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.
How 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.
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…
By Sisters and Friends of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart
I could always pick my mom out in a crowd of moms. She was the one with the prettiest hair—all white. My mother had 11 children and she treated each one of their needs. She was named Mary Rosalie but went by Rose and what a Rose she was!
I can remember one time asking her, “Why aren’t we normal?” She laughed and said, “We are.”
She taught me a great lesson when I was in the second or third grade. I volunteered her to make a cake for my class. She got all the ingredients and the cook book and she put them in front of me and said, “You are going to make this cake.” I learned to make a cake from scratch and to never, ever volunteer my mom for anything again without her permission.
Mom had a deep faith, a great prayer life and trust in God. These were the best gifts she gave our family. She had a good sense of humor, a compassionate heart and a love for all people. She was involved in church, social action, civic and community associations. She taught us to reach out to those in need, to invite people to the table, and to see Jesus in each face that we met. She also had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and would have us pray the Rosary on our knees or in the car. I chuckle when I remember this because as my Dad drove faster and faster, Mom’s voice became louder and higher in pitch. It went like this:
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Hon, slow down!!
I can’t help but smile. I’m not sure if she thought it was the hour of our death, but sometimes it sure felt it.
Our Mom loved us and she let us know it. Because of her witness of love to God, Mary, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am a better person. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH
My fondest memories of my mother are of the times we have spent together, just the two of us. I was six years old before I was blessed with a baby brother, so I have always had a close bond with my mom. My husband, son and I have been blessed to have had my mom (and dad) living under the same roof with us for the last 25 years, so the bond between all of us is even stronger today!
To this day it is her love for her family and our one-on-one times that I will remember, and cherish, for the rest of my life.
–Darla Benton, daughter of Millie Stuchinsky
I first met Jesus, really met him, when Sister M. Anonymous dismissed me, a precocious second grader, from my First Communion class and forbade me from receiving Communion with my classmates, including my identical twin sister. Despite my mother’s representation to “Sister” and my parents to “Father,” I was not permitted to return.
In a voice filled with tenderness she said, “Honey, you are not going to receive Communion with your class. That is Sister’s decision and we must respect that. But Dad and I believe the reason is bigger than Sister. We believe that Jesus wants you to himself on your Communion day because he has something special to say to you.”
Immediately, for this seven-year-old, raw disappointment was transformed into a sense of being special and anxiously awaiting what Jesus would say to me. To this day, I believe that my relationship with Jesus was born from my mother’s words.
–Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH
Mary Burke Maguire is a wonderful and loving mother. We (her children) feel it is both a privilege and an honor that she lives at The Villa in Baltimore. The Villa is a retirement community of religious women—Sisters of Mercy and the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.
It is fitting that she spends these years of her life in such a community. Mary Maguire is one of the holiest women I have ever known. Holy in the sense of God first in everything she says and does. Our mother bestowed on us faith, hope and love that know no bounds.
My mother was beautiful. My friends always said that they had never seen such a beautiful woman. It was not her physical beauty, however, that impressed me the most. We had many religious items that graced our home; these did not impress me the most. What truly influenced me throughout my life was Mom’s steadfast faith. Through many difficult times, Mom trusted unwaveringly in God and set an unforgettable example for all of us. Even at age 80 she continued to attend daily Mass. I remain forever grateful to her for having encouraged me in my decision to become a Mission Helper. Mrs. Helen Rafferty, mother of Sister Mariel.
–Sister Mariel Rafferty, MHSH
Among my favorite memories of Mom is this: I was seven or eight, my sister 12 or 13. We had a big doll the size of a two-year-old child. She wore real baby clothes. Neither of us played with her anymore, but she was one of my prized possessions. One day in the cold of winter my mother said, “You don’t play with that doll anymore. How about giving it to Rosie up the street? She may not have a doll.”
I immediately tensed up and got possessive, but my mother reasoned with me. “You have other dolls, but Rosie doesn’t have any. God wants us to share what we have.”
After a while she wore me down and I agreed. I took the doll to Rosie.
Sometime later I was at Rosie’s house, and I was hoping to play with the doll. But Rosie said, “My mother threw it in the stove.” I was horrified and sickened. That doll was as big as a baby who could walk, and I pictured a child being thrown into the flames. I must have left right away because my next memory is of running home and bursting into the house crying. Mom asked what was wrong and I sobbed, “Rosie’s mother burned the doll up in the stove.”
Mom always had a calm way about her. She thought for a moment, then said, “Maybe she needed to do that because they didn’t have wood for the fire.” That stopped me for a second, but then came another onslaught of crying and I sobbed, “But it was MY doll.”
Mom triumphed again. “No, it wasn’t your doll. You gave it to Rosie. When you give a gift, it’s not yours anymore and you can’t tell people how to use it.”
My mother taught me many little lessons like that, and I’m grateful for every one of them.
–Sister Kathleen Lehner, MHSH
I have so many memories of my mother, Theresa Gertrude Hubich Bunn. I remember her sitting on the side of my bed and teaching me to pray “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” and “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed I lie upon, four angels to guard my bed, two at the foot and two at the head…”
I remember lemon meringue pies so delicious that I picture heaven including pie, coffee and watching the sun rise over the ocean. I remember walking toFortMcHenryin our Easter outfits and hats on sunny Easter afternoons. I remember Uncle Wiggley stories and if the sky doesn’t turn green and trees don’t grow upside down, I will tell you more memories next year.
–Sister Susanne Bunn, MHSH
Some of my favorite memories of Mom center around being “always ready for a ride” and “dressing for the occasion.” Until recently, Mom has always been ready to go on an outing, but only with the proper attire. This photo was taken at the Red Lion Inn a few years ago. My sister and I took her there for a spring getaway. For us it was a time to relax, but for Mom, it was an event.
Mom continues to greet each day as something worth dressing up for. She had the same outfit on this week for a visit to the doctor’s office for a routine blood test. “After all,” she said, “one never knows whom we will run into on the way.”
I find a great lesson in that, especially as I try to be prepared to meet God at any moment along the way…and be ready to respond. Thanks Mom.
I am a baseball fan! To be more specific, I am a Baltimore Orioles fan—an ardent Baltimore Orioles fan.
From the time I was a very young child I listened to baseball games on the radio with my mother and father. They were both great fans. I remember one warm summer night in particular. We were sitting outside on the front steps listening to the ballgame. It went into extra innings and it got very late, but my mother was determined to listen to the end. When it was over she told my father to take her to the hospital, where she gave birth to my sister. But she heard the end of that game first.
There was a Baltimore team before the Orioles that played in an old ball park on 28th Street. My father took me there when I was about seven years old. I loved it.
Later I went to games at the old Memorial Stadium, and, more recently at the new Camden Yards, where I was once hit by a ball during pre-game warm-ups.
While I love the game, I can’t say that baseball is a “religious experience,” but I think it’s a very spiritual thing when the players use their God-given gifts to bring so much enjoyment to people. They have a calling. And that’s to play baseball. Cal Ripken was a good example of this. He loved the game; he was a good sportsman; he was called to play baseball.
And, like Cal Ripkin, a lot of the Orioles are very involved with worthy local projects; they give back to the community, and especially the kids. They’re role models.
For the players who take drugs to enhance their playing—that’s not using their God-given gifts, that’s just greed.
My ministry in Detroit lasted for 16 years, and I followed the Detroit Tigers, but I never became a fan. In fact, one year I went to the season opener between the Tigers and the Orioles and cheered (loudly) for the Orioles. We won.
I enjoy baseball—every single day, winning or losing. One year they were zero for 21—not one win in 21 games! But I was with them. This year, I think they have a shot at the World Series. That would be great. But, it’s still early in the season, anything can happen.
I’ll be rooting for them, no matter what.
*Sister Dolores, who will be 90 in October, recently celebrated her 70th year as a Mission Helper of the Sacred Heart. But, she’s been a baseball fan longer than that.
Earlier this year I was invited on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I won’t forget the introductory words of Father Peter Vasko who was the group leader: “Youdid not decide to come on this journey,” he said. “God Himself decided long ago that you would come on this journey. It will change you; you will never be the same. God will make Himself known to you, touch you in a special way, heal you where you need to be healed or call you to a special or renewed purpose. But you will never be the same.”
There were so many moments that touched me during this pilgrimage. One was at the site of the Annunciation where the Incarnation became a reality—the place where Mary’s “Yes” changed the world and turned its values upside down. Our group gathered there in silent awe, and I pondered this question: “What has Mary meant to me throughout my life?”
Quietly, prayer filled the hallowed space at the site, and the strains of “Gentle Woman/Hail Mary” began softly then became our special American tribute and our heart-song. We lingered, hesitating, not wanting to rush this moment, yet we knew that other groups of pilgrims were waiting and longing to enter this space.
What has Mary meant to you throughout your life?
NOTE: More of Sister Natalie’s reflections on the Holy Land will be posted over the next several months.