Saturday, April 29, 2006

"... to act with justice ..."

This is what Yahweh asks of you:
to act with justice ... "

Friday, April 28, 2006

"... to walk humbly with God ..."

This is what Yahweh asks of you:
... to walk humbly with your God.

Today's theme: obedience.

Much has welled up in my soul as I contemplated the relationship between walking humbly with God and the parallel to consecrated religious' vow of obedience. I hope to be able to post some of the fruits of my contemplation in this regard over the coming days.

Peace to each of you!

" ... to love tenderly ..."

This is what Yahweh asks of you:
... to love tenderly ...

Pauline von Mallinckrodt, foundress of the Sisters of Christian Charity, truly had a heart full of love. Love was her essence, and her essence was LOVE.

What does it mean that God is asking me "to love tenderly"?

How does "loving tenderly" influence my covenant relationship, and how does my covenant relationship influence my "loving tenderly"?

What does a lay woman "loving tenderly" support and strengthen her Religious Sisters loving chastely?

How do we together build up the Body of Christ through our loving God and God's people?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Triduum of Preparation & Praise

This coming Sunday, I, along with approximately one hundred others in our province, will renew my covenant as an Associate of the Sisters of Christian Charity - North American Eastern Province, what we call Companions of Pauline.

This year, the convergence of the event with the date of April 30th is particularly meaningful. In addition to April 30th being the official feast of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt since her beatification by Pope John Paul II in 1985, April 30, 2006 is the 125th anniversary of Mother Pauline's death/birth into eternal life. Further, while the Eastern Province Associate Program was inaugurated in 1995 and I was part of the first group, due to extenuating family circumstances, I did not make my first covenant in person until 1996. So, as I renew my convenant this year, I am, in a way, marking my tenth anniversary, my 10 year jubilee!

In 1996, when I prepared to pronounce my covenant publicly for the first time, I spent the day before in service to the community, working with a small group of fellow Associates tending to the Retreat House and the large group of retreatants while the Sisters participated in a Province Assembly Day. That night, I had the blessed privilege of staying overnight at the Motherhouse and following dinner entered into my own night of private personal Retreat. In subsequent years, the preparation has been varied often fueled by the responses that emerged in my own annual self-reflection.

This year I have decided to engage in a Triduum of Preparation and Praise which begins today. Life around me is busy and since I cannot go to "an out of the way place" I will enter in to the cloister garden of my heart. To give some structure to my efforts, I've developed a program of reflection for my triduum.

Viewing the passage from the prophet Micah -- " ... to act with justice, to love tenderly, to walk humbly with God..." -- as the parallel expressions of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience professed by religious, I've decided to take this passage for my Triduum meditations, one element for each of the three days.

In opting to make a Triduum, I have decided to adapt the Holy Hour of Adoration gifted to us by Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Institutes of the Pauline Family including the Daughters of Saint Paul. I will stretch out Blessed James' method of adoration by paralleling day one to part one, day two to part two, and day three to part three of the Holy Hour.

The reflection theme I've chose for today is:

"This is what Yahweh asks of you:
... to love tenderly ..."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Random Meme

I've been tagged by Sister Anne and asked to post six random pieces of information about me. For a few of the six, I've decided to follow Sister Anne's themes.

* I am closer to 40 than I am to 30.

* I am bilingual (completely fluent) in English and Spanish, and I can read/sing in Italian, German, Latin, Portuguese, and a bit of Tagalog and Vietnamese.

* If I were a different gender, I think I would have the initials FMS after my name.

* I love basketball (ok, that's probably not any surprise).

* The first piece of classical music with which I fell in love was J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and ...

* ... ok, for the sixth detail, post me a question and I'll answer the first five who post.

Now, I tag ... (oops, some of the folks I was going to tag already were tagged so my list is now shortened):

Susan, Steph, Natty, Di,and Joe.

Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope)

April 19, 2006

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since Pope Benedict XVI was elected to lead the Roman Catholic Church. Much has transpired in the year since the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was called forth to lead the Church following the death of our beloved Pope John Paul II.

Among recent popes, Benedict XVI was probably the most known, primarily due to the very vocal performance of his role at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). During the days of the Interregnum and following the announcement "habemus papam," there was much media coverage and lots of speculation as to what the ascent of then-Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy would mean for the Church and the world.

Left, right, and center -- virtually everyone had something to say. In general, "liberals" felt catastrophe pending and "conservatives" predicted restoration and reformation on the horizon. Neither extreme prediction was right, and once again, we were, as we continue to be, reminded that the Church, that the selection of a Pope, is not an expression of democratic right with the expectation of rule according to the will of the masses but rather it is an outcome of the work of the Holy Spirit to select the person who serves in personae Christe as the visible head of the Church and leads according to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

The clarity of this truth, this distinction, came to me once the College of Cardinals were convened to (s)elect the next Pope. It dawned on me that then-Cardinal Ratzinger could be (s)elected Pope. Because of the seeming severity of some his pronouncements as head of the CDF, I had a moment of concern but almost simultaneously I realized that I am a Roman Catholic, a baptized and confirmed member of the Church, and if then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was (s)elected Pope I was making the choice to honor him as such and accept his (s)election as the Will of God. With open heart and full faith, I accepted and received Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI and reaffirmed my place within the Church. As my father often reminded, the Church is not a democracy (and that's a good thing). This is God's Church. He leads us and will not abandon us, and as we see today, following the death of Pope John Paul II, God has left us a holy man to lead the Church and be a visible sign of the Church's presence throughout the world.

On a human level, reflecting back on the predictions of an assortment of commentators, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised most, highlighting that one cannot pre-judge or predict how a leader will act in a particular role when faced with particular issues except to have confirmed the certain knowledge that the person is a person of deep prayer who consistently seeks to do God's Will and lead others to eternal salvation.

Pope Benedict's style is different than that of Pope John Paul II, but that is to be expected. While they shared much in common, they are different men with different sets of life experiences. What they have in common, most importantly, is their fidelity to fidelity, their faithfulness to being faithful to the truth, way, and life that is Jesus. Certainly there are those who were/are pained by both men, but let us remember that we are all human and have both the need to be forgiven and to forgive. Let us also remember that the Church is the Living Body of Christ and we all form part of it.

If I had to summarize the first year of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, I would say, "To Speak the Truth in Love," and I would note that this daughter is listening.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No Ordinary Wednesday

Today is no ordinary Wednesday. It's Easter Wednesday. Today invites us to pause and contemplate more deeply Easter in our own lives. Like the two disciples walking towards Emmaus, we are surrounded by Jesus in our own midst. Do we see Him? Do we recognize Him? Do we receive Him?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Question for You

Last night we concluded the Easter Vigil and began our celebration of Easter singing Marty Haugen's "Halle, Halle" with full choir and an assembly singing out their hearts accompanied by timpani, brass, percussion, organ, clapping hands, and even moving feet! The joy of the moment was enveloped everyone within eye's view. For me, it was a contemporary expression of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" in terms of what I experienced within myself.

So, I ask you,

What song/hymn/musical selection for you expresses the fullness of Easter Joy?

"Let us, too, arise to new life!"

These words of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt call us not only to enter in to the suffering and death of Jesus but also to accept and share in the glory of His Resurrection, allowing our own lives to be transformed by Him and more deeply into Him!

Jesus, risen in glory, hear our prayers!

I wish you and yours a most blessed and grace-filled Easter. May the coming days of the season be filled with God-life!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Passion Sunday and The Cross

"Name your cross;
embrace your cross,
carry your cross, remembering that,
because of Jesus,
there is no Cross without resurrection, and
there is no Resurrection without the Cross."
From Sister Beth's Thoughts on Palm/Passion Sunday

"In uniting ourselves to the Passion of Jesus,
we find our identity,
our true meaning and purpose."
From Fr. Joe's closing remarks at Palm Sunday Liturgy

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Contemplating Holy Week

Sister Anne Joan at Nunblog asks the question: How would you explain the liturgy, especially those of Holy Week?

Here's the response I shared there:

--- This year I am struck by the idea of the Triduum as one continuous liturgy that starts on Thursday with the opening procession of The Mass of the Lord's Supper and ending with the sung "Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!" at the conclusion of the Easter Vigil Mass followed by the community singing together "Jesus Christ is Risen Today," or "Alle, Alle," or "the Hallelujah Chorus," or "All Shall Be Well."

As Jesus entered into His passion and journey towards our redemption, we too enter deeply into contemplating the Paschal Mystery by commemorating these sacred acts and moments almost in slow motion. The Paschal Mystery is so big, so deep, so beyond our human comprehension, that it is absolutely necessary to contemplate it in great detail and with great care at least once a year. If we are able to enter into this sacred contemplation, how blest we are and what a truly grace-filled experience of Easter we can enjoy!

As we approach the start of this week unlike any other week, my thoughts to the words of this sung refrain (sung in the voice of Jesus):


" ... I have set my eyes on your hills, Jerusalem, my destiny,
though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away ... "

Jesus cannot turn away and we are called to accompany him through our commemoration of Holy Week, in the end always reminded that in the passion, death, and resurrection of life, we are part of a journey that forms us into one body of Christ if we allow it.

In the words of the second part of the refrain, we respond

"... We have set our hearts for this way;
this journey is our destiny.
Let no one walk alone
--- the journey makes us one!"

These are amazingly sacred days, unlike any other days of the year.

May we be blessed with the grace to experience them
through all the beauty
of the Liturgy of the Triduum.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Where's Waldo?

Or "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

Either of these hypothetical entertainment questions lead me to ask "Where am I?" on this Thursday afternoon in early April approaching the start of Holy Week.

Where am I?

There is lots going on in the world around me (ok, that's pretty usual). Some of it affects me directly, some indirectly, some seemingly not at all. Some of it is within my control or the reach of my influence, some of it is not. That said, I turn and look at myself from the outside in order to see where I am within.

Throughout this Lenten journey, I have sought (and still continue to seek) to journey with Jesus and with the larger community, to understand more fully my place within the Paschal Mystery and the place of the Paschal Mystery within my life. A big undertaking, for sure, truthfully the journey that is a lifetime.

There is no succinct one line summary of my Lenten Lessons. Like an onion, the lessons have been revealed one layer at time, mixed with sharpness and sweetness, sometimes completely simultaneously.

As I continue to contemplate and evaluate Where I am I hear the words of Jesus in the Gospel paraphrased and set to music (sorry, I don't know the composer offhand):

I will go forth to prepare a place for you ...
but I'll come back
to take you with me
that where I am
you may also be.

"... That where I am, you may also be."

What a powerful image as we approach the start of Holy Week! As we move from the glory of Palm Sunday through Good Friday to the Easter Vigil, will I be able to stay with Jesus, that where He is, I may also be?

Therein lies the challenge,
the promise,
the hope,
... the gift of new life in God!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

John Paul II ...

... we still love you!

Rest in peace, Holy Father!