Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mary Ward ~ Dangerous Visionary - a woman ahead of her time . . .

January 30 – Feast of Venerable Mary Ward

“She was a pioneer for women’s role in Church ministry and a woman ahead of her time in shaping apostolic religious life as we know it today. Mary Ward expected much and believed with all her heart that, ‘Women in time to come will do much.’”

Excerpt below from:
The Little Book of Mary Ward (Introduced by Evanne Hunter, IBVM, compiled by Don Mullan)
“In her day, Mary Ward encountered tremendous opposition because of her belief that girls should be educated and women empowered to assume leadership in the Church and in society.   Countless women and men who teach in Mary Ward Schools around the world continue that mission today.  Others work with street and slum children and child-domestic workers and victims of HIV.AIDS. Still others meet the needs of girls and women in our time by empowering them to resist the feminization of poverty, the traditional ritual of Female Genital Mutilation, the travesty of child marriage and child labor, and the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls for profit.

We, Mary Ward’s followers strive, as she did, to read the signs of our times, to discern God’s will, and to respond with love.  All for the greater glory of God.”

Quotes of Mary Ward:
“I listened to God’s deep dream for me and felt a longing to respond.”

“I hope in God it will be seen that women in time will do much.”

“Let us be wise and know what we are to believe and what not, and not to be made to think we can do nothing.  If women are so inferior to men in all things, why are they not exempted in all things as they are in some?”

“In quiet confidence, do your best and God will do the rest.”

“The true children of this company shall accustom themselves to act not out of fear but solely from love, because we are called by God to a vocation of love.”

“With me all is as it were done. It only remains for me to be found faithful when I must appear before God.”

The Presentation: A Story of Faithful Waiting!


A presentation in the temple,
A mother purified according to the Law.
A child anointed, blessed, and praised. 
A child cradled in the arms of Simeon.

Simeon . . . One not to experience death
Until his eyes beheld his Savior,
Yet within his embrace
He holds the Prince of Peace.

Ah, Anna . . .  a prophetess and temple-dweller
Gives praise and thanks for this child of redemption.
She has waited, prayed, and fasted
Eager to be filled with the richness of this sacred moment.

Both old ones, fragile in age and sight,
Experience crystal-clear vision of the God-child
Who rests in their arms – the God-child that visits their temple-dwelling.
The child rests with peace.
The child receives praise and blessing.
The child receives anointing
In this ritual of purification.

However, in time yet to be, this child will be embraced
In the arms of his mother as he is removed from his cross
To be anointed again, and received into his temple of rock . . .
Embraced by earth . . . a tomb of Passover
Waiting, resting, resurrecting!

And so little child, grow strong in body
And wise in spirit.
Grow in the favor of God
For your time has come, your hour has come 
To release the captives, to give sight to the blind,
To set the oppressed free, to proclaim the Good News
For you are the Anointed One!

A child of favor, O child anointed, teach us to release
All that is held captive and oppressed within us.
Teach us to seek the wisdom and courage that is deep within 
Our very selves so that we may proclaim the Good News . . .
Be Good News! Amen. Amen.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Remembering the Gift of Catholic Education . . .

O Christ, our Teacher, You invite Your faithful people to make disciples in Your name and to announce good news to the poor. We thank You for the gift of Catholic schools, where
The message of Your life, death, and resurrection is proclaimed,
Christian community is experienced,
Service to our brothers and sisters is modeled,
And worship of You is cultivated.

Increase our zeal for ensuring that all children and families can benefit from a high quality Catholic education, and that Catholic schools grow in their ability to nurture the soul of our nation. We ask this through the intercession of Our Lady, Mother of Catholic Schools. Amen. (From: Advocates for Catholic Schools/University of Notre Dame)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Olympics of CALL!

In reflecting on this Sunday's Gospel, it is all about CALL,  leaving the familiar, and accepting a new direction in life.  In 2012, I posted this reflection at the time of the Olympic Games.  I thought I could use it as a "repeat" - and invite us all to reflect once again on our own personal purpose and call.

The Olympics of CALL! 

A Sufi master had lost the key to his house and was looking for it in the grass outside. He got down on his hands and knees and started fingering every blade of grass. Along came his disciples, asking, “Master, what’s wrong?” He said, “I have lost the key to my house. Can you help me find it?” So they all got down on their hands and knees, running their fingers through the grass.

As the day grew hotter and hotter, one of the disciples asked, “Master, have you any idea WHERE you might have lost the key?” The Master replied, “Of course. I lost it in the house.” To which they all exclaimed. “Then why are we looking for it out here?” He said, “Isn't it obvious? There is more light out here?”

+ + +
“Calls are invitations from life to serve, to activate your will toward a cause worthy of you and the human family. They are purposes with a voice, visions turned into inner commands. Calls draw you into the specifics of a purpose and a vision.” (John P. Schuster ~ Answering Our Call)

"In the thousands of moments that string together to make up our lives, there are some where time seems to change its shape and a certain light falls across our ordinary path. We stop searching for purpose, we become it. "(Dawna Markova ~ I will not Die and Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion)
+ + + 

This week some of you may be glued to the TV, or to your SmartPhone, or computer to catch the results of the Olympic Games. I thought that these Games had a significant correlation to our efforts at discerning one’s purpose and call in life. Much like the Sufi Master in the story above, we sometimes feel more comfortable, safe, and in control when we are “in the light” - searching for that something that will give us a clue or direction as to what we are to be or do with our lives. However, finding the KEY calls for us to step inside ourselves where we may experience darkness, quiet, restlessness, aloneness, feelings, truth, fears, obsolete “life commandments”, images, thoughts, or memories that all are part of God’s invitation to us to find the KEY for our real purpose and call.

According to a YouTube video, to become and Olympic Athlete there are a number of KEY steps to take so as to stay on the path to possibly acquiring the gold, silver, and bronze medals. But how is this related to the spiritual inward journey of finding your purpose and call possibly to live a religious lifestyle? Here are some elements to consider:
1. Talent – you have to have the talent to “give yourself away” so that others may become more or better because of your self-awareness, relationship skills, generosity, knowledge, physical and mental health, and spiritual growth to make the mission of Jesus real and alive in our world.
2. Dedication – this calls for the capacity to commit yourself to the mission of Jesus in a particular organization, with its charism, ministries, spirituality, lifestyle, and values.
3. Training Center: Once you've discerned a form of religious life (Apostolic, Monastic, Cloistered, or Contemplative) then you will need to be more specific and choose a “Training Center.” There are many religious communities with charisms unique to its founding, and each with its’ own vocation and formation guidelines. Many of these can be found on sites such as: and 
Discernment is crucial here that you have had time to research the choices.
4. Coach: It’s important to have someone who companions you in your spiritual and personal growth journey. Possibly seek out a spiritual director ( a mentor, or friend who will be able to hear what your heart desires. 
5. Enter local, regional and national games: This again calls for research as to where your heart feels a fit and “at home” with the community of choice. It may mean you will have to move to a place where their motherhouse is and become familiar with their members in other regions to learn about them and for them to get to know you. 
6. Finances: Many communities today require you to be debt free from credit cards, health debts, property debts, etc., but are willing to negotiate entering with education debts. They may have policies or guidelines formulated.
7. Try Outs: Communities have very well developed discernment guidelines before you are able to apply for formal acceptance into the community’s formation program. There are wonderful opportunities to get to know the membership through sharing prayer, meals, meetings, discussions, activities, and on-going personal and spiritual growth planning.
8. Keep your eyes on the prize!: There are no gold, silver, or bronze medals for living a life of service and self gift – It all requires a willingness to carry out the mission of the community, to have the gift of membership “having your back,” and a deep desire to grow in the love of God and to be about the mission of Jesus as his hands and heart.

For Reflection:
1. How have you experienced God’s invitation to consider a religious lifestyle?
2. Are there mentors in your life who will be objective listeners and good guides?
3. Do you have a prayer life?
4. Have you ever considered visiting the motherhouses of those in religious life?
5. Consider a weekend retreat, a Come and See experience, or visiting a ministry site of those in religious life.
6. Get in touch with a vocation director who will answer your questions.
7. To find the KEY takes time, prayer, patience, and a good mentor. Sorry, there are no “Drive-thru” approaches to this type of search.

“You must mightily believe that beneath the noise is a call to a deeper life that only you can respond to in the unique ways that your gifts allow and your life path has led you. ((John P. Schuster ~ Answering Our Call)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 23 ~ Marianne Cope ~ Saint of the Day!

St. Marianne Cope
From a previous 2013 reflection: St. Mother Marianne Cope

I’d like to share from the life of a newly sainted woman – Mother Marianne Cope – who reached beyond herself and met adversity in its many forms and disguises. (I share this with you as a graduate of Brother Dutton Grade School and recall fondly the stories of Br. Joseph Dutton who worked on the island of Molokai for 43 years, and who no doubt ministered with Mother Marianne.) 

Prior to the inroads made by Mother Marianne, it is said that hospitals in the U.S. had an unsavory reputation. Many were staffed with unknowledgeable people and were filthy. Many people went to hospitals to die. Mother Marianne began to change all that by instituting cleanliness standards. The simple act of hand-washing between patient visits cut the spread of disease significantly.
• She was a hospital administrator that started the patients' rights movement and changed how people cared for the sick.
• She made sure the medical facilities welcomed all people regardless of race, creed or economic standing.
• She was harshly criticized for treating alcoholics - for she treated their condition as a disease rather than a problem.
In 1884, the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse took charge of a leper hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii.  “When they arrived at the request of the Fr. Damian, they found horrendous conditions.  Patients of all ages and both sexes slept together on bloodstained mattresses on the floor; wards crawled with bedbugs, lice, and maggots.  The stench of rotting flesh permeated the premises.  Mother Marianne immediately improved the sanitary and social conditions of the patients, teaching her sisters how to nurse the sores of the patients.  

When Fr. Damian died from leprosy himself, Mother Marianne took over for him at the island of Molokai.  She took charge and established a new standard of living for the residents.  As a teenager growing up in New York, she had worked in a clothing factory and had a great sense of style.  Rather than provide simple, drab uniforms for her patients, she fashioned beautiful clothing for them.  She took great pride in making dresses for the girls.  When Mother Marianne went to the island people they had no thought for the graces of life.  ‘We are lepers,’ they told her, ‘what does it matter?’ She changed all that.  Doctors have said that her psychology was 50 years ahead of its time.” 

“As Mother Marianne continued to lead her sisters in their work, she also had to deal with government officials who often seemed to cause more hindrance than help. With tact and determination, she was able to overcome the obstacles put in her way.”

No doubt, Mother Marianne and her sisters could have said, “This isn't what we expected,” but they truly reached out in love and looked beyond the mess into the eyes and hearts of those with leprosy.
And so in our age, when there is renewed awareness of the suffering of innocent people though human trafficking, or through the exploitation of third world countries, or through the tragic systematic death of peoples by means of torture, famine, and genocide, then we can be sure that the saints are there tirelessly spending their lives to alleviate the suffering of humankind – in all its messiness and adversity.
In an age when there is a clash between human dignity of all and the restrictive power of a few over all, we can be sure that the saints will be there to name the injustice and call it social sin. 
In an age when Christians are often confronted to choose between life and death for the sake of the Gospel, we can be sure the saints will be there with a holy resiliency, boldly standing in the mess and muck of it all - choosing life - and willing to stare death in the face for the sake of God’s reign.
In an age when there is an ecclesial restriction of gifts of the Spirit to some groups, we can be sure that the saints will be there and will witness to the freedom of the Spirit regardless of restrictive laws about the use of those gifts.
In an age when discrimination, elitism, and oppression operates in society, in governments, or in churches, we can be sure the saints will be there to again proclaim the reign of God and be voice and heart, call and sign of the God whose design for this world is justice and mercy for all.  
The nature of sainthood is an incarnational reality, the shape and form of holiness may change from age to age and culture to culture.  But, the Spirit of the Holy will continue to call people like all of us who are present here and those beyond this faith community – for it is God’s caring that we witness and it is God’s love that we share – no matter the cost, no matter the messiness of it all – let us be willing to face up to all things that will come now and later as adversity and more adversity, for it truly builds character.

So, I close with the words of Tagore – who speaks to us about what being a saint truly is:
-I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
 I awoke and saw that life was service.
 I acted and behold, service was joy.
- Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, January 17, 2014

Agnes ~ January 21!

Agnes of Rome ~Memorial January 21
Patroness of the Congregation
of the Sisters of St. Agnes
Someone once wrote: If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
This is a question to reflect upon today as we celebrate a martyr.  When I pondered this question it reminded me of the time I was living in Menomonee Falls, and one day 2 very young men from the new Open Bible Church appeared at my door with their bibles in hand and asked me, “Have you chosen Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” 
This resulted in a twenty minute sharing of conversion stories and scriptures texts– and when they departed, I reflected on how skilled they were in locating just the right passage to prove their faith and convictions; I admired their desire to give testimony to the power of God in their lives, their eagerness to have me make a commitment, and their overall tenacity!  So I asked myself, would I be able to do what they are doing? How do I witness the Word and Wonder of God?

Today we gather to remember and to celebrate St. Agnes of Rome, under whose patronage CSA was founded and called into being.  She declared herself Christian in a pagan society and committed herself to remain virgin in a patriarchal culture.  She gave testimony that she had chosen Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior with the public sacrifice of her life.

Much of her life and death are surrounded by legend, but early writings tell us that Agnes was born into a wealthy and powerful Roman Christian family and, according to tradition; she suffered martyrdom at the age of 12 or 13 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian on January 21, in the year 305.  The story is told how the Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry   his son, for women, at that time, were property of the state and had children to promote the state's agenda.  But Agnes refused and remained adamant that she had consecrated her virginity to Jesus Christ.

Her refusal was considered an act of treason and punishable by death.   At that time, Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, so Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel.  In one version of the story, it is said, that as she processed through the streets, Agnes prayed, and her hair grew and covered her entire body.

Some also asserted that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind.  She was sentenced to death with many other Christian companions who refused to worship the Roman gods and to pay homage to the emperor as divine. Legend has it that Agnes went unshackled to her death because all the irons were too large for her wrists.  According to some accounts, when Agnes was led out to die, she was tied to a stake; however the bundle of wood would not burn, or the flames parted away from her. As a result, the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her. Agnes grew up in a patriarchal culture, whose religion included many gods – a religion of laws, customs, and prescriptions that no longer had the power to define her.  Agnes chose a new way of life – a life of virginity.  She was resolute in choosing her own power in Christ to define her new identity. 

She is one of seven women commemorated by name in the prayers of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  She is the patron saint of gardeners, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims, and virgins.  For her steadfast faith, she has been honored as a martyr.

The word “martyr” comes from the Greek meaning “witness.”   Originally, the term referred to the Apostles who had witnessed the events of Jesus’ life, and who also died violently for their faith.  However, as more early Christians were executed for their faith, “martyr” soon came to mean those who firmly believed in Jesus and were willing to sacrifice their lives for the Gospel. They found a treasure in this new way called, Christianity. Truly their search for this new Kingdom required a great price at this time in history.

Agnes, like many of the early Christian martyrs, is referred to as a “red martyr” as she shed her blood for Christ. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been many of these brave women and men who chose death, rather than to forsake Christ. However, there are also “White Martyrs,” who are best known as the desert mothers and fathers, as they gave up everything to live a life dedicated for the love of God.  Interestingly, the early Celtic Christians identified “Green Martyrs” as those who have given their lives to bringing the Word of God to others.  Most frequently, this term is used in reference to Irish missionaries. 

So, we may ask . . . are there martyrs today?  Is there heroic and courageous witness for faith happening in our lifetime?  According to the research of Robert Royal, the past century witnessed the worst atrocities of humankind.  More than all ten early Christian persecutions combined. 

He writes: “How does it happen that in a time of unparalleled scientific advancement, ushering in a new age of reason, one group of people can still be willing to slaughter another simply because of religious beliefs?  - The fact is that for all the knowledge they might have attained, some human beings – some nations, and some movements as well – still desire power – this power can be all consuming, overshadowing reason, erupting in hate, destroying lives in numbers that confound the mind.”

Indeed, there are new witnesses of faith who have been killed because they professed their faith, promoted Christian values and convictions, held fast to a stance of social justice and non-violence, or who were voices for the poor, the least, the last, and the lost, or who died at the hands of persons with hatred for the faith.  

These most certainly are the new heroes and she-roes of our times who work for social justice at risk to their own lives – Let us recall:
• Oscar Romero of San Salvador, a champion of the poor who  was assassinated while celebrating liturgy;
• Jean Donovan, Sisters Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, and Maura Clarke, murdered by Salvadoran government troops in 1980;
• and S. Dorothy Stang, SSND, who in Feb. of 2005, was murdered in the Amazon because she was outspoken in her efforts on behalf of  the poor and the environment.                          
• And today, we undoubtedly, remember our own women of faith –CSA Sisters Maureen Courtney, Jenny Flor Altamirano and Teresa de Jesus Rosales, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – young women who gave testimony with their lives as they lived justice in action and faith-filled generosity.            

So what is the Good News for us today?   
• Our God continues to invite everyone to live with hope, trust, courage, and faith.  We are all called to be new witnesses of the Risen Jesus living the Beatitudes in this earthly community.  
• As in the reading from Romans, we celebrate all witnesses who risk everything and refuse to be separated from the love of God; may we strive to model their zeal, courage, and conviction.                                              
• As women and men religious, associates, friends, and partners in ministry, it is on such a feast as today, that we are invited to ponder our own witness to our faith and the values of our Christian lives.  Like Agnes, may we daily choose to be women and men who hold fast to our identity as people of justice, people of hope, and people of peace.
• That like Agnes, when we find ourselves standing naked in our vulnerabilities, limitations, powerlessness, doubts, dilemmas, and decisions that affect the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political challenges of life – may we more and more learn to call upon the Spirit for guidance, grit, and grace - for it is in God that we live and move and have our being.                                                      
• That like Agnes, we are all called to claim our new identity as women and men of faith in the 21st century – we pray to be attentive and open to the signs of our time, while  remaining faithful to our own integrity as individuals, as a congregation, and as People of God in the church and world community.

So let us ponder again the question of the day: 
If we were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Presented by: Jean Hinderer, CSA
St. Agnes Day, January 21, 2012

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remembering Martin Luther King,Jr. - 2014

A Prayer in Honor of Martin Luther King Day
By Lilly Kaufman, January 2012

Dr. King would have faced hard facts today.
He would know the number of children
going hungry in America this very minute.
He would know the number of our war dead,
and those wounded in new ways.
He would know the astounding costs
of financial corruption.
He would have seen beyond the numbers,
to the faces of our people,
and he would still have faith in them,
and in what is right.
He would be preaching now
a determined, measured, poetic, prophetic outrage.
He would be teaching by example
our civic duty of compassion,
and decrying the grave civic danger of cynicism.
He would challenge the strange new ideas
that money equals speech
and corporations are people
in a democracy.
When he gave his life for peoples’ rights
of speech, and assembly, and the vote,
it was for people
who had no money to pay for speech.
They knew speech as an unalienable right,
and their wealth of spirit sufficed.
Dr. King had faith in a few great things:
one was our essential American dream.
Not a middle-class American dream,
or an upper-class, a working-poor,
or an impoverished-class American dream.
But the defining American dream
which lifts up those bowed down.
The abiding American dream
of liberty and justice for all.

From a speech to the American Psychological Association in 1967 by Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated seven months later.

“I am sure that we will recognize that there are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted. There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will. We must never adjust ourselves to racial discrimination and racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry. We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. We must never adjust ourselves to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence...

It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence: it is either nonviolence or nonexistence. As President Kennedy declared, 'Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.' And so the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a suspension in the development and use of nuclear weapons, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and eventually disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. Our earthly habitat will be transformed into an inferno that even Dante could not envision.

Thus, it may well be that our world is in dire need of a new organization: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. Men and women should be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries. 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.'... And through such creative maladjustment, we may be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.”

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Taking the Plunge"!

As I was sequestered over the weekend because of the Polar Vortex, I was able to take in the TV movie of Episode IV - Star Wars. I instantly could name the characters and groupings that appeared, such as: Luke Skywalker and his twin sister, Princess Leia, and all the other assorted heroes, villains, scoundrels, and droids – Anakin Skywalker, Han Solo, Padme, Jar Jar Binks, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chew Bacca, Jabba the Hutt, Obi-Wan-Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Yoda the Grand Jedi Master.  These George Lucas masterpieces have so many spiritual, philosophical, and psychological themes running through them as fictional space operas and fictitious galactic stories of a galaxy far, far away - that you can even find yourself in some or all of the characters!

The “good guys” of the Jedi are all bonded together by the Force – the energy and power that is to be used for the “common good” of the Empire. But as Master Yoda comments: “Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.” And, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

I write this because these characters remind me of how we all are given a CALL to become the more of who we are and that there is an inner bond between and among us as people of the “Force”!  We are all invited to touch into the “force” of God’s presence within us and then make the choices to live out through that presence. However, like Luke Skywalker, a time of training and transformation is always a necessary part of BE-coming our true, authentic Self.  St. Ignatius even designed his Spiritual Exercises for this purpose – along with many other spiritual “Jedi” Christian mystics who created paths and stages of transformation for union with God.

In our Gospel this Sunday, we read of the Baptism of Jesus. His cousin, John the Baptist, has been inviting the crowds to “take the plunge” of baptism of repentance.  In this Gospel, Jesus shows up and desires to be baptized as well. Here, too, we have the special effects of the Gospel of Matthew. The River Jordan in the desert, two cousins meeting in these waters – (this makes me reflect upon their first meeting when their mother’s met in their pregnancies, and where in the amniotic waters they were stirred to dance! )

Now above these sacred waters, the heavens split open, and “cloud talk” thunders through this desert, and the Spirit descends in the form of a dove and hovers over these heroes and movers of the Mission! Jesus is named – Beloved! 

Jesus has no light saber for he is the Light, the Way, and the Truth - that God is Good News for all – not just a select few.  He is a Force of goodness, compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love.  His identity as the Anointed One will be revealed through his words and works – the blind will see, the lame will walk, the lepers will be cleansed, the deaf will hear, and the dead will be raised.  Jesus will eventually have to take a stand again and again against the “dark side.” The threatening glances of the religious leaders, and the rejection, suspicion, and animosity of the “establishment” will pursue him all his life. - He will be a disturbing presence – and eventually lose his life.

So what is the Good News for us?  Let us ponder:
• How have we been aware of God’s presence in our lives as we encountered the Light and Darkness in our lived realities?
• Instead of asking ourselves, “Where is God in this?” – Why not ask . . .
“How am I in God?”
• How does this Gospel invite us to “take the plunge” of entering into a deeper relationship with God through reading the Scriptures, seeking out a spiritual guide, or carving out a time daily for personal prayer or quiet reflection?
• Are we willing to be called, “Beloved” as God invites us into the Mission and Light?  Pray for the grace to be open to this “training.”

“Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you my beloved daughter, my beloved son, my beloved child. To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being. (Henri Nouwen)