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Posts Tagged ‘Sister Mary Regina Robbins’

This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

“Quick, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again.” Lk. 15

Even though the Gospel for this Sunday is familiar to all of us, we never tire of it. It shows in bas relief how in Christ old things can pass away and new things can come. It is possible to let go of the old if it bogs us down, and believe in new life. So we hear again the parable of the Prodigal Son returning to his father who receives him with open arms and abundant blessings of love and gratitude. With a little imagination we can picture Jesus, the storyteller, holding his listeners spellbound as they wonder how the story will end. Surprise, shock! Jesus has come up with a terrifically radical, unforgettable story to get across the mercy of God, the loving Creator-God. He reveals his Abba as one who waits for us, refusing to take away our free will and who even lets us wander and fall until we find how miserable we can be apart from him.

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Especially parents can identify with this story as they feel an aching longing for their departed children. Many parents are tortured by what may have gone wrong or what could have been different in their relationships with their children. They hope and pray for their children to realize that they have a home and are painfully missed.

But the story is not just about others returning. It is also about us. In many ways we wander, straying from goodness and close dependence upon God. During Lent we are invited to spend time looking at where we are and where we have wandered. We allow ourselves in quiet prayer to recognize our plight. By facing our inner truth we come to an awakening, “I must return.”  The Church, especially during the Holy Year of Mercy, opens its doors, providing the sacrament of reconciliation and doctrinal promises of forgiveness and acceptance.

As Saint Paul says in the second reading, God our Father is reconciling us through Christ. As we prepare for the Easter renewal of our baptismal vows we believe: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”

What are these old things for you and what might the new things be? For the Prodigal Son it was very clear. Is it clear for you?

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

An ambassador is an honorary position, but also a very responsible one. An ambassador stands in place of another of greater distinction and purpose. Saint Paul liked to think of himself as representative of Christ and His message, and so do I! What a Christian challenge! To be a stand-in for Christ!

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We carry in our hearts and minds the indwelling of our Savior, with all the outpouring of God’s love. The call this Lent may be precisely to let Christ truly live out His love in and through us. We might spend some time reflecting on Paul’s words to the Corinthians (2Cor. 5.20-6.2).

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain!”

So we resolve not to receive the grace of God in vain. This Lent the church is even more than ever aware of the great message of God’s love and forgiveness, as Pope Francis has announced a Holy Year of Mercy. To reflect on God’s great love, acceptance and forgiveness, encourages us to be merciful to ourselves but also challenges us to treat others with this same mercy. We recognize and even celebrate that while made to the image and likeness of God, we are all very human and human beings are “in the making” and not brought to perfection yet. Because we are in the making we depend on and want others to give us the benefit of the doubt, to have mercy when we fail or make mistakes. We too need not to judge others or expect perfection from them. Let us use the entrance antiphon for Ash Wednesday as our own mantra this week: “You are merciful to all, O Lord. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.” But instead of the “Lord” say: “I am merciful to all.” And then see what happens.

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Sister Mary Regina Robbins led a discussion last week on good listening, and the power we have to make others feel loved by really listening to them. See the whole talk here:

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The Sisters of Notre Dame were recently featured in the Acorn Newspaper! Click the link here to read the article.

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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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Ash Wednesday – Mirroring the Face of Christ

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

Lent may be a good time to look into the mirror of our own lives and see how much we resemble Christ, i.e., the goodness, compassion, love and Gospel values which we are graced with by Baptism. On any given day we look into a mirror and we get only a glimpse of who we are, because that reflection is not the complete truth. It is an external image of how we look as we look into the mirror. We are much more than this. Within our heart, soul, mind, life experience and memory, is our unique, beautiful personhood. As Christians we want to reflect God who dwells within, and say with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “When people look at me they see no longer me, but the Face of Jesus.”

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A good Lenten practice during these holy 40 days could be to allow our faces to communicate Jesus. As we do this, here are a few scripture passages to pray:

2 Cor. 3.18 “Now this Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory. This is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit.”

1 Cor. 13.12 “Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.”

During Lent we want to bring out our inner beauty by cleansing ourselves of all that detracts, all that smudges our faces. We note how often Ps. 51 appears with the humble acknowledgement that we need forgiveness, grace and the cleansing. We pray, “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” On Ash Wednesday we pray, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”

What do you need to do at this time to more radiantly mirror the face of Jesus to all you meet? What kind of cleanser will you use for 40 days to see results? And how much will it cost?

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The video below is a talk by Sister Mary Regina Robbins on Spiritual Reading. Click here for a list of recommended readings from Sister Regina. (Please turn volume all the way up!)

Spiritual Reading by Sister Mary Regina Robbins on Vimeo.

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 Ash Wednesday

Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting: “Behold now is the acceptable time.”

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins

Each year the Christian liturgical calendar invites us to go deeper into the meaning of our commitment to Jesus Christ as we enter the Lenten journey of 40 days. The ritual of receiving ashes on our foreheads and watching others receive the same, is a reminder that we do not journey alone and that we have not here a lasting home, but are going to die someday as we “pass” into our eternal home.

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The journey of life is wonderful, but also a serious one-time hike! The ashes sober us into reality. The traditional ritual word, “remember” strikes a note of examining who we are and where we are going. As baptized people, graced to live in imitation of Jesus Christ, we wish to “die with him” that we might also “rise with him” in the Paschal Mystery we will celebrate on Easter.

The early Church fathers earmarked prayeralmsgiving and fasting as ways to prepare for baptism at Easter. This tradition soon became a practice for all Christians preparing to renew their baptismal commitment at Easter. But where are we with this today? Underlining all Lenten practices is the motivation of love. Prayer, almsgiving and fasting, when rightly understood and practiced, free a person to greater self-monitoring and discipline in order to overcome innate selfishness and be more loving.

Prayer:  Take time to reflect on prayer in your life. Be quiet enough to listen to God. Spend more quality time being with God. He is always available. Reading scripture and spiritual literature can jump start us into prayer that is truly effective for personal growth and communion with God.

Almsgiving:  Almsgiving requires us to give away generously to someone in need. We can give time, talent or goods and money. In other words, we “sacrifice” for others.

Fasting: Fasting is refraining from something to the point of feeling the emptiness of its absence and being reminded that one must rely on God and delay immediate self-gratification. It means denying ourselves those stumbling blocks to true growth in holiness. Besides the laws of the Church, we need to choose a “fasting” practice peculiar to our unique disposition and situation.

So as we start out on our journey, let us consider how prayer, almsgiving and fasting will accompany us on our way to Easter Joy.

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First Sunday of Advent: John the Baptist

by Sister Mary Regina Robbins

Preparation for Christmas calls to mind striking personalities from the Old Testament who with great expectation and consistent longing set the stage for the Advent of the Messiah. We marvel at their faith, hope and insight since they are “before Christ” and did not have the benefit of the Incarnation and the Gospel truths as we do today.

One such character, who epitomizes the scripture texts of Advent, is John the Baptist. He is called “the Baptist” to distinguish him from John the Evangelist and to portray him as the one who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. Usually pictured as a loud, wild-looking and extremely passionate young man, John is the forerunner of Christ. His identity in the opening of Mark’s Gospel (Mk. 1.2) echoes the words of Isaiah: “a messenger…a voice crying in the wilderness.” (Is.40.3). John’s mission is clear: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” In humility he knows who he is in relation to Jesus: “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.” (Mk.1.7). John is strong, single-minded, focused and without compromise in his relationship to God and his life-purpose. Jesus said of him, “There is no greater man than John.”

The son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, John grew up with Jesus and probably went in the family caravan up to Jerusalem the time Jesus was “lost in the temple.” Perhaps at an early age he recognized the specialness of his friend and cousin. We can imagine what these two boys talked about as they took in the world around them and dreamed of something better, sensing they both had a mission!

John responded to the call to give his life to God by joining the Essenes, desert monks. Out in the desert, fasting, living radical detachment from the world of his time, he became a contemplative and then felt compelled to go forth as a prophet, in imitation of the prophets of the Old Testament.

Like all prophets John was painfully conscious of his world environment; he saw the good and the evil. He named sin, called for reform and prepared people to change. John’s message was a call for everyone to be ready for an upside down turn of values and meaning in a world of pride, violence and disregard for the poor. John was a fascinating preacher. Even King Herod liked to hear him, but was also reluctant to follow him and uncomfortable with the truth of his words. At his death by Herod’s command, John’s life purpose was complete. He said of Jesus, “that he may increase and I may decrease.” (Jn.3.30).

As we look at our world today, we see what is not of God, what is blind to the truth. In our own way, we too can be a voice crying in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord. In our own style, we can be prophets not in the wilderness, but in the market place and neighborhoods. With generosity, gentleness, good example and compassion, we can give hope to the world that the Messiah has come and is among us.

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