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Anchored in Hope

 

By Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President

This Advent we were invited to a place of stillness as we lit the candles representing hope, faith, joy, and peace/justice.  In this stillness we pondered the promises of this season.  Last week on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Noreen reminded us that: “We celebrate God’s promises with every breath of our lives through our obedience to our faith in God.”  We desire to be rooted in the example of Mary by responding in this forever changing world, “I am yours, Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

My pondering this Advent takes me to one of the Christian symbols of hope (one of my favorites), the anchor.  Our anchor – that which keeps us grounded is of course Emmanuel, God with Us.

The following passage from Isiah is traditionally read on the night of Christmas Eve:

 

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

Upon those who dwell in the land of gloom

on them, a light has shone.

-Isaiah 9:1 (NAB)

These words were spoken to a specific time and situation – these words and this message are given to us as well — as we stand in this moment – at this time in our lives – anchored in a God who delights in us and desires to come to us in the flesh – the Word.  May we experience the hope of this message and bear witness to the Light – the Light that has already arrived and is yet to come!

 

 What is the hope that has been planted in your heart this Christmas?

What is it that you ask God to bring to birth in you?

Christmas Blessings to you and your loved ones.  May your hearts be touched with deep joy during this holy season!

Your sisters, The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

 

Lord, Make Us Turn to You.

A reflection for the fourth Sunday of Advent.

By Noreen Douglas

Click here for readings

 “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” (from the responsorial psalm).

In a forever changing world, we have this truth in our hearts. We humble ourselves through the wars of life, while being full of hope through the obedience of our faith. We rely on our faith to lead, to guide, to help, even to comfort us in all the details of our lives.

Therefore, we surrender our understanding, our time, our feelings, even our lives to allow our faith in God to be seen in this forever changing world.  We, too, cry out “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

Through our love one to another we reflect God’s promises. We show his long-suffering and patience as we take on the trials of this conformed world with the compassion and understanding of our faith. We celebrate the newness and freshness of each day with gladness in our hearts.

We stand ready and willing to surrender to his will…ready to heed the mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as we, too, cry out “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

We celebrate God’s promises with every breath of our lives through our obedience to our faith in God. Like Mary in today’s Gospel acclamation, we respond in this forever changing world, “I am yours, Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Alleluia!

(Noreen Douglas is employed as the housekeeper at the Mission Helper Center. She and her husband, Rob, serve as Campus Life Directors at the Loch Raven campus of Metro Maryland Youth for Christ.)

The Color of Joy

A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

By Sr. Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121221.cfm

When I was a little girl and a teen, pink was my favorite color.  On the third Sunday of Advent, the rose vestments, the Advent candle and the readings still lift my heart.

I can picture the teen-aged Mary reading the first reading, listening to God speak to her:  “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion. Sing joyfully, O Israel….The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love…”.Maybe those words were singing within Mary when the Angel Gabriel came.

It is a challenge to carve out time to read Scripture.  If I read the Sunday readings a few days before Mass, the message comes alive as I listen to the Word proclaimed.  When the bread and wine are brought forward, I put my week on the altar with those gifts.  Jesus is present offering himself completely to Abba God, and he takes me with him.

I feel sad when people say, “I don’t get anything out of Mass.” Doing the work of preparing the readings and of offering ourselves with Jesus to the Father will make it possible for us to get a whole lot out of every single Mass.  Someone once said that if we make the effort to remember one single word from the readings, the Holy Spirit can feed us all week with spiritual food from that Mass.

After my years in Colorado and Arizona, green became my favorite color.  Most Sundays of the year, the vestments are green.  Father Caimi, a former pastor of a church where I served, said that colors mark out special celebrations, but when the priest wears green, it is ‘growing time’.”  Rose is worn only twice a year.  Today is special.  We continue with Advent, Christmas, Holy Family Sunday, Epiphany, and Baptism of Our Lord. Stay connected to Mass as we celebrate each joy.  Stay connected when we return to green vestments and ‘growing time’.

 

We Need a Little Advent

By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Maybe we need more than a little Advent this year. Although we have come through the worst of the pandemic, we are not out of the woods. There are yet concerns about the spread of the virus and its variants, along with the associated disruptions in our lives. The anger, stress and at times, outright violence that have been displayed by some among us are disturbing, to say the least. Bitter partisan political divisions still rage.  Who among us would not ask for some hope, some faith, some joy, or some peace/justice right now?

As we consider the Advent wreath, with candles representing hope, faith, joy and peace/justice, we are invited into a place of stillness where we ponder the promise of this season. On this second Sunday, we have lighted the candles representing hope and faith.

If you’re wondering what to pray with this week, some of the responsorial psalm refrains from the liturgies remind us of God’s saving presence and action in history. These same promises are made to us – both now and into the future.

Sunday: The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120521.cfm)

Monday: Our God will come to save us. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120621.cfm)

Thursday: The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120921.cfm)

Friday: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121021.cfm)

Saturday: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121121.cfm)

Spend some time with these psalms.  Do you believe in these promises?  Do you find hope and/or faith?  Joy and/or peace?  Ask God for what you need this Advent.

Maranatha!

An Introvert’s Advent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

This coming Tuesday, November 30, we celebrate the feast of St Andrew, brother of St. Peter. Were there ever brothers more different from each other? Peter was a leader, but it must be acknowledged, he was a bigmouth with a big heart and a desire to do great things. An old country song goes “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” – Peter’s theme song, it seems. But where did Peter get his inspiration? How did he learn about Jesus?  Maybe from brother Andrew? We may never know, but it is encouraging (to us more reserved and cautious in temperament) to reflect on the differences between the two – and on the fact that both were apostles, martyrs, and pastors for sure. There is no cookie-cutter for the coming Advent or Christmas season marked “Saint _______ “(fill in the blank). As the Grinch might put it, it is a “Come All Ye Who’s” – anyone, of any personality type, intelligence, skill level, degree of devotion – is welcome.

So, we look at quiet, reflective, helpful-in-subtle-ways Andrew, so outshone by the bombastic Peter, and we say to ourselves, “Well, I can do that!”  I can set aside a bit of extra time during Advent to pray. I can pay a little extra attention to a second child in a family who is feeling a bit eclipsed by her elder sibling and comment positively about a gift or quality unique to her. I can write appreciative notes to family and friends in my Christmas cards.

Andrew made himself useful wherever he saw a need. He did not need to be a star, a great orator like his brother. He did whatever came to hand. We pray to him to sharpen our vision so we, too, can accept our own unique giftedness as we “wait in joyful hope” this Advent.

 

 

 

Love Remains

A Reflection for Easter Sunday
By Sr. Onellys Villegas, MHSH

Readings: Easter Sunday Readings

Today’s Gospel tells us that on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning.  Mary saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them.  They ran to the tomb and saw the burial cloths there. They all saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

All of the readings for Easter are so rich and full of meaning.  We  need to pause for a moment and to wonder at the marvel of the news. Jesus fulfilled his promise, rose from the dead, but, more than that, he rose to stay with us.

We meet Jesus along the way of our daily lives.  We meet Jesus in the dark times and in the light. We meet Jesus in our quiet moments.  Jesus came to us as a companion with only one purpose: to teach us how to love as he loved, quietly, carefully, tenderly and with great forgiveness.

Love vanquished death… love is our strength for those of our brothers and sisters who here too have suffered prejudice and indignities, mistreatments and persecutions.  But while all of these pass away, LOVE REMAINS!

LET US BE A WITNESS OF HIS LOVE!

HAPPY EASTER!

 

 

Jesus’ Passion, Our Passion

A Reflection for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032821.c

This Sunday is often referred to as Palm Sunday, but more completely it is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.  The triumphant procession and entry into Jerusalem give way to the betrayal, arrest, torture, and death of Jesus. His Passion is in full view in these accounts.

When we ponder the Passion of Jesus during this Holy Week, can we imagine him fully experiencing the physical pain, emotional distress, isolation, and abandonment that are described in the Scripture readings?  Or do we assume that Jesus’ divinity somehow shielded him from these experiences?

In “The Ignatian Adventure”, his guide to the Spiritual Exercises, Kevin O’Brien SJ says that “in order to know Jesus, we must take his humanity seriously. We must not forget that while he is fully divine, he is also fully human.  To gloss over Jesus’ humanity is to miss one of the central meanings of the Incarnation: Jesus shows us that the way to our divinity (or holiness) is through our humanity, not around it. In other words, Jesus teaches us how to be fully human”.

Our world has undergone its own passion during this last year, as Covid 19 has wrought illness, death, isolation, depression, and financial ruin.  Each of us can tell stories of our personal passion and/or the passion of family and friends.   It is raw, and it is real.  The Jesus who suffered so horribly himself, and loved us to the end, understands and is present to us with consoling love.

During this Holy Week, let us also bring into our prayer the suffering of others in our world who endure poverty, displacement, discrimination, oppression, marginalization, and other burdens.  To truly stand in solidarity with them in their plight is to stand with the suffering Jesus.

 

 

 

Life Overcomes Death

A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032121-YearA.cfm

 

The story of Lazarus is a glimpse into the climax of Jesus’ life.  After escaping his opponents’ attempt at stoning him, Jesus learns that Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, is ill. Lazarus is not yet dead so Jesus waits two days knowing the one he loves will die, then decides to return to Bethany.

Jesus is showing us a deep understanding of what we, even today, try to accept. Death is a part of life, and Jesus can and does overcome death.

Jesus comes to the tomb and calls Lazarus out. Lazarus comes forth and is helped with the unwrapping of his bindings. Jesus has used the death of his friend to witness the power of God. Lazarus is brought back to life, which gives us a view of death in its totality. The voice of Christ is obeyed and new life is the result for Lazarus. The call here is to hear the voice of God and obey it, then we can rejoice in new life. Jesus’ own Passion ends in having obeyed the Father, and he is given new life. Lazarus’ obedience of Jesus resulted in his coming back to life. Jesus’ obeying his Father made the Resurrection possible and gave us the Risen Christ.

 

Today let us consider two questions:

How do you understand death today in light of Jesus’ Passion and death?

What role does obeying Jesus play in your daily life?

 

 

Let’s Talk This Over

A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

By Sr. Dolores Glick, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031421-YearB.cfm

 We hear in our entrance antiphon today “REJOICE, BE JOYFUL, EXULT” (Is. 66:10-11.)

What is there to be joyful about with so many suffering in this pandemic, so many atrocities in our world being carried out by dictators against their own people, so much evil versus good, lies versus truth?  Pause and ask yourself: What impact for GOOD has the pandemic had on me?

When we reflect on the reading today in the Book of Chronicles we read,: “The wrath and the MERCY of the Lord are revealed in the plight of the exiles and the LIBERATION of God’s people”. The infidelity of the people, the evils of the nation, polluting the Lord’s temple, are finally brought to an end by King Cyprus of Persia. He restores truth, freedom and mercy to the people whom God loves!

In Pope Francis’ book Let Us Dream he says “in the COVID 19 crisis we have seen the cruelty and inequity of our society more vividly exposed than ever before. We have also seen the resilience, generosity and creativity of so many people, the means to rescue our society and our planet. In the trials of life, we reveal our own heart: how solid it is, how merciful, how big or small. In making our choices we reveal our heart. I see an overflow of mercy spilling out in our midst. We are called forth in some new courage and compassion. We must come out of our present crisis better.  Let’s allow God’s words to Isaiah to speak to us: “Come, let us talk this over.” May we remember the Truth that God put in our hearts that we belong to God and each other as we journey together on this plant”.

Today, St. Paul reminds us again in Ephesians, God is rich in MERCY because of the great love God has for us…this is the gift of God. We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that we do for and with each other. God is always with us even in our painful confusion, in our worried sleep, in various difficulties in life.

John’s Gospel tells us again “God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” indeed the world has been saved through him. The Gospel is GOOD NEWS/GOD’S NEWS. It is the news worth sharing and shouting, God loves us and calls us to come closer!

Take some time today to hold and gaze upon Jesus on the cross. Bring to him your neediness, your cares and let Jesus restore you.

Are there obstacles in your life preventing you from living with greater LOVE and JOY?

Where do you see HOPE rising up in you today?

Will you let God do something new in you today? REJOICE. We will come out of this Lent into the Easter Mysteries.

LORD SHAPE OUR HEARTS!

Prayer and Action

A Reflection for the Third Sunday in Lent
By Sr. Nancy Barshick, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/030721-YearB.cfm

Something was wrong. I was feeling it. I could name it. I could not understand it.

Jesus and I together had been through tense weeks the past several months. Like so many, I was daily asking HIM for help for so many causes: worldly hatred, pandemic, ethnic clashes, lies about the US election, etc. etc.  Asking what HE was going to do about them.  Daily I felt his presence. But after those intense weeks His presence had begun to fade.  We were “losing contact.” But WHY?

A morning, a few weeks ago, found me walking the hallways of the Mission Helper Center having a one-way conversation with Jesus while carrying a piece of paper with a name on it.  I wandered into chapel.  Standing in front of the tabernacle still clutching the paper asked “Look, Jesus, what is causing this loss? Are you mad at me? What has gone wrong?  Oh, I knew what many would have said if consulted.  “You need to have quiet time with Jesus.”  “Need to humble yourself before Him.  “Need….” I knew these were not the answers for Jesus and me, but neither was I prepared for HIS answer that day.

It came loud and strong- “YOU, like so many lately, have been asking for MY help, MY intervention, MY inspiration.  Tell me, what MORE are YOU, Nancy Barshick, going to do about these causes and wants besides prayers for MY help?  MHSH Sisters /Staff, Family/Friends, MEMBERS of this world’s population, how are they going to HELP ME with their actions? Inspiration needed?  Check Luke 2: 13-25 for what I had once to do for MY Father”:

“HE MADE A WHIP OUT OF CORDS AND DROVE THEM ALL OUT OF THE TEMPLE AREA…. “TAKE THESE OUT OF HERE AND STOP MAKING MY FATHER’S HOUSE A MARKETPLACE.”

SO how can one respond to Jesus request for help besides prayer?  For some this will first mean looking deep within asking why there is fear to act about issues included in their prayers. Time and tears will rank high.

For others who are ready BUT…  Commonly told to me: 1, “I don’t know what to say.”   2, “I’d be embarrassed if someone heard /read what I had done and laughed at me.”  3, “My prayer group believes in the power of prayer leaving action to those who enjoy it.”   4, “Me, I’m not an action person.”

Remember the paper I mentioned above that I had clutched while addressing Jesus?  It contained the name of a man I encourage people to hire so he can get supplemental income.  Jesus, that morning, used it to remind me, Nancy Barshick, there was so much more to be done and some of it was going to take a lot of courage and nerve.  Was He reminding YOU also?  Encouraging to overcome Your FEARS and BUTS?

The choices of action with prayer are ours.  The world and Jesus await.