Resurrection, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

christisrisenIt really happened.  Jesus truly rose from the dead.  And we have reminders of that every spring. Trees that looked completely dead begin to flower.  Tiny red flowerets pop out all over the skeletal branches of some.  Others have white or pale green blossoms.  Soon little delicate green leaves will show and grow.

Dead-looking bulbs have pushed a little green shoot out of the ground. We know that there will be a tulip or daffodil in bright red or yellow soon.  We know it.

We must just as surely know that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Every spring He gives us reminders.

In a recent email I received there was an explanation of an occurrence that is mentioned in the Bible account of Jesus resurrection.  It says that the napkin or small cloth that covered the face of Jesus in the tomb was found separate from the other wrapping cloths and folded.  The article goes on to say that in Hebrew politeness, it you left the table and were not coming back, you would leave your napkin laid casually by your plate. That way the waiters would know to remove your dishes, etc.  But if you were leaving only for a short time and were coming back, you folded your napkin so that the waiters would not clear your place.  Jesus folded his napkin to remind us he IS coming back.

All these reminders are not just about Jesus rising.  We too will rise.  At this time we may be struggling with physical or memory problems as a result of aging.  It happens.  All of us age.  Just as the trees will have to shed their green strong leaves in autumn, so we begin the aches and pains.  The stately daffodil will bow its head and wither.  BUT, come spring all the beauty returns.

We, then, can look forward to that eternal spring and the beautiful beings we will be when we can see our brother, Jesus, glorious in His resurrection. We will be glorious in our own.

Rejoice! ALLELUIA! Jesus rose from the dead! So will we!

With wishes for blessings innumerable,

Sharonlu OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Easter Reflection, by S. Lorraine Gies, OSF

alleluiaFirst Reading: Acts 10: 34a, 37-43
Second Reading: Colossians 3: 1-4
Gospel: John 20: 1-9

Reflection
How can we do anything but shout ALLELUIA, as our mantra on this Easter Day, this Easter Season!  If ever there was a mantra to keep one mindful of our Easter Feast, Easter Joy, Easter Hope, Easter Savior, it would surely be “ALLELUIA, HALLELUJAH, PRAISE THE LORD!

In our first reading, we can imagine Peter exclaiming the word as he said, “We are witnesses of all that He did…ALLELUIA!”  And Paul in our second reading, “Seek what is above, ALLELUIA!”  While reading the seven sentences in John’s Easter Gospel, it seems fitting to proclaim ALLELUIA at the end of each sentence.  If we focus on that one single, solemn ALLELUIA, in prayerful repetition, surely our spirits will be raised.  As St. Augustine says, “We should be Alleluia people from head to toe”!

Prayer
O Risen Savior…Alleluia.  We give you praise…Alleluia.  With immense gratitude we sing…Alleluia, Hallelujah!

S. Lorraine Geis OSF

Washing of Feet, by S. Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Photograph © Margaret Lois Jansen

Don’t be afraid to let me love you just as you are.

I know the journey you’ve been on.
Every step of it is precious to me.

As I wash your feet, I acknowledge and bless steps taken with courageous stride;
slow, hesitant, barely inching forward steps, and even the dragging of feet.

Your feet tell the story of your journey,
how long you have been on the way; the stumbling blocks you’ve tripped over;
the moments of slip-sliding down some hill you thought you’d climbed once and for all;
and the determined digging in of toes as you learned to begin anew.

In the washing of your feet, I hold your inner journey as well.

Don’t be afraid to let me love you just as you are:
exhausted or exuberant, anxious or peaceful, discouraged or hopeful.

As I bathe your feet, I bless you for every step you have taken,
the ones others have seen and the ones only you know about –
those costly steps toward forgiveness, understanding, or softening of heart.

I honor even the steps that you thought of as missteps
or walking in circles, or meandering in confusion.
Every step you have taken is precious to me.

I bless you for the journey that is still yours to make.
Each step you take, whether bold or limping,
dancing or stiff,
is sacred.

As I wash your feet
and hold in my hands all the stories that they tell,
I silently pray that no matter where your journey takes you,
you will remember that I am with you
loving you
just as you are.

***

Washing of Feet © Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Barbara Leonhard, OSF is a theologian, spiritual director, and retreat leader at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She is a lover of scripture and loves to share the Good News with others.

Please contact center@oldenburgosf.com with any requests for permission to reproduce Washing of Feet.
Please visit http://www.smallsmallacts.com for information on licensing of images or purchase of prints by Lois.

Reflection for Palm Sunday, by S. Barb Piller

Reflection for March 31, 2013
Palm Sunday

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Second Reading: Phillipians 2:6-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56


Reflection
In a very short period of time through the scriptures today we journey from shouting “Hosanna” to Crucify Him.”  So many of the feelings a human being can have are experienced in the course of a few hours: exaltation, betrayal, misunderstanding, disappointment in loved ones, ridicule, hurt while being lied about, compassion, love, letting go, abandonment, acceptance, trust, justification.  We find examples of courage in the face of pain; personal conviction while being about God’s will when others doubt; endurance based on trust in God.

When our life journey finds us in times of hardship or betrayal by loved ones or dealing with physical limitations, how well do we listen to the voice of God within us, around us?  How strong is our trust in God and the God-given abilities we possess?  As we live the road to Calvary this Passion Sunday and journey through this holiest of weeks, may we listen to the whispers of God within us.


Prayer
Good and gracious God, we know that You do ALL for love.  May we be attentive to the struggles or pain of loved ones and even those strangers among us.  Through them you may be inviting us to help carry a cross or go the extra mile or “wash feet.”  Give us the desire to walk in your footprints by reaching out to others in need, giving of ourselves in response to your great love for us.  “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  We pray this in your name, Jesus.  Amen.



S. Barbara Piller, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Ants and the Annunciation, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Photo linked from National Geographic.

A little boy and his dad were sitting on the back steps of Grandma’s house watching the ants marching by.  One of the ants was carrying a leaf which was five times its size.  This ant would move four inches, and stop, then move another four inches.  The little boy looked at his father and said,

“I am going to help that ant.  The leaf is too hard for it to carry.”

The father responded, “Jimmy, you cannot do that.  It is necessary for the ant to carry that itself.”

Jimmy was quiet and continued to watch the ant move the leaf four inches at a time.  After a bit he said,  “I bet if I became an ant I could help it.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The leap from being a boy to being an ant is formidable.  We cannot even imagine how far it is.  His mind and imagination would be no more.  The ability of his body to ride a bike, or hug his mom – gone.  But this little guy was ready to do that to help a creature in some stress.

Today is the feast of the Annunciation.  The Church does not celebrate it because we are in Holy Week.  But in reality this is the most important day in the history of humanity.

If the jump from boy to ant is tremendous, the jump from being God to being a human is infinitely more so.  Stop to think about it.  When Mary said, “Yes”, the most important thing on earth happened.  Without her positive answer redemption would have not happened.  (At least not as we know it.  God can do anything.)  And the embryo begun in Mary was God!  The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, all-everything was on earth, giving up all we know about God, and taking on the form of a human.

We really needed help.  We humans were making a task planned to be a delight, a burden, and messed things up big time.  Paraphrasing the little boy, Jesus might have said to His Father,

“I bet if I became human, I could help them.”

And God, being God and able to do anything, did the absolutely impossible. God gave up all to be one of us.  That is a leap greater than any of us can imagine. As a human, Jesus would be completely under the control of other humans for the years of his formation.  As a baby someone had to control his  eating.  God had created the need for eating, now God had to wait for that need to be filled from the creatures God had made.  The same is true of all the needs of a  new human.  Nothing of the God in Him could protect and nurture Jesus.  His creatures, Mary and Joseph had to take care of God, just as our parents had to take care of us. Take care of God?  The idea is beyond comprehension.

But this is what the Annunciation is all about.  Perhaps we should change the name to – The Annunciation to Mary and the Conception of Jesus.  After all this is the real date of Jesus presence on earth.

Welcome Jesus and ask pardon for all that we as humans did to make his last days so heartbreaking.  He knew we would need to have him near always, and so gave himself to us in the  Eucharist.

I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept – God became human!!!  Surround yourself in the infinite love of God for us, for YOU!

Loving prayers go out for you.  Pray for me, please,

Sharonlu OSF                
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Liminal Space & Transformation, by S. Olga Wittekind, OSF

thumbnail_march-gAre you experiencing change and transition in your life?  To be in “liminal space” means to be in a time of transition, like a doorway between two places.  If this describes how you feel right now, join us for our next workshop!

Liminal Space & Transformation*
with S. Olga Wittekind, OSF, PhD (Jungian Analyst)
& Claire Sherman, PhD (Clinical Psychologist)
Saturday, April 20th, 2013
9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
$45 includes lunch

We go through many transitions in our lives.  Come learn how changes can bring about growth and new life.  We will be inspired by a poem written by Pam Breau, which describes the Liminal experience: “I live in unfamiliar places; the unknowing of empty spaces between what was and what is yet to be; I offer up what was to mourn in empty spaces, let go, so what is yet to be may somehow birth in me.”

*This workshop is CEU Eligible for LSW, LCSW, LMHC, LMFT, LAC, and LCAC in Indiana.  $20 additional fee.

RSVP to center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, by S. Patty Campbell

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
Second Reading: Phillipians: 3:8-14
Gospel: John 8:1-11

Reflection
It seems that people who are brought before a judge in court are of three minds: denial, silent, truthful. Jesus today drew from deep wisdom to speak the truth for the accusers and the accused. He calls them one by one by one by one as he writes in the sand, to admit their stance against the woman. When Jesus looks up from writing in the sand, they had all slunk away in shame. Then he faces the accused and gave her mercy and forgiveness, as well as the way to enter into the future. Jesus, in truth, would also have forgiven the man who sinned with the woman but he did not present himself in silence. When I look in the mirror, do I recognize the truth in me? St. Patrick, whose feast is today, bound himself to the Trinity forever, always finding trust and truth in the God who loved him so. He would go forward each day, openly announcing the praise and mercy of God.

Prayer taken from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ be within me. Christ be with me.
Christ behind me. Christ before me.
Christ beside me. Christ to win me.
Christ beneath me. Christ above me.
Christ in quiet. Christ in danger.
Christ in hearts of all that love me.
Christ in the mouth of Friend and stranger.

S. Patty Campbell, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

St. Joseph, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

WSt. Josephe know very little about St. Joseph from Scripture, but scholars have been trying to find out about this gentle man for many years. One evidence of the high esteem the Church paid to St. Joseph is a prayer to him written about the year 50 AD, just seventeen years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. It is found in many places and was released in 1950. Bishop Hugh Boyle of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania gave an Imprimatur to it. The text of the prayer is:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. Amen.

The format may seem stilted to many, but the fact that Joseph was honored that soon after the resurrection is impressive. You may wish to use short prayers addressed to St. Joseph referring to his many roles:

Joseph, Teacher of the child Jesus, pray for us teachers

Joseph, Guardian of the child Jesus, pray for fathers

Joseph, Foster father of Jesus, pray for adoptive and foster parents

Joseph, Patron of the Church, pray for us and leaders of the Church

Joseph, Patron of a happy death, pray for me

There is no rule about praying. Each of us does it in her/his own way. Review the times in the bible that mention Joseph or that indicate his presence. For example, the flight into Egypt may trigger a prayer for travelers.

A teacher who had been teaching her class about St. Joseph and short prayers to say to him asked her students what their favorite prayer to St. Joseph was. Her pupils answered with the usual ones something like those above. One little girl answered that her favorite prayer to St. Joseph was “Sweet Heart of Mary, pray for us.”  Her teacher told her that was a lovely prayer, but it was to Mary. “No,” replied the child. “Mary was Jesus mother, and Joseph was his father, so Joseph was Mary’s Sweetheart.

You might use her prayer when you pray to Joseph this month.

Peace to you, the peace that only God can give,

Sharonlu, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Lent, by S. Corrine Ann Brown, OSF

embraceReflection for March 10, 2013
Fourth Sunday in Lent

First Reading: Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel: John 9:1-41


Reflection

Most of us know well the parable of the Prodigal Son.  And each time we have it proclaimed or read it ourselves we are struck by a new thought or inspiration.  I want to call this parable the parable of the Prodigal Father.  The word prodigal, according to Webster, means extravagant, generous, giving.  The father is generous with his love for each son, also forgiving of the son who returns after foolishly losing all his money.  This man is indeed a compassionate loving father.  He has no doubt prayed for a long time that this wonderful homecoming would happen, that the the brokenness would heal.  His perseverance prevailed.  Here in this Prodigal Father is embodied unconditional love, tolerance, openness and forgiveness.


Prayer
Dear God, give me the wisdom to see my intolerance of others, my self-righteousness and biased judgements.  Then I pray for the grace to grow in love and acceptance of my brothers and sisters and also of myself.  I will need wisdom, strength, and courage.  Let us pause today, quiet our souls, be willing to listen to the God of our hearts.  Pray for a genuine forgiving heart.  God’s grace will not fail us.



S. Corrine Ann Brown, OSF

Paperclips, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

It is only a twisted piece of wire, but there are things we can learn from it. When you need one, almost nothing else will work.  Oh, there are fancier things, and much more expensive, but the old-fashioned, simple paper clip is quick and efficient.

You might put 3 to 30 papers in a paper clip, but if you go many more than thirty the paper clip will either bend, break, or cause a ruffling shower of pages drifting to the floor. The paper clip knows its limit.  It will not allow itself to be overloaded.  With a reasonable amount of paper to hold, the paper clip is glad to join other clips so that things are nicely sorted.  Cooperation is what keeps things organized.

When not being used the paper clip usually has a special container where it stays.  When there is no container, paper clips may land anywhere.  They are not fussy.

No one’s desk and files are as messy as mine.  So if I need a paper clip, I will look in each drawer, every case, my purse and pockets because there is bound to be a paper clip in one of those places.

Let see if we can find a lesson from the paper clip.  Ah, yes, we would do well to recognize our limit and back off from the extras that present themselves. We do not want to be bent or broken, and it is not such a good idea to spew things all over. Learn from the paper clip.

I think most people are careful about their things, but unfortunately not me.  I am talking to myself when I say: since the paper clip is content to stay in one place, I will let it.  I might try putting it and other objects where they belong.

Note that if the paper clip is dropped on the floor, it stays there until someone like me needs it, or someone like you picks it up and puts it in its container.  Either way it remains useful.  If you find yourself down, e.g. on the floor, seemingly useless, be patient.  You might have important work to do. It may be in cooperation with others.  So let someone see your gifts and pick you up, just like the paper clip.

Is there anything that does not remind us of the great, gentle God who picks up us paper clips all the time? Things that seem to be a coincidence are not. They are God’s way of reminding us that He is in our lives all the time. God is involved in everything. We just have to recognize God’s presence, and be filled with gratitude for it.

Peace, Joy, and All Good,

Sharonlu, OSF