Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Readings: Gen. 15:5-18; Phil 3:17-4:1; Lk 9:28-36

In the post Vatican II revision of the Lectionary great care was taken in the selection of Scripture readings for the Sunday Eucharistic celebrations. Particular attention was paid to the Sundays in Lent where the gospel passage gives each Sunday a special theme. In addition, the whole group of Lenten Sundays are linked by a progressive development of themes. The first Sunday of Lent picked up after the Baptism of Jesus when he goes into the desert to face his temptations. After the glory of the Baptism Jesus’ desert experience is one of struggle and trial; the gospel tells us that he was weak and tired after it. This second Lenten Sunday gospel features the experience of the Transfiguration and serves as both a reinvigoration of Jesus as well as a reaffirmation of his divine mission. We hear once again the message of the Baptism: "This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him!"

This Sunday therefore focuses on spiritual rebirth—in the life of Jesus, but also in the lives of his followers, in our lives. It isn’t unusual over the course of a life to have periods of success and effectiveness alternate with stretches of stagnation or less than successful activity. On the public scene we read of movie stars or athletes who have successfully re-ignited their careers after a stretch of failures or poor achievements. The same happens in the lives of ordinary people. We can be quite successful in a position for several years, then move to another where things just don’t work out. Everything bombs and we may drag on for years until another opportunity comes along and gives us a chance to re-spark, to experience a rebirth, to know a Transfiguration.

The same kind of dynamic frequently occurs in our spiritual lives. We can be doing quite well, feeling very alive in our spirituality, our relation with God and in the religious actions of our lives. And then, for whatever reason (there are many of them), all that religious aliveness dries up. Prayer becomes a drudgery. We have little inspiration and energy for any religious activity. In fact, anything religious makes us seem tired and even angry. We need a Transfiguration experience. It’s right to hope and pray for one.

Lately I’ve been reading about a young woman who had just such a Transfiguration experience: Gertrude More. Gertrude (nee: Helen) was the great, granddaughter of St. Thomas More. She grew up as a vibrant, happy and deeply religious young woman; she was tremendously gifted with a wide range of abilities. With great zeal at the age of seventeen she decided to join a newly-formed house of English Benedictine nuns in Brussels (Belgium). Such houses were not permitted in Anglican dominated England. But soon after she arrived at the new house, she began to become miserable, lethargic and sad. Many things bothered her, but she struggled greatly with the style of regimented Jesuit spirituality being forced on the community. This distress continued for a whole year even while she made vows at the end of that year. Her sarcasm was affecting the whole community, which had enough "beginning problems" of its own as any community might. She got her Transfiguration experience when she met Fr. Augustine Baker. He taught her a method and practice of contemplative prayer that turned her whole monastic life into an experience of loving, loving God and loving her sisters. Listen to her description of the change: "I found myself in fifteen days so quieted that I wondered at myself. This change took place as soon as I had received from him some general instruction...that I must give all to God without any reservation. .... He told me that my way must be by prayer. He gave me some instructions. Having done this I found presently that course of love which I so much desired." (Medieval Women Monastics,p. 266-67) She was able to continue that loving attitude for the remainder of her short life serving her community in a variety of leadership positions which she carried out with great love and care. Sadly she died at the age of twenty-seven in a smallpox epidemic.

This gospel story makes us consider the course of our lives, our stretches of success as well as our down times. We should be thankful for our Transfiguration moments, those experiences of invigoration that jump start us again. Perhaps we can take a few moments now to think of some people we know who are very much in need of a Transfiguration experience in their lives right now....and pray to God for them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bishop Paul Etienne..."Truth in Love" Blog

My brother, Bishop Paul, started his own blog, "Truth in Love." Here's a sample of his writing.

It is my earnest desire with this site to have a regular means of communicating with the people of the Diocese of Cheyenne. In many ways, I wish to use this as a virtual pulpit, to “get the WORD out” by sharing my own insights from prayer and thoughts regarding current topics in our culture and church. As my motto states, I have a deep love for the Truth proclaimed by Jesus Christ, accompanied by a deep love for those to whom I am sent as a bishop and shepherd. In the many articles to come through this site, I hope to share that Truth and Love with all who choose to visit here.

I know you are going to enjoy reading his blog. I'm sure it will be a site I will visit often. Continued blessings on your Lenten journey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Hannah B, 7th Grade

Priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters are very important in our lives. They tell us about God and how God wants us to live forever in His heart. God created us so that we can serve Him. It is our choice if we live the life God wants us to.

Priests are very important because they baptize us and that is like the beginning of trying our best to live a holy life. Also, during reconciliation God gives the priest power to forgive us from our sins and we can start over. Priests also can share their story of why and how they became a priest. They can inspire young men to want to be a priest so they can spread the word of God.
Religious sisters also help us follow God's calling. Some sisters tell us about our faith and why we are on this earth and what God wants us to be, not perfect, but a holy person who can inspire others. Sisters also inspire us to praise God every day.

Religious brothers are not priest, but they still preach the word of God. They teach us to have faith in our religion and to serve God. Deacons also try to guide us to follow God's calling. God sent people like those to show us to Jesus and God. Jesus lived a holy life and God wants us to do that, too.

Priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters tell us that we should know, love, and serve God. These people guide us to live out our vocation and praise God all our lives. It's our decision to go the right direction in life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In His Midst

Recently, one of our Oblates, enjoyed viewing my winter pictures. The picture posted on this blog entry inspired her to write a poem. She wanted to be known as "Anonymous" so I will not post her name. I do think you will enjoy reading her poem. May God continue to bless us as we strive daily to honor our Lenten promises.

In His Midst

Outside my window
The fury of winter is unleashed

Snow buries the busyness

Burdened but not bothered
The tree longs for Spring Or does it?

Inside my heart
The familiar darkness deepens

Constantly searching, seeking

Envious that the tree endures

Silently suffering, weary, waiting


In the midst of the waiting
Depleted, exhausted, resting

His presence prevails

His glorious grace breaks through

“Where you are….I Am
I never left you
Trust me!”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 1st Sunday in Lent

Readings: Deut 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13

This gospel text gave me an opportunity to catch up on research into the accounts of Jesus’ temptation in the gospel traditions. It ‘s been a fascinating study. The gospels as texts were not written down until decades after the life of Jesus and they convey not only historical memories about him but also faith-expressions of who he really was (and is) to his early followers. We see both of those aspects in the gospel traditions of the temptation stories. The gospel of Mark, the earliest of the gospels, remembers only the fact that there was some kind of spiritual struggle for Jesus in the desert after his baptism by John. Mark’s account tells it very simply: "The Spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan. He was with wild beasts and angels waited on him." Nothing about what the temptations were about, just that they happened.

The accounts of Matthew and Luke, which we have just heard, represent another tradition, one of faith-expression, which wanted to make some statement about the ongoing significance of Jesus. So his temptations are described carefully in terms of three specific testings by the devil: to use his power (stones to bread), to seek all earthly power (claim all the kingdoms of the earth), to throw himself from the Temple (to force God’s hand). But Jesus overcomes all these temptations, which are patterned after the various trials of the Israelites in the Egyptian desert. The Israelites failed them, but Jesus overcame the temptations. The main point of Luke’s temptation story is a faith-expression about Jesus: that he fulfills the legacy of Israel and shows himself more powerful than any temptations of demonic wiles.

This temptation story allows us to look in a broader context at the very nature of "temptation" in a religious Christian sense. The temptation of Jesus brings up a recurring theme in Judaeo-Christian religion; instances of temptation. The Christian bible is framed by two classic temptation accounts: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus in the desert. In both there is a goal to which the individuals are called and a lesser goal which may be more personally appealing at the present but which turns them from the larger goal. Adam and Eve choose the lesser (more immediately pleasing) goal. Jesus, on the other hand, holds onto the mission he has been given at his Baptism. The reality of temptation is the lure, the attraction of a "lesser" goal in place of a "higher" goal that has already been placed before us and has been accepted.

The devious thing about temptation is that the alternate goal, the lesser one, actually seems pretty good "right now." We lose the bigger picture because of our own desires, usually selfish desires. There’s a very interesting passage in the Letter of James: "When you are tempted, do not think that your temptation comes from God...for God does not tempt anyone. When anyone is tempted, it is by your own desires that you are enticed and lured." (1:12-14) That can happen in many ways. I suppose I will always remember some twenty years ago when Fr. Gavin decided to stop producing stage plays in the seminary at St. Meinrad. He stopped because he could no longer depend on the students to keep their commitments to practice and rehearse the plays. If they got a "better" offer, they would not show up for the rehearsal as they had promised. They yielded to the more selfish choice—to go to a movie, to go out to dinner, to go shopping in Evansville.

Sometimes temptation comes just from our own laziness, our own lack of drive. I dare say that many of us have probably already dealt with that in these first four days of Lent. I know I have. When we think about temptations in our lives, big or small, it should take us back to the "big picture": what are the values and vision that we want to live by? Above all, let me live by my made commitments—even if they are just Lenten resolutions. Jesus did not choose the more selfish way; he remained true to the mission that God had given him. Let’s hope and pray that we do the same!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Commentary for the 1st Sunday of Lent by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom

We began our Lenten journey as a community by going to the desert for a day of silence.

We join Jesus in the desert this Sunday as He prepares to embark on his ministerial journey, one which will ultimately lead to the cross.

Jesus must have felt very vulnerable, having just been baptized, affirmed by God and given a sense of his call and ministry. If we think about vows, jubilees, installations and other special occasions, we can imagine the raw emotion that often accompanies such significant personal experiences of God. Perhaps it is exactly that vulnerability which attracts Satan, hoping that, fatigued emotionally, Jesus might be a bit unguarded, a bit more accessible to temptation.

Satan’s temptations are actually related to Jesus’ impending ministry. Will Jesus use his position to His own advantage? Will He wield power over people? Will He selfishly manipulate things to suit his own needs? This seems to be the devil’s invitation… to make it all about Jesus, to have Jesus put the focus on Himself rather than those He has come to serve… to urge Jesus to be puffed up and smug and self righteous.

Satan underestimated Jesus. Steeped in Scripture, drenched in the Word that has always been His life, Jesus is able to hold on to what he has learned, what he has prayed, what he has lived. These are no memorized trivial responses, no mindless recitation of the law and the prophets. This is certitude in action. Jesus draws strength from the Word that permeates His life. The words that come from His mouth have been deeply inscribed on His heart. Satan is powerless in the face of the Word of God.

Benedict’s life was also steeped in Scripture. It permeates his Rule, not in some contrived manner, but smoothly, flowing from prayer and study that have no doubt been foundational in Benedict’s life. Scripture is the mortar that holds together the bricks with which Benedict builds the Rule. It is a foundation upon which we, too, are urged to build our lives.

We are called as Benedictine monastics to daily lectio, to daily pondering of the Word, of the psalms. When temptations come our way, we too can answer Satan with the words that we have allowed to become part of the very fiber of our being.

Lent calls us to prayer, fasting, almsgiving and holy reading. Lent calls us to mindful immersion in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. When Satan tempts us, when evil thoughts enter our minds or hearts, let us dash them immediately against Christ, who models for us the way to resist Satan’s power

The Word of God is near us. It is in our mouths and in our hearts. What can be more delightful than this voice of God calling to us ?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Christian Conviction Court

If you were accused of being a Christian...would there be enough evidence to convict you? During this season of Lent my 5th grade students are on a mission to prove their classmates are Christians! On Ash Wednesday each student drew a name of one of their classmates. For six weeks they have to document in a notebook kind acts they observe that person doing. They've been asked to keep the name of the person they drew a secret. That just might prove to be the most difficult task of this project! During the Easter season my students will take a field trip to my monastery where we will convene the Christian Conviction Court! The students will try to convince a jury of their peers that the person they observed during Lent is indeed a Christian! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Create in me a Clean Heart O Lord!

Today is Ash Wednesday. Catholics all over the world will make an effort to go to Mass today to receive ashes as a reminder that we are dust...and to dust we shall return.

Lent is the season for turning...conversion of the heart. We step up our practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We rend our hearts and make a return to our Lord. God wants us to return to Him with our whole heart.

In today's 1st Reading, Joel, reminds us that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness and relenting in punishment. What a comfort!

I read a short reflection by Rev. Robert F. Dueweke, OSA this morning. He said, "Hike into the furthest reaches of your heart. What has gone to ashes? Prayer? Discipleship? Enthusiasm? Joy? Hope? Trust?" What can you do during this time of Lent to allow God to breathe new fire into your heart to stir the ashes back into a blazing fire filled with energy to know, love and serve God on a deeper level?

In today's 2nd Reading, St. Paul tells us, "Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." God desires us. God loves us unconditionally. As Psalm 95:8 tells us, "If you today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." God is patiently waiting for reconciled to God! Blessings on your Lenten season.

A Vocation Essay by Emily P. 8th Grade

Jesus said to Peter and his brother Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is the way in which Jesus called the brothers to lead them into the new faith. In the same way priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters by their life and ministry, invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocation.

One way in which priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters can invite people to share in the faith is by and through their ministry. They can preach to the people about the importance of Christ in their life and the importance of finding their own vocation. Just by simply spreading God’s words, they are calling some people to be brought into the faith.

Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters set a good example for us on how to live out a vocation, because they are living theirs each and every day. If the religious’ love of God is strong enough, people are able to see God acting through them. This recognition can be spiritually influential and can lead to someone’s conversion. People see the religious and see how they live. Some people discover that this is the way they want to live. Their examples help lead people to Christ and discover their vocation in life.

The priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters touch people’s hearts each and every day by performing acts of kindness. Their selfless love of others inspires people to become more like them. The light of Christ shines through them every time they perform an act of kindness. People see what they do and begin to find Christ in the world around them. All that had to be done was for someone to demonstrate, maybe even in subtle ways, how much Christ loves them.
Just like He did with Peter and Andrew God is calling all of his faithful to spread His word and grow His people in faith. We can all be fishers of men. We need to support and pray for vocations to continue. We need to be open to accepting our own vocations, whether it is with a religious order or as a lay person. It is our faithful responsibility to can go forth from our homes and spread the Good News throughout the world.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Jer 17:5-8; 1 Cor 15:12-20; LK 6:17-26

Today’s gospel passage may seem a bit strange to many Catholics. We know well Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes; it is used far more frequently than Luke’s in liturgical settings. There are definite differences between the two versions. Each is used by the gospel author (Matthew or Luke) for their own theological purposes. Both versions have something to teach us and we should not try to compare one as better than the other. Instead, let’s read each in its own context. Matthew’s Beatitudes come at the beginning of his account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; they are an elaboration of the dimensions of God’s Kingdom that Jesus has come to proclaim.

Luke’s version of the Beatitudes (really the Beatitudes and Woes) tries to show what is expected of those who would be followers of Jesus, those who would belong to the "Poor of God." The Poor of God are a special concern of Luke. He has already told us this by having the birth of Jesus announced to simple shepherds, and not to respected magi (as in Matthew’s Infancy account). In Luke’s gospel the "poor" becomes a name for Jesus’ disciples. Yet it is important to remember that here "poor" does not mean someone who is needy in terms of earthly possessions; rather "poor" designates a religious frame of mind. This frame of mind is one that is willing to change one’s way of life (one’s spiritual attitudes and habits), even radically. The poor individual, a true follower of Jesus, doesn’t hold on to one’s ego, one’s set personality and regular ways of doing things, but is willing to undertake major spiritual changes. In Luke those who are well-off in terms of wealth and possessions can be followers of Jesus if they are willing to share what they have with those in need.

This is a different reading of "poor" than we have in common parlance. For us "poor" means a physical condition of neediness. We need to remember that difference if we are to correctly interpret Luke’s meaning. For the evangelist Luke "to be poor" means a willingness to change one’s life in a better spiritual direction. While this may be a rather new way of thinking for we twenty-first century Americans, it actually is very close to the ancient monastic theme of "conversio morum" or conversatio morum (in the Rule of Benedict). While there is a lot of scholarly discussion about the exact meaning of the phrase in the context of the Rule, it’s pretty commonly accepted that it refers to a process of changing one’s life.

We might say that it’s a way of countering "static living." We human beings seek regular patterned ways of doing things; that drive seems to written into our socio-psychological make-up. If we get a new job, move to a new place or find ourselves in changed circumstances, one of the first things we do is try to find a "regular pattern." We want to find what’s required of us and what’s the best and quickest way to get it done. That’s true in all areas of life, and it begins in small things. I used to like to study it in terms of "breakfast habits" in monastic communities. Everybody seems to have regular habits of getting into the day. People can even get really fixated in these.

The same drive for regular patterns holds true spiritually. We seek patterns, habits, regular ways. And this is good....up to a point. Ultimately, spiritual growth is not static! Lent is a good time to explore our "regular ways" of doing spiritual things and seek some new life and growth. (At this point I stopped and went and tore up my Bona Opera; I usually put down about the same things each year. It was time to come up with something new.) To be a member of the Poor of God is to be willing to change spiritually. Let’s remember that this coming Lenten season.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vocation Essay by Colin C. 7th Grade

How do priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters, by their life and ministry, invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocations?

Everyone in the Church has their own part when it comes to living their lives for Christ. Some are the Catechists who teach others about Christ, while others are the Catechumen, those who receive the teachings of Christ. Everyone has a role, whether it is as student or teacher, and we all share the common goal of living our lives for Christ. Priests, deacons, brothers, and sisters are those who are called to teach because God has called them to, which are often referred to as vocations. For those who hear this calling, God is the focus in all that they do.

Priests are invited by God, to serve the mass and change the bread and wine, into the Body and Blood. Brothers and Sisters are invited by God to teach at schools and spread the good news of God. They devote their lives to serving God, and spreading his teachings. They live in Monasteries, where they pray and reflect on all they have done, and strive to do their best to serve God.

We can also spread the word of God. By going to Confession, receiving the Eucharist, and trying to see and show God’s love through our actions, we can also work to show others God’s love. He formed each and every one of us on earth, and we can actively participate in the Mass and listen to God’s teachings so we can grow in his image and be the best that we can. We can resist temptation and sin and only do what is right and just. All of these things will help us grow in God’s image. It will help us be the best we can be. Everyone around us, especially priests, deacons, brothers, and sisters, can show us the way leading to God through their devotion to God and their responding to His call to serve.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vocation Essay by Austin B. 7th Grade

How do priest, deacons, and religious brothers and sister by their life and ministry invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocation?

There are lots of ways these special people show their faith and spread the good news of God. I believe you are called to the vocation as a young child.

Priest: They show their love and faith through God’s word. Priests spread the good news of God by spending their adult life by learning the teaching of God. They share what they have learned with the congregation in a way for all of us to understand. They invite the community to come and listen and be a part of the Holy Catholic Faith. Priests also make time to go to hospitals, nursing homes, or wherever they are needed. They read the Bible to anyone that is interested in God. They give Jesus’ body and blood to those who are too ill to come to mass. They prepare men and women for marriage, and talk to individuals who are interested in joining the church.

Deacons: Deacons show their faith much as a priest does. A deacon assists the priest at the altar, and is a stepping stone to becoming a priest himself. The deacon is a respected position in the Catholic Church. Deacon’s ministers to the poor, the aged, the sick as well as prisoners. Deacons participate in programs dealing with community problems.

Sisters: Sisters show their faith in all types of ways. There are many different religious orders a woman can enter. Each order has a special meaning and task. Sisters, like priests, show their love for God and devote their lives to God. Most people do not have the ability to be as strong and faithful as a nun. Nuns show unconditional love for the community. Some nuns are teachers, and some are nurses, these types of work show their love for people.

(Austin B. 7th)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Scenes Around the Monastery

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Vocation Essay by Elliott M. 7th Grade

When I think of Priests, nuns, saints, and all of the leaders of the church I think of people who inspire others to become one of them. Holy people preach the way of the Lord to those who have not yet heard. All holy people have a good chance to get to heaven. Holy people are always helping others.

I don’t dream of becoming a holy priest but I can still live a holy life. With God anything is possible; like everyone going to heaven. But He gave us the choice. God is without a doubt the most important thing in the universe. He helps us, hears us, and loves us even when we do something unjust.

A vocation is a calling from God, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a priest. Priesthood does not really interest me but I look forward to loving and serving God’s people.

I always pray that there will be no war in the future. War is the main cause of everything bad and I feel that my vocation is to stop war. Nobody can help what they believe so nobody should care.

I think all holy people should be famous just like actors and comedians. Devout life is the best possible, but it is not for everybody. All holy people are truly good.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Pray the Rosary, by Mary Ann Wyand

Recently Mary Ann Wyand, I reporter for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Catholic Newspaper, the Criterion, wrote an article on my 8th graders and how they are inspired to pray the Rosary. I think Mary Ann did a fantastic job capturing the heart of my 8th graders.

By Mary Ann Wyand

BEECH GROVE—“I pray the rosary.”

Holy Name School eighth-grade students in Beech Grove are proudly wearing T-shirts they decorated with this message. They made the T-shirts after watching a “You Tube” video during religion class about a teenager who promoted his Catholic faith as well as his devotion to Jesus and Mary in this way. Benedictine Sister Mary Nicolette Etienne, a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove and the religion teacher at Holy Name School, said she enjoys teaching students to pray the rosary as part of their vocation to know, love and serve God. She makes handmade rosaries, a skill that she learned last March from her mother, St. Paul parishioner Kay Etienne of Tell City, who taught her the Marian prayer during her childhood. Sister Nicolette gives one handmade rosary to a Holy Name student every week to promote this devotion.

Father Stanley Pondo, the pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish, blesses the students’ rosaries after school Masses. Sister Nicolette displays dozens of rosaries and 10 Marian images on a bulletin board with information about some of the Mother of God’s many titles throughout the world. During religion class on Jan. 13, Holy Name eighth-grade students said their teacher inspires them to pray because she has a strong faith and deep love for Jesus.

Ashley Kedra said she drew large, colorful letters on her T-shirt with bright markers because she wants to make a bold statement about her Catholic faith. “Praying the rosary is important to me because it’s a way to talk to God and Mary,” Ashley said, “and whoever you’re praying for or whatever you’re praying for, I think it helps.”

Ben Coons drew a cross on his T-shirt next to the words. “I’m Catholic,” Ben said, “and I want other people to know about God and the rosary. It really calm
s me to pray the rosary because I know that God is listening. I’ve been praying to God for so long that I know he’s there.”

Jamaica Hayden said she learned how to pray the rosary in the second grade when each student made a rosary while preparing for first Communion.
“Ever since then, we have prayed the rosary,” Jamaica said. “It helps me get closer to God and makes me feel closer to his mother, Mary. We pray the rosary a lot. On Thursdays, we go to [Eucharistic] adoration and pray the rosary. It helps us understand our faith a little better.”

Taylor Burger said her friends who are not Catholic don’t understand why she prays the rosary.
“I play soccer and some of the kids wonder why I even care about it,” Taylor said. “I tell them that it’s how I grew up and how I trust God. … I think it’s a form of prayer so God can call you, and Mary can help you through your troubles.”

Josh Cannaday said he recently prayed the rosary for a cousin who was
very sick with cancer. “I think the guy in the video was more interested in the rosary than most people are,” Josh said. “He wanted everyone else to know about the rosary, and that when you pray the rosary you become closer to God. If more people do pray, then God is with us more of the time.”

Tristan Morphew said he likes to pray. “I think when you’re praying you feel more comfortable,” he said, “and you feel like something is coming around and embracing you. Like with the rosary, you feel like it might be a part of you somehow. Especially when it’s blessed, you feel like you’re doing something that’s important, and you’re doing something that doesn’t only just help you. It helps others. It’s not only that I want to get other people to pray the rosary. I want other people to know that I pray the rosary, too.” Tristan said his teacher inspires him to be faithful because, as a religious sister, she promises to live a life of prayer. “It inspires me that nice women like her take so much time out of their lives to pray and pray,” he said. “It just shows that she wants to go to heaven like all of us.”

During the lunch break, Sister Nicolette said she has been a Sister of St. Benedict for 24 years and a teacher for 25 years. A few years ago, she felt called to learn more about Marian devotions.
“I feel like I know and love God so much more now than I ever have in my entire life,” Sister Nicolette said. “I love that I am continuing to grow in my faith. I think the rosary has helped me to get more in touch with my relationships with Mary, our Blessed Mother, and her son, Jesus.”
She asked her sisters to donate their extra rosaries for a classroom display. “Every rosary is so unique and so beautiful,” Sister Nicolette said. “I’ve given several away because sometimes the students become attached to a certain rosary. At the end of the school year, I allow them to take one if they want it.

“I just fell in love with the devotional part of the Church, and I don’t want my students to miss out on that,” she said. “It seems like the older I get, the more devotional I have become. I love adoration, and I love that my students are learning about the practice of praising God in adoration and by praying the rosary.”

Sister Nicolette said she is pleased that her students are willing to pray the rosary.
“They love it,” she said. “They love to come in and pick a rosary off the [bulletin] board and pray. I teach grades four through eight, and all my students enjoy doing that. I have students who tell me all the time that it’s so calming to be able to walk in the classroom and pray even a decade of the rosary.”

During spring break last year, she spent three days with her mother in Tell City learning how to make rosaries. “Ever since then, I’ve been making rosaries every day,” Sister Nicolette said. “I love that it’s a gift that my mother gave me. I think that’s wonderful because the Blessed Mother is so important in my life, and it’s important to me that my mother taught me how to do this.
“When my mom and I sit down and make rosaries, a whole new level of peace and calm comes into both our hearts,” she said. “And what do we have in the end? We have a beautiful gift that we can give to people to encourage them to pray.” †

Jesus' February Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for February. 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, I am directing you. I am giving you guidance. I am prompting you, again and again. Do you hear Me? Are you learning to separate My voice from the voices of the world? Do you hear Me when I urge you to greater and greater abandonment? You are suffering, I know. I am listening to your prayers and I am with you in your pain. Please do not think that you are experiencing suffering simply because you are serving Me. Look at those who do not serve Me or even those who do not know Me. Are their lives free from suffering? I am helping you to reject the temptation to believe that if you were not walking this path with Me you would be freed from suffering. It is not true. It would be true to say that if you were not united to Me, you would be suffering without the benefit of My companionship. Such lonely suffering. Such hopeless pain. Instead, I offer you the widest variety of consolations. I offer you understanding of the relationship between sacrifice and holiness. I offer you soothing graces to assist you in preparing your soul for heaven and bringing others comfort and grace. Dearest apostles, you are surrounded by heaven. You are surrounded by grace which supports you, even when you feel you are unsupported. If you feel you cannot stand, allow yourself to fall back and rest in My arms. I will care for you and give you all that you need to continue. Your life is changing, it is true. This should not alarm you. You should expect your life to change as I draw you more and more fully into the plan that I have for your time of service to heaven. It is always the way that I bring you forward, never backward. There is always movement and change. If you were to reject service to Me, your life would still change. Change comes in life whether you are serving heaven or not serving heaven. You may wonder why I am telling you these things. I am helping you to resist the temptation to attach your commitment to Me to suffering. If you are suffering, it is because suffering is part of My plan for you. Each life will include suffering. Beloved apostles, you are trying so hard to serve heaven. Please believe that heaven is serving you, too. You are protected and loved. You need only remain on the course I have laid out for you and all will be well.

Vocation Essay, Nikki D.

Come and See

How does priest, Deacons, and religious brothers and sisters by their life and ministry, invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocation?

They help people understand that everyone has a vocation they need to live. There is a purpose why they are here on earth and why they have a soul and life. God wants us to serve, love Him and His people. He wants us to do right in life and priest, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters want the same. God sent priest, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters to live a great life and to teach people about what Jesus went through. He wants us to do something along that line to help people.

When people say I’m going to go do this for this person, some people say that because they feel guilty for not doing good for others that are in need. “Actions speak louder than words.” If you did something for people that are in need than you will have Gods’ grace shine upon you. He will be so happy. You will feel joy in your life for helping a person. If you just help them a little, it is like a lot to them.

Some people will be called to the life of spiritual perfection by becoming a consecrated religious, a brother, and a sister. Religious brothers and sisters want to do lots in life. They love to teach others about their vocations. Just like Sister Nicolette, she is showing us her vocation by teaching us about God, and how much we love Him. How Jesus lived His life here on earth. We all love her. She does an excellent job teaching us about God.

Priests are there when you need someone to talk to when you have done wrong, or to pray for you. They share in the greatest joys of peoples' lives and are with them in times of hardship and sorrow. He is a pastor, a shepherd, a teacher, and spiritual father. He stands in the place of Jesus Christ. They stand right next to God themselves; they are very special to us.

Mother Teresa once said, “Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience.”

I believe that people are looking for God, but they are looking in the wrong spot to find him. How things grow in quiet is the same with vocations. Sometimes you have to give up what you love most. Every day your gifts grow better and better. You should love yourself the way you are.

Nikki D. 8th Grade