Thursday, October 27, 2016

Prayer for peace

It’s been a long summer of painful political discourse—to put it mildly. Two weeks ago I read Pope Francis’ prayer for peace that he offered in a service with Chaldean Catholics of Georgia. I offer a few paraphrases lines that resonated and stayed with me.

            Lord Jesus, we adore your cross which frees us from sin, the origin of every division. We long for your kingdom of justice, joy and peace.
Lord Jesus, by your glorious passion conquer the hardness of our hearts imprisoned by hatred and selfishness.
Lord Jesus, cast forth the shadow of your cross over peoples that we may learn the way of reconciliation, dialogue and forgiveness.

O Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, you who stood at the foot of the cross, obtain from your 
Son, pardon for our sins. Sustain our faith and our hope and teach us the royal road of service and the glory of love. AMEN.

                  Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB           

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Let us hold onto the Year of Mercy

        Many times in the Gospels this week Jesus calls out the Pharisees and scholars. He minces no words in pointing out the obvious disconnect between how they see themselves and what motivates them. Jesus describes their inner states; “you are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk” (Luke 11:44)  . . . and their outer states; ”you impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”(Luke 11:46) I have thought about the woes Jesus might be saying to me, have you?
        Paul succinctly in the first reading on Tuesday prescribes the antidote to the Pharisees behavior by stating “but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6) can the outside behaviors and the inside motivators keep us aligned with Jesus.
         There are many who exemplify their faith through actions of love. Isn’t this where continued growth needs to take place? “Today God loves the world through you and me. . . God proves that Christ loves us that he has come to be his Father’s compassion” wrote Mother Teresa. Is this not part of Pope Francis message when declaring in this Jubilee Year of Mercy that we must “Be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) We continually are called to “presence” Christ in our lives and the way we live them. When our lives are in harmony with the merciful, compassionate Jesus, the likelihood of being called out with “woe to you” is replaced by “Come all you blessed ones.”

         The solemnity of Christ the King on November 20 formally closes out the Year of Mercy. Doesn’t it seem way too soon for the year of mercy to end? With all that is occurring in our country and throughout the world would it not be helpful to extend the Year of Mercy for another year or a decade, better yet forever? 
        Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

          When I received the habit of our Benedictine community in 1947, I had asked for and received the name Sister Victoria. I wanted a name in honor of Mary, and I would celebrate my new name in honor of Mary, Our Lady of Victory on October 7. I had discovered that there was a fierce battle (1571) between the forces of the Ottoman Fleet and the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime state s organized by Pope Pius V. The Holy League surprisingly won. In history this victory is known as the Battle of Lepanto (off the coast of western Greece.) The victory was attributed to the many rosaries prayed at the request of Pope Pius V who ordered the churches of Rome opened for prayer day and night, encouraging the faithful to petition the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Rosary. After the victory Pope Pius V added a new feast day to the Roman Liturgical Calendar as the feast of Our Lady of Victory.
Madonna of the Rosary (with Mysteries of the Rosary) - by Lorenzo Lotto
(1539) Oil on canvasChurch of San Nicolo, Cingoli
In 1573 Pope Gregory the XIII changed the title of the "Feast of Our Lady of Victory" to "Feast of the Holy Rosary". Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the whole of Latin Rite, inserting it into the General Roman Calendar in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October. Pope Pius X changed the date to October 7 in 1913. In 1960 Pope John XXIII changed the title to "Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary".
Do you wonder why I was so interested in all this background? Actually, I love the title of Our Lady of the Rosary, but I am also quite attached to the title of Our Lady of Victory. I was happy to find an article by Fr. Streve Grunow that reminded me we all have our Lepantos that rage within our troubled souls. In the midst of these battles Christ fights for us and our Lady of Victory is at his side. I also remember that the various titles attributed to Mary would take pages to enumerate. So in my prayers on October 7, I will also pray to my beloved Lady of Victory.

             Sr. Victoria Eisenman, OSB