Posts Tagged ‘Sr. Kathleen’

Second Sunday of Lent
The Transfiguration: Between Two Mountains
By Sister Mary Kathleen Burns 

Two mountains figure prominently in Jesus’ Life: Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary.

On Mount Tabor Peter, James and John were given a glimpse into Jesus’ divinity. Jesus stood before them, bathed in Trinitarian Light, with Moses representing the Father as Giver of the Law on one side, and Elijah representing the Spirit who has spoken through Prophets on the other.


How beautiful Jesus must have been! The three apostles basked in the glow. So enthralled were they that Peter suggested they build three tents and remain there. Peter, like us, wanted to stay on the mountain to continue to savor the experience, but Jesus refused to allow him to create a permanent retreat center. He said Peter must go back down the mountain and begin living out this experience in day-to-day life and ministry to God’s people, and ultimately in his own experience of suffering.

Having seen Jesus in glory, we marvel at how quickly the glow faded after coming down the mountain! We wonder how the apostles could have doubted Jesus after all they had witnessed. How could they have betrayed him after seeing his glory? After all, Jesus’ gift of the Transfiguration was to strengthen them for the coming crisis. Mt. Tabor was preparation for the next mountain Jesus would climb where he would be disfigured, hanging not between Moses and Elijah, but between two others, common criminals.

Like the apostles, we too have been chosen and gifted with an experience of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We have the benefit of a long tradition of rich teaching, the Holy Scriptures which are so accessible to us, and the life and grace of the Sacraments, especially the opportunity to receive Eucharist. These are our Tabor experiences which are given us not to revel in, but to prepare us to go down into the valley of life, living out our discipleship in our day-to-day encounters, which at times will challenge us to climb mount Calvary where Jesus seems disfigured.

The Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus is fully present in all these experiences, whether in glory, in the mundane duties of our life, or in suffering. Ultimately, God gives us moments of glory, clarity and insight so that we can also see Him in the ordinary, in the darkness and especially in suffering.


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First Sunday of Lent
The Temptations in the Desert
By Sister Mary Kathleen Burns

Jesus went off into the desert for 40 days to be tempted. Forty in Scripture always signifies a time of birthing, when something new is coming forth, or when God acting in a powerful way through humans. It is, after all, the full term of human gestation- 40 weeks. So something is coming forth here and Jesus is that Fruit which is both God and Man who is now coming out of the desert as if again from the womb.


The desert is a place of gestation, of birth, growth and testing.  Jesus is challenged on the deepest level of his being and self-understanding. From there, He will come forth with a clear understanding of His identity and his mission.  But how did he get there?  And how were Satan’s attacks targeting Jesus’ deepest desires?

 The First Temptation: Turning these Stones into Bread.
Here, Satan would like Jesus to focus on his own needs and desires. “Turn your ministry in on yourself!” Satan says. Paradoxically, the Jesus who would multiply loaves and fishes for a starving crowd would himself become our food in Eucharist. Jesus’ identity as the Bread of Life is already prefigured here, along with the necessity of his being broken in order to be shared.

 The Second Temptation: Throw yourself off the Parapet and Defy Death.
Jesus is the Lord of Life and He came to give life to the fullest. Jesus was offered a way to show that he could not die without actually having to pass through death. Death without suffering! Don’t we all hope for that? Jesus chose to pass through death, taking on our own vulnerability and fears, having finally let go of life as He knew it and loved it. In the garden of Gethsemane we see just what that decision in the desert cost him, sweating blood and tears at the thought of his impending death.

 The Third Temptation: Worship the Devil and Inherit the Kingdom.
Jesus’ passion was His Father’s Kingdom. Satan offers, “Abandon your Father and I will give you the Kingdom immediately and painlessly.” But outside His Father’s love, the kingdom made no sense. In establishing the Kingdom, there is no easy way, there are no quick fixes. The Kingdom would have to be established over time, through suffering, much misunderstanding and ultimately through his own death.

 In our own Lenten Journey, we can reflect:

  1. We are called to give without counting the cost: Do I give of myself in a way that is truly for others?
  2. Life comes from death: In what ways must I die so that I can be more alive?
  3. The Kingdom comes in stages: Am I patient with myself and others in the process?

Please feel free to share your own answers and reflections in the comments below!

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Sr. Kathleen shared with us her latest reflection series on the Good Shepherd. We hope you enjoy the talk as much as we have!

Good Shepherd Track 1

Good Shepherd Track 2

Good Shepherd Track 3

Good Shepherd Track 4

Good Shepherd Track 5

Good Shepherd Track 6

Good Shepherd Track 7

Good Shepherd Track 8

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Tomorrow, Wednesday June 16th, is the last of our Upper Room series with Sr. Kathleen Burns SND at St. Cornelius Church in Long Beach. This last class is on the Beatitudes and it’s going to be a good one (well, they’ve all been good IMHO), so if you can make it, please join us!

St. Cornelius Catholic Church / Large Hall

5500 Wardlow Ave. Long Beach, CA 90808

7:30 pm

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According to Scripture, Jesus went off into the desert for 40 days to be tempted.  These temptations challenged Jesus on the deepest level of his being and self-understanding.  Satan did not stand out on the periphery, but sought to enter into Jesus’ most vulnerable space–his desires. Satan cleverly devised temptations that were by no means trivial or haphazard; they were calculated to attack Jesus where his passions burned most intensely in pure white heat. Jesus’ unique and intimate relationship with his Abba and the mission entrusted to him were challenged at their roots. In the process of this purification, Jesus would come to understand more deeply who he was and out of that understanding, he would be empowered to move confidently on the path of his mission.

The First Temptation:  Conquer Your Hunger by Turning Stones into Bread.

The basic question for Jesus here was, “Is this about me or about others?”  Satan would like Jesus to focus on his own needs and desires. Jesus had to choose. He had to discern not just once, but over and over again when his powers would be used. The most paradoxical scene from the Gospels occurs when Jesus, who is all powerful, is hanging helplessly from the cross only to hear onlookers sneer, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself.” (Mt. 27:42)

Jesus had set his course here in the desert: his miraculous powers would be used not for himself, but for others. The Jesus who would multiply loaves and fishes for the starving crowd would himself become food for the hungry in Eucharist. Jesus’ identity as the Bread of Life is already prefigured here, along with the necessity of his being broken in order to be shared. Jesus’ fundamental standpoint, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), finds its roots here in the desert.

The Second Temptation:  Defy death by throwing yourself off the parapet so that the Angels will rescue you.

This temptation attacked Jesus’  identity as the Life of the World who cannot die.  Jesus was tempted to prove this identity through a spectacular show of power, a death-defying feat.  Satan offered him a painless way to prove his divinity based on trust in himself, not in his Father. This temptation was real for Jesus because it struck at the very heart of his mission–to lay down his life and take it up again.  Jesus refused, recognizing it for what it was–a self-serving trap.

Jesus did not come to prove his own immortality, but to die and rise so that we might share in his life. He chose to suffer rather than avoid pain, not because suffering is a good in itself, but because the cross would be the consequence of remaining faithful to his mission.  As his ministry developed, the reality of his rejection became at times overwhelming and the prospect of a horrific death caused Jesus great distress. This offer by the devil had to have affected Jesus very deeply. His mission to give his life in ransom for the many would in reality be death defying. He would die and rise. Satan offered Jesus a painless way of doing it and one can only imagine that Jesus had to be thinking about this offer again as he sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane over the thought of his impending death.

The Third Temptation:  Worship the Devil and Inherit the Kingdom

Jesus came to establish a Kingdom. It was his greatest desire–the fulfillment of his Father’s will–the ultimate purpose of his mission. Satan tested this desire with a quick fix. He offered Jesus a kingdom based on a lie, hearkening back to that ancient lie in Genesis, “You will not die …. listen to me and you will be as gods.” In the process, Jesus would have to deny his identity as the Beloved, the Son, the Incarnate Word of the Father.  Satan sought to seduce Jesus into discarding his intimate relationship with the Father in exchange for a kingdom.  But he was not willing to deny his Father in order to receive the kingdom. Outside his Father’s love, the kingdom made no sense.

Jesus realized that he would establish the kingdom by conquering sin and death, not by escaping it. He knew there was no easy way.  The kingdom would have to be established over time, through suffering, much misunderstanding and ultimately through his own death. In Jesus’ response to Satan, he already sets his course for Calvary.

The Church suggests that we use Lent and periods of extended retreat as times to go out to the desert to reflect on who we are, who our God is and to confront our demons.  God always calls us to the more–not necessarily to do more, but to be more.  The desert challenges us to go deeper, to enter into solitude that we might listen.  At times we may be afraid to go into the desert for fear of what we might hear–temptations, self-doubt, confusion, past sins, regrets, God’s gentle urgings–and so we avoid the desert.  But for those who are serious about the spiritual life, the desert cannot be avoided.  Even should we try to evade it, sometimes the Spirit will drive us there anyway, very often through life experiences.  A death of a loved one, loneliness, a life-transition, illness, all these can literally drive us involuntarily into the desert.

Once there, each of us will encounter God, the devil and ourselves with our inner demons and our deepest desires. We are challenged to look deeply at who we are and on what foundation we have built the house of our life. Jesus lived out of the conviction that he was the Beloved of the Father. Nothing could sway him from that truth. All testing plunges us to our foundations where we can say again, “In Jesus I am the beloved in whom my Father is well pleased.” This is the gift of baptism, what it means to be saved. This is the very truth that set Jesus free on his mission and it is the very same truth that will free us to move forward in response to God’s call.  Can we accept it?

In Christ,

Sr. Kathleen Burns

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2086549905_0302be4dcc_o-1Just a reminder that our next Upper Room is Wednesday, 11/18. That’s next week, so mark your calendars! The subject is the Trinity, and yes, somehow Sr. Kathleen will still keep the class to one hour! We have refreshments before if you’d like to come be earlier, but it is not required. The presentation starts at 7:30 pm.

Last month’s presentation was a lively, sometimes humorous, and at times challenging overview of our faith. In the following lectures Sr. Kathleen will go into depth on each of the main pillars of what we believe as a Catholic people, and hopefully lead you to a deeper and more enriching understanding of our beautiful heritage of faith. We hope to see you there.


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Check out our Events page (tab at top) for the latest upcoming talks and other activities of the sisters. Starting next week we’re proud to announce the first evening of  “The Upper Room”, our young adult faith enrichment series. The presentations will be given by Sr. Kathleen Burns, many of you may already know her from the various retreats she facilitates around the greater L.A. area. The Upper Room will take place one Wednesday a month from October thru June. Hope you can make it.

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