Friday, December 28, 2012

Prayer for 2013!

CALENDARS and any digital keeper of time!

Generous God, Holy One, you who live outside of time, and reside in the imperishable moment, for you have poured out an abundance of gifts and blessings of every sort and kind upon this world from the beginning of time. Now we ask your blessing this New Year's Day (Eve) upon your gift to us of time into the new year. Bless our clocks, watches, Smartphones, and all digital keepers of time . . . You who kindly direct us to observe the passing of minutes and hours. May they make us aware of the miracle of each second of life we experience.

May these our ticking servants help us not to miss that which is important, while you keep us from machine-like routine. May we ever be free from being clock watchers and instead become time lovers. Bless our calendars, these ordered lists of days, weeks and months, of holidays, holy days, fasts and feasts and all our special days of remembering.

May these servants, our calendars, once reserved for the royal few, for magi and pyramid priests, now grace our homes and our lives. May they remind us of birthdays and other gift-days, as they teach us the secret that all life is meant for celebration and contemplation.

Bless, O God, this New Year, each of its 365 days and nights. Bless us with new moons and full moons. Bless us with happy seasons and a long life. Grant to us, O Holy One, the new year's gift of a year of love. Amen (Author Unknown)

At this time of the year as we transition across the threshold to 2013, I remind you that if you have prayer needs, just go to our CSA website at and click on the Prayer link and then Prayer Requests. Our retired Sisters consider their prayers for your intentions a sacred act of worship!

Finally, bless O Guardian of the rhythms of life, all those throughout our world this New Year's Day, (Eve) - may they attend to the deep time of your loving presence as they journey throughout this planet seeking your dream - that perfect NOW filled with light, love, and promise. This is asked in chronos time and lifted up to you to hold in your kairos time to be touched with your grace and love. Amen.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy New Year ~ 2013!

The story is told that the little Alice was captivated with the stories of Jesus, especially the eventual death of Jesus on the cross.  And she was overjoyed when she was chosen to be an angel in the school nativity play.  She learned her lines to perfection.  However, little Alice was known to add her own logic to every situation.  So the nativity play was well under way and when it was Alice’s turn to say her lines to Mary, she said: “Don’ t   worry, Mary, you will have a lovely baby and you will call him Jesus.”  Then she added, “But I wouldn’t get too attached to him ‘cos he’ll be gone by Easter.”

Isn’t it amazing how certain voices keep us grounded in truth and cause us to ponder, reflect, review, or even reframe our lived realities?  Certainly this feast of the Solemnity of Mary, calls us, like Mary, to ponder all the “joyful and sorrowful mysteries” of our own lives.  And yet, not to get too attached to them because they are only stepping stones that gently move us forward with courage, hope, imagination, new insight, and wisdom into this new year of 2013!

In our Gospel, we see that Mary and Joseph are transients, equivalent to the homeless of our city streets.  In this setting, Mary, a young woman in a patriarchal society brought her child into the world without the security of a home.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, the traditional Palestinian way of protecting a newborn, and laid him in a manger.
Mary was very much like the majority of women in the world today; she was a peasant from a small village; she was poor, exploited by the rich; she had to pay taxes to Caesar, to Herod, and to the temple.  She was like many people in our world today, especially women in Asia, Africa, and Latin America - in all those tiny villages where women work 10 or more hours a day on domestic chores – fetching water, gathering wood, and preparing meals.

In our Gospel, Luke is telling us that Mary was someone who throughout her entire life pondered, reflected, and listened deeply to God.  In her pondering, she let go of control, and trusted deeply, and was open to all possibilities.  She allowed God’s love to direct her life rather than letting her fears catapult her into illusion and darkness.

Today is also World Day of Peace – a day to ponder the new Bethlehems and new Nazareths that are happening in us where the Divine can find a home within us and within our world once again. 

So let us pray:
• That like Mary, we may risk moving to the margins, and let God direct and guide us as we walk this New Year’s path perhaps finding ourselves needing to go gently, and learning to hum in the darkness for comfort and courage.

• That God will truly look us full in the face, smile upon our efforts at peace and justice for all, and shine upon our world and bless us .

• That like Mary, may God grace us in our attempts to hold, keep, treasure, and toss together our ponderings, act on them and give birth to deep peace in our hearts, our homes, our church, our government, and in our world.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Season of Gladness

Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
Into this climate of fear and apprehension,
Christmas enters.  It is the season of gladness.

This is the season of gladness; the season of smells of bayberry and cinnamon, songs, and poetry.  This is the season of stories of hope, faith, forgiveness, generosity, light, healing, and homecoming.  Some say stories are medicine and that they have power – we need only listen, be attentive and receptive. “Stories are crucial to our sense of well-being, to our identity, to our memory, and to our future.”

Our God has truly entered the human condition; a condition that is not all clean and lovely, warm and welcoming as Hallmark Christmas cards would have us believe.  As one author writes, “Our secular, consumer society has usurped much of the wondrous mystery of it all from under us.  Have we not, as well, sanitized the whole scene? Have we not softened the rough straw with Downy, sprayed a fragrance to cover the smells of the animals; silence the cries of Mary in childbirth; tranquilized Joseph in his fear as he heard the first cries of this baby boy?”

We are made for these times as a people, a church, a nation, a world ~ we are made for these times and called, invited, chosen, and challenged to not only sing of peace, not only to speak of peace -  but BE peace.  Blessings of comfort and joy to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Affirmed, Loved, and Comforted!

This final Sunday of Advent presents us with the Gospel of the Visitation (Luke 1: 39-45).  Since I previously reflected on this Gospel in May of this year, I thought I’d repeat it here for those who may have missed it. 

Most of what we know about Mary in Scripture comes from the Gospels of Luke and John.  As a young Jewish girl, she grew into womanhood with an extraordinary faith. Oftentimes she did not understand what God was asking of her, but she believed with all her heart that it could and would be done, and she acted accordingly. In our Gospel today, Mary, a young pregnant woman went with haste about 70 miles south to the hills of Judea to visit her older pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, who has lived the past six months no longer barren and with a quieted husband.  Mary remains there for at least 3 months to be of help and to share the joy of expectation that most mothers-to-be experience.  They embody God’s mercy while sharing their fears, finding courage through one another, expressing their hopes, and learning practical wisdom of body, mind and spirit together.

 Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and is the first person to recognize Mary’s child, Jesus, as the long-awaited one. Elizabeth’s loud cry is translated with the same words used to describe the loud cry of the Hebrews before the Ark of God’s presence when it was brought into their midst. Mary is now the living Ark of God and the promise to God’s people has begun to be fulfilled in her. 

 In response to Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary proclaims a song of liberation for all people; one in which ideals are reversed and the household of God will be peopled by the poor, the hungry, and the ones with no power.  Hers is the first proclamation of justice in the New Testament.  Her song is revolutionary – She speaks of a political revolution in which God has shown strength and brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.  She speaks of a social revolution in which God has filled the hungry with good things; and she sings of an economic revolution, in which God has sent the rich away empty, and the poor are filled with good things.

Her message is so subversive that even in our time, it is written that “for a period during the 1980’s the Government of Guatemala banned its public recitation.”  Her song of courage invites us to identify the poor, the 1980’s the Government of Guatemala banned its public recitation.”  Her song of courage invites us to identify the poor, the oppressed and marginalized of our day, to be in solidarity with them, and to dare to engage with God in the liberation of these people, believing, like Mary that this can be done so that we too can build up the kingdom with love and justice.

Monday, December 17, 2012

“Sleep In Heavenly Peace”


As I posted before, a certain culture believes a person can die twice . . . once with their natural death and secondly, when their name is forgotten.  I post here the names of the victims of the Sandy Hook School shootings so that they are not forgotten.
Those killed at the school were 12 girls, eight boys and six female adults. They are listed below by name, date of birth (mm/dd/yy), gender and age.

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female (age 6)
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male (age 7)
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female (age 6)
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female (age 7)
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female (age 6)
Dylan Hockley, 03/08/06, male (age 6)
Madeleine F. Hsu, 07/10/06, female (age 6)
Catherine V. Hubbard, 06/08/06, female (age 6)
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male (age 7)
Jesse Lewis, 06/30/06, male (age 6)
James Mattioli, 03/22/06, male (age 6)
Grace McDonnell, 11/04/05, female (age 7)
Emilie Parker, 05/12/06, female (age 6)
Jack Pinto, 05/06/06, male (age 6)
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male (age 6)
Caroline Previdi, 09/07/06, female (age 6)
Jessica Rekos, 05/10/06, female (age 6)
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female (age 6)
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male (age 6)
Allison N. Wyatt, 07/03/06, female (age 6)


Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female (age 29)
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female (age 47)
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female (age 52)
Lauren Russeau, 1982, female (age 29)
Mary Sherlach, 02/11/56, female (age 56)
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female (age 27


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Laughter 'n Links!

Dave Barry, humor columnist
"Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space." 

Christmas Chimes ~ by Erma Bombeck
"Everything is in readiness. The tree is trimmed.  The cards taped to the door frame.  The boxes stacked in glittering disarray under the tree. Why don’t I hear chimes? Remember the small boy who made the chimes ring in a fictional story years ago?  As the legend went, the chimes would not ring unless a gift of love was placed on the altar.  Kings and men of great wealth placed untold jewels there, but year after year the church remained silent.

Then one Christmas Eve, a small child in a tattered coat made his way down the aisle, and without anyone noticing he took off his coat and placed it on the altar.  The chimes rang out joyously throughout the land to mark the unselfish giving of a small boy.

I used to hear chimes. I heard them the year one of my sons gave me a tattered piece of construction paper on which he had crayoned two hands folded in prayer and a moving message, OH COME HOLY SPIT!

I heard them the year I got a shoe box that contained two baseball cards and the gum was still with them. I heard them the Christmas they all got together and cleaned the garage. They’re gone, aren’t they?  The years of the lace doilies fashioned into snowflakes … the hands traced in plaster of paris … the Christmas trees of pipe cleaners … the thread spools that held small candles.  They’re gone.

The chubby hands that clumsily used up $2 worth of paper to wrap a cork coaster are sophisticated enough to take a number and have the gift wrapped professionally. The childish decision of when to break the ceramic piggy bank with a hammer to spring the 59 cents is now resolved by a credit card.

The muted thump of pajama-covered feet padding down the stairs to tuck her homemade crumb scrapers beneath the tree has given way to pantyhose and fashion boots to the knee.
It’ll be a good Christmas.  We’ll eat too much.  Make a mess in the living room.  Throw the warranties into the fire by mistake.  Drive the dog crazy taping bows to his tail.  Return cookies to the plate with a bite out of them.  Listen to Christmas music.

But Lord … what I would give to bend low and receive a gift of toothpicks and library paste and hear the chimes just one more time!"

Erma Bombeck on Christmas
"No one loves a Christmas tree on Jan. 1. The wonderful soft branches that the family couldn't wait to get inside to smell have turned into rapiers that jab you. The wonderful blinking lights that Daddy arranged by branch and color have knotted themselves hopelessly around crumbling brownery and have to be severed with a bread knife. The stockings that hung by the chimney with care are hanging out of sofa cushions, and they smell like clam dip.

And the angel that everyone fought to put on top of the tree can only be removed with an extension ladder that is in the garage, and no one can remember how to fit it through the door.
Next to the presidency, de-trimming a tree has to be the loneliest job in the world. It has fallen to women for centuries and is considered a skill only they can do, like replacing the roll on the toilet tissue spindle, painting baseboards, holding a wet washcloth for a child who is throwing up or taking out a splinter with a needle."

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Student Santa . . .

The students were having their briefing about how to be a good ‘Santa Claus’. The Christmas season was gearing up in the department store, and Alex was here on his first day as a ‘holiday-job Santa.’

‘Whatever you do, don’t frighten the children,’ the manager told them sternly. ‘Not even if the parents want you to!’

Armed with this advice, Alex started his first day.  The very first child that arrived, parents in tow, screamed blue murder the moment he set eyes on Alex’s fine new Santa outfit and long white beard. Nothing would pacify him. Not the parents’ admonitions to ‘be a brave little boy’, and not Alex’s own attempts to console the crying child.

Eventually, in despair, Alex hit on an idea. He began to peel off his ‘uniform’, bit by bit, starting with the white beard. The child stopped crying, and watched him, fascinated.  The red hood was removed, and a young and rather embarrassed face came to light. The glasses were removed, and two twinkling, youthful, blue eyes appeared. The red robe was discarded, and underneath it was an ordinary young man in blue jeans and sweatshirt.  The child looked on in amazement, until he was soon laughing and relaxed.

Once the relationship between them had been established, Alex started to put the ‘uniform’ back on again, and as he did so, he told the little boy a story of how, a very long time ago, God had come to live on earth with us, and so that no one would be frightened, God had come in very ordinary clothes and lived the life of a very ordinary child.  The boy listened, wide-eyed.

Soon, it was time to move on. The next ‘customer’; was waiting. The boy‘s parents moved away, rather disgruntled. ‘What a shame,’ they said. ‘It spoiled all the magic.’
‘The end of the magic, perhaps,’ mused Alex, ‘but the beginning of the wonder.’

Source Unknown

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holy Waiting!

"We are not restful people who occasionally become restless. But we are restless people who occasionally become restful.” (Henri Nouwen)
Advent is the liturgical season when we pay special attention to the mystery of waiting. In our American culture, we have a real problem because most of us Americans don’t like waiting, and we certainly don’t see waiting as something to celebrate. We live in a culture that cooks its food in microwaves, or we can choose the “drive thru,” ; we measure time in microseconds or even nano-seconds. It’s not that we do not wait.  We may spend hours waiting in lines at airports, at doctor’s offices, on the highway in traffic, at the grocery store checks-outs – we even have to wait in the Self-Serve check-out lane or Express Lane!  Recently, I saw a clip that even bank tellers may be eliminated with some type of digital technology so no waiting would be needed. “Everyone knows that Americans hate to stand in line. It’s contrary to the basic American values of independence and self-determination. While standing in line may   not threaten life, it certainly threatens liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (T. Stawar)

I invite you to just lean back in your memory of your everyday experiences and recall where you wait: for your medicine, or for it to take effect, for your meals, for a phone call, a visit, or a letter. Or you wait for the result of your tests, or for healing. (Pause) Think of a time you waited and how you felt. Turn and tell someone where you have waited – share how you felt. How did it change you?

We wait because we have to – sometimes we have no choice but to wait. And we may wait impatiently, looking at our clocks, calendars, watches  – or maybe we even find ourselves complaining – if not verbally, then we may hold it in and do some “internal global whining.” Our culture tends to view waiting as an inconvenient necessity or as an outright injustice that stems from a variety of factors, for example:
• We see time as a resource to be controlled and allocated for our own personal gain and convenience.
• We allow time to run our lives, hurrying to and from scheduled appointments and on to the next appointment.
• We see waiting as a certain sign that something is wrong that should have been fixed but was not.
• Our entertainment, from television, to radio talk shows, to movies has created an illusion that all problems are resolvable in something less than two hours or even less than that.
• Our culture tends to prize action more than meditation, speed rather than slow progress and arriving rather than the journey.

So in our culture, waiting sometimes bores and often irritates us however we may find that at every stage of our lives some new forms of waiting are involved. However the Scriptures teach us that if  we approach waiting in the right spirit, waiting is a creative moment when we grow spiritually.  When we wait, we are in touch with an essential aspect of our humanity which is that we are dependent on God and on one another.  It is also an act of love since, by waiting for others; we pay them the respect of letting them be free. Waiting is a mystery – God waits and nature waits – so that when we as individuals wait we go beyond ourselves and enter into sacred life-giving process, experiencing that we are made in the image and likeness of God. This is why Advent is a time of celebration.

Advent is the season when we remember with gratitude creative experiences of waiting in our lives or the lives of people we have known, the people who have waited for us at one time or another.  We also remember the great waiting experiences in human history, in the Scriptures, and especially in the life Jesus. Today, we have come to reflect on faithful waiting.  Henri Nouwen writes that, “Faithful waiting is the antidote to fear and self-doubt.  It is believing God can accomplish in us something greater than our imaginings.”

Waiting teaches us to live life in increments, in small pieces rather than large chunks. Waiting teaches us to measure our progress slowly. It is hard to trust in God’s time - Kyros time – God’s  slow unfolding time.  God’s time is different from our time - Chronos time - time of clocks and calendars.  On God’s time, we are often waiting for the bigger picture but must be content with each small piece.  When we are waiting, we put one foot in front of the other every morning and evening.   Henri Nouwen says that sometimes we have enough light only for the next step.  Faithful waiting teaches us patience. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the fullest in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.  Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere.  The moment is empty.  But patient people dare to stay where they are.  Faithful waiting means nurturing the moment.

1. So as we reflect on the gift of waiting, faithful waiting, it calls us to be patient – which invites us  to trust that often times there is no quick fix.  When we have to wait without knowing the answers, without knowing what’s ahead, we are nudged into a new perspective.  Waiting without immediate solutions presents us with an opportunity to lean into the unknowing, to let go of the false promise of a quick fix, and to grow in patience.  At this time in our lives, there are many who wait for peace.  Jim Forrest, a member of Fellowship of Reconciliation, has compared the labors of peacemakers to those of the artisans who built the great medieval cathedrals, working generation after generation on projects whose completion most would never see. 

2. Patience invites us to trust in the fullness of God’s time. It is hard to wait.  We often want to take our lives into our own hands and make things happen – possibly right away! Scripture ask us to trust in the fullness of God’s time.  If we recall  Chardin’s prayer:  “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.  We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.”  It is said that there is rightness about God’s time:  ripeness, maturation, a waiting that is worth it.  (Nature is a wonderful example of God’s time – (the seasons, the ebb and flow of the oceans, the gestation period of a child in the womb).  Patience is a standing invitation to trust in God’s timing.

3. Patience opens us to what we call active waiting.  Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands.  If the bus is late.  We can’t do anything about it, so we have to sit there and just wait.  It is not difficult to understand the irritation that we feel when somebody says, “Just wait.” (Sometimes I think of the 500 people that wait in line each evening at St. Ben’s meal program in Milwaukee, WI – they just wait.  And if they cause a problem while they're waiting, then they are removed.) But in the Scriptures, there is no passivity in waiting. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively.  Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment in the conviction that something is happening where we are - and that we want to be present to it.  A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is thee moment.

4.   Patience gives us time to be available to others. Waiting presents us with opportunities to isolate ourselves and do “global whining” or to realize that we have time to be available to others.  When  we wait, we often find that we are not waiting alone.  Patience gives us time to be available and to connect us with others.  We can never experience the richness of empathy, the intimacy of shared joy and sorrow, or the solace of friendship without taking time to be available for others.  There is not a short-cut to our experiences.  Waiting gives us the chance to be open to each and every slowed-down experience.

So this week, let us ask for the grace to be open to Advent opportunities to practice holy waiting, and to grow in being restful in our restlessness!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Roses!

December 2, 2012 was the 32nd anniversary of the Church Women Martyrs of El Salvador.
Here are some links provided by Creighton University and others - that will help us all not to forget them and all who have been witnesses to the Gospel. I say this remembering a Spanish speaking priest who once said – and I paraphrase here – In my culture, a person can die twice. Once with their natural death, and secondly when their name is forgotten. Let us not forget the names of these women: Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan.

Advent Soup!

Five year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup. But he didn't want to go in alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s OK — Jesus will be in there with you.” Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?” 

These four weeks of Advent begin as never before, with a time as individuals, as a faith community, as a religious congregation, as a church, a nation, and inhabitants of this planet earth ~we all are faced with standing in liminality – an in-betweenness - hoping against hope that God is in the darkness of it all!  Like Johnny, we, too, need to be courageous and creative and call out to our God to hand us what we need in this time of doubt, confusion, apprehension and fear while walking in this space and time of uncertainty.   

In her book, Journey of the Soul, our own Doris Klein, describes this liminal experience:  She writes:  "When we face those times of uncertainty in our life, the scene is often blurry.  Things we were so sure of suddenly make little sense.  The answers we thought were clear now seem lost in a distant fog, and we wander aimlessly, unable to regain the focus we once believed we had.  Our confusion is unsettling.  Doubt, like vertigo, distorts our balance as we fearfully wander in a vast and empty inner wilderness as we wrestle with the darkness, a rush of panic washes into our hearts our breath becomes shallow and, with each question, the judgments seem to escalate.”

We are not to lose heart.  Author Clarissa Pinkola Estes assures us  . . . “We were made for these times,” she writes.  “People everywhere are concerned and deeply bewildered about the state of affairs in our world.  Ours is not a task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.  Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world will help immensely.” Yes, we are made for these times and as a people, a church, a nation, a world, we need generous, creative, imaginative people whose zeal can be ignited by the vision of a daring and not quite rational undertaking.  

In our nation of abundance, let us not forget that over twenty percent of the children in our nation live in poverty.   And in comparison with other industrialized nations, we have more high school drop outs, more violent crime among youth, more poverty among the elderly, more medically uninsured citizens, and the widest gap of income between the rich and the poor.  Again, like Johnny, we need to call out to God and risk entering the darkness of these realities that cause us to ponder the scarcities and the inequities of our social system. 

We are made for these times – and we must dare to become imaginative and creative so as to confront the dark forces that keep our minds and hearts hostage.  When we live in liminality, we need to be able to take risks without worrying about the consequences.  Henri Nouwen once wrote, “Faithful waiting is the antidote to fear and self-doubt.  It is believing God can accomplish in us something greater than our imaginings.”

Now is the time for hope to be born again in the faces and hearts of our children and young adults, and where we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us as pillars of passion, heralds of hope, and voices with vision where it will spread around the earth, brightening all things. For we have been made for these times and as Paul writes to the Corinthians: That in God we are enriched in every way, and that we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts as we wait for the revelation of Christ Jesus.  

It is here in this time that we are to be watchful, alert and awake so that we will encounter our God in our midst to create from the chaos as in Genesis.  Advent is a season that invites us to cross over the threshold from darkness to light, from anxiety to a holy serenity, from emptiness to abundance, and to wholeheartedly turn to seek God who is already in the turning!
Yes, we are made for these times and called, invited, chosen,  and challenged to be alert, awake, prepared and vigilant.  So when God breaks into our lives in unexpected ways during this Advent season and we feel confused, anxious, frightened, or we find ourselves grasping for hope — let us be ready to ask God to just hand us the tomato soup or whatever we may need to be at ease and to be faith-filled as we live into this liminality – for God is already here among us.