By Sr. Susanne Bunn, MHSH
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Long, long ago when I was in college at Notre Dame of Maryland (now a university), we had a three-day silent retreat every year. I had never been silent for three days in my entire life. During those days I experienced God’s call to be a Mission Helper of the Sacred Heart. My reply to God was, “Here I am.” I thought I was the only one since Creation who had answered God so simply. When I read the Bible, I found amazing people using those very words repeatedly.
Today, in the reading from Exodus, Chapter 3, God speaks from the burning bush, “Moses! Moses!” Moses replies, “Here I am.” I think in this historic reading, we can find many ways to continue to enter into the season of Lent. Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep. Most of us are busy, even in Lent. The desert would have been quiet. Can I find five or ten minutes to set aside for quiet time? God told Moses to take off his sandals because he was on Holy Ground. Would taking off my shoes for this amount of time help me realize that this is holy time? Hear God call your name and just be present to the One who loves you. If you choose, you can say, “Here I am.” The absolute best thing you can do is be quiet and let God love you.
Blessings on your Lenten journey.
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.
A reflection for the first Sunday in Advent
By Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH
President, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart
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.’
By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH
I just came across a new book* that invites the reader to imagine one’s prayer space as an inner chapel where God speaks to each of us personally. Pondering this as Mother’s Day approached, my mind was flooded with images from the infancy narratives described in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. In my imagination, I beheld scenes of the Incarnation…Visitation… trip to Bethlehem…Jesus’s birth… Flight into Egypt—and all of this Mary held in her heart. She must have had a great heart to accept what God was asking of her during some perilous times. That would require a large inner chapel!
During this global pandemic with its dangers and upheavals, mothers are asked to accept, and to do, quite a lot. Perhaps you are working from home while home schooling your children, looking after elderly relatives or neighbors, trying to keep some sense of normalcy for your family. Whatever your own situation is, what do you need from God or from Mary during these days? What do you wish to ask of them?
If you can, find a quiet time and place to pray, perhaps before the rest of the family is up or after they’ve gone to bed. Bring your hopes, fears, concerns, and questions to Mary, or Jesus, or other person of the Trinity. Talk with them as you would to a good friend. Then, just sit quietly and notice what you are feeling. Perhaps jot down your thoughts in a journal. Start with a 10 minute prayer period if you can, and increase the prayer time later, if circumstances allow.
Be assured that the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart are holding you in our prayers. We give thanks for all mothers…all women who have shared life and love with us. We pray for God’s abundant blessings on you and your families this Mother’s Day and every day.
*“The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God” by Becky Eldredge. Available at Loyola Press.