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!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Suzie Dailer Becomes an Affiliate!

How blessed we are to welcome Suzie Dailer to the Affiliate stage at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Suzie comes to us from Wheeling, West Virginia. Suzie has the desire to love and serve God as a Benedictine Sister. We are so happy God has led her to our community. Please help us in giving God thanks for the gift of Suzie's vocation.

Suzie is a registered nurse and will soon be working in our nursing home, St. Paul Hermitage. 

The affiliation stage can last from six months to two years. It begins by a woman expressing her desire to the Prioress and Vocation Director to get to know the community better by attending prayer, meals and visiting the community on a frequent basis. It is also a period of time where the candidate meets with the Vocation Director and keeps in contact with her as they discern her call together. Once the candidate believes she is ready to take the next step she must meet with the Prioress and then formally write a letter seeking permission to enter the community as a postulant. Upon the acceptance of the request by the Prioress, the candidate is ready to take the next step.

Please help me in giving thanks to God for this joyous occasion at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Please continue to pray daily that God will continue to send us happy, holy and healthy women to our community so that we may continue this long Benedictine tradition of seeking God through prayer, work and hospitality.

Welcome Suzie!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Favorite Quotes from Volume One Part Five

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 are taken from Anne's book Volume One, Thoughts on  Spirituality.

I want My chosen souls to reflect on the value of obedience.  Only through obedience can I bring about the movement toward perfection within you.  Your current world scoffs on obedience.  Even children do not obey their parents and are not punished for their transgressions.  I want My souls to be obedient and they will see faith bloom like a flower.  Truly, I will reward them in an unparalleled manner during these times.  (p. 93)

Do you want to be with me?  I am here for you.   But you must clear the path for Me.  You must listen for Me.  To do that, dear chosen souls, you must free yourself from these attachments that hold you under submission.  (p. 93)

This is what it means to be My follower.  You need worry over nothing.  I will fight your battles for you and bring others to heaven through you.  I can place the most beautiful, heavenly thoughts in your souls if only you will let Me.  How I stand by, little soul, ready to bring you closer.  Say yes to Me and we will begin our journey in earnest.  (p. 94)

Mary reminds us, Jesus is waiting for you, my little one.  I will help you, and show you the way.  Pray more, even when you do not feel like praying.  Pray always, even if it is just a simple sentence, a simple thought.  Look closely for the answers to your prayers and you will find them.  (p. 94)

Holiness is a process, and, as with most things, I could exert My divinity and make you saints, but what merit would you gain from that?  Better that My little ones make small acts of love so that I can see your wills turning toward Me. Trust Me. You will not be disappointed.  Do not be afraid, only trust Me.  (p. 97-98)

Often My words fall on deaf ears.  Truly there are those who see but do not see, who hear but do not hear.  These brothers and sisters will have to answer for their disregard of My graces.  My words bounce off them like so many stones. You, My children, have been given the grace to hear with both your ears and your hearts.  Therefore you must heed My words.  My spirit will come upon you and you will know what I want from you.  Please, hear the voice of your God in your heart and respond to Me with determination.  My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  My true followers know joy and peace and it is reflected in their eyes.  Holy friendships are my gift to you.  (p. 101)

My little chosen souls of this day have a hard time with both suffering and patience.  Remember; My time is perfect.  If We were to change over and do things according to your desires, it would not be My plan but yours.  Remember how your life felt without Me, little soul, and renew your pledge to serve Me, not yourself.  My time is perfect.  All will occur as it should but I need souls to convert and be faithful now.  (p. 103)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Commentary for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom, OSB

We have heard this parable of the wicked tenants often enough to suspect that Matthew is directing the story to the leaders of Israel, those who were given responsibility to maintain a healthy vineyard, and to give back to God the fruits of their work of caretaking, instructing and upholding the Law. The servants who were killed as they attempted to gather the owner’s share represent the prophets whom the leaders rejected. The Son, obviously, is Jesus, the rightful heir who is killed out of greed or fear or perhaps even jealousy.

It would be easy to focus on these aspects of the story, but today I invite us to consider the vineyard and the landowner.

In the 1st reading this Sunday, Isaiah tells us that the vineyard owner prepared the land, put up a hedge and watch tower and built a wine vat. We see the providence and the faithfulness of the landowner.

It was typical for a landowner to entrust the care of the property to tenants who would keep a share of the produce of the land and return the bulk of the harvest to the landowner. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement that left the landowner free to travel and provided sustenance and livelihood for the tenants. The tenants were given great freedom and great responsibility. Most of us understand the work is required to have a good garden… a vineyard requires even more care! As the vines grow, they need to be tied up, supported, pruned at the appropriate times.

God entrusts to each of us the vineyard of the Kingdom, the vineyard of the Church. While pure gift, it requires of us mindfulness of the task we have been given, attentiveness to the growth we desire, awareness of the elements that might hurt or help the plants, knowledge of when the harvest is ready. There is certainly no possibility of sitting back and going on auto-pilot… as soon as the harvest is in, there is wine to be made, land to be cleared, soil to be turned over in preparation for the next planting.

Now, within this vineyard, there are some special fields, choice grapes, special vintage. For most of us in this room, that special ground is monastic life. The fields entrusted to Antony of the Desert, to Cassian, to Benedict are now ours to tend. They have been nurtured and stewarded for centuries. In this vineyard grow not grapes of wrath but fruits of zeal, obedience, stability. We are called to faithfully cultivate the plot lest thorns of contention spring up and choke the fruit

How do we care for our monastic vineyard? Are we aware of the trust that God has placed in us? Hour by hour, do we keep careful watch over all we do, aware that God’s gaze is upon us, wherever we may be? Do we ever get stuck in the feeling of entitlement that proved to be the downfall of the tenants in our gospel story? What are the fruits that we bear as we live our monastic life? Do we work hard enough to give the landowner a share while still having enough to feed ourselves and to share with others?

We are entrusted with a charism that is at the service of the church. We are called to nurture our own monastic vineyard while being aware of all who have worked this soil before us, and all who are yet to come. Let us labor to bring forth a rich harvest and to show the vineyard owner gratitude by our diligence.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Today is the feast of the Guardian Angels.  My 7th graders have agreed to write poems about this beautiful feast! Enjoy.

Guardian Angel,
You guide me every minute,
I love you so much!
(7th Grade Class)

You are in my heart,
You are always by my side,
Don't ever leave me.
(Lucy M.)

Guardian Angel,
You watch over me,
You are here every day,
Your love is so deep,
You guide me throughout the day,
I will always keep believing!
(Gabby S.)

Guardian angel,
protect me for all my life,
Come and pray with me!
(Christian L.)

Guardian Angel, here you are,
In the night, when I fear, you are close to me ever so dear.
Or in the day time of my life, you are beside me guiding me with no trace.
We all know you are here, guide me to heaven while we are still here.
(Jamaica H.)

Guardian Angel,
Thank you, Guardian Angel,
For protecting me!
(Jake. F)

Guide and Love Me,
For I know that you are near,
You are always there when I fear.
You take me through my days,
With all your loving ways.
You keep me close in your heart,
Nothing will ever keep us apart!
(Samantha A.)

Guardian Angel,
I love you,
Thank you so much for looking out for me.
It's like someone is giving me their hand and
helping me up through the badness in life.
You help me sin less.
When I fall, you my Guardian Angel are there for me.
When I'm sad or not feeling good I feel you there and
I can feel you kiss my cheek.
And at night I know I am not alone, even if I sin.
Thank you so much for being my Guardian Angel.
I love you in my heart.
I always feel you, and that's why I smile all the time.
I know that you will never forget me and I will never forget you!
(Nikki D.)

You are my Guardian Angel, you guide me through everything,
You help me through all.
I can't see you but you are there, right beside me.
The happy and the sad, the easy and the rough,
You are my Guardian Angel, and I'm glad you are there.
You help me with every step I take, every decision I make,
You are there!
(Kaitlin O.)

Oh Guardian Angel,
Dear loving guide,
Show me the way,
Please do not hide,
Stay by my side,
In darkness and light.
You will be there with me,
Through the night.
(Taylor B.)

My Guardian Angel so kind and dear,
You are always near.
You are pure love from above.
I thank God who gave you to me.
So now I wish to thank you on your Feastday.
(Ben #1)

Guardian Angel,
You help me to do my best,
Don't ever leave me.
(Elizabeth G.)

Guardian Angel.
You guide me always through and through,
You are always with me, too.
Thank you so much!
(Ben #2)

I feel your presence,
Keep me out of the darkness,
I am safe with you.
(Emily P.)

Guardian Angel,
You are never far away,
Stay with me always.
(Josh C.)

Guardian Angel,
Please come to me in comfort,
I will wait for you.
(Deven L.)

I have an angel,
My angel is watching over me,
My angel loves me.
(Kristen S.)

Guardian Angel,
You are my helper from above,
I love you.
You help me each and every day.
You help me over my tears,
You keep me happy and joyful,
For that, I leave you space and love,
I will give a heart to love,
and a feast day from above.
(Tristan M.)

Angel of Jesus,
Guide me.
You are like my Savior,
Trust in me always.
(Kristen N.)

Keep me in your mind,
Please never leave me behind.
Keep me in your mind and I will pray,
That you are with me every day.
Guardian Angel be with me,
With your help I will see,
The way to the light,
So I will be with God for all my life!
(Ashley K.)

Guardian Angel,
Give me the strength to serve God,
With you I won't fail.
(Joseph E.)

In the night,
I'm not alone.  
My guardian angel,
looks after me!
(Brianna S.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jesus' October Message

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

October 1, 2008

Dear apostles, how strongly you desire holiness. This desire pleases Me and I will bless this desire. I will increase your holiness. There are times when you despair of becoming as holy as you wish. At those times when you are tempted, I would like you to know that I can make you holy in an instant. If you require heroic holiness in a moment, I can give it to you. The Holy Spirit blows where it is both welcomed and needed so if you welcome the Spirit, the Spirit will sanctify you. I, Jesus, lived on earth and in My humanity I understand the struggles that plague you. I understand the frustration you feel when you examine yourself and find that you have work to do in virtue. Dear ones, consider life like a walk. If you are taking a walk on any given day, you walk. You do not sit down on the path and call that action walking. That would be sitting down and that is different from walking. Your spiritual life is meant to be active. If you look at yourself and find that you need to work on holiness, then you are looking at yourself in truth. You are on the path and you are walking and you see that ahead of you the path continues on into the unknown as far as the possibility for your holiness. I, Jesus, am comfortable with this for you. I am not pleased, however, when you move backwards on the path or leave the path altogether. You were meant to serve Me and you were meant to serve Me in this time. Please, do not be distracted. Do not believe that My plan can do without your service. My plan does not require your perfection, My dearest one, but it does require your presence. If you remain with Me during your time on earth, My treasures are transmitted to you. You can then open your heart to others and allow these treasures to be distributed to them. Ask Me for these treasures for others. I will send them to others through you. Have no fear that this prayer will go unanswered. It will not. It will be answered more generously than you can imagine. Draw closer to Me in holiness, dear apostle, so that I can sanctify you and move into the world through you. Do not be afraid of changes. Just as you must always be moving on your path, so the world must always be moving through time. As the world moves through time it changes and it is changing now. You, dearest apostle, are a part of that change.