ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

Day 3: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 3, The Witness of Fellowship

Scripture

  • Jeremiah 31:10-13, They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion.
  • Psalm 122, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
  • 1 John 4:16b-21, Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.
  • John 17:20-23, That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me.

Meditation

Division among Christians is an obstacle to evangelization. The world cannot believe that we are Jesus’ disciples while our love for one other is incomplete. We feel the pain of this division when we cannot receive together the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity.

The source of our joy is our common life in Christ. To live our life of fellowship every day is to welcome, love, serve, pray and witness with Christians from diverse traditions. It is the pearl of great value given to us by the Holy Spirit.

The night before his death, Jesus prayed for unity and love among us. Today we raise our hands and pray with Jesus for Christian unity. We pray for the bishops, ministers and members of all churches. We pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us all on this path of unity.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • How do we regard Christians of other churches and are we prepared to ask forgiveness for prejudice towards them?
  • What can each of us do to decrease division among Christians?

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience” –Emily Dickinson

An Easter Reflection by Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH 

A missing plane from Malaysia, a mudslide in the state of Washington, countless Syrian refugee children, school violence…sometimes our soul and the season seem out of sync.

Yet the tomb is empty.

Jesus' Tomb empty2When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we catch a glimpse of resurrection.  Resurrection joy is not simply the joy of satisfaction that follows a productive day, or happiness in scoring well on an exam.  Resurrection joy is experienced when our hearts are drawn to God.


When our ‘soul stands ajar’, faith may not change the story, but it may change the way we see the story, and that in itself can make all the difference.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, our attention is focused outside and beyond ourselves and lifts our hearts so we can participate in the joy and sorrow of others.  Whenever joy enters into those who are in pain, sorrow, and distress, it is experienced as consolation; God consoling.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we notice that the Risen Jesus listened to the disciples’ stories and then named the story of God that ran under and through their story.  They were so close to their story they could not see the fullness of it.  Jesus longs to do the same for each of us.

open soul_2When ‘our soul stands ajar’, we recognize the fire that burns within.

When ‘our soul stands ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’, Easter holds far more for us than we can ask or imagine.

If Mary Magdalene had been given what she desired, what she begged for, she would have been given the dead body of Jesus.  Instead, she came face-to-face with the living Christ and heard him speak her name.

What would it take for your ‘soul to stand ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’ of Easter?

Easter Blessings galore, one and all!

 

This Week with Jesus

A Reflection for Holy Week by Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

Holy Week is the most sacred time in the Church year.  It is the week in which we celebrate the paschal mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

DSC02855 copy
Each year, in the remote villages of Manzanita, the Mission Helpers work with the young people as they re-enact the Passion, beginning with the Hosannas of Palm Sunday.

Beginning with Palm Sunday and its exultant hosannas, it propels us into the very heart of God as it reveals a love that, in the celebration of a Passover meal, will give of its life and, its “Do this in remembrance of me,” makes itself available to all generations.

In this week, the mystery and paradox of life and death escalate to reveal the depths of darkness that can emanate from the human heart as the hosannas of Palm Sunday are replaced with equal intensity, in demanding cries of “Crucify him.” And yet, even as with bowed head Jesus gives up his spirit, a new life is born.  Jesus lives.

Jesus lives.  Even as we join Jesus in a profound remembering of his passion and death, the invitation is to walk with Jesus this week in a spirit of resurrection joy and hope.  Holy Week is best spent simply being at the side of Jesus as the past events of his last days are unfolded in rituals that make these events break through time and space and become a dynamic and vibrant present.

bread & goblet # 3As you join Jesus in this his 2014 reminiscing, stand by him as his heart is moved by the populace that greets him with branches of palms and hosannas.  Be with him in the supper room as he rises from washing the feet of his disciples.  Hear him as he reminds his disciples to follow his law of love.  See the hurt in his eyes at the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter and the cowardice of his disciples.

Listen to the joyful note of redemptive hope affirmed as he turns to the criminal on the cross and promises, “Today, you will be with me in paradise….”

cross 2If there are tears to be shed, may they be those saturated with the balm of gratitude.  The power of sin and death has been overcome.  Jesus lives.  The earth quakes, the dead rise, and through the ages the acclaim of the centurion echoes:  “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

We Can All Be Healers

A Reflection by Sister Rita Lynch, MHSH

The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday in Lent (John 11:1-45) involves many people besides Lazarus and Jesus. The family of Lazarus sends for Jesus and are saddened that He didn’t arrive in time; Lazarus dies.

Friends support the family but wonder why this has happened. Jesus healed others. Why didn’t he heal this one whom He obviously loved. The disciples fluctuate between wanting to be with Jesus and yet fearing where he is taking them.

Jesus asks family and friends where Lazarus is and they say, “Come and see.” They take Jesus to the tomb.

Is someone in our family, or among our friends, or in our community entombed because of some addiction, because of some emotional, physical or spiritual disease? Will we, like the family and friends of Lazarus, take Jesus to this person? Will we believe or doubt that Jesus can heal them?

depressed & down person 09 man in shadow_largeHow will we respond to Jesus’ direction, “Untie him and let him go?”

Jesus calls us to be a community of healers. Together with Jesus we can heal a broken person, a broken family, a broken world.

depressed & down person 08 woman & friend_largeAs we reflect upon and respond to the call of Jesus, we may find it helpful to listen to the hymn “We Need Each Other” by Carey Landry on his CD, “O Healing Light of Christ.”

 

Entry Into the Paschal Mystery – A Reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Mk 11:1-10 (At the procession); Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-19, 17-20, 23-24; Mk 14:1-72; Mk 15:1-39

Palm Sunday ushers us into Holy Week.  As we receive our palm branch and listen to the opening Gospel we are transported in our imagination to the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, seated on a donkey.

The crowds are still looking for a triumphant hero who will release them from the treacherous rule of the Romans.  But, as we hear the Passion narrative—this year it’s from Mark—we remember that Jesus was alone in his suffering and death. The crowds did not get what they were looking for.

It is significant that Mark’s Passion narrative begins with the story of a woman who manages to break into a dinner party where Jesus is present.  She anoints Jesus’ body with expensive oil.  We are told that the oil was worth a year’s wages.  She breaks the jar and pours the oil on Jesus’ head.  Her action was not appreciated by the dinner guests.  However, Jesus commends her.  Immediately after that, Judas goes off to look for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the authorities.

This story can inspire us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We might think of how we spend a year’s wages (a sharing of our gifts) to soothe the pain of those who make up the suffering Body of Christ in the world today.

As Holy Week unfolds and leads us to Easter joy, we come to a deeper realization that although there may not be many earthly rewards for us as disciples, Jesus promises to be with us now and “he prepares a place for us so that where he is, we also may be.” (Jn 14:3)

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you feel confident enough in your relationship with God to trust your life with him?
  • How does God trust you?  Who are some of the people that God entrusts to your care?
  • What graces do you need in order to live in this trust?