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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.

 

 

The Things We Do for Love

A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent

By Sr. Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022821.cfm

Long ago, in Brockway, Pennsylvania, a substitute teacher was about to begin a day of teaching second grade in public school.  The children had free time before school started.  Tow-headed Michael had gathered most of the class into a huddle.  The substitute drifted over to see whether trouble was brewing.  Michael was saying, “Alright you guys.  We are in Lent.  Jesus died on the cross for you.  What are you going to do for him?”

We do things for people we love.  Every winter morning, Pat would scrape ice off her husband’s car and warm it up.  Joe is long dead.  Without a doubt, Pat still loves him and misses him.  I miss him, too.  He prayed the Rosary every day and had an intention for every bead.  He prayed the third Hail Mary for me.

There was a day of Lenten Retreat at Church of the Holy Spirit in Joppa.  We had Mass and prayed the Rosary, but the retreat director still hadn’t come.  I asked the pastor if I could say a few words about the Rosary.  I told the almost full church about driving Sister Annette to see her family in St. Mary’s County when I was a young Sister.  Sister Annette said, “Would you like to pray a rosary?”  I did not particularly want to pray a rosary, but I did not have the courage to admit that.  We began.  Sister announced, “The First Joyful Mystery, for whom shall we pray?”  My sister-in-law Barb was pregnant.  We would pray for her.  Sister Annette added all women with difficult pregnancies who were considering abortion.  We named our intentions for each mystery.  It was a powerful and positive experience.  I told the retreatants about Sister Annette and intentions for each mystery and about Joe and his many intentions.  That evening, an army wife who made the day with her husband wrote that he was jotting down the intentions for each Hail Mary on his rosary.

On Sunday, St. Paul will affirm, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  God is definitely for us and Jesus will take every loving thing we do for each person in our lives as if we did it for him.

Hidden Riches

A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

By Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022121.cfm

Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that we have been in “Lent” for over a year already? What more can we say about such a cold, grim season? It has been our own desert, just as Jesus had his –and yet, when he emerged, he had a surprising message, upbeat and hopeful: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Can we come up with anything like that, as we look ahead to the end of the Covid 19 pandemic? Jesus had angels ministering to him: do we? Where do we see the “riches hidden in Christ” that the opening prayer (Collect) of today’s Mass refers to?

My first response is “First Responders” – the truly heroic, selfless folk who do the dangerous ministry of health care, transportation to hospitals, phone calls to next of kin, handholding and cellphone displaying as loved ones breathe their last. How many times in one day can one’s heart break? Who has the courage to step up to do that, not for their own loved ones but for complete strangers? Those are the “riches, in part, anyway.

Mr. Rogers always advised children to “look for the helpers”, a wise piece of advice.  As we ponder the enormous need all around us, we would do well to look for the helpers in these perilous times. Perhaps instead of sacrificing chocolate or ice cream or other treats for Lent, we might donate to the Red Cross, local food banks or hospitals to express our gratitude for the gift that they are. If not a monetary gift, maybe it would be even more meaningful to say some heartfelt words of thanks to a person who has cared so well for our own dear ones?  No matter how halting or unpolished, such words would be received as golden: “hidden riches” brought to light, offered, and received with gratitude.

A Lenten Journey of the Heart

By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

With these words from today’s first Mass reading from Joel, we commence another season of Lent. The passage invites us to a journey of the “whole heart”, with our destination being the God who offers us forgiveness, mercy, and kindness.

The following poem from Jan Richardson invites us to spend these forty days exploring the inner chambers of our fractured hearts, trusting that our loving God accompanies us during this time and will restore us, and our broken world, to wholeness.

Rend Your Heart

A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

To receive this blessing,
all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart
so that you can see
its secret chambers,
the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated
to go.

Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart’s walls:
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave
in shadow,
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet
to find.

It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty, at least.

And so let this be
a season for wandering,
for trusting the breaking,
for tracing the rupture
that will return you

to the One who waits,
who watches,
who works within
the rending
to make your heart
whole.

—Jan Richardson

From Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Blessings on your Lenten wandering.

 

Statement of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart on the Violence in the Nation’s Capitol

“For the love of God…” were the words that launched the founding of our congregation, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.  It is this same love of God that compels us to condemn the acts of violence against truth and democracy that we witnessed in our nation’s Capitol.

As citizens of the US, we were shocked but not surprised, that the rhetoric of hate that shapes the leadership of our country, permeated its very marrow, resulting in the needless death of 6 people and acts of domestic terrorism against the democracy we cherish.

Since 1890, we have partnered with people of color, with immigrants, refugees, and those seeking asylum in our country.  Engraved in our hearts is the suffering they have endured and the hope they cling to – to live in a democracy supported by a constitution and a rule of law that sees all people as God sees them.

Words and behavior matter.

We call on all elected leaders, by voice and by vote, to condemn the violence and vandalism that erupted in our cherished institution and the hateful rhetoric that incited it.

We call on all Church leaders, by voice and behavior, to guide us to our best selves. Speak the truth of the gospel, offering hope that God is indeed with us.

We call on ourselves to look closely at our words and actions, to repent of complicity that leads to division, to seek transparency in our witness.

The way forward is not clear. We grapple with much that divides us. “For the love of God”, let us begin anew the conversation.

-January 11, 2021