Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Emmaus ~ journey into light and fire!

Emmaus Journey by Irene Zimmerman
All was chaos when he died.
We fled our separate ways at first,
then gathered again in the upper room
to chatter blue-lipped prayers
around the table where he’d talked
of love and oneness.

On the third day Cleopas and I
left for the home we’d abandoned
in order to follow him.
We wanted no part of the babble
the women had brought from the tomb.
We vowed to get on with our grieving.

On the road we met a Stranger
whose voice grew vaguely familiar
as he spoke of signs and suffering.
By the time we reached our village,
every tree and bush was blazing,

And we pressed him to stay the night.

Yet not till we sat at the table
and watched the bread being broken
did we see the light.


Emmaus ~ "Aha"-lleluia!

This Sunday’s Gospel is the account of the disciples walking to Emmaus.  After the experience of the crucifixion of Jesus, they headed out of town ASAP!  They were disappointed, disillusioned, disoriented, and disbelieving of the women’s message of Jesus’ resurrection. They expected Jesus to do great things and overtake the political and religious leaders – their hopes in Jesus were sealed away in the tomb with a two ton rock positioned at its entrance.  

As they were walking, they were extroverting, debating, and probably taking part in “global-whining” as to what they had recently experienced with shock and terror in Jerusalem. Along the road, Jesus meets them and they are described as having eyes cast down and hearts slow to believe. In other words, these disciples were probably experiencing their own unique form of post traumatic stress. But it is Jesus who gets them to attend to what they experienced, to recall and remember what was written in the Scriptures, and to stir up their juices of empowerment once again.  The rock was slowly being moved from their hearts, and  their eyes were gently opening to the Mystery that was walking with them.  Then, noticing that it was nearly evening, they asked Jesus to stay with them, and they would chip in for the supper at the near-by inn.  

It was then at table, in the blessing of the bread, and it’s being broken and shared once again, that they recognized him.  And what’s more, they noticed that their hearts were on fire!! I am told that someplace it is written that the Jews at that time believed that there was a “connection” between one’s eyes and one’s heart – So eyes cast down leads to sad and slow to believing hearts.  Yet, in the presence of the blessing and bread breaking – their eyes were opened and their hearts were set on fire! Jesus – “aha” “aha-lleluia” – He is alive – just as the women said! So they set out at once to return to Jerusalem, and “the rest is history” as the saying goes.  

So what is the Good News for us?  “There are times when we too have our hopes and expectations disappointed. We may feel that God has not treated us fairly or has abandoned us, and we are left in a state of bewilderment and confusion. Our challenge then is to accept, perhaps with difficulty, that God has not abandoned us, but is leading us to a new understanding of what our life is about. To a greater or less extent an experience of disorientation is inevitable until we get our bearings again.”

Sister Helen ~ bread baker sharing her bread!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Come, Spring!

A Springtime Prayer by Joyce Rupp

Ever-renewing and energizing Creator, 
Come, stir in my dormant spiritual limbs.
Wake up my tired prayer.
Revive my weary efforts of care.
Sing hope into my discouragement.
Wash my dusty, drab attitude
with the cleansing rains of your vision.
Go deep to my roots and penetrate my faith
With the vibrancy of your grace.
Shake loose the old leftover oak leaves
Of my tenacious ego-centeredness.
Coax joy to sprout from my difficulties.
Warm the buds of my relationships
so they bloom with healthy love.
Clear out my wintered debris
with the wild breeze of your liberating presence.
Nudge me, woo me, entice me, draw me to you.
I give you my trust and my gratitude
as you grace my slowly thawing spirit.
Light-filled Being, my Joy and my Hope,
Let the greening in me begin!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Catherine of Siena ~Doctor of the Church, theologian, philosopher, spiritual writer, and one who could "speak truth to power"

April 29, the feast day of St Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican,
 Doctor and Reformer of the Church

St. Catherine of Siena was the 25th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy.
She started having mystical experiences when she was only 6, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary, and the saints.
St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. . Her spiritual director was Blessed Raymond of Capua. St, Catherine's letters, and a treatise called "a dialogue" are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church.
She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.

Sarcophagus of St. Catherine of Siena - Rome, Italy

Catherine’s Prayers:

You, God, are a fire that always burns without consuming. You are a fire consuming in its heat every compartment of the soul’s self-absorbed love. You are a fire lifting all chill and giving all light. In Your light You show me Your truth. You’re the Light that outshines every Light. You, God, give the mind’s eye Your divine light so completely and excellently. You bring lucidity even to the light of faith. In that faith, I see my soul has life, and in that light, I receive You who are Light itself. 

God is a bright ocean that distills and reveals hidden truths so that my soul has a better understanding of how to trust Love, and the water is a mirror in which You, Eternal Trinity, give me knowledge.

I want you to be a tree of love, grafted into the Word who is love, Christ crucified – a tree with its roots in deep humility. If you are a tree of love, sweetly rooted, you’ll find the fruit of patience and strength at the tips of your branches, and crowned perseverance nesting within you. You’ll find peace and quiet and consolation in suffering when you see yourself conformed with Christ crucified. And so, by enduring with Christ crucified, you’ll come with joy from much war into much peace. Peace! Peace!

Arise ~ photo courtesy of S. Doris Klein, CSA

Thursday, April 24, 2014

And then there were two - Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II

“There's a lovely church that has a bank of stained glass windows that runs the entire length of the nave; those windows depict many great Christians throughout the centuries. Among them are martyrs, bishops, priests and nuns, to be sure, but also artists, poets and politicians. The rector of that parish tells a story of a young boy whose mother explained the windows to him, saying that the people pictured there were saints. The little boy quickly responded, ‘Oh, I get it. Saints are people that the sun shines through.’"

On this Sunday, April 27, the two late popes, Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, will be canonized saints. This will mark a historic day for the Catholic Church. 

How does one officially become a saint?

Quotes of Pope John XXIII:
  • Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do. Pope John XXIII
  • I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart. Pope John XXIII
  • See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little. Pope John XXIII
  • It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope. Pope John XXIII
  • Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one. Pope John XXIII
Quotes of Pope John Paul II:
  • Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. Pope John Paul II
  • Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create. Pope John Paul II
  • Humanity should question itself, once more, about the absurd and always unfair phenomenon of war, on whose stage of death and pain only remain standing the negotiating table that could and should have prevented it. Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Women, why are you weeping?

In honor of Earth Day, American Masters on PBS aired the documentary, A Fierce Green Fire: . . .
presenting in graphic detail the development of the environmental movement. In Act 2 of the film, narrators told the story of Love Canal (Niagara, NY) and how the residents cried out to the powers that be that 21,000 tons of toxic waste was buried underground and that it was affecting their everyday lives. It was the mothers that rose up to confront the “experts” on environmental control and produced evidence that their babies were born with defects, i.e., a third ear, missing or deformed limbs, and later in life, an extra row of teeth would develop.  This documentary was very riveting, and I marveled at the tenacity of the mothers who demanded being heard, noticed, and believed.

It reminded me of the homily I gave about the women of the first century who were considered not reliable witnesses according to the Rabbinic Law. According to Mathew’s Gospel, the two women who came to the empty tomb after the Resurrection were the first witnesses and ran to tell the hiding disciples that Jesus had risen from dead - just as he said. Apparently God broke the rules and had women be the first witnesses of the Resurrection event, but  they were not immediately heard, noticed, or believed. 

So as I prayed this morning, the Scriptural phrase that came to me was, “Women, why are you weeping?” So what I share below are my random thoughts and feelings in light of this documentary, the 36 homes destroyed and 41 victims of the mudslide in Oso, Washington, the people of Malaysia flight MH370, the victims of the South Korean ferry boat, the victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and the 16 Sherpa guides and other climbers killed in the avalanche on Mount Everest. For me, these days, I see the faces of so many women weeping.

So let me begin with this short story by Sue Monk Kidd: 
Once when I was going through a difficult time, my husband touched his finger to the tears winding down my face, then touched his wet finger to his own cheek. His gesture spoke volumes to me. It said: ‘Your tears run down my face, too. Your suffering aches inside my heart as well.  I share your wounded place.’”

So let us pray:
Women, Why Are You Weeping? ~ We share your wounded place.

The women of Oso, Washington ~ We weep for our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, other family members, co-workers, and our community. The rain-soaked hills collapsed. Now the  faces of the peoples of Oso are tear-soaked and their spirits are collapsed.  Your tears run down our faces, too. Your suffering aches inside our hearts.

The women of the victims of Malaysia flight MH370 ~ We weep for our families and friends, buried in the depths of the Indian Ocean.  Your tears run down our faces, too.  Your suffering aches inside our hearts.

The women of the victims of the Korean ferry boat disaster ~ We weep for our children, our only sons and daughters – The tents of sorrowful mourning are not large enough to hold the pain and sadness of our families.  The waters of the sea once again claim the lives of this unfathomable happening. Your tears run down our faces, too.  Your suffering aches inside our hearts.

The women of the victims of the Ebola virus ~ We weep for the 140 victims of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We pray that the World Health Organization will detect the origin of this virus and have the resources to rein it in from being transmitted any further.  Your tears run down our faces, too.  Your suffering aches inside our hearts.

The women of the victims of the Sherpa guides ~ We weep for the 16 guides who are now held in the frozen embrace of the ice and snows of Mount Everest.  May their voices echo in the valleys so that justice for their families and other guides be honored. "It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing. While there are three of our friends buried in the snow, I can't imagine stepping over them. We want to honor the members we lost and out of respect for them we just can't continue.”   Your tears run down our faces, too. Your suffering aches inside our hearts.

Women, why are you weeping? ~ We share your wounded place. Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In God's Heart . . .

Photo courtesy of  S. Doris Klein, CSA
How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing –
Each stone, blossom, child – 
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
To earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart,
they have never left God.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that 
before she can fly.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Joy ~ Bumping into Wonder!

Easter Exultet

Shake out your qualms. 
Shake up your dreams. 
Deepen your roots. 
Extend your branches. 
Trust deep water 
and head for the open, 
even if your vision 
shipwrecks you. 
Quit your addiction 
to sneer and complain. 
Open a lookout. 
Dance on a brink. 
Run with your wildfire. 
You are closer to glory 
leaping an abyss 
than upholstering a rut. 
Not dawdling. 
Not doubting. 
Intrepid all the way 
Walk toward clarity. 
At every crossroad 
Be prepared 
to bump into wonder. 
Only love prevails. 
En route to disaster 
insist on canticles. 
Lift your ineffable 
out of the mundane. 
Nothing perishes; 
nothing survives; 
everything transforms! 
Honeymoon with Big Joy! 

~ James Broughton ~

(Sermons of the Big Joy)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Alleluia Happiness!

Tell Them . . .
Breaking through the powers of darkness
bursting from the stifling tomb
he slipped into the graveyard garden
to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that I have journeyed far
into the darkest deeps I've been
in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that fear will flee my light
that though the ground will tremble
and despair will stalk the earth
I hold them firmly by the hand
through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
the globe and all that’s made
is clasped to God’s great bosom
they must not be afraid
for though they fall and die, he said,
and the black earth wrap them tight
they will know the warmth
of God’s hands 
in the early morning light.
Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
smelling the blossomed air,
tell my people to rise with me
and heal the Earth’s despair.
(Edwina Gately, There was no path So I trod one”)

Mary Magdala’s Easter Prayer by Ron Rolheiser (1985)
I never suspected
and to be so painful
to leave me weeping

With Joy
to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb

With Regret
not because I've lost you
but because I've lost you in how I had you –
in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh
not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
cling to your body
cling to your, and my clingable humanity
cling to what we had, our past.
But I know that . . . if I cling
You cannot ascend and
I will be left clinging to your former self
. . . unable to receive your present spirit.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Crossbeamed Christ . . .Good Friday!

Crucifix at Jesuit Retreat Center ~ Oshkosh, WI

Crucifixion by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

Stripped of godliness,
hands hammered open,
arms yanked wide,
the crossbeamed Christ
pours himself out
till rivers run red with
wine enough to satisfy
century-cries of thirst.

I Thank You For Being Wrong by Richard Rohr
From Hope against Darkness 

I thank you for becoming weak, Lord Jesus, so I don’t have to be strong.
I thank you for being willing to be considered imperfect and strange, so I do not have to be perfect and normal.
I thank you, Jesus, for being willing to be disapproved of, so I do not have to try so hard to be approved and liked.
I thank you for being considered a failure, so I do not have to give my life trying to pretend I’m a success.
I thank you for being wrong by the standards of religion and state, so I do not have to be right anywhere, even in my own mind.

A Final Thought by Neil Vaney, SM

Helpless as could be
Jesus began the road to Calvary.
Hoots of wild derision greeted his
battered, bloody vision.

Alone without a friend
not a voice raised to defend
his head held bowed before the
jeering, mocking crowd.
The heavy wooden beam
what a torment it did seem
ripping open the gashes that were
the legacy of his lashes.
The sight of his mother called up
anguish he could not smother.
Without chance to explain each knew
the depth of other’s pain.
Jesus tasted deep within the dead
core of all sin, 
that the price to atone is to 
suffer utterly alone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Servant Freed!

Once upon a time, I was attending a mini-seminar on various spiritualities and prayer styles. The presenters invited the participants into practicing certain prayer styles.  This time, we were to place ourselves in the Scripture setting and use our imaginations. I struggled with this because I was in to the type of prayer that the fewer words the better, and just being attentive to the silence was enough for me. . . and I thought that of God too.  Well, I kept hearing – “let yourself go” and “enter into the setting” and “become one of the characters in the story.”  I thought this was too much busyness – but I felt the Spirit nudge me and I heard, “Go for it and stop resisting.”

And so I did and the following is the result of my resistance – God’s grace can creatively work through our resistance.

Servant Freed!
I stand in the darkened fissure of the stable,
lit only by the glowing face of the boy-child.
Parent eyes glistening with holy wonder,
while heavened stars point to
mangered Messiah.
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand in the darkened temple portico
observing those of the Law encircling
the teacher-child.
His face radiates with
purpose and passion about God’s call!
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand in the Cana garden among
the six stoneware water jars.
His mother moving his mission, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Waters of purification touched 
with words of transformation
become intoxicating wedding wine.
Speak these words over me . . .
Fill me to the brim with courage as
I listen, as I wonder, as I breathe,
For I am only servant.

I stand along the steep grassy edges of the 
partial rocky hillside,
His face emits energy with each spoken,
“Blessed are you!”
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand in the upper room, corner-concealed,
yet his eyes beckon me to move
within his touch.
His carpentered hands accept each foot
as with the artistry of fitting rough hewn wood.
With tender, soothing, healing – intimate
knowing, he bends to wash my feet.
Upon this embrace – God-light, God-love
streams into my very soul –
I listen and hear within me:
Untie her.
What do you want me to do for you?
Pick up your mat.
I do not condemn you.
You are worth more than many sparrows.
You are no longer servant – you are friend.
I wonder, I breathe . . . 


Sacred foot washing . . .do this in memory of me!

Once upon a time when I was attending a Holy Thursday service at a nearby parish,  there were chairs set up in the aisles along with pitchers of water, basins, and towels.  So it was that when it came to the ritual of foot washing, everyone participated. I found myself entering into the movements and happenings with such emotion, I could feel it deep in my soul space. 

During this time, I watched husbands and wives washing each other’s feet, their children washing the feet of their parents. I saw sons and daughters washing the feet of their elderly parents. Children washing the feet of their siblings.  It was oh so moving that I cried throughout the whole experience, and especially as my feet were washed. What a powerful act of intimacy - an act of sacred touching, healing, welcoming, and forgiving

God in an Apron
Supper was special that night
There was booth a heaviness and a holiness
hanging in the air
We couldn't explain the mood
It was sacred, yet sorrowful.
Gathered around the table
eating that solemn, holy meal
seemed to us the most important meal
we had ever sat down to eat.
We were dwelling in the heart of mystery
Though dark the night
Hope felt right
As if something evil
Was about to be conquered.

And then suddenly
The One we loved startled us all
He got up from the table
and put on an apron.
Can you imagine how we felt?
God in an apron!
Tenderness encircled us
as he bowed before us.
He knelt and said,
“I choose to wash your feet
because I love you.”
God in an apron, kneeling
I couldn't believe my eyes.
I was embarrassed
until his eyes met mine
I sensed my value then.
He touched my feet
He held them in his strong, brown hands
He washed them
I can still feel the water
I can still feel the touch of his hands.
I can still see the look in his eyes.

Then he handed me the towel and said,
“As I have done so you must do.”
Learn to bow
Learn to kneel.
Let your tenderness encircle
everyone you meet.
Wash their feet
Not because you have to,
Because you want to.

It seems I've stood two thousand years
Holding the towel in my hands,
“As I have done so you must do,”
Keeps echoing in my heart.
“There are so many feet to wash,” I keep saying.
“No,” I hear God’s voice resounding through the years
“There are only my feet
What you do for them, you do for me.”
(Macrina Wiederkehr Seasons of Your Heart)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And It Was Night . . .

When he was a child his mother told him of how she and Joseph had been turned away from their ancestral home –the House of Bread – on the night of his birth. The story taught him that rejection and hunger gnawed with the same teeth. Grown, he walked through towns and countryside, feeding hollow-eyed hundreds who pursued him by day. But a bottomless ocean of hungry mouths flooded his dreams. He learned that the memory of yesterday’s bread could not relieve today’s hunger. 

On the eve of this death he at last found a way to keep rejection and hunger at bay. He held his life in his hands and said to his friends, ‘Take. Eat. This is my body, broken for you.’ And when they were filled, commanded ‘Feed the hungry. Do this. Re-member me.’” (Irene Zimmerman, OSF)

And It Was Night . . . (John 13:30)
You stumble unseeing from the upper room and no number of lanterns and torches can dim your darkness now, Judas. When did you let the light go out? When did you begin to guard the hoard and spend starry evenings behind drawn tent flaps, running the coins through acquisitive fingers while the company sat in a circle outside, breaking bread and talking of light in the crackling campfire?

When did you fine-tune your ears to the clink of copper and silver and gold,
letting the words of the Master fade out unheeded? When did you start to
begrudge begging hands and when did you welcome disciples more for the
treasures they gave than the treasures they were?

Now, in the dark of Gethsemane’s garden, you touch greedy lips to the Master’s cheek – 

A cheap giveaway to your cohorts of night.
                                                                    (Irene Zimmerman, OSF)

Caravaggio’s “The Betrayal of Christ” c.1603

Monday, April 14, 2014


Dear Blog (Streams ‘N Stirrings) Readers:

We are compiling items for our final publication of our CSA vocations e-newsletter ~ Stream~Lines.  A copy of the most recent e-newsletter is always posted on the left side of this blog posting. We know that some of you may frequent the reading of this blog, and may also read our e-newsletter. 
So in May, we will be ending the publication of this e-newsletter (not the blog) and would be open to any feedback from you as to how it has educated, inspired, or enriched you in any way. We would like to print feedback from our readers in our final issue after selecting comments from you.

So I would appreciate if you would take a little time and tell us how you have been touched by the content in our e-newsletter and then please send your comments to my email address at: by April 29 and selections will be made for posting in the May issue.  We will use your first name only or if you wish, only your initials of your first and last name. You may also feel free to note your country.

Thank you for your help in making this May issue a special publication as CSA vocation ministry continues to evolve into the future. Thank you for being a blog reader as well.

Sister Jean Hinderer, CSA

"Via Dolorosa" Way of Grief ~ Way of Strength!

Next week,  Monday, April 21st, will be the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.   Activities are planned to honor the survivors from last year’s bomb blasts, the first responders, and the heroes who took action when the chaos erupted.  The Boston Strong will once again let their voices be heard as they cheer on over 35,000 participants.  The following is a clip from online information . . . “This year, there will be more than 35,660 official participants in the Boston Marathon, including more than 5,330 participants from more than 70 countries outside the United States. More spectators than ever before will line the 26.2-mile course on Patriots’ Day to view the Marathon. In addition, more than 1,800 members of the media from more than 300 outlets will cover the Boston Marathon, providing the Greater Boston region with unparalleled international exposure”

As I was pondering this week’s Scripture readings of Holy Week, I began wondering what was the distance that Jesus walked while carrying his cross to Golgotha.  Upon researching this, I found that his “Via Dolorosa” was approximately a quarter of a mile – roughly 500 steps. 

I began wondering if I could unite myself with those making this re-enactment?  So I've decided to wear my pedometer and be aware of the Via Dolorosa and count my steps as a prayer of solidarity with all who walk a Via Dolorosa everyday. Will you join me?

What I mean is that the women in the refugee camps in the Sudan. They walk their own Via Dolorosa each time they go outside the camp to collect firewood at the risk of being raped or killed.

What I mean is that the women who for any reason are “held captive” by systems of oppression that prevent them from having the freedom to be educated, making choices about their own health, or being used in the sex trade, or in drug trafficking.

As we ponder Jesus’ “way of the cross” this week,  let us become informed about the global injustices of women and children and then ponder and pray for those who walk their own “way of suffering”  - Via Dolorosa everyday . . .

O God, we pray for all those in our world
who are suffering from injustice:
For those who are discriminated against
because of their race, color or religion;
For those imprisoned
for working for the relief of oppression;
For those who are hounded
for speaking the inconvenient truth;
For those tempted to violence
as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
For those deprived of reasonable health and education;
For those suffering from hunger and famine;
For those too weak to help themselves
and who have no one else to help them;
For the unemployed who cry out
for work but do not find it.
We pray for anyone of our acquaintance
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by washing their feet.
                                                             Mother Teresa

Holy Monday ~ just for today!

Window from St. Agnes motherhouse chapel

May I live this day

compassionate of heart,

clear in word,

gracious in awareness,

courageous in thought,

generous in love. 

John O'Donohue 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Passion Sunday . . ."The Stage is Set" . . .

The Mystery of Darkness” by Henry Nouwen
O God, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly. I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations. I hoped for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart; I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light that not even a trace of darkness would be left in my soul. But I know that you do not come to your people with thunder and lightning. Even St. Paul and St. Francis journeyed through much darkness before they came to see your light. Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter – but in a way fitting my own history and my own temperament.

I pray that these last weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give me. Let me die to the desire to choose my own way and to select my own cross. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

Be with me today, tomorrow, and in all the days to come, and let me experience your gentle presence. Amen.

Entry ( Matthew 21:1-11) 
The stage is set
and everything washed clean
in a rain of sunshine.
Hands reach out
to calm a skittish colt,
bewildered by its burden.
The Son of David
rides a rainbowed road
that rocks with hosannas
(Irene Zimmerman)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer . . . the cost of discipleship!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life united faith, prayer, writing and action. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer immediately joined the Confessing Church, a center of Protestant resistance. He pastored two churches in London, led a seminary and wrote two books, including “The Cost of Discipleship.” He was arrested in 1943 in a plot against Hitler, and executed two years later. He taught that discipleship can cost you your life, and he paid with his life.

A prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
God of the day and of the night, in me there is darkness, but with you there is light. I am alone, but you will not leave me. I am weak, but you will come to my help. I am restless, but you are my peace. I am in haste, but you are the God of infinite patience. I am confused and lost, but you are eternal wisdom and you direct my path; now and for ever. Amen

Qoutes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ― Letters and Papers from Prison

“Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will.”

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him.”

 “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

 “In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”

 “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

 “There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

 “I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.”

 “I'm still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”
“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

May God Be With Us . . .

God Be With Us

May God be with us in strength, holding us in strong-fingered hands; and may we be the sacrament of God’s strength to those whose hands we hold.

May God be with us in gentleness, touching us with sunlight and rain and wind. May God’s tenderness shine through us to warm all who are hurt and lonely.

May God be with us in wonder, delighting us with thunder and song, sunrise and daisy; enchanting our senses, filling our hearts, giving us wide-open eyes for seeing and splendor in the humble and majestic. And may we open the eyes and hearts of the blind and the insensitive.

May God be with us in love and friendship, listening to us,  speaking to us, drawing us close as we tremble at the edge of self-gift.  May God’s love in us light fires of faith and hope, glow in our eyes and meet God’s love glowing in the eyes of our friends.

May God be with us in compassion, holding us close when we are weary and hurt and alone – when there is rain in our heart. And may we be the warm hands and the warm eyes of compassion for our friends when they reach out to us in need.

May God be with us in joy, thrilling us with nearness, filling our heart to fullness and filling our throat to ringing, singing exultation.

May God be with us in peace, stilling the heart that hammers with fear and doubt and confusion, and may our peace, the warm mantle of your peace, cover those who are troubled or anxious.

May God be with us in simplicity, opening us to a clearer vision of what is real and true, leading us deeply into the mystery of life and may our dealings with others be marked by honesty.

May God be with us today and every day. May God hold each of us, empowering us with understanding, love, and respect.
May God’s forgiveness touch our hearts, enabling us to forgive ourselves and each other.

And finally, may we experience God’s peace and the joy that results from unity and prayer, shared values, and common vision
Author Unknown


St. Julie Billiart ~ Foundress of the Notre Dame de Namur Sisters

April 8 - Feast of Julie Billiart

Julie Billiart was a woman who was completely immersed in the love of God. Julie has a special place in the life of the Catholic Church, not only as a saint but also as a visionary woman who responded to the needs of the suffering world around her.

Her life was a very common one with perhaps more personal suffering than many would ever guess. She survived numerous hardships including the loss of several siblings to illness. She went to work at the age of 16 to help support her family, and at the age of 23 was paralyzed by the trauma of nearly being shot in her father's store. She spent more than 20 years confined to her bed and unable to care for even her most basic needs.
Julie knew what it was like to live not only as an invalid but also as a refugee, to suffer religious persecution, to be shunned as an outcast, and to be the subject of mean-spirited rumors. In spite of her suffering, she clung to God and at the age of 53 she founded the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Julie reached out to the poor and forgotten; she brought comfort and hope to those around her; she brought faith to the seeking and the lost, and more than anything else, she was a witness to the deep loving goodness of God.The impact that Julie had on the world continues to live on in the sisters who claim her heritage.

On July 12, 1751 in a small village in Cuvilly, France, Francois and Marie Antoinette DeBraine gave birth to the fifth of seven children. The child was baptized that same day and was given the name of Marie Rose Julie.

Her family were peasant farmers, who also owned a little shop at Cuvilly in Picardy, France. When Julie was only eight years old, she would take on the role of teacher of catechism and Sacred Scripture while playing, and the children of her own age and older ones, listened enraptured.

The pastor of the village recognized the spiritual gifts of the child and taught Julie how to pray. When she was nine years old, she secretly made her first communion.
In spite of their meager income, the Billiarts were a happy family. But repeated losses brought about real financial pressure and thieves broke into their shop creating further devastation. When Julie was only sixteen years of age she had to earn her living. She was obliged to work, to join the harvesters in the fields. She used this as an opportunity to teach the other field workers about their duties as Christians.

One evening while Julie was in conversation with her father in the old store, a shot came through the window pane. Julie's nerves were so badly shaken that her walking and movement were severely impaired. At the age of twenty-three she was reduced to the condition of an invalid. Refusing to give into despair, Julie found a way to overcome her trials. She lived a life of even closer union with God and taught catechism to the children of the village. With the aid of crutches she would visit the sick and hold vigils beside their beds. When she was thirty-one, her paralysis became complete. For long hours she conversed with Jesus, absolutely oblivious of what went on around her, absorbed. She began to receive pupils at her bedside and teach them catechism.

Then came the French Revolution, and with it the Civil Constitution for the Clergy. All priests were remanded to take an oath of allegiance to the revolutionary authorities. Those priests who did not, were hunted down. Julie tried to organize the towns people to reject the "constitutional" priest sent to replace their pastor and helped to find hiding places for fugitive priests who rejected the taking of the oath.

When the authorities learned of her activity, they wanted to burn her alive, causing her to flee and go into hiding. She fled to Compiegne, France hidden in a cartload of straw. She suffered much from the situation and had to keep moving to stay alive. In spite of her suffering, Julie clung to God.

In the first lull which followed the end of the Reign of Terror, an old friend rescued Julie and brought her to Amiens to the house of Viscount Blin de Bourdon. Francois Blin de Bourdon was henceforth to be her close friend and her associate in all her work. In the sickroom of Julie, mass was offered daily and a little party of women who were inspired by Julie's suffering soon gathered around her.

However, this calm was not meant to last, and a recurrence of persecution caused the group to scatter. Julie and Francois landed at the house belonging to the Doria family at Bettencourt. During their stay here, they were visited by Fr. Joseph Varin who was immensely struck by the personality and capabilities of Julie. He was convinced that God intended her to do great things. Under his direction, the foundations of the Institute of Notre Dame were laid. The Institute was to devote itself primarily to the spiritual care of poor children, the Christian education of girls of all classes, and to the training of religious teachers.

During a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on June 1, 1804, Julie was miraculously cured. She was fifty-three years old.
Three torches lit up the path of Julie Billiart: a lively faith, a boundless charity and a keen sense of the goodness of God. "Ah! How good is the good God!"
In January, 1816, Julie became seriously ill. On April 8, while she was repeating the Magnificat, Julie died and entered eternal life. Julie was 65 years old when she died.
(Kindness of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)