Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Faith, Knowledge, Service

     This past Sunday, I finished reading  I Am Malala. Even though Malala Yousafzi’s story is well-known, her book is well-worth reading.   Her story is one of deep faith, the thirst for knowledge and commitment to the education of children, especially the girls of Pakistan and far beyond. 
     Malala is wiser than her years, having learned from her parents, especially her father, Ziauddin. A well-educated, optimistic and loving person, he starts a school for both girls and boys in the beautiful Swat Valley in northeastern Pakistan. Eventually, it is forced to close due to opposition by the Taliban.  All along, Ziauddin and Malala have encouraged the education of girls.
     Malala’s authority to speak out comes from living.  She experiences the fear of arrest and/or death, the heartbreak of displacement by flooding and war, the attempt on her life and, currently, exile from her beloved homeland. For her bravery and commitment, she, has received  outpourings of love from people around the world.
     Across the U.S. this week we celebrate National Catholic Schools Week with its theme: “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” May God inspire our youth to cherish their gift of education.  May they have the grace to believe that their lives make a difference.  May they discover their passion. Like Malala, may they use their gifts to benefit others, and may their hearts expand to embrace this planet and all  its people.  Amen!
     Malala, thank you!  May your dreams come true!

             Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christ's Hands in Ordinary Time

       Now that we are liturgically in" ORDINARY TIME" , I thought to settle back into ordinary days.  Of course, there is no such thing. Bad weather and polar temperatures in the Southeast Ky mountains where I serve in a rural health clinic as a family nurse practitioner has provided multiple challenges. It has been difficult to get to work with icy mountain roads for providers as well as for patients.  This leads to multiple phone calls trying to diagnose and treat medical problems per phone calls. That is never a safe or healthy practice.
       Amidst the confusion and frustration within myself and patients, I settled my meditation into Teresa of Avila's passage:
                    Christ has no body on earth but yours,
                           no hands but yours,
                            no feet but yours.
                     Yours are the eyes through which Christ's
                             compassion is to look out to the world.
                      Yours are the feet with which Christ is to
                               go around doing good.
                        Yours are the hands with which Christ is
                                 to bless all people now.
       So now is the time for myself and all of us to brace up and serve one another with kindness, goodness and patient compassion all the while praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Peace be with all.
      Sr. Joan Gripshover, OSB

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Speaking the Human Language

      At our parish Christmas party at Mother of God parish I went from table to table visiting, welcoming and getting to know some people that I did not know.  I hesitated at one particular table, the table were the deaf community of our parish was sitting.
    I have watched in awe during Mass as the signers translate the prayers, songs and homily from the spoken word into the signed word.  How can the signers make the signs so fast?  How can they get all the words in?  Are some words represented by abbreviations?  More importantly, how can the dozen or so adult deaf persons read so fast?  Do they always understand each signers’ way of signing?  Some of the deaf sign along.  Some are ministers of the Eucharist and offer the bread or the cup with a sign.
    Why was I hesitant to go to their table and welcome them, wish them a Merry Christmas and get to know them?
    I couldn't speak their language!  How could I express the season's greetings without acting stupid?
    Thankfully, I did go.  By clumsy signs I let them know that I didn't know how to speak with them.  Several of them understood my "signs" and read my lips.  On the spot, with warm smiles, they taught me how to say, "Merry Christmas" in sign.
    That was the most wonderful moment of the whole evening.  I still am moved when I recall their delight trying to share their language with me.  I was the one who had hesitated.  They reached out and took me in.

    I still do not know sign language but, I have grown in human language.
     Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year's Resolution: Share Our Blessings

     We are a week into the new year. How are your plans for the 2014 progressing?

     I read a rather apt definition of New Year's resolutions somewhere that said "they are promises I make to myself which I have no legal obligation to fulfill." That sums  it up rather well for most of us, I'd say.

     As we have weathered some brutal temperatures and wind chills this week I've been very aware of those who do not have the warmth and security that I have. As a teacher at Villa Madonna Academy I have been part of our efforts to provide food, socks and other necessities to the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. We've received their thanks on behalf of the many people they serve, those without shelter, clothing, food or hope. I know that there is much to be done but I think each of us who has so many blessings must do as much as we can for others.
     I encourage each of you to find out who needs your help and what ways you can provide for those in need. It can be whatever amount or in whatever way you can give. The needs are great and our care makes a difference.

May each day be a blessed one for you and your loved ones.
    Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB