Friday, March 30, 2007

Prelude to Holy Week

With Holy Week almost upon us, the Church enters into the most sacred liturgical time of the year. A certain anticipation hangs in the air. A sacred silence descends on faithful hearts.
The week of our salvation! We will tread on holy ground this week, from Palm Sunday to the Last Supper, Calvary and Easter. These are the most sacred days, when grace flows freely. The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, washes away the sins of the whole world. I am happy to claim my place among the ranks of sinners, for:
"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tim 1:15).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Annunciation


This year the Annunciation was moved to the 26th since Sundays of Lent take precedence.

At the Annunciation, Mary began her unique relationship with Jesus, her Son and the Son of God. The Gospel says that she was puzzled by the angel's greeting. What was she thinking of just then? We don't know, but we do know that she resolved to say yes to God's plan. With that "yes" she began a lifelong journey, but she took it one step at a time.

Recently when I went to confession the priest said, "We give up everything for Jesus, then we forget to have a relationship with him." I had to laugh, because sometimes I can get so caught up in the everyday details of life that I forget about Jesus.

Mary, help us always to grow into an ever deeper relationship with you and your Son Jesus.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Knut the polar bear cub


Knut is a baby polar bear in the Berlin zoo.
Check out the German newspaper site is you'd like to see more pictures of this cute little guy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Listening at prayer

Leanne Payne is one of my favorite authors, and she often talks about listening to God at prayer. She says that if we pay attention, God always speaks to us affirming words of love. Sometimes those words can be a call to repentance--because God loves us he wants us to be as holy as we can.
Recently I had an experience like that. I was praying in chapel and thought about an area in my life where I could definitely improve. Then I started to think, "Well, it's not such a big deal, not even a sin, really." Suddenly, these words popped into my head, as if Jesus was speaking to me, "Even if it's not a sin, it still hurts our relationship." Those words stunned me. They definitely didn't come from me. It's amazing how God can put thoughts like that into our minds. Of course, we need to use discernment because some thoughts might come from the evil spirit too. But these brought some good fruit in terms of calling me to conversion in a particular area.

In what ways do you find that God speaks to you?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Angelus

Sr Anne Joan did a wonderful You Tube on the Angelus. It's about 3 minutes long.
She makes a great point that the Catholic custom of praying the Angelus three times a day is a call to prayer. The Church invites us to pause a moment and reflect on the greatest mystery of our faith: the Incarnation.
Recovering some of these customs can help us all to integrate our faith more into the fabric of daily life.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Go to Joseph!

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, the saint of divine Providence. He has a well-deserved reputation for providing for material needs. Pope John Paul wrote a letter about St. Joseph called Guardian of the Redeemer. The Pope said that while St. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, he was his father in every other way. He wasn't just a figurehead but he played a very crucial role in Jesus' growth and development. He taught Jesus many things and gave him a wonderful example. We know from the Gospels that Jesus knew how to read. One Scripture professor I had once said that this was because of Joseph. It was up to the father of the family in ancient Israel to see to the education of the children. Joseph must have taken Jesus' education very seriously.

St. Joseph, pray for us, and for all those who need your help, especially those looking for employment and those who are approaching the point of death.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forgiving small offenses

Today's Mass readings are about forgiveness. Nothing blocks God's grace more than a stubborn refusal to forgive someone. It's not a matter of feelings, but of the will.

Today an incident that happened to me about twenty years ago suddenly popped into my mind. I had forgotten all about it, and I have no idea why it came back to me today. I was driving on the interstate with another sister, and we stopped at a fast-food place to get something to eat. An older man was at the counter taking orders, and when he saw us (wearing our habits, of course) he made some insulting remarks to us because we were Catholic nuns.
I chose to ignore the remarks, got our food and left. (Today I would be a little more gutsy and tell him that we're paying customers, and if he harasses us on the basis of our religion, that's discrimination and it's against the law. Remember the Denny's case?)

Anyway, when I thought about this today, I started to feel angry and I realized that I need to forgive that guy. At the time I just forgot about it because it wasn't a big deal, or so it seemed. But there's something inside me that doesn't like to be insulted and I was surprised today when I realized that this anger was coming up.So I prayed for the grace to be able to forgive him, and I prayed for him. Maybe he's in bad circumstances right now, perhaps he's sick or dying, and needs help.

Our minds and hearts are so amazing--we never really forget anything, even if an event drops out of our conscious awareness. All the events of our life are hidden in our hearts and can be dredged up at any time. It's only the blood of Jesus Christ that brings healing, forgiveness and peace to all. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we have this saying "Time heals all wounds." But time doesn't heal us, he said, since we never forget unless we forgive. And we can only forgive through the grace of Christ.

Sacrament of Charity -- Sacrament of Freedom

In reading this new document, I was struck by how often Pope Benedict links the Eucharist with freedom. It's a strong theme throughout. He speaks of how the Eucharist is a mystery to be believed, celebrated and lived, and in all these ways we come to a greater freedom.
It liberates us from our selfishness by uniting us to Christ in his self-giving sacrifice. It liberates us from error by uniting our minds with Christ, the Truth. It liberates us from a narrow existence by opening us up to the needs of all people.
In no. 73, the Pope states: "the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on '‘the Lord's Day.''' Although some might see it as just an obligation, Sunday worship is a source of grace that enables us to live as God wants us to, and thus find happiness.

Sacramentum Caritatis

One little note: The title of the Pope's new document comes from St. Thomas Aquinas. It's the first footnote in the text.

Sacrament of Charity

I've just started to read the pope's new document on the Eucharist: Sacrament of Charity.
It's a beautiful theology of the Eucharist. Pope Benedict took the results of the synod of bishops and has woven the themes into a wonderful summary of Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. The document is more like a theological reflection, with some pastoral applications. It's not a legislative type of document, so it doesn't focus on liturgical regulations.
He does speak of the importance of reverence for the Eucharist. He doesn't mention anything about the Tridentine Mass. As you may have heard, there was a lot of speculation before this document came out that he would authorize use of the Tridentine Mass in a more widespread way. I don't know where these rumors come from, but they seem to be just that--rumors!

This document will be a wonderful preparation for Holy Thursday.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A foreshadowing of Good Friday

Today's Mass readings give us a hint of the dramatic events to come during Holy Week. The first reading tells the story of how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. The Gospel is the parable about the landowner who had a vineyard. The tenants he leased it to did not acknowledge the landowner's rights and killed his son.

Both readings focus on a beloved son. The Genesis text stresses that Joseph was the son whom Isaac (also called Israel) loved the best. This love provoked his other sons to be so jealous of Joseph that they wanted to kill him. In the Gospel parable, the landowner thinks, "They will respect my son." Instead, they killed him because they wanted the son's inheritance.

Did Mary hear Jesus tell this parable? If so, what did she think? Did some foreboding come over her heart? Jesus was her only son, her most beloved son. She must have heard the murmuring of the people who didn't like Jesus and what he taught. We can only imagine the pain that must have caused her.

Both Joseph and Jesus were rejected. Ironically, as the Gospel says, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstonre. Joseph would go on to save his people during the famine that struck Egypt. Jesus, of course, by giving his life redeemed the entire world.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow"

Today's beautiful reading from Isaiah's first chapter talks about God's mercy. No matter how bad our sins are, God can forgive them all and he does forgive them. All we have to do is repent.

In the Gospel Jesus reminds us to be humble: "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Humility is honesty, seeing our true position before God. It doesn't mean that we should demean ourselves, but see our true position in God's eyes. But God only looks at us with love, and he sees deep inside us, into our true selves.

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