Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Commentary for the 4th Week of Ordinary Time by Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB

It is the Sabbath and Jesus, arriving in Capernaum, enters the synagogue to worship and teach. The people are deeply impressed, because unlike the scribes, Jesus teaches with authority. It is not long before Jesus is confronted by an unclean spirit, a demon. The demon speaks through the man to confront Jesus. The demon not only questions Jesus – “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? But also identifies him – “I know who you are, the Holy One of God”. Jesus rebukes the demon and it is expelled from the man. The people are amazed because they recognize his uniqueness. At that point, Jesus’ ministry becomes public and the object of speculation and testing that would persist to his death.

We can take many insights from this rich Gospel text but let us look at two of them. The opening verse indicates the primacy of Sabbath practice. According to this text, the synagogue on the Sabbath is the place where Jesus reveals his radical new teaching and his authority from God. This should remind us of the primacy and efficacy of worship and other Sabbath practice for us as those who seek to know and follow Jesus.

In this Gospel Jesus demonstrates power over the demon and through this power expels the demon. As we reflect on our own lives, we become aware of the demons in our own lives that that bind us and stop us living the abundant life of freedom offered to us in Christ. We have to continually choose to ask Christ for healing trusting that Christ has power over all. Benedict teaches that we are to dash these demons against Christ. To turn over all of who we are to Christ so that we might be transformed into who Christ calls us to be. It is through our monastic profession that this transformation can take place as Christ shapes us through conversatio, obedience and stability. It is through the faithful living of our monastic life that we place all we are and all we hope to be under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh among us.

Let us take a moment now to reflect on our lives. What do we need to give over to Christ so that we can be transformed through life with him? As we enter into our Sabbath time, let us offer all we are to God so that we might be changed and live an abundant life in God’s love.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sr. Jeanne Voges' Vocation Story

Life began in Tell City, Indiana, while the country and my parents, Hubert and Agnes Voges, still reeled from the “great depression.” I attended the academy at Ferdinand and then entered the monastery, then known as Convent of the Immaculate Conception, in 1949. I made first vows in 1951. When we moved to Beech Grove, I was a volunteer among the 130 sisters who pioneered this new monastery.

Many children formed the focus of my life the next 13 years as I taught first through eighth grades, and then was promoted to high school with English as my major interest.
Ten years at our OLG academy, during which I had four years at the Latin School in Indianapolis, then nine years on the staff at the monastery OLG doing guest ministry, housekeeping, editing our magazine Encounter.

Parish work at Clarksville preceded my two years in Cali, Colombia and three years in dietary management at St. Paul Hermitage nursing home. Presently I am in my fifteenth year enjoying St. John the Baptist Parish as Pastoral Associate here in Newburgh, Indiana.

St. Benedict’s admonition to care for the sick makes my work an act of obedience and compassion. Visiting the sick and shut-ins is my strongest obligation. Further duties include: co-edit parish newsletter, FrameWorks, work with St. Vincent de Paul Society, monitor Sharing Fund, support Mature Adults, assist with Penance Services, attend wakes and funerals, keep track of church supplies. On the diocesan level I serve on the Vocation Team. I have helped form Wisdom Committee which arranges days of relaxation and spiritual nourishment for the elderly. I attend Parish Council meetings and perform other services around the parish. So I am ready to serve here many more years if God gives me good health and a willing spirit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A commentary for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Pamela Kay Doyle, OSB

Jesus says to us, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."

Driving out demons... demons of greed, jealousy, bitterness, hate...demons of apathy,indifference, hard-heartedness, and cruelty.

Driving out demons...with love, with joy, with peace, understanding, listening, and courage

"Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life." RB 72:1-2

"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."

Speaking new languages...language of compassion, language of tenderness...language of diversity, language of laughter, language of gratitude, language of hope.

"Your way of acting [and speaking] should be different from the world's way." RB 4:20

"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."

Laying hands...hands of expression: signing, signaling, writing, sharing hands of service: cooking, healing, building, cleaning...hands of care: bathing, soothing, feeding, holding

"Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ." RB 36:1

Because we have been baptized and believe, we must embrace...the lost, forgotten, neglected, the mentally ill, the abused the drug addict

Because we have been baptized and believe...we must pray for the drunk behind the wheel who crosses the center line and ends a life...we must pray for the mother who chooses abortion out of convenience to herself...we must pray for the adult who physically and emotionally abuses children...we must pray for...the terrorist consumed with hatred, destroying many lives

For even the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus replied, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42-43

By the waters of baptism and our monastic promises, we are "clothed then with faith and the performance of good works." RB Prologue 21 As Jesus instructs us, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sr. Mary Gilbert Schipp's Vocation Story

The Journey of my life began when I was born on Valentine’s Day in Ferdinand, Indiana to Gilbert and Laura Schipp. At my Baptism I received the name of Vera.

After graduation from high school, I entered the novitiate at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand and began my Benedictine Journey. As a novice I received the name of my father and thus became known as Sister Mary Gilbert.

My Educational Journey began with work for my BS in Education, graduate work in business, and culminated in an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.

My Ministry Journey was as an elementary teacher, a secondary teacher, and business manager of Our Lady of Grace Academy and St. Paul Hermitage. From 1973-1986, I was the administrator of St. Paul Hermitage, and from 1986 to the present, I have served as the Treasurer of the Corporation.

Over the years I have asked myself: How can I use myself in service of my Benedictine community best? Hopefully, it was as teacher, as administrator, and treasurer. Hopefully, the "Listen, my daughter," of Benedict has permeated each of my journeys.

A daily meditation I use is:

I like to imagine a non-Christian teacher, administrator, or treasurer with a Christian teacher, administrator, or treasurer. Then take away all the sameness in both of them until both are stripped naked and all the likenesses are gone. All that should remain in the Christian teacher, administrator or treasurer are the values of Jesus and His gospel message. Then take these unstripped values and messages and touch a human life – who becomes my Christ?

Am I the Christian? Are you my Christ?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Commentary for the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

Jesus wastes no time in asking the two disciples who are following him: “What are you looking for?” What a challenging question! I am surprised the two didn’t run away. The two disciples ask: “Where are you staying?” Jesus gives the grand welcome: “Come and see.”

After reading this passage, you immediately have to take a deep breath and remember the time where your heart sought out God and you knew the truth—God was seeking you too! The sheer joy to know God’s presence in your heart! You have to tell someone—just like Andrew ran and found Peter.

This question of Jesus: “What are you looking for?” occurs in my life over and over each time I come to Chapel, each Adoration, each Liturgy and each retreat. “What are you looking for?” God wants to be found and we both enjoy the pursuit.

Seeking God in everyone and everything is not an easy mission statement. We need the vowed life and the wisdom of the Holy Rule to keep us on the quest. Jesus’ invitation of “Come and See” is the gift of abiding in the Sacred Scriptures, Liturgy of the Hours and celebrating the Sacraments. Jesus’ invitation is the mystery of dwelling with others in the common life of prayer, work and hospitality.

The final joy of this Gospel passage—is we are expected to bring someone back to meet Jesus!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sr. Eugenia Reibel's Vocation Story

Sister Eugenia Reibel was born in Poseyville, Indiana, but grew up in the convent having entered at the age of 16. She began her illustrious teaching career at St. Mary's School in Huntingburg, Indiana in 1940. During her time in education she was a teacher, guidance counselor, secretary and principal. After she left the classroom in 1985, she was the receptionist at the monastery and then moved to the Business Office at St. Paul Hermitage.

Her journey has taken her on assignments to schools in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Missouri and the Diocese of Evansville. Her journey has now taken her to the Development Office at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. She is responsible for making sure our donors are properly thanked for their generosity to our community. Who would be better suited for such a task than a woman like Sister Eugenia, who has given so generously of herself for so many years?

Monday, January 12, 2009

“… For I know the plans I have for you…”

Sister Susan Marie Lindstrom will be directing our February vocation retreat weekend. Sr. Susan has chosen the theme, "...for I know the plans I have for you..." taken from Jeremiah 29:11. This retreat is designed for single Catholic women between the ages of 18 and 40 who are currently discerning a call to religious life.

Sister Susan Marie is a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery where she made her perpetual monastic profession in 2008. She teaches religion at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, where she also serves as department chairperson. Sister Susan Marie shares her gifts of writing and music with both her students and her monastic community.

Retreat Schedule

Friday, February 20th
7:00 pm Arrival
7:30 Gathering/Sr. Susan Marie
8:30 Compline

Saturday, February 21st
8:15 Breakfast
9:00 Morning Prayer/Liturgy
10:15 Morning Session/Sr. Susan Marie
11:45 Noon Praise
12:00 Lunch
12:30-2:00 Reflection Time
2:00 Afternoon Session/ Sr. Susan Marie
3:00 Creative Activity
4:00 Lectio Divina
5:15 Evening Praise
5:45 Dinner
6:45 Movie

Sunday, February 22nd
8:15 Breakfast
9:00 Morning Prayer
9:30 Panel
11:00 Liturgy
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Departure

What to Bring
Casual clothing
Sunday attire
A Bible
An open heart and mind

If you are interested in attending this retreat weekend please contact:

Sr. Nicolette Etienne, OSB
1402 Southern Avenue
Beech Grove, IN 46107
Phone: 317-787-3287 ext. 3032

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Commentary for the Baptism of Jesus by Sr. Mildred Wannamuehler, OSB

On this feast of Jesus’ Baptism I find myself trying to link together Jesus Baptism with His birth and making it one big mystery.  All week we have been pondering on what mystery is before us.  We know that it does not end with the octave.  But I still wonder: what does this feast of the Baptism uncover about the fact that the Son of God became human for us?  What does it add?

I’m reminded of the poem Father Matthias read to us on the Feast of the Epiphany.  It ended by saying that the mystery of Christ’s birth sanctified space and time so that we humans who live in space and time are given these two dimensions to love others as Christ came to show us how.

One of the most precious elements of space is water. We know how important it is to live physically…we can’t live without it... but today’s feast has the Incarnate God opening the whole sacramental system by His own making the water is a factor in our sharing God’s life.

We as religious have always been taught that the vows we make are a deepening of our Baptismal commitment. So can I not say that as a professed religious I unite myself with Christ’s Incarnation by living in time and space the love He showed us?  Did St. Benedict write the Rule then for us to continue to “seek God” in every person and in every situation of life?  Does that make our life sacramental?  Did this not begin when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan? Today’s feast gives us much to be grateful for.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vocation Awareness Week

Next week we will be celebrating Vocation Awareness Week!  How does one celebrate Vocation Awareness Week?  While vocations include the priesthood, religious life, marriage and the single life, I've dedicated this blog entry on praying specifically for an increase in the priesthood and religious life.  Here are a few suggestions as to how you can promote religious vocations:

  • Read a story about your favorite saint.
  • Ask your parish priest why he became a priest.
  • If you were taught by a religious person write them a letter or call them and let them know how much you appreciate their example of living a life totally devoted to God.
  • Search the Internet for inspiring stories of men and women who have answered the call of priest, religious sister or brother.
  • Invite a priest or religious sister or brother into your home for a meal.
  • Talk to your children about being open to God's call to serve as a priest or religious brother or sister.
  • Encourage your local Catholic school teachers to talk about vocations in their classrooms.
  • Have your children write their parish priest, bishop, religious brother, sister or deacon a letter thanking them for loving and serving God in their chosen vocation.
  • Make a collage of people serving God. 
  • Write an essay or poem about how you might choose to serve God as a priest, religious brother or sister or as a permanent deacon.
  • Read the Bible and find the many ways God's people lived their vocation.
  • Read Mark 1:7-11, this Sunday's Gospel reading on the Baptism of Jesus.  Talk about how John the Baptist and Jesus ultimately listened to  God's call to love and serve.
  • Pray a Rosary for men and women who have answered the call to be a priest, brother or sister.  Ask God to open the hearts of young men and women to do the same.
  • Spend time in Adoration praying for priests and religious men and women.
  • Take time to read your local Catholic newspaper (for example click on this link:  Family Nurtures Vocations.)
Every child born was born out of God's love for that child.  All baptized children of God are called to holiness.  God wants all His children to love God and to serve God's people.  By rite of our Baptism we are called to the vocation of loving and serving.  God gave each of us gifts and talents in order that we might perfectly love and serve His people.  How we choose to use these gifts and talents will determine how we choose to glorify God in everything we do.  We are called to Build the Kingdom of God.  Take time today to ask God how you can encourage vocations or perhaps answer your own call to love and serve God as a priest or religious brother or sister!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sr. Juanita Machino's Vocation Story

The first eighteen years of my life were spent on a lovely farm in Jennings County. In 1947 I answered God’s call and professed my final vows in 1952. In 1956 I was sent to Our Lady of Grace as a founding member. My classroom career consisted of teaching grades 2 - 12 including two courses one summer for St. Benedict’s College. For years, I taught and studied for my Master’s Degree simultaneously. With the closing of our Academy in 1978, I discontinued teaching after thirty years.

My journey with God continued as I studied and became a licensed Cosmetologist in 1980 with the intent of being able to use my talents to help others. For the past 28 years I have been doing hair care for my community and shut-ins. This has been a very rewarding ministry. Many of my clients are lonely, or poor, or abandoned - others are starved to hear about God – I do more than hair care. I listen to stories, encourage them, run errands, clean and do odds and ends. I read to some pray with other.

God has blessed me in many ways. I volunteered at Help Line for twelve years where I took calls from the needy and found assistance for them. Likewise I am grateful for the 14 years I volunteered at Day Spring Family Shelter.

I have also found God in serving God's people in the Hospice work I have had the honor to do. I have been privileged to live this life as Benedictine sharing common values and struggles as we grow in God’s love and care.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Epiphany Canticles by Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

Sr. Mary Margaret wrote the canticles for our Divine Office for the Feast of the Epiphany.  I will share her beautiful words with you.

Evening Praise I
     To see a light is to distinguish darkness and declare the shadows only background to relieve truth from captivity.
     To see life in the light of Christ coming into this world relates the whole cosmos with its original order, magnificent truth and eternal beauty.
     To follow a star is to walk proudly, mindful that this earth and these times are holy.

Morning Praise
A star:  No wise one would trek a desert on camelback just moving skyward after some twinkling light.  No believer would bring savings, possessions and new worth to give to a poor child.  No traveler would move toward the poor, lower class and uneducated to seek fortune, fame, and security...unless...that light, that poor human was the CHRIST!

Evening Praise II
     Epiphany shows a sleepy world that Christmas is not stillborn or a crib feast to remain in gift shops and cultural miniatures.
     Epiphany is a bold eastern feast of symbol and connectedness to Christ's ongoing life of preaching and healing.
     Though gifts were brought, the favor sought was peace before nations began to dominate.
     We kneel today; homage is fitting.  One star more than galaxies enlightens us:  Born is the Christ!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jesus' January Message

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

Dear apostles, today I wish to bring you heavenly encouragement. You often feel the opposite of encouragement, that is, discouragement. While this experience of discouragement is an unavoidable part of your time on earth, I want you to be aware of My presence in this cross. Talk to Me about your feelings of discouragement and you will move through these periods safely and more comfortably. If you talk to Me, you will be better able to understand that your discouragement comes from your humanity and not from heaven. In other words, feelings of discouragement are not accurate reflections of heaven’s feelings about you, your service or your effectiveness. It could be that all is going perfectly with you from heaven’s perspective, and yet, you are unaware of this for many reasons. Perhaps we are allowing a cross of suffering for you to bring benefits to you and to the world. You feel this as discouragement and yet heaven is not discouraged. Indeed, it is often the case that heaven is pleased with your faithfulness in the face of your cross. Human discouragement must be viewed with Me, Jesus, so that its cause and benefit can be understood. As an example, someone suffering in their body with sickness or limitation can justly understand their struggle with discouragement. An apostle struggling in this way can accept that he is both receiving graces himself and obtaining graces for others. Beloved apostles, allow Me into your struggle. It will become lighter. I will keep you encouraged if you remain united to Me.