Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Advent ~ iListen

There is an Online Advent Retreat link now posted on our CSA main website page 

Simply click on the link  “Online Advent Retreat” under News & Events and you will find the Introduction and First Week of Advent reflections.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Thanksgiving . . .

“We thank our God every time we think of you. In every prayer we utter, we rejoice at the way you have all continually helped promote the Good News of Peace with Justice from the very first day. We are sure of this much, that the God, who has begun this good work in you, will carry it through to completion. Our prayer is that your love may abound more and more, both in understanding and in wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the day of Christ Jesus. It is our wish that you be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened in you, to the glory and praise of God.” (Adapted from Philippians 1:1-11)
We thank you for visiting our CSA website.  We wish you blessings and thank you for your prayers and support.
Sister Jean

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Earth . . . Teach Us to Remember . . .

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy

For each new morning with its light, 
For rest and shelter of the night, 
For health and food, 
For love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends.  ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Creator hear us, for we are your children.
Father we thank you for all that you have given us.
We thank you for the lessons that you have taught us and
for the life that you have allowed us to lead.
We thank you Mother Earth for your beauty and sustenance.
We thank the masters of this universe
for their guidance, protection and direction.
Father we thank you for the white light that surrounds us, and for
that same white light which transmutes all negativity
into love and healing.
We thank you father, for the healing of our souls,
the healing of the Earth and for the healing of all mankind.
We call upon the power of the universe, to
allow us happiness, prosperity, healing and love.
We call upon the power of the universe for
good relationship to all things.
We call upon the power of the universe, for sacred direction,
sacred protection, sacred correction and sacred connection.
We call upon the power of the universe for magic and miracles.
We honor you Creator, as we honor all things seen and unseen.
We honor you Creator, as we honor our ancestors, 
as we honor ourselves.
~ Grant Redhawk - Two Feathers - Native American

Thank You, thank You, thank You, generous God!  You have injected life with joy, thus we know laughter. You have dabbed creation with color, thus we enjoy beauty. You have whistled a divine tune into the rhythm of life, thus we hear music. You have filled our minds with questions, thus we appreciate mystery. You have entered our hearts with compassion, thus we experience faith. Thank You, God, Thank You. Thank You! ~ C. Welton Gaddy   

Thanksgiving Prayer  
In the spirit of humility we give thanks for all that is. 
We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom. 
We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now. 
We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet, 
to breathe the air, 
to taste the food, 
to experience sensations of a human body/mind, 
to share in this wonder that is life. 
We are grateful for the natural world that supports us, 
for the community of humankind that enables us to do many wondrous things. 
We are grateful that we are conscious, 
that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many gifts we have been given. ~ Tom Barrett 

Native American Prayers
Oh Great Spirit, 
Whose voice I hear in the wind, 
Whose breath gives life to the world, 
Hear me! 
I come to you as one of your many children. 
I am small and weak. 
I need your strength and wisdom. 
May I walk in beauty. 
Make my eyes behold the red and purple sunset. 
Make my hands respect the things that you have made, 
And my ears sharp to hear your voice. 
Make me wise so that I may know the things 
That you have taught your children-- 
The lessons that you have hidden in every leaf and rock. 
Make me strong, not to be superior to my brothers, but to be 
able to fight my greatest enemy: myself. 
Make me ever ready to come to you with straight eyes, so that 
When life fades as the faded sunset 
My spirit will come to you without shame.  ~ John Yellow Lark

Earth Teach Me to Remember
Earth teach me stillness 
as the grasses are stilled with light. 
Earth teach me suffering 
as old stones suffer with memory. 
Earth teach me humility 
as blossoms are humble with beginning. 
Earth Teach me caring 
as the mother who secures her young. 
Earth teach me courage 
as the tree which stands alone. 
Earth teach me limitation 
as the ant which crawls on the ground. 
Earth teach me freedom 
as the eagle which soars in the sky. 
Earth teach me resignation 
as the leaves which die in the fall. 
Earth teach me regeneration 
as the seed which rises in the spring. 
Earth teach me to forget myself 
as melted snow forgets its life. 
Earth teach me to remember kindness 
as dry fields weep in the rain. 
Ute, North American

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meeting Your Edge!

There is a story about a group of people climbing to the top of a mountain. It turns out it's pretty steep, and as soon as they get up to a certain height, a couple of people look down and see how far it is, and they completely freeze; they had come up against their edge and they couldn't go beyond it. The fear was so great that they couldn't move. Other people tripped on ahead, laughing and talking, but as the climb got steeper and more scary, more people began to get scared and freeze. All the way up this mountain there were places where people met their edge and just froze and couldn't go any farther. The people who made it to the top looked out and were very happy to have made it to the top.

The moral of the story is that it really doesn't make any difference where you meet your edge; just meeting it is the point. Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again. That's where you're challenged; that's where, if you're a person who wants to live, you start to ask yourself questions like, "Now, why am I so scared? What is it that I don't want to see? Why can't I go any further than this?" The people who got to the top were not the heroes of the day. It's just that they weren't afraid of heights; they are going to meet their edge somewhere else. The ones who froze at the bottom were not the losers. They simply stopped first and so their lesson came earlier than the others. However, sooner or later everybody meets his or her edge.

Pema Chodron
From 'The Wisdom of No Escape'

Thursday, November 14, 2013

End Time ~ Make a Difference!

If each grain of sand were to say:
One grain does not make a mountain,
There would be no land

If each drop of water were to say:
One drop does not make an ocean
There would be no sea

If each note of music were to say:              
One note does not make a symphony,
There would be no melody

If each word were to say:
One word does not make a library
There would be no book

If each brick were to say:
One brick does not make a wall,
There would be no house

If each seed were to say:
One seed does not make a field
There would be no harvest

You do make the difference
Begin today and make the difference
~ Author Unknown

My sister called to tell me that she and her husband had just taken part in a three-day Mission at their home parish.  The priest-preacher-presenter belongs to a religious order that ministers in the south side of Chicago.  My sister was so impressed with his presentations that she could actually quote some of his statements to me. But what moved her the most was that on the first night of the Mission, he informed the crowded church that there would be the Sacrament of Reconciliation the next night and that twelve priests would be available.

He told them that they needed only to confess that one story that keeps them from being free – he went on - according to my sister, that there would only be an Our Father and Hail Mary required for a “penance” along with one act of kindness.  He told them that no one would condemn them, yell at them, judge them, or insult them. They would only be companioned by the gift of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.  My sister also said that he often would tell the crowd of people that in the name of his brothers, he apologizes for any priests who may have brought harm or shame to them in any way.  My sister said that on the night of Reconciliation, there was standing room only.  This one priest, at this one Mission, in this one place and time has made a difference in the lives of so many.

In our Scripture readings this Sunday, in the Gospel of Luke, the Biblical commentaries reflect on Jesus’ preaching of the End Times – it is Jesus’ final time of preaching in the Temple.  And according to the theologians, as Jesus speaks about the destruction of the Temple, “The destruction of the Temple was connected in the popular mind to the end of the world.”  How in our lives have we experienced an “end time” in a variety of forms, such as, significant events or unexpected occurrences? How were we changed because of these occurrences?

I was pondering this writing while waiting for the oil change in my car, and so I made a short list of “end time” items that came to mind.  What if you would make your own “end time” listing – and reflect how each one has affected you in any way.  Here’s my list:
Days are shorter now, temperatures are dropping, trees have shed their leaves, and we have had our first snow.  
Dictators, powerful rulers, government leaders have come and gone 
Houston Astrodome is slated for demolition
Aaron Rogers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, is injured, healing, and waiting to return to the game of football
Pope Francis is a “disturbance in the Force” in a good way ~ the most significant person on Twitter!
So how do we live in “end time” times? We live in them by being present to the Presence of God, and living out our qualities of mercy, generosity, compassion, hope, harmony, and love. 


"At least once a year, I imagine that I am about to die. Looking back as truthfully as I can at my entire life, I give full attention to the things I wish hadn’t occurred. Recognizing these mistakes honestly but without self-recrimination, I try to rejoice in the innate wisdom that allows me to see so bravely, and I feel compassion for how I so frequently messed up. Then I can go forward. The future is wide open, and what I do with it is up to me." ~ Pema Chodron

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. 
These three are your greatest treasures. 
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. 
Patient with both friends and enemies, 
you accord with the way things are. 
Compassionate toward yourself, 
you reconcile all beings in the world.”  ~ Lao Tzu

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prayer of Transformation

Spirit of the living God
Bless us with wisdom and insight.
Confirm in us simplicity and humility
As we recognize our place
In the community of beings.

Flood us with perseverance to continue
The pursuit of justice and peace
In who we are and in all we do.

Draw us into your deep well of love
To courageously embrace new ways
Of living your compassion
With one another, all our sisters and brothers,
And all creation.

Transform us in the living waters of your justice,
So that in countering the hate,
Violence and brokenness of our world,
Each of us is an agent of peace and hope. Amen

 (Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth Re-visited!

Image from Super Typhoon Haiyan

This week the 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.  In light of the recent super typhoons and tropical cyclones it is time to consider once again the “inconvenient truth” of global warming.

I am posting the prayer below by Wende Wheeler which was quoted by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on their website at the time of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri.  The Joplin EF5 tornado killed 161 people and destroyed about 7,500 homes and 550 businesses in a town of 50,000.

And so we pray:
Almighty and merciful God, your people are suffering in the wake of this natural disaster. As we struggle to imagine its scope and comprehend the pain and loss, so that we may be your agents in relief, we lift our voices to you in prayer:

For all those who have lost their lives, that you have received them into your arms of mercy and love;
For all those who grieve, having lost children, parents, family, friends, neighbors, and community, and for all those who are still searching, that they may sense the solace of your presence;

For all those who are sick, injured or suffering, and for those have lost their homes and belongings, that they may find healing and the strength to continue, and the resources to rebuild their lives;
For all those who go to provide food, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and other aid, serving as your hands to comfort, heal and help, that they may be strengthened to do difficult work in devastating conditions;

For all those around the globe who look on in shock and anguish, that you may fill our hearts with compassion for those in need, showing us how you wish us to pray and reach out in the face of such suffering, and not turn from its enormity;

For all of your people, that such events on this earth should not shake our faith. Help us to recognize that our suffering is your suffering, and that your love can be found even in the darkest places. Allow us to see how all of humanity is bound inextricably together, even as we seek your truth in different languages, faiths, cultures, and traditions. Help us to accept the healing and strength you offer, and to remember that ultimately the pain and cares of this world will yield to the peace of everlasting life in you.

All of these prayers we make to you in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Images from Super Typhoon Haiyan

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A November Meditation

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-- St. Teresa of Avila

As we live into the month of November in the northern hemisphere,  we are saying good-bye to our lovely colorful leaves on the trees, and  the trees slowly bow to the winter winds and accept being exposed to the harsh winter temperatures. All of us know that we are invited to take time to rest, “hibernate” from the busyness of our warm weather activities, and to “expose” ourselves to new practices of coping with our season of winter. However, like Teresa’s prayer – what may give us hope is that “all things are passing” and by the time January lst arrives, I start counting the days to spring!  I always thank the folks “down under” for sending us the change of seasons!  It’s nice to know that we share this planet together!

I also think that as I write this, I am a tad soft around my heart. It seems that somehow I have lived long enough to now find myself reading the Obituaries in our daily paper and notice the passing of the wonderful people I have met along the way as I ministered at an earlier time in this city.  And this brings me to another “passing” experience.

This week across the road from our motherhouse is the “Old Main” building of once St. Mary’s Springs Academy.  This building was built in 1928 and served as a high school until 1970.  Currently plans for a new high school building to replace the old building are in process.  There was a farewell ceremony to “kiss”  Old Main good-bye. Truly there will be a shift in the outer and inner landscapes of passers-by. 

November also holds a calendar of remembrances as well.  We began with All Saints day, All Souls day, the Day of the Dead, Veteran’s Day, Cookie Monster’s birthday, Daylight Savings Time ends, Election Day for public officials, and of course, National Clean Your Refrigerator Day on November 14, Stop the Violence Day on November 22, 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Thanksgiving Day, followed by Black Friday, followed by Buy Nothing Day. “All things are passing.”

So as I slowly and gently have these remembrances sift through the “fingers of my mind”, I share with you two of my favorite reflections – one is from Erma Bombeck, entitled:”If I had my life to live over”.  What would you write if you had  to make known what you would do differently if you had a second chance?  I know that No.1 on my list would be to Not blame my twin sister for all my troublesome neighborhood adventures!

The second video I think is a great prayer and reflection . It is entitled, “The Last Lecture,” by Randy Pausch.  Again, what would you write if you had the chance?    

Let us pray:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-- St. Teresa of Avila

Monday, November 4, 2013

All Saints Day ~ Looking Through Another Window!


Would you like to win the lottery? Well, there IS a way of giving yourself the same 50/50 odds of winning  that you would have in an ordinary coin toss. In a few easy steps, here is what you do: 
-- Take the $2 and ten seconds it takes to fill out a Powerball lottery ticket.
-- Now spend 12 hours every day doing nothing else but buying and filling out lottery tickets.

-- Do this for the next 55 years. By the end of that time, you will have spent $2 at least 86 million times.

-- And this, my friends, is how you increase your odds of winning the lottery. Follow these simple steps and you give yourself a 50/50 chance.

We've all known people whose biggest ambition in life is to get ahead, whether through luck, personal effort, or some combination of both. I know someone, for instance, who married a woman who convinced him that their main goal in life should be earning a million dollars by the time they both reached the age of 30. You probably know how this story ends. Together they owned and operated a body-building business in a major American city. The trouble was, they started acting like millionaires before they actually were millionaires. They bought a big, fancy house. They gave their preschool children everything, including expensive clothes and $50 haircuts. Then the Great Recession came. They went bankrupt, his wife ran off with another man who was richer than he was, and he had to raise his kids alone until he married his second wife. It was a hard lesson learned.

Today we celebrate the great feast day of all those people -- whether world-famous or largely unknown -- who made the reign of God their top priority in life. Instead of luck or personal effort or some combination of both, they relied on the grace of God to get them where they were going. 

And one beautiful thing about setting your heart on the reign of God is that you always take others with you when you go. Think about it. No one goes to heaven alone. It's not a place you enter single file with no regard for who's ahead of you or who's behind you. You don't get there by disappearing into an anonymous crowd and pushing your way through it. Nor does heaven begin with a private meeting between you and St. Peter at a pearly gate or you and Jesus on a billowy cloud. The late Edgar Cayce put it this way: "You'll not be in heaven if you're not leaning on the arm of someone you have helped." 

Here is another beautiful thing about setting your sights on the reign of God. Even when your physical strength and vigor start ebbing away, every moment of your life can still be a moment of helping others. Simply living your life in a graced way, whatever your limitations, can and does inspire those around you. We all know sisters at the court and center who are -- simply in themselves -- blessings to those around them. They cheer up the people who care for them and the people who come to visit them. They're grateful for every little favor they receive. They ask you how you are doing -- and honestly want to know your answer. They ask about your family. Their days of giving active service as teachers or nurses or administrators or social workers may be over, but not their days of living the spirit of the Beatitudes. 

Some of you may have heard of the Bible translation called The Message. It was done by a Presbyterian minister educated in the ancient languages in which the Bible was first written. Reverend Eugene Peterson wanted to put the words of the Bible into ordinary everyday conversational English for his parishioners. He explained his motives in this way: "When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly. When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can't imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek --- a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians." 
Anyway, here is what Reverend Peterson came up with for his modern English translation of the Beatitudes. If Jesus were with us today, speaking in a human voice in our own language, here is what he might say. As I read from this translation of Matthew's Gospel, think of our sisters at the court and center, and think of yourselves:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Adam Piore, "How state lotteries deliberately exploit people's dreams," The Week.
"Eugene H. Peterson," Wikipedia.
Matthew 5:1-12, The Message, Eugene H. Peterson, trans., Bible Gateway.