Posts Tagged 'Religious Life'

“Rabboni!”

In today’s Gospel we are reminded that St. Mary Madgalene was looking for the dead body of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She never found it. Instead, she first heard his voice, but didn’t recognize it. When he called her by name, “Mary,” she recognized the voice of her Teacher (“Rabboni!”) and Lord. When she looked up, she saw her risen, LIVING Lord.

Look deep within your heart. In the darkness of the unknown in discerning God’s will for your life, listen for the Lord’s voice. Pray that you hear the voice of the Lord call you by name, that you may acknowledge him as your LIVING Lord, who lives within you and (just as for St. Mary Magdalene) turns your darkness into light, and your tears into joy.

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Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus

For as long as I can remember, the Sacred Heart has been a part of my life. When I was growing up (even though I didn’t notice this until I had come back home to visit as an adult), there was a framed image of the Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart in a very prominent place in my house. I was educated by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a high school named Cor Jesu. I joined a community whose charism is entwined with Sacred Heart devotion. And I have uttered the phrase “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you” more times than I think would be countable if they had been recorded. Certainly, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been near and dear to me for the entirety of my life.

But what, exactly, is the Sacred Heart? Probably artistic images come to mind…or prayers…or even a vague sense of the love God has for each of us. I was having a conversation yesterday with a few people about what their understanding is of the “Sacred Heart,” and our discussion was relatively profound, I think. One person described the Sacred Heart as fire…that which enkindles, inflames, and ignites us into loving action. Someone else described the Sacred Heart as the image that in itself contains all the love of God and all the pain He endured out of love for us, and the mysterious unity of those two realities: love and pain.

What is the Sacred Heart for you? Or, more accurately: who is the Sacred Heart for you? Today, we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May the love of His Heart reach out to you, reach out through you, and be a blessing for all.

Visitation

Today we celebrate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ (Luke 1:41-42)”

Elizabeth recognized the arrival her cousin, Mary, immediately, not only by the joyful sound of Mary’s voice in her ears, but also by the movements of the Holy Spirit in her and in the child in her womb. How much we can learn from Elizabeth and Mary in this passage for the discernment of our vocation! Discerning our vocation is like listening for the Lord’s call in our hearts. It may not be an audable voice we hear with our ears, but a voice we hear in our hearts. Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting with her ears, but more importantly it moved her deeply in her heart. Its important to be attentive to our interior response to God’s voice in our hearts, asking ourselves, “Am I responding to his call?” “Am I ignoring his voice?” “Am I welcoming his presence in my life?” Its important, too, to consider the encouragement we receive from others to respond to God’s voice. Mary certainly was that to Elizabeth!

In the Church there are many women’s religious communities that are named after this mystery of the Visitation and bring Christ’s love to those they meet. Let us pray for these religious communities, and ask Our Lord to help us bring His love to others today.

Seeing Christ in Others

This is a wonderful video! Sister Eva Maria of the Little Sisters of the Poor shares with us a few lessons she has learned since she professed her vows in 2002. One lesson in particular struck me: “The more you get to know Christ in prayer, and accept him in your heart, the more you’ll recognize him in those around you.”

To be a priest or consecrated person means that we really must have a desire to serve Jesus Christ in others. It is very tempting to do something for another person with the motivation of looking good in someone else’s eyes or for our own glory. In fact, true service in charity can be at times very counter-cultural….helping someone else in their need may require patience, understanding, and a willingness to do what they cannot do for themselves. Helping another person in need gives us the opportunity to focus our attention on someone outside ourselves and to seek Christ who lives in them and gives them dignity.

May Our Lord give us the grace to love another person today and see Him in them.

The video clip was taken from “Everyone has a Vocation to Love: Whats Yours? The Vocation to the Religious Life for Women” by the Knights of Columbus.

Shepherds and Robbers

Well, that was a little surprising. Here I was, ready at yesterday’s Fourth Sunday of Easter to hear another of the Resurrection accounts for the Gospel, when lo and behold, instead we hear Jesus talking about sheep and thieves. Even more strange than that, as he uses this imagery, he doesn’t say, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the shepherd,” like we might expect. Instead he says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.” He is the gate? Then who is the shepherd? Well, if I’m really paying attention when the Gospel is proclaimed, I’ll hear his answer: “Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”

I’m no exegetical expert, and I have no vast theology background in the Christian Scriptures, but it seems to me there must be something happening in this passage from the Gospel of John that is “bigger” than what I’ve noticed before now. If we were to keep reading (continuing where this Sunday’s Gospel leaves off,) we would hear Jesus immediately say, “I am the good shepherd.” But before I jump to that imagery with which I’ve been familiar since childhood, I feel the need to sit a little bit longer with the imagery of Jesus as the gate. Only those who enter through the gate do so with integrity, freedom, and understanding. Those who try to get in and out of the sheepfold other ways are “thieves and robbers,” trying to take by force what would likely be freely given them if they simply came in through the gate…since, according to Christ’s own words, anyone who enters through the gate is a shepherd.

So what’s the take-home value of this Gospel? For me, it’s about discerning whether I’m a thief or a shepherd in my spiritual life. Do I “go through” Jesus in order to gain life, or do I try to “steal” it in other ways? Do I pray through all aspects of my life, or do I only have recourse to God when my own efforts have come up short? Do I “play God” in my relationships and ministry by trying to fix things (or people!) and control outcomes, or do I place it all in his hands and allow him to take care of what is rightly his anyway?

Yes, yes…there are some powerful truths for me to learn in this weekend’s Gospel. Might there be for you, too?

May 15 – World Day of Prayer for Vocations

What a tremendous encouragement we receive from Pope Benedict XVI in his Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which we will celebrate this Sunday, May 15th! The Holy Father reminds us that “Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with teh living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the “Lord of the harvest”…” Its so true…everyone who has a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life has realize their vocation through prayer. Personal and liturgical prayer help us grow in familiarity with Christ because we are listening to God’s word.

When God’s call to the priesthood or consecrated life is realized in a person’s heart, often there can be fears or resistance to accepting and doing God’s will. But again, the Holy Father encourages us, “entering into God’s will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepst truth about ourselves…” This truth is realized most clearly in our personal relationship with Christ. It is also realized in relationship with others, for in being generous and fraternal in relationships with others, we become open to and share with others the love of God. And in doing so “we discover true joy and the fulfillment of our aspirations.”

Let us continue to invite young men and women to open their hearts to God’s will and prayerfully consider His call.

More Company for Holy Week

Along with drawing strength from his Heavenly Father (see post “Who is your company for Holy Week?”), Jesus had other company during his journey from Palm Sunday to Easter.

It’s subtle, but it’s significant.

As you read the Scriptural accounts of the passion and death of Jesus, she is not mentioned much, but I think Mary played a huge role. What mother would not be there for her son? Especially in the toughest moments of his life, while others abandon him. I think he drew a lot of strength from her.

There are times when doing what God wants is greeted with great fanfare, and there are times when it is very difficult. Jesus certainly experienced this. His miracles attracted great multitudes, and yet he sweat blood in his struggle to accept his Father’s will in Gethsemane. He accepts that cup, and as he struggles to carry the cross, Mary is with him every step of the way.

Spend some time with Mary. She always helps her children in their struggle to accept God’s will and carry it out. No matter if the crowds are thick or thin, you can count on her company.



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