Year of the Priest and the Eucharistic Congress

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All are invited to attend a Eucharistic Congress on September 11-12, 2009 in Washington, DC at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Congress, entitled Sacrifice of Enduring Love, is sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR).

There is no charge for admission to the two-day event that will consist of: celebration of the Liturgy, conferences and catechesis, Eucharistic adoration and procession, and other activities focusing on the Eucharist.

Three vocations will be explored in-depth — the Priesthood, Religious Life, and Marriage. Speakers include: Justin Cardinal Rigali, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, Rev. Eduardo Chávez, Rev. Bernard Murphy, CFR; Rev. David Toups, STD; Mother Ann Marie, OP; Sr. Maria del Cenaculo Perez, SSVM; Terry Polakovic, Executive Director of ENDOW; Rev. Thomas Rosica of Salt and Light Television; Laura Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, and her husband Giuseppe Pannuti; Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; Drs. J. David and Angela Franks, Cecilia Sone, and others.

In addition to other displays, a piece of the actual tilma of St. Juan Diego will be exhibited.

For more information about the Congress, visit www.cmswr.org or write: P.O. Box 4467, Washington, DC 20017.

Here is a reflection on the vocation of the Priesthood written for the Eucharistic Congress. As we celebrate this Year of the Priest, let us pray for priest and thank God for the gift of who they are to us. May this reflection lead you to prayer and to a deeper knowledge and love of His Heart.

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How great is your love, O Jesus!
You give to us those who so closely
Follow you that when we hear them,
We hear you! They are your priests!
You use them to touch our hearts,
To heal us, to draw us closer to your own Heart.

Jesus, we pray for our priests,
These men, your brothers
Who sacrifice marriage, a spouse
And children to be your presence!
They do it willingly! They do it lovingly!

Their love for you is seen in their love
For us, your people.
Some arise at all hours of the night
To anoint and confess one who is about to die.
Others teach our children and ourselves,
Helping us think through those hard decisions
We need to make. They feed us on your Word
And nurture us with your Body and Blood.

They, though weak and human as we,
Trust so totally in you that they take up
What no one would dare take up on their own:
To be your presence, in persona Christi!
This is a mystery we barely understand!
We, baptized into your death and resurrection,
Share in your roles as Priest, Prophet and King!
By ordination your priests identify and personify
You, the only High Priest we have!

You give to us the gift of Holy Orders
So we who live so many years
After you walked this earth
Can still encounter you, the Risen Lord Jesus!
We meet your love and your healing,
We hear you speak words
Of kindness and forgiveness in them.

In complete love and total dedication
These men, our brothers, commit
Themselves to you and to the service of the Church;
So all may know you, love you and serve you!
Each day they offer for us, your people,
Our thanks and praise to the Almighty
And everlasting Father in the Eucharist,
Your own gift of enduring love for us!
As they consecrate the bread and wine
into your Body and Blood;
Consecrate them and us
so that we, too, may be your presence!

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How Great is Your Love, O Jesus!

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All are invited to attend a Eucharistic Congress on September 11-12, 2009 in Washington, DC at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Congress, entitled Sacrifice of Enduring Love, is sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR). There is no charge for admission to the two-day event that will explore three vocations in depth — the Priesthood, Religious Life, and Marriage. In addition to other displays, a piece of the actual tilma of St. Juan Diego will be exhibited. For more information about the Congress, visit www.cmswr.org or write: P.O. Box 4467, Washington, DC 20017.

Below is a reflection on the Eucharist that I wrote for the Eucharistic Congress. As you read it I’m sure that you will see the Sacred Heart Spirituality. May this reflection lead you to prayer and to a deeper knowledge and love of His Heart.

EUCHARIST

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How great is your love, O Jesus!
Out of love you became one of us:
Emptying Yourself to be as we are;
You laid down your life and told us:
Greater love has no one than this,
That he lay down his life for his friends.
Even that was not enough!

The night before you died,
You emptied yourself even more!
You gave your very self to us
Under the appearance of bread and wine!
How great is your love, O Jesus! 

You, the sinless Son of the Father,
You, the Son of Mary most Holy,
Became sin, destroying the devil’s hold on us,
Setting us free to be daughters and sons of the Father.
Jesus, your sacrifice is more than we can ask or imagine!
Our words too weak grow great with thanks
Before your enduring sacrifice of love!
How great is your love, O Jesus! 

United with you we give thanks to the Father
For sending you, His only Son, to us.
We proclaim your death and resurrection!
We trust you even when all seems dark,
Because you, the Light, shine in our darkness!
We are your people!
We are the People of the Eucharist!

Your Heart burns with love for us
Ever ready to light our path
and show to us the way to the Father.
Even that was not enough!
You give us your own Spirit,
The Living Spring, the Living Fire,
To open our eyes to see you in each other;
To open our ears to the cries of the poor;
To open our hearts to respond
with a strong Yes! to all that the Father asks of us.
We do not fear, for You are ever with us;
We know: We are not alone!

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Palm Sunday

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What’s that in Latin?

For God so loved the World
that He Sent His Only Son!
John 3:16

 

 

The Lord has give me a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.

These words we read from the Prophet Isaiah the Church applies to Jesus. He came to speak to us, the weary, the tired, the burdened–“a word that will rouse” us.

Sometimes words are not enough and we need deeds–ACTIONS! The Second Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians reveals the depths of love in the Heart of Jesus. We read:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God
As the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity

Did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at.
He did not hold onto His divinity as a miser does his gold!

Rather, He emptied himself,
Jesus lowered Himself; He became as we are.

Taking the form of a slave
Taking on our flesh and blood!

Coming in human likeness;
Becoming fully human yet fully divine!

And found human in appearance,
As the Son of Mary and the Son of God!

He humbled Himself,
He stooped down to us as it were.

Becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus did what love requires.
He died to show His love for us even to the point of execution on the Cross.

My mother used to tell me: 
Actions speak louder than words! All we need do is look at what Jesus did!
He died so we might live!

Jesus taught: Greater love than this no one has that he lay down his life for his friends
and I call you friends.

Mark’s Gospel reveals in great detail the lengths Jesus’ love takes Him. His Passion and death are a Love Story! His love for us and His call to us to join our sufferings and our troubles with His own suffering, so that together we might change our world and draw others to His heart.

As we enter this Holiest Week of the year each night before we sleep or the first thing in the morning, let us read a few lines of the Love Story and listen in our hearts to His special words for us. If we listen we will hear just the words we need to grow and become the person His love calls us to be. Peace be with you!

Father, as we enter more deeply into the Mystery of your Son’s Passion and Death, help us as too experience His pain and suffering!

We believe in you. We trust in you! Lead us from our present sorrow to the full Joy of Easter.

May all who see us; see your Son living and loving in us! Amen.

I ask myself: What is the quality of my friendship with Jesus? How close are we?

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Father, Forgive Them!

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Lord, by the grace of this sacrifice may we who ask forgiveness be ready to forgive one another.”  These words startled me. Did others hear what I heard? The congregation was focused on the celebrant. After mass I looked in the Sacramentary. There I read: “Lord, by the grace of this sacrifice may we who ask forgiveness be ready to forgive one another.” 

Could God be challenging us to forgive, to let go of those hurts we hug to our hearts? Could God be challenging us to be at peace now? How do you live in peace? Does respecting others, especially those with whom we live and work, really build a world of peace? Is peace a verb or a noun? Is peace something we do or is it something we are? Does peace begin the moment each of us looks into our own heart and confronts the evils that dwell there?

We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves. We cannot sign peace treaties and grant amnesty, but we can meditate on these words. This is the challenge! Person by person, we can change the world; we can heal the world, if we examine our own attitudes. Do we treat others as if we were God and want everyone else to bow down and worship? The challenge is to name our own sin; acknowledge our own woundedness and ask forgiveness. Only when we accept the forgiveness, which flows from the Heart of Jesus, will we be able to forgive others. 

0c on the cross.jpgWhile dying on the cross Jesus taught:

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Can we accept the forgiveness and the love of Jesus? Can reach out to others in forgiveness? As children of our heavenly Father we are called to make a difference in the world. We can think thoughts of peace, while in the midst of war. We make peace with ourselves; we take responsibility for past failures and forgive ourselves, knowing God has forgiven us. Peace will only be a part of our world, when we begin to forgive. Hard enough to forgive in times of peace, it’s doubly hard in times of war.

As we make peace with ourselves, we repair those relationships, which are wounded; we call family members with whom we haven’t spoken for years. Person by person, we ask for forgiveness. We let go of grudges, remembering Jesus taught:

“Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whose sins you hold fast, they are held fast.”

Our call to forgive is the call to make peace. Jesus’ words on Easter night give us hope:

“Peace be with you.”

Then He showed them his hands and side. As if to say: “This is the price of peace.” It is by His sacrifice we can forgive. Alone we could not do this. God gives us the courage to look beyond “our hurts” and “our wrongs” to the real need that binds us together as a family and as members of the human race. We acknowledge that we need each other. Our call to holiness is the call to enter into the Mystery of Salvation by extending the forgiveness and the Peace of Christ to each other.

            Is peace a dream for Pollyannas? Or is peace the bedrock need of every person? Do we need peace to be the person God calls us to be? Each of us must answer these questions for ourselves. How we answer will determine how we live and how we die. How we answer will catapult us into a world of peace or a world of fear. May the grace of God be with us as we ponder the price of peace.

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Why Did I Enter the Convent?

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Why am I a sister today? It was not to “save my soul” nor was it to teach or to nurse. I entered religious life and I am a sister today, because Jesus Christ is real to me.  The one thing I knew at eighteen years of age and that which I am even more convinced of now, many years later, is I AM LOVED. This one central conviction continues to compel me, urge me, and draw me today to be a sister even more than it did so many years ago. At that time I did not know what vows were; I had never heard of them, but I did know the love of the Heart of Christ. This love pierced the darkness of my ignorance and the shallowness of my thoughts. It called me to live “differently” from others. I did not understand what this meant, because I wasn’t even sure if God was calling me. I only knew I had to give God a try, an opportunity to be number one in my life. I entered not so much to “do” as to “be.” I wanted to “be” for Christ Jesus; I wanted to be the Love of the Heart of Jesus for others as my parents and teachers were for me. Entering religious life for me was all about loving.

Religious women and men make vows, or promises. The vows for me are a “means to an end.” Poverty, in and of itself, holds no attraction for me. My vow of poverty reminds me that I place my identity not in what I have or possess, but who I have been called to be from the very moment of my existence. Poverty’s not about dollar and cents; it’s about a willingness to share who and what I am. Poverty’s not just a state of mind; it’s an openness of heart, a willingness to love those who do not love me or are incapable of loving because they are in so much pain. Poverty’s more than a promise to be with others in their pain; it’s a presence, a power to be make present God’s love here and now in the midst of my own pain. Poverty’s the power to consecrate through the power of God — the nothingness, the void within, and to create community… friendship… peace. Poverty’s an emptying of self and the experience of my own emptiness. “Though He was as one with God, He did not deign equality to God something to be grasped at. Rather He emptied Himself and put on the nature of a slave.” Poverty’s the freedom to be Christ for others as others are Christ Jesus for me. Poverty’s acknowledging, yes, even embracing the limitations that I have so that God can fill them. So when I act, it is God moving and acting in me.

How did I come to discover this relationship? How did I come to know that I was loved? By listening. The vow of obedience teaches me to listen, to be sensitive to God’s presence in every moment of my life. Obedience’s a listening, an opening of self to God and others. Obedience is more than the fulfillment of laws and directives; it’s a commitment to listen with the whole self to the voice of God in myself and in others. Obedience’s a leap in faith into the unknown. It’s doing what I never thought I could do; it’s being who I never imagined I could be. Obedience is finding my identity in Christ Jesus who found his identity in relationship to the Father.

I discover I am a daughter who is called to change her mind, to open her heart to allow the Word of God to speak in her and through her. The Word resonates in my life, in all the events of my days. Silent music permeates my veins; a hidden harmony calls me to a cadence that I would not have chosen. Yet my heart is enchanted, is fascinated by the subtle beauty, the deceptively simple rhythm: “If you want to be perfect, come follow Me.” Hearing the Word, finding the Word, sharing the Word, consecrating the world with the Word by my life and example seals my share of Christ’s priesthood given in Baptism. I make the Heart of Jesus present as does the priest in the consecration of the bread and wine. I offer the wine of my days and the bread of my life so that others may come to hear and know the voice of Christ Jesus. My vow of obedience draws me into these relationships. I do not speak for myself; I speak for Him who speaks through me. My heart is fastened on God alone. In all the disparate events of my days, I hear one voice, one rhythm, one song. A unity exists in my life. I find God’s voice, God’s presence as much within myself as in others. I am at peace. Life becomes simple. God is one. I am called to love as God loves. This is the vow of chastity.

Chastity’s the courage to love others rightly, purely, wholly for who they are — not for who I want them to be. Chastity’s about giving life and nurturing life. Chastity’s the Father’s look of love to the Son and the Son’s answering love of the Father poured out in the Spirit of their love on us. Chastity’s the  mystery of this love within me; most of all it’s the struggle to put on the mind and heart of Jesus so as to love with Jesus’ Heart and proclaim His love to all. This is the life of the vows.

This is Religious Life, a life intimately a part of the life of the Church and rooted in that Baptismal relationship established between God the Father and each of us through Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit. At Baptism we each “put on Christ Jesus.” We entered into a love relationship. Religious Life is one way to live that love relationship. A call echoed and echoed in my being and continues to resonate even today in my heart; so that for me the only way I can be true to myself and true to my experience of God’s presence within me is to be a religious woman, to live this life of the vows. Could God be calling you or someone you know to Religious Life? Probably. God’s love is everlasting; God’s love is constant. God continues to call out to us across the confusion and distress of our days to say: “YOU ARE LOVED.” God still needs people to proclaim this love by their lives as God needed Mary of Nazareth to give flesh to the Christ Child. Could God be calling you to be His love to others as God calls me? You must decide this for yourself.

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