Pope Francis’ suggested New Year’s resolutions

It’s that time of year again…we hear everyone asking us about our New Year’s Resolutions. Looking back on 2014 did you grow in your faith?For 2015 do you have a plan to grow in your relationship with God? My hope and prayer for the new year is to put spiritual growth at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list…what will be at the top of yours?

CNS Blog

(CNS/Paul Haring) (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis met before Christmas with Vatican employees, mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded remarkably like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:

— “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

— “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

— “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

— “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

— “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused…

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Really?, by S. Noella Poinsette, OSF

Salt makes everything taste good.
– Really?

Maybe if I went to bed earlier,
read more,
went to the beach every week

Maybe if I ate anchovies or stuffed myself at eating contests
then maybe I’d believe
God is Good
and Perry too
As he watches his National Guard
Push kids back.

Sure, violently
push them back
into the horror they’ve fled.

Maybe if I spent a slew of money
on a vacation
and stopped writing and creating

My eyes would be blind
to the gift of love
and blind to the fire brewing in intolerance.

They should just go back where they came from
And pull themselves up
By their bootstraps.

Then I could compose
Beautiful music
In peace, quiet, and luxury.

Then I could believe in Peace
and the lie of “Give me your tired, your poor.”

 

 

S. Noella Poinsette, OSF.  S. Noella is the pastoral associate for outreach & social justice at St. Francis DeSales and Our Lady of the Lake in Holland Michigan.  She is also a musician and composer.  She wrote this poem during a poetry workshop at Oldenburg Franciscan Center, following a writing prompt about “This I Believe” while reflecting on current events related to immigration.

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Barb Piller, OSF

ordinarytimeFirst Reading: Is. 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 65:10-14
Second Reading: Rom. 8:18-23
Gospel: Mt. 13:1-23

Reflection
As I drive through the hills country of Oldenburg I find myself praying the words of Psalm 65: “You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have You enriched it.” To my untrained eye, the corn and beans are looking great. The soil seems rich and brown. Tomato plants are showing signs of red and yellow. It seems to be a time of blessing. While rejoicing in this growth all around, I am aware that Earth still groans in labor pains as the second reading states. Mother Earth has been hurt by our misuse of her gifts. I ask myself what I can do to mend any of the hurts I/we have caused.

I am part of this planet Earth. How have I used the gifts God has given me? In spite of the possible misuse of gifts, God continues to bless us in the good times and the hard times. God is with us when we experience inner storms. God is with us when the “seeds” of goodness we try to plant miss the mark or fall on hardened hearts. This Sunday’s readings provide us with the reminder that Christ is the real “sower” of seeds. God is the real source of the grace we experience, the richness in our lives.

Prayer
Good and gracious God, I thank you for the reminders in nature of your constant, watchful care. Help me to hear the groans of creation and find ways that I can respond. I ask for the grace to be open to receive the seeds of goodness that you want to plant in me, in us and in our world. May your word fall on “good ground”, on open minds and hearts. Let us be people who trust in you during the good times and hard times. With gratitude for all your gifts I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Barb Piller, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

 

Resolutions? Why? by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Peace & Good

Crucifix Statue in the Oldenburg OSF Cemetery Every month I get a little book called Magnificat .  It is a gift subscription from a friend.  At the beginning of the booklet there is always a short meditative editorial.  This is followed by an essay on a topic that coincides with the month’s Church theme.

The essays are very good, but last year a guest author wrote on why we make Lenten resolutions.  I was floored when I saw myself in the category of the poorest resolutions.

The author wrote that the season of Lent is NOT for self-improvement.  WOW!  That has been my purpose for years.  If I decide to exercise more, to lose weight, to give up desserts, I am doing that for myself!  Strengthening my relationship with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with God, is what ought to be my goal in Lent.

If my resolution were to spend 1/2 hour in prayer every evening…

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Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Lent, by S. Patty Campbell

1stSundayLentFirst Reading: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19

Gospel: Matthew 11:1-11
Reflection

Have mercy on me, O Lord, in your goodness wipe away my offenses (Ps. 51).

We begin this first weekend of Lent listening to Jesus teaching us how to break from temptation in order to turn back to God.  Jesus tells us: God alone shall we worship and him alone.  The Lenten season is six weeks of moving from our allowing ourselves to offend God and others to once more accept God alone as our way, our truth, our life.  This calls us to love others as we love God.  It is not an easy call, but we are never alone.  God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us on the way to holiness and peace.  May we turn from our offenses and trust that through Jesus, the Spirit will show us the way: God’s WAY.

 

Patty Campbell, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family, by Associate Joan Caldwell

HolyfamilyFirst Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23


Reflection
How can I relate to the Holy Family?  Perfect mother.  Perfect son.  They probably had the best garden in the neighborhood, with Jesus multiplying the tomatoes and all.  I can relate better to Joseph.  Even then, there’s not a whole lot of discernment required when you have angels talking to you in your sleep.  I can imagine the family discussion…
“Joseph, why are we moving to Egypt?”
“Angel said to.”
“Joseph, why are we moving to Galilee?”
“Angels said to.”
“Okay.”


Still, I remember the five minutes of horror I felt when I lost my 4-year-old son at Epcot, with my husband and I and Disney security guards searching the pavilion until we found him.  I can easily imagine their feelings when Mary and Joseph lost their son Jesus and searched for days all over the big city of Jerusalem looking for him.  Did he ever talk back to them?  I guess he did, now that I think about it.  Maybe the better question is, can the Holy Family relate to my family?  Did Joseph have any idea what it is like to provide for a family in an uncertain economy?  Did Jesus ever behave in ways that caused his mother pain and suffering?  Did Joseph and Mary ever simply not understand what their son could possibly be thinking?  Did they ever look at their beautiful baby with awe and wonder and thank God for the miracle that made them a family?  I think so.


Prayer
Dear Saint Joseph, you also have known family life.  Both you and Mary lived as a happy couple by lovingly caring for each other.  Naturally, your mutual love focused on your child, the Son of God.  Like us, you were called to intensify your love in the midst of joys and sorrows.  Kindly protect the members of our family.  Like your son you know how to read hearts beyond appearances; help us to live in harmony by better understanding one another.  May neither pride nor selfishness stifle the affection that we have for one another. Give us the courage to always remain faithful to our family commitments, so that we may all draw closer to the Son of God whose Spirit lives at the heart of a loving family.  Amen.


Joan Caldwell, Associate
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Monica Zore, OSF

First Reading: Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Psalm: 34:2-3, 17-18,
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14

Reflection
I have struggled with the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. Though I know that I am a sinner, I know that is not how I approach my God in prayer. I realized as I pray with the parable this time that I definitely identified more with the Pharisee. I would love to know that I have completed the checklist of things to do to get to heaven. And yet there are not enough good deeds that I could do that would earn me that privilege. The tax collector recognizes that undeserving as he is, God is there to receive him. And that is what our God desires, our willingness to come and give all and not be concerned with the items on a checklist. When we love, we do not have the time to count what has been done. We are caught up in the loving.

Prayer
O loving God, You have lavished me with blessings. Help me trust in Your mercy and Your knowledge of my heart’s desire. Help me to respond generously, willingly, eagerly as I am called throughout my day to serve and share Your love. Help me to know that my effort is enough and all that You ask. Amen.

S. Monica Zore, OSF