Saturday, August 30, 2008

A commentary for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Carol Falkner, OSB

It was difficult for the disciples to hear Jesus say that he must suffer and die in Jerusalem. They were shocked by this disclosure. One minute Peter is declaring that Jesus is the “Son of the living God” and the next minute Peter is hearing that Jesus will “be killed and on the third day be raised.” Peter doesn’t want to hear such news and tries to dissuade Jesus. Jesus rebukes Peter by saying: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of humans.”

When we meditate on this passage we have to admit that we, too, struggle to understand the mind of God as did Peter. We naturally view things in human terms, not divine terms.  The call to discipleship, however, is both a privilege and a challenge. We grow close to God as Benedict directs us through prayer and work. Because of this intimate relationship with God, Jesus calls us friends.

The challenge comes as we journey along the path that leads to a significant relationship with God. It is the journey outlined in the Gospel. It is a journey that is other centered and leads to love for God, self, others and the world. Many times on this journey our human wisdom will be confronted by the mystery of divine wisdom. God’s desire is that our vision be expanded and sometimes this can be painful. However, we will gain wisdom as we allow God to form a new heart within us.

The path to this deeper relationship with God is the path of obedience. In Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule Benedict states, “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.” Through obedience we will become beacons reflecting the glory of God. The joy and strength we gain on this journey more than compensates for the price of discipleship. We can certainly become beloved friends of God by allowing God to work in our hearts each day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Favorite Quotes from Volume One Part One

I promised in a previous post that I would periodically  share with you my favorite quotes from "Anne's" Volumes and writings.  Anne is a Lay Apostle who writes messages she receives from Jesus and the Blessed Mother.  To read more about Anne's work you can go to:  Direction For Our Times

The following quotes were taken from Anne's book, Volume One,  Thoughts on Spirituality. 

I did not come to you because you were worthy.  I won't leave you because you are not.  (p. 3)

Be joyful.  I will never leave you.  Be on my side, the side of peace.  (p. 4)

Jesus' message on smoking, Would you blow smoke into this tabernacle?  I am with you, inside of you.  You carry Me with you.  Do not smoke.  (p. 7)

Yes, this is Our goal:  that the souls of your brothers and sisters not be lost.  (p. 17)

Stop swearing.  It profanes Me.  I am with you.  I walk down every street with you.  I go into every shop with you.  When you speak, I speak with you.  You must not use vile language.  It brings weakness upon you, and makes it difficult for you to serve me.  
(p. 28)

You are right.  You are powerless.  Without Me, you can do nothing.  But with Me, you can do anything.  (p.33)

The messages are clear and easy to comprehend.  I pray for strength and wisdom to know how to fully live the life God has called me to.  I strive to walk in a manner worthy of my calling.  I rest assured that I do not make the journey alone. God is ALWAYS with me and God will never leave me.  If you are reading this entry I know that you, too, are on the journey toward the heart of God.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Commentary for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

Jesus asks the question that defines all of our lives:

Who do you say that I am? 

How we answer this question reflects our beliefs about God, the church and discipleship. It is how we live however, that truly gives the answer to the question.  Our early lives were shaped by the question asked probably of our parents and God parents: What do you ask for this child in the Sacrament of Baptism? Our monastic lives have been shaped by the question : Do we seek God?

The opportunity to wrestle, grow and live out the question is a great gift from God. In this quest, we seek out others, encourage one another and mirror for one another the mystery of God. We thus in turn become part of the question for others.  Discipleship is an invitation to let the question shape our lives. It is a dynamic process as is our vow of conversatio—ever anticipating God’s will--lived today --as a pilgrim --hungering to delve deeper into the question: 

Who do you say that I am?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Howard Gray Reflections Part Two

I promised you more poems and reflections on the song, Howard Gray.  Well, here they are! These were written by my 7th graders.

I'll stick up for someone.  I'll help others and be a friend to someone who needs me. I hope no one ever puts anyone down. 
(Ben 1)

I stand up for friends and family.  One time some of the girls were making fun of another person.  I stood up for that person.  I knew their feelings had been hurt.  I never want to hurt the feelings of others.  My feelings have been hurt.  I don't like that feeling.  Never forget the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  In other words, treat others as you would like to be treated.  I follow this rule.  (Nikki)

Listening to Howard Gray makes me think about all the bullying that goes on.  I have to ask myself if I would treat anyone like the way they treated Howard.  God teaches us to love our neighbors.  It makes me ask why they did that.  How could they hurt someone so badly that he moved away?  I feel that I could be stuck in the same place the writer of the song was.  Feeling afraid to stand up for what is right. I am moved now to always stand up for what I know is right.  (Emily)

Not much longer then,
Mama taught the Golden Rule,
I never joined in.

I hear a lot of stories like Howard Gray.  It shows me how many people go through school not being the person they could have been.  They may have even been my friend.  People don't know what they are doing when they put other people down and make fun of people in school.  The person being hurt remembers what people did to them.  It's something they can't forget.  It becomes a memory they cannot let go of.  (Kaitlin)

This song says how one boy wouldn't give into peer pressure.  He didn't want to make fun of Howard.  One day, the pressure got to him.  He didn't know what he was doing until he saw Howard's eyes were tear-stained.  (Josh)

This poem has a very deep meaning.  Why do people get picked on?  What's the point of treating a person so terribly?  They're having a great time doing this.  I think that is the sad part.  It will eat you up inside until you can't bear it.  I wonder what it feels like being the one who is being threatened.  If kids thought of that then they would probably stop and apologize.  (J.C.)

When I heard the song, Howard Gray,  it made me sad to think that people make fun of people for what they wear, look like or if they are rich or poor.  There have been times when I have wished that I stood up for someone when I had the opportunity.  It's sad to think that people judge others by how they look, what type of grades they make  or what kind of clothes they wear.  People look on the outside when they really should be looking on the inside.  (Kristen 2)

I think I would be the person who would stick up for Howard.  I think about those kids and how they probably feel real bad about what they did.  Besides, it is kind of hard to laugh at someone when they are hurt and in pain.  So, even if no one ever talked to Howard all he probably ever wanted was a friend and a person to talk to. I hope that Howard Gray found a real friend to lean on.  (Jamaica)

I feel bad for both the narrator and Howard Gray.  I feel bad that the narrator couldn't ever apologize.  I would feel bad if I couldn't ever apologize to someone.  I also feel bad for Howard because he got bullied just for not having as much money as everyone else.  I'm glad my school doesn't have stuff going on like that.  (Tristan)

When I see someone picking on somebody, I normally don't get involved.   When it is more than one person I try to make the person that is being picked on feel better. All that they really need is one friend to build their confidence back up.  I think when that goes on it should be stopped immediately. (Ben 3)

Howard Gray stayed close to God and his only friend embarrassed him.  But, I bet he stayed close to God, and after he moved things got better for him.  Howard Gray would forgive anyone that asked for it.  (Ben 2)

This song is pretty sad.  I'm more of the bully and I regret it a lot.  I don't mean to be mean but I am.  I'm sorry for hurting a person in my class.  I don't want to be mean but something keeps at me.  (Christian)

This song has so many life lessons.  RESPECT!  This is what every human deserves. Howard didn't get what he fact...he got the opposite.  This song moved me both spiritually and mentally.  Just because someone isn't quite the same as others does not mean they don't have feelings.  I recommend this song for everyone. You will learn so much from this song!  (Kristen 1)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God will show you the Path of Life

I want to extend a personal invitation to single, Catholic women between the ages of 18 and 40,who are discerning their call from God, to attend our October 10-12, 2008 vocation retreat weekend.  This retreat begins at 7:00 P.M. on Friday, October 10th and ends at 1:00 P.M. on Sunday, October 12th. The retreat will be at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, IN. You will pray with the Sisters of St. Benedict and enjoy talking to many Sisters about their love for God and the Benedictine Way of Life. 

The theme of this retreat is, God will show you the Path of Life.  Sr. Juliann Babcock will be the presenter. Sr. Juliann currently serves our community as the formation director.  She is a gifted retreat director and loves her Benedictine vocation. Sr. Juliann has served her community as a teacher, vocation director, Subprioress and a member of the staff at the Benedict Inn.  In addition to her formation work, she is a retreat director and spiritual director.

For more information about this retreat opportunity please give me a call, (317) 787-3287 X 3032.  You can also email me at:

May God continue to bless and guide your every step on the path of life towards God!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Commentary for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Cindy Freese, OSB

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is not a story about a woman’s daughter who is possessed. It is about the woman herself. The mother says to Jesus, “Have pity on me.” This story is about a mother who has experienced all the ramifications of caring for a child who is ill, as well as being isolated in her community because of the nature of her daughter’s illness. The daughter needs help, but the mother, by her own admission, needs help, too.  

Jesus enters pagan territory after having several altercations with the Pharisees and Scribes. His disciples continue to lack faith and fail to see Jesus’ true identity and mission. Jesus, at a low point in his ministry to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” needs someone to understand.  Then Jesus and the woman meet each other.

In Ruthellen Josselson’s book, The Space Between Us, she uses a quote that says “all real living is meeting.” Josselson goes on to say that the essence of meeting is authentic participation in another’s life. The author calls this authentic participation mutuality. She describes mutuality as simply being with others, to swap stories and experience a communion of selves that has no goal. Mutuality exists, she says, on a continuum from simple companionship to an intermingling of souls. In mutuality we feel better about ourselves; we become more able to act; we are more likely to reach out to others. When Benedict said in the Rule “never give a hollow greeting of peace,” he may have had this concept in mind.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus and the Canaanite woman spend a brief moment together. They each move willingly beyond boundaries of gender, culture and religion to experience a moment of being with each other that is only partially reflected in their verbal exchange. We ourselves are called to mutuality, to be with a friend, to swap stories with the elderly, to experience communion with God.”

Carol Gilligan, a feminist scholar, says that faith is found relationally, not in isolation. The Canaanite woman found the faith that was within her when she met Jesus and spent a brief moment with him. In their dialogue together, the woman’s faith is expressed with such power and conviction that Jesus heals her daughter at that very moment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Howard Gray

A long time ago I heard a song that I've never been able to get out of my head.  The name of the song is, Howard Gray.  It was written by Lee Domann a classmate of Howard Ray.  The lyrics to the song are:

Most every one I knew put the whole Gray family down. They were the poorest family in that little country town. Howard always looked too big for his funny ragged clothes. The kids all laughed at him and Jimmy Jones would thumb his nose. Howard sat across from me in seventh grade at school. I didn't like it much but mama taught the golden rule.

So when the spitballs flew at him I never would join in. I guess that was the reason Howard thought I was his friend. And after things would quiet down sometimes I'd turn and see. The grateful eyes of Howard Gray looking back at me.

Howard Gray, Howard Gray, somehow they got their kicks out of treating you that way. 
Deep down I kind of liked you but I was too afraid. To be a friend to you, Howard Gray.

One day after lunch, I went to comb my hair. And saw they had Howard pinned against a locker in the hall.
 They were poking fun about the big hole in his shirt. They had his left arm twisted back behind him 'til it hurt. 

To this day I can't explain and I won't try to guess.
 Just how it was I wound up laughing harder than the rest. 
 I laughed until I cried but through my tears I still could see,
the tear-stained eyes of Howard Gray, looking back at me.

Howard Gray, Howard Gray, I can't believe I joined them all Treating you that way. I wanted to apologize but I was too afraid Of what they'd think about me, Howard Gray.

From that moment on after I made fun of him. He never looked my way, he never smiled at me again. Not much longer after that his family moved away. And that's the last I ever saw or heard of Howard Gray. That was forty years ago and I still haven't found just why. We'll kick a brother or a sister when they're down. I know it may sound crazy but now and then I dream about the eyes of Howard Gray looking back at me.

Howard Gray, Howard Gray, I've never quite forgiven us for treating you that way. I hope that maybe somehow you'll hear this song someday and you'll know that I am sorry, Howard Gray. We'll probably never meet again, all I can do is pray. May you and God forgive us, Howard Gray.

I started the school year by playing this song for my middle school students.  Today, I invited the 7th and 8th graders to write either a poem or a short reflection on what the song means to them.  I've included some of their work in this post.

When they bully you,
You get hurt deep down inside,
It's hard to forgive.
(Megan 8th Grade)

Poor old Howard Gray,
Poor old Howard with no friends,
But he still had God.
(Cody 8th Grade)

Whom they always picked,
They were the poorest family,
Oh, now I'm sorry.
(Hannah 8th Grade)

Let God be with you,
Howard Gray and don't ever
Let him go away.
(Tommy 8th  Grade)

Dear old Howard Gray,
I'm sorry for what I did,
To you that day.
(James 8th Grade)

Howard, I'm sorry,
For what they have done to you,
You're a person, too.
(Shelby 8th  Grade)

This song really reminds me of Jesus.  Many people put Jesus down.  There were those who felt bad and prayed for forgiveness.  
All I do is Pray,
That you may forgive me God,
When I have done wrong.
(Maddie 8th Grade)

When I heard the song, Howard Gray, it made me very sad.  The song makes me think of times when I have joined in with the others.  I now try to stand up for others and not join in with the crowd.  It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are hurting.
(Allie 8th Grade)

I hope we stay friends,
Howard I apologize,
For what I had done.
(Kyle 8th Grade)

Everyone I knew,
Put the whole Gray Family down,
I will pray for you.
(Tyler 8th Grade)

Look for more reflections and poems on the song, Howard Gray, in future posts.  In fact this entire school year you will have the privilege of reading students' reflections on the Gospel and every day living!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Direction for Our Times

Recently some friends introduced me to "Anne," a Lay Apostle.  Little is known about the person of Anne.  Why?  Anne works anonymously because Jesus and Mary have instructed her to do so. She is the mother of six children, and heaven seeks to protect her family from undue publicity. Each detail of the mission is completed in obedience to heaven, under the watchful eye of the Church.

Anne has written ten Volumes of journal entries of messages she has received from Jesus and Mary.  She has released eight of the Volumes for those on the spiritual journey and those who are seeking to begin the spiritual journey, to read.  She has also written other books and short booklets with various themes including: Addiction, Clerical Abuse, Divorce, Youths, Stress, Depression, Abortion, Prisoners, Soldiers, Priests & Religious, Dying, Rejected God, Financial Need, Considering Suicide, Forgiveness, Experience Tragedy, Do Not Know Jesus, Worry About Children's Salvation, Fear Purgatory and Away From The Church. You can read more about what Anne has to offer by visiting this website:

I have only read Volume One.  However, I have every intention of reading the rest of her Volumes as well as the books she has written which include:  In Defense of Obedience and Reflections on the Priesthood, The Mist of Mercy and Climbing The Mountain.

In future posts I will share my favorite quotes from Anne's book, Volume One
I think I was really meant to read these books.  A few years ago my brother, Fr. Paul, was telling me about Anne and her work to spread the message of Jesus and Mary.  I remember being interested at the time.  However, I never took my brother's advice to begin the journey of reading Anne's work. This summer I had an opportunity to spend a few days in Florida with some women who had my brother as a Pastor.  My brother encouraged them to read Anne's books.  They accepted the offer and their love for God and Mary only deepened and expanded.  While in Florida many of our early morning discussions and prayer times were centered around these books that Anne has written.  I finally heard God loud and clear calling me to read the messages Anne received from Jesus and Mary. Though I have only read Volume One, I can already tell my love for God has deepened as well.  I look forward to sharing some of my favorite quotes from Anne's books and reflection on how Jesus is calling me to a deeper relationship with him and his Mother.

Do yourself a favor.  Go on line and read for yourself what Jesus has waiting for you.  The first day of every month Anne delivers a special message from Jesus.  You can sign up to receive these messages via email.  This is the message for August:

My dear ones, I am with you in your struggles. How can I help you to understand that your struggles are necessary to your holiness? Perhaps you should simply trust Me and view your struggles as evidence that I continue working to perfect your soul. If there were no struggle, My little apostles, there could be no possibility of advancement. This is a time to make great gains in holiness but gains are only possible with effort. I am making every effort toward you. Are you making efforts to move closer to Me? Ask yourself today and each day, ‘Where is God asking me to be holier today?’ Perhaps it is charity, perhaps patience, possibly trust, maybe you should practice concentrating on your holiness and refrain from examining the work needed in other souls. Oh, My dear apostles, if you could only see how desirable holiness is to heaven. If you could only see how beautiful you are when you are looking up to heaven with an honest desire to become holier. When you become distracted, My heart sighs. And yet I am patient with you. I know that My little ones want to serve Me. I know that My little ones struggle to absorb the truth about holiness. And that is why I am patient. I am patient because you are trying. Continue trying, dear apostles. Walk bravely into holiness. Be fearless in examining your condition. If you do so, I will surround you with love so that you do not become discouraged but emboldened. You will become emboldened to strive for greater and greater heights of holiness and greater and greater heights of humility. How heaven will rejoice as the King’s apostles relinquish their ties to the world and attach themselves more fully to heaven’s work. Heaven’s work will always involve two goals, one, the holiness of the apostle, two the coming of the Kingdom. My apostles must concern themselves primarily with their holiness and then I, the King, can best see to the coming of God’s Kingdom. Be at peace. Rejoice. I am with you and My plan is advancing.

May God continue to bless you and lead you to a deeper relationship with Jesus and Mary.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Commentary for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB

In last Sunday’s gospel, we heard the powerful story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The apostles wanted Jesus to send the crowd into neighboring towns for food because they did not believe that they had enough to give. Jesus, taking the little they did have, shows them that a little is enough and becomes abundant when shared in the service of the Kingdom.

In today’s gospel, we meet Jesus sending the disciples before him to the other side. Jesus dismisses the crowd and then goes up the mountain alone to pray. The disciples, meanwhile, are caught in their boat in the midst of a storm on the lake. If you have ever been caught on the water during a storm, you can understand the fear that overtakes them. Buffeted by winds on every side, I imagine the disciples feared for their lives. They look up and see Jesus walking toward them on the sea. And they were terrified. Now one would think that after all they have experienced in Jesus’ ministry – the healings and the miracle that they had witnessed just some time before – that they would have recognized Jesus. But they don’t. They think it is a ghost and cry out in fear. Jesus immediately calls out to them “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”

It is not surprising that it is Peter that responds to the voice of Jesus. After all, it seems that Peter is always the one that responds to Jesus with boldness. Jesus invites Peter to “Come,” to walk to him on the water. Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the water to Jesus. That is until he turns his eyes to the wind that is blowing all around him. As soon as he turns his sight from Jesus to the wind and storm around him, he begins to sink.

Isn’t that how it is? If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can walk through most any storm. And yet, it is so easy to be distracted by the storms of life – the struggles and dark times of our life – that we take our eyes off the One who can save us and focus on that which will pull us down. Jesus beckons us to come to him - to walk to him through the storms of our own life. We can do so if we keep our eyes on Christ who constantly beckons us to come to him.

Benedict offers us a way to keep our eyes on Jesus. Through the Litrugy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, Eucharist, holy relationships and the gift of the common life we live in a school of the Lord’s service. If we are faithful to living the monastic way of life we will learn how to keep our eyes on Jesus through all that life offers and demands of us.

Will we sometimes be distracted by the storm around us and take our eyes off Jesus? Yes! And it is at those times that Jesus will reach out his hand and catch us. But the call will always be to get up again and walk to Jesus keeping our eyes on him all the way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sr. Helen Ann Vermeulen's Vocation Story

I grew up in Connersville, a small town in Southeastern Indiana. I was the only child of Dorothy and Henry Vermeulen. Both of my parents were very faith filled people. Their love of God was instilled in me.

I received eight years of catholic education at St. Gabriel School (Connersville), which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Oldenburg, Indiana. I believe the sisters planted the seed of my future vocation to religious life.

My childhood and teenage years were happy times. I enjoyed dancing, hanging out with my friends and doing normal everyday teenage things. In my early adulthood I dated and was even engaged to be married. I thought I was being called to be a wife and mother. However, God had other dreams in mind for me.

I really never considered religious life until my late twenties, after I had completed my nursing training. During that period of my life I became more involved in my church…as my spiritual journey was awakened within me. Several of my friends were considering religious life. We had a support group that consisted of laywomen who supported religious vocations, a newly ordained priest, Fr. Glenn O’Connor, a Franciscan, Sister Marlene Kochert, and some people who were considering religious life and the priesthood. Discovering that Fr. Glenn and Sr. Marlene were happy, healthy people gifted me with the idea that religious life was a viable lifestyle for me.

As I explored this new lifestyle concept I realized the Franciscan Sisters were the only community I was familiar with. So, I attend many programs and retreats at Oldenburg and even became an affiliate with the Sisters of St. Francis. Since I was a nurse I felt I should explore some nursing communities, but it didn’t feel right to me.

One day, when I was talking to my pastor, Fr. Harold Knueven, about my desire to enter religious life, he handed me a brochure about the Sisters of St. Benedict in Beech Grove, Indiana. I thought to myself; “What’s one more brochure in my collection of religious communities.”

As I thought about what I was looking for in a religious community I knew it was important that I find a community that was small with a core value of prayer and yet allowed me to continue my ministry of nursing. As I read through the brochure Fr. Harold gave me, it occurred to me that just maybe the Sisters of St. Benedict offered what I was looking for in a religious community.

I scheduled an appointment with the vocation director and she suggested I come for a visit. In need of moral support I coerced two close friends to come with me. The day finally arrived for the big visit. As we drove closer to the monastery I told my friends I didn’t want to go in. In unison they said to me, “We brought you this far, you are going in!” I remember looking back at them in the car as I was walking towards the front door. As I knock on the door I was silently praying that no one would be home. To my surprise, Sr. Eugenia, opened the door with a huge smile and a welcoming heart. I visited with the vocation director, had a tour of the Monastery and ate lunch with the sisters…at the same time my friends were still sitting in the car in the parking lot as I said it would only be an hour!

When I walked into the dining room at the Monastery I smelled fresh chocolate chip cookies. I was hoping for a sign that this might be the place for me. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite…mmmmm…this could be a sign from God.

Two or three hours later I went back to my friends…still waiting for me in the car…they saw the signs that this was the place for me…even though I was still fighting.

I took a leap of faith and became an affiliate with the Sisters of St. Benedict. I entered the Monastery, September 13, 1982. Over the years I have had many joys and sorrows, but vocation has always pulled me through. Commitment is important to me. The seed planted by the Franciscans so many years ago has been watered and nurtured in this Benedictine garden. This spiritual journey has brought me to where I am today.

Next year, on May 9, 2009, I will celebrate my Silver Jubilee. We are serving Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Commentary for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them. . . . 
Matt 14

When Jesus sees all the people hungering for a sense of hope in their desperate lives, his heart goes out to the people. Here Jesus gives us an example of keeping open space for others in our hearts and especially in our ministries. As evening approaches, the disciples want to send the people away. They know they don’t have enough food to feed them and respond from a sense of being overwhelmed. Jesus only asks for what they have and multiplies their little amount to feed the vast crowd.

We have two miracles in today’s Gospel story: one is the multiplication of the loaves and the other one is the transformation of the hearts of the apostles to offer what little they have and to trust God to make up the difference.

Maybe our crowds are not vast, but we too, are called to offer the little we have—maybe in our energy, talents, patience, hope and gratitude. The Eucharist is a small loaf but it becomes all that we need to be Christ for one another.

Through our vows of monastic life, we have all offered our lives to God on this altar. Let us allow God to bless, break and give our lives so that we become for each other the bread, the cup, the presence of Christ revealed (This Bread That We Share #334 Breaking Bread).