In this post, Sr. Antoinette Purcell, shares with us her favorite quote from the Rule of St. Benedict.
It has been many years since I was a novice in this community but I still remember that one of my favorite quotes in the Rule of Benedict at that time was from the Prologue verses 19-20, "What, dear ones, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life." At that time, the verses helped me through times of trial that every novice faces. I kept reminding myself that the voice of the Lord calling me took precedence over everything else.
Now, all these years later the verses take on new meaning for me especially as we continue our Easter celebration. The scriptures of this season keep reminding us that we are called to a new way of life. The call is to all the baptized. We renewed our baptismal commitment at the Easter Vigil. Now is the time to live what we promised, trusting that the Risen Christ is the one who sets the example and shows us the way, ever with us as Advocate Spirit, giving us nourishment in the Eucharist and teaching us by the Word of God.
For the commercial world, Easter is prepared for by putting new clothes and sweets before our eyes, enticing us to indulge in things that do not last. The stores quickly unload their Easter goodies the day after. But for us Christians, the church celebrates seven weeks of Easter. What a nice balance to the six weeks of preparation we did before Easter. We know that the true "goodies" of Easter last for eternity. While we celebrate the Risen Christ year round, it is during this season that we renew the reality of the mystery that is core to our faith that life as we know it on earth is about transformation; and that death is the passage to eternal life. We remind ourselves that we have been called by the God who loves us more than we can imagine, who points out to us the way of life and who desires to be one with us. The only question is how will we respond? Will we put away our baptismal commitment the way the stores change their shelves the day after Easter? Or, will we allow the sweet voice of the Lord to beckon us ever onward along the path that leads to life?
Thursday, April 30, 2009
"What, dear ones, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life."
In this post, Sr. Antoinette Purcell, shares with us her favorite quote from the Rule of St. Benedict.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
How do priest, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God call in our lives?
Each day or every other day most of us are taught by a religious person. If you go to church on weekends or any other day you are being taught by a priest. When I say that you are being taught I mean that the priests are helping us to hear God’s call to follow him. Everyone needs to know what God is calling them to do. If God is calling someone to do something in their lives then they should do it. God is choosing the best path for his children. People are blocking out God from their minds and they don’t choose the right path. They would rather go down a road of temptation and sin.
Through-out the years the number of religious men and women have decreased. There are less priest, deacons, and nuns in the world. That means that there are less people to preach the word of God. God is calling us to be the light of the world and to preach the word of God. People who went to a Catholic school about thirty years ago were taught by nuns. These days only a few nuns teach in Catholic schools. They mainly teach religion classes. God is calling us to love him and serve his people. When people don’t listen to God’s call they grow further away from God.
Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sister help us to hear God’s call by teaching us the way of the Lord. We need to listen to them when they are teaching us. When you go to mass the priest has a sermon after the gospel. We need to listen to what the priest tells us. He is telling us that we should always have our hearts open to God. We should always listen to what God says.
Nuns also tell us to always open our hearts to God. They tell us that God is our friend and our mentor. We should always be close to him.
A sister said to me that when she was little she wanted to have a dozen children. Then when she was a little older she wanted to be a nurse. She then thought that she could do both. Then one day she heard a sister talk to her class about being a sister and all the cool stuff about it. She said all the ways that you could serve God and your neighbors. She said that was the best thing that she could do. She said that she could be a teacher, nurse; she could go to orphanage to help the children, and be a sister. She said that it just wasn’t what she wanted to do but what God wanted her to do. She said that there would be “little ways” to live the life God wants you to live. It will be with the gifts God gave to you.
Josh C. 7th Grade
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
How do priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God’s call in our life?
They teach us the way to eternal happiness, to everlasting peace. They take us by the hand the way a loving mother would take her children. They help us understand what God’s wants us to do in our life, and they help us develop our conscience. They spend their life going to mass and praying to God. They also model the life God wants us to live.
All of these religious leaders use their valuable time to help us better understand Jesus. They come to church daily and pray. They can only do so much for us. We need to take charge of our own lives. We need to use what they taught us to become better Christian children. We need to do what we can to relate their teachings to real life.
I believe what Fr. Eric Johnson said, “Whether married, single, deacon, priest, or religious, our vocation in life is to Christ’s word of salvation and promise. It is a call that leads us into deeper knowledge, love, and service of God, and summons us to the love and service of others.”
God calls us and wants us to believe and trust in him like we would our parents, or our friends. We need to answer God’s call to us and we need to answer his loving question, “Will you follow me and become a servant of my children?”
If you look in the bible you will see Jesus was a good example to us. If we follow in his footsteps we can reach our potential in life.
Sr. Mary Cecile’s life was a good example to us on how to live our own life. She was a very loving and guiding person. She was in an intimate relationship with Jesus, the son of God. She was the Spiritual Director. Sr. Mary Cecile was in ministry for 61 years. She became a nun in 1945, but even before that she served God ever since she was a little girl.
Taylor B. 7th Grade
Sunday, April 19, 2009
For these Sundays after Easter I’d like to so something similar to what I did for the Sundays of Lent. There we looked at the various meanings of the sacrament of Baptism and what it produces in our lives; for these Sundays I would like to delve into the multiple meanings in the Resurrection story (the Paschal Mystery). The placing of the Paschal Mystery at the very heart of Catholic Christian faith was one of the greatest achievements of the Second Vatican Council. However, it will take decades and even longer for the full fruit of this teaching to reach the parish pews and allow ordinary believers to assimilate it into their lives of faith. The Resurrection-theme we want to look at today is: the Resurrection of Jesus is a new act of God. It is an emphasis on God's saving action. The same God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, who gave them the Torah on Mt. Sinai, who led them into the promised land, who led them back from Exile....this God has performed another great saving action--to raise Jesus from the dead. The Resurrection is a new creative act from the great mystery of all things.
We so easily see Jesus as the central figure in the Resurrection and indeed the later texts of the New Testament even allude to Jesus raising himself with his own powers. But those texts are assuming a growing assertion by Christians of the divine power in Jesus. That same view is also reflected in a lot of our liturgical texts: "Dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory." But the oldest New Testament kerygma of the Resurrection clearly name it as an "act of God." "Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you with deeds of power, wonder and signs....you crucified and killed....But God raised him up, having freed him from death." (Acts 2:22-23) "This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses." (Acts 2:32) Very clearly, one of the most significant meanings of the Resurrection is that it was (and is) a saving action of God in our world!
So, to be a modern believer in the Resurrection of Jesus we need to believe in God’s action in our world. One of the issues we face then is asking ourselves: where EXACTLY do we believe that God "acts" in this world we live in? Let’s not fool ourselves; we live in a modern secular culture which makes it very difficult to believe in a divine, supernatural action in everyday life. Two examples. One is from a fictional television show, where a police detective is interviewing a suspect in a religious murder. He asks the man, who is a scientist: "Do you believe in God?" The man responds: "I take the only reasonable position that any sane individual would take: I’m an agnostic." Let’s take a real example. Last Wednesday evening after we finished the Eucharist at the University of Indianapolis, I heard two of the students talking. One was thinking out loud: "Do you think it’s possible that we would ever find the burial place of Jesus?" The other responded: "Well, if we do, it would be empty." The other responded: "Well, of course, the remains would have disintegrated." The other replied: "No, that was the body that was raised up." The first responded: "Do you think God can go against the laws of nature?" The second replied: "Why not? He made them in the first place." We live in a culture and climate of doubt. The issue here is not just believing in God, but in believing in God’s real action in our world.
The question facing each of us is: where exactly do I believe that God acts in my world? If I pray for courage to face an operation, and it turns out that I have the courage needed, do I believe that God gave that to me? We pray for a lot of things in our daily Prayers of the Faithful. Do we believe that it’s really God’s action that we are asking for. To affirm a belief in the Resurrection of Jesus each Easter season is to challenge us to ponder these questions more closely.
(Words of Christ to St. Faustina Kowalska)
Saturday, April 18, 2009
O Risen Christ!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
How do priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God’s call in our lives?
This is the topic for this essay. This is an important question, but also a fairly simple question to answer. Though it is simple to answer, there’s still a lot to say. Let’s take a look at some things that Fr. Eric Johnson said in his article, “Hearing God’s Call”, which was put in the “Criterion” on January 9, 2009.
“…We are called to be people of prayer seeking to discern God’s will in all that we do and to respond faithfully with all that we have… Through their own lives and ministry, priests, deacons, and men and women religious help us to remember God’s call in our own lives… They teach us to listen, call us to service and witness to the God that calls each of us by name. Their vocation reminds us at the importance of discovering and living out our own.”
You can find many answers to the question in that passage. Just reading that passage should be enough to answer that question. Nevertheless, I will explain some things about that passage. In this next paragraph, I will explain what this passage stated.
The first part is telling us that to find what we should do in life, we should ask God through prayer, and we should respond to His answer with all of the gifts and talents that He has given us. The second part tells us that the example of the lives of the ministry, priests, deacons, and men and women religious help us know how we should be living our lives as God calls us to. The third part states that they teach us to listen to God, encourage us to serve others and God, It also states that their vocation reminds us to find ours, and live it out with all the gifts and talents that God has given us.
I, myself, am fortunate enough to be taught by Sister Nicolette Etienne, who is a Benedictine Sister. She always makes sure that we know our vocation, which is to love God, and serve His people. I am also blessed with the presence of Fr. Stan Pondo and Fr. Aaron Jenkins who teach us about living our vocations, and who live their vocations as an example to how we should live ours. I now know that it is my duty and vocation to teach others about their vocation, who aren’t as fortunate as I to be taught by these wonderful people.
Chris B 8th Grade
Monday, April 13, 2009
In the March 31st post I introduced the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Board and in particular one of the events that the men and women religious of this board sponsor, “Nuns in the West.” This time I would like to briefly share some of the content of our sharing.
While there is a vast array of religious topics that could be discussed, we choose those that pertain to monastic life. Although some of the topics are not exclusively monastic, such as meditation and prayer, still our perspective comes from a particular lived experience or vocation.
During our most recent dialogue, Labor Day weekend of 2008, we focused on the topic of the “Meditation and Prayer.” We grouped our questions to be discussed into two main categories:
Inner Life of Training:
1. What do meditation, prayer, contemplation mean in your tradition?
2. Can you describe your practice?
3. What do you do with your mind?
4. What is the purpose of your meditation/prayer?
5. What are the short term/ long-term goals?
6. To whom do you pray?
7. What is right effort?
8. How do you practice mindfulness?
9. Unity vs. Duality –what is the starting point in your tradition?
10. Is Buddha as essential for Buddhists as Christ is for Christians?
11. Are there cautions for Christians wanting to take up an Eastern prayer or meditation practice?
12. What teachings support your practice?
13. What can we learn from each other?
From whom do we learn?
1. Who are our teachers?
2. What is the role of the teacher?
3. Do we have enough teachers?
4. How do we recognize our teachers?
During our dialogue a few points of interest really became important for me.
First, as we discussed our search for God or Buddhahood the fact that we come from two very different foundations or starting points became even more apparent. In Buddhist meditation, the Buddhist starts from a point of “oneness” or unity. As Christians, we start as creatures totally dependent on God our Creator. We go to the Father through Jesus Christ, reaching full union with the love of the Trinity after death. This is duality (not dualism) and we must accept the fact that we are creatures - not God - but we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Second, achievement of Buddhahood is a matter of self-effort. The Buddhists have been taught over millennia to train their minds. Their meditation practices are precise and effective and they have well trained teachers. However, one’s progress depends entirely on one’s own effort. In Christianity, the opposite is true. It absolutely essential, of course, that we make an effort to train our minds using Christian practices, but ultimately we must rely on the grace of God. We cannot ignore the need for this grace and must beg most earnestly to God to pour out His grace upon us.
Thirdly, there is a need to recognize that the energies from the different streams, East and West, are vastly different. Buddhist meditation practices can open up us Westerners to energies that may be good in themselves, but we are not used to these strong streams. For the most part, our bodies and psyches cannot handle these energies, nor do we have the teachers. As Christians, we have a particular “psychic imprint”, that is, Jesus Christ. This imprint was given to us as a gift and must be nurtured in the tradition handed down to us by our Judeo-Christian heritage. As Sr. Meg wrote, “I understand other religions but practice my own” (http://megfunk.com/entry.php?id=51). Humility demands that we accept the orientation given to us by God out of love.
In my next reflection I will share what I see as the fruits of our dialogue that have both enriched and challenged me.
For more teachings on our “psychic imprint” and Christian meditation please see:
Sunday, April 12, 2009
When I read through that first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, I’m just amazed at the neat chronology that’s laid out: Jesus’ earthly ministry, his being put to death, his resurrection, the witnesses who testify to him, the message that he is the one appointed by God as judge. It’s all so neat! But when we start taking it apart, the events don’t seem to fit so easily. After all, this passage we are reading in Acts was likely written between the years 80-90 of the first century. That means a full fifty years after the events it describes. Such writing tends to smooth out inconsistencies. When we read the resurrection accounts in the gospels, there’s just way too much mention of doubts, hesitations, and outright unbelief. After all, the disciples were coming to assert something (the individual resurrection of Jesus) that had never ever been asserted by anyone before in the whole history of Judaism. What we would give to know a more exact chronology of those days and months and years after the death of Jesus. How long did it take for a belief in his resurrection to take shape? We will probably never know.
But we can see change still going on in the gospel message at the end of the first century. In this passage from the book of Acts, to believe in Jesus is to receive forgiveness of sins. Well and good. But some ten to twenty years later, by the time of John’s gospel, the message will have deepened even more. There to believe in Jesus risen is to enter into the promise of everlasting life. That’s a lot more than just forgiveness of sins. The promise is of entering into divine life. The Eastern Christian churches have maintained this belief much more clearly than we have in the Western Christian tradition. "The aim of human life is union with God and deification (theosis). The Greek fathers have used the term "deification" to a greater extent than the Latins. What is meant is not a pantheistic identity, but a sharing through grace in the divine life. ‘Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4)." (Orthodox Spirituality, p. 22). Wow! The purpose of human life is to be eventually taken into the Mystery of God. What a promise!
A week ago on Palm Sunday I mentioned that was a day when we should reflect on the hopes and dreams of our lives. Easter Sunday is about the complete transformation of those dreams. Our limited dreams—as grandiose as they might have seemed to us—transmute into an unimaginable dream: to share in the very life of God. That’s the supreme gift of this Easter feast! That’s what we celebrate this day. That’s why we sing with joy! That’s why we praise the Glory of God! That’s why we should have hope and love in our hearts!
Some of that is captured in a story told in Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco: "Easter Sunday, shortly before daybreak in the mountains of Crete, Fr. Kaphatos races from village to village resurrecting Christ with mercurial speed because there are many villages having only this one priest. Sleeves rolled up, weighted with his vestments and the heavy silver-bound bible, he climbs over the rocky mountains, runs through the holy night, reaches one village and shouts Christos anesti—Christ is risen—and then dashes on to the next village. In the final village the people are assembled in the small church. Their candles remain unlit in their hands; they are waiting for the Great Word to come so that they can light them. Just then they hear a crunching of pebbles and they rush outside. And out of the dark comes old Fr. Kaphatos. He spreads his arms in front of them and shouts Christos anesti. ... He was truly resurrecting Christ." (p.439-440) May Christ be resurrected in all our hearts this day.
Friday, April 10, 2009
- It was our infirmities that Jesus bore our sufferings that he endured
- Jesus was pierced for our offenses
- Jesus was crushed for our sins
- Upon Jesus was the chastisement that makes us whole
- By Jesus' stripes were we healed
- Jesus was smitten by the sins of His people
- He gave His life as an offering for our sin
- The will of the Lord was accomplished through Him
- Through Jesus' suffering, He justified many and our guilt He bore
- Jesus surrendered Himself to death and won pardon for our offenses
Never let the thought of Jesus leave your mind but meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Cross and the anguish of His Mother as she stood beneath the cross. (St. Clare of Assisi)
Jesus loved us so much he opened His arms wide and saved us from our sins.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
This morning as I was doing my Lectio Divina I came across this quote from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I'm sure during these days of the Triduum I will reflect on her words often.
Into each of our lives Jesus comes as the bread of life...to be eaten, to be consumed by us. Then He comes as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the bread of OUR life, our hearts loving, and our hands serving.
In today's Psalm the question is, "How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?"
I can begin by sharing all that my sweet God has given me. You are in my prayers as we spend these days preparing for the greatest feast ever!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
How do Priest, Deacons and other religious Brothers and Sisters listen to the call of God? I think they listen to God’s call by doing their job by loving and serving God’s people. They also pray to God a lot. Someone who is a good example of that is my Religion teacher, Sister Nicolette. She does all of these things and teaches us to be more Christ-like. We pray all the time in class. Another good example of this is Father Jenkins. He is a really cool guy; he does a lot of activities, like hunting. He doesn’t get to be our priest very often, but I like it when he does.
What is God calling you to? A lot of people are called to different things. Some people could be called to be a Priest or a Sister. But some people could be called to do a lot of different things, such as being a football player, baseball player etc. Some people answer their calling to God just by going to Mass every week.
I really don’t know what my calling to God in life is yet. Some people don’t know until they get older. I don’t think God wants you to know what your calling is until you’re older, because if you’re too young, he doesn’t want to confuse you.
Some people avoid the call of God by doing the opposite of what God tells them because their head is filled with negative thoughts, disgusting images and by cursing. Sometimes it takes something bad to happen to turn around the way some people think. This could be their calling from God.
When you don’t listen to the call of God, I think he gets upset at you because that was his plan for you in life. Everyone has a calling to God, but sometimes it is not as obvious as it is to others so they have to search longer and harder to find their calling to God.
Nick K. 7th Grade
Sunday, April 5, 2009
We have begun Holy Week, the high point of the whole Christian liturgical year. It is a week of high liturgical drama. We are drawn into the dynamics of the last week of the life of Jesus with all of its high points and low points. Today, Palm Sunday, recalls the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. His ministry of proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God is reaching its climax. He has come to the center of Jewish faith, the city of Jerusalem. The crowds that attend his entry are filled with hope and expectation.
Here we should pause to remember that Holy Week works on two levels of perception. The first, and most obvious one, is remembering the real events of Jesus’ last week. The second level, which we have to reflect to, concerns the corresponding events in our own lives. In other words, Jesus’ life gives us pause to think about aspects of our own lives. For example, today the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem should spur us to call to mind the many hopes and dreams of my life. Palm Sunday is all about hopes and dreams. "Might he be the Christ, the one who is to restore Israel?" These thoughts of high expectation were in the minds of many, even among Jesus’ closest disciples.
Today gives us an occasion to think about our own dreams and hopes. When we were young, what did we really hope for? A great career? Fame and celebrity? To be a saint? To have a loving mate and a family? To see the world? What were our dreams and how did they turn out? Have we reconciled ourselves to the fact that dreams don’t always work out? They certainly didn’t for the followers of Jesus.
However, for the disciples of Jesus something unexpected and far better occurred. We need to be open to that in our lives as well. The country-western singer, Garth Brooks, said it well in a line from one of his songs: "Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." How true that is!
But now, well on in our lives as many of us are, what are our hopes and dreams still? Palm Sunday is a day to consider them directly.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
In this Gospel we seem to meet a moment of earthly glory for Jesus. Jesus’ reputation had gone before him. The people had heard of him and of his miracles and now were curious to see him. They were ready to pay homage to him and to proclaim him the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior. In Zechariah we read, “See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.” (Zachariah 9:9) For a fleeting moment the people seemed to recognize their true king although Jesus knew that soon these acclamations would soon turn into accusations.
The people in darkness had seen a great light yet in the Gospel of John we are reminded that, “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” (John 1:10-11) Jesus, who had lived a life of integrity and challenged the people to do the same, was confronted by their hypocrisy and sinfulness. Rather than repenting and turning from their evil ways they preferred to extinguish the light.
However, the light of Christ could never be extinguished. This we celebrate on Holy Saturday night. Destroying death, he shone in the glory of the Resurrection. He won for us everlasting life! His light shines in all parts of the world, but more importantly, his light shines in our hearts if we open ourselves to his grace and blessing.
As he entered Jerusalem peacefully, he wishes to enter our hearts not by force, but tenderly bringing the grace of conversion. This is what we profess! When he knocks, let us open the door of our heart so that we might be changed by his love. Then, in turn, we will be able to take his love to others in the way we serve one another. Benedict talked of this love in Chapter 72, The Good Zeal of Monastics. He wrote, “Among themselves they show the pure love of sisters; to God, reverent love; to their prioress, unfeigned and humble love.” Our love will be defined by our acts of love. Through these acts our inner light will shine because Christ lives in us. Little by little the darkness in our world will be dispelled.
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of God! Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 9-10)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for April. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times.
My beloved apostles, please know that you obtain a constant stream of grace for the world. You do this by serving so generously. Your generosity obtains for others sublime graces of calm and peace, sublime graces of charity and truth, and sublime graces of conversion and perseverance. When you see how heaven has used your service, you will rejoice that you gave so willingly and consistently. My friends, you should not be distracted by your feelings. Your feelings are like the smallest stems of grass blowing in the wind, so quickly do they pass. Do not be tormented. Simply allow feelings of temptation to move along and concentrate on the truth which is that you have remained in My holy company. If you do this you will be less distracted. You will be able to say, "Today I am sad, tomorrow I may be happy, the next day I may feel fear and afterwards rejoicing. What difference does it make as long as I am united to My Jesus and serving His kingdom?" Yes, many in this time find that they are so distracted by their feelings that they question their decision to serve at all. This is the ultimate degree of temptation. If I did not wish you to serve, I would not have called you into service. I need My chosen ones to remain closely tied to their decision to bring My light to others. Only in this way will the renewal push further into the world. Submit your feelings to me. When your feelings make you doubtful, sit with Me and together we will examine them, one by one. If examined in My company, you will see that your feelings in no way change My truth which is that you have been formed to serve Me and truly, I need your service. Please be loyal to your decision for heavenly service as you live your time on earth. If you remain faithful, I can do many things. I am with you. I am directing all that occurs in your life. We walk together and together we will triumph over all temptations.