Sunday Reflection, by S. Mary Fliehman, OSF

Cytisus scoparius (broom tree) photo.
Source: Wikipedia Commons

First Reading: 1Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34:2-9
Second Reading: Ephes. 4:30-52
Gospel: John 6:41-51
Reflection


What forms of life have been deeply affected by this summer’s drought?  We are very much aware of the resounding response to this question.  At this point in time, many of us may feel like joining Elijah under the sweet-smelling broom tree.  However, note the persistence of the Angel to move Elijah to get up, to eat the cake, to drink the water and to continue his journey.


What is under our broom tree when challenges, disappointments, and concerns feel like they are overwhelming us?  Elijah needed sustenance and so do we.  The words of the psalmist reveal where we need to turn.  Could we begin our turning to God by recalling those times when we experienced God providing EXACTLY what we needed to stay ALIVE?  Would we then be willing to share with family, with a friend or with our neighbor what we found under our broom tree?


Prayer
Loving God, we are almost breathless when we realize what has been placed under our broom trees.  Thank you for helping us to taste and see your goodness.  With your grace, may we continue to LOOK to YOU as the SOURCE of ALL that we humbly need in our daily living.  Amen.


Mary Fliehman, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

“Breath of God,” a reflection by S. Karla Barker, OSF

Sr. Miriam Therese Winter, in one of her songs, “Breath of God,” shares some very potent thoughts.  The words go like this:

Blow through us breath of God
Like a pipe, like a reed, like a flute,
Making melody, the Cosmic song in us
Breath of God…

Breath = Life!  How powerful is God’s breath in us?  God’s breath, God’s life pulsates constantly in us and every part of us and creation.  How many breaths do we take in a minute?  An hour?  Do we give thanks and are we really aware that our next action depends on God’s breath in us?  Is the melody we play one of affirmation, comfort, or gratitude?

There’s an old adage, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

What’s our proof of God’s life in us?  What’s our Cosmic song?

Making Bread, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Image linked from http://www.delallo.com

This is the story of a lady known and admired for her gentle spirit and manner.  She had several children, and the family kitchen was a gathering place for her children, family, neighbors, and friends. It could be noisy when the children came home from school, but snacks were always ready and waiting, and the chatter lasted for some time as the jelly sandwiches were eaten.

Saturday was the day she found time to bake bread for her family and the others who came by.  One Saturday her son, Bob, came to sit in the kitchen.  He was so surprised to see his tender, gentle mother as she prepared the dough for the oven.  She pounded the dough, twisted the dough and threw the dough down on the floured table.  She picked it up and repeated the violent treatment of the dough.

Seeing this other side of his mother, Bob asked her why she pushed and pounded the dough so much.  Did she not like to bake bread?  She said she delighted in baking bread, and had to do what she did so that the bread would bake smooth and without holes.

Bob grew up to be a priest and told this story in one of his homilies. He said it has a parallel to what we need to experience to become smooth saints with souls that do not have holes in them.  We do not even have to go anywhere or plan the “violence” for ourselves.  It almost always happens that something occurs to pummel our complacency.  If we look at it as a way of preventing holey souls, we could be on the way to becoming holy souls.

Also we certainly do not want to be the source of hole making in others or ourselves. We might emulate the gentleness and tenderness of the mother and save the violent reaction for when it is needed “to make smooth bread without holes.”

My thanks to the late Fr. Bob Drewes for sharing his mother’s story.

Peace, joy, and everything good to you,

S. Sharonlu

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S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Snowflakes & Prayer by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Snowflakes are usually a large part of our lives during January and February. They are the most delicate of objects. Alone they last only seconds here on earth.  But together they can bring an entire city to a standstill.  That surely gives us some idea of how community prayer can be very strong.

Scientists tell us that no two snowflakes are alike.  They are as different as our own fingerprints.  We know each of us is unique. But sometimes we forget that our uniqueness does not stop at our fingerprints.  Each of us is truly one-of-a-kind.   And that includes our relationship with God.  The best way for you to pray is deep down, who you are.

As a child I wanted to BE the Little Flower of Jesus or St. Francis.  I cannot BE them.  I can admire them, but I must be the best Sharon I can because no one else can do that.

To use a theatrical example, there was only one Elvis Presley.  Like him or not, there was only one.  Today there are conventions of Elvis look-alikes, sound-alikes, move-alikes.  Hundreds of people there try to BE Elvis Presley.  It just doesn’t work!

How do you talk to God?  Do you always use someone else’s words? Are you like John Alden, who was speaking sweet words to Priscilla Mullins for his friend, only to have her say to him “Speak for yourself, John”?

Rogers Group, depicting the courtship of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins: "Why Don't You Speak for Yourself, John?" (1885) -- linked from Wikipedia

Open your heart to the One who loves you as if you were the only person on the earth!  Just talk to God.  God is waiting for your unique words.  It doesn’t even have to make sense to anyone.  God knows,  understands and delights in what you say.  And you will grow in knowledge of the love God has for you.  Yes, join others in prayer, but be sure to keep your very personal relationship with God strong by personal prayer.

Peace, joy, & everything good,

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Sr. Sharonlu will be presenting a Coffee Talk about Resurrection Mysteries on Sunday, March 11 after 9:30 a.m. Liturgy in the Convent Chapel.  Mark your calendar and come spend a morning of prayer and inspiration at the Burg!  We’ll have coffee and donuts.  There is no fee, but donations are appreciated!  Please do RSVP:  812-933-6437 or center@oldenburgosf.com.

Here’s what the talk is about:

Resurrection Mysteries: New Prayers for the Rosary.  The resurrection of Jesus is sometimes lost from sight during days of bereavement.  We think even less often of the people who were raised from the dead during Jesus’ earthly sojourn.  During this session, we will look at other resurrections and see how they can help us understand the passage of our loved ones to the Heavenly Kingdom.  These resurrections will be presented as an alternative to the other mysteries of the Rosary.

That’s not all!  On Sunday, February 5th, Sr. Patty Campbell will lead a coffee talk about Noticing Our Guardian Angel!  Follow this link for more information on our Coffee Talk Series!

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Pray as Yourself, by Sr. Sharonlu

Our Lady of Fatima's View of the Oldenburg Hills (photography by A. Roesler)

Every relationship with another is unique. And that is true of each person’s relationship with God.  Our need for God is universal; we all have it.  But our response to God is always personal and one-of-a-kind.

I found this out myself during a prayer before a meeting.  The leader of the prayer said we would say the Our Father.  However, he would say a phrase, and we in random order would give our thoughts on that part of the prayer.

He began, “Our Father”, and hesitantly one of the group said, “You’re more like a mother.”  Another said, “You protect me,” and another offered, “Your love for me keeps me feeling safe.”

Those were just a few of the thoughts, and there were about 15 people in the group.

As soon as there was a very long pause, the leader went to the next phrase, “Who Art in Heaven” and so on through the entire prayer.   Saying that prayer usually takes 15-20 seconds, but it took us close to 20-25 minutes.

Interesting remarks were heard afterward.  One woman offered that she would never say the Our Father the same again.  A young man in the group said he had no idea what varied kind of thoughts the same words could draw from people.

During World War II there was a holy woman in Europe, (I forget which country) who was bedfast.   People would come to her to get some direction for their spiritual lives.  One person said to her, “Since I’ve been coming to see you, I say almost 50 Our Fathers a day!”  “Oh, my,” the holy woman replied, “I find it hard to pray the Our Father one time, there is so much in it.”

Taking the time to really think about the words you are saying will give you a nudge into saying words that are yours.  Or you may end up praying without words, just with feelings of awe or gratitude or praise.

Remember the definition of prayer is: lifting your mind and heart to God. 
It doesn’t mention words at all!

When Jesus told us to pray always, I think he meant we should really think about our prayers.

My prayers are with you.

Peace and Joy, and Everything Good,

Sr. Sharonlu

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

Just as Sr. Sharonlu shows how our relationships with God are diverse, so are our relationships with one another!

The Oldenburg Franciscan Center Arches aglow at night. (The normal softness of the lamplight is brightened by the camera!)


Join Sr. Olga on Saturday, February 18th (9:30am – 2:30pm) to grow in peace and find hope in diversity.
  We all face various interpersonal challenges in our daily lives. In this workshop, Oldenburg Franciscan Sister Olga Wittekind (Jungian psychologist and PhD) will give tools and insights – using Myers-Briggs analysis – to help us understand ourselves better, appreciate others more, and strengthen our relationships with God. This is a great workshops for individuals, ministry groups, families, and couples!

$45 includes a delicious lunch by our wonderful caterer, Cathy Kerker!  Call Annette at 812-933-6437 or email center@oldenburgosf.com to RSVP today!

Invite a friend, family member, or come on your own.  You never know what wonderful new connections can be made!

Remember, God is a healer, a peacemaker, and a life-giver who lovingly embraces us all and wants us to learn to embrace each other in the same way!

Find the event on Facebook!  Also, friend OFC and share us with your friends!