Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Because He Said It

          On Sunday, June 18, we celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ  (Corpus Christi).
This is one of my favorite feasts because of my great love for the Eucharist.  I think that if you
ask any Catholic, they would agree that they love the Eucharist.   It is the source and summit of our 
Christian lives. 
          True the Eucharist is a mystery.  We do not grasp its full meaning.  We have only glimpses of its meaning. We grasp instinctively.  We know that the Eucharist can and does change our lives.  As the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ,  we who receive the Eucharist are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.  Collectively we call this the Church, the body of Christ (St. Paul).

          In faith we believe that Jesus is truly present and that if we eat His body and drink his blood, we do have eternal life.  Why?  Because He said it.  (John 6:51-58).

Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

She gave from the abundance of her heart

              Recently the Gospel reading of the day was the “widow’s mite” (Luke 21: 1 - 4). Reflecting on this passage I remember a poignant moment in my ministry in Appalachia. It occurred while visiting a woman (I’ll call her May) who recently moved into a group home. 
             I had known May for several years. It seemed that everything that could go wrong in her life had. The death of her daughter, a divorcee, and her own mental health issues worsening made it impossible for May to live on her own. What I recall of this day is May’s excitement in having a visitor. We met only briefly in a common TV/living room when she asked me to come see her own living area. May took my hand as we walked down a long hall.  Her bed, a dresser and a few belongings were in an alcove, a small section of a large dorm room. As I looked around at her meager possessions May pointed to the floor.
            There at the entry space to her alcove, was a mat that said WELCOME – and she beamed showing her few remaining teeth. She wanted me to know just how open her heart was in welcoming me.  I noticed that no one else in the dorm had a mat – just May. This was her prize possession. Hospitality was the special gift she had to give.  She gave from the abundance of the little she had. I felt blessed to be received by May.

           May’s hospitality was what Benedict desires of his followers – to receive and greet each person as Christ; to welcome them with joy and gladness. There is a quote from Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out that reads “From now on, wherever you go, wherever I go the ground is holy between us. As you leave, you stay within the hospitality of my heart,” It is as true today as it was almost forty years ago. May continues to remain in the hospitality of my heart as I hope I remain in hers. 
        Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Avoiding the Thud

Just having completed the 50 days of Easter with the beautiful Pentecost liturgy, I was anticipating my usual “let down” that comes with the sudden appearance of Ordinary Time. The feeling is like falling from something or somewhere with one big thud. This year as I pondered the Church liturgies in the month of June, I was happily reminded that the month is very rich with liturgies that can either avoid or have a happy lift from my anticipated thud.
Since my early childhood, I have loved the devotion to the Sacred Heart to whom the month of June is dedicated. My great-grandmother, who died before I was born, had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart. She left behind a two-foot statue of the Sacred Heart that was “stored” in my bedroom. I was also told that Grandma distributed Sacred Heart League leaflets throughout the neighborhood each month of the year. How often I felt close to the Jesus represented by that statue and poured out my heart to him. How grateful I am for the gift of devotion to the Sacred Heart and likely even the seeds of my vocation handed down by a deceased grandmother!
On the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate Trinity Sunday, and the following Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi. We celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart on Friday, June 23. This month we also celebrate the feasts of John the Baptist and the feasts of the apostles Peter and Paul. Thirteen saints, five of whom were martyrs are also commemorated. So like the lush green growth around us, the first month of Ordinary Time presents us with a plethora of feasts to bathe us in hope, the presence of our Triune God, and examples of others who followed in the footsteps of our Lord.

  Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Come, Holy Spirit

        In the gospel on the feast of the Ascension, Jesus asks the disciples why they are standing there looking upward? He tells them that they are to quit standing around and do something. When they ask how they will be able to do something he says that the Holy Spirit will guide them. In their usual doltish fashion they tell him that they don’t even know the spirit. He must have rolled his eyes and thought, “What am I going to do with these people?”

        In this week between Ascension and Pentecost we too are trying to learn more about the Holy Spirit. We pray for the gifts of the Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (or wonder). In every age these are gifts that we need to bring our Christian life’s message to our world.

         With the many needs of our world it is easy to see that wisdom knowledge and understanding would be a good start to heal the divisions among individuals and nations. Counsel and fortitude would give us the strength to stand for those who have no voice. Piety and wonder would enhance our prayer and gratitude to God for the beauty of the world around us.

         So, let us pray with sincere hearts, that the Spirit will shower us with the gifts we need in our corner of the world, so that we will not be standing around but will do something as Jesus asks.

Sister Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thoughts on Freedom and Celebration

            The month of May brings to mind a number of celebratory occasions with memories of the yearly events in one’s life such as First Communion, Mothers’ Day, Pentecost, Graduation. For me May is the month to visit the people I know in Kentucky’s prisons. I don’t know why the visits fall in May, it just happened over the years that this is when my parish work slowed down and before summer activities co-opted my attention.
            The first week in May I visited Karen at Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley. I have known Karen for about 25 years since our Exodus Jail Ministry group took a field trip to KCIW in the early 90’s to learn about the state facility in order to better understand what some of the women at the local Northern Kentucky jails were facing once they were sentenced. Karen was our inmate guide, a role she performed very graciously. Karen and I have visited occasionally over the years and maintained a fairly regular written correspondence. I have visited her bi-monthly in a pastoral capacity since last November.
            The second week of May occasioned the yearly Shakespeare Behind Bars event. This year’s play, Julius Caesar, performed at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, marked my 10th year as an SBB fan. Several sisters usually join me in this celebration of arts and the inspiration that comes from witnessing the power of beauty to change lives and worldviews of the performers, friends and patrons.
            Now in mid-May I am planning for the yearly prayer visit of religious women and men to the men on Death Row at Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville. Several of us women and men religious from around state gather to have Mass and a visit with a number of the 30 men on the row. Over these 15+ years we and they look forward to reenergizing our friendships. It has become an important expression for us and our communities of the immense and unconditional value of human life.
            May brings us sunshine, warmer weather, longer days, opportunities for outdoor activities – many marks of freedom from indoor confinement and of happy gatherings. Visiting those who are incarcerated stirs up a great compassion for the inmates because of their lack of freedom to move around freely in and out of doors, to engage in safe activities with persons of their choice, and mostly to be with their loved ones for family events to be grieved or celebrated. I invite you to join me in prayer and advocacy for all who are incarcerated, for the persons they have injured and all involved with the justice system.
          Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Year’s End School Concert Reflection

Yes, God!
Yes, you live.
Yes, you live here and now in your children,
who radiate joy and almost glow especially
 in singing, “I see leaves of green, red roses, too ……..
What a wonderful world!” 
Afterwards, second graders ask: Why the tears, Sister?
They understand that I love their singing;
as does everyone in the audience.
They do not yet, of course, realize their real shining (Merton).
Some day, I hope they do.
Grace them and youth everywhere, O God, with the hope, courage, and all that they need to grow up
                     to live, love and help transform/bless the future for generations to come -
                                          That in all things God may be glorified!

Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mourning the Egyptians in Exodus 15

One particular Charles Schultz cartoon has remained with me through the years. Linus runs up to Charlie Brown, excited over a football game he has just seen. An unbelievable play with “just three seconds to go won the game for the home team. The fans went wild. They were so happy…hugging and rolling on the ground and screaming. It was fantastic!” Charlie Brown looks at Linus and asks in the final frame: “How did the other team feel?”

The other team in Exodus 15 are the Egyptians who have been cast into the sea.
At the Easter Vigil we sing with enthusiasm:
Let us sing to our God…gloriously triumphant.
Horse and chariot you have cast into the sea.
The floods closed over them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.

In the article “Remembering the Egyptians at the Easter Vigil” (Bible Today, Mar/Apr, 2017), Fr. Craig Morrison, OCarm explores the treatment of the oppressor in the Bible and the violence brought down on those who were not the home team. He cites the Jewish tradition of remembering at the Seder meal the suffering of the Egyptians. In the Talmud “the angels wanted to sing praise to God for the victory over the Egyptians. But God rebuked them, reminding them that the Egyptians are also creatures of God.”
I find it a revelation to do prayerful reading of scripture while being aware of my attitude toward the “other team”. During this year’s reading Pharaoh’s doubts came through to me, and I noticed that he asked of Moses: “Pray for me”. I could hope that a more wholesome attitude would carry over into other situations in which it is tempting to dismiss the “other team”.

Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB