The Things We Do for Love

A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent

By Sr. Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022821.cfm

Long ago, in Brockway, Pennsylvania, a substitute teacher was about to begin a day of teaching second grade in public school.  The children had free time before school started.  Tow-headed Michael had gathered most of the class into a huddle.  The substitute drifted over to see whether trouble was brewing.  Michael was saying, “Alright you guys.  We are in Lent.  Jesus died on the cross for you.  What are you going to do for him?”

We do things for people we love.  Every winter morning, Pat would scrape ice off her husband’s car and warm it up.  Joe is long dead.  Without a doubt, Pat still loves him and misses him.  I miss him, too.  He prayed the Rosary every day and had an intention for every bead.  He prayed the third Hail Mary for me.

There was a day of Lenten Retreat at Church of the Holy Spirit in Joppa.  We had Mass and prayed the Rosary, but the retreat director still hadn’t come.  I asked the pastor if I could say a few words about the Rosary.  I told the almost full church about driving Sister Annette to see her family in St. Mary’s County when I was a young Sister.  Sister Annette said, “Would you like to pray a rosary?”  I did not particularly want to pray a rosary, but I did not have the courage to admit that.  We began.  Sister announced, “The First Joyful Mystery, for whom shall we pray?”  My sister-in-law Barb was pregnant.  We would pray for her.  Sister Annette added all women with difficult pregnancies who were considering abortion.  We named our intentions for each mystery.  It was a powerful and positive experience.  I told the retreatants about Sister Annette and intentions for each mystery and about Joe and his many intentions.  That evening, an army wife who made the day with her husband wrote that he was jotting down the intentions for each Hail Mary on his rosary.

On Sunday, St. Paul will affirm, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  God is definitely for us and Jesus will take every loving thing we do for each person in our lives as if we did it for him.

Rejoice!

A reflection for Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent

By Sr. Amarilis Flores Arrioja, MHSH and Sr. Rosa Sofia Toledo, MHSH

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121320.cfm

The Third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete” Sunday, which in Latin means “Rejoice” — be joyful, be hopeful, be cheerful and glad.  The Canticle of Mary (“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”)  invites us to recite our own canticle of praise and joy to God, our Savior.

Liturgically, this Sunday of Advent is a joyous celebration flowing from the Spirit into our own hearts as we prepare to celebrate that the coming of our Savior and our Redeemer, in human flesh, is near.  In a world faced with so many threats in our times, particularly the Pandemic crisis, where some of our loved ones have died “alone,”  the Word of God comes to console the brokenhearted; to lift the sorrowful and neglected, to bring healing to the sick and hope to the hopeless. The Prophet Isaiah invites us to rejoice in the Lord with our whole heart and to find in our God the joy of our soul.

In the first letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, we are reminded to rejoice in the Lord always, at all times, no matter what the circumstances of our lives are. He shares with us key exhortations on how to live the Christian life joyfully, as we prepare to celebrate the first Christmas, as well as being vigilant to the ongoing manifestation of the Lord who continues to come, and who will come in glory at the end of times.  Let us, then, pause to ponder on the message of Saint Paul in this Advent season:

  • Rejoice at all times.
  • Never cease to pray
  • Be grateful in all circumstances
  • Do not extinguish the fire of the Spirit
  • Do not underestimate the prophetic utterances
  • Examine all and keep what is good
  • Renounce any kind of evil

Like Paul, let us claim this prayer as our own:  “May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we enter more fully into the Advent joyful season, let us reflect on the following questions:

  1. What am I most grateful for to the God of my life?
  2. At this time, where is our world crying out for true joy?
  3. In Saint Paul´s letter to the Thessalonians, which exhortation stands out challenging me to live more fully in Christ during this Advent season?

(Srs. Amarilis and Rosa Sofia minister to  people in Manzanita and surrounding areas in Venezuela)

 

 

 

A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Advent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 11: 1-10
Responsorial Psalm: 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Reading II: Romans 15: 4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3: 1-12

Advent 2 pic 2The word “hippie” came to mind as I began reading the Gospel for the second week of Advent. John the Baptist certainly marched to his own drummer, living in the desert, wearing “odd” clothes, eating “strange” food. People like John are often written off as kooks, nut-jobs, outliers. In spite of his off-putting ways, though, people of his time seemed drawn to him, traveling (on foot, remember: no Greyhounds to tourist meccas) “from Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan.”

His message wasn’t very cheerful, either, nor was he much of a diplomat in presenting his thoughts. Really, if someone invited you to go for a long, rough hike to hear an oddball, sort of angry person scold everybody and warn them of impending punishment, how likely is it that you would have gone?

Maybe the appeal lay in seeing someone blast the religious leaders of that day – aristocrats and legal scholars of their faith, not known for sensitivity to the human condition. Whatever drew people to John (nothing good on TV?) they certainly came and were motivated to be baptized as a sign they would change their ways.

There’s a balance to John’s fire in the first reading. Isaiah is just as intense as John, but more hopeful, perhaps because he foresees justice for the poor, safety even for a baby playing near a snake (which had to be a much greater concern in those days), no harm or ruin anywhere on earth. Who wouldn’t go for that?

In the second reading, we’re encouraged to endure and be hopeful – something we can all get behind these days – expressing our trust and hope by the way we relate to one another – just as Jews and Gentiles were urged to get along, though in Paul’s time that was a wildly radical notion! Is it too wild and radical for us in our time? Do we have enough of Isaiah’s vision to give it a try? Where will you begin?

 

 

Discovering Something New – A Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent

By Sister Rita Lynch, MHSH

Isaiah 43:18-19   “Remember not the events of the past….see, I am doing something new”

Philippians 3:12-13  “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained it, but I continue my pursuit….forgetting what lies behind, but strained forward to what lies ahead.”


Holy_Week_DispayEach year, we celebrate the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.  It is full of special events—Ash Wednesday, Rites of Initiation, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.  We make personal choices of how to journey this most holy and spiritual time of the year.  It is a time to remember again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who was sent by God to show us the way to live in God’s presence.  It reminds us of all that Jesus lived and died for: “US”!

The readings for this week encourage us not to forget, but also to remember that there is something new waiting for us to receive from our God with open minds and hearts.  Each of us has traveled this same journey for as many years as we have had birthdays.   Sometimes those years are a repeat of the prayers and liturgies of the previous ones.   

something newSometimes it seems that we are not called to do the same thing over and over every year. And, if we listen to the words of Isaiah and Paul, we are challenged to look for the deeper meaning, the expanded vision, the next deeper insights of what this time of the year is meant to be for us. 

Our faith not only repeats the past words and events, but needs to bring us to “continue the pursuit” as Paul suggests. We are called to discover the “something new” that allows the season to change our hearts and lead us to new understanding of how this time affects our spiritual life and gives us the impetus to carry this season into the future in a new way.  

A New Things

2016 is not the same as 2015, or 2014, or any other year.  We are different, have had many new experiences since we celebrated this holy time last year.  Perhaps our lives have seen a new commitment—and so we are reminded of the commitment Jesus made with the Father when he came to earth and walked among us. 

 

“I Rejoice Heartily in the Lord”

A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

By Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Readings:
Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54
Thess. 5:16-24
Jn. 1: 6-8, 19-28

advent 3 candlesThe Church designates the third Sunday of Advent “Gaudete” Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice.” At the midpoint in this Advent season of expectant waiting and watching, we are called to reflect on the joy of God’s presence and promise.   As we hear Isaiah exult in the mission he has been given by God, Mary brimming over with gratitude and praise in her Magnificat, and Paul’s exhortation to “rejoice always,” we are led to the Gospel’s joyous promise of “the one who is coming.”

We invite you to pray with the passage of Isaiah, found below, using the technique of “lectio divina” (holy reading). In this approach, you first settle yourself in a quiet, comfortable posture, acknowledging the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and reflectively, noticing if any words of phrases stand out for you. Allow those words or phrases to sink in. You might repeat them a few times. Don’t try to analyze them, just allow them to be with you.

Slowly read the passage a second time. Reflect on what the significant words or phrases are touching in you. It might be your own experience of comforting someone who is brokenhearted, or of being comforted yourself. Whatever it is, trust that God speaks to you in your own personal experiences. Talk with God about this reaction, just as you would speak to a good friend. Then sit quietly and notice how God seems to be responding to you. That response may be a feeling of peace, or a sense of close presence. You may sense that God rejoices over you!

Read the passage a third time. What grace (gift) do you desire as a result of your prayer? Or, what might God be calling you to do, or to become?

Close your prayer time with the Lord’s Prayer or another prayer.

During the week, you might wish pray with the other readings, using lectio divina.

Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord God make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARE NOT OUR HEARTS ON FIRE? Pentecost 2012

By Sister Barbara Baker, MHSH

Once again we approach a significant moment in the life of our church—a moment when that special gift of the Holy Spirit fills all with new life and an invitation for a new beginning.  Jesus’ appearance, once again, from out of nowhere, in the midst of a scared group of followers takes them up short.  Jesus stood among them and said “Peace be with you.”  He tried to reassure them that indeed it was HE who had recently ascended to the Father.  Once they realized the truth, they rejoiced.  Jesus addresses them again and says “Peace be with you.”  He has returned to them to send them forth as commissioned ambassadors to spread the Good News.

There are tensions and divisions within the community.  Each received a special gift from the Holy Spirit and could not rejoice in this because of jealousy and comparisons with the gifts others received.  They didn’t realize that the gifts were to be shared with others for the good of the community.

Paul reminds us that our bodies are the same—each part has a role to play and no one is more important than another if it wants to be whole, healthy and in harmony.  So, as we approach this great feast of new birth perhaps we could look at our hearts to discover the fire or lack of fire within us for life and service to one another.

For Reflection:

What is the “special gift” that God has bestowed on me, and how do I share the gift with the community no matter what my age?

In this time of uncertainty about our future, how and where do I see the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us to a new place with new fire and energy?

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Were You There? A Reflection for the Third Week in Lent

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

[Readings: Ex 20:1-17; Ps 19:8-11; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25]

We are at the half-way mark.  Lent’s goal of deepening one’s relationship with Christ challenges each of us to answer the haunting question:  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Paul was not present at the Crucifixion.  He did not literally witness Christ’s death on the cross.  But Paul’s faith has given him the strength of conviction.  In his lifetime, he has experiences that seem, to the people of his time to be obstacles or madness.

In this first letter to the Corinthians (from which the Second Reading for this Sunday is taken), Paul admits that faith in Jesus Crucified is beyond understanding.

What gives Paul that assurance, that unshakeable conviction in Jesus Crucified is not an obstacle, not nonsense, not madness?  It is the gift of the Spirit.  He accepts this gift of wisdom.  God’s wisdom is not the wisdom of the world.  The wisdom of the world is alien to things of God.  God’s wisdom, Paul asserts is holiness, virtue, freedom.

Was Paul there when they crucified my Lord?  No. Paul was not a physical eye witness. He was a witness in Faith.  And Paul realizes that with this gift comes the realization that this Spirit of God that dwells within him must reach out to others.  And so that is what he does.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  No. Yet, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and like Paul, you come to realize that with this gift comes the realization that the Spirit of God dwells within you and me and we are compelled to reach out to others.