The Desert and the Parched Land Will Exult

A Reflection for the Second Week in Advent

By. Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

This reading from the liturgy of Monday, Dec. 5 (Isaiah 35: 1-10) is both comfort and challenge as we “wait in joyful hope” this Advent season.  Isaiah paints a picture of an arid steppe blooming with abundant flowers and the exiled Jewish people singing and rejoicing.

This portrayal of renewed creation should give us hope that despite the myriad troubled conditions in our world, God has promised to renew all things.  The passage also demands that we do our part: strengthen feeble hands, help firm up weak knees, encourage the frightened.

Spend some time with this passage.  Do you believe in God’s promise of renewal?  What might you do this Advent, and beyond,  to co-labor with God in bringing it about?

 

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

    Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Magnificat of Acceptance

A reflection for the first week in Advent.

By Sr. Judy Waldt, MHSH

 The Annunciation is an 1898 painting by the African American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner. It depicts the biblical scene of the Annunciation, where the archangel Gabriel visits Mary to announce that she will give birth to Jesus. The painting is held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

 As we come to the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year, we begin once again the season of Advent.  

My prayers and reflection turn to Mary and her acceptance of the will of God. 

I read a Magnificat of Acceptance written by Mary Francis, P.C. C. (Univ. of Dayton).While Mary’s words gave praise to God, I think too it was a Magnificat of Acceptance to the will of God in her life.  

 This part of the Magnificat of Acceptance gave me pause. 

“The place in my heart that I had filled
with thoughts of fear and inadequacy
has been emptied and I am quiet within.
God comes to save Israel, our holy family,
remembering that we are the ones who remember,
… according to the kinship we have known …
remembering that we are the ones who remember
and that where God and people trust each other
there is home.” 

What do we need to accept or pray for this Advent?  

I invite you to read this Magnificat of Acceptance on the University of Dayton website. Scroll down the page to find it – https://udayton.edu/imri/mary/a/advent-poetry.php

Wishing you peace in this Holy Season. 

The Peace and Joy of Easter

By Sr. Onellys Villegas, MHSH

 On Easter Sunday, we are gathered in contemplation of the risen Christ.
We feel imbued with the same wonder as Mary Magdalen and the other women who went to Christ’s tomb on Easter morning and found it empty. That tomb became the womb of life. Whoever had condemned Jesus had deceived themselves that they had buried his cause under an ice-cold tombstone. The disciples themselves gave into the feeling of irreparable failure. We can understand their surprise, then, and even their distrust in the news of the empty tomb. But the Risen One did not delay in making himself seen and they yielded to reality. They saw and believed!

Two-thousand years later, we still sense the unspeakable emotion that overcame them when they heard the Master’s greeting: “Peace be with you.” … “La Paz sea contigo.”

Even now we have this same desire, as our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are suffering and dying unjustly.  We all struggle with the question of suffering. God sees and understands what we cannot. Not only is God in control, we can trust in God’s goodness even in the midst of our suffering. God says to us:

“I am with you, and I will not leave you.” His promise is that one day suffering will end, but until then God will be with us. One day it will all make sense. But in the meantime, we do not suffer alone.

Today is the day of Easter joy. This is the day on which Jesus
appeared to people who had begun to lose their hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold: that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend into his father’s glorious presence. May the risen Lord breathe on our hearts, souls, and minds, and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of the bread and follow him in his risen life.

MAY WE EMBODY  THE PEACE OF THE RISEN CHRIST!

Happy Easter!! Felices Pascuas de Resurreccion!

 

Your Grace Is Sufficient: A Reflection for Palm Sunday

By Noreen Douglas

 

Give thanks unto God for the grace He has provided for us,

even when we don’t believe.

Every morning He has awakened us,

give thanks for His grace.

Each day we experience challenges, whether the same or new,

give thanks for His grace.

For personalities that are like ours, or not,

give thanks for His grace.

The hurt and pain we experience through our circumstances,

give thanks for His grace.

The sufferings we endure in our mind and body,

give thanks for His grace.

The choices we or others have chosen that cause pain or even death,

give thanks for His grace.

You Lord have given us the grace to repent and to forgive,

We give thanks for Your grace.

To be able to serve and meet the needs of the unlovable,

give thanks for His grace.

To accept what is difficult and still be content,

give thanks for His grace.

To smile when there seems to be nothing to smile about,

give thanks for His grace.

To speak encouragement even when it isn’t given,

give thanks for His grace.

Because of this day we have been given the grace to do all things

in You, through You and for You.

Therefore we give thanks for Your grace.

FOR YOUR GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!

 

-Noreen Douglas is the housekeeper for the Mission Helpers.

 

 

 

“See, I Am Doing Something New” – A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

By Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Click here for Mass readings

The woman central to today’s Gospel reading seems submissive, if not defeated. She had to feel embarrassed at best, clearly not hopeful of forgiveness. How befuddling that Jesus offers that very thing, forgiveness, without being asked. How long did it take her to realize that she was free to go?

Jesus had in fact “opened a way in the sea…a path in mighty waters,” as Isaiah had predicted. She could forget about her past, about “the things of long ago.” Amazing! It seems that Jesus really does come to set us free, to liberate us from all that holds us back, and weighs our spirits down.

As we observe our current world situation, we may see no way out for us, or for our country or indeed our world. There seem to be so many complications that we feel overwhelmed. God says, “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” We may reply, “No, I do not perceive it, God.  I cannot imagine how you will make a way in this wasteland. Give me a hopeful spirit and some sort of booster shot for my imagination. I want to trust in your promises and keep my spirits up and my hopes alive.” This is not a matter of feeling jolly or optimistic as much as it is of keeping within me a determination to trust God’s promise through Isaiah.

Soon we will commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We need not lose sight of his resurrection and glorification – which, as a long-time radio host used to say – truly is “the rest of the story.”

 

Mother’s Day 2022

The month of May gives us the opportunity to remember both Mary, mother of Jesus, and all other women who have left imprints on our hearts and souls — our mothers, of course, but also beloved grandmothers and aunts, teachers, doctors, neighbors and dear friends. All the women who have journeyed with us in life can be remembered during the month of May.

We have a brand new design for our Mother’s Day card

click on the link to view:  MothersDay order form22

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!