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.

Monday, February 11, 2013


\On Sunday, February 10th, the Sisters of St. Benedict in Beech Grove had a double reason to celebrate!  The Feast of St. Scholastica and the gift of the presence of our Archbishop!  Soon after Archbishop Tobin was appointed to our archdiocese we extended an invitation to have  him join us for the special Benedictine Feast of St. Scholastica.  This feast is especially important to us as St. Scholastica is known as the twin of St. Benedict, the founder of Benedictine Order.  

Sr. Mary Sylvester meets the
Archbishop Tobin joined us for Morning Prayer as we chanted the
psalms and sang the antiphons of this very special feast.  It was 
such a gift to have him join us.  After prayer he joined the 
community for coffee, food and conversation.  Archbishop Tobin
has such a friendly way about him.  It doesn’t take long in 
his presence before one feels totally at ease.  It was a joy to 
have Sr. Mary Sylvester, our 100 year old sister, meet him.  
He thanked her for her many years of faithful service.  

Gathering in our chapel for Mass we listened in intently as
Archbishop Tobin gave a powerful homily about St. Scholastica 
and what she teaches us and the Church.  One line from his 
homily that will stay with me always was when he said that the
Sr. Juliann, our Prioress, and
Archbishop Tobin
monastic vocation is a shining light in the heart of the Church and that it reminds everyone to prefer nothing whatever to Christ.  
Archbishop Tobin’s wisdom coupled with his delightful sense of 
humor touched me deeply.  I consider it a blessing to have him 
as our shepherd and have him lead us in the holy Mass.  Following
Mass we processed downstairs we sat down for a meal and 
more enriching conversation.  I thank God for this wonderful man 
and pray that the Holy Spirit will fill him with wisdom as he leads
us in and to Christ.

A story from St. Scholastica’s life
We know of her through the writings of St. Gregory the Great. Scholastica and Benedict were close and lived in monasteries near one another.  One of my favorite stories about them is a story about Scholastica’s perseverance in prayer.  Benedict and Scholastica used to meet once a year for holy conversation.  On the day of what was to become their final earthly meeting, Benedict came to visit Scholastica.  They spent the whole day praising God and discussing spiritual matters, as was their custom at these annual meetings. As evening approached and they were dining, Scholastica begged Benedict to stay until morning so they could continue their conversation. She begged, "Please do not leave me tonight, brother. Let us keep on talking about the joys of heaven until morning." He replied, "What are you saying, sister? You know I cannot stay away from the monastery." Scholastica then folded her hands on the table, lowered her head, and with tears flowing down her face, she began to pray. The clear sky darkened with clouds, and a rainstorm followed as she concluded her prayer. The storm began as soon as her prayer concluded. In fact, they coincided so closely that the thunder was already echoing as she raised her head. Benedict complained, "God forgive you, sister! What have you done?" Scholastica answered, "When I appealed to you, you would not listen to me. So I turned to my God, and he heard my prayer. Leave now if you can. Leave me here and go back to your monastery." Benedict was forced to remain the entire night. God answered the holy woman's hopeful prayer with a miracle.  If we could all have such faith!