Friday, January 29, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen

Last Friday, I went to the Soup Kitchen in Downtown Indianapolis. To me, it was a kind of a time of reflection. When I was there, seeing all those people in need, I reminded myself of all the wonderful things and blessings I have and receive. I actually have done service hours at The Lord's Pantry before, too. I really enjoyed the chance to serve God and His people! I can't wait to go again!

Kristen N.
My experience of serving at the soup kitchen was life changing. I served at a similar place before...however, the memory is foggy. When I arrived at the soup kitchen I was surprised. It was so small. When I saw the people I had tears in my eyes. I wondered what these people's life stories were. They were loving, caring and kind people. Everything went well, except for a little incident with some people. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to go again soon.
(Sofia O.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vocation Essay, Lauren H.

Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters play a very important role in all of our everyday lives. For example priests, day after day, speak about the good news of how the Lord loves us unconditionally no matter how big our sins may be. They teach us that God wants us to treat his people with the respect they deserve. God sends these religious people to us so that his life and memories never die within our hearts. These people are like a phone that God calls us on, but we must choose if we want to answer it and talk to him.

Priests are the second people after God who welcomes us to life as his followers. Priests baptize us allowing us to begin our life as a messenger of God. Priests welcome us to God and say good bye to us when we die, while God is saying hello to us in heaven. Priest help people feel right with God during reconciliation. They allow us to have the body of Christ when we know we are not worthy enough for it. Priests sometimes talk to young men about becoming a priest. They also us influence to take a bigger perspective of why God put us on this earth.

Deacons and religious brothers are almost the same things. Deacons are men who are married but wanted to have a bigger part preaching about our Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers do teach and are faithful to God with the love a priest would have towards God. They both want to broaden people’s minds about how they can help God. Their goals are to help people understand why God put us on this earth.

Religious sisters follow Jesus in many ways. Some teach religion classes to inform today’s youth about the good news of the Lord. They inspire people to follow Jesus so that in everything we do He may be glorified. Like priest, deacons, and religious brothers they want to serve God and his people.

We all have a chance to serve God. How we serve him is our choice. God calls each of us to know, love and serve him. They all ask themselves what would Jesus do. They try to inspire others to love and cherish the Lord Jesus Christ every single day of our life.

Lauren H.
7th Grade

Vocation Essay, Annie W.

“Come and See”

A few years ago, I transferred from a Catholic school to another private school that serves students with Dyslexia. When I first went to the new school, I remember missing the extra time I got with God at my former school. I missed going to mass, having religion class and having daily prayer with my teacher and classmates. At the same time, this new experience was exposing me to people I might not have ever met. Some of my new classmates had very diverse religious backgrounds and lifestyles. Sometimes, we would talk about our beliefs and as we did this, it helped me realize how important my own were to me. For example, we had heated discussions about abortion. I realized how much I missed the daily guidance I had received in my former Catholic school. I wished that my peers could also be given the gift of faith in their lives, too.

After five years of intensive, specialized curriculum at the school for Dyslexic students, I felt academically ready to move back to a more traditional style of school. My parents and I visited Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School, and immediately it felt like the right fit with compassionate, caring teachers. One of the teachers I met, was Sister Nicolette. She is not what most people think of when they think of a nun. I know she has opened my eyes as well. Sister Nicolette shows her students her love by the way she teaches and the way she embraces her calling to know, love and serve God. She shows us that her obedience to God is not a burden or punishment, but a calling that she has joyfully responded to. She has shown us all that a life of service to God can also be a life of fun and fulfillment. Honestly, before I met Sister Nicolette, if someone had ever asked me if I would consider being a nun, my immediate response would have been absolutely NOT! Now, that I have seen someone with such a love for God and a joy for life, I am open to see how God calls me to His service in my own life. I would still, of course, have to think about all the options life has to offer, but I would be much more willing to consider a call to the religious life after meeting Sister Nicolette.

I think all of the experiences so far in my life have molded me to become what God has in store for me. I think it is no coincidence that I had to meet people different from myself to appreciate and embrace my own faith more fully. It is also no coincidence that Sister Nicolette is teaching me about loving, joyful service to God.

(Annie W. 7th Grade)

Monday, January 25, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen

My trip to the soup kitchen was a really good experience. It was just like St. Vincent de Paul. The same people that were at the soup kitchen were also at St. Vincent de Paul. It was fun serving the homeless and the needy. If I had an opportunity to do it again, I would, because that was a life fulfilling experience. I would recommend it to people, because it's a good way to teach you how to put others' needs before your wants. They need the necessities that most of us are blessed to have. What I'm trying to relay is that if you think your "needs" come before the unfortunate who don't have the materialistic items you have, then you're mistaken. The next time you decide to do something special for yourself think about the others who have very little. I loved the soup kitchen a lot and I hope I can do it again. I even have the desire to serve in my spare time. I love to serve God's people and to make them very happy. I enjoy seeing that people have what they need to eat and what they need to clothe themselves. At St. Vincent de Paul they were happy that they got a lot of free stuff and clothes that kept them warm at night. I never thought that I would do something to change some one's life. I hope you will feel the same way when you serve someone that is in need. You will really enjoy the look of gratitude on their face. Sometimes that is all you need to make your day.
(Nikki D.)

When I went to the soup kitchen it smelled really bad. But the people were really nice. It was worth volunteering my time. The food didn't look very appetizing but the people ate it anyway.
(Brianna S.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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

There is no more wine---
there is always something running short in our lives---
so put in a request to God whose love is so much greater than ours.

Dare to ask God for an abundance –
an overflowing abundance of what you need.

For at the wedding feast
filling six water jugs of 20-30 gallons
is an incredible abundance.

The wedding feast tells us God is not stingy—
measuring out meager amounts of joy, faith, healing, courage--
just enough to keep us begging for more.

No, the wedding Feast of Cana says—
God is waiting for your need
to become a moment of intimacy between you and God---
where your heart finally has the courage to recklessly believe
in a God who recklessly loves.

Abandon the fear and ask ----

ask for your heart’s desire.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen

Wow! After hearing all my friends tell me about the soup kitchen, I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. I met so many kind people at the soup kitchen. We said a prayer thanking God for us. We sang a song of praise and thanking God for the day. We should thank God for the opportunity to serve. What an awesome experience. (Jamaica H.)

Going to the soup kitchen is something I won't forget. It was a good thing to experience because if we get even one person to decide to go to the soup kitchen even once a month it is one more than they did have! The people who came for food were really nice. They were grateful and respectful. They seemed to have more faith than most people with everything. (Ashley K.)

The soup kitchen was a very good experience. I saw what the economy was doing to the people. It was sad to see but I felt like I needed to see how bad this is hitting everyone. I'm glad I went to help. It made me see good by helping those people. They were all nice and respectful. I know that I want to go back and help. (Kristen S.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We Pray the Rosary

My 8th graders were inspired by a short video on You Tube that promotes praying the Rosary. We designed our own shirts in Religion class yesterday and wore them to school today. Mary Ann Wyand, a senior reporter for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis' Catholic Newspaper, the Criterion, interviewed my class today on their experience of praying the Rosary. The article was printed in the Catholic School's Week edition of the Criterion. Please enjoy a few pictures of my students proudly wearing their shirts!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prayer for Vocations

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to three classes of freshmen at Thomas Scecina Memorial High School. Fr. Aaron Jenkins, a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Chaplain at well as a Theology teacher at Scecina, and the assistant vocation director for the Archdiocese...invited me to his classroom to talk about my vocation to religious life. (Today, Fr. Jenkins will come to my classroom and speak to my students about his vocation story.) I wanted to share with you the prayer Fr. Jenkins and his students prayed before each class:

O Loving and gracious God, Father of all, You bless your people in every time and season and provide for their needs through your providential care. Your Church is continually in need of priests and deacons, sisters and brothers, and couples committed to love in Holy marriage. Open the hearts of your sons and daughters to listen to your call in their lives. Give them the gift of understanding to discern your invitation to serve you and your Church. Give them the gift of courage to follow your call. May they have the spirit of young Samuel who found fulfillment in his life when he said to you, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Jenkins adapted this prayer which he found on the US Bishops' website: Please join us in praying daily for vocations. God calls everyone to know, love and serve. So that in all things...God may be glorified!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vocation Awareness Week

When is the last time you invited someone to think about serving God as a priest, brother or sister? When is the last time you personally discerned your own call to know, love and serve God as a priest, religious brother or sister? In today's Gospel reading, (Mark 1:14-20), Jesus proclaims, "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James and John to drop their fishing nets and follow Him. Remarkably, they did just that...and their lives were never the same.

We celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week this week. If you are single, listen to the voice of Jesus calling you to know, love and serve Him. If you are married with children or grandchildren, gently invite them to pray to Jesus to see if He is calling them to serve as a priest, religious brother or sister. God hasn't stopped calling his children to serve in these vocations. We all need to take an active part in helping one another hear that beautiful voice that calls us into a deeper relationship with God. Don't be afraid to ask people to discern religious life or the priesthood. Take courage! If God leads you to it...God will get you through it! I've walked this journey of religious life for nearly 24 years. Saying, "YES" to God's invitation has opened many doors in loving and serving my sweet Jesus and His children. Listen today. What is God saying to you? What are you saying to God?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the Baptism of Jesus

Baptism of the Lord

Readings: Is 42:1-7; Acts 10:34-38; Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

This feast of the Baptism of the Lord signals the beginning of a transition time in the Liturgical Year. The mood shifts from one of a clear presentation of religious ideals to the murkier realm of having to put them into practice in the midst of a messy world. For the last two weeks the emphasis of the Liturgy has been on the great acts of God: the sending of a Savior or Messiah who is God’s own Son; and that this child is the manifestation of God’s majesty and glory. These are among the great religious ideals of the Christian Faith. The task now, as the Liturgy begins to remind us, is to put them into practice in our lives. That’s easier said than done.

I’m hoping that you will commend me for my restraint. All through this Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season I haven’t said one word about W. H. Auden’s Christmas Oratorio, "For the Time Being." But I’m going to break down today. At the very end of his lengthy Oratorio Auden puts a reflection into the mouth of the narrator that succinctly pinpoints the challenges of putting these ideals into practice. I can’t refrain from reading some of those lines:

"Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree, Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.

The holly and mistletoe must be taken down and burnt, And the children got ready for school. There are enough Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—

Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot, Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—To love all of our relatives, and in general Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again As in previous years we have seen the actual vision and failed To do more than entertain it as an agreeable possibility, once again we have sent Him away,

Begging though to remain His disobedient servant, The promising child who cannot keep His word for long. The Christmas feast is already a fading memory."

We have seen the vision in these past weeks and failed to fully absorb it and realize it. Mostly because we have overestimated our abilities—in other words, we have not faced our weaknesses. That’s the theme of this whole transition period of the Liturgical Year: balancing the ideal religious vision with our own human limitations and failures. It’s so easy to look at one or the other by itself; but it’s so hard to keep them together in the same picture. Because, doing so, you always feel (just a little) like a hypocrite.

You know. Maybe we would do better by just admitting from the very beginning that we are hypocrites. So many of us are...really. The parents who warn their children against drinking, but who on occasion hit the bottle too hard themselves. The priest or minister who preaches a higher Christian morality to his/her congregation than he/she personally observes. The religious superior who continually admonishes all of his/her community members to a diligent regular prayer practice, knowing full well that’s the first thing that goes in his/her life when administrative duties pile up. If we admitted to ourselves regularly that we are hypocrites, it would be a lot harder to criticize anyone else...about anything. Look on the bright side. The next time someone calls you a hypocrite, you can say: "Of course, I am. We all are. But hopefully we are hypocrites trying to do better. That’s what the Christian life is all about."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Soup Kitchen

The Cathedral Kitchen experience was one I won't forget anytime soon. It was a reality check to see the hungry of our city. It makes me understand and acknowledge that there are difficult things in this world. At first it was a little nerveracking. I didn't know what to expect. In the beginning it was a rush to get drinks out, but after a while, it began to slow down. I came to appreciate what the people that serve everyday, do. I recommend that everyone spends some time at the soup kitchen. It helps you to appreciate everything that God has given you. The experience truly will touch your heart, and by your acts of love and service you will touch their hearts. By your good deeds and actions, you can bring people closer to God. (Emily P.)

Recently, I had my second opportunity to serve at the soup kitchen. Even though I had already been once before, it still touched my heart. This time instead of one of the volunteers leading the prayer one of the men sang to us. He had an amazing voice. This made me truly understand that everyone has a God given talent or gift that we have been blessed with. I really enjoy going to the soup kitchen and I'm looking forward to going back in the future! (Samantha A.)

I went to the Cathedral Soup Kitchen where I learned two things. 1. You can't judge a book by its cover; and 2. Not everyone has the best of life. I was wearing my UNC hat and many of the neighbors we were serving came up to me and starting talking to me about UNC. It made me realize that being homeless doesn't make you totally different. I learned that not everyone has the best of life. Many of the neighbors looked like they haven't eaten all day. (Jake F.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily on the Feast of the Epiphany

Feast of Epiphany Sunday - Jan. 3, 2010
Readings: Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-6; Mt 2:1-12

The main theme of the feast of Epiphany seems rather evident: it is the manifestation, the "shining through" (epi-phania) of the majesty and glory of God. This God in Jesus Christ has been made known to the nations—that is symbolized so powerfully by the three magi (or kings) who come to pay homage to the new-born child (and king). That’s the basic message of Epiphany.

Or so it seems. But is there something more? There are few other feasts so liable to subtle distortion as this one of Epiphany. The mistake that Christians often make is to assume that the evidence for God is plain and irrefutable, and all that’s needed is a simple acknowledgment of the fact that God’s glory is plainly clear. That would be a mistake. In a recent article the religious writer, Karen Armstrong,
deals with the subject, "How Not to Talk about God." (U.S.Catholic, Vol. 75, No.1, pp. 24-28). She makes the point that most people in Western culture treat God as a fact that is easily proven, that God is a distinct personality like you and me, that
God is a "creator" in the same way that you and I create something. She then goes on to say that the best of the Catholic theological tradition (e.g. St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine or St. Gregory of Nyssa) never see God in those self-evident terms. They would never say that God is a fact or a distinct personality like any of us. They would always remember the inadequacy of
any human speech about God, and that true language about God can only end in silence and transcendence. In other words, the coming of Jesus Christ is only a hint and a direction towards who God is. Jesus Christ is never the clear and scientifically proven answer about God. Jesus Christ rather leads us toward Mystery.

Actually the liturgy tells us the very same thing. If we have listened carefully to the words of the Christmas Prefaces we would have caught that. The first Christmas Preface says, "In Christ we see our God made visible and so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see." Jesus does not ultimately lead us to clear knowledge, but rather to be "caught up in love" before Mystery. The second Christmas Preface has a similar thought: "No eye can see His Glory as our God, yet now He is seen as One like us." Again Jesus leads us to an unseen Mystery. It is that which we
celebrate this feast of Epiphany.

Karen Armstrong provides another clue that takes us a step further. She says, we must remember that religion is ultimately a practical form of knowledge. It makes no sense unless you put it into action. (p. 26) Let’s go back to that First Preface of Christmas: "In Christ we are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see." The adoration of Jesus as the Incarnate Word leads us to an act of love, which means that the true Mystery of God in the Christian sense can only ultimately be known in an act of love. The knowledge of God that Jesus brings is not a knowledge of the mind, but of the heart. It’s like this: the gift of Jesus brings us to the point of knowing the boundless love God has for each of us. But in that very act of intellectual knowing, all intellectual knowledge fades away and our only further response is an act of love to the God who loves us beyond all bounds. In that moment we are "caught up in the love of the God we cannot see." Epiphany is indeed a very powerful Christian feast.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jesus' January Message

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

There are many different ways to communicate love. One of the ways that I communicate love to My apostles is through My constant presence. I am in each moment, in each day, offering you My heavenly companionship. I offer you a constant stream of love which heals and reassures, which steadies and directs. When allowed, I can help an apostle to adjust his viewpoint to My viewpoint, which is very different from the viewpoint of one who has either forgotten about My presence or rejected My companionship. With this viewpoint comes calm purpose. The days flow past, one by one, and My will flows through each one of you who has accepted My presence. You do not see big changes at your hands. Perhaps you wonder if your cooperation is helpful at all. I assure you today that if you were to reject Me tomorrow, My kingdom would suffer. Without you, I would have one less home for My great love on earth. Each time I use you to love another, I feel gratitude. My gratitude is a force for change in the lives of those around you. You are gaining graces that only heaven can understand. Only heaven can see how an action of grace is stored in waiting. This grace surrounds each person you intercede for and at a moment when it is possible, meaning that heaven sees the opening, that grace is utilised to protect and advance the soul. Dear apostle, serving heaven so steadily, leave all of your difficulties to Me. Abandon yourself to My providence completely. Serve with discipline in this moment and I will care for your loved ones. I am using you for the purpose of love and I want to use you even more fully. When you become discouraged, please sit with Me and I will help you to grasp the limited nature of your vision. Concentrate on My will for your day. Concentrate on remaining in the present, connected to your service in each moment. Avoid being trapped by the past and avoid being drawn into a future on earth which may not include you. You do not know when I will come for you. But I am with you now, as you read these words, and I have work for you today. Look, together with Me, at what I am asking of you and together we will be a successful force for love. I crave love from you. When you trust Me and reject fear, I am delighted. Calm, steady service is what I require from My beloved apostles who seek to serve Me. Be at peace. I am with you.