Morning reflection on a woman in Damascus, by Jennifer Profitt

Damascus

I woke up this morning and was thinking about chance, fate, luck, faith, however it is that I live so securely in a little town in SE Indiana. The things I have on my mind this morning I suspect are far from those things my counterpart in Damascus would have on her mind this morning. I do not start my day giving any thought whatsoever to being gassed with chemical weapons or preparing for a missile strike. I have an abundance of food, as do my pets. I am surrounded by choice. Should I have the Kenyan, organic Yukon, or Columbian coffee? Will it be eggs or waffles? I have plenty to read. I can reach out to my loved ones and friends without effort trusting that my phones or my Internet or my vehicle or even my legs can carry and convey me to them. I hear tree frogs and cicadas of the early morning no whistling bullets no fear of walking barefoot in my own yard. My trash pickup came on time without interruption. The running water in my home made washing my dishes easy, doing a load of laundry automatic, taking a shower welcome on this muggy morning. School buses make their way to pick up children who wait openly by the roadside for another day at school. But somewhere in Damascus today a woman about to turn 50 like me can say none of those things. She had a different morning beginning hours ago. I don’t even know her name. But she is there. And I am thinking of her.

Jennifer Profitt
Healthcaring Committee Chair at Oldenburg Franciscan Center

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

Sunday Reflection, by OSF Associate Judy Hillman

Reflection for February 10, 2013
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading:  Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Second Reading:  1Cor. 15:1-11
Gospel:  Luke 5:1-11

Reflection:
Each of these readings begins with an experience of God, the Holy One, the answered prayer Person, Jesus, the one who lived the Gospel, the Teacher. In each experience, the Holy One calls forth an initial human response with a corresponding Divine Intervention:

Isaiah: What a wretched state I am in! I am lost. God says, “your sin is taken away.”

Psalm: I called for help. You (God) heard me, increased my strength, kept me alive.

1Cor: Paul declares “I am the least of the apostles. By God’s grace this is what I am.”

Luke: Peter declares, “I am a sinful man.” Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid.”

Our God really wants us to draw near, to know God’s majesty, compassion, forgiveness, love and tenderness. However, the experience cannot stop there. We are called to go beyond our sinfulness and flawed human nature. Isaiah asks, “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?” Our readings today are very clear. Go forth!

Prayer:
All forgiving, loving, empowering God, send me!

Judy Hillman, Associate
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Sunday Reflection, by S. Christa Franser, OSF

prophetReflection for February 2, 2013
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Second Reading: 1Cor. 12:31-13:13
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

Reflection
The Scripture readings for this Sunday all commission each of us to “stand up and say our piece,” to “speak God’s word with power,” to “preach the message of good news.”  “Say exactly what I tell you to say,” God directs.  And, with great reassurance, God promises, “I’ll back you up every inch of the way.”Still, I am warned: “If I speak with eloquence but don’t love, I’m nothing.”  A contemporary translation provides a clear image of what this love must look like:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love isn’t always ‘me first.’
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
-The Message
Prayer
Gracious God, may we trust steadily in You, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
Christa Franzer, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

A Decree from the Emperor, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

emperortaxWhile Mary went about her work as wife and soon-to-be-mother, the bell in the town square began to ring.  That meant something very important was happening.  It might be a fire, or some other disaster.  Everyone would go to the calling bell to see what needed immediate attention.  This time it was a message from the Emperor.  All citizens were to go to the place of their birth to be counted for taxes

Not questioning, not complaining, Mary set about doing what she could do.  This message was not in her plan for preparing for Jesus’ birth.  Perhaps she drew on her knowledge of Scripture that Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and marveled at how God’s plan comes about through varied ways.  This time it was an edict from the emperor that would put her in Bethlehem, a place she had not planned to be.

Mary began planning what she would need to take on that journey.  It would take overnights, so she would make arrangements to join with others .  She must  prepare food, things that she and Joseph would need, and of course, swaddling clothes for the baby, who would be born very soon.

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I don’t know about you, but getting an order to move from someone higher on the social scale would not set well with me.  The thing to be kept in mind is that Mary had no influence against this decree. She simply had to take what was stated because there was no way out.  Things like that happen to us all the time.  We pout about a rainy day.  Or we become angry because a spouse or child must work, and we want them to babysit, or drive us somewhere.

Mary doesn’t react this way.  She just begins to make the plans that the interruption in her life demands. What kinds of things happen that can upset you?  At this time of the year it may be that you run out of scotch tape, or sugar.  Gift wrapping and cookie making must be halted a bit.

More distressful, you have guests coming for dinner and the stove goes POUFF! and no more stove.   Or your child becomes ill just before the Christmas play and he was to be a King!  with a Crown! and a red robe!  How do we handle those things?

At eight months pregnant Mary is about to begin a journey of 80 miles on foot or on a donkey part of the way.  No complaining from her, just preparations for that awesome journey.

Business people would probably have a plan B.  That is all well and good, but even then, something can happen to throw things askew.

Try to keep a calm demeanor as we come closer to Christmas.  Give yourself time to ponder and reflect, as Mary did. Jesus is coming!

Peace, and gentle thoughts,

Sharonlu, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Sunday Reflection, by S. Kathleen Mulso, OSF

ImageReflection for November 11, 2012
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
 
First Reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44
 
Reflection:
How much does a penny buy?
 
In today’s Gospel from Mark, we are reminded of Jesus’ telling his Apostles about the widow’s mite.  From this story we can get the idea that whatever we give from the heart or from our need is worth more than our just handing over a few leftover coins.  Why does this make any sense in today’s world?  As followers of Christ, we are daily called to go beyond the obvious.  We are called to share with our neighbors, and in so doing to obtain a closer relationship to God.  We have been given the gifts of intellect and free will and are supposed to be stewards of our gifts.  The point I often forget myself is that whatever I have, has been given to me as a gift from God.  These gifts can be shared.
 
So, a penny is worth alot if it is the only one you have, or if it is just what someone else needs. Our task from today’s Gospel is to see the prophetic witness this widow gives.  She was willing to put herself in real need.  She was able to share her last coins.  This simple act speaks volumes and show great faith and real dependence on God.
 
How much is a penny or a small sum of money worth to you this day?  To whom could you offer such a gift?
 
Prayer
Jesus, since my actions speak louder than words, please guide me in knowing when and how to share your gifts.  Allow me to hear your word this day and to act on it.  Amen.
 
Kathleen Mulso, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Hugs, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

ImageA picture of Jesus, the good shepherd, holding a lamb close, was on a message from the Hamline Chapel United Methodist Church. Since it was not copyright marked, I am sharing it with you.

“Hugging,” they write, “is healthy:  It helps the body’s immunity system, it cures depression, it reduces stress, it induces sleep, and it’s invigorating, it’s rejuvenating, it has no unpleasant side effects, and hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug.

Hugging is all-natural: It is organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, and 100 percent wholesome.

Hugging is practically perfect. There are no movable parts, no batteries to wear out, no period checkups, low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation-proof, non-fattening, no monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof, non-taxable, non-polluting, and of course, fully returnable.”

ImageWhat I wonder, is why we do not use this lovely way of expressing our feelings. It does wonders for the giver as well as the recipient.  Hugging is helpful to the person who has succeeded, and especially to the one who has failed.  Babies and toddlers usually get hugs, but Grandpas and Nanas not as often.  Old Uncles and Aunts need hugs too.  In fact, I cannot think of anyone who doesn’t, not even the Pope!  So be generous!  Be extravagant!  Hand out hugs everywhere.  Maybe you will mend a fractured friendship with a hug. You know, if you want or need a hug there is no reason why you cannot ask for it. It’s easy.  Just say, “I need a hug.” or Will you give me a hug, please?

Jesus gave hugs to lost sheep. It might not be a bad idea to give Jesus a hug in prayer.

Hugs to you and all you hold dear.  Spread hugs around today!

Peace and Joy and many hugs,

Sharonlu OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Don’t say I love you, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

You know that the title of this reflection does not match with what I have been sharing with you. The title isn’t finished. It is the beginning of a response from a girl, just eight years old, when she was asked ‘What does love mean?’

I could go on to say that instead of saying ‘I love you’, it would be best to do something to show that you love someone. But Jessica, the eight-year old doesn’t agree. The next phrase of her response is ‘unless you mean it’. You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it.’ Quite mature for a little girl, isn’t it?

We say ‘I love you’ or ‘I love it’, or I love pizza, or I love jazz. Do you really mean that you love pizza? It waters down that beautiful emotion, one that Jesus spoke of often and continues to offer us.

Jessica is not finished telling us what love means, though. She continues, ‘But if you mean it, you should say it a lot.’ Now makes sense to me. Something as beautiful, engaging, healing, and joy-filled as LOVE, should be saved for important telling.

Then this wise 8-year-old adds a short phrase that gives you the reason for saying ‘I love you’ a lot. She adds, ‘People forget.’ Even though someone knows you love them, hearing those words polishes what they know, and makes it shine. Not hearing those three little words dulls the finish.

How about your Mom and Dad or cousins and neighbors? How about your spouse or friend or mother-in- law? Have you told them lately that you love them? Could you tell them once again? P. S. “Love ya!” doesn’t do it.

Peace, Joy, and Everything Good,

Sharonlu, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Wisdom Has Set Your Table, by S. Karla Barker, OSF

Gathering with family or friends at a meal is always a special time.  If you are someone who often eats alone, it can evoke thoughts and memories.  The thought from Scripture, “Wisdom has set your table,” gives all of us something to reflect on.

How has Wisdom set our table?  What’s the menu?

Often today we hear others say, “I’ve got enough on my plate already.”  You can be certain it’s not food!  In most cases, it’s a complaint.

Perhaps we can request from the Spirit that sets our table to bring on the bowls of laughter and humor.  Maybe silverware of good conversation and justice sharing.  Perhaps a plate full of pride that’s grateful for all the good of the day wouldn’t be half bad either.

A change of menu could mean no pounds, but certainly a lighter and happier heart.

Blessings,

S. Karla Barker, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN

Sunday Reflection by OSF Associate Jane Schaefer

Reflection for July 22, 2012
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2: 13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

Reflection
As we experience these dog days of summer is there any better time of the year to get away and retreat into a place and space of our own choosing?  The sun shines brightly, the summer rains tend to be gentle, and the evening skies are aglow.  For many of us there is a need to seek permission to get away from the business of life whether it is our places of ministry, family commitments, or just the clutter of our own minds.  In today’s Gospel after hearing how the apostles had spent their day, Jesus offers the permission we seek by offering the following invitiation, “Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.”  This time of retreat in our own lives can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a week.  When we are able to close our minds to the world around us and open them to the Spirit and voice of God we are providing ourselves and others with the opportunity to be refreshed and renewed so our journey does not become burdensome, fruitless, or mundane.  When was the last time I stepped away from the fast pace of life and spent some intentional time with God?  From whom or from what do I need some retreat time?
Prayer
Gracious and loving God, thank you for giving me permission to retreat and rest.  May this invitation come to fruition so that I may be refreshed and renewed in your loving Spirit!  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Jane Schaefer, Associate
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg