Haven't had very much to write lately. The world seems to move too fast sometimes.
I hope everyone has a Happy Easter, or as the preschoolers would say at our school, a "Hoppy Easter."
Blessings on this most holy of days.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
A Solid Relationship Built on Prayer
The Dalai Lama is coming to Louisville in May. I'm excited and have had tickets for over a month. I recently read a book written by him and Howard Cutler called The Art of Happiness.
In this book, Cutler writes, "A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can't grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon," (p. 200).
We too want to have a strong foundation to withstand the storms in our lives. This foundation has to be built over time by being faithful to prayer and our relationship with God.
When I was first considering religious life, I didn't think it was for me. I thought all nuns did was pray, and I knew I wouldn't be able to pray all day. Prayer is a vital part of our life, but we also strive to live a balanced life of prayer and work - ora et labora. We show this ritually by giving the new person 3 things at her entrance ceremony - a Benedictine medal, prayer books, and an apron.
Some people may think that prayer comes easily for monks and nuns. After all, it is part of our daily schedule. Communal prayer is part of our life as well as personal prayer, but it's still easy to be distracted or find other things to do. We too are pulled in many directions. Prayer, no matter who or where you are, takes discipline and perseverance. If you read about some of the lives of the saints, they too encountered difficulties in prayer.
The world is a busy place. It's easy to be distracted, lose our focus, or get bored and quit.
How about this Lenten season, devoting more time to prayer and building a strong relationship with God. That way when the storms come, there will be a solid foundation on which to stand.
So . . . . spend some time in prayer . . . every day . . . rain or shine . . . tired or busy . . . no excuses.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Take Time to Rest
Tuesday's first reading was from Genesis 1:20-2:4. "God rested on the 7th day from all the work he had undertaken," (Gen 2:2). How ironic to read about rest the day before Ash Wednesday.
Perhaps for our Lenten resolution, we could take a cue from the reading. What about taking time to slow down and rest? The world is a busy place, and it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life.
Resting would certainly be countercultural. We fill our lives with so much. Jesus always had a lot to do also, but he always took time to pray.
I wonder when multi-tasking became common place? There's a commercial that shows how this has become the norm and even seen as better. Maybe you've seen it. A man is sitting at a table with a group of kids and asks, "What's better - doing 1 or 2 things at once?" The kids all answer, "Two."
The first time I saw this I thought, "How awful, but how true." Busyness is the culture we live in.
One thing I'm working on this Lenten season is to really take time to eat lunch. Often, I eat lunch and keep right on working. If I plan a littler beter, not overextend myself, and ask for help when needed, I'd find time to really relax, put work aside, and enjoy a work-free lunch.
As a teacher, we only get 20-25 minutes for lunch anyway, so this is only a start, but it's a good start toward having control over what I do and when I do it rather than letting what I do control me.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Reflection on Martha and Mary
Here's a reflection I gave at the monastery for the Feast of St. Scholastica. The Gospel reading for the feast day was about Martha and Mary. Reflection: February 9, 2013 Luke 10:38-42 It’s always interesting to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. When I was a kid, there were lots of things I wanted to be. It was just a matter of how to strategically fit everything together.
One thing I thought I could be was a teacher. My thinking was that teachers give the students the work to do. So, I thought my day would end at 3:00. I’d go home with nothing to do. I’d also have long breaks and summers off. Since I thought my afternoons and evenings would be free, I thought I could also be a newspaper reporter. I’d travel around, see what was going on, and then write about it. With my summers free, I thought I could be a farmer. I imagined my uncles who were farmers as working during the summer and then having the rest of the year to sit around and watch T.V. I’m glad my uncles aren’t around to hear me say this. I also wanted to be an astronaut. I wasn’t quite sure how to fit that in, but I thought, “Well, I still have my weekends open. I also have Christmas break and spring break and the occasional snow day.” I thought those times would be good times to be an astronaut. So, teacher, newspaper reporter, farmer, and astronaut. I had a plan, and I thought I could do it all. I guess I was your stereotypical Martha.
As a kid, I was a little O-D-D, odd. I’d make to-do lists that included things like dust, vacuum, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen. You would think I was any parent’s dream. I’d wake up on Saturday mornings and say, “Mom, what should I do?” I would have done anything my mom would have asked. Mop the floor. Paint the house. Build a carport. I was only nine, but I was a precocious little kid.
Every time I asked, “Mom, what should I do?” my mom always, always, always responded, “Catherine, go rest.” All the time I was told to go rest. My brother, on the other hand, my twin brother, never had to be told to go rest. We were the exact opposite. My mom would be after him 50 or 100 times to do one thing. I remember one time my mom was after him for probably 2 or 3 days to mow the yard. I would gladly have done it two days earlier, but I was told to go rest, and my brother was told he had to mow the yard that day. And my mom meant business. So, my brother mowed the yard . . . that day . . . in the dark. It was night time by the time he finally got around to mowing the yard. Because of this, he ended up mowing down some of the things I had in my garden. Considering this happened approximately 20 years ago when we were about 15, I should probably let it go, but the Martha in me worked hard on that garden, and some of the things were knee high.
Now, I have no doubt that I complained to my mom. I complained directly to my brother, and I complained to everyone within a 5 mile radius. I was only 15 and unable to drive. Otherwise, I would have complained to a lot more people.
“Mom, why can’t you do something? Why can’t you fix him? Why can’t he be more . . . I don’t know . . . more like me?” I had all these great ideas of how things should be and no one ever listened.
Did you notice in our Gospel that Martha also complained? She didn’t complain to Mary; she complained to Jesus. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me,” (Luke 10:40). Does this sound a little passive aggressive? Instead of going to someone directly and communicating with them to try to understand them, we go to someone else and complain. We want God or someone else to fix what we consider being a problem. We fail to notice the actions we can take in the situation. Maybe what we consider a problem isn’t really a problem. Maybe it’s a lack of acceptance of someone because they are different. Martha wanted Jesus to “fix” Mary, to set her straight, to make her more like her. Martha was unable to accept Mary for who she was or for the decisions she was making.
Jesus tells Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her,” (Luke 10:41-42). Had Martha lost her focus of why she was doing her work in the first place? Are we, too, so focused on what we are doing that we fail to recognize Jesus in our midst? One thing I tell my students in the choir is that singing is not their main purpose for being in the choir. Their main purpose is to praise God, and one way they can do that is by singing.
What was Martha’s main purpose for the work she was doing? Was she wanting to feel needed, important, worthy, loved? Did she want to impress Jesus, be noticed, or look better than Mary? Maybe she was wanting thanks and praise.
Martha said to Jesus, “. . .my sister has left me to do all the work by myself,” (Luke 10:40). Had Martha even asked for help? We talk about how busy we are - ora et labora et labora et labora - but how much of our busyness is of our own choosing? And why are we choosing this? Martha’s service was needed. Our labora around here is needed, but perhaps we can change the way we go about it. We don’t want to be worried, nor do we want to be distracted and lose our focus.
When I was a kid, I wanted to do it all. I still struggle with this. Fortunately, I have wise mentors who show and teach me a better way to live the monastic life, a balanced life of ora et labora.
Let us remember that Jesus is in our midst. It is Jesus who teaches us. It is Jesus whom we serve. And it is by God’s grace and for God’s glory that we do what we do.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Conversion of St. Paul
January 25 was the Conversion of St. Paul. Next to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, this is one of my favorite feast days.
One thing I find interesting about Paul's conversion is the reaction of those around him. There were many who had their doubts and did not believe him. This was certainly understandable given his previous beliefs and behaviors.
The same is true today. People change over time. We all grow and learn from our mistakes. The question is, "Do we allow others to change or do we hold on to our doubts and keep them in a box?"
It's understandable to be cautious, but we also have to be open to changes and newness of life.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Vocation Awareness Week
This past week (January 13-19) was Vocation Awareness Week. Becoming a
priest or religious brother or sister may seem like a respectable vocation . . .
. as long as it is someone else who is considering it. If you're the one being
called, instead of respectable, it may seem EXTREMELY scary.
I remember the first time I was brave enough to share with a college
friend that I was considering religious life. It took what seemed an eternity
to get it out. I wanted her to guess what I was trying to say because I was
having such difficulty forming the words. I thought about playing 20 Questions
or Charades or Pictionary. I struggled so much. I'm sure I wasn't making any
Finally I asked, "Do you know what I'm trying to say?"
To my horror, she said, "No, you're just going to have to tell me."
Somehow I mustered up the courage to just blurt it out. "I'm thinking about
becoming a nun."
Her response was, "Praise God."
It was nice she was so supportive, but I thought, "Easy for you to say.
You're not the one being called to be a nun." I was one of those people who
thought a religious vocation was a great idea . . . for someone else.
Because of her response and some further research of who nuns really are and
what they're really like (rather than relying on my own misperceptions), I was
truly able to see that this calling was really a blessing. Whereas at
first I couldn't formulate the words, I was later able to join my friend in
saying, "Praise God."
Praise God that I was given the openness to hear God calling me to
this vocation. Praise God that I had people to support me. And praise God that
I was given the strength and courage to say yes and follow.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Advent Calendar - Christmas Day
John 1: 1-18
Reflection by Sister Rose Mary Rexing Director of Mission Integration, Memorial Hospital, Jasper, Indiana
The Christmas Gospel from John, chapter one, shares radical Good News — the WORD was made flesh and made his dwelling among us. We live in a world filled with words
and more words. Texting has become
a main way of communicating. Do
our words build up and give life or tear down and destroy?
Today we celebrate the WORD, this WORD that was God, and the WORD was God. The phrase, “In the beginning” parallels the creation story in Genesis 1:1. At Christmas a new creation is happening. “Because of God’s great love for us, he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation.”
The “WORD” (Logos) is present in the Old Testament as the creative energy of God. The Greek term, logos, means order, reason, or harmony. The WORD, in the Gospel of John, is the one through whom all things were created and who was with God and turned toward God even before creation.
Let our words cease for some quiet moments this Christmas Day and may we
become interiorly still to welcome the WORD. Let us invite the WORD into our hearts where the WORD lives and thrives and longs to be spoken. May the WORD influence every word we utter now and into the future.
God has spoken to us for all time in this WORD made visible, this God
made a human being, this Jesus our brother. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
No mere human words can describe the magnificent gift God has given to
us. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” May the brightness and sound of the WORD shine in our hearts and our lives so that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. Amen.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Advent Calendar - December 24 (Evening Mass)
Isaiah 9:1-6, Titus 2:11-14, and Luke 2:1-14
Reflection by Sister Jennifer Miller VNA Chaplain, Hospice Program, Evansville, Indiana
In a faraway land in a hovel of a house, two brothers were flush with
excitement because they had decided to visit the cathedral on the hill for
Midnight Mass. Besides giving thanks to God, they entertained the hope that the
bells might ring…
Far up into the base of the highest spire were what was rumored to be
the most beautiful-sounding chimes in the world. Alas, they were seldom heard.
The legend of the bells asserted that the chimes would ring only when someone
offered a worthy gift at the altar. Crowns and intricate jewels and crafts had
elicited no sound.
The boys walked fast to keep warm in their threadbare clothing. As it snowed, they sang carols to pass the time. Only a mile or so from their destination, they stumbled over an object in the snow. A woman lay dying. The older brother took out the dime they had saved as their gift and urged his brother on while he stayed with the woman.
The liturgy had begun as the little one edged his body into the massive
doors and slipped unobtrusively to the lowest step of the altar to place their
dime. Momentarily the bells began to chime.
As in that long-ago age, the night is sometimes bleak. Poverty is
humbling. Violence is close. Bad news is disseminated like lightning. Fear and
worry are near neighbors. Loneliness is rampant.
Isaiah’s words break into that gloom. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…the yoke that burdened them… has been smashed… for a child is born to us, a son given us… He shall be called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Price of Peace.”
Just as the older brother offered a dying woman the gift of his
presence, so our God offers a faltering people the gift of his Son. We
celebrate Christmas tonight because our God chooses to spend time with us.
Jesus chooses to be our brother and friend — to bring love to us who are afraid
to trust, peace to counteract our violence, reconciliation in the midst of our
conflicts, light in our darkness, food to feed our hungers, adoption to still
our loneliness, the promise of eternal life to offer us endless hope.