Water, by Sharonlu Sheridan OSF

It doesn’t take much thought to recognize how important water is to all of us. Scientists tell us we can live 2 weeks to 30 days without food, but only 3 days without water. That in itself would give us pause to think and thank. Too often when we read about or talk about water we think BIG: oceans, seas, lakes, rivers. I would suggest that it is time to check out the small.

It was during a Thanksgiving dinner party that each person was to share what they were most thankful for excluding family and other relationships. We would take it for granted that would come first. But what of other things for which we are thankful. Take the kitchen for example. Sarah, with three young children, said she was thankful for the “trap door” in the refrigerator, which enabled them to get milk or juice without opening the big door. Lexie, newlywed, was most thankful for her microwave. Alice named her refrigerator earning her gratitude. Great Grandma Bertha said running water, tap water was the best for her. Not having to go to the well for water morning and evening was a blessing.

Let’s look at just plain tap water. Do we ever take it for granted! And yet millions of people do not have that luxury. How often do we turn the tap and get water. We use it for everything from washing the dirt off potatoes, to wiping the pesticides from the apples. We fill a pot to cook the beans, or add a quart to extend the soup. We just take it for granted safe water will be there.

Water was used as an example of the rewards we can expect for our positive actions. “Whoever gives a cup of cold water in my name, will receive a reward.” I think if I were the person who turns the wheel at the water works that sends the water rushing to all the faucets in the city, I would pray, “I give all this water to all these people in your name Lord.” (Leave it to me to set myself up for a big reward!)

Actually most of the things we are offered as examples in the gospel involve simple things, and quite often water: Cana, the lack of it at Simon’s house when Mary washed Jesus feet with her tears, moving the crippled man to the water for healing, those simple fishermen and their boats on the sea, Jesus washing the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. Water, simply water must be a big part of our Thank You prayers this week.

Remember that when you are brushing your teeth, or washing your hair, or rinsing out your hose. There is never any time when you would want to separate God from your everyday thoughts.

I’d give more than a penny for your thoughts!

Peace,

Sharonlu OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

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Sunday Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Maureen Irvin, OSF

Reflection for June 23, 2013
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Zec. 12:10-11, 13:1
Second Reading: Gal. 3:26-29

Gospel: Luke 9:18-24
Reflection
Language is very powerful.  Names, nicknames, descriptions of people and categories we put them in can be very affirming or very hurtful.  Today’s second reading reminds us that we are really all the same in God’s eyes.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male or female…”  All persons are infinitely valuable and unconditionally loved by God.  Do the words I use to describe or categorize people reflect this truth?  Am I ever deliberately hurtful with my words?
In the Gospel, Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”  Who do I say that Jesus is?  Do I call him model, prophet, savior, Christ, brother, teacher, Good Shepherd, friend, Lord?  When I refer to him in this way, what do I really mean?  What is my relationship with Jesus?  What would I like it to be?
Prayer
Jesus, over the years I have called you by many names.  May my relationship with you continue to grow and develop, as I search the Gospels for clues as to who you really are and who you want to be in my life.  Show me how to see your presence in everyone I meet, so that I may treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve as Children of God.  Help me to imitate the many qualities you modeled for us as you showed us how to live.  Amen.

Maureen Irvin, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Bookmarks, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

BooksDo you use bookmarks like this? I have a habit of using anything that comes to eye, and invariably that piece of paper slips and slides and lands somewhere other than marking my page.  I have used post cards, calendar pages, non-sticky candy wrappers, letters, even a dollar bill once.  It is nerve wracking to find such things in my books. It is even more stressful not to find that check, and have no idea where it is.

At a recent party thanking those of us who had been part of a program involving the Highschool students, we were give a small, beautiful bookmark. This little page marker was also a magnet.  Folded in the middle it slipped over a page in the book and adhered to itself. Neat, pretty and never slipping out, it had solved my haphazard markings.  I am not even tempted to dog-ear a page, which is of course, wicked, at least according to my second grade teacher who drummed that into our little heads along with 2×2=4.

That being accomplished, what does the marker say to us.  Let’s say the book represents your spiritual life. You put a paper marker in to remind you of how you are going to improve, or keep from, or whatever is necessary to your growth at that time. After a bit the paper slips down into the book, or falls to the floor. You do not have the reminder right there.  And you slide a bit (or a lot) from what your plan for growth was.

A magnet marker will not let me forget. I must deliberately remove the magnet. Now if the magnet marker is there to remind me of what I must do to improve, deliberately taking it off the page says something about my  resolve.

What do you have to keep yourself on track? For some people scheduling a five minute stop helps.  Just close your eyes, listen, and renew your resolve.  The tough part is SCHEDULING.  We are so busy, so involved and so pressured, finding five minutes seems impossible.  It will be unless you schedule it and do not let it be infringed upon.

I am sure some of you have your own methods of keeping on track. Maybe you use post it notes to yourself, or putting your shoes in an unfamiliar place.  I know one friend who always put her shoestrings inside her shoes.  That way each morning as she went to put her shoes on, those strings became a reminder and she took her five minutes right then.  You will know what is right for you because the Lord will tell you.

Peace and Joy,

Sharonlu, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Sunday Reflection for Fathers Day, by S. Mary Beth Gianoli, OSF

Reflection for June 16, 2013
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Second Reading: Galatians 2:16, 19-21

Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3
Reflection
Today’s readings speak of love, blessing, and forgiveness.  We are reminded that our God loves us even when we don’t deserve or earn that love.  How appropriate that these readings are used on the day we celebrate Fathers!
Pause for a moment to think about your biological dad or someone else who loved you into the person you are today.  What blessings come to mind?  How are you gifted by his unconditional love?
Now reflect on the love that our God showers on you.  In what ways are you nourished and offered peace through God’s love?
Today, celebrate the Father’s love.  In gratitude, remember that you are chosen, anointed, rescued, saved.  Share that love with your Dad and others who gift you with life.
Prayer
Father God, continue to nourish us with your love.  Bless us with the courage to share this love in our daily living.  Help us to recognize our giftedness and grace us with the confidence to share those gifts with all of creation.  We ask this in your Son’s name.  Amen!

Mary Beth Gianoli, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

A Damaged Crucifix, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan OSF

Crucifix in France    (Source: WikiCommons)

Toward the end of the last century, I was in Dover Massachusetts on sabbatical.  St. Stephen’s Priory, where I studied and prayed, was situated in the midst of a beautiful small forest on the Charles River.  Many times those of us on sabbatical would take advantage of the lovely trails in that forest.  Along the way there, posted like village shrines, was the way of the cross.  It was so quiet and peaceful, meditation was easy.

I was shocked to see, however, that the Corpus for the 12th station had become a feasting place for the small animals that inhabited the forest.  Nibbling marks could be seen all along the cross itself, but the biggest damage was to the center of the figure of Christ.  The chest of the body had been eaten away so that there remained a gaping hole raggedy on the edges.  I made a note to let the Dominican friars know that repair was needed.

That gaping hole filled my thoughts for several days.  Then at a period of sharing we were asked to tell one thing that filled our hearts the past two days.  I stood to tell of the crucifix with its damaged corpus.  As the words came out, I found myself saying, “It looked as if the Heart of Jesus had burst forth from His body, so filled with love for us that it could not be contained within.”

I have thought of that crucifix in the wooded area where meditation was easy.  The hole in the crucifix, where the heart of Jesus would have been, is always the first thing that pops into my head when I speak of Dover.

Next time you say your rosary, or look at the crucifix in your bedroom, or genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament in Church and see the crucifix on the altar, Think of that “damaged Jesus” figure I saw.  His heart still explodes with love for each of us.  It’s about time we began to give love back with thanksgiving!
Peace,

Sharonlu, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Sunday Reflection for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by Christine Ernstes, OSF

Image in public domain, WikiCommons

Reflection for June 9, 2013
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: 1 Kings: 17:17-24   
Second Reading: Galatians 1: 11-19

Gospel: Lk 7: 11-17
Reflection
“You changed my mourning into dancing.”  Psalm 30:12
In today’s reading, we meet two widows, each of whom has lost their only son, their only breadwinner.  A breadwinner who would care for them for the rest of their lives.  Not only were they mourning the loss of their sons, but their future was in great doubt.  For these women, the raising of their sons was a reversal of fortune.  Their mourning and fear of the future was changed into rejoicing and dancing as they received their sons.
We all know of people who mourn because of addiction, rejection, betrayal, sickness, or the death of a loved one.  Our scripture reminds us to work to accentuate the positive and celebrate the reversal of fortune.  Like Elijah and Jesus, we are to help people tap into the Lord’s power.  The power will help them in the time of reversal to change it into rejoicing and dancing.
Prayer
Lord Jesus, give us the eyes to see the reversals of others.  Give us the courage to reach out to them in their times of loss and trial so they may find compassion, concern and the love of God at this time.  Amen.

Christine Ernstes, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Finding Fault, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan OSF

It happens frequently.  Someone stops you to tell you what is wrong with you or what you wear or what you say or what you do.  (I know you never do this, so I am not talking about you!)  It hurts, and sometimes you shy away from the person because of it.

Other times a casual friend exhibits a habit that drives you up a wall.  It is not wrong, not wicked, not evil, just annoying.  You may shy away from that person too.  Things like that happen.  To prefer not to be with someone is your right.  But to complain to others about what you found so irritating is not.

There was once a young man who was dating a very nice young lady.  She was wise and witty, charming and moral, and he began to think about her as a life partner.  The only thing holding him back was a little habit she had that really annoyed him.  She would flip back her hair with her hand.  This did not happen now-and-then.  It seemed to him it was constant.  He decided this was something he could not take for a lifetime, so he broke the relationship.

About two years later, he received an invitation to the wedding of a friend of his.  The bride-to-be was the very girl he had broken up with.  At the wedding reception he asked the groom just what had attracted him to her in the first place.  “You know,” the groom replied, “it was that cute little way she has of flipping her hair.” Ah, yes. What is annoying to me may be charming to someone else.

It is certainly all right to be annoyed at a fault of another.  But unless it is a child you are training, it is not all right to point that behavior to them or others.

Remember, when you point your finger at someone, three fingers point back to you.  Check up on yourself first.  Shakespeare had it right when he wrote: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”  Or better still the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Keep three checks on yourself today before you check once on your friends.

Peace and Prayers,

Sharonlu OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg