Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Works of Mercy

          Pope Francis calls us to observe a Year of Mercy throughout 2016. I have some thoughts about this and I am wondering what you, the reader, might have in mind also as a response to that call.
          When our RCIA group reflected on the Feast of Christ the King last November, some of the thoughts which were expressed are that the kingdom is both on earth and in heaven. We’d like to think that the kingdom is brought about by the mercy and kindness of those who have made the choice to follow Jesus as our King and that we are joined by all others who, without even knowing Jesus, nevertheless extend hospitality and compassion to others. At that time we challenged ourselves to be more intentional in practicing random acts of kindness.
The Corporal Works of Mercy by Ade Bethune
          The Catholic Church has given a name and structure to acts of kindness: the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. What a gift it is to be reminded this year to review this list both as a self affirmation of the good deeds that we already practice in our lives, and an invitation to remember the Works of Mercy which may stir up for us possibilities for ways in which we can share God’s grace with others.
          When you perform an act of mercy, like visiting the sick, you encounter Christ in that person and s/he encounters you. This is a marvelous gift in itself. And in addition to that, there can be a ripple effect that kindness begets kindness, not just between the two, but with those who witness the action.
          Now I am planning to revisit the Works of Mercy more seriously, or at least more consciously, this year than I have in the recent past. The last time that I deliberately took them seriously I heard “visit the imprisoned”. And I can tell you that following that call has enriched my life tremendously.

        Who knows what will happen this time to me?  To you? Will you?
  Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Had a Dream

Whenever I hear the name, Martin Luther King, my first thought is, “I had a dream.” With my blog due, I decided to share a dream of mine that has left a lasting impact on my life.
Many years ago I was making a directed retreat at the Milford Retreat Center. One day as I sat on the floor of the chapel, a deep silence came upon me. Although I knew I was wide awake, I began to have a dream! I was a child sitting on the curb among a crowd of people waiting for a parade to pass. The parade was very special because Jesus was the main feature of the parade! Every watcher was keenly focused waiting to see what Jesus would look like. I had never been so excited!
Finally, Jesus stood in front of me with a brown bag over his head! He pulled the bag up and there stood my own brother who said, “You didn’t know me, did you?” Jesus put the bag back over his head and immediately removed it again. There stood a familiar friend who said, “You didn’t know me, did you?” Jesus repeated this action with the bag several more times. I don’t remember the various persons who stood in his place, but in retrospect, it doesn’t really matter. I understood the message.
So many times this dream has helped me in my relationship with others, even difficult others. I want to treat everyone kindly lest I hear again, “You didn’t know me did you?”
Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ordinary Time and Its Comforts

       People who hate to see the Christmas trees come down may also be loath to embrace Ordinary Time in the church year. Is OT average, common, usual? The longest season of the liturgical cycle, it falls into two parts, and ordinary is derived from the words for “numbered” and “order”. Thus, Ordinary Time is a succession of numbered weeks in the ordered life of the church. 
      The high intensity liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter call for extra effort on the part of us all, especially liturgical ministers and those responsible for music, environment, lectors, homilies and so forth, not to ignore those who cook and bake and offer hospitality. For them OT offers a respite, a relaxation, a relief. A relaxation from the great central mysteries into the life of Christ that we celebrate over its thirty-three or so weeks. A time to mature as Christians until that day comes when Christ will draw all people to himself at the end of time. 
       Until then we lower the stress, calm ourselves, and try to live as we are called. For monastics there is an expression “the regular observance” that is quite appropriate for this Ordinary Time. Lent will arrive on our calendars soon enough, with the reminder from St. Benedict that our lives “ought to be a continuous Lent”. Let us enjoy the few weeks of the regular observance before we are called to a higher degree of intensity in our Christian lives.

      Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB