PAROUSIA!

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Not long ago, I sat in my New Testament Greek class listening to my teacher discuss parousia. In a few concise, but loaded words, parousia, the Greek version of the Latin advent, means “coming,” “arrival” and also “presence.” How strange that this word can simultaneously refer to something that has happened, is yet to happen and now is. Jesus is, has come. Jesus is coming. Jesus is always here.

This thought also led me to another thought … that of babies. I have had three of them. As each baby grew inside, I could feel its flutters and turnings under a hand on my belly, the shallow depth of stretched muscle, membrane and skin. There was a thin veil of separation between us, a bit of human flesh. But a baby was on its way. This child I’d never met was right there within me and not yet arrived.

Every parent knows the thrill of first seeing a long awaited child. It is pure amazement, even if the baby bears striking resemblance to mother or father. There is familiarity, but in a previously unknown and unique package … a fresh and unexpected revelation. In the months and years to come, we see more of this one who is always present to us, but whose depth and complexity grows ever more richly apparent.

Recently, I heard a priest talking about a part of the Mass (epiclesis) where he invokes Christ’s presence upon the Communion elements and bells ring to signify the moment. He said that when he was a little boy sitting in the pew, his mother would tell him, “When you hear the bells, Jesus is coming.” A day or two after I heard this, it dawned on me that epiclesis is a two-part Greek word. Epi, means “upon” or “on’. It indicates personal touching. Clesis is from ka-lei-o meaning “to call.” During the epiclesis, the priest calls for the real presence of Christ to come upon the bread and the wine … to touch it. The epiclesis happens in every Mass a million places around the world. It has been happening over and over for 2,000 years. Christ has come to us, but he is always still coming.

Like a baby whose arrival we await, Christ is in our midst and yet always about to arrive. “At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror …” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The veil of our human flesh prevents us from discerning the full revelation of him. And in his kindness, his own human flesh has veiled us from the burning brightness of His Majesty. Yet, as we call upon him in prayer, receive him in Communion, encounter him in Scripture, live in his Body, the Church, and are enlivened by the breath of his Spirit, we know him more … little by little. Christ is always coming to us until the day of his final coming when we will know him fully.

by Lisa D

 

“Longing”

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“When you are in deep darkness, even the smallest light seems bright.”

I look for light

I’m sure it’s there

Soft strands in people

In lives being lived

In brief moments

A crack of Light breaks through

And is magnified

Through people’s love

And kindness

Hope holds firm

In melodies

And words of songs

Christ is present in loving concern

In offerings of heart and self

In a hug

Christ is in the Light

Christ IS the Light

Find it, see it

Capture it, keep it

O Gentle Light

Guide my eyes to see

Help me find strength

In just a sliver

Shine in me, Christ Child

Through me, around me

Over me

Surround me, envelop me

Hold me, rest in me

Oh Desire of the Nations

Love me.

“God is Light; in Him there is no darkness.”

 

by Sally M.

Prayer of Supplication: Journeying From Darkness to Light

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O God, I want to step into the light. Take my hand, and draw me in.

Show me how to be confident in the ways I can love. Increase my desire to live out the potential that is hidden within my heart.

You know these parts of me well. Show me how to magnify your beauty.

In the light, I want to be able to stand with joy and gratitude that I am your creation, and you love every part of me.

O God, as I take that step out of darkness into the light, reveal what I need to see in myself. Although I am vulnerable in this place, help me search for your mercy and love with confidence and trust.

With outstretched hands, I offer myself to you. As my weaknesses are exposed in this gentle light, transform what is fragile into a blessing of courage and hope for others.

I surrender my will, asking you, O God, to help me embrace my true self. Help me to see what you see. Help me to love what you love.

In this Sacred Light, shining around me and through me, unite your heart and will with mine. Amen.

By Sally Meyer

My Dark Night

My heart sinks. Oh dark night!
You have come to scare me
In this lonely path…

I fall short in each step
How mistaken was I to walk
In this silent night…

I agonize with each beat of my heart
Each breath I take
Brings pain to today…

Where has your magnificent smile gone?
I remembered the sun
That brought me warmth and light…

But that is now a memory!
This night won’t pass
Here I am, falling again…

Cold and lonely
Deceived in the shadows
That hide your truth at this dark hour…

Take my life!
End this misery!
I lament in each second that passes by…

Have pity on me…
A sinner!
Send the moon and the stars
To keep me company
In this desolate night!

By JA

“Ripples”

ripples

“Ripples”

When we lose someone we love, questions seem to surface, Why did this have to happen to such a good person? Can I envision living my life differently with this new empty place? Do I really know God’s purpose for my life? Does what I do really matter?

I watched the rays of the sun reflect off the surface of the lake. As I sat at the edge of the water, I felt a deep sense of sadness and loss. I had just left the funeral of my close friend, Annie, and I wanted some time to be alone with my own thoughts. She loved nature, and I was taking the opportunity to reflect on how grateful I was to have known her.

Without focusing on anything in particular, I picked up a small pebble and threw it into the lake. I immediately noticed how the ripples formed a perfect circle and moved outward. I repeated the process several times. Each time I threw a rock (regardless of size), I was amazed at how large the circles of waves became and how long they lasted before they disappeared. It also occurred to me that when the ripples formed, they stayed in proportion to each other. As the waves moved in a steady rhythm on their journey outward, one ripple didn’t become misshapen or disconnected from the others.

My thoughts returned to Annie. Her life impacted so many people more than I will ever know. Just like the ripples of the waves spreading out, so does Annie’s beautiful example of love and faith. Her influence will always be felt by those who knew her and loved her.

Those moments sitting by the lake also reminded me of God’s providential care. Our lives are impacted by many things, good and bad. But just like the waves of circles in the water, God holds us steady and somehow keeps us connected with one another according to His will. While I may not always recognize and feel this, or understand fully, I believe it. Even in my sadness and grief, I know that I am included in an unending rhythm of God’s love and care. I am grateful that there is a merciful God who holds each human heart close to Himself, His Son, and His Spirit, all laboring to create harmony with what is and what is yet to be. In a mysterious, yet beautiful way, watching those waves helped me affirm my worth and purpose in this life and feel secure about Annie’s in the next.

I have lost a special friend. But by the grace of God, I am more at peace knowing that Annie and I remain connected in a beautiful circle that will be forever.

…Sally

Stones in the River (by Carrie Newcomer)

Sally Meyer is a 6th grade teacher at St. Jude School in Indianapolis.  “Visiting the Oldenburg Franciscan Center has become one of my favorite ways to deepen my faith.  It is in such a welcoming place that I am able to practice being open to the Spirit, and in turn, write about finding God in my everyday life.  I hope readers can take something meaningful from my writing.

Psyche’s Tasks

Psyche's Tasks

On Saturday, February 7th, Sister Olga Wittekind (OSF) led the program ‘A Woman’s Journey Toward an Undivided Life: Psyche’s Task’s’ at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center. Using Robert Johnson’s book She, participants dropped deeper into their souls to discover more fully which of Psyche’s Tasks is leading them to greater wholeness. Discussion was centered on how we are by nature deeply relational and need to find balance in our lives.

The day was focused on how women can integrate their relationships with God, families, and others. Looking at the 4 tasks that Psyche (ourselves) had to accomplish in order to reach Love (God) encouraged this group of 35 women on their spiritual journeys. The tasks of discernment, focusing, going into solitude and learning to say, “No” when appropriate gave the women encouragement on their journeys to God.

Our next program will be ‘Women’s Day: Women of Love’ on Saturday, March 7th. The theme for Women’s Day is ‘Love Beyond All Measure’. Lunch is included! For more information about programs, or to register, call us at 812.933.6437 or visit our website at www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org

Ash Wednesday

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Genesis 3:19  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Lord, on this special day, Ash Wednesday, may we abstain from what we do not really need.

Help us to resist temptation through our Lenten works of charity and penance.

Let us clear the clutter in our lives so we can focus on our relationship with God.

Teach us to be loving in the ordinary events of daily life.

Humble us to think less of ourselves and more of others.

Remind us to help our brothers and sisters.

Let us pray that during this Lenten season we will become more aware of how much we need God’s healing.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

Amen.

Ezekiel 9:4  The LORD told him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of everyone who sighs and moans over all of the loathsome things that are happening in it.”