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Showing posts from March, 2016

Seeking like Mary Magdalene

Blessed Easter! May the joy of our Risen Lord fill your heart with His joy and peace! 
        Mary Magdalene and her story of encounter with the Risen Lord has often been a favorite meditation of mine. Throughout the time of our Lord’s Passion, Mary’s deep love for Our Lord compels her to walk with Him experiencing His Passion and Death. Her grief was so deep because she loved much. She knew Jesus, she knew Love. Mary Magdalene walks with Our Lady, who must have also taught her love by receiving Mary Magdalen into her heart. What were those encounters like for Mary Magdalen, between her and the Mother of God. She must have known Mary well to remain with Our Lady during Christ’s Passion. She must have known the deep love, mercy and kindness Mary had towards Mary Magdalene after her conversion from her previous sinful life. She knew Christ through His Mother.
When Mary Magdalen goes to the tomb and finds the tomb empty, her heart sinks once again with grief.  Mary’s heart cries out as in…

DRAWN OUT of the Well Springs of His Sacred Side

Lent is a time for all of us to look to Jesus Christ crucified and receive His mercy which is DRAWN OUT of the wellsprings of His Sacred Heart.  This year I believe is especially graced as Pope Francis has declared this an extraordinary jubilee of mercy.  Each of us is invited to stand with Mary, the mother of mercy, at the foot of the Cross as she gazed upon her Son Jesus with tenderness and open ourselves to all the graces that have overflowed from His pierced side: the source of mercy.  As Catholics, we have the incredible gift of the Holy Eucharist in which we receive His Precious Body and Blood, which was shed for our sins at Calvary.  During the consecration, we should call to mind this reality and place ourselves with Mary at the foot of the cross as the Eucharist is elevated.  St. John Marie Vianney proposed a question that goes perfectly with this idea, he asked: “are you there at Mass with the same dispositions as Our Lady on Calvary, realizing that you are in the Pres…

My Mission: Giving Drink to the Thirsty

Through our Spirituality “Looking on Him Whom We have Pierced.” (Jn 19:27)
Sister Maria Teresita, a second year novice, shares about her experience being on mission.
               “Give Me a drink... If you only knew the gift of God and Who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jesus repeats His longing on the Cross, “I thirst.”  This is what Jesus kept telling me during my 5 months on Mission. What is He thirsty for? He thirsts to love, forgive, strengthen, and fill us – Jesus thirsts to satisfy our thirst, for that is what we thirst for too. But how do we let Him do that? Jesus said “If any man is thirsty, let Him come to Me”, so that is exactly what I did; I went to the foot of the Cross, and “looked upon Him, whom I have pierced.” I fixed my gaze on Him, whom I’ve wounded, and I was filled with hope, for as I looked into His merciful eyes, I only saw love, compassion, and forgiveness. Remaining in His lo…

Overwhelmed by Mercy

Overwhelmed by Mercy as You reach out, reveal the Door.
Lord, You never stop reaching for us You never stop longing for us. Looking back, I recall the Great Jubilee. I walked through those doors in Rome but my heart wasn't there for You. Then, much more a tourist than a pilgrim.
This time, I awaited eagerly on our own campus for the Door of Mercy to open here grateful for the wonders You've worked in my heart and those of many others in the intervening years. You call us still, You love us still. Nothing we earned. Total Gift. Pouring from Your side.
After the Mass we awaited to process out to the chapel with the Door of Mercy. As one row after another emptied my heart realized with awe and joy that this is what could be happening in purgatory this year... purgatory emptying souls who long for You finally arriving home the fruit of Your blood, Your love and the graces for which You ask us to beg.
Lord, I'm overwhelmed by Mercy. - Sister M. Lucy, FSGM

On the edge

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart.
~St Francis of Assisi

As we drove to Mass the other morning, I could not help but notice the amazing, beautiful sunrise. As someone who loves the color purple, it is always my favorite part. This particular morning I noticed something I had never noticed before. The purple was most vivid at a particular point, when the light of the Sun first touched the darkness of night. As lent was fast approaching, it got me thinking. We clothe the season in purple, a symbol of penance and sacrifice, but for me on this particular morning it took on a new meaning. This season is about allowing the light of Christ to touch the places in me, in my life, that have become darkened by sin and negligence. More than just clearing out, it is also a letting in, a gradual encounter.  Eventually we will be completely consumed by the light, ready to celebrate the joyful brilliance of the Easer Resurrection.

- Sister Mary Francis, FSGM

To Gaze upon Christ

This Lent the Lord has put on my heart the awareness of gazing upon Christ.  In our Franciscan congregation, our spirituality flows from John 19:37 “they will look on the one whom they have pierced.”  With this spirituality, we gaze upon the pierced side of Christ and receive from His pierced heart His love and mercy. Then we may go forth to give what we have received.  Throughout this Lent, this action of gazing has been foremost in both my spiritual reading and in prayer.  It also brought to mind a graced trip to Assisi in 2014, by which this “gazing” became so real to me.

           While in Assisi, there are many things to see and let soak into one’s soul. The first place where I was moved to gaze was in the side chapel in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, where the Crucifix from which Our Lord spoke to St. Francis is now housed.  What an awe-filled moment it was to kneel before this Crucifix and to gaze into the eyes of Christ. It was a joyful and prayerful time there. All who…

Fight, Flight or…Hide?

In our day to day life we have all experienced our fight or flight instinct, but there is a third option that is often the most deadly and this is the reaction to hide. Many times in natural disasters children do this, making it not only hard to find them but often times it brings about a tragic end. In the spiritual life this third option is often the most subtle and the most deadly. When we are confronted with the monsters of our sins, our fears, our past, our future or whatever it might be, we often choose to hide. When we see our sins we hide behind our justification. When we are confronted with a fear we hide behind what is comfortable and seemingly safe. When we see the mistakes or the wounds of the past we hide behind our successes of today telling ourselves that we will make up for what we have done wrong. Finally, when we encounter the future and it looks too large to handle we hide behind all sorts of distractions and often times useless complaining.
            So what is t…

Judgment

In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote of the Last Judgment as the school of hope. Jesus' return stands as the defining moment of history and of our individual histories. His return makes my life make sense.
In this time of Lent, it seems right to "stand under judgment." Not judgment for condemnation, but judgment for mercy, for forgiveness, for conversion of life, for satisfaction for sin. In the moment that I stand before Christ as my judge, while still on the way, I see what makes each moment most important; I see what to strive for. In that moment, life becomes real. 
If God will judge the intentions of my heart, then I must examine the intention of my heart in this moment. If He will see every detail of every action and evaluate it in its holiness, truth and love, then I must examine my actions and work to bring them into greater holiness, deeper truth and more authentic love.
His love, His grace, will purify and mend all the weakness and failure, but I must cooperate. In t…

Up From the Earth

Lately I have been pondering the Paschal Mystery that we participate in during our personal lives. What strikes me particularly this season is the passing from death and darkness to life and hope, and even the presence of hope during times of trial. The new beds of bright, shining crocuses and other bulb greens in our backyard pushing up from the dark, sleeping earth seem analogous to me of our own spiritual experience of the Paschal Mystery.


            Our winter here in Alton has been unique this year, fluctuating between cold and warm spells, complete with December flooding and winter snowstorms. The result is that daffodils and even summer bulbs are already rising up from their dark winter sleep to pierce the wet earth and greet the sun. Many of us Sisters have marveled on the beauty of the glowing yellow-orange crocuses that have emerged from their beds of dead leaves and wet soil. They make me smile and remember that life and hope can spring from death and darkness i…

Re-focus

Blessed (middle) beginning of Lent! May this be a time a prayer and growth for you. Some of you may have dreams of giving up coffee, while the rest of your family is desperately hoping you won’t or you may be planning to give up that one dessert that you don’t like anyway, or you are somewhere between these two extremes, but remember that Lent is about YOUR relationship with God. Not about ignoring Lenten fasting and penance altogether or about making everyone else around you suffer. The three goals we are given is PRAYER, FASTING and ALMS GIVING. Your Lent should be balanced with all three. It is even possible to occasionally put all three together. Maybe get a plain coffee instead of the Carmel Latte you love and use the extra money to buy a meal for someone else, while you pray for that person…that will touch your heart and someone else’s. When we truly put our faith into practice, it becomes very real and tangible to us, this helps us, but it also helps the people around us as wel…

Fasting from food and freedom from fear

Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The first few weeks of Lent were full of Scriptural references to these three pillars. Many Lenten songs include verses about them. But do we really make an effort to incorporate them into our own personal Lenten journey with our Lord? I would particularly like to consider fasting.             Although the Church only requires that we fast on Ash Wednesday and Holy Friday, it is a good practice throughout all of Lent. Perhaps it is not often done because we don't understand why it is so important. And when people do fast, it can be misconstrued as a way to lose weight or diet. So what is fasting for God? Fasting done for God helps us realize our own poverty. When I physically deny myself something good, namely food, I realize how weak I am. This should draw me not more into myself, but into prayer, communion with God. I am able to see myself more as I truly am before Him, a hungry beggar, in need of His love. It helps us to face…

The Seed

"He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29
There is something rather hidden about a seed.  It looks rather ordinary and very tiny.  There may be misconceptions that it could amount to anything much less a plant or bush not to mention a tree.  However, there is a trust that comes from the gardener to nourish the soil and then place the seed in its own space.             Then the gardener will carefully attend to the spot of earth that looks rather barren for he has no idea if it really is growing.  He keeps tending to this tiny seed only with a certainty of faith.  He does not need to uncover the mystery to know that something is beginning and …

The Desert

Much of the theme of Lent is about being drawn into the desert. Indeed, this is one of the premises upon which the Christian life is based upon. And it is that which religious life is based upon. Even today in religious life we still draw much of our being and purpose from that which was started by the desert fathers and those who sought solitude to find God within the desert.           Yet, at the same time I would say that in some ways that the internal desert is an even harsher reality than the external environment of the actual desert or mountain. An article I once read spoke of how St. John of the Cross despite never seeing the desert could more accurately explain it than others could. This is because he took the journey that so many of us whine and stuttered at and try to bargain with God about. He was willing to say words to the effect of; God, I give you permission, take over my life. And in doing so he entered into the edges of the environment and harshness of the soul that he…

Journey with Mary: Sacrificial Love of Spiritual Motherhood

Recently, I found a reflection I had written during my first retreat as a postulant. The last conference that had been given was on Spiritual Motherhood. As I approached the 4th Station where Jesus meets His Sorrowful Mother, this is what struck my heart:
                What is the sacrificial love of a mother? It is the self-sacrifice made to love her children. Mary’s self-sacrifice to be there with Christ, her Son, in His passion was the selfless love that united her with Him. Her heart was pierced with 7 swords in the agony of watching her beloved Son endure a cross that He did not deserve, but which He embraced for the love of the Father and mankind. Could she not have said to Jesus, “You don’t have to do this, there are other ways. Do you know how much pain You are causing me and those who love you?” She knew He could have chosen any other way to save us, but this was the Father’s will, and so in silent love Mary trusted. If the world is suffering, why do you choose to remain…
Today I find myself in the midst of a peculiar quandary.    The task before me seems simple enough: write a blog entry for the third week of Lent.  The world would seem to be my oyster.  (For those readers who are unaware, this is an idiom used in cases in which one has the freedom and ability to do what one desires.)  Even within the confines of reason, I could easily write about a myriad  of topics which would  be appropriate for this particular blog, during this particular Liturgical season.  Surely by now  the average reader is becoming impatient to discover what, precisely, is the difficulty.  Other readers have noticed the amount of space and time I have used up displaying my impressive thesaurus usage abilities and surmised the problem -- I have no idea what to write.  

What could I possibly say about anything which has not already been said (and likely better than I would say it)?  This is the only thing I can seem to find in my brain at the moment.  And yes, I have b…

Set Apart for a Holy Task

This year, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2, consecrated men and women celebrated the closing of the year dedicated by Pope Francis to Religious Life. In Tulsa, Bishop Slattery invited all the faithful who have embraced this spirit of the different religious rules in the Third Order, and all brothers and sisters of the diocese to participate in a Holy Mass with a reception following. It was a joyous occasion and many attended.
Fr. Elkin Gonzales gave an inspirational homily reflecting both the beauty of religious, consecrated life and the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. He said, “Today the Church rejoices in that sacred event in which Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple to be consecrated according to the Law of the Lord. How appropriate it is to exalt the beauty of consecrated life on the day we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. To be consecrated is to be set apart for a holy task. It is a divine act by which a person is dedicated specific…

Redemptive Suffering and Tenderness

“Sing out, heavens, and rejoice, earth, break forth into song, you mountains, for the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” ~Isaiah 49:13-15
Suffering and tenderness—words that seem to beat against each other in a dichotomy of emotions. In reality, the person of Jesus Christ breaks down the barriers that our feeble minds tend to put up in opposition to seemingly contradictory phrases. Isn’t it Christ who said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25)?
 In a world in which the concept of suffering is often viewed in terms of punishment, we tend to put limits on the mercy of God. In so doing, we fail to see God as Comforter and Mother and instead project our affliction back unto God. We forge…