Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sr. Heidi Marie Krack's Vocation Story

I was born in Michigan on October 31st. My family later moved to Chicago, while my father attended Optometry School. From there, we proceeded to Bloomington, Indiana, where I spent the major part of my childhood with my parents, my sister and my brother. Upon reflection, I can see how God had been planting the seeds, of a vocation to religious life, throughout my childhood. However, it was not until my junior year in high school, that I was consumed with the desire to serve God as a religious sister. This overwhelming need to answer “God’s call” led me to the Benedictine community at Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

At the time of my entrance, the primary ministry of the sisters was that of teaching. Therefore I followed in the footsteps of the many women, who had been teachers before me. My teaching ministry has provided me with a wealth of experience both in and out of the classroom.

Over the years, I have watched educational programs come and go, however, I am more concerned by the societal and familial changes, which profoundly affect our children today.

As I mark my 34 years in the teaching ministry, I am reminded of a favorite novel by James Hilton, Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Like Mr. Chips, I remember the hundreds of children who have graced my life over the years. I pray that with God’s help, I have given them the spiritual and academic foundation they need, so that in everything they do “God may be glorified.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sr. Emily Emmert's Vocation Story

Sister Emily Emmert did not have far to travel from her home in Haubstadt, Indiana to enter the community in Ferdinand. But since her entrance in 1942 she has gone many places. She received degrees in education and administration from St. Benedict College and the University of Notre Dame. She began teaching in Huntingburg, Indiana as an elementary school teacher. She then became the Dean of Girls and a teacher at Bishop Chatard High School. After leaving Chatard, she taught at the Latin School in Indianapolis and then became principal at Our Lady of Grace Academy. Prior to her retirement, she taught at Roncalli High School.

Although she loved to be in the classroom with her students, she also loves the time afforded to her at the monastery. Today, Sister Emily can be found praying, reading, visiting with the sisters and enjoying her time as a retired sister.

Sister Emily has given a lifetime of joy to God and continues giving each and every day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Commentary for the Fourth Week of Advent by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom

What is more delightful than this voice of God calling us? See how God, in love, shows us the way of life.

(Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict, v. 19-20)

Our readings this Sunday speak of three people who obviously delighted in the God who called them by name: David, the faithful servant who entrusted his leadership to God’s guidance; Paul, the ardent apostle who entrusted his mission to God’s glory; Mary, the prayerful woman who entrusted her whole being to God’s promise.

The readings for this final Sunday in Advent heighten our anticipation of the coming of God among us. They speak of both hope and promise. They reflect the graciousness of God, a God who pours forth blessing on those who place their confidence in God.

David desires to build a house for God, a fitting dwelling for the Ark of the Covenant. God, however, desires to build a house for David… from David… a living reminder of God’s presence among the Chosen People.

God fulfills that desire, ultimately, as Mary brings Jesus to the world, a living reminder of God’s presence among us, God’s own people.

It is our gospel story of Mary’s “yes” that draws us into a deeper awareness of God’s invitations in our own lives. The angel tells Mary not to fear… not to let the immensity of the promise, the intensity of her feelings or the concerns about how this event will impact her life get in the way of her response. Mary obviously knows God’s providence; she is able to welcome this unexpected event not as an imposition, but as an opportunity to enter into a closer relationship with her God. Surely Mary must have nurtured a prayer life. How else could she possibly have been so open to Gabriel’s news? God, in turn, is ready to nurture God-life within Mary… literally! God simply awaits Mary’s receptivity and trust.

Mary probably did not fully understand what Gabriel was talking about. After all, who of us can adequately articulate the depth and wonder of our own call? Mary questioned Gabriel only because she wondered how her pregnancy would come about. Still, she listened with the ear of her heart and was able to give her “yes” in humility. She was able to embrace Benedict’s teaching, “What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask God to supply by the help of God’s grace.” (Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict, v. 41)

Mary is a woman who models both obedience and availability. Benedict could have been speaking of her in his chapter on obedience when he said, “Such people as these immediately put aside their own concerns, abandon their own will and lay down whatever they have in hand, leaving it unfinished.” (Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 5, verse 7) More than likely, Mary’s plans for her future were dramatically altered by the Incarnation, and yet her journey as the Mother of God taught her much and led her more deeply into the heart of God.

God desires to dwell among us, the people God has created. Advent would be meaningless if there were not people waiting with open hands and hearts to receive the gift of Emmanuel. Let us pray that we, like David and Mary, will let our hearts and beings forever sing of God’s goodness. Let us allow God to nurture life within each of us, especially in this last week of Advent, that Christmas find the Word made flesh enfleshed in our thoughts, words, and actions. May our lives truly magnify our God!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sr. Louise Hoeing's Vocation Story

The invitation to “Come Follow Me” led me to the Monastery Immaculate Conception after my junior year at St. Agnes Academy. I was a little anxious about this step and as we drove up the hill to the monastery I told my Dad that I thought this might be a mistake. He told me to try it for a couple of weeks! Now, after 58 years, I am still seeking God in the Benedictine way of life. This path has given me many opportunities for both spiritual and educational growth. I have been blessed with many meaningful friendships in the Benedictine communities of Ferdinand, Our Lady of Grace, and my places of ministry. As an elementary teacher, I taught at St. Ambrose in Seymour, Indiana, and St. Anthony in Clarksville, Indiana where I also served as principal three years. Ministering at Our Lady of Grace Academy as principal enriched my life with love and friendships and led me to my next ministry as guidance counselor at Bishop Chatard High School where I presently serve. When asked when will I retire, I respond, “when I get it right!” I have been blessed with parents who nurtured my vocation, six brothers and sisters and their spouses, who continue to support my vocation along with numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews who fondly call me “Sis”. I could not have persevered without the support of the communities in my life and I continue to pray for all who have touched my life both living and deceased.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Middle School Students' Haikus for the 3rd Week of Advent

Isaiah had said,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

I will baptize you.

(Maddie - 8th Grade)

I'm not the prophet,

He is coming after me,

Why do you Baptize?

(Megan - 8th Grade)

He who comes, not me,

Is whose sandal is still tied,

More worthy than mine.

(Josh - 8th Grade)

John was sent from God,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Disciples followed.

(Brandon - 8th Grade)

John is the Baptist,

Was born in Judea and,

Baptized Jesus Christ.

(Tommy - 8th Grade)

A man named John was,

Sent from God to say to us,

Make straight the Lord's Way.

(Bobby - 8th Grade)

Jesus is coming,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Go now and rejoice.

(John - 8th Grade)

Voice of one crying,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Are you the prophet?

(Joseph - 8th Grade)

Are you the prophet?

No, I am not the prophet,

I am not worthy.

(Chris - 8th Grade)

"Who are you?" they asked.

My name is John the Baptist.

Why do you Baptize?

Are you a prophet?

No, I am the voice of God.

Make straight the way, please.

(Taylor - 7th Grade)

Oh John the Baptist,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

For He is the light.

(Kristen N. 7th Grade)

The light is not I,

I prepare for the true light,

The light is coming.

(Kristen S. 7th Grade)

I am the one voice,

Crying out in the desert,

Make the way for God.

(Samantha - 7th Grade)

John was a great man,

He has spread the word of God,

To open the path.

(Ben #3 - 7th Grade)

John was sent from God,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

I am not wothy.

The words that he said,

I am the voice of the Lord,

John was baptizing.

(Mitchell - 6th Grade)

I am not the Christ,

I am the Baptist you love,

I was sent from God.

(Alexa - 6th Grade)

People questioned John,

He did not care at all though,

He did it for God.

(Matthew - 6th Grade)

Prepare ye the way,

To testify to the light,

I am not worthy.

(Elliott - 6th Grade)

I am not the Christ,

But I'm preparing for Christ,

So, straighten the path.

(Jaylen - 6th Grade)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sr. Nicolette's Favorite Quote From the Rule of St. Benedict

So that in all things, God may be glorified!

What does it mean to glorify God in all things? Is it possible to give God glory in every breath I take? I entered Our Lady of Grace Monastery on July 31, 1986. Glorifying God has been an ongoing process for me. As I grow older and hopefully, a little more spiritually mature, I find I depend on God more and more and glorifying God is as every breath I take.

I Glorify God When:

  • I wake up in the morning and I remember to say good morning to God before my feet even hit the ground.

  • I respect the early morning silence at the Monastery and share a warm smile with my sisters.

  • When I sit in my room with Scripture and listen to God's word through the practice of Lectio Divina.

  • I take a walk in our grove and see the beautiful nature God created all around me.

  • I welcome my middle school students as they walk into my classroom ready to learn more about their Catholic heritage and the love God has for each of them.

  • I realize how blessed I am to work with so many of God's beautiful children both young and old.

  • I walk the journey with women who are discerning their call to our Benedictine Community.

  • I extend hospitality to everyone I meet.

  • I spend time with others who are on the journey up the mountain to God.

  • A fresh blanket of snow covers our grounds.

  • I have the opportunity to spend time near the ocean.

  • I spend time with the Etienne Family.

  • I join my Sisters for the Divine Office and Liturgy.

  • I have joy and happiness in my heart.

  • I have sorrow and pain in my heart.

  • I have the opportunity to pray during Adoration.

  • I walk into our dining room and see the delicious food that has been prepared for my community.

  • I think of all the men and women who work hard to keep our Monastery, nursing home and retreat center running smoothly.

  • I receive an unexpected...or expected gift or letter in the mail from a loved one.

  • See the sparkle of God's love in one of my sisters' eyes.

  • My sisters gather together to make decisions that will make us holier Benedictine Women.

  • I have the discipline to live a life worthy of my calling.

  • I walk by faith.

I'm on the journey. Sometimes, I run, sometimes I walk while other times I fall. I count on those around me to encourage me and to continuously point the way towards the heart of God. In making a conscious effort to love God and serve God's people I can say I am living the Rule of St. Benedict and glorifying God in all things.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

—Prayer to St. Nicholas

O good holy Nicholas,
you who brought joy to children,
put in my heart the spirit of childhood
about which the Gospel speaks.
Teach me how to sow
happiness around me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sr. Mary Sue Freiberger's vocation story

I’m a country girl from Floyds Knobs, Indiana. My heart still wants to be among the hills and trees and wild animals happily living in the forest in peace and quiet, but God called!

I am a singer of songs. I am a grower of flowers. I am a teacher of teenagers. And, I have been a Benedictine for these 42 years. My life is simple though reality tries to make it complex. I strive to serve God here and now - - forever. My ordinary days are made extraordinary by the sheer fact that God walks with me at every step.
God sings songs to me and I sing them back and share them with any who want to hear. I listen attentively to what God has to say through them and sometimes I cry with joy or sadness.

My country heart has to work in the dirt and help God to bring forth flowers to gladden the senses and the spirit. My garden is open to all creatures so you will see humans, rabbits, squirrels, hummingbirds, bees, ants and wolf spiders - - and it is good.

My students keep me young and give me gray hair! This paradox is always present. How I want each to reach their highest potential and oh, how they want me to go easy on them! But we do learn from each other. I have a Master’s Degree in mathematics but even after 35 years of teaching, I am still learning to see old concepts through the fresh eyes of my students. St. Benedict tells us to listen to the young! Of course he also tells the young to reverence their elders! I’m not sure my students are ready to go that far.

I remember being young with all those possibilities ahead. It was exciting and also fearful. That has given me a life full of adventure and yet it would seem an uneventful life to most. But as each new song is sung and each new flower springs forth from the earth, and each new student appears in my class, I see anew the wonder of God’s creations.

My advice to my students and to all – leave God do the driving and you will have adventures great and small, and you will never get truly lost!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jesus' December Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for December. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times

My dear little apostles, there is so much to be done. You see the need to bring Me to others. You see your brothers and sisters struggling in darkness without Me. If the light is to be brought to them, it will be brought by you. When I say there is much to be done, I am telling you that the world needs your service, it is true. But I am also telling you that there are many things to be done in your soul. You must be committed to changing. Are you prepared to allow Me to make you holy? If you are not prepared to let go of those things that prevent you from progressing in holiness, then you will not advance. If you do not advance, you will move away from me. You will begin to resent Me for the crosses I send to you. You will begin to persuade yourself that perhaps there is an easier way for you, a way that calls for less sacrifice and less commitment. This will not be My plan but your plan. This will be your version of holiness, not Mine. I know that some of the services I ask from you are repugnant to you. I know this and yet I call you into these things anyway. If you reject parts of the work, you will be executing an incomplete plan. I have a big plan. I build on it each day. You are part of that. I need you to listen carefully for My directions and then serve exactly as I am asking. My dear friends, if I cannot instruct and direct you, then who will listen to Me? Who will trust Me to protect humanity? Where is the joy that comes from God's children when they trust their Father in heaven? I tell you that where joy is absent, trust is absent. When a person is humble, he will see that he needs greater trust and he will try to become smaller so that I can become bigger in his life and in his work. I am asking you to do that. Be humble. Allow Me, Jesus, to be your King. My kingdom was not of this world. Your Kingdom is not of this world. You will be rewarded in heaven, My beloved. For now, serve Me, your King, in the way I am asking. This will be the best plan for you and for the world.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Commentary for the 1st Week of Advent by Sr. Carol Falkner

Stay awake! Be alert! These words bring us to attention as we begin this Advent season. Benedict would say, “Be sober and alert!” The reason we are being called to attention is because this holy season matters to us who are seeking God. We are to take time to watch and wait for something important is happening - Jesus has come, is coming and will come again. Advent brings new energy, new grace for encountering Christ if we open ourselves to it and pay attention.

During Advent we have our sights set on Christ’s return at the end of time. Christ has fulfilled his mission and is now, like the “lord of the house,” traveling aboard. We have been put in charge. We are watching and waiting for the Master’s return. How are we to be during our watch? We are not to be watching for Christ, but rather to watch Christ. From his example we learn how to respond to others -- how to feed the poor, heal the sick, strengthen another’s faith. Our work is futile if it only serves our purposes, but it is fruitful when we are able to reach out to others and bring justice and peace to our world. Through such actions we draw nearer to Christ and nearer to one another.

Watch - for you do not know when the Lord of the house will return. He may come in the morning, at noon or in the night. But if we align our will with the will of God it will make no difference. We will not be caught sleeping, but awake and ready. Let us then welcome this season of Advent. Let us ask Jesus to open our eyes so we can realize how close he is to us and we to him. Let us take time to pray more fervently so as to prepare our hearts for His coming once again.

Stay awake! Be alert! By all means! Amen! So be it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"No meal should be begun without prayer, and before leaving the table thanks should be returned to the Creator." (St. Jerome)

Today we give God thanks for the many blessings God has given us. Make a list of everything you want to give God thanks for. Post it where you will see it everyday. Continue to say thank you for all God's gifts.

What do I find myself saying thanks be to God? My list of thanks include:

  • Relationship with God

  • Benedictine Vocation and Community

  • Etienne Family

  • Friends

  • Students

  • Nature: snowy days, sandy beaches, golf courses, forest, rain, all seasons

  • Good Health

  • Affiliate Heather

  • Food

  • Shelter

  • Clothing

  • Having a teaching job

  • Sense of humor

  • Laughter in my life

  • Lectio Divina

  • Divine Office

  • Catholic/Sacramental life

  • People who desire to "Climb the Mountain" with me

  • Perseverance

  • Joy

  • Peace

Give God the glory and all will be well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

"May God grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you."
(Sirach 50:23)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sr. Carol Falkner's Favorite Quote from the Rule of St. Benedict

"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else." (RB 4:20)

Christ challenged us to love one another. St. Benedict knew that relationships built on love would also bear the marks of our Christian life. This quote reminds me that as a person who professes to follow Christ my words and actions must be different from the world's way and be ones of patience, kindness, respect and love for others. It makes no difference who I encounter in a day, that person deserves my respect and love. If, for some reason, I am not treated with respect in return I am still responsible for my behavior. I must choose to be loving, I must share the love of Christ with that person. I pray that I might always remember that such love comes before all else.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Commentary for the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King by Sr. Renee Wargel, OSB

Today's gospel is the scene of the Last Judgmehnt - The Vision of our eschatological future. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will sit upon His glorious throne in glory with all the angels with Him. All the nations will be assembled before Him.

Like a shepherd, Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats...the faithful on His right and the unfaithful on His left. Jesus will make decisions both sobering and surprising. It is sobering to hear the Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats because one gets the sense that there is no way of escaping it. It is surprising because people are judged on the way they meet the very basic needs of others.

The throng of people gathered at this event will be judged according to the way they treated the disciples of Jesus...Jesus' Apostles were chosen with Jesus' authority. To reject the Apostle is to reject the One who sent the Apostle.

The guilt of the people being judged in this passage is not found in the wrong they have done, but in their failure to accept those who were bringing them the Gospel to them.

The righteous are invited into the Kingdom where they will enjoy eternal life. The wicked are cast into the punishment of eternal fire. The personal choices they made will decide the sentence they receive.
The Kingdom of God is an inclusive Kingdom. Criteria for membership are not based only on obedience to the commandments or on conformity to ritual obligation. Membership is based on the covenantal bonds that unity us to each other; the bonds of love and concern...bonds that reach deep into the human heart.

Concerns must be genuine. Assistance is given whenever and wherever it is needed: in ordinary acts, in giving food and drink, shelter and clothing; in spending time with someone who might be lonely or afraid; in patiently waiting for the elderly person; in thanking people for their services.

The Kingdom we establish during our lifetime...this will be the kingdom into which we will be welcomed at its end. Christ, the Good Shepherd, looks to us through the eyes of the needy, the disfigured, the refuse of the earth. They are Christ's hands reaching out for assistance.
It is Christ who tests our patience and generosity. It is through the least of God's people that we enter into the KINGDOM OF GOD!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Benedictine Oblates

Who Are Benedictine Oblates?
Oblates are Christian laypersons who promise to live Benedictine
spirituality in their chosen lifestyle, affiliated with a particular
Benedictine monastic community.

What Is Benedictine Spirituality?
Teaching found in the Rule of Saint Benedict,
written in the sixth century, is the basis
of Benedictine spirituality. The Rule, which includes many quotes from Scripture, is a guide to lead disciples of Christ to God by way of a specific path that embraces humility, obedience and silence as necessary tools for a balanced life of prayer and work. Respect for all persons and forms of life underlie a special focus on hospitality and service.

Who Is Saint Benedict?
Benedict of Nursia, Italy was born about 480 and died about 547. He founded several monastic communities, most notably at Subiaco and Monte Cassino, Italy. From there, the Rule attributed to him spread throughout the world and is still lived today.

How Does One Become An Oblate?
There are several stages to becoming an oblate. The first stage is Inquiry. This is a time of being acquainted with the monastic and oblate communities. The best way to get started is to contact the Oblate Director and find out meeting dates and times. The inquirer can request a personal meeting with the Oblate Director. The time of inquiry lasts a minimum of nine months. During this time, the inquirer attends bi-monthly meetings. The Oblate Director engages in discernment with the inquirer to determine readiness to move to the stage of Candidacy.
There is a simple ritual to mark the step of becoming an Oblate Candidate. The Candidacy is also a minimum of nine months that includes monthly meetings. There is assigned reading and reflection in preparation for sessions with other candidates and the Oblate Director. The Oblate Director engages in discernment with the candidate to determine readiness for Oblation.

What Is An Oblate Of Our Lady Of Grace Monastery Expected To Do?

+ Engage in a regular practice of prayer suitable to the oblate's chosen lifestyle
+ Continue ongoing formation in Benedictine spirituality
+ Communicate with other oblates and members of the monastic community
+ Participate in activities of the oblates and the monastic community that are
suitable to the life-style of the oblate
+ Renew commitment of oblation by submitting to the Oblate Director a written statement annually.

What Benefits Does An Oblate Receive?
The community of Our Lady of Grace Monastery provides for the oblate:
+ Hospitality, that is a standing invitation to join the monastic community at prayer and use of space for individual prayer
+ Information about Benedictine history and spirituality through use of the monastic library
+ Ongoing formation as an oblate by gathering with other oblates at the monastery
+ An annual retreat for oblates
+ A prayer partner
+ Pray and Work Days at the monastery
+ Remembrance at the Liturgy of the Hours

Who should you contact if you are interested in becoming an Oblate of St. Benedict?
Sr. Antoinette Purcell, pictured above, is the Oblate Director for Our Lady of Grace Monastery. You can reach her by calling (317) 787-3287 X 3022. You can also email Sr. Antoinette:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celebrating the Feast of St. Gertrude

We celebrate the Feast of St. Gertrude on November 16th. Sr. Kathleen Yeadon gives us a better understanding of the life of St. Gertude in this post.

Dwelling, being pruned and bearing fruit are all themes in the life of Gertrude of Helfta. Her book: The Herald of Divine Love invites us to enter into the heart of Jesus –a heart wounded by love.

God begins pruning her life in her mid 20’s. The liturgical life is the transformative source of pruning and bringing fruit from Gertrude’s life.

First her response to God:
I praise, adore, bless and thank you to the best of my ability for your wise mercy and your merciful wisdom! For you, my Creator and my Redeemer, have sought to curb my stiff-necked obstinacy under your sweet yoke with the remedy best suited to my infirmity (The Herald of Divine Love: p. 95-96).

As Gertrude attuned herself to this new awareness of God, she saw God everywhere: So you were with me in all my actions, stirring my spirit within me (97).

Although her life was flooded by God’s graces, Gertrude struggled with being present to God. May You ever find me as attentive to Yourself as You show Yourself to me. . . . a soul weighed down with the weight of the flesh, which always resists Your love (99).

Gertrude mourned her sins and faults. She found the mercy of God ever present: Even so, unworthy as I am, I found that the depths of Your love were not exhausted (100).

Gertrude’s desire to love God is evident in her prayer: Inscribe with your precious blood, most merciful Lord, your wounds on my heart, that I may read in them both you sufferings and your love (100).

God’s desire to be her all is found in God’s response to her: May all the affections of your heart be concentrated here: all pleasure, hope, joy, sorrow, fear, and the rest; may they all be fixed in my love (102).

Our Herald of Divine love shows us the fruit of a life filled with lectio as Scripture permeates every page of her writings.

Gertrude’s joy bubbles up and her gratitude to God is readily available: May my soul bless You (Ps 103: 1), Lord God my creator! May my soul bless you and, out of . . .my inmost being, let me proclaim the mercies of the overflowing love with which you enfold me, O my sweetest lover! (128)

I close with an image of dwelling with God: May I breathe my last breath in the protection of your close embrace, with your all-powerful kiss! May my soul find herself without delay there where your are, . . .indivisible, living and exulting in the full flowering of eternity, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, true God, everlasting, world without end! (99)

Gertrude of Helfta: The Hearld of Divine Love, ed. and trans. Margaret Winkworth, The classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist, 1993).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sr. Mary Cecile's Vocation Story

"Here I am, Lord, Serving Your People"

For the past twenty-nine years I have been privileged to minister as a Pastoral Associate, Associate and Director of Faith Formation for twelve years in two rural parishes - St. Maurice, Decatur County and St. Maurice, Napoleon and then for nineteen years at St. Lawrence, Lawrenceburg.

It helps me grow spiritually as I visit the sick and dying, prepare persons to enter the Catholic Church in the RCIA program, teach catechists who pass the faith to adults, teens, and children, share in Christ Renews His Parish Retreats, discuss God's Word in Scripture Studies, plan Faith Formation Programs, Reflection Days and Penance Services that create an environment for God's Spirit to work in the hearts of the people. No two days are alike! I can never predict what person's life I will share that day, what problem may need solving, what will break and need a repairman, what cross a person may be carrying, what surprise joy or happiness may come.

The 19 year old teen who entered the Ferdinand Benedictines in 1945 could never in her wildest imagination have known the ministry our surprising God had in store for her. I received my B.S. in Elementary and Music Education, MA in English from St. Louis University, MA in Religious Education from St. Meinrad School of Theology, a two year Pastoral Leadership Institute, a two year Internship in Spiritual Direction, yearly Retreats, and Hundreds of Seminars and Workshops were preparation for this ministry


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sr. Antoinette Purcell gives us a message of hope using words of wisdom from Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict

So much is happening all around us at this time. In nature we experience the leaves changing in color and raining to the ground; the fields, too, look different as they are harvested; and daylight comes later and leaves again much earlier now. Here at the monastery, we gather for Chapter this weekend to begin the discernment process for the election of a new prioress that culminates at our March Chapter meeting. In the world around us, we know that change comes as new people take public offices, and we, too, feel the pain as our country continues to struggle with efforts to bring peace to our world, our cities, and our families in the midst of a serious financial crisis. In our liturgical cycle we hear readings about the end time.

How are we to live in the midst of all this? St. Benedict offers us two lines, both of which appear in Chapter Four, The Tools for Good Works. In verse 14 he says, "Place your hope in God alone." And in verse 74, he writes, "Never lose hope in God's mercy." In just a few weeks we move into the season of Advent/Christmas, the season of hope. It is not too early to begin to reflect on the source of our hope...God alone! How wondrous that this God who loves us comes into our world as an innocent baby, taking on the form of human flesh and living like us in the person of Jesus the Christ. We know that he gave his life for us and then rose in majesty to show us that there is something to live for that is beyond what we see and know now. This is our hope. Let us be beacons of hope to those around us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sr. Patricia Dede's Vocation Story

"Dear God, lead me where you want me to go." As a high school senior in 1951, I frequently prayed this prayer as I was trying to decide if I wanted to enter religious life. God answered this prayer and led me to the Benedictine way of life and eventually to Our Lady of Grace. During my more than fifty years as a Benedictine that has continued to be my prayer. It led me through years as a teacher, hospital chaplain and administrator. It has led me to my present position as Minister to the homebound at St. Cecelia Parish in Clearwater, Florida. My duties consist of working with the homebound elderly in this very large parish. I take Holy Communion to the elderly in their homes and arrange for other volunteers to help with this privilege. I also organize a monthly Mass of Anointing and luncheon for the eighty plus elderly who attend.

A coworker and I conduct a bereavement program for those who have lost loved ones. Other duties arise as they present themselves. I know my grounding in Benedictine Spirituality; daily Mass, private prayer and scripture meditation give me the incentive and love of God's people to be happy in my ministry and continue to serve them joyfully. The prayer that became a part of me many years ago continues. "Dear God, lead me where you want me to go".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

8th Graders feel the Presence of Jesus Through Adoration

I asked my 8th grade students to write a short paragraph on what Adoration means to them.  Once again, I'm humbled by the words they shared with me.  I can understand why Jesus said, "Let the children come to me."  There are a lot of things involved in Adoration for me.  This is  both a bad thing and a good thing.  I can't sit there too long, because the incense makes me sick.  Other than that, it is the most important part of my time here on earth.  I am literally in front of God.  The silence lets me concentrate on the importance of it.  When I pray in front of the Monstrance I get a feeling of confidence that all my sins are forgiven.  There is a peace in my heart that assures me that God is with me and loves me.  I can ask God any question about what I should do with my life and it will be answered.  Maybe it won't be an immediate answer, but He will assure you that it will be answered sometime in the future.  You might ask yourself this question, "What would it be like if you were literally in front of God?" Well, when you go to Adoration you are literally in front of God. I try to keep that in head always when I go to Adoration.You might now think about it much, but when you do, you get an exciting feeling.All the things you hear about God makes you think that it won't happen on earth,but you really do kneel in front of God during Adoration. (Chris B.)

Adoration helps me come closer to God in several ways.  I like the silence because it helps me think better and make me relax.  The incense helps set the mood, but sometimes here is a big rush of it an it gives people headaches.  I don't mind going as a class, but I'd rather spread out because I kind of feel like Im' being watched by others or something, and then I can't really concentrate. I like the fact that Jesus is shown to me through the Eucharist in the Monstrance. I think it makes His presence known more.  When Jesus is in the Tabernacle I know He is there, but it just isn't the same as when He's presented to us.  Adoration strengthens my relationship with Jesus because during the time I like to talk to Jesus about basically everything that's going on in my life.  (Megan P.)

What does Adoration mean to me? That is a very hard question to answer.  Not because it's not important but because it means so many things at once.  When I first go in the church I smell the incense, then I hear the silence, then I look and I see Jesus in the Monstrance. As soon as I see the Eucharist it dawns on me that nothing else really matters, except for my relationship with Jesus.  Adoration means getting closer to Jesus. Everybody at one point, especially me, has put other things before God. I think Adoration is God's way of saying, "Follow Me, and everything will be alright. I will help you through the toughest of times." (Hannah H.)

What does Adoration mean to me? My answer to this question is REVERENCE. Reverence is typically the basis of all worship, but in a very special way during Adoration. Reverence to me is a faithful word for respect. I add silence to the divine equation. The actual definition of Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. I try to act upon all these thoughts and words. Adoration is returning the favor He did for me a long time ago. (Joshua S.)

When I am in Adoration I usually pray a lot and think of the sins that I have committed that day. I also think of how I can improve by not doing the same sins again. In Adoration I don't feel any closer to God than what I would when I am in any other place praying. I do like how everyone is quiet in Adoration.  I don't like the smell of incense. It makes my stomach hurt. Overall, I think that Adoration is a time to pray and respect God. (Allie M.)

I think Adoration is a time to pray only to God. I put all thoughts of everything else out of the way to make me think only of God. It makes me feel like I am closer to God. I feel more holy during Adoration than any other time. I wish I could stay longer for Adoration during school, but I understand I have classes I have to go to. Adoration makes me feel better than ever. I think of God when I pray the Rosary during Adoration. I feel God's blessings, graces and fruits being poured into me during Adoration. I feel the Holy Spirit is being put into my soul.  I feel like Jesus is watching at that very moment. (Brandon S.)

Adoration leads us closer to God. It is a special time when we look up at Jesus and I say I am sorry for my sins. I reflect on how I want to be with Jesus.  Jesus wants us to be with him forever especially in eternity. Jesus wants me to stay with him. (Joseph F.)

Adoration makes me feel so close to God that if I reach my hand out I might touch Him. It is as close to God as I can get without being dead. I can just feel that the Body of Christ is in front of me and that He is here right now. It is also a very peaceful time. I think it is peaceful because the Holy Spirit protects it from any chaos. When I am in the church during Adoration, I feel as if there could be no evil in the world. (Frederick D.)

Adoration helps my friendship with Jesus because I spend time with Jesus in a special way. I pray to God and Jesus when I go to Adoration. Jesus loves and appreciates me when I go to Adoration by my own free will...not be being forced or because I'll get a reward when I am done. (Bobby M.)

Adoration is a form of praise given only to God. When I go to Adoration I smell the incense. People are praying. Love and praise is all I need to give to Jesus and he will give the same to me. (Tyler M.)

Adoration is important because it makes my relationship with God stronger.  Adoration makes it stronger by putting me in a prayerful mood. When I am in prayerful I feel closer to God. I think everybody should go to Adoration because we need to praise God for all God has done for us. Adoration helps strengthen our relationship with God. I want to be as close to God as I can be. I never want to grow far away from God so I will continue to go toAdoration. (James P.)

Adoration is my time with time to talk to Him and tell Him some of the things on my mind. I thank Him for giving me the life I have, and the people in it. After I talk to Jesus, I pray a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Sometimes I don't like going to Adoration because the incense makes me light-headed. I usually go because I don't let that stop me from spending timewith Jesus. I think Adoration is wonderful. I go for about ten minutes. I can really feel the presence of Jesus. I feel closer to Him! (Maressa H.)

To me, Adoration gives me time to love only God. When I look at the Monstrance I only think of God. The presence of Jesus in the Monstrance is the most important thing in the church at that time. When I go to Adoration it helps me have a better relationship with God. I talk to God one on one and I pray to Him. Silence is really important to me when I go. I don't like interruptions when I am talking to Jesus. The incense reminds me of the holiness of Adoration. (Shelby C.)

Adoration helps me because sometimes I don't get to go to Mass so I enjoy going to Adoration. I have so much to say to God. I also like how it is quiet during Adoration because it makes me peaceful and it is easier for me to talk to God. (Maddie L.)

In Adoration I feel so close to Jesus because He is right there! That makes me feel so great. I smell the incense and it makes me ready to talk to God. Adoration makes me feel so peaceful. I feel I can really get things off my chest. (Pete P.)

Adoration is very important to me. For me Adoration is the time that I personally feel close to God and Jesus. In Adoration, the priest takes the Eucharist and puts it in the Monstrance. There is incense burning which helps me concentrate. I like to pray the Rosary while I'm in Adoration. I like the Rosary a lot and it helps me to pray and focus.  Adoration means a lot to me because I feel that I am very close and right next to Jesus. Since it is the highest form of praise I feel it is very important to do it well. It is also very silent in church during Adoration. There are no distractions so it is a lot easier to focus on Jesus.This is why I like Adoration. (John T.)

I think that God is the only person in the whole world we should be giving Adoration to because He is the one who gave us life. He created us and we need to give him the highest praise. God is always there for me in good times and in bad times. You may not know this but if you hate the world God will still watch over you trying to help you come and grow closer to Him in your faith. (Kyle K.)

Adoration is a sacred form of praise that brings me closer to God. The reason it brings me closer to God is because the church is so silent. I can picture myself with Jesus. I can picture this because Jesus is actually there with me during Adoration. I think everyone should go to Adoration. (Tommy B.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jesus' November Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for November. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times

Dear apostles, are you aware of My presence? Do you understand how I remain with you in each moment? Sometimes you suffer and in your suffering you feel abandoned. This is merely a feeling that I allow for you so that you can share even that part of My Passion with Me. I could never abandon you and I do not abandon you. I remain with you, consoling you and guiding you. If you are suffering, My friend, you can be sure that I am aware of your suffering and that I am providing you with special graces to cope with your cross. In the same way that I remain with each beloved apostle, I remain with the whole world. I, Jesus, love every person ever created by the Father. I seek goodness and peace for every man and woman on earth. I am looking out for the heavenly interests of all of God's children. You, My dear ones, possess an earthly view that is limited. I understand that your view is limited because I understand everything about you. At this time I would like you, My beloved apostles, to also accept that your view is limited. In seeking the good of all of God's children, I must allow changes to come which will impact all of God's children. I do this to bring about the goodness and peace I refer to but the change will be gradual in terms of the benefits to come. Trust Me in everything. I do not abandon even one of God's children and My beloved apostles who give Me constant friendship and loyalty will be united with Me in everything. Be at peace, dear children. I am with you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sr. Mary Mark Bartoo's Vocation Story

I am a from a farm family near Wabash, Indiana. I spent my entire life, all twenty-four years on the farm. We raised everything from pigs, milking cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs and cats to kids! As most farmer’s kids, we learned at a very early age how to work. I had to help milk, feed the animals and gather the eggs, not to mention how to drive tractors, do the plowing and many other needed tasks on the farm.

I went to Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana. I graduated in 1959 with a degree in history, health and physical education and driver education. My first two years were spent teaching in Albion, Indiana. I then came to Our Lady of Grace Academy in 1961. During that time I worked on my Master’s Degree from Indiana State Teacher’s College. While teaching at the Academy, I decided to enter the monastery and did so in 1962.

Over the years I worked in and out of teaching. When I wasn’t teaching I was the maintenance coordinator at the monastery and at St. Paul Hermitage, our home for the elderly.  I had the opportunity to help design the pool/gymnasium at the academy, the renovation of the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace Monastery, and the planning and overseeing of the building of the Health Care Center at St. Paul Hermitage. It was also my privilege to work on the renovation of the third floor at the Hermitage and the Chapel.

Presently, I live and work at St. Paul Hermitage.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A commentary for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Carol Falkner, OSB

Today in our Gospel story we have a lawyer asking Jesus which is the great commandment in the law? The answer Jesus gave, “To love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.” This is also the opening line of The Tools for Good Works in the Rule of Benedict. It is obvious that these are foundational statements not only of our Christian life, but also our monastic life.

In asking this question the Pharisees thought that Jesus would tell them what is most important in the Jewish law. However, Jesus was most concern about the law of love. Jesus was pointing out that no matter what law one would keep, what was essential was that ones words and actions would be born of love.

We meet this same concept in St. Paul’s beautiful, but challenging treatise on love. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10) Our Creator God demonstrated love by sending Jesus to bring us forgiveness, to teach us how to love and to reconcile us to God. “Though he was in the form of God he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave being born in the likeness of humankind.” (Philippians 2:8-11) The love expressed in this passage we experience when we unite ourselves to God’s will.

The world often presents love in undesirable ways. We experience the popular notion of love when we watch television or movies, read magazines and books or listen to many songs. Leo Zanchettin writes that, “We tend to think of love as emotional, sensual, uncontrollable; we fall in love as if we stumbled over it in the dark, or wake up to find that love has gone as if it were a coward that had fled at daylight. But we are called to will and to do what God wants and are empowered to do this by God’s love for us. That, and not a feeling inside, is love of God.”

To love God with our whole heart and our neighbor takes the grace of God. Such love helps each of us be selfless - thinking first of God and then our neighbor. We must be willing to sacrifice our wills so as to follow the will of God. We must be faithful to prayer, selfless in serving others - Ora et Labora. Let us ask ourselves if our prayer and work are acts of love? Only then will God be glorified.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Middle School Students' Thoughts on Adoration Part II

My middle school Religion students have the opportunity to participate in weekly Adoration. In an earlier post you read the 6th graders' thoughts on Adoration. Today you have the honor of reading the 7th graders' thoughts on Adoration. How blessed am I to teach these beautiful children of God?

Adoration is the highest form of praise due only to God. During adoration everyone of our senses are focused on Jesus. It helps me feel a sense of peace and tranquility. Knowing that Jesus is there gives me a sense of awe and wonder. Adoration helps me know that God is always there. I feel His presence all around me. Surrounding me with His grace and love. Adoration lets me talk to God in silence. I know He hears me and will answer my prayers. Sometimes it is hard for me to pray because I have a lot on my mind and I can't focus on Jesus. For some reason, during Adoration all of those worries and thoughts seem to disappear, leaving me totally focused on God. (Emily P.)

Adoration means so much to me. I really never understood Adoration when I was younger...and truthfully, I never wanted to go. But now that I'm older it means so much to me. It's a real privilege to go. It's my time to tell God everything; all my prayers, my troubles. It reminds me of writing in a journal. Adoration is a place I feel relieved. I don't have to worry about other things. I just let everything go. After I leave I feel so relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It is the best feeling in the world! (Kaitlin O.)

Adoration is a time I can talk to God...and God can talk to me. That's peaceful to me. Adoration is like heaven to me because it is quiet and the incense is very strong which feels peaceful to me. It is like God, Mary, Jesus, my Guardian Angel and me are there having a meeting. When I was little I thought Mary was my Mother, God was my Dad, Jesus my Brother and my Guardian Angel my Godmother. Today, I still feel the same way! I'm glad I have the opportunity to go to Adoration. It makes me feel so good. (Nicole D.)

Adoration is very important to me. How else can I get closer to God? All I smell is the incense...all I hear is the silence...most importantly all I see is God. God is looking right back at me knowing that I am there, talking to Him without saying a word. He smiles at me and I smile back because I love Him and He loves me back. I am there in His presence. We are so lucky to know God! (Kristen N.)

Adoration is a holy time in church. When I enter the church, I get on both knees and bow unto the Lord. Father then comes out and puts the body of Christ in the Monstrance. Then he takes the incense and blesses the Lord Jesus Christ and blesses the altar. Father reads the Gospel. He gives us a homily about Christ and love. Then Father bows to the Lord on both knees right there by the altar. We have 10 minutes of silence. I pray to God about problems or just to pray. Then I leave the church the same way I entered. Adoration is one the best.
(Josh C.)

Adoration is extra time with God! The incense clears my mind of all thoughts and fills it with thoughts of God. It is so heaven on earth. No troubles at all; just peace and kindness, like a flower. When I am there, the church is full of prayer. I can just feel that God is there sitting beside me helping me me things to pray about and giving me the courage to pray. (Deven L.)

Adoration means I listen and talk only to God. God is saying, "I love you and I hope you love me, too." (Elizabeth G.)

To me Adoration means to lift up my heart and mind to God. It is a quiet time to talk to God and say anything that is bothering me. It is easy to say anything I want to Him because He will not tell anyone what I am going through. When I go to Adoration I can smell the incense and it wakes me up. I pray to God for all my family and friends, and for giving me a place in this world. I usually tell Him that I want my life to always be good...and it is. Adoration is a time where I can feel God's presence. I know that while I'm worshipping Him, He is always there to listen no matter what. During Adoration, I want to pray. After I'm done talking to God I usually sit and pray the Hail Mary and the Our Father.
(Gabby S.)

Adoration is the highest form of praise given only to God. I show reverence by genuflecting on both knees. The incense helps me focus. I do all of this for God.
(Ben #1)

What does Adoration mean to me? Adoration means complete silence with God. It is perfect prayer. It feels good praying with my body and soul. No other noises or distractions...just God. I can see Jesus and it feels great! Adoration is worshiping God on a new level. I usually say the Our Father and Hail Mary. Then I tell God who is in most need of my prayers. (Joseph E.)

What Adoration means to me is something very special. It is my one-on-one time with Jesus. I can pray, talk and say anything I want to. It is a very holy time. I like the smell of the incense because it relaxes me and it puts me in a holy mood. (Nick K.)

When I am at Adoration, I feel that nothing is around me but God and the slick wood of the pews. The smell of the incense makes me stay longer. I taste that I am talking to God, the taste of my tongue moving in a talking way. I have a small temptation to leave God, but an even larger temptation to stay and be with God. Whatever happens, I keep praying at that pew until it is time to leave. Nothing will stop me from staying with God. I feel that God is hugging me and won't let me go. (Tristan M.)

To me Adoration is a very important time. I use this time to pray to God. It is the highest praise I can give God. When I am at Adoration, I can feel the presence of God. When I pray to God I pray to Him like I talk to my best friend. I make sure I let God in my heart. When I let God into my heart that is when I truly feel the presence of God. The presence I feel in my heart lets me know that God is listening. It also lets me know that He will help me with whatever is thrown to me if I keep Him close in my heart. That is what Adoration means to me. (Samantha A.)

Adoration is prayer time. It is my time to talk to time to ask Him for help. I feel calm when I am in Adoration. The incense smells good. (Some people don't like the smell of the incense.) It is also so quiet...I can hear God's words so clearly. Adoration is a very calm place and Jesus is always with us. (Christian L.)

To me Adoration is praising Jesus for all He has done for us. During Adoration I use all of my senses. I use smell for the incense. I use sight because I'm focused on Jesus. I hear silence. I feel God's presence with me. This time is so peaceful. I feel so good inside because of this holy time. I also feel good because I'm praising God. I like it when Father comes down and talks about the Gospel. This helps me understand better what God is telling me. I show reverence when I genuflect on both knees. (Jake F.)

Adoration means that I get to kneel, adore and praise God. When I go to Adoration I can smell God. The incense opens me up and makes me feel holy. Also, I can feel God's presence in me. When I start to pray I get comforting and relaxing waves that move through my body. As I feel that I'm actually looking at part of God, Jesus' body. Adoration may be short but it helps me pray and love God. I love going to Adoration and praising my God. (Ben #3)

Adoration is fully adoring God. I adore Him with all five senses and mind, heart and soul. I praise God and listen to what He has to say. Adoration is the holiest of prayers and highest of praises. (Ben #2)

Adoration is special. I feel God's presence more strongly in Adoration. I feel peace, calmness and love. I feel important. I feel good. I know God is listening to me. It feels good to talk to Him in the silence of the church. I like going to Adoration to pray. It makes my day better. It helps me do my school work. Being with God is the best feeling there is in this world. I love God. (Kristen S.)

What does Adoration mean to me? Adoration means being in front of God, face-to-face. It means my soul is at peace. My senses are set on God, seeing God, smelling the incense, feeling God's presence, my soul tasting the salvation of God, and hearing nothing but my conversation between God and myself. If you are reading this I hope you will go to Adoration to experience God face-to-face. (Jamaica H.)

Adoration is important to me. I pray through petition and thanksgiving. I pray through His blessings, His gifts to us. I pray through taste every time I go up for Communion. I pray through sight. I pray through smell as I smell the incense and the candles. I pray all the time. (Brianna S.)

Adoration is a peaceful way to talk to and to praise God. Adoration is a great way to talk to God and do His will. Adoration is like a little spiritual journey that I take to speak to God. Adoration to me is a spiritual healing. It makes me calm, relaxed and sets my mind and heart on God. (Ashley K.)

Adoration to me means letting God know how I feel. I adore God and I want Him to know. During Adoration I genuflect on both knees and I bow to show my love to God. God is our Father and Jesus is our Savior. Isn't it right to show them our respect and to honor them? I talk to God about anything and He wants me to think of Him as my friend. Do you? Ask yourself this question. If your answer is, "No," it is never too late to ask Him to come into your life. Ask Him to be your friend. He will never turn away. Jesus has so many enemies. He wants you to be His friend. So call upon Him. (Taylor B.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A commentary for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Mary Luke Jone, OSB

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's." At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

Recently, I read a quote from Billy Graham who said, “Give me 30 minutes with someone’s checkbook and I can tell you where their heart is.” It is true, isn’t it? Our spending habits say a lot about us. They tell us what we need, what we desire, for whom or for what we sacrifice, where we go, who is important to us and what values we hold.

This Gospel account is a brilliant portrayal of Jesus’ wisdom. He was purposely put on the defensive. He did not respond in kind. He did not lose his temper. He did not preach. Gently yet firmly, he simply batted the question back into the court of the asker. With that, he reminds us that in this world there are things that rightly belong to Caesar…to government…to others…to the civic community and there are things that rightly belong to God. Our challenge is to not confuse the two.

As residents of the United States, we enjoy all the services that come to us because of taxes. Good roads, competent fire and police protection, civil servants who represent us and public schools come to mind. To run smoothly, things that “belong to Caesar” must be given to Caesar. But, what is it that belongs to God?

Ironically, the things that belong to God don’t cost a dime. Our devotion, our fidelity, our love, our passion and our prayer come from the heart. They come from an inner drive to better ourselves and pay homage to God who is crazy about us. What belongs to God is our desire to sacrifice for others, our charity, our commitment to prayer, our willingness to strive for things that will gain heaven for us.

Tax is what’s tacked on to the cost of something in support of something else. So, what is the tax God puts on the gifts we receive? We see a sunset. Does it take our breath away? Do we point it out to someone else to enjoy? We relate to another person. Do we tell her or him how important they are? Do we say “I love you?” We come to prayer. Do we concentrate on the sacred words of Scripture and realize how our lives can be changed by hearing them? Do we praise God with each syllable? Accepting the gifts of God is one thing but, I would submit, going the extra mile to recognize the significance of the gift and sharing it with others is the tax. It’s the extra tacked on.
So, in honor of God’s great gifts to us let us pay our due, let us gratefully pay our taxes.

Back to our checkbook. As a community, we have one. We use it for everything…our food, our healthcare, our buildings, our ministries. The question that lies before us is do we keep that book balanced? Do we spend what we have to benefit others in the same proportion that we spend it to take care of ourselves?

If Billy Graham were to look at our checkbook where would he find our heart?

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Do Middle School Students Feel About Adoration? Part 1

As you know in addition to being the vocation director for my community, I also have the delight of teaching middle school students religion. Every Thursday our parish has Adoration from 9:00-5:00. We also have Adoration every First Friday. Each week I take my Religion classes to church for a brief visit with Jesus. The following are some of their reflections on what Adoration means to them. You'll find that Jesus is quite evident in the lives of my students!

6th Graders
Adoration is loving Jesus, loving God, and serving his people. Thank you! (Alexa M.)

I think Adoration is an important ritual that praises God. This form of praise helps my friendship grow with God. (Taylor O.)

Adoration is all about praising God! The silence is so great. Seeing the Eucharist in the Monstrance makes me feel open to God. Adoration helps my friendship with Jesus. (Mark B.)

I think the Monstrance looks beautiful and Jesus is the center of our attention. Jesus and I get closer every time I go to Adoration. I like the silence. I love the reverence that everyone gives to Jesus at Adoration. (Elliott M.)

I think Adoration is a blessing from I've seen the light. My friendship is better with Jesus because I dedicate my life to him instead of just talking to him every now and then. (Peter O.)

Adoration means giving God a short moment out of my day for prayer with God the Father and His only son, Jesus. It's the highest form of praise given only to God. During Adoration I sit in church with a moment of silence giving respect and reverence towards God. This is one way my friendship with Jesus grows. (Matthew D.)

During Adoration I put so much love in trying to talk to God. It reminds me of Jesus' life. (Dereck S.)

Adoration is so beautiful. Just seeing Jesus come from the Tabernacle to the Monstrance is awesome. I think the silence is so sweet. I love going to Adoration. (Sara C.)

When Father puts the Eucharist in the Monstrance my friendship with Jesus is stronger. Adoration is when I talk to God. I sit in silence and think how God is great. When I smell the incense it makes me happy. (Austin B.)

Adoration is the highest form of prayer to give to God. Adoration makes me feel tranquil, mindful and happy. I find Adoration very important because I am talking to Jesus, which helps my friendship with Jesus. When I see Jesus in the Monstrance it makes me feel safe. (Jaylen M.)

During Adoration I feel like Jesus is talking to me. When Father takes the Eucharist out of the Tabernacle it feels like the world goes in slow motion. The world just drops silent. This helps my friendship with Jesus. Why? Because God and I are having a nice long talk in this frozen time of silence. It feels like in 15 minutes we talk for 15 hours. I feel like the incense is the breath of God breathing on me as He is talking to me. This is how it tightens my friendship with God. (Noah S.)

When I am in Adoration I feel like I am a step closer to Jesus. I adore God with all of my heart. I feel so peaceful, in the silence. Once during Adoration I had this moment where I had become better friends with Jesus and God. Don't most people become better friends by doing things together? Playing and talking are examples. But this is a different friendship, a sacred one. We become better friends by praying together. I feel that Adoration has the best effect on my life as possible...making friends with Jesus is the best ever. (Colin C.)

Adoration is a time when I ask God to forgive my sins. I also think that the Monstrance with the Eucharist in it is to help me talk to Jesus because He is right in front of me. When the incense is going it relaxes me and makes it easy to talk to God and praise Him. This helps my friendship because all I do is ask, talk, praise and listen to Jesus. (Zach L.)

A couple of days ago I went to Adoration. Adoration helps my friendship with God. It helps because it makes me believe in God even more and makes me want to go to Adoration a lot. It is so cool when I see the Eucharist in the Monstrance. I think Adoration helps me get closer to God. It is amazing seeing the Eucharist in the Monstrance above the Tabernacle. Jesus is so important and when I pray to Him it feels great. My favorite part about Adoraton...besides seeing when I am completely silent. (Hannah B.)

The quiet time with Jesus is my special devotion to Jesus. Adoration gives me a chance to ask for forgiveness. I pray that I can live a healthy, holy and gracious life with God. (Mitchell S.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Favorite Quotes from Volume One Part Six

In this post I continue to share with you some of my favorite quotes from Jesus taken from Volume One.  Quite honestly, all the quotes in Volume One are my favorite.  My hopes are that by sharing a few quotes with you, you will have the desire to read all the Volumes  as well.

I want My children to have spiritual discipline.  This means you practice your faith regardless of how you feel.  (p. 109) must complete your duties despite feelings of fatigue, boredom, and restlessness.  The enemy uses these feelings to persuade people that they should not serve their loved ones.  (p. 109)

Your duty is holy and in it you will find your find path to holiness.  (p.109)

The Good News must be shared with all souls.  What is the message, My children?  I want you to tell souls everywhere that Jesus loves them.  It is very simple.  I love them!  I want them to be with me.  
(p. 113-114)

My children rely too often on the thoughts of others.  Children, you must think for yourself.  The opinions of others are often flawed and have a worldly origin. Of what use is that to you?  I want you to spend your time quietly, as much as possible.  Focus your strength and energy on serving Me in your day.  (p. 117)

My children, you will recognize Me in your life when you begin to follow Me. Look for Me and My desires as you go through your day.  View everything as an opportunity for holiness.  View everything as an opportunity to be closer to Me.  (p. 119)

Read the Bible, My children, and you will come to know your God. He is all love. He sees to everything for you.  Life is intended to be simple, beautiful, and you are to be learning always.  (p. 119)

I offer something so sparkling, so eternal, and so pristine, that the soul longs for it.  I offer goodness and happiness.  I offer peace and above all I offer love.  My love is real.  (p. 123)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A commentary for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Pamela Kay Doyle, OSB

Jesus says to us, Behold, I have prepared my banquet and everything is ready; come to the feast.

St. Benedict responds by asking us, What, dear ones, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?

An invitation; we've been given a personal invitation to deepen our relationship with God.  We've been invited to be present to love; invited to open our hearts and let them be filled as only God can fill them.

This invitation is not a one-time special offer.  God invites us each and every day and each moment of our lives.  There is no RSVP with this invitation. However, there are choices to be made with each invitation.  We can ignore the invitation, decline it, or accept it.

We can ignore those crying in pain, ignore those stripped of their dignity, ignore those living in oppression.  We can decline the opportunity to be attentive to others' needs, decline to stand up in solidarity for what is right, decline to love our neighbors as ourselves.

When we accept God's invitation in our lives, we give of our time and talents for the sake of others, we anticipate one another's needs; we accept our crosses which we are asked to bear.

We have been invited; everything has been prepared for us; the feast awaits us. Come...RESPOND!