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?

 

 

Watching and Waiting in Chaotic Times

A reflection for the first Sunday in Advent

By Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH
President, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112920.cfm

 

Our Advent season opens with Jesus saying to his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!”  Again, at the end of our Gospel reading Jesus says, “What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”   Watch for what?  Watch for who?  This Advent season is like no other as we live in this time of Covid-19 with great unrest and division in our country and in the world.  We wait for healing, we wait for peace, we wait for a vaccine.  We focus our Advent waiting and watching on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.  In faith, we trust that Emmanuel God is with us.  In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we are reminded of the grace of God given to us in Christ Jesus.  We are reminded that as we wait, we are not lacking in any spiritual gift.  We have all that we need to prepare.  This time of Advent – this time before Christmas, we are given the invitation to deepen our awareness of God’s love for us and for all the world.  Just as Mary prepared for the birth of Jesus, we are invited to ready that space within us for something new to be born.  As we wait to welcome the Light of the world, we are called to be light for the world.  What does that mean in your life?  What would a deeper awareness of God’s love look like in your life?

 

We know that we come to discover our selves in and through our relationships.  Advent is an opportunity to take some time, to make some space in our busy lives to sit in quiet and deepen our relationship with God.  Tell God what it is you hope for, ask God to help you let go of whatever keeps you from loving with an open heart.  Confide your fears and concerns to God who loves and cares for you more than you can imagine.  Become aware of who you are becoming during this Advent season, not just about what you are doing.  As you wait, you may want to invite Mary and/or Joseph to wait with you.  Try to imagine their preparation, their hopes and dreams, their fears and concerns.

 

We pray, ‘Come Lord Jesus, come into our waiting, keep us alert and watching as we awaken anew to your presence within us and all around us.  Thank you for this time and may we use it to deepen our commitment to follow you and be instruments of your peace.’

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Encounter

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

 

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

 

The birth of Christ into the world was not one filled with the comforts one would expect.

The evening was cold and in some ways empty of joyous celebration – at least to the eyes of onlookers. The child came into the world with much love from his parents and with the air of mystery in their hearts.

 The infant Jesus’ birthing was bringing many gifts to the world. The gifts could not be wrapped, but instead would grow as Jesus would and be given to all who opened their hearts.

 Jesus is the loving gift of God to the world. The very son of God became small in the taking on of our flesh. Jesus in his humanity would feel our pain, grief, hunger and more. This child Jesus, born into the world, was given in love and was destined to teach us how to love.

All who would encounter Jesus would find they are loved completely without conditions and such loving would bring about transformation to many wounded hearts.

Jesus Christ, the infant born to us this day with a heart full of God’s love for each person, is the Christmas Encounter fully alive. There is no greater gift.

Introducing “To Love Like Jesus: A Spirituality of the Heart”

 

 

Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart have as the center of their spirituality, the heart of Christ. As Women of the Heart, we desire that the qualities of Christ’s heart become our own in service of others.

The traditional  Litany of the Sacred Heart, familiar to many of you, is a revered part of our tradition. A contemporary version of this Litany, written by theologian Wendy M. Wright, has been offered to enrich our prayer and nudge us to reflect on some of the most important questions of the spiritual life:

What would it mean to love like Jesus?
What would it mean to have a heart like his?

Through weekly blog posts, beginning Oct 15th for  6 weeks, we invite you to reflect with us on this contemporary Litany of the Heart (found below).

We know this is a spirituality shared by many and we look forward to praying together.

Litany of the  Heart
By Wendy M. Wright

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

So loving
So humble
So gentle
So compassionate
So faithful
So wise
So patient
So steadfast
So tender
So spacious

 Oh God, my heart is longing for you

God’s joy
God’s shalom
Harp of the Trinity
Wingbeat of the Spirit
Breath of God
Five-petaled rose

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Womb of justice
Birthplace of peace
Our dearest hope
Longing of our lives

Oh God, my heart is longing for you  

Freely flowing fountain
Spring of grace
Freshet of forgiveness
Merciful river
Mystical dew

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Warmth of our hearts
Transforming fire
Cosmic furnace
Enflamer of hearts

Oh God, my heart is longing for you  

Heart of evolution
Beginning and ending
Center of all

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Garden of virtues

Mystical dew
Table and food

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Our refuge
Our shelter
Our comfort
Our rest
Our welcoming breast

Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Wounded by love
Pierced by our cruelty
Broken by our hardness
Mystic winepress
Poured out as gift

 Oh God, my heart is longing for you

Have mercy, gracious heart,
Give us gratefulness
Teach us tenderness
Let us learn to love.

Hear our prayer!

 

From “Sacred Heart: Gateway to God”, Wendy M. Wright (Orbis Books, 2003). Used with permission of the author.

 

 

With God in the Wilderness

A reflection for the third week of Lent (written on the Feast of St. Joseph)

By Sr. Loretta Cornell, MHSH

I’ve been reading a publication called “A Lenten Pilgrimage: Journeying with Jesus.”   One of the reflections is titled: “In the desert we cling to essentials.”  It says: “A trek into the desert wilderness is no simple matter.  There are hazards, privations and loneliness, uncertainties, fickle weather, wild animals, and the frightening prospect that overnight the wind could alter the landscape beyond recognition.  It is easy to lose oneself in the wilderness.”

Joseph and Mary had to go through the desert, the wilderness, to get to Bethlehem and then out again into the wilderness to escape Herod’s soldiers who would slaughter the innocent. Both Joseph and Mary were examples of listening to God speak to their hearts, experiencing God with them.  They nurtured and protected Jesus, guiding him all through his life, and taught him how to survive the wilderness in all its forms.

“After his Baptism in the Jordan, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, where he fasted for forty days and nights and was tempted.  The desert wilderness is that place where what is essential (food, clothing, and shelter) is made abundantly clear”.

The wilderness is where God “I Am” nurtures us.  “The wilderness is that place where we enter to be reminded of the One, “I Am”, who is truly essential in our lives. It is where we stand before God,” I Am.”  It is the place where we stand in the light of God,” I AM’s” strength.  Our God says “I alone give you life and I give it to you fully.  Cling to me and I will care for you.  Trust in me and you will find freedom.”

Did you know…

Fig trees can grow in the desert!  Mary and Joseph may have come across one in their travels.  The beautiful fig tree yields two harvests per growing season and produces deliciously sweet fruit. Fig trees might take about 3 or more years to start producing a viable crop, but when they really start to produce you will have all the figs you can eat! Figs, one of the oldest cultivated crops, were a favorite of some early societies. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and even Egyptians enjoyed figs.

For reflection:

What is essential for me to live?
What will nurture me?
Can I meet God in the wilderness?

View From the Mountaintop

A reflection for the second week in Lent

 By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

As I pray with the Gospel for the second Sunday of Lent, I wonder why Jesus took Peter, John and James to the top of a mountain to pray.  Wouldn’t a nice spot by the sea do? Or a secluded area off the beaten path?  As we look through the Gospels, we find Jesus choosing numerous places to pray and teach.  There is the desert, the hill overlooking Jerusalem, the mountain or plane to teach the Beatitudes, the rock where Jesus gathered the children, to cite a few.

 When I imagine being on a mountaintop, I experience a broader perspective on life.  I forget my problems as I take in the beauty of our world.  I am reminded of the diversity of God’s creation.  I am also reminded of the uneven distribution of resources, clean air and wealth, among other things, that afflict our planet.  A big challenge for me is to know when to come down the mountain and get to work.

 Suggested questions for reflection:

What are the places that help you encounter God?
How are you challenged by the uneven distribution of resources cited by the author?
Do you also have difficulty “coming down from the mountaintop?”

 

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.

Jesus Blessed History

A Reflection for the Third Week of Advent by Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10
Psalm Response: Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Reading II: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

advent-3-no-joyOn Saturday of this Third Week of Advent the Gospel is taken from the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel—the Genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:1-17).  As we meditate on this list of Jesus’ ancestors we might remember that as human beings we do not live in isolation.  Each of us is related to a collection of people who have gone before us.  We are all part of the web of life.

If we look carefully at this list of men and women that begins with Abraham and concludes with Mary we might be reminded that Jesus’ family tree is not so different from our own, containing many people who have done good deeds, some who have taken advantage of others, some who have lived in troubling relationships, and all who have succumbed to sin in one way or another.  We might also notice that some were Gentiles and some were pagans.

How comforting for us to have so much in common with the Holy Family…to know that Jesus is flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.

Ponderings:

  • How seriously do I reflect on my unique genealogy?
  • Do I consider the gifts I have received through my ancestors? Can I give thanks for them…and find ways to share them with others?  How can I help to “build up the Kingdom” with these gifts?
  • How do I treat the unsavory parts of my genealogy (and my personality)? Can I accept myself as I am?   Can I accept others as they are?
  • Can I name some of my shortcomings and work on softening the rough edges? Can I find ways to be happy living in an imperfect world?

 

“Bustin’ Through” –A Post-Easter Reflection

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Have you ever risen from the dead?  If you’re an overworked, underpaid, weary-to-the-bone person who nevertheless hauls out every morning to take on another day, you have.

garden blossomIf you live in the eastern half of this country and have struggled with and struggled against the winter of 2016, you may be rising again just about now, finding your grimly-set jaw softening as you notice the blooms coming to life in your garden, or shiny maroon buds fattening on a tree.

Spouses, parents and others buy into resurrection when we choose a bit of amnesia relative to last night’s argument or bedtime tantrum, and speak a quiet “good morning” as the new day begins.

rock garden 1Resurrection is more common than believed—unless we’re speaking of “Jesus bustin’ through them rocks,” as a second grader in Mobile, Alabama, once defined it for me.

“Bustin’ through” is what’s significant in that description.  Reflect for just a moment on what you may need to “bust through,” and ask our risen Lord to empower you to do it!

A Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Lent

By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH

As our Lenten Journey continues on this Palm/Passion Sunday, we look back to the beginning of our journey—the promises and resolutions we made on Ash Wednesday (almost like our New Year’s resolutions). We promised to spend more time in prayer, entering into a deeper relationship with Jesus. That relationship would lead us to others—to feel the hurts and pain of those around us. Perhaps we promised to help others by almsgiving—sharing our gifts of plenty with a homeless shelter, a food pantry, an aging neighbor, one suffering an addiction.

journey travelHow are we doing with those promises? Have we learned that fasting is so much more than just not eating or drinking certain things? Have we thought about fasting from unkind thoughts about another person, or fasting from buying something for ourselves so that we might contribute financially to those in need?

Pope Francis designated this Lent as a time to foster mercy through the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Try one on each day and live it. Now that’s a challenge!

As Jesus walks through his passion this week, let us join him as he enters Jerusalem with loud jubilation. Let us be present with him at the last supper as he shares his very self with the disciples and with us. Let us be with him in his prayer and agony in the garden, in his cruel sufferings, and in his death on the cross. Let us be among his friends as they received his body. And let us know that all this was done for love of us.

jesus-walkingREFLECTION:

Sit with Jesus today as you would with someone you know is dying. Experience the heartache of Jesus as he leaves his mother and dearest friends and followers.

Fasting becomes a prayer when I intentionally let it draw me to change my ways so that I am more in touch with the mind and heart of Jesus.

Pope Francis calls us to “fast from ‘globalization of indifference’ and begin feasting in the ways of Jesus: nonviolence, forgiveness, solidarity, social justice and active, compassionate love for all who suffer.” We have only just begun…