Wednesday, September 30, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary Part 6

I like having a Rosary to pray with. It keeps my hands occupied, and it helps me keep count. Having my Rosary blessed by Fr. Stan makes me feel more holy when I'm praying. It's like holding something sacred in my hands. Praying the Rosary with classmates and friends makes it more powerful. It's not just you worshipping God, it's a whole room worshipping God. Praying with friends helps put meaning behind the words. (Emily P.)

What does my Rosary mean to me? It means to me that I have something in my life that is blessed. I was really happy when we got our Rosaries blessed. I can't explain how happy I was. When we prayed in church I felt holier than before. I felt Jesus in me. I wish we could spend more time in Church praying the Rosary. When I am in Church I open up more to God. Well, I do open up to God but it feels like I do it even more when I am in Church. I would like for my family to go to Church just to pray a Rosary. That would be lovely. My Grandma prays the Rosary all the time. I want to be like her on that part of her life. Jesus is a big part of our lives. Jesus is always there for us. He never forgets us. Jesus loves us too much to do that! He will always be there when we fall. Jesus will give us His hand to get us up and encourage us to keep going. (Nikki D.)
My Rosary means a lot to me. I have other Rosaries at my 1st Communion Rosary. This was very special for me because I have never had one of my Rosaries blessed. I really appreciated Fr. Stan taking time to say a special blessing for our Rosaries. It was really special for me when I got my Rosary, because I knew I had chosen the right one. All the beads are the same color but they are different sizes and some are more round than others. It reminded me that we all love God and are made in God's image but we are all unique and different. I liked how we all got to lead the Rosary. It reminds me of how we are going to lead the school this year. Thank you Sr. Nicolette for the Rosaries! (Sophia O.)
Having my own Rosary means a lot and even more since it is blessed. I hope I keep it for a while. When we were praying I liked how sometimes the girls led and then the boys led. I liked the Rosary I chose. I knew from the beginning which Rosary I wanted. My Rosary is forest green with brown and tan swirls. (Brianna S.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-48

We are beginning a series of homilies to explain some of the recent church teaching on communities of vowed men and women. This all began with Pope John Paul II’s intention in the mid 1990s to encourage and support these communities, which hadn’t received much attention in the post-Vatican II years. In 1994 the World Synod of Bishops dealt with the topic, "The Consecrated Life and its Mission in the Church and the world." Two years later John Paul issued an Apostolic Exhortation on the Consecrated Life. Since then the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life has continued to issue major documents. These are the background for the upcoming Apostolic Visitation of communities of women in the United States.

One of the first things the Vatican did was drop the phrase, "religious communities," which had been used for centuries. That phrase could give the impression that everyone else in the Church was not religious. That was replaced with "communities of consecrated life." There’s a theological aspect as well to the newer phrase; taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience becomes an "act of consecration," of consecrating oneself to Christ. And it’s that which John Paul II addressed in his Apostolic Exhortation. As an act of consecration the taking of vows becomes a positive act and not just a renunciation of something, as it was often understood in Church teaching before the Second Vatican Council. It is the choice to live more closely the exact kind of life that Jesus himself lived: obedient, single and poor. The consecration of vows is trying to conform one’s whole life to Christ.

The Holy Father notes that the gospel basis of consecrated life is to be sought in the special relationship which Jesus established with some of his disciples. He called all to welcome the Kingdom of God into their own lives and put their lives at its service; he called some to closely mirror his own way of life. In such a life baptismal consecration develops into a radical response in the following of Christ through acceptance of the evangelical counsels. Perhaps the most strikingly new image is the use that the Holy Father makes of the biblical event of the Transfiguration. There Jesus chooses Peter, James and John from the rest to accompany him up Mount Tabor and to see his radiant transfigured face. Almost all the subsequent Congregation documents pick up and use the image of the Transfiguration.

Through the centuries Christ has continued to call some to this more radical following of him in the consecration of their lives through the vows. The Vatican documents are very concerned that vowed men and women see their vows as a positive act, an act of consecration to a more exact following of Christ. If they do, then their vows become one lens (not the only lens), but one lens that offers a glimpse into the depths of the eternal and infinite love of God, which is the root of our very being.

For these reasons the Pope affirms very strongly that the profession of the evangelical counsels in consecrated life indisputably belongs to the essential life and holiness of the Church. John Paul writes: "Consecrated persons ‘at the deepest level of their being...are caught up in the dynamism of the Church’s life, which is thirsty for the Divine Mystery and called to holiness. It is to that holiness that they bear witness." (Consecrated Life, # 39) That’s beautiful to reflect on!

A Commentary for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Kathleen Yeadon, OSB

26th Sunday in O.T. September 27, 2009
Mark :9:38-48

Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us. v. 38

Why do we want to protect our “special rights” so readily—rights of respect, authority, power, tenure etc.?

Both in youth ministry and teaching, if I ask a young person to be in charge, it is always their understanding to dominate!

In last Sundays Gospel and this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark call us to see the “little ones”. The little ones have no power—nothing to increase our respect or glory. The great gift of the little one is to move us to the stance of selflessness. The little one increases our freedom because we act with no reward attached. We act out of love.

Benedict calls us to serve the little ones by mutual obedience. It is freely serving all without looking for reward or boosting our ego.

There are plenty of little ones in all our lives. I am surrounded by many opportunities in a high school both with adults and students.

When the less popular kids want to hang out with me, I have to remind myself over and over, it is the little one that counts!

This is not an easy Gospel to be inclusive of others but it is good news because when we dig deeper in ourselves, we find buried treasure.

Friday, September 25, 2009

8th Graders serve at the Cathedral Kitchen

Our school theme this year is, "Let the Son Shine Through Service." The 8th graders take turns serving the neighbors at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen. The students serve in groups of three, three times a month. The students are asked to write a short essay on what serving in the Soup Kitchen is like for them. The following reflections are from the students who had the opportunity to serve.

This past Friday I volunteered at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen. It was a very different occupation to do. At first I didn't know what to expect. On our way to the kitchen, Mrs. Buckley was explaining what the soup kitchen is like and what we should try to expect. She told us that the soup kitchen was downstairs in the basement area. She also told us that the people coming there might smell and that they might have ripped clothes on. She also told us that they might even curse. Then when we got there, Mrs. Buckley showed us around and introduced us to the other volunteers. She then showed us where the homeless or hungry would eat. The dining room, as I would call it, was very small. I thought that it was going to be a good size room. Then she showed us the pantry where they keep the food. It was a big room and there was a room the same size full of food right above. When the homeless people started to come in I was set up at a table serving "stuff." One of the volunteers said the "stuff" contained cut up bananas, sliced peaches, marshmallows, another fruit and a mixture of some liquids. To me it was a fast two hours at the soup kitchen. To all of the other volunteers it was slow day. When I was there I noticed one important thing about the homeless and the hungry. They were very polite. They were even polite when they have little or nothing at all. It makes me wonder if I were in their position if I would be that polite. (Josh C.)

My experience at the Soup Kitchen was very moving. At first I was very nervous about going. When I got there they showed us around and told us what we would be doing. When they took us into the room in which we would be serving the people, the first thing that came into my mind was wow, this room is very small. When they let the people in at first it was overwhelming. Taylor and I were serving the juice. The juice was flying but once we got it under control it was a lot less nerve racking. Just a simple hello, how are you made them smile. I was happy to put a smile on someones face. I had a very enjoyable day and can't wait to return to the soup kitchen. (Samantha A.)

It was a very moving experience to serve the neighbors. The look on their faces when I handed them their food was like no other. They looked really hungry and just deprived of everything. (Taylor B.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary Part 5

When I got my Rosary I felt like the one I chose just seemed like the right one. When we were sitting in Church one of my favorite thing was hearing the sound of the beads coming out of people's pockets hitting the wood on the pews. Fr. Stan blessed our Rosaries and sprinkled them with holy water. I felt special because I knew we were the only class receiving blessed Rosaries. (Nick K.)

When we got our Rosaries blessed it meant a lot to me. When Fr. Stan said the blessing it made me feel closer to God. When he blessed us with the holy water it made me feel like my Rosary was officially blessed. We prayed the Rosary which was a neat experience. We had the girls lead and then the boys led. That made me feel like I was really a part of the prayer. I liked praying the Rosary and leading better than listening to it on a recording. (Jake F.)

This Rosary makes me feel better about myself. It also makes me feel better about it, when I'm praying with feels smooth and looks shiny. I know when I pray the Rosary, it will become even more shiny. The more I pray the Rosary the better I feel about myself. When I use it or hold it, I know that I'm not just a sinner, but I am God's creation. It is special because it was hand made. I didn't get it from a store. It was given to me by a loving nun that cares for all of us like we are all her children. I also like how it isn't beads bought from a store. They were seeds that grew into beads known as Job's Tears. It is a blessed Rosary so it is even more holy. When I pray with this Rosary, it makes me want to try harder or think harder about it, and God, Mary and Jesus. When I write this it makes me feel and know that I love my life and everything in it! (Tristan M.)

I love having my own Rosary. I can pray anytime I want. When we prayed the Rosary in Church the girls got to lead the Rosary and then the boys led the Rosary. I liked that. I like how Fr. Stan said a special prayer over us and the Rosaries. I love how Sr. Nicolette hand made the Rosaries for all of the 8th graders. I liked how we got to pray the Rosary right after Fr. Stan blessed them. I think it will bring me closer to Mary because every time I pray this I will always have Mary and Jesus in my heart along with Sr. Nicolette for making them for us. I like how they are not all the same. Mine has a cross that looks old. It has hearts above the INRI, next to both of Jesus' hands and under his feet. My beads are made from Job's tears that were grown in Sr. Nicolette's mom and dad's back yard. I don't think I could tell her thank you enough. I hope she knows. Thank you, Thank you so much for making them for us! (Elizabeth G.)

To have a blessed Rosary in my life is very special. When I prayed the Rosary today I felt more holy and I felt more connected to God. When Sr. Nicolette let us lead I felt like a leader and it made me feel special. Spending an extra 15 minutes with a blessed Rosary really makes me feel holy. I hope I will have this Rosary forever. (Ben #2)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Wis 2:12-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

There’s a line in the second reading from the Letter of James that caught my attention. "Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is discord and every foul practice." The reason it caught my eye is that I am currently working on summaries of some of the Vatican documents that are sources for the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Religious Women in the United States. As one reads through these documents, mostly from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, certain themes begin to be touched on again and again. One that frequently appears is this: "The prevalence of personal projects over community endeavors can deeply corrode the communion of brotherly and sisterly love." Or again: "There is the risk that subjective choices, individual projects and local customs will prevail over the rule, the style of community life, and the apostolic projects of the community." (Starting Afresh From Christ, ## 12, 18) The documents further note that those engaged in personal projects often develop rivalries, ambition and competition, which are very destructive of community life.

The Congregation documents suggest that this is an especially challenging issue because of the modern cultural ideal of self-development. People in Western cultures are raised today with the conviction that it’s absolutely necessary to find one’s "unique path" in life, and that your whole personal fulfillment and happiness can be found only in pursuing that unique path. It’s the new version of the old saying, "I gotta be me." The documents agree that there is a very valid sense of personal self-development which all people should pursue—that’s a part of the Christian vision of the human person. But the documents are also very concerned that in any Institute of Consecrated Life the community apostolates should take preference over personal projects. That’s a part of the vow of obedience.

I remember many years ago I had a discussion about obedience with Fr. Eric Lies of my community. We were out on the golf course. (You would be amazed what kinds of discussions happen on a golf course.) We were remembering the pre-Vatican II years when no one was ever consulted about whether they would be willing to do a particular job or not. Sometime in mid-August a sign would go up on the main Bulletin Board with all the job assignments for the coming year. Whether you liked the job or even whether you had any ability to do it—made no difference. There was no recourse. But Fr. Eric surprised me. He said: "I have never been assigned a job in the monastery that I would have chosen for myself. But I accepted them and tried to do my best. Everyone of them turned out to be exactly the right job for me." That’s quite a comment about the vow of obedience.

The Roman documents are also very much concerned with the fact that ambition and competition do not get out of hand in a community. They place a great deal of emphasis on developing a spirituality of communion. This is true for all religious communities. There are many aspects to the spirituality of communion—too many to go into right now. But I’ve decided that for the next several weeks I’m going to give a series of homilies on some of the main themes of these documents. The documents really are very good. They attempt to develop a spirituality and practice of consecrated life in the light of the vision of the Second Vatican Council. That’s something that’s worthwhile for all of us to know. We’ll be doing that in coming weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vocation Essay

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

Everybody can help us hear God’s call but there are a couple main people who help us the most. Priests are the first people I’m going to mention. Without priests we wouldn’t be able to receive our daily body of Christ also known as Eucharist, which helps us get closer to God. Also Priests say mass which is one of the biggest ways to get closer to God. So, as you can see priest are very important.

Next are deacons. Permanent Deacons can be married and can serve when needed. Even though they are not able to do as much as the priests they are still needed to help us become closer to God.

Next are religious brothers. They teach at a school as a religion teacher or a bible school teacher to teach non-catholic students become closer to God. Religious brothers are just as important as priest or deacons. They are just not able to lead a mass. They help in different ways but can teach just as much.

Next are religious sisters also known as nuns. Some people think of nuns as scary, weird, dressed people. But they are not that. They are very respectful and important people. It is good if someone becomes a nun because nuns help people including me become closer to God. Sadly less and less people are becoming nuns. They can help us hear God’s call. Even though they cannot say a mass does not mean they can’t help us as much as a priest or deacon. Their lives are also fully focused on God and like us they learn more about God everyday.

So as you can see everybody can help us hear God’s call in life but you have to do some searching yourself.

Kaitlin O. 8th

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Is 50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35

It’s been a hard week for me. Even more so for my mother. And far more for her roommate, Marian, and her family. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it looked like Marian was going to die. All of her ten children came to be at her side. Needless to say, the crowds in the room and hallways distressed my mother. But she took it like a trooper. She said, "I’ve had to adjust to many different things in my life, and I can adjust to this." Still it was easy for her to get discouraged with all the sad faces around and all the crying. I’ve been going over to the Hermitage three times a day just to get her out of the room. On Thursday Marian got a little better. She woke up and was able to respond to questions. Some peoples’ hopes were raised. Then on Friday she began to go downhill quickly again, and finally died about 4:00pm that afternoon. It was a hard week all around.

As I read over the readings for today’s mass, the one passage that jumped out at me was from the prophet Isaiah, "The Lord God is my help." We could also say, "The Lord God is my hope, my only hope." We all know that there are times in life when that’s the only prayer we can say. As Marian’s children sat around waiting, waiting, and waiting, I suspect these words of Isaiah would have spoken to them very directly.

If you step back and think about it for a while, that’s really the very last prayer for each of us: "The Lord God is my help!" We will all come to a time sooner or later when our only prayer will be "The Lord God is my help, and my hope, my only hope."

Let’s take a moment of quiet and pray for and with all those people who will have to pray that prayer this day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary Part 4

I think in receiving our Rosaries we have an opportunity to pray more often. We get to use holy Rosaries that our own parish priest blessed for us. We used our Rosaries the first time together as an 8th grade class the day Fr. Stan blessed our Rosaries. That memory will never leave our hearts. One thing I really liked is how the ladies came into church while we were praying and felt welcomed enough to join us in our prayers of devotion to Mary. (Ben #3)

Receiving a Rosary that was hand made by Sr. Nicolette meant a lot to me. It was nice and calm when we prayed the Rosary in church. It was a good reflection time. When the girls led the Rosary and the guys answered it sounded really nice to me. Having our Rosaries blessed by Fr. Stan made it even more special. Having a blessed Rosary feels good. This Rosary is special for three reasons: 1. Because it is hand made. 2. Because it is my first blessed Rosary. 3. Because I got to pick the Rosary I wanted. Thank you for making the Rosaries for us. It means a whole lot! Thanks once again. (Christian L.)

Whenever I have my Rosary I remember that Mary is with me. Since my Rosary is blessed it seems more special. When we prayed the Rosary...nothing else really mattered. I knew God was with me. While saying the Hail Marys all my worries were lifted off my shoulders. I prayed for my family and friends. I prayed for the poor and the sick. I felt so much better having prayed for all the people closest to me. I felt even better praying for people who never had anyone to pray for them. The best thing about my Rosary is that it will bring me closer to God!
(Kaitlin O.)

First of all...I love the fact that our Rosaries were specially made by Sr. Nicolette. That is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me. It is also very neat that Fr. Stan took the time to bless our hand made Rosaries. After mass, we prayed the Rosary together as a class. After praying the Rosary I felt less stressed and like my troubles have simply gone away. I try my best to pray the Rosary a few times a week. When we pray the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet as a class, I feel like we are connected in a way. Almost like God automatically knows when someone is praying the Rosary and is in need of His help. The Rosaries are beautiful by the way! Thank you Sr. Nicolette! (Kristen N.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vocation Essay

How do priests, deacons, and other religious brothers and sisters help us to hear God’s call in our lives? Priests, deacons, and other religious brothers and sisters help us hear God’s call by teaching us the ministry and faith of God. They teach us about God so we can understand God and trust him more. With the help of our religious family we will be able to hear God’s call more easily. As Christians, it is our job to bring each other closer to God and His kindness. With the help and support of each other we will be able to hear God’s call as if He were right next to us telling us what to do. With the help of everyone, religious leader or not, we will be able to accept what God wants us to do even if is not exactly what we had in mind for our future.

Deacons help us get closer to God because if we get married we could go to them for advice for how to keep the marriage happy and close to God. They could give particular prayers to pray together to bring the married couple closer together. With the love that they will have they will probably be together for a long time and always work hard to keep the love strong.
Priests help us by giving us God through the bread and wine which are changed into the body and blood of Christ. They also give a safe haven to tell our sins and be forgiven. The priests are also considered God’s messengers. They tell us how we can open our hearts to God.

Nuns help us figure out what God wants us to do with our lives, if it’s being a religious leader like a priest or nun or just a loving married person. They also help us with our vocation to love and serve God. Nuns can make people more open to try to find God in their lives. With the help from the Catholic Church, our families and God we will be able to live the best life according to God’s will.

Ashley K.
8th Grade

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary Part 3

This blog entry continues with my 8th graders reflection on praying the Rosary. Enjoy!

I feel that praying brings me closer to God. When I pray the Rosary, it's easier to focus on God. Praying the Rosary makes me feel peaceful. This helps me during the day. Having my Rosary blessed makes praying the Rosary even more special. I'm thankful that Father Stan was able to bless my Rosary. Praying the Rosary helps me know God and Mary better. I feel more connected to God and Mary. (Kristen S.)

I think that having my own blessed Rosary will help me a lot. Now I can pray the Rosary more. When Fr. Stan was blessing the Rosaries, he said a prayer and then flicked holy water on them and then said another prayer. When we prayed the Rosary...after they were blessed...I was so happy. I thought it was fun the way the girls led the Rosary and then the boys led the Rosary. It was different. With a blessed Rosary I can teach my little cousin about God, Jesus, Mary and the Holy Spirit. That is why I am happy that I have my own blessed Rosary! (Deven L.)

I liked that we were able to pick our own Rosary. Instead of just being given one that means nothing to us. We got to pick the one that was special to us. I liked praying the Rosary in Church even though sometimes I lost count every now and then. I was glad we got our Rosaries blessed. Now I have a blessed one. I have never had a blessed one before. I like my Rosary. Even though it is pink and I really don't like the color pink it is very beautiful. I love the cross. I like the way they put hearts at the end of all four sides. I also am impressed that they were able to put INRI at the top. Some Rosaries don't have that. I also lvoe the connecting part that has Mary's face on it. I am glad we get to pray the Rosary together. I will miss this when I graduate. (Ashley K.)

I usually just pray, but not a Rosary. So now that I have nice new Rosary, I will pray the Rosary. Getting the Rosary blessed makes it very special to me. I plan to keep it for the rest of my life. What is really cool is the crucifix and the beads which are Job's Tears. Sr. Nicolette said, "If the your Rosary ever breaks, I will fix it for you." This Rosary is very special. (Ben #1)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Heather Foltz becomes a Postulant!

Today God blessed Our Lady of Grace Monastery with a new Postulant. We are so happy to welcome Heather Foltz into our Benedictine Community. The following is a reflection our Prioress, Sr. Juliann, gave during evening prayer.

Postulant Entrance
Heather Jean Foltz
September 7, 2009

Heather, today is a very important day in your monastic journey. Sisters, today is a very important day in our monastic journey as a community. Family and friends of Heather, today is a very important day in your lives as well. For today we all are more aware of how God is calling us to live a fuller expression of our Baptismal commitment. In the reading we just heard, Jesus asks his disciples to listen to him and to follow him. In the Prologue of our Rule, Benedict asks us to listen with the ear of our heart and to follow the path that leads to God. This scripture passage and this part of the Rule of Benedict both call us to respond to the gift we have been given by our Baptism. In Esther de Waal’s book, Seeking Life, she says, The Prologue is a call, and that means vocation, and what Benedict is laying out are steps into that calling. A vocation is a calling which will make more and more of me. To follow Benedict, as to enter into baptism, will bring a sense of identity; I begin to discover who I am and to see the road along which I am to journey. My true self is under construction and it is the baptismal covenant that will help that forward, in a process of believing, and then continuing, preserving, seeking , serving ,striving… Heather, you have been following your Baptismal call throughout your life. Your parents, family and friends have nurtured that call and as a result you have this sense of identity that Esther speaks about. You have discovered along the road of your life, who you are and where you are to journey. These past few years, you have continued to listen to God more deeply and to follow God. You have prayed, studied and served God throughout your childhood, your college years and your work at Horizon House and St. Paul Hermitage. Today, you take another step in deepening your Baptismal commitment. You are entering this Benedictine community of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in order to continue this journey. You are entering the school of the Lord’s service. This step, as Benedict tells us, is not without challenges for he says: In drawing up it’s regulations, we hope to set up nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Heather, although monastic life is not an easy life, you will find joy and peace along with challenges and difficulties. You will use the gifts you have developed and will find new gifts within yourself with which to serve God and others.
For Benedict the main question for a newcomer to the monastery is whether she truly seeks God. This question is certainly for you, Heather, as you now begin to live the daily monastic schedule, study the Rule of Benedict, the Scriptures, other spiritual writers, serve others and grow in loving and being loved by your sisters in this community. Do you truly seek God? Is it your desire to live a life centered in Christ, giving up whatever might keep you from this total commitment of your life. As Esther de Waal writes, this question is also for all of us. She says: Is my heart pointing in an unwavering line towards the risen Christ? Is that the direction towards which I am heading? Although Benedict will encourage me, in the end it is up to me whether I respond, and whether I take action or not. Heather is witnessing by her action today, that she is willing to put on this way of life and to follow Christ. In a few minutes, she will proclaim her intention to truly seek God in this monastic community. May her witness renew in each of us, her family and community, our intention to abandon all and to follow Christ.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Is 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37

The three readings we heard today present quite a diversity of messages. The first, from the prophet Isaiah, is given to the people of Israel when they are gravely threatened by foreign oppressors. The message is, "Just hang on and God will relieve you....somehow, sometime." The gospel passage from Mark tells the story of a deaf and mute man who is cured and is made to hear and speak right now. The mood is of great rejoicing. The middle reading from the letter of James instructs the recipients not to make distinctions in the way they treat people. They should remember that the gospel is for the poor. It’s not easy to meld these three readings into a unified message.

But then we shouldn’t have to. The readings speak to the different life settings of people who come to participate in the Eucharist. Isaiah’s reading speaks to those who are grieving. I recall years ago when I was still studying to be a priest, a speaker on homiletics come to address all the seminarians. He told us we should always remember that when we give a homily on Sunday approximately ten percent of our congregation will be dealing with some great loss in their lives (a loved one, their job, or their health). They are grieving. They need to hear that message, "Just hang on." The same is true of the gospel reading. There are some people who will come to church because they have been cured or delivered in some way. For example, a woman who just got the test results that her tumor is not cancerous. She comes to mass to say, "thank you, thank you, thank you." The gospel story speaks directly to her. And there are others who come to mass to be instructed, to be taught in their Christian faith. They hear the letter of James as advice to put into practice.

What all this tells us is that the Eucharist is a wonderfully rich experience, able to touch all sorts of people in many kinds of life-settings. The Eucharistic celebration is rejoicing, encouraging, instructing, and consoling all at the same time. No wonder it has no equal as the central action of our Catholic Christian faith.

But there’s another dimension to the Eucharist that we haven’t touched on yet. The Eucharist may be wonderfully diverse in its ability to touch all sorts of people, but we, as people, have to come to the Eucharist prepared to engage it. We have to come desirous of participating in it. That’s not easy for us in our modern culture. Our modern media have trained us to want to be entertained, to be amused. Whether it’s a movie, a musical concert, a TV show, or whatever, almost instinctively we come and say, "Entertain me." If we come to the Eucharist with that attitude, the whole experience will fail miserably. No, we have to come bringing ourselves as a spiritual sacrifice, offering who we are in our lives right now to God.

The three readings in today’s Eucharist speak to those who are mourners, to others who are seekers, and to still others who are thankers. We have to prepare ourselves to engage in this sacred ritual. As the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Liturgy said so clearly: "Mother Church desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy." (#14) Let’s take some time now to reflect on "how" we are bringing ourselves, the sacrifice of our lives, to participate in this Eucharist!

A Commentary for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom, OSB

All 3 readings for this Sunday speak of the awesome power of a healing, saving God.
Isaiah urges frightened hearts to be strong and fearless, that the God who comes to save will give sight to the blind and song to the mute.

James reminds his listeners that God chose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith
In the gospel, we see both of these ideas come together. As Jesus travels through the Decapolis, he is among a mixed group of people, Jews and Gentiles. Unlike many stories where the infirmed person requests the healing, in this story it is the townspeople who ask Jesus to lay hands on a deaf man. We do not know if these people had witnessed other miracles, but they obviously knew of Jesus’ reputation. They trusted and believed that Jesus could, in fact, restore the man to health and wholeness, to full participation in their community.

We know from our own community’s experiences that one who has hearing problems also struggles amidst the noise of a large crowd. Jesus takes the man away from the crowd. When his hearing is restored, the first sound he hears is the voice of God… clear, distinct, speaking just to him. Not only does he hear clearly, but he can once again speak plainly… no distortions, no garble, no hesitation.

Do we take time to move away from the crowd, away from the noise of life to listen to God?
Do we invite God to heal the impediments in our lives?

Jesus speaks just one definitive word in this gospel: “Ephphatha! Be opened!”
We hear a similar directive from Benedict in the first word of the Rule: “Listen”.
To listen is to open not only one’s ears, but one’s eyes and heart that one may hear and speak truth, that one’s speech may be plain and proclaim clearly the amazing love and care of our God.
To be opened is to allow ourselves to be touched and moved by both God and neighbor, to lay down our lives in service to God.
To be opened is to invite God to work in us and through us, in community and in our ministries.

The people who had petitioned Jesus to lay hands on their friend could not be silent. They were compelled to share the wonder of the miracle performed in their midst. Their announcing of Jesus’ actions served as a proclamation of the Kingdom here and yet to come.
Do we allow our lives to proclaim God’s goodness, God’s majesty?
Do OUR words and actions proclaim the presence of a God who comes to restore wholeness and banish fear?
The deaf man was able to discern God’s voice. The crowd could not contain the good news. We, too, are invited to incline our hearts to hear God, and our lives to announce God’s reign.

What is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in love shows us the way of life. 21Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to the kingdom

Friday, September 4, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary Part 2

This blog entry continues with my 8th graders reflection on praying the Rosary. Enjoy!

The Rosary means a lot to me because my great grandmother and myself used to say the Rosary together. She passed away over the summer. Her favorite prayer was the Hail Mary. That is why the Rosary means so much to me. When I chose my Rosary I feel I didn't just have the Mother Mary there with me but both my great grandmother and Mother Mary! When Father Stan blessed our Rosaries I was filled with joy. It brought back the time I had spent with my great grandmother. Thank you Sister for the beautiful Rosary you made for us. (Samantha A.)

It is my first blessed Rosary...and it is solely mine! I'll probably put it in my room, in a place where I can see it. It will remind me to pray more and I think I'll feel safe going to bed at night knowing that Mary and Jesus are with me. I think it will remind me to say a few Hail Marys before bed. My mom has a Rosary from her Aunt Kay. It's about 105 years old. She keeps it in her treasure chest. I hope to keep this Rosary that long...and to pass it down to my children someday. (Joseph E.)

What does my Rosary mean to me? Well, after getting to pick my Rosary, and have it blessed, the Rosary feels more special to me. When we led the Rosary I really felt like a Holy Name 8th grade leader. I think that it is more of a right of passage. This Rosary is like a gift, we will all remember. Sr. Nicolette took the time to make these and Fr. Stan blessed them for us. A Rosary is an awesome gift because you can keep it forever. When I graduate from 8th grade, I'll miss all the awesome teachers and staff here. Having my Rosary will always remind me that I am a Holy Name Giant! (Jamaica H.)

I think having a Rosary made by a nun is very special because I've only had Rosaries made in other places. I think having our Rosaries blessed was cool. I like my Rosary because I have a Trinity Crucifix. I also thought it was cool that the boys and the girls had a chance to lead the Rosary. (Liam M.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

8th Graders Pray the Rosary

Last March, my mother, Kay Etienne, taught me a hobby she had been doing for years. My mother taught me how to make a Rosary. For years I watched my mother work the beads and create the most beautiful Rosaries I've ever seen. She and Dad grow their own beads, Job's Tears, in their backyard. I tried to learn this "Holy Hobby" of my mother's. My fingers couldn't seem to make the wire bend just the right way.

One day a good friend of mine, Kathy, told me she would love to learn how to make a Rosary. I told her I had just the right teacher for her. So, one Sunday afternoon we drove to Tell City and spent the afternoon with my mom learning how to make a Rosary...actually...Kathy spent the afternoon learning to make a Rosary...I spent the afternoon with my dad watching Tiger Woods win another golf tournament!

When I saw the beautiful work my friend was learning from my mother, I was determined to learn to make a Rosary as well. I spent three days of my spring break working with my mom...who was VERY patient with me. At the end of the three days, my first Rosary was made. Since then, I can't tell you how many Rosaries I've made. It has become more than a "Holy Hobby" for me. As a result of this hobby, my relationship with Our Blessed Mother has deepened, and my love for Her Son has grown even stronger.

I teach grades 4-8 Religion in a wonderful Catholic school near my Monastery. I started a new tradition this year. Every 8th grader receives a handmade Rosary from me. Yesterday my students received their Rosaries. Today after Mass Fr. Stan blessed their Rosaries. We stayed and prayed our first Rosary together on their newly Blessed Rosaries. It was a very powerful experience for all of us.

For the next several weeks I will post the 8th graders' experience of receiving their Rosary and what praying the Rosary means to them. Enjoy reading their beautiful words! I know I am.

Yesterday when I was told that the eighth graders were receiving their Rosaries I was excited. I was excited because Sister told us that we might not receive our Rosaries until Christmas or even the end of the school year. When I got to choose my Rosary it meant a lot to me. After mass today, Father Stan blessed our Rosaries. I felt blessed, too. It felt like the Rosary was truly mine now. Once we started to pray the Rosary, that moment was special to me because it was the first time I prayed the Rosary with my very own Rosary. (Josh C.)

It was nice receiving the Rosary and having it blessed. I love my Rosary. It is very pretty. Praying the Rosary means more to me when we pray it aloud because I don't become distracted. I think we should pray the Rosary more often after Mass. When Fr. Stan started spraying the water, it was unexpected because I looked up and BAM! There it was! I think it was very cool that we got these Rosaries and that Fr. Stan blessed them. I really like mine. Praying the Rosary will bring me closer to God. I can pray every night before I go to bed. Each decade I can pray for something or someone. For example I can pray for my family and then my friends. This is how it will bring me closer to God. It might even bring our class closer together if people ask God for that. You never know, God works in mysterious ways! So, thank you Sister for making me my Rosary. (Lucy M.)

Vocation Essay

How do we know if God is calling us? How do we know what our vocation is? How can we listen to God? Many people are confused about their vocation.

There are some people who have chosen a more difficult vocation. They chose to always follow God. They help us find our vocation in life. They have been helping people for many generations. They are our religious brothers and sisters.

For many years people have ignored and listened to God. Some people chose to ignore God because they think that their path will be less difficult. We sometimes forget God and we fail to hear him. God is always trying to help us but how can you help someone if they aren’t listening.
Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters help us hear God’s call. They help us to listen not only with our ears but with our hearts. Listening with our heart is important because we can truly be aware of what our vocation is. Our religious brothers and sisters help us listen to God.
Some people are afraid to answer God’s call. Fear can blind us only too easily. We sometimes can’t find God but someone helps us see and hear God again. People need help from others to find the right path through life. Our religious brothers and sisters help us find the right path.
There are many ways to listen to God. We can listen through nature, people, and we can listen in our heart. Some of natural resources help us to be closer to God. The peaceful silence when you are out in nature alone. The security you feel when you’re around God’s creation. Our religious brothers and sisters help us find that peace and security.

People help us listen to our hearts. We have to be willing to listen to God and to find our vocation. People can help make us more aware of what our vocation is. People can act as messengers to guide us to our vocations. We are the ones that have to find our vocation but we need help.
There are different types of vocations. The two most important vocations are marriage and a religious life. Both of these vocations help us to be closer to God. These vocations may be hard to follow. That is why we have the help of the people around us.

In church the priest talks about vocations. He explains how we can find our vocation. Finding your vocation may take a long time. Many people are confused about their vocation. The church helps guide us to our vocation.

Our vocations are very important. Finding our vocation can be a very difficult challenge in life. Priest, deacons, religious brothers, and sisters help us find our vocation. Loving God and serving his people is also a vocation that we try to fulfill. With help from our brothers and sisters we can find our vocation.

Kristen S.
8th Grade

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jesus' September Message

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

September 1, 2009

Dear apostles, I remind you to ask heaven for the graces you require. In order to work in My plan, united to My will, you must be in the habit of asking for all that you need. This constant petitioning for help in your service creates in you an awareness of the unity within which you serve. In this way, you will begin to understand that nothing can be attributed to you except your willingness to serve. You will receive the graces you require, of course, and with these graces will come humility because you will acquire an understanding of the relationship between your requests and heaven’s answers. If heaven is supplying you with all that you need to complete the tasks heaven has assigned to you, then you cannot take credit for what is being accomplished. You may say that you are already doing this. I respond that I want you to increase both your dependence on heaven and your awareness of your dependence on heaven. Each day, every day, ask heaven for help throughout the day. My beloved apostles, I am preparing you for a new time which will bring you joy because you will serve peacefully in complete trust. Why would a child fret when his Father sees to his every need? Truly, you are united to heaven. I seek only to instil in you a greater awareness of your unity. I, your Jesus, call on you for dedication and sacrifice, it is true, but not without cause and not without benefit. See to My interests in your day, please. In turn, I will protect your intentions. Spread joy and goodness. Spread unity and peace. Spread trust in God who will never abandon His children.