Women of Strength

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

The call is the motivating force that beckons us forward, no matter the doubts and fears. We are called to keep moving with the forces of the times as they change around us. We must trust that we are being led and are being called to lead. We must not give into our fears or false beliefs about who and what we are or what we can or cannot do. There is a force within us that guides and protects us no matter the unjust systems we confront in life.

We have been called from the beginning of time to be the birthing force of change in our world. We must not let apathy pin us to our seats but move onward, trusting even when the path forward isn’t clear.

The history of so many people who believed in Christ is full of accounts of humanity being moved to change. These peoples followed the guidance and prompting of God and courageously risked their very lives to see changes in vast systems of belief.

We are women who are meant to be unconstrained by the belief systems passed down by others. Instead, we must stand tall as we walk like Christ into a sinful world seeking, like Christ, transformation for all God’s peoples.

The Change That Changes Everything – A Reflection for Easter

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President

We live in a world and in a time of rapid change.  All avenues of social media keep us aware moment by moment of how quickly things change all around the world.  Closer to home, “in the blink of an eye” as they say, our lives change.  It could be a phone call, a medical diagnosis, news about a loved one and life is never the same.  Perhaps it’s the death of one we hold dear or the birth of a child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew.  Change is all around us; change is the one constant in life.

Recently I was struck by a phrase that I heard and shortly thereafter read in an article. The phrase – “the change that changed everything.”  I kept coming back to that as I prayed about this Easter blog.  Truly, Easter is THE change that changed everything for us who today proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Risen!” 

 Our Lenten preparation and opening to the love and grace of God that is all-surrounding, have perhaps changed our hearts to see even more clearly the awesome mystery that from death comes new life.  We come to embrace in a deeper way what the great mystics knew, that resurrection is how reality is – that nothing dies, everything is transformed.  These forty days have invited us to grow more fully into being a resurrection people.  Our faith is meant to witness a message of hope.  How does this hope allow us to stand with others in their deepest sorrow – in their deepest joy?

 

 May we, like the women at the tomb and those first disciples be surprised by the mystery of resurrection.  May we, like them, experience new freedom as the children of a God who calls us from all that entombs, entraps and keeps us bound.  May our despair, doubt and disappointment be transformed in the light of the resurrection as we find new life, hope and the gentle breath of presence and peace.  For truly Easter is THE change that changes everything!

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 8

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 8, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 3:13-15, Moses at the Burning Bush

  • Psalm 30, The Lord restores us to life
  • Romans 10:14-17, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news
  • John 4:27-30.39-40, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony.

 

MEDITATION:

With her heart transformed, the Samaritan woman goes out in mission. She announces  that she has found the Messiah. Many believed in Jesus because of her witness. The force of her witness stems from the transformation of her life caused by her encounter with Jesus. Thanks to her openness, she recognized in that stranger “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4.14)

Mission is a key element of Christian faith. Every Christian is called to announce the name of the Lord. Pope Francis told missionaries, “wherever you may go, it would do you well to think that the Spirit of God always gets there ahead of us.”  Mission is not proselytism. Those who truly announce Jesus approach others in loving dialogue, open to mutual learning, and respecting difference. Our mission requires us to learn to drink from the living water without taking hold of the well. The well does not belong to us. Rather, we draw life from the well of living water which is given by Christ

Our mission must be a work both of word and witness. We seek to live out what we proclaim. The late Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara once said that “many have become atheists because they have become disillusioned by people of faith who do not practice what they preach.” The witness of the woman led her community to believe in Jesus because her brothers and sisters saw coherence between her words and her own transformation. If our word and witness is authentic, the world will hear and believe. “How are they to believe if they have not heard?” (Rom 10: 15).

PRAYER:

God, Spring of Living Water, make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives. Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well, and give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another. Transform our hearts and our lives so that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News. And lead us always to the encounter the other, as an encounter with you. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 8

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 8, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony

SCRIPTURE:

  • Exodus 3:13-15, Moses at the Burning Bush
  • Psalm 30, The Lord restores us to life
  • Romans 10:14-17, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news
  • John 4:27-30.39-40, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony.

 

MEDITATION:

With her heart transformed, the Samaritan woman goes out in mission. She announces  that she has found the Messiah. Many believed in Jesus because of her witness. The force of her witness stems from the transformation of her life caused by her encounter with Jesus. Thanks to her openness, she recognized in that stranger “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4.14)

Mission is a key element of Christian faith. Every Christian is called to announce the name of the Lord. Pope Francis told missionaries, “wherever you may go, it would do you well to think that the Spirit of God always gets there ahead of us.”  Mission is not proselytism. Those who truly announce Jesus approach others in loving dialogue, open to mutual learning, and respecting difference. Our mission requires us to learn to drink from the living water without taking hold of the well. The well does not belong to us. Rather, we draw life from the well of living water which is given by Christ.

Our mission must be a work both of word and witness. We seek to live out what we proclaim. The late Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara once said that “many have become atheists because they have become disillusioned by people of faith who do not practice what they preach.” The witness of the woman led her community to believe in Jesus because her brothers and sisters saw coherence between her words and her own transformation. If our word and witness is authentic, the world will hear and believe. “How are they to believe if they have not heard?” (Rom 10: 15).

PRAYER:

God, Spring of Living Water, make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives. Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well, and give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another. Transform our hearts and our lives so that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News. And lead us always to the encounter the other, as an encounter with you. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

 

“Create A Clean Heart in Me, O God” – A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 2-15; Jn 12:20-33

Last spring, during the Easter season, we enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of several hyacinth plants. After they had bloomed and then gradually wilted and dried, I continued to water them in the hope of a second bloom.  Nothing happened and after a while I gave up and put the pots aside. Almost a year has passed and the other day something in the neglected flower pots caught my eye.

What was that yellowish, white thing? Could it be? Yes, it was a tender shoot pushing through the earth saying, “I died and was buried, but now, here I am emerging from the earth alive and new.” It took time, but the transformation happened. Another and another bud pushed through and I was awed at the miracle and determination of life over death.

We hear about such surprise and transformation in the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  Jesus tells us that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.  But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Being the servant, the follower of Jesus means that we understand the story of the seed, the lesson of the plant. Those periods of death, darkness, loss, doubt and confusion that every one of us experiences in our lives, are the environment, the incubation period from which faith, enlightenment and rebirth emerge.

And where is the nurturing place for such a faith? In the first reading we hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

God has placed the seed of faith in our hearts. Our hearts are that place of incubation for renewal, discovery, transformation, birth. Our Lenten discipline enables us to clarify the direction of our lives, to face and deal with the dark places within and to accommodate the challenges of daily dying and rising.

May we nurture in our hearts during this “season of incubation” new stirrings of hope, possibilities and responsiveness to the call of the one who “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

We pray in the words of the responsorial psalm:

“Create a Clean Heart in Me, O God”

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 5 Prayer and Reflection

Day 5: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord.
Scripture

Malachi 4:5-6, He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
Psalm 133, How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Ephesians 2:14-20, To reconcile both groups to God in one body, putting to death hostility.
John 20:19-23, Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you!
Meditation
Malachi’s words convey God’s promise of sending God’s chosen one to establish harmony and respect in all households. He draws attention to one of the most difficult conflicts — the heartbreak in relations between parents and their offspring. This restoration of unity is not possible without God’s help. It is God’s emissary who performs the miracle of transformation in people’s hearts and relationships.
The psalm shows what great joy such unity among people can bring. Happiness consists in living in a human community in harmony, peace, trust and understanding. Living together in unity is not restricted to family members only – this is rather a declaration of the closeness between people who accept the peace of God.
The epistle tells us of Him whom the prophet Malachi announced. Jesus brings unity, because in His own body He has demolished the “wall of hostility” between people. Jesus puts an end to alienation. He transforms, heals and unites all that they may become “members of God’s household.”
“Peace be with you” is Christ’s greeting and also his gift. It is an invitation to seek peace with God and establish new, lasting relationships within the human family and all of creation. Jesus has trampled down death and sin. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord invites his disciples into his mission of bringing peace, healing and forgiveness. As long as Christians remain divided, the world will not be convinced of the full truth of the Gospel. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of this transformation. The Churches need to appropriate and witness to these gifts as members of the one household of God built upon the sure foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone.

For Your Reflection

Today we celebrate the peace of the Risen Lord. The Risen One is the great Victor over death and the world of darkness. He unites His disciples, who were paralysed with fear. He opens up before us new prospects of life and of acting for His coming kingdom. The Risen Lord unites and strengthens all believers. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of our transformation in the resurrection.

  1. What forms of violence in our community can we as Christians confront together?
  2. How do we experience hidden hostilities that affect our relationship to each other as Christian communities?
  3. How can we learn to welcome each other as Christ welcomes us?

Prayer
Loving and merciful God, teach us the joy of sharing in your peace. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may tear down the walls of hostility separating us. May the risen Christ, who is our peace, help us to overcome all division and unite us as members of his household. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 2 Prayer and Reflections

Day 2: Changed through patient waiting for the Lord.
Scripture

1 Samue1:1-20, Hannah’s trust and patient waiting.
Psalm 40, Patient waiting for the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-34, Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice.
Matthew 3:13-17, Let it be so now, for it is proper to fulfill all righteousness.
Meditation
From a Christian perspective victory is a long-term process of transformation. Transformative victory teaches us that it occurs in God’s time, not ours, calling for our patient trust and deep hope in God. Hannah witnessed to such patient trust and hope. After many years of waiting to be pregnant, she prayed to God for a child. When Eli assured her that God would grant her prayer, she simply trusted, waited, and was sad no longer. Hannah’s trust and hope results not only in her own transformation, but that of her people.
The psalmist echoes Hannah’s patient waiting. He gives thanks that God has transformed his shame and confusion, and continues to trust in God’s steadfast love.
The Letter to the Hebrews recalls the patience of people who were able to be victorious through their faith and trust in God. God’s intervention into human history eliminates the temptation to be triumphant in human terms.
Jesus, does not succumb to the temptation to usher in the Kingdom of God without delay, but patiently reveals what life in the Kingdom means through his own life and ministry which leads to his death on the Cross. While the Kingdom of God breaks through in a decisive way in the resurrection, it is not yet fully realized. The ultimate victory will come about only with the second coming of our Lord.
Our longing for the visible unity of the Church likewise requires patient and trustful waiting. Our prayer for Christian unity is like the prayer of Hannah and the psalmist. Our work for Christian unity is like the deeds recorded in the Letter to the Hebrews. Our attitude of patient waiting is not one of helplessness or passivity, but a deep trust that the unity of the Church is God’s gift, not our achievement. Such patient waiting, praying and trust transforms us and prepares us for the visible unity of the Church not as we plan it, but as God gives it.

For Your Reflection

On this day we concentrate on patient waiting for the Lord. To achieve any change, perseverance and patience are needed. Prayer to God for any kind of transformation is also an act of faith and trust in his promises. Such waiting for the Lord is essential for all who pray for the visible unity of the church this week. All ecumenical activities require time, mutual attention and joint action. We are all called to co-operate with the work of the Spirit in uniting Christians.

  1. In what situations in our life should we have a greater trust in God’s promises?
  2. What areas of church life are particularly at risk from the temptation to act hastily?
  3. In what situations should Christians wait, and when should they act together?

Prayer
Faithful God, you are true to your word in every age. May we, like Jesus, have patience and trust in your steadfast love. Enlighten us by your Holy Spirit that we may not obstruct the fullness of your justice by our own hasty judgments, but rather discern your wisdom and love in all things. For You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute