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Showing posts from December, 2015

"No, I was praying."

Hi! I’m Sr. Mary Gianna. I just started working in our hospital as an x-ray tech in September. My apostolate is still very new and I have a lot to learn practically. That is to say, I’m just learning how to do my job. In the midst of feeling inadequate and often needing help from the other techs I’ve had some moments when I’ve experienced why I am in our x-ray department. Our Constitutions say that our first witness is always our consecrated life- i.e. before anything else people need me to be a Sister. It’s who I am and not what I do.











As an x-ray tech I go into surgery periodically. If a doctor is putting in metal parts or just needs to see what’s going on inside as he’s repairing fractured bones he’ll ask me to take an x-ray there in the surgery room. I was in one surgery that happened to run during the time that our community prays midday prayers. Since I wasn’t able to leave the surgery I sat down on a stool in a corner and prayed. The doctor teased later on in the surgery “Hey, Si…

Waiting in Joyful Expectation

My sister recently had a baby, a beautiful little girl; and I was reminded that the expectation of pregnancy can teach us so much about preparing for Christmas. The baby’s room is prepared and decorated. Parties are thrown beforehand and gifts given for the new baby and the baby's parents. This one little person is the largest part of the new parents’ lives. 
For my sister, the experience was added to by the fact that the little dear was six days late. Each day the baby waited to come added to my sister’s sense of expectation. I’m sure she could have written her own version of the “O antiphons” although they may have been more along the lines of “Oh my belly is sore” and "Oh none of my clothes fit”. She couldn’t make any plans, not knowing when the baby would come. The house was ready with newborn clothes, diapers and other accessories waiting. Her whole life was one of waiting, on the verge of this great event but not yet there. It is like holding a breath and waiting for the…

Live like you are dying

He is coming.

There is a song that has a line "Someday, I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying." It's a short, popular, funny sort of song, but the reality can be incredibly profound.
We are granted one life, filled with experiences that are pleasant - or not; we do not know how long it will last; we do not know when the last moment will come. And we are given the choice: shall I live it with love - or hate? With gratitude - or bitterness? How shall this day be spent? It could be my last - shall I end what may be my last day with a smile or a complaint?
That, to me is what Advent is - a reminder to live like I am dying. To make certain that, should the Lord return tonight, I can hand him a day (and a life) in which I chose to live in love for Him and for people.
It's all in personal freedom; circumstances only provide the grist, my will, my choice makes the statement.
- Sister M. Luka, FSGM

Joy

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, that is "rejoice" Sunday. We are halfway to Christmas and your excitement is building. Or is it? What if instead of excitement and joy you are experiencing sadness and emptiness? Joy and sorrow can co-exist, they can meet and embrace just as mercy and truth meet in Psalm 85.

True and lasting joy comes from freedom, interior freedom. Christ has come to set us free so we have claim to this freedom. This doesn't mean we will never suffer or grieve, but that He has redeemed even our sadness. He became small and weak, an infant, so that we would dare to approach Him, unashamed of our own weakness.
So if you do not feel like rejoicing, offer Him your heart now (in all truth), right where you are at. He knows your weakness, he has experienced your poverty and wishes now to fill you.
"Everyone offering himself to God must offer the glory of life in himself, whether it be through giving it up or rejoicing in it; through a renunciation or an embrac…

The courage to need a Savior

“God indeed is my salvation; I am confident and unafraid. For the LORD is my strength and my might, and he has been my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
Mary would have been very familiar with the Psalms and I can imagine her praying these words as she traveled in hast to visit her cousin Elizabeth. I am sure it would not have been an easy journey, but Mary’s faith in God sustained her. Mary had the privilege of carrying her salvation in her womb. I can just picture her praying these words with a hand on her stomach in utter awe of the mystery within her. In reflecting on this I thought “Wait a minute, I get to do like the same thing!” Every day my savior comes to me, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He comes to dwell in me, that I might take Him in haste to others also. As I go I too should have the confidence that Mary had because Her Son dwells in me as well.
Mary knew more than anyone else that she needed a Savior, even though she was sinless. This Advent I have been reflecting a lot on how we mu…

“May the Passion of Jesus Christ be Always in our Hearts!”

As the Season of Advent approached, I asked the Lord how He desired to draw me to Himself. My thoughts turned to contemplation of Our Lady, as she spent this time in expectation of her son, and Messiah. Much to my surprise the Lord then placed His cross before my eyes, as if to say that He wishes to prepare me for His coming by drawing me to the Cross. In my human weakness, I wanted to cling to the idea of spending Advent with our Lady. It sounded safer, easier, more consoling. The Lord gave me to realize that what better way to be prepared for His coming at Christmas, than to enter into the Mystery in which He comes to us every day! The Paschal Mystery, which is made present at Mass. Entering into His death, we are drawn into His birth. Entering into His death, we find ourselves made new, born again. So may the Lord find in us a dwelling place, swept clean by His Precious Body and Blood. May He find in us new wineskins (Mt. 9:17), ready to receive Him when He comes. Come, Lord Jesus!…

Dare to allow Him to draw close.

The Lord is coming. He is near.
Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to celebrate the Birth of Christ, when God took upon himself our humanity and entered into human history. In His Love, He willed to come down to dwell with us. What is amazing is that this did not end with the single act 2000 years ago that we remember. He desires to draw near to each of us today.
Pope Francis speaks often of this intimacy. He says that it begins with an encounter, a look, a gaze that reaches into the core of the person and this encounter must be founded on Mercy. “Only one who has been embraced by the tenderness of Mercy truly knows the Lord. The privileged place of encounter is the embrace of Jesus’ Mercy regarding my sin.”
Here lies the great struggle. I want to present to God something worthy of His greatness. My imperfections, weaknesses and shortcomings just don’t fit. And yet there is this paradox: He wants to enter into my weakness too, because for Mercy to be present, there must first be…

The Journey

Fantasy and Sci-Fi have been two of my favorite genres for many years. Part of the reason for me is because they normally have some type of epic journey to them that is ultimately achieved after many hardships and dangers. In my own life I also have this sense of adventure. Nothing excites me more than the opportunity to go hiking in the woods somewhere and have the opportunity to encounter God in the beauty of nature along the trail or even better on some off beaten path. I’m one of the first people to want to sign up for a pilgrimage. When I’m on one the hardships for the most part seem to melt away because there’s a bigger, more important focus.             As I have been reading the daily readings for Advent my eyes have been pulled to the many times that the theme of path or journey has come up in the readings. In fact, through out the Bible there are many references to this theme. One of my own personal favorites is Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus says the Lord: stand by the ro…

My Bridegroom's Child

“I see Him, though not now; I behold Him, though not near. . .”
As the holy season of Advent begins, I think of Mary in the last weeks of her pregnancy, pondering the words of Isaiah, feeling the Child move within her, rocking back and forth and humming a soothing melody, discovering that powerful love that parents down the ages wake to:  the fierce, piercing love which gives all and risks all for the child to come.  Although I will never know that love for a child of my own, I am yet graced by an intimation of it:
My Bridegroom’s Child Not my own, but my Bridegroom’s Child I cradle in my arms, Bone not of my bone, flesh not my own, But soul of my Lover’s Soul.
In laughing young eyes I see His love shine, I wipe His tears from a careworn face, I feel His Heart beat close to mine In a child’s trusting embrace.
A world full of children, young and old, All His and so all mine, To have and to hold from this time forth Until the end of time.
And so, throughout Advent and all the days beyond…

“Go, and do likewise!”

As the Year of Mercy begins on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, with much anticipation it has been striking my heart of the great gift of the Lord’s mercy. How beautiful it is that Jesus, Mercy Incarnate, comes to us! He comes to each of us. To you and to me! He reaches down as the Good Samaritan to pick us up.

One of my favorite meditations of the Good Samaritan is written by Fr. Brian Bransfield where he identifies our Lord Jesus as the Good Samaritan. He describes how He is reaching down from Heaven to Earth to heal and bind our wounds, then carries us, and brings us to the inn of mercy entrusting us to Holy Mother Church. At the end of this parable, Jesus asks who the neighbor was and upon the teacher of the law proclaiming the mercy of the Good Samaritan He says “Go, and do likewise.” Go forth and be merciful, you who have first received mercy from Jesus! Espoused to Jesus I have been thinking more deeply about how we as religious are the brides of Mercy, e…

To-do lists

Check- mark that off!  Check- that is finished and I did that today.  It is the start of the second week of Advent and already I can see the times that I have failed or the times that I have done what I was supposed to do in a given moment.  Then I take a step back to reflect and think back to why I had started my "to-do" list resolutions anyway.  What is the meaning of all of this?  More appropriately and most importantly- Who is the meaning of all of this? 
            Christ is the meaning.  He brings meaning to the simple little acts of love that He transforms into magnificent gifts for the glory of God.  When I am starting to frazzled by my daily tasks or start focusing on the present “to do list” item, then I have forgotten my main focus is Him.  I think of Mary as she is preparing for her Child to be born.  She would have gone through moment of her day anticipating with great joy the Child she was carrying within her.  She would lovingly spend a moment wit…

Toothpicks and Christmas cards

December, 1980:  It was Christmas time, and I was in kindergarten, and we were given the task of making ornaments for our classroom tree.  The popular craft of the era was the old Christmas card picture framed in a stack of toothpicks carefully glued together.  I remember making my stack, then the disappointment as my toothpick stack collapsed under the strain of the glue oozing from the corners.  As my classmates swarmed and danced around the tree, looking for a place to hang their ornament, I stayed behind with my failed Christmas ornament, feeling very sad.  (A footnote:  35 years later, I’m pretty sure everyone else’s ornament probably had 2 toothpicks and a half cup of glue on it for decoration; my failure was the curse of being a perfectionist kindergartener!) In this the Gospel reading for the second week of Advent (Lk 3: 1-6), we heard that John proclaimed a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  What is this repentance like?  I think sometimes we approach repent…

Merciful Like the Father: Jubilee Year of Mercy

Since our Holy Father, Pope Francis, announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I have waited with excited anticipation for its commencement. While I have jokingly quipped that this celebration marks the commemoration of my nameday for an entire year, in reality the anxious waiting has been due to the expectation of the graces the Lord desires to bestow on us, his beloved.
Throughout this year we are invited by our Holy Mother Church to receive mercy and forgiveness from the Lord, who is Divine Mercy himself. Furthermore, since we are adopted sons and daughters of God, we are asked to consider on how we ourselves bestow this same mercy to others. But, I would like to propose a further reflection on this greatest attribute of God. In his proclamation on the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis defined mercy as “​the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” Divine Mercy reveals itself when God loves us. Thi…

Mystery

Waiting patiently, Listening attentively, Watching with wonder Our Lord is coming.
Examining and pondering, Seeking and longing, Preparing our hearts, Our Lord is coming.
Rejoicing in anticipation, Desiring with love, Hoping in silence, Our Lord is coming.
Light in the darkness, Love all around us, Redemption has come to us, Our Lord has been born.
Rich are we to receive Him, Humbly invited, Alone with our Lord, In the Host we consume.
Loving, forgiving, Praying and singing, United with God, His love for the world.
Amen. -Sister M. Theresita, FSGM

"Not by appearance shall He judge..."

A few thoughts from Sister M. Jacoba...

This morning at Mass Father told us in his homily that the 2nd graders had First Confession last night.  One little girl that came to him, before she did anything, first had to show Father her new dress, then her new shoes and then her new socks that had lace on the top.  Only then was she ready to go to confession.

She had prepared well in appearance to meet her merciful Jesus in confession.  And yet to all of us Isaiah says "Not by appearance shall He judge...".  Father concluded by saying that it was not our appearance but our attitude that He will judge.  So...are we ready to be judged?  Or do we need an attitude adjustment?

and...

What is this terrible yet joyous longing that I feel?  It is Advent, a time of longing.  But what is this gnawing, this deep desire I feel in my heart?  That Advent sky of deep pink and red against the dark makes my heart long...but for what?  Or rather, for Whom?  Lord, I long for You with all my heart a…

FIREPROOF

Many people may remember the movie Fireproof released in 2008 with Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea. Along with the themes of fidelity to vows, communication, and establishing and building a personal relationship with the Lord, there also lies the reality that our lives are not fireproof if we don’t respond to grace, ask for it, and strive to rid ourselves of the kindling that can affect our lives and those around us to crumble or go up in flames.
The Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent in this Cycle Year C, begins with our Lord speaking to His disciples: “Be aware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of life … Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent…” (cf. Lk 21:34-36) He is speaking of His return and for us to be alert and ready as soldiers are when they must make the night watch while the rest of the troop is resting. 
The Church gives us this beautiful penitential sea…

Watch and wait

This week as Advent begins, all the psalms take on a new meaning, as we add the Advent antiphons.  What seemed like ordinary time became anticipation.  What before was just normal is now speaking of waiting and looking forward with longing. Each day becomes "Come Lord Jesus".  So I watch and wait for His coming.
- Sister M. Simona, FSGM 

Run Forth

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Advent is a season characterized by waiting, silence, and passivity.It is for this reason that I was struck by the collect for the first Sunday of Advent.The prayer asks for the resolve “to run forth” to meet Christ.This is far from passive; it denotes activity, energy, and initiative that I have never really associated with this season. Hearing that was an invitation to approach Advent in the same way that runners finish a race (not that I have much experience in this regard, but I have watched a cross country race or two).  After the sprint to set oneself away from the pack, the pace evens out somewhere in the middle of the race, but when it com…