came to full faith in Jesus step by step. My eyes were opened to see Jesus as my Savior and my God through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Jesus does not abandon those who are persecuted for his sake. He meets the man again, and invites the man to go one step further in his faith. Jesus asks: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replies: “Sir…tell me who he is that I may believe in him?” Jesus replies: You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.” The blind man exclaims: “Lord, I believe!” And he worships Jesus. He has absolute trust and accepts everything from Jesus. The blind man who could not see ends up seeing better off than the Pharisees; he discovers the light.

We are challenged to face our blindness, whether it’s spiritual blindness or blindness in our thoughts, attitudes or our actions toward others. Jesus comes to heal our blindness and we  see that he is the light of the world. He meets us as we are, in our sinfulness and neediness. Jesus calls us to shed our blindness and to see the world and one another through his eyes!

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Third Sunday of Lent
Woman at the Well
By Sister Mary Leanne Hubbard

This week, after the Religious Education Congress, I had the joy of taking our visiting sisters from Ohio and Kentucky to the Santa Barbara Mission and Ventura on a sunny Southern California day. I have been to the mission many times. This time, however, we were shepherded by a docent who explained that the fountain in the Sacred Garden in the center of the mission buildings served more than a decorative purpose. There were so few tourists this Tuesday morning that the sound of the lively water was even more pronounced. The docent explained that the fountain aerated the water so that it could be used for cooking and drinking as no bacteria could accumulate. Directly after this explanation, I moved into the Blessed Sacrament chapel while the others continued the familiar mission tour. As I sat in the quiet chapel, I was struck by the vivacious birdsong drifting in from the Sacred Garden. Obviously, the dancing water gives life to more than the human mission-dwellers.

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This third week of Lent we accompany the Samaritan woman to the well where she meets the Living Water who wants so earnestly to offer her himself to quench her thirst for life and healing rather than the still water of the well.

Jesus says, “If you knew the gift of God….”

He senses her need, much deeper than even she knows, the remedy of which is before her. The invitation is not just for her own sake, but rather “the water I shall give will become in him (her) a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

So during the Lent, I want to return to this Living Water symbolized in this mission fountain, to remember that he wants to make me into a fountain of life, freed from stagnation and the accumulated baggage of bacteria, to be refreshment to others in the way he is for me day in and day out. This necessitates opening myself to the “gift of God” wherever and whenever possible, to show up and stay in the conversation as did the Samaritan woman.

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