Coffee Talk: Wise Men & Women Following a Star: Epiphany 1851

Stushie Epiphany

King of Kings - artwork shared with permission © Stushie

Epiphany tells the story of three wise men from the East who followed a star to find the newborn king of their hopes and dreams. For Sisters of St. Francis, Epiphany is celebrated again in a similar story – that of Mother Theresa Hackelmeier’s arival in Oldenburg on January 6, 1851 in fulfillment of her hopes and dreams and those of Fr. Francis Rudolph, pastor of Oldenburg.

 

We invite you to come hear their miraculous stories and be inspired by these wise and courageous individuals whose hopes, dreams, and faithful journeys founded the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg.

 

As we enter the new year, we might all reflect: what hope/dream/star is God beckoning each of us to bravely follow in 2012?

 

Our speaker, Sr. Rachel West, OSF, is a community historian and archivist for the Oldenburg Franciscan Sisters.

 

Cost: freewill offering.

Date: Sunday, January 8
Time/Place: Sunday Mass is celebrated at 9:30 in the convent chapel;
the coffee talk will follow in the convent’s OA dining room.

Coffee & donuts will be served!

RSVP to center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

Note: You are welcome to make a private retreat for the weekend! Come in on Friday, January 6 or Saturday, January 7th and enjoy a peaceful retreat at our Oldenburg Franciscan Center. Spend time in private reflection with God. You may even arrange to meet with one of our spiritual directors for retreat guidance and inspiration. Retreats are available year-round. Private and shared rooms are available. Now is a great time to come! Click here or call 812-933-6437 for more info.

(Artwork courtesy of ©Stushie!)

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Reflection for Sunday: The Nativity of the Lord:

Readings for Sunday, December 25, 2011:

1st Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-10
Responsorial Psalm 98:1-6
Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel: John 1:1-18

Reflection: Our God speaks to us through His Son Jesus. Yes, our Yahweh God loves each one of us so totally that God sent the only begotten, beloved Son to be our brother, guide, our Savior. Thus each of us can claim God as ours. Jesus, the Word of God; Jesus, the one who goes before us; Jesus, the one song we sing today; Jesus, the one who invites us to follow His way to peace and joy. So we celebrate today, and hopefully every day, the presence of God in us, around us, before and behind us. May this message go out to all the world through us as we live the truth that Jesus, born for us, is truly our way, truth and life.

The word Christmas means Christ sent!

S. Patty Campbell, OSF
Spiritual Director

“I am the Light of the World”

Advent Candle

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12

God bent low to bring Jesus to earth.  Jesus is the center of earth and all creation.  “Christ is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).

As we ponder the Incarnation these days before Christmas, we consider this definitive event in Christianity in which divine life spilled over into human life in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Since time began, the Holy One has been radiating light toward Earth in one continuous act of grace.  Karl Rahner calls this grace God’s self-communication, an outpouring of the very being of God that not only permeates but maintains our life.

God’s self-communication began with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.  It was in and through God’s grace that stars were born and galaxies were formed.  God was present when explosions scattered bits of cosmic matter together in relationship.  Divine self-communication continued as Earth entered into orbit around the sun and took shape.  God’s grace was present, pushing toward life moment by moment.  Through grace came planets and sea life, birds and reptiles, mammals and humans.  God’s creative energy could not be stopped!!

The emergence of the first human species was a breakthrough moment in the living world’s relationship with the divine.  Our human consciousness, self-awareness, began.  We know that we know.  We can reflect upon our own experiences.  This new human species developed speech and language.  Language, flowing out of conscious memore was to set the species apart from all others.

Soon, our species began to make the connection that there was some Other who was bigger than themselves, whose power could be witnessed in nature – the sun, moon, stars, thunder, rain, fire, and water.  They recognized some mysterous force!  (Italicized section adapted from Judy Cannato’s Radical Amazement.)

Our spirituality realizes we are not alone.  There is a gracious power or energy at the heart of all life.  This divine force, the Creator who has always been present within all life, revealed itself in the conscious awareness of our human life.  In the Old Testament, we hear over and over again how the Hebrew people grappled with God.  They saw God as Force or Anger; or as Mother Hen covering her brood.  The psalmists prayed to God and sang his praises.

Then God came in the person of Jesus – the Word of God became flesh!  The Palestinian Jew changed everything for us.  He is the Incarnation – which means God-in-flesh.  Through Jesus and his interaction with the Holy One, God “Light” breaks through into life in a way never before experienced.  Jesus is able to absorb the gracious radiance of God that transforms those in his midst who are ready to receive Grace!

Jesus began to express his knowledge in a radically amazing way.  The universe is able to respond fully to God the Creator in the person of Jesus.  We are aware that all life is accepted and included in God’s love and grace.  God’s divine energy embraces all that is!

There is a connectedness with all creation.  Through relationship with God the Holy One, we are transformed by Love into love.  We incorporate Light into our being, and begin to radiate in a way that nourishes those around us with the breath of God.  We become compassion, service, wisdom, grace, and love that flows out of the experience of connectedness with Life.

Jesus is the revelation of God in human life!  We can become co-creative agents of Love to do the works characterized in Jesus, in Gospel living.

So as you await the birth of the Christ child these last few days before Christmas, we invite you to ponder the light that is waiting to be birthed in you – united in your celebration of Christ’s life and acceptance of your own path of discipleship.  Questions for personal reflection are offered below.

May your days be joyous and filled with the love of Christ incarnate, God-made-flesh to live among us.

Peace, joy, and Christmas blessings to all!

S. Olga Wittekind, PhD
Jungian Analyst & Director of Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Reflections:

“The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and in fact, will do greater works than these.”  John 14:12  What Works does Jesus call me to do?

“You are the Light of the World… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16  How can I be Light to others?

Mary the Moon

             These past nights the sky has been clear where I live, and the moon full.  It was really the most beautiful sight. The soft glow in the dark sky was so lovely.  It was then that I recalled the lesson from my science class. The moon has no light of its own.  What we see is the reflected light on the moon from the sun. This brought back to me a prayer that we said when I was in high school.  It began: “Jesus the Sun, Mary the Moon”

            And isn’t that appropriate.  Mary, our mother, and Jesus’ mother, was just a simple human being like you and me.  She is not God; she has no light of her own; she lives in the reflection of the brightness of her SON.  Without Jesus, Mary would not be noted for much of anything just like all the other young maidens in Nazareth.

            Jesus made all the difference in her life as her Magnificat proclaims.  So the Moon as a symbol of Mary is most fitting.

            Mary is the quiet one, mostly behind the scenes, just as the moon isn’t noticed much unless you are looking for it.  Sometimes it fades from view completely, as Mary often does in the Gospel narrative.  Not so the Sun.  It is always noticed, and it should be.

            The Son/Sun sustains life; The Mary/Moon enhances the Son/Sun’s work by being a serene reflector of it.  Mary is a guiding force for us in our daily lives.  Without her we might be at a loss to realize that we, simple human beings that we are, can reflect the life and love of God. The moon, by controlling the seasons, and keeping the seas active enhances our lives here on earth.  Without the moon the seas would be flat and soon would become stagnant or dry up.

            How about us then?  We cannot be a grand life-giving force.  But we can become a grand reflection of that awe-some grandeur that is God.  And Mary is our model.

            Jesus the Sun, Mary the Moon!

            Let the moon always remind you of our gentle Mother Mary, and may YOU be a moon that reflects the divine beauty.

Peace, Joy, and Everything Good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF, Educator
Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Waiting

The season of Advent seems short, but the time it signifies is very long. Unlike the Lenten season, where we concentrate on our sinfulness and seek reconciliation with our God, in Advent we have the task of anticipating,  of connecting with the ancestors of Jesus as they waited for the Messiah approximately 4,000 years.  It was when Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of the Savior that the long wait was over.

Imagine Mary preparing for the trip to Bethlehem.  She is more than eight months pregnant, but she goes about the selecting of clothes for the baby soon to be born, and things she will need to care for herself and the child, as well as her husband Joseph.  As you prepare to visit children or relatives, join with Mary in her anticipation of the birth of Jesus.

The circumstances of housing when they came into Bethlehem were less than one would expect.  But Mary, like you, knew how to make do.  The Manger was small, and had sides to it.  Straw was available, and the Lord of Heaven and Earth slept there.  Do we have reason to complain when accommodations on a trip aren’t good?

Sheep are not the cleanest animals, and their woolly scent can be very hard to take sometimes.  Shepherds carry that scent with them, and being watchers in the night, have less chance for washing so they may be less than easy to be with.  But they are the ones chosen to see the Christ Child first!  Poor, unclean, uneducated, rough and gruff, but CHOSEN!

What can you do this Christmas for those who are most like the shepherds?

My wish for you is:

Peace, the peace only God can give;

Joy, the joy that comes from giving; and

All Good, and that can only be God.

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF, Educator
Oldenburg Franciscan Center