Journey into Wholeness, a video by S. Olga Wittekind

At Oldenburg Franciscan Center, we often have retreats that touch upon the idea of “growing into wholeness.”  In this video, S. Olga Wittekind, PhD, OSF, (director of Oldenburg Franciscan Center, counselor, spiritual director, and former psychology professor) talks about what that means!

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Reflection for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Joan Laughlin, OSF

birdinhandFirst Reading: Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48
Reflection
God not only calls us to be holy, but God says to us, “You are holy.  You are a temple.  I live in you, and you in me.”  Yes, God’s temple is holy.  And we are that temple.
But you might say, “How am I holy?  How am I a temple?”  It is not through our doing that we are the residence of God.  God’s spirit dwells in us.  In the words of today’s reading, “We belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”
Of course, there are things we must do to enhance our being temples of God.  Things such as forgiving others, turning the other cheek when we have been offended, loving our enemies, giving to those who beg from us, praying for those who persecute us…
Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  At the same time, He knows that we can’t be perfect.  He has told us to forgive others…and we believe that we have been forgiven many times.  In His words, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  I think He is also saying, “Forgive your neighbor as you forgive yourself.”
Prayer
Loving God, You know that we are not perfect.  Many times we forget that Your Spirit lives in us–making us holy.  Help us to recall Your words as we try to forgive and as we struggle to love our enemies as we love our friends and as we love ourselves.  Please unburden us of our grudges and help make our lives simpler, that we may realize that we are HOLY.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, our model of forgiveness and love.
Joan Laughlin, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Living, Loving & Learning, a poetic reflection by Angela Nevitt Roesler

The greatest joy in life
Is in giving of yourself,
But to give, you must first
Love yourself enough to
Delight in learning,
Striving to be your absolute best,
Passionate with confidence, desire,
And hope…

If you seek not and learn nothing,
You’ll have nothing to give.
And if you have nothing to give,
You’ll find nothing to love.
And love is everything.
Love, unlike any physical substance known to man,
Can be given endlessly and
Its supply will never diminish, only grow.
That is, if it is truly love.

Love is not
Sick, demented, depraving, selfish, suffocating, stingy, or stifling.
Love is, perhaps
“The process of my leading you gently back to yourself,”2
A simple reflection,
Guiding you back to what is unique and beautiful
And pure about you, an assurance of your
Goodness.

If that is love
Then only by that definition let me love,
And let me do so endlessly and graciously.
Let me seek for myself the beauty, compassion, and mercy of God
So that I might gain a knowledge or insight so extraordinary
That in sharing my love with you, with anyone,
I might gently lead you back to yourself,
Your true you, your vast potential,
Your open heart, your living soul,
Your life as it was meant to be.
And if you love me,
Let you do the same for me.

May my actions never betray you,
Diminishing in any way the stunning expanse of your essence in hopes of
Shaping you into what I might wish for you to be, for me.
I do not want to become such a small person;
I want to experience the vastness of human potential,
Giving freely and fostering greatness
Insomuch as I am able,
Through learning,
Recreating & readjusting my world
For the newness of each day
And finding, in this spontaneity,
A love greater than
The ordinary,
Sweeter than the satisfaction of desire;
A love that lives in me
Wherever I go,
Hopefully transforming me
Into one of those beautiful people
Who honor life and
Love abundant and contagiously.
I will always be imperfect,
But if I should strive for anything,
May it be for nothing less.

1 Reflection on the book  Living, Loving, & Learning by Leo Buscaglia
2 Quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Wind, Sand, & Stars)

Reflection for February 16th, by S. Amy Kistner

lovegodFirst Reading: Sir 15:15-20
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37


Reflection
At first glance we may wonder about Jesus saying he has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  After all, he healed on the Sabbath, which was against the law.  He spoke to women in public which was taboo.  So what does He really mean?  Searching under those examples given, we see He is talking about the law of love.  The Scribes and Pharisees, as Jesus saw it, were only surface seekers.  Jesus sees deeper dimensions to the law.  He challenges us to look beneath the surface of the commandments and act in harmony with the deeper commitment they demand.


Prayer
Jesus, as we think about the commandments today, give us the grace to see the underlying invitation to love more deeply.  Show us how to live lives that echo your understanding of law.  Remove all shallowness and open our hearts to genuine love.  Amen.


Amy Kistner, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg