Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vocation Essay

This essay is on how Sisters, Priest and Deacons help us hear God’s call in my life. There are two different ways they help us to hear God’s calling. I am going to try to help you understand how they help me!

The first way I feel is Religion class with Sr.Nicolette. In class, when she is teaching us about what happened in the Bible, I feel like I get so much out it. I think that the reason I get so much out of it is, because I see what God did in the past. I think another way that Sr.Nicolette helps me on my way to God is Adoration. Adoration helps me so much because when I am in Adoration, I feel so close to God. When I pray in Adoration I feel like I am talking to God. Sometimes in there I can actually see God and I feel like He is listening intently. Those are some of the many ways Sister Nicolette helps me see God’s calling.

The next way that a religious person helps me see God’s calling is when a Priest says mass. I think this is one of the most important things a priest does to help me hear God’s call, especially when we receive communion. When I receive Jesus I feel very close to Him. This is when I get most of my time to talk with just Jesus I feel like communion is the most important time to talk to God. That is what I think the most important thing that a Priest does to help me hear God’s calling.

Those are the things that religious people do to help me hear Gods calling.

Pete P.
8th Grade

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sr. Mary Sylvester Will, OSB celebrates 80 years of Monastic Profession!

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. With gratitude to God who has called and sustained me in this life, I, Sr. Mary Sylvester Will, renew the promises made 80 years ago of stability in this monastery, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience according to the Rule of St. Benedict and the norms of the Federation of St. Gertrude. I renew these promises before God and the saints, before Sr. Juliann Babcock, Prioress, and the Sisters of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. I rely on the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that this good work, begun in me, may continue to the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ to whom be glory and thanksgiving forever. Amen.

Sr. Mary Sylvester is 97 years old. She has lived...and continues to live...a life totally dedicated to God. She is a witness to all her sisters and the many students she has taught during her lifetime...including my mom and dad! Today we celebrate her Jubilee and give God thanks for her monastic vocation. We join Sr. Mary Sylvester in singing the Suscipe: Accept me O Lord, according to Your Word and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my expectation!

Live a Life Worthy of Your Calling!

The following is the homily Fr. Matthias Neuman gave at Sr. Mary Sylvester's 80th Jubilee Mass this morning! Yes, 80 years of monastic life!

Wow! It has been a long time, hasn’t it, Sr. Sylvester? You’ve been a Benedictine for a longer time than most of us have lived. Quite an achievement!

I think that what the Letter to the Ephesians urges all believers to in today’s second reading are illustrative of some of the same qualities of a monastic vocation. It’s appropriate to reflect on them as we celebrate a monastic jubilee. "I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit, through the bond of peace...." I'd like to briefly reflect on each of these.

"To live in a manner worthy of the call you have received..."
* The Rule of Benedict see the monastic life as a response to God’s call. That’s very clearly expressed in the Prologue. We are to listen carefully to God addressing us and we are urged to respond honestly to that call.

"With all humility and gentleness..."

* This call is not our doing and therefore we humbly accept that. If that’s true, then the only way we can deal with our life and the lives of others is with gentleness. It demands gentleness because we are dealing with a gift and with other lives as gifts.

"With patience...."

* Patience with ourselves and patience with one another. The first two items were a vision. Now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty living of the monastic life and that requires patience. lots of it. I was challenged early in my monastic life. When I entered the novitiate the person who sat next to me for the noon and evening meals chewed with his mouth open. Thank God, that only lasted a couple of years.

"Bearing with one another through love...."

* Not just putting up with one another, but bearing with them "through love." You can put up with someone and still harbor a lot of animosities in your heart. Bearing with them through love means we give them the benefit of the doubt and move on.

"Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit..."

* That we are all of one mind. It’s important to remember that all of us are in a monastic community because we all come to seek God. There’s an established way of doing that in the Rule, but each of us lives it in our own unique way. Rather than focusing on differences (which can separate us) we remember the unity of spirit that unites us.

"Through the bond of peace..."
* This is God’s greatest gift of all. If we do the above, we will have peace. Oh, there will always be irritations, differences of opinion, rivalries—all the things that accompany people living together. But it’s important to see below that—where most of your day is not driven by anger and resentment. There are far too many families and businesses that are. That deep peace is the peace we seek in the monastery.

These are reflections fit not just for a monastic jubilee, but also as you look forward to your Chapter Meeting this coming week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Commentary for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

John 6:1-16

Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?
Last week it was about compassion, this week it is about generosity.

I was taught to be generous early on in my life. It was almost a mortal sin not to be generous in our family. We began going on Spring break trips somewhere around my 12th year. All who could—seventh grade on up needed to give money for gas and then be expected to treat the family one day to ice cream. You could match up with another person if you didn’t have adequate funds. Anyways, it was an honor to be the one who treated that day. After an afternoon at the beach, we always stopped for ice cream. On the last day, we stopped for hot dogs and that was my dad’s treat. He made more money. Also, on these long trips to Florida, Colorado and once to California, we would buy bags of candy always with the idea of sharing.

When I begin living at Covenant House, we received a $12 a week stipend. Living in New York and Houston created a challenge on how to live so frugally. In Central America, we cut it down to $6 a week so to be more like the people we worked with in those countries. No matter how much money I had, there was always the initial fear of not having enough. Then I reminded myself that God provides and to keep a generous heart.

I think that is the test. Can we live with generous hearts with money, time and resources?
The Gospel tells us to give and let God multiply what little is given. In our world that loves to capitalize on fear, we have to keep generous hearts and willingness to trust.

Tomorrow we will witness the fidelity of Sr. Mary Sylvester to the monastic life. I am sure there were times when her generosity was tested. Here she is –still giving her heart and life to God and us.

The suscipe is about trust and generosity. As we pray it tomorrow, let us renew our commitment to be generous with all of our lives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vocation Essay

How do priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us hear God’s call in our lives? I believe it is in their teachings. They tell us that in prayer we are talking to God. Fr. Eric Johnson said, “God calls us each by name. Part of hearing God’s call is opening our hearts to the invitation of others ,learning from their example, and allowing them to share in our discernment.” Fr. Eric Johnson also said, “It is a call that leads us in to a deeper knowledge, love, and service of God, summons us to love and serve God’s people. At its heart, our unique vocational call is a reflection of whom we are and who God intends us to be. It is a relationship with the one who calls us each by name, and desires our fulfillment and happiness.”

Everyone has their own call in life. Some peoples’ call in life might be to become the Pope or a bishop, cardinal, deacon, priest, or nuns. Fr. Eric Johnson said, “This means that part of our task as Christians is to open our heats to hear God’s call in our lives. We need to humbly ask the Lord what you calling me to do?” Fr. Eric Johnson also said, “God calls each of us by name and makes us his own, but while this call is deeply personal, issued to us in the silence of our hearts.”

I also believe that people should believe that sooner or later God will send them their call. God never forgets someone’s call. Everyone has a call in life. Some people don’t try to hear their call in life. But our religious brothers and sisters, priest and deacons help us hear our call. That is how they help us.

Deven L.
Grade 7

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The images of shepherd and shepherding dominate the readings this Sunday. Indeed, the image of the Good Shepherd is one of the most pervasive in all Christian literature and art. Probably the oldest Christian image of Jesus Christ is as a young Roman shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders. It’s found in the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. (A postcard of it is in the lobby.) Unfortunately most of us have no immediate experience of shepherds or shepherding, so it’s hard to "flesh out" all that is included in the image.

For myself I like to think of someone who is a devoted caregiver for the young, the sick or the elderly. In particular, I have in mind several sets of parents that I knew in St. Ann’s parish in Nashville, TN. Each of these sets of parents had one or more severely handicapped children in their family. To see the way that they cared for them and nurtured them has always been for me the best image of the "good shepherd." There are lots of aspects to the quality of their "shepherding" of these children. They had to have a real sense of the child’s limits, of what the child simply could not do. Yet they still loved the child as all the other children in their family. They also had the conviction and the patience to nurture the child to improve and move forward, fully knowing that the child would never come up to the achievements of their other children. They had to have patience, patience and more patience. All that is part of the image of the "Good Shepherd" and how Jesus deals with us.

As beautiful as that may be, it’s important for us to remember that these qualities of the Good Shepherd are supposed to be the model for all Christian ministry. The bishop’s staff (his shepherd’s crook) reminds us of that. Benedict’s Rule certainly rephrases it correctly in all the directives he gives about the qualities that the Abbot should possess. But again it’s not just the abbot, but those attitudes should pervade all the members of the community as they serve each other. And again it’s not just the bishop, but all the ministries of the diocese should follow the model of the Good Shepherd.

I think we need to face the facts that this style of ministering is severely challenged in our time. Many commentators on modern society have noted how dominated our modern Western society is by the dynamics of the open market economy. The style of free market economics is beginning to pervade all aspects of life. The goals of the free market are production and more production each year. It takes no account of the needs and limitations of individuals. If you don’t produce, then you are replaced. Many people have noted how much the language of free market economics has invaded the fields of medicine and education. Everything becomes a commodity—to be produced, then bought and sold. Even the realm of religion is influenced by this. What often drives the mentality of dioceses and parishes is the challenge of producing more than last year. All you have to do is look at how much the diocesan assessment for parishes is expected to grow each year. It’s the exact opposite of the dynamics of the Good Shepherd.

For each of us, in whatever area of ministry we are in, or in the quality of our relationships in community to each other, this Sunday’s readings are a call to examine how we model the qualities of the Good Shepherd in our actions, how we reflect the qualities of those parents of handicapped children, how we show patience and, above all, how we try to respect the limitations of those people we serve.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Commentary for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

The theme on the altar cloth for our Christ Renews His Parish at St. Joan of Arc was: Come apart and rest awhile. Since, these weekends were in the middle of my college days, I thought we were to literally “come a part” at the seams. If you ever have been on one, it made sense as people told their life stories. How important it is to have time, space and friends with whom you can come apart.

This short passage gives us all the aspects of being people of the Gospel. We are excited to tell all that has been happening in our ministry. We need renewal and yes, there is always more people waiting to have needs fulfilled.

All week long, I have pondered what it means to have compassion for the crowds. Mostly, I was frustrated that the disciples never reached their deserted place to have quiet time. So I wondered what compassion they felt. This Gospel also gave me the chance to think about what groups/people I show compassion to. I feel like compassion is very different from pity.
Anyways, no surprise that teenagers are the group that elicits my compassion. I also feel that compassion is similar to grace. It is a mystery why we are drawn to one group over another.
I hope you take time to see what type of people you show compassion to and reflect on areas of your life in which you received compassion.

In the mean time: may you come apart and rest awhile.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vocation Essay

How do Priests, Deacons, Brothers and Sister help us to hear God’s call in our lives?

I think that religious leaders are not the only ones who can hear God or tell people about God’s call. Brothers and Sisters are the same as people, but they spend more time with God. They can help us hear God’s call by helping us to do more for God. We should let God come into us. We shouldn’t let Him just go through us, let Him stay in us. We should never let evil come between us and God.

Priests, Deacons and Religious Brothers and Sisters, help us to hear God’s call by teaching us prayers, Jesus’ life, and creation. They teach Christ’s message by teaching the celebration of the mass and sacrament. Priests tell us about journeys, miracles, and adventures of Jesus. Religious leaders remind us of the opportunities that allow us to serve God. For instance, the Youth Ministry provides newsletters that allow opportunities projects like Easter Baskets for the ill or older people.

When people call for help we should help them. We can’t just say what we want to do for God, we have to do what we say that we are going to do. Words aren’t everything actions aren’t the same as words. People who do good things for God may or may not get thanked. Some people go to St Vincent De Paul to help others. For an example my Grandma works at St Vincent De Paul for God, she doesn’t do it because she gets paid. She doesn’t expect the money. She does it for other people and for God. I work with her and a lot of people say God bless you. I like that they say that to me, too. My grandma is the best to learn about God and the bible, she will answer it fast. Sr. Nicolette is really good too.

I have learned the most from my Grandma. She will tell you or show you about what God told her to do. She tries not to say no to God. She is a great person in so many ways. God loves her a lot, and He loves everyone a lot. There is no doubt in His mind.

Priests are there for you if you need someone to talk to and to get blessed. They will tell you to try not to sin again. Brothers and sisters are there to teach us about the religious world, and to serve and love of God. And to tell you about Jesus, His followers, and everything He did. The religious leaders help people to start following God and how to act. He isn’t there just to watch over you. He asks your Guardian Angel to watch over you. God tries to help you from going against Him. He also makes sure you don’t hurt people either. God and the people who believe in Him can’t hate you, they will pray for you. God loves everyone.

Many people ask, “What will heaven look like?” My guess is you can think of whatever you want it to be. You will never know until you die on your special day and you will find out then. The best part of it is that you can’t tell people after you saw it. So you can’t give it up. Well, I think that everyone has their own heaven. You have a treasure chest in heaven in a room, and when you open it up, it will be filled with what you had in the past with all your memories inside.

Nikki D.
7th Grade

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week I was visiting some friends of mine from St. Pius X parish. They were both so excited and enthusiastic about a bible study program they were taking at the parish. Tom said that for the first time in forty years he was beginning to have some understanding of what the bible is all about. For years he would go to church on Sunday, hear the readings, and not have the slightest idea what they meant. He was beginning to see that there is a progressive idea of salvation that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments. But he realizes that this is only a foot in the door; he and Jayne have much farther to go in their understanding and they look forward to continuing study.

One of the problems in understanding the readings at mass is the challenge of chronology. There’s a tendency to think that the three Sunday readings are in proper chronological progression. But that’s not always the case. Today’s readings are a good example. Amos is certainly the first in time. But the section from Ephesians is actually much later than the gospel passage. The core of the gospel passage—at least in its content (Jesus sending the disciples)---probably goes back to the time of Jesus (ca. 30-33), while the letter to the Ephesians comes seemingly from the last part of the first century and may be fifty years later than the gospel.

Knowing that, you can better appreciate the progression of thought in both passages. In the gospel passage Jesus sends out the Twelve (his inner core of disciples) to "preach repentance." We know that’s step one of Jesus’ overall message; the second step is to believe the good news of the Kingdom of God. That’s probably about as far as Jesus’ message went in his historical ministry. But after the Resurrection and all that the disciples came to believe about him, the vision of Jesus’ followers expanded immensely. The Ephesians passage shows that. They began to think in cosmic, universal terms dealing with God’s plan for all creation, that centers in Jesus’ death and resurrection. They were sure that they have been redeemed by a loving God who has blessed us and adopted us from the beginning of time and will bring all things to a glorious resolution.

One of the aspects of this vision of universal redemption is the great hope and confidence the first generations of Christian believers possessed. Their faith was their hope; it was the sense that they are "going somewhere." They were heading toward a reunion with the Mystery of God. We live today in a society that is going through a great crisis of confidence. Many people are not sure that their lives are on the way to anything meaningful or significant. The economic crisis, the uncertainty of international relations, the seeming inability of the government to effect any significant change, the sense of loss as the quality of life sinks lower----all this contributes to a "crisis of confidence" in our society. Believe me! It’s there and it affects young and old alike.

Ironically, and seemingly out of the mainstream of society, we monastics can be examples of a confidence in the future. Because our lives, as laid out in the Rule, are about living and working in community with one eye on our future meeting with Christ. We should show that in many different ways. Fr. Jeremy Driscoll says that one of the simple ways we show it is in our many processions. "I’m glad for all this marching about. I am reminded again and again that I am not just vaguely moving through life. I am inserted into the definite process of Christ. I am part of a huge story, a definite exodus. I am going somewhere." (A Monk’s Alphabet, p. 93) Let’s remember that about ourselves and what it should signify about our basic confidence the next time we have a procession. We are moving along in God’s eternal plan.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vocation Essay

How do priest, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God’s call in our lives?
I have always been a student in a Catholic School, and probably will be still in the future. But in all my eight years of being a Catholic student I have never been taught by a Catholic priest or nun, until now.

My second day at school my 2008 -2009 school year I was a new student at Holy Name Catholic School. I walked into religion class not knowing what to expect. I got a huge welcome from our religion teacher Sr. Nicolette. I felt odd, in a good way, I had never been taught by a nun before. It was a whole new experience.

These last couple months at Holy Name have truly been holy. We learned about our vocation, hearing God’s call. Sr. Nicolette really got into teaching us about it and really had us praying to God asking Him what he wants us to do.

Vocation was a new thing to me. It was new because my old religion teacher had never taught me about it. I really wondered why I have never heard about something so important to us. Knowing what God wants us to do was a big thing in our lives, and Sr. Nicolette has really helped me realize what God wants me to do right now.

This year Sr. Nicolette has really opened us up to God, and I’m sure she will continue to do so. Next year we will really have to realize what God wants us to do for Him, and Sr. Nicolette is the perfect person to help us open up to God. That’s why Sr. Nicolette has opened me up to God.

Ben #3
7th Grade

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the 1st Reading and today’s Gospel passage we have cases of heated differences of religious opinions. Ezekiel calls the Israelites "a rebellious house." And Jesus is amazed at the "lack of faith" among the townspeople where he was raised. And, although it’s never stated, we can presume that their opponents held equally critical views of Ezekiel and Jesus. These are cases of differing religious opinions. We face such situations as well in our own day, especially in the Catholic Church in the United States. The question is always: how do we deal with those?

It’s a very important question. There was a recent editorial in America magazine that deplored the "lack of respect and courtesy among differing Catholics over any number of issues in recent years." The case of President Obama visiting Notre Dame University was the latest of them. The editor wrote: "This rhetoric has threatened the credibility of the church, as the Catholic tradition of trust and toleration has been de-emphasized. Even a few bishops have made statements like ‘We are at war’ and ‘Tolerance is not a Christian virtue,’ suggesting that any notion of the common good has given way to a sharply defined ‘us versus them’ mentality." (June 22, 2009). Some forty-five years ago the Second Vatican Council turned the Catholic Church towards the direction of a dialogue with those who disagree with us with the intent of finding a common ground that can serve as a starting point. I think that’s still a valuable direction to take.

I wanted to give you an example of how that happened in my life. I’ve always been opposed to abortion, but an event some thirty years ago caused me to pause in how strongly I considered those who disagreed. In connection with the Jewish Studies course I was teaching, I viewed a video series on "The Jewish Way of Life." One of the videos dealt with the sources of Jewish morality. The rabbi who gave the lecture chose to deal with the topic through a specific example. In 1942 in the city of Kovno in Lithuania the German Nazis who controlled the town issued an ordinance that said, "Any Jewish woman who is found to be pregnant is to be executed." So the Jews of Kovno sent a question to the main Lithuanian rabbi (a man named Oshri) and asked if it was permissible to induce an abortion if a Jewish woman became pregnant in order to save her life. The video then showed all the sources that Rabbi Oshri used to compose a response. Rabbi Oshri began first by going to the Bible, the Torah. There in the law code of the book of Exodus it says: "Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death." (21:12) The text then goes on to give specific examples of this. One of the examples says: "When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, the one responsible shall be fined, paying as much as the judges determine. But if harm also follows to the woman, then you shall give life for life." (21: 22-23) So in this text the fetus is not taken to be a person. Rabbi Oshri then went through all the major religious sources from Jewish history----the Misnah, the Talmud, the medieval law codes—and explored other themes connecting them to the Exodus text. Rabbi Oshri decided that it is permissible to have an abortion to save the mother’s life. If I were in the Rabbi’s shoes, I’m not sure what I would have done. But I do have to respect anyone who so carefully and diligently studies the sources of his faith tradition for what is the moral thing to do. And I have to listen to him.

Make no mistake: to listen patiently is the first step in honest dialogue. You have to listen to things you don’t like to hear and things you strongly disagree with. But I hope that all of us will do what we can to avoid any "lack of courtesy and respect" and seek the way of honest dialogue.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vocation Essay

How do priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God’s call in our life?

All these people help us in different ways, even if it just tiny little ways. Priests are willing to give up their time to come to church all the time to teach us more about the Lord. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to do that come every Sunday and be there every hour. Also, not to be able to get married or have children that must be difficult. Every priest I have met are so smart. They know how God’s life was as if they were there. They help pursue my goals and dreams in life because bringing me closer to God and having Him by my side makes me feel more secure. They also are there when I need to confess my sins which helps me a lot. I always know there is someone there for me to help me reach my call in life.

Deacons are there for me because they always know what is like at home because most of them are married with children so they know what is going on. I think that helps me talk to them. They are always there when you need advice. When I am ready to get married I would like to talk to someone. I do this because I like to hear others’ opinion on the situation. Since a lot of them are married I would like to talk to them since they know what it is like to be married. I wonder if they were unsure about life before they found God.

Sisters help me because they help me know what is right and what is wrong. When I think I am making a mistake they are there for me to talk to. And when I get older they are there kind of like a friend because they are there for me. When I am ready to get a job for good they will be there for me to help me decide if it is good for me. When I need to go to God for help I go to church and if there is a sister there I will ask them if there is a special prayer for me to pray. They know a lot of prayers. They tell me when I am doing something wrong. And congratulate me when I do something right. I love that about them. They make me feel so secure.

They all are a big help with me becoming closer to God. I hope that the older I get the closer to God I will become with the help of sisters, brothers, deacons, and priests. I hope one day I can be as successful and loving as they are. Maybe by learning as much as I can about them I will want to be one when I grow up. Even if I don’t I will always love and serve God.

Lucy M. 7th Grade

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jesus' July Message

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

My dear apostles, how grateful you will be that I have given you these opportunities to serve. You will look back at your time on earth and you will see that the opportunities I gave to you to serve others as apostles, were truly My greatest acts of mercy to you. You see that My service requires sacrifice. You see that often My service causes you suffering and perhaps you think that it would be easier to live your life without such a call to serve. It is true that often by rejecting My call to service in a day, you can diminish your immediate suffering. I acknowledge this truth. It is evident to all that service to Jesus Christ comes with an enhanced call to sacrifice. While I acknowledge this, I ask that you, too, acknowledge this. You are giving Me your day and I am then taking you from things that would give you instant gratification and asking you to delay gratification for the sake of others.

It can appear in these moments of your life, that you are giving something up. What you do not see is that the more you serve Me and the more you abandon yourself to My call, the more grace you receive. You are giving up earthly pleasures and receiving a constant stream of heavenly pleasures. Compare the two. Earthly pleasures last for moments. Heavenly pleasures last for eternity. Perhaps you do not understand the difference. Only in heaven will you have complete understanding but let it be noted that heavenly pleasures come through you, blessing you, and then spread out, blessing all those around you. Your soul is open to receiving heavenly graces, not just for you but for the whole world. Imagine how beautiful a soul looks to heaven when that soul is an open recipient of heavenly graces. Thank you for helping heaven. Thank you for helping those around you. And thank you for helping Me. Regardless of your suffering and regardless of your sacrifices, there will be a moment when you will thank Me for allowing you to participate in this, My renewal.