Monday, October 14, 2013


LUKE 7:11 - 19 -  The healing of the ten lepers and the one who returned and gave thanks.

This gospel got me sent to the Principal’s office in 4th grade.  Sr. Joseph Anina asked us to illustrate the gospel.  All of my classmates had the one grateful leper kneeling before Jesus.  I did not even have Jesus in my picture.  Scandalous?  Apparently so, judging from my teacher’s reaction! 

In the first panel, I drew the lepers, on their way to the priests, engaged in conversation.  One was sad that even Jesus would not touch him.  Another was complaining about how the people in the synagogue or temple always looked down on him.  Another was hopeful that by the time they reached the priests, maybe they would be healed.  The Samaritan, whom I dressed differently than the rest, started to notice that his skin was looking strangely clear, and maybe Jesus had helped them after all.

In the 2nd panel, all the lepers were now clean and yelling excitedly.  A few got to the priests, a few were so excited they skipped the priest and just went home.  The Samaritan thanked the priest and then, in a thought bubble, decided he wanted to find Jesus to say thanks. 

I thought I had a great imagination.  Sr. Joseph Anina thought I missed the whole point of the story.

Maybe I did miss what she thought was important, but looking back through much older eyes and a lifetime of experiences, I think I learned much from this story.

First, I am impressed by the lepers’ request of Jesus to have pity on them.  Surely they had heard of His other miracles, and were bold enough to ask for the same consideration.  They had to shout their request because they were unclean and therefore not allowed near other people.  They remind me of Benedict’s directive, “Never lose hope in God’s mercy.”

When Jesus directed them to go the priests, they did not question Him.  They went on their way.  This echoes Benedict’s chapter on obedience where he speaks of obedience as listening and responding as a single step.

It’s interesting that the gospel says that the one who returned to Jesus “realized that he had been healed.”  If a leper no longer has leprosy, that would be immediately noticeable, so the healing must be more than skin-deep.  A leper, now cured, would also have to let go of the bitterness and suffering experienced by being ostracized from the community… a healing of emotions, spirit and psyche.

I think it is THAT insight that compels the Samaritan to find Jesus and thank Him.

Don’t we all have moments like that in our lives?  Times that, in retrospect, we realize that we have been gifted or healed or helped in some way?  Do we give thanks to God for that good fortune?  Do we make the effort to thank the people who were involved in our transformation?

Before I made first vows here, I spent a lot of time looking at the path that brought me here and realized that my former community had been very influential in my spiritual growth.  With that insight, I was able to let go of the hurt of being turned down for final vows and my heart was massaged and softened to the point where I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all they had taught me… the easy lessons as well as the ones that were painful and challenging.  I wrote a brief thank you note, and was pleasantly surprised when the first 2 cards I received for profession were from my Marianist sisters.  No hard feelings, no regrets, just prayers and blessings for the journey.

So, perhaps this gospel is about recognizing our woundedness, recognizing those who bring us healing, and being grateful for the faith that is the thread holding everything together.

Perhaps Jesus knew, as Bishop Tobin said, that “gratitude is the attitude that will make ministry (and, my own insertion,  the Reign of God) credible.”

May we be people with grateful hearts today and always.

Monday, July 15, 2013

25th Jubilee Celebration - Sr. Nicolette and Sr. Betty Jean

Sr. Nicolette and Sr. Betty Jean celebrated their 25th Jubilee of Monastic Profession.  It was a wonderful day of celebration for us.  What a gift to be able to celebrate their faithfulness to God and God's abiding and faithful love for them.  Enjoy this video of the renewal of their monastic promises.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Saturday, July 22, 2013 was a great day of celebration for our community as Postulant Susan and Postulant Gayla were received into our novitiate.  They are now Sister Susan Nicole and Sister Gayla Marie.  Surrounded by the monastic community and family they said yes to God's call for them as they took this big step.  The day following this special ceremony,  the community began their annual retreat.  It was a gift that our new novices could begin their novitiate year in retreat.  Please hold them in your prayers as they begin the next part of their vocation journey.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sr. Anne Louise and Sr. Susan Elizabeth Receive Community Blessing

On Tuesday, May 21st, Sr. Anne Louise and Sr. Susan Elizabeth went to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota to attend the Novice and Director Institute.  Benedictine Novices from around the country will be gathering to learn more about the Benedictine life and to have the opportunity to share their experience of religious life with one another.  It is also an opportunity for their Formation Directors to connect with one another and learn from each other.

At the end of Mass on Tuesday morning, Sr. Anne Louise and Sr. Susan Elizabeth were called forward to stand before the community so that they could receive the community's sung blessing.  After Mass we gathered by the front door of the monastery to hug them goodbye and to wish them well on their journey.

We invite you to join us in praying for both of them and all the novices and directors who will be gathering at Sacred Heart Monastery.  They will return to us on Friday, May 31st.  We will be eagerly awaiting their return and look forward to learning all about their  experience.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


We are called by God to do something with our lives, to live with purpose.  I'd like to share Pope Francis' word around the important issue of call. In the Vision E-Letter, one finds the following:

"IN HIS WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS ADDRESS earlier this month, Pope Francis asked the young people in the crowd: Have you sometimes heard the Lord's voice, in a desire, in a worry, did he invite you to follow him more closely? . . . Have you wanted to be apostles of Jesus?  . . . Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be brave! Be brave! Ask him this!

Then at a Confirmation ceremony this past Sunday, Francis told the confirmants: "Remain steadfast in the journey of faith. Listen carefully, young people, swim against the tide; it's good for the heart, but it takes courage."
The Pope's repeated appeals for bravery and courage serve as reminders to all of us that Christian discipleship requires hard choices and selfless acts. "We Christians weren't chosen by the Lord to do little things," says Pope Francis."

What are you called to do with your life?  Every day we are called to stretch the tent of our heart to be something bigger.  Bigger for God and bigger for others!

Friday, March 22, 2013


In just a couple of days we will begin the solemn journey of Holy Week.  Palm Sunday is a day of Hosannas and the cry of the crowd who turns on Jesus even as they just honored him with hosannas.  As we walk with Jesus on Palm Sunday all the way to the cross, may we open ourselves to the amazing gift we are given in a savior loves us and gives his life for us.

At our monastery on Palm Sunday we usually process outside with the cross, banners and flowers.  We process outside with the music of bells and a drum moving us as we sing Hosanna.  When we enter the chapel the mood becomes more solemn as we prepare to hear the reading of the passion.  At the end of Mass, we leave in silence.

It is a powerful time making us deeply aware of what we are saying yes to as Christians.  We must walk the way to Calvary if we want to rise with Christ.

Reflect on your experiences of Palm Sunday.  Ask God for the grace to enter fully into this powerful liturgy.


Lord jesus, Savior of the world and Redeemer of all, give us the grace to understand more deeply the mystery of the cross.  We need your courage to participate in the work of redemption.  As we stand at the foot of the cross with Mayr, may our fait deepen, our hope be renewed, and our love increase a hundredfold.  Amen.
(Prayer by Bishop Morneau)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Pope Francis gave a wonderful homily on the day of his installation.  I have posted several paragraphs here.

"The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Pope Francis calls us to not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.  How do you nurture goodness and tenderness in your life?  Lent is a time of opening our heart to God. Benedict's call to watch over ourselves, our emotions is an important one.  As we nurture goodness in our lives we are able to build up ourselves and others for the Kingdom of God.

Gracious God,
you call us to love you in tenderness and mercy and to share this love with others.
May all we do build up ourselves and others so that we may fully serve you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Friday, March 15, 2013


It is hard to believe that Lent is passing by so quickly. How have the last weeks been for you? Ash Wednesday might seem a long time ago. That day when we promised God that we would fast, take more time for prayer and give a little more than we usually do. This morning I will take a little time to reflect on where I am at with all of it. This is not to become a judge of my motivations and actions but to commit to growing closer to Jesus. To commit to walking with him through the rest of Lent in an intentional and powerful way. The goal of all of our commitments is union with Christ. All we do are means to this end. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and may we look forward to Easter with holy longing.

How has this Lent been for you? Are the commitments you made on Ash Wednesday leading you closer to Jesus? Do you need to make adjustments to get back on the path?

Loving God,
we long for you because you first loved us.
May our Lenten commitments draw us closer to you and may we let go of anything that hold us back.
Be with us as we journey through these last days of Lent. May our love for you be strengthened and deepened.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Today Sr. Heather Jean shares her response to God's call in her life. You are invited to reflect on yours as we move closer to the holy Feast of Easter!

Through the Waters of Baptism
Sr. Heather Jean Foltz

Spring is a time of new beginnings.; creation comes to life after remaining dormant for months, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and welcome new members into our church.  It is also a time when we are reminded of God’s calling in our life that began on the day of our own baptism.  April 15, 1984 was the day that I was baptized in the name of the trinity into the Christian community of faith and the day that God began calling me to a new way of being.  I have come to realize that God does not call once, but continues to call us throughout our life.  The first piece of our calling begins at baptism and as we enter more fully into our baptismal promise we begin to realize the personalized call that God has for us.  This personalized call has two dimensions.  The first is a more intimate relationship with God and the second is a mission that will help extend God’s love to the world.   God has invited me to my calling as a Benedictine Monastic. 
Monastic life is centered on seeking God.  Prayer is central and all other aspects of life flow from our life of prayer.    It is within those intimate moments of prayer both privately and communally that I am filled with God’s love, which, through grace, helps me to love others in a more substantial way.   Living monastic life involves living as a part of a larger group.  I am one of many called to live out the Rule of Saint Benedict at Our Lady of Grace Monastery.    It is within the context of community that I am able to see both the strengths of the body of Christ and also the division that can be created as a result of our humanity.  Living in community calls me to embrace the beautiful and the broken aspects of human nature found within my sisters and myself.  It is through embracing the human parts of ourselves and others that we learn to love.           
            Monastic life has an impact on the greater community and its presence is needed in the world today.  A life centered on prayer, work, and hospitality is different than the values of our world. Our Monastic presence in our world offers others the opportunity to pray with us, to be prayed for and provides a space for respite for those seeking God.    Our ministries within the greater community also help bring a glimpse of our Benedictine values into the work place.  We are teachers, administrators, nurses, librarians, musicians, and social service providers.  Through each of these ministries we share our values with those we come into contact.  Our co-workers watch to see how we respond to different situations and rely on our prayers for strength and support in their own journey.  God touches others through our acceptance of God’s invitation to live the monastic life.
            On June 9, 2012, deepened my commitment to following God When I made my First Monastic Profession.  On the day of my profession, I stood before God, my community, friends and family to profess to live a life of stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience.  These vows are unique to Benedictines.  Stability is a commitment to live out our monastic vocation in a specific community.  It is a stability of place and heart.   This stability is allows us to be known by those who we live with in a deeper way and calls us to conversion.  Obedience is a commitment to listen to and remain faithful to God, our superiors, one another and to the monastic way of life.  We do not journey alone in monastic life, but together.  It is through a life of mutual obedience that we learn to listen to how God is calling us to grow in love .  Monastic obedience is the process of cultivating a listening heart.  Fidelity to the monastic way of life is a commitment to live faithfully our monastic practices and values as well as to remain open to conversion within our hearts.
            Our calling is not stagnant.  It does not happen at one moment, but it is a continual turning back to God.  We are each called to a specific community and a specific ministry, but the call to continue to love God and others in deeper ways continues throughout our life on earth.  We are called to continue through grace to heal the wounds that keep us from loving God, others, and ourselves.  We are continually called back to the waters of our baptism to enter more deeply into a loving relationship with our Triune God.

Reflect on how God is calling you to follow at this time in your life.  Is there something you need to be about to respond to God’s call ?  As we journey toward Easter, we remember our baptismal call and once again commit ourselves  to God.

Gracious God,
Through our baptism you call each of us to holiness.
Help me to respond to this call by living each day centered in you.
May all I do and say bring me closer to you.  Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2013


In the Gospel for today the scribe asks Jesus which is the first of all the commandments.  Jesus responds, “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength.  The second is this:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Well wait a minute!  The scribe asked which is the first of all the commandments so why does Jesus respond with two commandments.   Is it because Jesus want are love to be made real.  We are not to love only in theory but we must love in practice.  If we truly love God, our love will be made real in the concrete ways we reach out in love to others.  Not only those that are easy to love but those that call us to stretch in our understanding of love.  We are called to keep widening the circle to include all of those that God loves.  That’s a mighty big circle!

Where are you called to stretch yourself so that you can widen the circle of your loving?  How does this feel to you?  Take time to pray and ask for God’s grace to help you on this journey in growing in the practice of loving.

Loving God,
You are Love and you call us to love.
Our love for you is made real in the concrete actions
of love in our lives.
Help us to open ourselves to all people
so that we might be stretched in our capacity to love.
May our love for you shine as we reach out to others in love.
We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Snow started falling late afternoon in Beech Grove, Indiana.  It looked liked powdered sugar as it dusted the earth and soon covered it.  It was absolutely beautiful and made me want to get outside and embrace its beauty.  So I did!  Around 9:30 p.m. I put on my coat and boots and stepped outside into God’s wonderland.  The trees were draped with snow and my feet had to push against the snow that was covering the earth.  Since the snow was still coming down, I could feel it in my hair and on my face and it was WONDERFUL! 

You might ask, what does snow have to do with Lent?  I asked myself that question too.  As I walked through God’s creation last night, I was reminded of the call to be fully awake and open to the wonder of God’s creation.  We get so busy with life that we forget to look at what is always right around us.  Wake up, God says!  Look with new eyes!  Yesterday’s snowfall made me look with new eyes.  Through God’s grace may I look at each day in this way.

Lent is a time of stripping away all that hinders us from seeing God more clearly and responding to God more fully. God is always active in our lives and in creation.  May we have eyes to see it.

How are you awake to God’s action in your life?  Take some time today to walk in God’s creation.  Do so fully awake to what God offers you!  Then be thankful for all the many graces God gives.

Gracious God,
Just like the snowfall blankets the earth
your grace covers us and leads us to life.
Open our eyes and hearts to your love and grace
so that we might be made new and live life fully awake to your presence.
We ask this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.     

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Commentary on Luke 13:1-9
March 3, 2013
      The message in this Gospel is everyone gets by with a little help from their friends.  

     Repent, repent, repent, Jesus says, if not you will perish…but then he tells a story of salvation.  God seems to be looking for those who do not “exhaust the soil.”  I’d hate to be thought to be in that category but, essentially, I am…and, so are you.  There are periods in our lives when we do not produce much.  Maybe we are weighted down by illness or fatigue or depression.  Maybe the weight of the world creates in us a dark night of the soul.  Maybe our joys do not balance our afflictions.  Maybe, just maybe, we have decided this life is too hard and there must be an easier way.

     We are like the fig tree barren of fruit, day after day or month after month or even year after year.  But, if we are lucky, someone comes along who is willing to cultivate the ground around us.  A trusted friend, a mentor, an example of kindness and compassion, a circumstance, an experience fertilizes our thirsty, barren soil of a soul and brings us back to life. 

     God puts people in our path like the gardener in today’s Gospel who see in us a grain of hope.  They come to our rescue when we need them the most.  All we need do is trust them.  I’m reminded of the story of a person stranded on the top of a house during a flood with the waters rising.  A canoe comes along and invites him in.  “No, he says, God will save me.”  Then a rowboat offers assistance. “No, he says, God will save me.”  Then a motorboat. “No, he says, God will save me.”  He drowns then chastises God
for not saving him.  To which God replies…“My dear child, I sent you three boats!”

     Our rescuers don’t always come in nice little packages.  Sometimes they have to say hard things and issue challenges we don’t want to hear.  The one necessary thing is that all is done in a spirit of love and true concern.  We don’t get by with a little help from our enemies…we get by with a little help from our friends.

     Cultivate good friends then look to them to help you grow and bear fruit that will last.  They will help you get by.

Sr. Mary Luke Jones, OSB

Friday, March 1, 2013


Sr. Ann Patrice of our community has a beautiful Godchild named Clare.  Clare’s mom, Annie, and Sr. Ann Patrice are lifetime friends.  Annie had told Sr. Ann Patrice that Clare had given up chocolate for Lent.  Sr. Ann Patrice was surprised as Clare LOVES chocolate.  The next time Sr. Ann Patrice saw Clare she said, “Clare, I heard that you have up chocolate for Lent.  I’m so very proud of you.”  Little Clare looked up at Sr. Ann Patrice and said, “A (that’s what she calls her) I want to show God how much I love him.”

Amazing words from a little girl – I WANT TO SHOW GOD HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM.

That’s what Lent is all about!  Making space and taking time for God so that we can grow more deeply in our love for the One who loves us more than we can fathom!

How are you showing God how much you love him?  Where do you need to make space or take more time for God?  Let’s each try to do a little something extra during the third week of Lent.

Loving God,
Our hearts are filled with gratitude for your deep love for us.
We love you and desire to love you even more.
Open our hearts to your grace so that
            Our lives might be filled with desire for you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


First In Line

When I taught elementary school, I would always smile at how the children loved to be first: first in line, first in the bus, first in the front seat.  I would smile and think how common this desire is for all of us.  The desire to be first can stand in the way of being for others.  In today’s Gospel the mother of the Sons of Zebedee asks Jesus that her sons sit on his left and on his right in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus tells her that this is not his to give.  He also says,  the one who is great is the one who serves.  

As Christian disciples we are called to serve in the kingdom.  This calls us to reach out beyond our tiny world and see to the needs of all people.  By putting others in first place, we create a space where the good news of Jesus Christ can be heard.

How do you serve Christ in the people you meet?  Do you feel called to serve in a new way.

God of all people,
Help us reach beyond our tiny world
            so as to open our hearts to all your people.
May our service in your Name
            Be a gift in your world that is so in need of your mercy.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


            Today we have the powerful story of the Transfiguration.  Jesus takes Peter, John and James up the mountain to pray.  While Jesus is praying his face change in appearance and his clothing become dazzling white.  Moses and Elijah are conversing with Jesus when Peter and the others wake from sleep.  It is not surprising that Peter wakes up with an action plan.  That bold disciple who is always ready to jump in or speak out is overcome with the glory of it all and declares, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”   Of course he did not know what he was saying.  He did not know what would come next.   A voice from heaven says, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.”            

            We, like Peter, have all had mountaintop experiences.  Those moments in our lives when we are so deeply aware of God’s shining presence in our lives.  Knowing that Christ is the chosen One and, that in listening to him, we become his chosen disciples.  I think it is natural to want to stay on the mountaintop, to freeze those moments, to make them last forever.  It is interesting to note that this encounter comes as the disciples are on their way with Jesus to Jerusalem.  We, too, are called to walk with Jesus, not only on the mountaintop but also on the road of life and sometimes that’s difficult and painful.  We are called to make real the gift of the mountaintop experience in our everyday life.  It is when we can hold onto the experience of knowing God’s light so clearly even in the midst of our road Jerusalem that Jesus’ message becomes real in our lives.

            As I prayed with this Gospel it had a meaning for me that it has never had before.  Maybe it’s because it will be read at Mass tomorrow, which is also my parents’ 51st Wedding Anniversary.  Last year we celebrated their Golden Anniversary with great joy and celebration.  Their love for one another was so evident and we rejoiced in it and thanked them for their faithful witness to the vows they had made to one another.  God’s presence in their love for one another was so very clear. It was a wonderful celebration and it was good to be there.  This year my mom will go to visit my dad and he won’t recognize her.  As she shares memories of their life together, he won’t remember that he was a part of all those memories.  Tomorrow when my mom goes to spend time with my dad it won’t be the mountaintop experience that it was last year.  She now walks that difficult road that we are all called to walk in different ways and in different circumstances.  She must hold onto the promise that God is just as present to her in these painful times as God was on the mountaintop.  The blessing and grace in all of it is that the One who is part of those mountaintop experiences, the shining light that holds us all in love, walks with us on the road to Jerusalem.  We are never alone and can count on the Chosen one who chooses us to walk beside us companioning us along the way.

            As we journey through this season of Lent, may we remember the mountaintop experiences of our lives.  Let us be grateful that just as God was with us then, God is with us now holding and sustaining us in love.


What are some of the mountaintop experiences of your life?  How do you take those experiences into your daily life even when some days are difficult?

God of all time,
We thank you for those mountaintop times in our life
That help us know your deep presence to us and your powerful love for us.
Give us the grace to not forget this same presence and love
As we journey through each day of our lives.
We ask this through your Son in whom you are well pleased.

Friday, February 22, 2013


This morning during my prayer I read something from Mother Teresa that touched me deeply.  In talking about faith and trust, she told the following story.  She and her sisters would feed four thousand people each day.  One week they found they had no rice to give these people.  Without food given to them by the sisters, these people would have nothing.  Then, about 9:00 a.m. on that Friday morning, two truckloads of bread were delivered to the sisters to share with the poor.  It turns out that school was canceled that day and they didn’t want the food to go to waste.  There was more bread in those truckloads than most of them would see in a lifetime.  Mother Teresa said that when we trust and have faith God will provide for us in ways we would never expect.  Even if means closing the school for the day! :)  It reminded me that even in the hardest of circumstances I am called to trust and have faith, uniting myself to Christ in prayer and in action. 


Can you think of a time when you have trusted God in a situation that seemed hopeless and God surprised you?  Where are you called to have faith and trust right now?

You penetrate our inmost depths,
And there you perceive an expectation.
You know that, without having seen you we love you,
And still without seeing you we give you our trust.
(A prayer by Brother Roger of Taize

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I have found that when I ask people how they are doing there response is often “I’m busy”.  Sometimes this is followed by a list of what they need to do or a sense of frazzledness (is that a word?!).  I often find myself saying the same thing.  So . . . I’ve been paying attention to how often I respond that way . . . and I realize it’s way too often.  Is there anything wrong with being busy?  I don’t think there is if we are busy about the right things.  And yet, even when we are busy about the right things, if we don’t take time to rest, the Sabbath God talks about, we will crash and burn or just run around in a frenzy.

Sr. Juliann enjoying art
Taking Sabbath time is not always as easy as it sounds.  What does Sabbath time mean?  Often when I’ve been running too hard and for too long, I crash and move into inactivity which is not what I believe Sabbath time is all about.  Sabbath is about resting and renewing.  It’s finding what helps you rest and be renewed.  This is different for everyone.  For me it is a conversation with a good friend, praying and worshiping with our community, a long walk in the beauty of God’s creation, taking time for art and journaling, sharing a movie with community and talking about it afterwards.  It’s not about doing nothing.  It’s about doing something that renews my spirit and opens me up to receive God’s grace.  When I take time for Sabbath, I am more ready to do God’s work and not my work of busyness. 

Do you take Sabbath Time during the week?  Even if you can’t take a whole day, can you take a couple of hours of time to rest and be renewed?  When you think of things that are restful and renewing, what are they?  Can you incorporate at least one in your week?

Holy God,
You call us to take Sabbath time
So that we can rest and be renewed in you.
Help us remember that all life comes from you.
May all we do glorify you in the life that you have given us.
We ask thin in your most holy Name.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Reflection on the Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent -- Luke 4:1-13      by Sr. Carol Falkner, OSB

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, then returned from the Jordan and was conducted by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, where he was tempted by the devil.”  Here we have a passage that is definitely linked to the days of Lent and Lenten disciplines.  Not eating for forty days was Jesus’ test while for us it could be giving up something that is difficult to do or reaching out to someone in need. No matter what, it is to be a time of prayer and spiritual discipline in some form.

Our story today is the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan. The key word is “tempt or put to the test.”  One finds that word appearing several places in the gospel tradition as in the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.”  We all wish to be delivered from the time of testing however this manifests itself in our lives, but how aware are we when we pray for this very grace each day at the Liturgy of the Hours or the Eucharistic Liturgy – “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The first temptation to turn stones into bread comes after forty days of fasting.  Jesus is very hungry as were the chosen people in the wilderness.  The latter get their hunger satisfied when God sends manna from heaven.  Although there is no indication that Jesus gets bread, He does respond to Satan by quoting Deuteronomy when He says, “A person cannot live on bread alone.”  We, too, experience a hunger only satisfied by God.  Lent is an ideal time to ask God to satisfy this hunger by what Benedict says we are to do “…devote ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial.”

The second temptation is that of power.  Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a single instance and offers them to Jesus if he will only worship him.  Power is seductive.  Often people in authority are perceived to have great power.  Jesus answers, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and God alone shall you serve. “  Real power is anchored in humility because one realizes that real power is rooted in God.  Let us summit to humility as Benedict would encourage us to do and allow it to teach us about real power.

During the third temptation Jesus is asked to throw himself down from the temple leaving God to save him.  This temptation asks Jesus to use the power of God to do miracles that would be in his own self-interest putting God to the test.  Jesus warns Satan, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  Jesus reminds us in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Pray that you may not enter into the time of testing.”   Lent serves as a reminder to surrender our lives to God.

Let us then allow these forty days of Lent to be our time in the desert, our time to make God the center of our lives.  Then we will be able to “look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Creating Space

I think we could probably all agree that we desire God to be the center of our lives.  Our Lenten journey is a reminder to make this desire a reality.  It is easy to get off course and not realize that other things are creeping into our lives and taking up way too much space.  That’s where fasting comes in.  When we think of fasting we usually think of food.  That’s a good place to start.  When we fast from food for any period of time, our hunger pains quickly remind us that we cannot survive without food, especially the Bread of Life offered to us daily.  So . . .fasting from food is a good thing.  It is something I do to remind myself to turn to God for all my needs and to give myself to God wholeheartedly.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what fills my life, what takes up too much space in my heart.  I believe I am called to fast from these things as well.  It could be worrying, social networking, rigid ideas that stop me from loving etc.   This Lent I’m going to pay attention to what takes up too much space and then fast from it so that I can create more space for God in my everyday life.

Reflect on what takes up a lot of space in your life, what tends to consume you?  You might want to try fasting from it for even a week of Lent (if the whole of Lent seems like an impossibility) and pay attention to what happens within you and in the way you relate to others.

God of all blessings,
You desire to consume us with your love.
Help us to let go of those things that consume us so that we can make space for your love.
Give us the courage to give all to you so that we can truly receive all that you desire for us.
We ask this in your most holy name, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Time to Begin Again

I have always loved Ash Wednesday.  Some people think that is strange but I don’t.   I like it because it is an opportunity to begin again.  We are all in need of this season of Lent.  The fact that churches throughout our country will be overflowing on this day of receiving ashes is evidence of that.  I am aware of my gifts but maybe even more of the areas where I fall short..  And so the Church gives this time to begin again, to turn to our Lord.  

In our monastery we have the tradition of filling out our Bona Opera (which means “Good Works” in Latin).  A little while before Ash Wednesday our Prioress gives us a card that says:  During these days of Lent, I, Sr __________________, will add to the usual measure of our service by way of . . .  Prayer  _____________________, Fasting ________________________ Almsgiving _________________________.   Each Sister spends time reflecting on these areas in her life and how she needs to grow.  After prayerful consideration, she fills it out and places it in a basket in our chapel.  During Mass on Ash Wednesday our Bona Operas are blessed as we begin the good work of Lent.  It is work, isn’t it?  It is hard to change, to grow, to let go of those parts of ourselves that don’t take us to God.  And, yet, grow we must if we are to become the person God has called us to be.

Reflect on the areas of your life where you most need to grow. Ask Jesus to help you turn back to him with all your heart.

What does Ash Wednesday mean to you?  Share the ways that this season of Lent calls you to grow.

Loving God,
You ask us to repent and believe in the Gospel
And to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return.
We are nothing without you but with you we are everything.
Be with us as we begin this season of Lent.
May it be a time of continual turning to you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.