Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Day

John 1: 1-18

Reflection by Sister Rose Mary Rexing
Director of Mission Integration, Memorial Hospital, Jasper, Indiana

The Christmas Gospel from John, chapter one, shares radical Good News — the WORD was made flesh and made his dwelling among us. We live in a world filled with words and more words. Texting has become a main way of communicating. Do our words build up and give life or tear down and destroy?

Today we celebrate the WORD, this WORD that was God, and the WORD was God. The phrase, “In the beginning” parallels the creation story in Genesis 1:1. At Christmas a new creation is happening. “Because of God’s great love for us, he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation.”

The “WORD” (Logos) is present in the Old Testament as the creative energy of God. The Greek term, logos, means order, reason, or harmony. The WORD, in the Gospel of John, is the one through whom all things were created and who was with God and turned toward God even before creation.

Let our words cease for some quiet moments this Christmas Day and may we become interiorly still to welcome the WORD. Let us invite the WORD into our hearts where the WORD lives and thrives and longs to be spoken. May the WORD influence every word we utter now and into the future.

God has spoken to us for all time in this WORD made visible, this God made a human being, this Jesus our brother. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

No mere human words can describe the magnificent gift God has given to us. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” May the brightness and sound of the WORD shine in our hearts and our lives so that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 24 (Evening Mass)

Isaiah 9:1-6, Titus 2:11-14, and Luke 2:1-14

Reflection by Sister Jennifer Miller
VNA Chaplain, Hospice Program, Evansville, Indiana

In a faraway land in a hovel of a house, two brothers were flush with excitement because they had decided to visit the cathedral on the hill for Midnight Mass. Besides giving thanks to God, they entertained the hope that the bells might ring…

Far up into the base of the highest spire were what was rumored to be the most beautiful-sounding chimes in the world. Alas, they were seldom heard. The legend of the bells asserted that the chimes would ring only when someone offered a worthy gift at the altar. Crowns and intricate jewels and crafts had elicited no sound.

The boys walked fast to keep warm in their threadbare clothing. As it snowed, they sang carols to pass the time. Only a mile or so from their destination, they stumbled over an object in the snow. A woman lay dying. The older brother took out the dime they had saved as their gift and urged his brother on while he stayed with the woman.

The liturgy had begun as the little one edged his body into the massive doors and slipped unobtrusively to the lowest step of the altar to place their dime. Momentarily the bells began to chime.

As in that long-ago age, the night is sometimes bleak. Poverty is humbling. Violence is close. Bad news is disseminated like lightning. Fear and worry are near neighbors. Loneliness is rampant.

Isaiah’s words break into that gloom. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…the yoke that burdened them… has been smashed… for a child is born to us, a son given us… He shall be called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Price of Peace.”

Just as the older brother offered a dying woman the gift of his presence, so our God offers a faltering people the gift of his Son. We celebrate Christmas tonight because our God chooses to spend time with us. Jesus chooses to be our brother and friend — to bring love to us who are afraid to trust, peace to counteract our violence, reconciliation in the midst of our conflicts, light in our darkness, food to feed our hungers, adoption to still our loneliness, the promise of eternal life to offer us endless hope.

“Glory to God in the highest!”

Advent Calendar - December 24 (Morning Mass)

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Luke 1:67-79

Reflection by Sister Kimberly Mandelkow
Minister of Music and Liturgy, Sts. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church, Owensboro, Kentucky

Music helps me get into the Christmas season. I love Christmas music — "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Once in Royal David’s City," "Joy to the World." I also love the secular Christmas songs — "I’ll be Home for Christmas." I think of the movie White Christmas with all those soldiers longing to be home. I think of those, like myself, having to be away from home at Christmas because of jobs and long-distance travel.

I think Luke the evangelist liked music too! Have you ever noticed that Luke’s stories of Advent and Christmas are full of music? Read the beginning of Luke’s gospel and you can almost hear the singing: Mary sings…Elizabeth sings… Angels sing…Anna sings…Simeon sings…everybody is singing in Luke! In today’s gospel passage we hear Zechariah sing.

Before we can appreciate the power of the song, we must first understand the story behind the song. It’s the story of an old couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, living more than 2000 years ago in the hill country of Judea. They have no children, which during that time and place was an embarrassment and even grounds for divorce. Yet they love each other and have stayed together over the years, learning to live with their loss and accept their fate. I wonder if they ever asked God, “Why?” Yet they remain faithful. In fact, Zechariah is a priest and still does his priestly duties.

One day an angel comes to Zechariah and says what angels seem to always say: Fear not! Don’t be afraid! Something new and wonderful is about to happen: Elizabeth will conceive and bear you a son and he shall be named John. I can only imagine that Zechariah was stunned. He and Elizabeth gave up that dream long ago! Then the angel strikes him mute! Speechless! He can’t even proclaim the good news to his neighbors and friends.

Now fast-forward nine months. Nine months of silence and finally the child is born and they name him John, which means God is gracious. John is born as a sign of the great mercy of God and the power of God to do new things even in the life of an elderly and barren couple — even in the life of a barren nation, a barren people who had given up hope for redemption. Maybe they had even given up God a long time ago as they suffered through Assyrian, Babylonian, and now Roman occupation.

And what are the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth? Not, “It’s a boy!” but instead, praise and gratitude! Zechariah praises God for what God has done and is about to do for God’s people through the coming of the Messiah. Zechariah is celebrating what God has done in the birth of John who will prepare us for what God is about to do. John is preparing us to receive a gift by giving us the knowledge of our salvation through the tender and loving mercy of God which will shine upon us and shine upon our darkness and confusion.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 23, 2012

Micah 5:1-4a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

Reflection by Sister Marilyn Market
Prayer Ministry

We find ourselves one week from Christmas standing at the door of the greatest story ever told. A very simple love story. But how did we get here? We have been so busy… and we still need to do more. Have we even thought about the real meaning of Christmas?

But, let’s not worry; we know God still loves us. He told us many times, “Don’t be afraid, peace be with you.” So let’s rest and listen to the readings for today.

Let’s push the door open further and listen with our hearts. We see two women attending to each other and marveling at the life in their wombs. In the meeting of the two women, generations meet. The older woman of autumn grace and the younger woman of salvation grace need each other. Both women are weavers of new life. All seems very ordinary. But what is God up to? Why does God choose the ordinary to be carriers of the Divine?

Whatever the case may be, God’s choices in today’s reading should encourage all of us. Salvation comes on a quiet street or a bustling apartment in a big city. It can happen to a shepherd, a mechanic repairing a car, a person attending to another’s needs, a young woman having a baby. What appears at first glance to be very ordinary is Divine!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 22, 2012

Luke 1:38-56

Reflection by Sister Jolinda Naas
Monastery Services, Switchboard

Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me.” (Luke 1:38) Did she really know what this meant? She trusted God because she was not in control. Waiting open-endedly is a radical attitude toward life. That is a radical stance in a world preoccupied with control.

One of the most beautiful passages in Scripture – Luke 1:39-56 – tells of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and their waiting together. They enabled each other through the wait. They created space for each other to wait. They knew something precious was about to happen and it was worth waiting for. This is a model for a Christian community, a community of support, celebration, and affirmation. From this visit we have received the beautiful Liturgical Prayer, “The Magnificat.”

This waiting is waiting with a sense of promise. A waiting person is a patient person. Patience means the willingness to stay where we are with a situation. Patient living means living in the present. Waiting is a waiting together.

Are we waiting with patience?

Are we enabling others as we wait for the Promised One?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Crèches of the Monastery

A crèche can invoke special memories, or continue a seasonal tradition. It can reflect a culture, or an artistic talent, and have a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The collection of crèches at the monastery reflects all those qualities, and all are a special part of the archives collection.

Ms. Melody Mazuk recently donated several crèches to Sister Rebecca Abel and Sister Norma Fultz. Collected by Mazuk’s mother in her world travels, the entire collection was dispersed to several entities. A few of those donated are shown.


The donation included 11 miniature crèches, the smallest of which was housed in a walnut.

This display is constructed of thin metal, as shown with the piece on the far right. It folds flat and is stored in a decorative metal box with a poinsettia engraved on the lid.

The monastery’s crèche collection is dispersed throughout the house for the Christmas season. Here’s a peak at just a few of them.
Brought to the monastery in 1867 by Mother Alexia Lechner, Prioress of St. Walburg Monastery of Covington, Kentucky, this crèche was the first at the monastery in Ferdinand. Made of solid marble, it is now displayed throughout the year.

Given to the archives in 1974, Sisters Bertilla Burger and Antoinette Fischer of Ferdinand, made these crèches in the Academy Immaculate Conception Art Department using scrap materials from the Ferdinand Furniture Factories.

Another one of our sisters, Sister Francesca Broggin, made this depiction of the holy family. A very talented artist in various media, Sister Francesca made several characters displayed at the monastery during Christmas utilizing a similar technique .

Julie Ubelhor, an alum and former teacher at Marian Heights Academy, gifted this set to the sisters in 1984.

Josef Bachlechner of Austria carved this three piece display in 1960.


This Precious Moments crèche is the most recent addition to the monastery’s collection, donated by Sister Linda Bittner’s mother, Julian, in 2010.

Advent Calendar - December 21, 2012

Song of Songs 2:8-14; Luke 1:39-45

Reflection by Sister Linda Bittner
Instructional Assistant, Ferdinand Elementary School, Ferdinand, Indiana

“Arise my beautiful one and come. The winter is past – the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, . . .” Songs 2:10-12

This reading reminds us that the time is right to rejoice in the coming of new life, to see things in their renewed beauty – the rain has ceased and flowers bloom. It is also a time to let go of that which distracts us from living fully and allows conversion to envelop our being and outlook – the time of pruning the vines has come.

Springtime, the setting in Songs, is also when Mary receives the announcement of Gabriel which transforms her life and the life of the world. Upon hearing of her cousin being with child, Mary goes in haste to be present to Elizabeth, who in turn affirms the God-mystery dwelling within her – “The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy.” Mary’s awareness of her special role of Christ-bearer unfolds and is more fully revealed as she listens within, to others, to life circumstances, and attends to the dailiness of her existence – being pruned so that new life may grow. Aren’t we also called to do the same – to be present to our daily reality and take the opportunities provided us to birth Christ among us? Let us take these waning days of Advent to listen, to grow in awareness of what needs pruning, that we, like Mary, may be Christ-bearers for others.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 20, 2012

Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38

Reflection by Sister Mary Claude Croteau
Monastery Services

As happens occasionally in the liturgical readings for the day, the two selections complement one another — in this case the second reading is a fulfillment of the first. In today’s first reading, Israel is in dire straits and in need of God’s help, but King Ahaz refuses to accept help — he refuses to obey the prophet’s command from God. In response, Isaiah foretells that Israel will suffer much. In spite of Ahaz’s stubbornness, however, Isaiah goes on to promise that eventually a son will be born to Ahaz — born of a virgin (in this case a virgin because she is still a child) who will save his people from their enemies. This does come to pass — Ahaz’s wife, the former virgin, bears a son who does save his people.

In the Gospel reading, Luke seems to see in the announcement of Gabriel to Mary, that she, a virgin, would bear a son, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise to Ahaz that a virgin would conceive and bare a son who would lead his people to salvation — in our case, to the glories of eternity with God.

Mary, like Ahaz, has trouble with this news. She is, after all, a virgin. But once Gabriel convinces her that becoming a mother is God’s will for her, she says, “May it be done to me according to God’s word.”

One lesson here for us, is to be open to God’s will even in the hardest of times — to believe that good will result if we are sincerely trying to live as we believe God wants us to live.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 19, 2012

Readings: Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1:5-25

Reflection by Sister Anna Corrine O’Connor
Theology Teacher, Presentation Academy, Louisville, Kentucky

Today’s reading from Judges speaks of an angel coming to the wife of Manoah telling her that though she has been barren for many years, she shall bear a son who will be given to a life of service to God in the temple. When Manoah heard this news from his wife, he wanted to hear the message himself and asked God to send the messenger again so that he might know the truth. The angel appeared again to his wife, but Manoah again was not present.

To whom did the angel first give the news (the wife of Manoah), and why is she not given a name? Isn’t she the bearer of the good news of Samson’s conception? And yet, though the angel appears to her a second time, we still do not know her name!

How many nameless people will we encounter today as we prepare for celebrating the good news of Samson’s and Jesus’ birth? Not much is said about the nameless woman who sacrificed her body and soul and later her son, Samson, for us and for God.

We can’t give this woman a name, but we can take time to give thanks for the many nameless women who are our ancestors in faith. Women who have shown us how to be faithful to God’s call in our lives. We can take time to name the women in our lives who sacrificed their lives so that we might have life, so that we might have a living faith and relationship with God.

As we celebrate the third day of the “Oh Antiphons,” Root of Jesse, let us pray in thanks for the faith-filled women who still remain nameless in our world today. Let us do all we can so that women begin to receive the name and recognition they deserve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 18, 2012

Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection by Sister Kathy Bilskie
Hildegard Health Center Administrator

Today would have been my Grandpa’s birthday. Although he entered Eternal Life some time ago, I remember how safe, how loved I felt with him. When suffering from an ear ache, I remember crawling in his lap as he sat in a rocking chair. He rocked and whistled to soothe the pain, and I really did feel better.

Jeremiah speaks of God’s righteous shoot. The most righteous shoot would be Jesus, who offers profound security and love. Seeking God and putting ourselves in God’s “lap” doesn’t just make us feel better, it truly makes us better.

Joseph and Mary both put themselves in God’s lap. They trusted God and lived that trust. When circumstances seemed impossible, they gave all to God. We are called to live the directive that Joseph and Mary lived: “Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid; God is with you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 17, 2012

Gospel – Mt.1:1-17

Reflection by Sister Celeste Boda
Judicial Assistant, Tribunal, Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham….” and your mind wanders off as the litany is recited from the Gospel book! This one day in Advent, every year, we listen to this reading of Jesus’ family tree. I know just enough to understand Matthew’s point in this litany. His account is the most Jewish of all the Gospels; he is most interested in Jesus’ relation to the law. It is imperative for Matthew to prove that Jesus is rightly situated in Jewish history. Since Jesus’ humanity had to come from his mother Mary, and not Joseph, don’t you wonder why the genealogy didn’t trace her family tree? But, to the early Jewish Christian community, Joseph had legal paternity and therefore, it is his ancestral line that counts.

So, as I reflected on this Gospel passage, I asked myself, “What does any of this have to do with me? If I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed of God, the Son of God, why do I care about his supposed human ancestry?” In my musings, I happened to glance at a photo on my dresser. It is a picture of my ancestors – my great, great grandmother sitting in a chair, wrapped up in her shawl, surrounded by her thirteen adult children. I know which one is my great grandfather. Who were these people? What sort of characters were they? Any renegades?? Most likely! Okay, I have skeletons in my family closet, just like everyone else. I don’t know them by name, but I fully suspect they are there.

With this in mind, I returned to the genealogy of Jesus, and found that even Jesus had skeletons! There are only a few women mentioned in this list. One is a foreigner - Ruth, the mother of Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David, was a Moabite. And then there is Rahab. We know her in the Old Testament as a prostitute!! While not mentioned by name and actually a victim of King David’s foolishness, is Bathsheba, the wife of Urriah the Hittite. Her only offense was to be beautiful, and good ole’ King David couldn’t, wouldn’t take his eyes off of her; he even had poor old Urriah killed so he could have Bathsheba all to himself. And who was the offspring of this illicit affair? None other than Solomon the Wise! There are most likely other names in Matthew’s list who were less than reputable.

Rather than just drifting off during this Gospel, listen carefully to how fully Jesus is able to embrace our humanity. It makes sense that he surrounded himself with prostitutes and sinners – they truly were his family! We are all truly family: foreigners, prostitutes, couples suffering through infidelity, some fighting the demons of substance abuse or mental illness, others lured by wealth and position who do not seem to have the time of day for the less fortunate, and the list goes on. As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Son of God, let us fully understand that, as our brother, Jesus does not close the door on anyone in the family tree, and neither can we.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 16, 2012

Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

Reflection by Sister Catherine Duenne
Teacher, Notre Dame Academy, Louisville, KY

There are people I have met who seem so filled with joy that it’s almost as if they don’t have a care in the world. After I get to know them, however, I’m shocked to hear the truth and to realize some of the struggles they have endured. Even though they may radiate joy, their lives are actually filled with hardships and struggles. Just like everyone else. None of us is immune to suffering, but what matters is where we put our trust.

My mom is an example for me of one who finds peace even in the midst of struggles. When she was first diagnosed with Huntington’s, I would hear her constantly repeat, “I guess the good Lord knows what he’s doing.” None of us wants to experience pain or loss of any kind, but it’s part of life and part of the price we pay when we choose to follow Jesus. In order to be raised to new life, we first have to follow Jesus to the cross.

We could try to live our lives free of pain, but in the end, it will only make us weak. Through the difficulties I have encountered, I have become stronger and more aware of what others are going through. I believe those who live a joyful life in the midst of their suffering have found the peace of God mentioned in today’s second reading. “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). Through our struggles we are made strong and become more aware of the needs of others.

There are many things in life that we would not choose but would rather avoid if we could. Since this is not possible, the question becomes how will we respond. The peace of God is there. Are we able to allow God’s peace to embrace us so we can radiate peace and joy even in the midst of hardships and struggles?

As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, let us realize that it is not the absence of pain that brings joy. It is our foundation, built solidly on Jesus Christ, and the awareness of God’s constant and unconditional love and presence that truly bring joy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 15, 2012

Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

Reflection by Sister Christine Marie Fendel
Ministry to the sick and elderly at St. Ferdinand Parish, Ferdinand

“In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” Sirach 48:1-4

“Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” Ps. 80:1-4, 9-1

Fire is often used to symbolize a great zeal for God. This fire is dynamic, effective and purifying. Elijah was a prophet whose heart was set aflame with love. He urged the people to return to God with all their heart.

This Advent, like Elijah, let us ask God to enflame our heart with zeal and enthusiasm, aware that God is with us. Let us make it a priority to sit in stillness from time to time to see God’s face and experience God’s presence and peace within.

Taking time for personal reflection helps us to discover Jesus’ face in the people we meet every day. What keeps me from noticing? Are we too busy about our lives and agendas? Look for Jesus to draw near at the most unexpected moment. Look for Jesus' supporting strength in times of utter powerlessness. Look for Jesus as a hidden, faithful friend in times of difficulty.

(Psalm 80 Verse 16) Like a vine that is planted in soil and carefully attended has power to grow, we too have power to grow if we come aware of God’s presence in ourselves and in others. In baptism, we were joined with God, and God’s power courses through us each day.

This Advent, let us fill up with the FIRE of God's love!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 14, 2012

Isaiah 48:17-19  Matthew 11:16-19

Reflection by Sister Teresa Gunter
Youth Minister, St. Anthony Parish, Evansville, Indiana

Being a religious and not having any children of my own, I love the reading from Isaiah. It tells me that God teaches me everything I need to know, and teaches me what is for my good. Then, if I harken to God’s commandments my descendants will be like sand. So my “kids,” my youth group, the young people of the Church, will never be cut off from God’s presence.

So like many parents, grandparents and guardians out there, it’s hard to know how to teach your children, but today’s readings tell us to simply allow God to lead us on the way that we should go. And if you do that, you will be following God’s commandments and setting the example to follow for little eyes that are watching you.

I know that I will never have any children of my own, but I do know that the more I follow God, and the closer I grow towards God, and let my youth see the lessons that God has taught me, they will hopefully follow my example and then their descendants will grow like grain and never by blotted out.

So the questions I have to ask myself: Am I listening to God’s voice and preparing the way for God so that my youth group will grow spiritually? Do I set examples that I want people to follow or am I just focused on my own issues?

May this time of Advent be a blessed time for you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 13, 2012

Isaiah 41:13-20; Psalm 14:1, 9, 10-11, 12-13ab; Matthew 11:11-15

Reflection by Sister Jeana Visel
Student in Collegeville, Minnesota

“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”

When we are weak and needy, it is natural to call on God for help. So often, however, we want help on our own terms: “Dear God, please change her mind.” “Dear God, please help me pay this bill.” “Dear God, please have him moved somewhere else.” Yet part of changing one’s dire situation is allowing God to be in charge. If we really are reaching out a hand to God as we ask for help, we have to be ready to be picked up and used in a completely new way. With God grasping one’s dominant hand, one can’t do much oneself. Yet in the grip of God, we become the tool, the harvester, the giver of water to the thirsty, the planter of good seeds in the wasteland. God may use us in a completely new way, putting us at the service of others. Suddenly, our own concerns aren’t so important any more, or at least, they no longer are our whole myopic world. We have to be ready: when God comes as the Redeemer to take care of us, He likely also will use us to take care of others. Thus “all may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 12, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a; 10ab; Luke 1:39-47

Reflection by Sister Carlita Koch
Prayer ministry

“Breath of Heaven, hold me together, be forever near me,” sings Amy Grant on the album, BREATH OF HEAVEN: MARY’S SONG. The song that Ms. Grant sings shares some of the feelings Mary experienced on the trip to Bethlehem that first Christmas eve. A young, pregnant mother-to-be (Mary) believes that this child is special to God, but she herself has already suffered from shame and disgrace in the eyes of her neighbors and friends, even from Joseph at first, but no longer. She feels alone and afraid at times. Her prayer shows her absolute trust in God. She sings, “Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness. Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy, Breath of Heaven.”

I find myself quite attracted to this hymn. One senses Mary’s struggle to believe—so much like our own struggle at times. And there is also the struggle of the pregnant woman in today’s first reading from the book of Revelation. What a blessing when she is carried away for protection—but notice that it is in the wilderness.

We are celebrating today the feast of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared to Juan Diego in the form of a young, pregnant Indian woman. She was responding to the struggles of the Indian population of Mexico as they suffered from living under the power of the European invaders.

The gospel of Luke focuses on two pregnant women, Elizabeth and Mary. So the liturgical texts and the historical occurrence at Tepeyac focus on pregnant women. That is why the Right-to-Life movement has chosen Our Lady of Guadalupe for their patron.

The Mexican people have promoted this devotion to Mary, the pregnant virgin, and have kept the memory of her appearance alive. The observance reminds us of the plea that the Right-to-Life movement has made. Pray to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe for an end to abortions and for those women who have reversed their earlier decision and decided to spare their baby.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 11, 2012

Isaiah 40: 1-11; Matthew 18: 12-14

Reflection by Sister Mary Ann Verkamp
Librarian, Chauffeur

In both readings for today we get the clear message that God has a preferential option for the lost. God looks at reality very differently than we do. Our culture would say 99% is way above average. Don’t worry about the 1%. But this is not OK with God. It seems Jesus would never say it’s OK to let some slip through the cracks. God sees with the eye of his heart and invites us to do the same.

Have you ever felt lost? It’s easy and comforting to identify with the lost sheep and wait to be found and carried home. However each of us is called to go and look for one another. We need one another to be whole. Who are the straying sheep around me? Who’s falling behind? Who is ignored? Who is shunned? Who is rejected? Who is forgotten and abandoned? Our culture focuses on being #1 and giving them recognition. As followers of Jesus, we are called to focus on who is coming in last, because “it is the will of your heavenly Father that not one of these little ones be lost.” Mt.18,14


Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 10, 2012

Isaiah 35:1-10

Reflection by Sister Michelle Mohr
Music ministry and special liturgy projects for the Sisters of St. Benedict

The ground was parched and dry with crippled stalks that once were seen as tall and green. The experience of our summer drought comes into focus as we ponder the opening words of this reading for today from the prophet Isaiah. However, Isaiah does not dwell on dryness and lack of growth but focuses on what this dry land can become by comparing it to Lebanon, Carmel and Sharon.

This hopefulness, beauty and wholeness spill over to weak hands, feeble knees and fearful hearts. We are instructed by the prophet to be strong and to be fearless for God will come and save us. It gets even better as the prophet continues with the wonders that will take place: blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears will be unstopped, lame limbs shall leap, and the speechless will sing. These words from Isaiah fill our hearts with hope that wholeness and peace will abound. However, a voice within whispers doubt and disbelief regarding the image of joy painted by the prophet. So once again we are called to remember that it is what is on the inside that matters most.Our inner self, our spiritual body longs to be nourished.

No matter how healthy or how incapacitated our physical body is, we do not experience beauty, joy and hope if our spirit is dry and in need of being fed.

May this season of Advent open our eyes to see the goodness in all of creation, especially in the faces of those we meet. May hands that are reluctant reach out in compassion and feet that are weary walk toward those in need. May we find ways to feed our spirit so that joy and gladness can take root and grow.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 9, 2012

Baruch 5:1-9,Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11, Luke 3:1-6

Reflection by Sister Dolores Folz
Monastery centralized purchasing, HHC payroll assistant

For many people, children included, Advent is a season of hope. Hope of all kinds fills our hearts and minds. For children it may be the hope that they will receive the special toy they have been dreaming of for so long. For adults it may be the hope of family being able to gather for some special time together. There are probably a million other hopes that could be articulated, but the point is that it is a time of hope. What may be lost or overshadowed in all the hustle and bustle is the fundamental reason for the hope of this time of year.

This Sunday’s readings speak of that basic reason for hope. In Baruch we hear “Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west…rejoicing that they are remembered by God…. for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory.”

In Philippians Paul writes: “I am confident of this, that the One who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

And finally in Luke we hear from John the Baptist proclaiming the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Each of these readings speaks of a hope grounded in a much firmer source than getting a particular gift or having everybody together for a joy filled, peace filled reunion. Such hopes certainly are appropriate for the season but are fleeting unless they are grounded in a deeper sense of all of us being a part of a much bigger picture, of all people united in a much bigger family, and a profound understanding that God’s love and goodness is there for all in all circumstances…even if we don’t get that special gift or the family gathering turns out to be less than perfect.